Tag Archives: Steve Vipond

Luke Martin Finding His Voice at Bruce Wine Bar

If you’re heading to Bruce Wine Bar this Friday night don’t be expecting green beer and “Kiss Me I’m Irish” buttons.  There will be plenty of pubs offering a chance to pretend you’re Irish for a night.  Bruce Wine Bar will be putting the focus on what it does best: presenting original singer-songwriters in an intimate setting conducive to listening.  Owner Steve Vipond consistently expresses his passion for original songwriting by presenting dinner shows that feature the best in touring artists and local emerging talents.  This Friday the focus will be on one of the most promising local talents around: Luke Martin.

It’s just been two years since Luke Martin decided to follow his dream of making music full time and his first paying gig ever was at Bruce Wine Bar.  “I just feel so lucky to have had the opportunity to meet Steve and Jen,” he says, “There has never been a venue like Bruce Wine Bar, with big city sophistication in a small town.”  He appreciates that it is a place that is classy in every respect, from the décor to the menu, and that it provides a platform for original music.  For him it’s a far cry from, and far superior to, the bar scene he left behind in Montreal.

“I was managing a bar there, and I wasn’t very happy,” he says, “and my family urged me to make a change, to do what I love.  So I quit my job and started playing full time.”  It was creativity, not a thirst for fame, that drove him.  He had been writing songs and playing guitar for about ten years, attended a professional theatre school and done a little acting and improv, but his only public outlet for creativity was as a cocktail consultant.  “At a certain point when you write a lot of songs,” he says, “you have to get out there.”

It seems counter-intuitive to leave one of the country’s biggest and most cosmopolitan cities to start a musical career in rural Ontario, but Luke Martin is a man who embodies paradox.  While he has an assurance and delivery on stage that comes across as a seasoned professional, he is actually tentative about his talent.  “I don’t consider myself a musician or guitarist,” he says, “but I’ve always been very interested in lyrics.  I’m attracted to songwriters like Bob Dylan, who are more poetic in their approach.”  Even while mesmerizing audiences with his songs and his delivery, he always comes off stage a little disappointed in himself, thinking about the things he needs to improve. “I’m never happy with what I’m doing,” he says.  Although he is grateful to the Bruce Wine Bar audiences who listen intently to his songs, he is just as happy playing to a noisy room full of conversation.  “When nobody’s listening,” he says, “that’s when I feel most free.”

The move to our area was a chance for a fresh start and to find himself, a process that he is still exploring.  He didn’t feel comfortable about the idea of becoming a performer in Montreal, playing to the same people that he had been serving drinks (although there’s no shame in that).  He had an opportunity to live in Markdale when he heard of a Therapeutic Riding Centre that was looking for someone to work on the farm and take care of the horses, something he’s had some experience with.  It gave him a base to work from to launch his career as a singer-songwriter.  Since then he’s moved to Kimberley, and his reputation as a performer and songwriter continues to grow.  He definitely feels he made the right move, “You get a chance to be more experimental here,” he says, “People are more willing to listen.”

Despite a growing fan base, selling out previous nights at Bruce Wine Bar, Meaford Hall’s Summer Terrace Series, and other venues, he is still restless, still looking for his unique expression.  He’d be happy if he was more satisfied with his efforts.  “I’d much rather appreciate what I do than sound like anyone else.  I’m a bit of a perfectionist, in just about anything I do.”  So far, mainly due to that perfectionism, there are not a lot recordings to be found of his work.  He has posted things on You Tube in the past, then removed them rather than have them stand of representations of what he does.  His restless creativity pushes him toward other outlets, writing in various media, with an idea for a graphic novel and plans to try his hand at stand-up comedy.  He would like to record his songs but it is a matter of finding the right producer.  Being a perfectionist, he’s not always comfortable with musical collaborations.

Until he finds his level in his own mind, the only way you can experience his work is to see him live.  We can be grateful to Bruce Wine Bar for seeing his talent and sharing it with the community.  Even if he comes off stage disappointed in his performance, the audience never is.

