Tag Archives: Phil Klages

My Sweet Patootie Kicks Off Desboro Music Hall’s Summer Season

This Saturday, Apr. 22nd, the Desboro Music Hall will be kicking off its second concert season with the international folk/jazz trio, My Sweet Patootie, a  show that Driftwood Magazine describes as “two parts exemplary musicianship, one part vaudeville comedy”.  The opening act will be Alicia Toner from Canada’s East Coast.

The Desboro Music Hall was created when brothers Phil and Joe Klages bought the historic Anglican church in town.  Ever since the community centre closed down there had been a gap in the local culture and Phil and Joe, music fans who grew up in Desboro, saw the church as an ideal venue for concerts and other community activities.  Their inaugural year was a great success, a mixture of local musicians as well as acts like Oh Susanna, Alfie Smith and Mark Reeves.  Their choice of featured acts reflects the affection local audiences feel for roots based music and they have the good taste to include only the best purveyors of the style.  It is the kind of concert series that you can attend knowing that it will be good because of the care with which it was put together.  This year’s series starts and ends with exemplary performers who also happen to be Meaford residents, starting with My Sweet Patootie, who reside in Meaford when they are not on tour, and ending in October with The Honey Brothers, featuring Meaford talents Drew McIvor and Jayden Grahlman, along with Jay Stiles.

My Sweet Patootie was formed as a duo in 2007 when the long-running Canadian roots band Tanglefoot disbanded after decades of touring.   The two halves of Tanglefoot took off in different directions.  One half teamed up with Meaford-based drummer and singer-songwriter Beaker Granger to form RPR (stands for Richie/Parrish/Richie) and put the emphasis on roots rock.  The Patootie half took off in an entirely different direction and, now after several years of touring and recording, they have evolved into a totally unique live act with recordings that have a sheen to them combining nostalgia with superlative musicianship.

If they were a very serious act the audience would be moved by their extraordinary musicianship.  If they were mediocre players, their energetic showmanship would easily carry the day.  When the two elements are combined they put on an irresistible show.

Both Terry Young and Sandra Swanell of My Sweet Patootie are classically trained, Terry in voice and Sandra in violin and viola.  Terry’s roots, though, go back to Canadiana folk and his fingerpicking guitar style was influenced by players like Bruce Cockburn.  Sandra was the principal violist of the Georgian Bay Symphony and fronted the Celtic art-rock band The Shards before joining Tanglefoot in 2005.  Despite her classical training her violin more often than not echoes the “hot jazz” of Stephane Grapelli.  Together they took their superlative instrumental chops and applied it to a hybrid of folk, Celtic and old jazz.  All of these elements can be heard in their performances and their recordings.  They mix evocative covers with their own originals which are simultaneously moving and whimsical.

Mark Reeves This Saturday at Meaford Hall Gallery Series

Everybody talks about Mark Reeves stage presence.  “Mark is not only at ease performing, he owns the stage,” says Pierre Guerin, former artistic director of the Winnipeg Folk Festival and past president of the North American Folk Alliance. “Even more impressive is the attention and care he pays to his craft as a songwriter.”

“I think that I write like a person that’s watching a movie and I try to describe that,” he told Mike Ruta of DurhamRegion.com., who added, “he clearly has a good time in the spotlight and wants the crowd to as well.”

These strengths come from many years of learning how to please an audience by busking in the streets where he learned that the first priority is to keep the audience entertained.  He mixes his songs with anecdotes and stories about the songs that he knows will engage the audience.  He appreciates a good audience and, knowing what the audiences are like at Meaford Hall, he is bound to be in his element when he plays there this Saturday, the fourth great little show in the Gallery Concert Series.

He has played this area before, several times at The Irish Mountain House Concerts, where artistic director Liz Scott describes him as “an Irish Mountain favourite, Mark Reeves fires up his sultry ballads and blistering blues, leaving the audience on the edge of their seats and breathless for more. He’s a one man show, the music right through him, and it sinks into our souls.”

He was the inspiration for brothers Phil and Joe Klages to initiate buy an Anglican church and convert it to the Desboro Music Hall.  When they finished last year’s concert series there with Mark and local phenomenon Jayden Grahlman, they said, “We thought it would be appropriate to end our season with the artist who started it all: Mark Reeves.”  Joe and Phil saw Mark’s concert at Greenbank back in 2015 and after talking with Mogens and Cathy, the folks who started Greenbank Folk Music Society, they thought, “Hey, we could do this” and thus began the dream of The Desboro Music Hall.  “So since Mark Reeves kind of helped start the beginnings of the idea, it’s fitting to have him come and close our first season at The Desboro Music Hall.”

Originally from Winnipeg, where a fertile music scene over the years has spawned artists as diverse as Neil Young and The Guess Who, he was accepted at a young age into the famous Berklee School of Music in Boston, but after two semesters, opted instead to get his education in the streets and the blues clubs.  Opening for everyone from Robert Cray and Blue Rodeo to Colin James and Jesse Winchester, he learned his performance skills and his reverence for his audience.

While he describes himself as “a roots artist” with echoes of blues, folk, gospel and other genres in the mix, it’s also been said that if Bonnie Raitt and Lyle Lovett had a love child, Mark Reeves would be it.

The Meaford Hall Gallery Concert Series, arranged to continue to provide live music for local audiences while the Opera House is closed for renovations to the balcony, has been a pretty amazing set of performances so far, with each artist responding to the intimacy of the space and the warmth of the audience.  For many, it has provided an introduction to talents that they might otherwise have missed. That continues this Saturday with Mark Reeves.

Tickets are just $30, showtime is 8pm this Saturday March 4.  Sellouts are the norm for this series, so don’t wait to get your tickets.

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