Tag Archives: Neil Young

Meaford Musical Community Shines In “The Last Waltz”

Review by Bill Monahan
featured photo courtesy of Patti Kendall

On Saturday night at Meaford Hall, “The Last Waltz – Meaford Style” was a celebration of our musical community unlike anything that has been seen before.  A complete sellout more than a month in advance, the show featured a cavalcade of home grown talent that was equal to any visiting talent that has graced this great venue, and the audience loved it.

The template for the show was the famous Martin Scorcese film from 1978 that documented the last concert by The Band, with all of the performers who had been part of that celebration represented here by local talents.  It was actually the 41st anniversary of the original concert, which took place at Winterland in San Francisco on November 25, 1976.  The film set the bar high for a group of local performers who had little more than a month to practice.  They rose to the occasion. The band was tight, often indistinguishable from their model, and each performer who contributed tributes to the other performers did a stellar job.  The energy from the audience matched that coming from the stage.

Jaret Koop photo courtesy of John Scerri

A few of the vocalists stood out with their ability to mimic the originals to an uncanny extent.  Drew McIvor’s take on Doctor John’s (Mac  Rebennack) “Such A Night” had that New Orleans drawl down cold, and Jaret Koop perfectly captured Rick Danko’s anguished vocals on “The Shape I’m In”.

Fran Bouwmann photo courtesy of John Scerri

Fran Bouwman did a great take on Joni Mitchell’s “Coyote” (and even looked the part), and Tom Thwaits version of Neil Diamond’s “Dry Your Eyes” sounded like the real thing.  John Hume reproduced not only the vocal parts but the keyboards (that beautiful Hammond organ sound) with fidelity.

Sandra Swannell photo courtesy of John Scerri

Others added their own special talent to the songs that reflected what they bring to music.  Sandra Swannell’s violin solos on “Acadian Driftwood” and the encore “I Shall Be Released”, and Emma Wright’s vocals on “Evangeline” were spine-tingling standouts.  Chris Scerri’s vocals, of course, are 100% his.  He’s a belter and his style made new versions of the songs he covered.


The Thursday Outlook – Sept. 21 to 25, 2017

At Kimberley Hall, just down the road from Meaford, a special art show is running all weekend and on Saturday night it will include live music from some local favourites.  East Back Line, with Paul Woolner, David Marshak, Beaker Granger, and Tom Thwaits, will be on hand along with Chris Scerri’s new band Horseshoes & Handgrenades with Jon Zaslow, Beaker Granger, Erik Vandeweerdhof and as a special guest, violinist Victoria Yeh.  The music is just part of a weekend-long celebration of local visual artists billed as “Apple and Art”.

If you can time it right, be on Hurontario Street in Collingwood today at 12:30 and you’ll be treated to a special pop-up concert with Tyler Yarema and Chuck Jackson at one of the pianos that are set up on the sidewalk.  This is part of the promotion for a show that these two blues veterans have planned at The Historic Gayety Theatre on Oct. 5th.

Saturday night on Hurontario street it’s the annual Collingwood Art Crawl which includes live music in the evening from the Mike McCarthy Band. 

Local Players Excited To Be Doing The Last Waltz

The latest production at Meaford Hall by Chris Scerri, a tribute to The Last Waltz scheduled for November 25th, is a bit of a departure from his previous productions.  Up to this point he has put together variety shows that combined local and imported talent, built mainly around the talents of musical director Tyler Yarema and others from the Port Credit area that Chris has introduced to Meaford.  This time around it will be all local talent, some of the best that our area offers, under the musical direction of keyboard player John Hume.

For each member of this tribute band, The Band and their iconic farewell concert both hold special significance.

“It was a magic moment in music history,” says Chris Scerri, “that allowed for some of the most influential modern day artists to get together for the ultimate Jam.”  He adds that the DVD of the concert movie is one which, “I can watch time and time again, and continue to be inspired by both the musical talents and the show itself.”

The Last Waltz was the name Robbie Robertson gave to the farewell concert of The Band, performed on American Thanksgiving Day in 1976 at Winterland Ballroom in San Francisco.  A film of the concert by Martin Scorcese was released in 1978 and was hailed by film critic Michael Wilmington as “the greatest rock concert movie ever made – and maybe the best rock movie, period”  Time bears that out, with the influence of the movie being felt almost forty years later.

“When I Was A Boy” by David Hawkins

Here is a song by Owen Sound based singer-songwriter Dave Hawkins called “When I Was A Boy”.  It evokes those halcyon days of innocence when boys spend their days in the sunshine and their nights “out under the stars” giving their imaginations free range, the days when the entire future is full of promise.

Dave has been a musician since he was very young.  When his older brother was given a guitar for Christmas he played it as well and when the family was given a piano he took lessons from his aunt, getting as far as Grade 5 Conservatory.

“My brother and I used to play and sing harmonies on songs by The Eagles, Bob Dylan, Neil Young,” he says, “I found that it was a way to let out all that teen angst.  It’s been a constant friend to me for forty-five years, a wonderful way to learn what’s going on in your heart.”

He came to songwriting from the same motivation.  Although he did some songwriting in his twenties, it is just in the past few years he has begun to take it more seriously.

“Just about three or four years before I retired I started writing again,” he says, “I started writing because I want to get some perspective on who I am now.”  It’s important to him that a song has meaning.  “If I start writing a song I won’t finish it unless it has a deeper meaning – an emotion, an angst, a comment on a life situation.”

His songs do that.  With a relaxed and amiable stage presence, a resonant baritone voice and a sense of humour (that sometimes cuts deeper than it seems if you’re not paying attention), he is a seasoned performer.  He started as part of a folk duo/trio which morphed into a blues band, then a jazz band, usually built around singing with his wife Trish.  “Now I’m back into country with Trish and The Tractors,” he says.  This popular band specializes in classic country dance music and they play regularly around the area.

His interest in music has dominated his working life, leading him to become a music-related retailer.  First he started a used record store called Record Trade, which still exists in Owen Sound, re-named Randy’s Records by its current owner (still a great place for vinyl lovers).  Then he bought Fromager Music and ran it for thirty years before retiring just a few years ago, selling the business to Long & McQuade.

Through the years he has been a constant and important part of Georgian Shores Songwriters, a loose collective of songwriters that meets every few weeks to exchange song ideas and feedback in a relaxed setting.

With a growing interest in songwriting he is starting to perform his original songs more.  He was part of a Songwriters’ Showcase that happened at The Red Door in Meaford a few weeks ago, sharing the evening with songwriters Bill Monahan and John Brownlow.  It went over well and the three of them enjoyed it enough that they are going to do it again, this time at the Garafraxa Café in Durham on a Sunday afternoon, June 25th.

Return to Front Page for today’s update