As always, reservations are recommended for both one hour dinner shows 7 and 9pm.

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The Thursday Outlook – Feb. 23 to 26, 2017

A couple of outstanding female artists top the list of this weekend’s live music picks in Meaford, with Jenie Thai on Friday at The Red Door Grille and Franny Wisp at Meaford Hall on Saturday.

Jenie Thai offers up virtuoso piano playing, with a beautifully expressive and sensitive voice and evocative songs, to make up a very special package in this small venue.

And with the balcony renos at Meaford Hall still going on, it is presenting live music in a small venue as well with Franny Wisp and her Washboard.  A local phenomenon who combines spoken word, music and satire, it may be difficult at this point to get a ticket but it’s definitely worth checking out if you can.

And The Leeky Canoe will be rocking on Saturday with Rob Elder.  Don’t forget that the open mic has changed to Thursday nights with Chris Scerri, whose cohost this week will be Rich Fletcher, lead guitarist from Bored of Education.  On Saturday night Chris is going to be at Gustav’s in Collingwood.

Another option for this evening is the young singer-songwriter Austin McCarthy at The Huron Club.  Austin, who has been referred to as “an old soul” has been diligently building his career rung by rung with his gentle, introspective songs and hot blues licks.  He’s won over fans opening for Coldjack at The Gayety Theatre, and for Kim Mitchell at The Village at Blue, and he’s won the Collingwood Idol contest.

There are a couple of exciting shows happening on the weekend in Collingwood and Owen Sound.

On Saturday night The Johnny Max Band is having a CD release party at the Harbour Street Fish Bar in Collingwood.  This is their 7th album, which they call, fittingly, “Roadhouse Soul”.  With excellent players and the charismatic presence of Johnny Max, this band is pure joy.

And then on Sunday night, at the Historic Gayety Theatre in Collingwood, one of the best concerts to hit our region in a long time will be Blackie And the Rodeo Kings playing to a packed house.  Promoter Steve Vipond has been daily counting down the number of tickets left and as of yesterday only a handful remained.  This is the second date of a short tour by the band which they are kicking off the night before with a sold out concert at Massey Hall.  This is a concert that people will be talking about for a long time.

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The Thursday Outlook – Feb. 9 to 12, 2016

There’s some excitement in Meaford this week with The Leeky Canoe reopening after renovations that were undertaken in order to provide a better room for live music.  Chris Scerri’s open mic night has moved to Thursdays and tonight he is back and welcoming local musicians to come out and play.  Chris always has a talented co-host to share the evening with him but this time, to celebrate the new and improved Leeky, he’s invited three of Meaford’s most talented musicians to join him: Jayden Grahlman, Beaker Granger and Tom Thwaits.  It promises to be a great evening of music.

And on Saturday at The Leeky, Bored of Education will take the stage, with their popular blend of songs that range from classic rock through a few decades each side of that.  This talented band has some great players, including Tom Thwaits on keyboards.

Gerry Markman

The Red Door Grille at the Meaford Motel continues it’s instrumental music on Friday night with blues veteran Gerry Markman, who has toured with The Lincolns and Alannah Myles, and has played with the likes of Jeff Healey and Dan Ackroyd.  These Friday nights are dinner shows, running from seven to ten.

Steve Poltz live

Steve Poltz

The Bruce Wine Bar in Thornbury also features dinner shows this Friday, with two shows at seven and nine featuring folk singer-songwriter Ken Yates.  Music promoter Steve Vipond has also arranged a house concert for tonight starting at 7:30 at The Bruce Street Social Club, featuring the great songwriter, raconteur, Steve Poltz.  And he has an exciting concert lined up at the end of the month with Blackie and the Rodeo Kings on Sunday Feb. 26th at The Gayety Theatre in Collingwood.  That show is general seating so you’ll want to get your tickets early.

The Huron Club in Collingwood has Pat Maloney tonight and some great local talent lined up for the weekend with Luke Martin on Friday, the Dennis McAndrew Trio on Saturday and Jayden Grahlman for a Sunday matinee.

Heartwood Hall in Owen Sound is giving karaoke aficionados a chance to play with a live band on Friday night.  It’s a 4-piece band with a repertoire of over 300 songs.  They provide you with an iPad for the lyrics.  You can check out the repertoire at www.goodenoughlivekaraoke.com.

Gustav’s in Collingwood this weekend features Jason Redman and Aaron Gardner on Thursday, the Dave Quanbury Duo on Friday, and David J. Russell on Saturday.  There’s still time to get tickets for Dave Russell’s special Valentine’s Show next Tuesday at the Gayety Theatre where he will be doing a tribute to Jim Croce.

The Harbour Street Fish Bar presents Tamica Herod and The Harbour Street Band tonight and the Weber Brothers tomorrow night.

Kailey Thompson is hosting the open mic at The Barn on Sunday afternoon.

ATTENTION MUSICIANS:  The Barn is now rotating hosts on a weekly basis for its popular open mic.  It’s an experiment to try to involve more of the local musicians in this community oriented venue.  If you want to try your hand at hosting, contact Angela at barnpress@gmail.com.

And at the Nottawa Community Centre, Laurie Zwarich will be hosting her monthly open mic afternoon on Sunday from noon to five.

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The Music Biz Is Dead, Long Live Music

John Brownlow lives and breathes creativity.  Aside from his day job as a screenwriter he spends a good deal of his time and energy facilitating local musicians to make the most of their talents.  His son, who is still in high school, leads the Ted Brownlow band, which performed this past summer at the Meaford Summer Concert Series and has also played a couple of gigs at the Marsh Street Centre in Clarksburg.  John has created a series of high quality performance videos of local artists, which he calls The Epping Sessions.  In a beautifully equipped studio, with a heavy retro vibe that comes in part from vintage instruments like a Hammond organ with a Leslie and a real Fender Rhodes electric piano, he creates recordings of his own original songs and mentors young artists.  John was leader of the band The Sportswriters, which disbanded a little over a year ago, in part because it is difficult to sustain a band that is built around original songwriting.  When he speaks about the state of creative music in our area he knows whereof he speaks.

Physical product, the driving force of the industry, has become superfluous

Physical product, the driving force of the industry, has become superfluous

“The music business is dead,” he says, “but music lives.”  He makes a point of differentiating between the two, a very valid point in this day and age.  In an apt but disturbing analogy, he says that musicians are to the music industry what pigs are to the pork industry.  You don’t have to delve very deeply into the history of popular music in the twentieth century and beyond to see his point.  Recordings of performances were originally made, when the record player was developed just prior to the advent of the twentieth century, in order to sell the hardware.  Despite popular perception it has never been the other way around.

Little of the cash filters down to the creators (RIAA statistics)

Little of the cash filters down to the creators (RIAA statistics)

It is only now, when a music lover can enjoy new music on demand at the push of a button thanks to the Internet, that the hardware has become superfluous.  And without the business of distributing hardware, in the form of records, CD’s, cassettes, 8-tracks or some other physical medium, along with the machinery to play them, the huge infrastructure that was the music industry has become superfluous.

Caruso, the first recording star“The industry created a bottleneck of sorts,” John explains, “through which chosen artists were fed, and so those who were chosen became hugely wealthy and famous”  The first big recording star to experience that phenomenon was Enrico Caruso, an opera singer who gained worldwide fame by recording for Victor at the turn of the last century.  Many others followed, riding the wave of technologies, including Elvis Presley who sold millions of 45 rpm singles, and The Beatles, who turned the 33 rpm long-playing disc into a new art form.  Pressing plants chugged, trucks rolled, racks were filled and fans bought the physical medium that carried their favourite tunes.  Someone made a little money each step of the way and it was all charged back to the musicians who had created the music before any royalties were paid.  Musicians provided the content but were last in line for their share of the wealth that accrued.