Pat Blythe – Discoveries and Julian Taylor
The days are getting shorter, the air is cooler…actually downright cold in the evening. Boots, gloves, toques and scarves are appearing and I’ve finally sucked it up and put the heat on. Warm-to-the-feet bathroom floors are just lovely in the morning. Halloween approaches, American Thanksgiving and then (dare I say)…..oh shush…..Christmas!!!!…73 shopping days left folks!!!
….and now for a musical interlude….
Okay, working backwards from last night….Discoveries. A Jane Harbury presentation now in its twelfth year. In partnership with Hugh’s Room, Harbury continues to support and present new talent, introducing the artists and their music to new audiences several times a year. I have attended a few of these evenings and was fortunate enough to catch last night’s performers. According to Harbury most of these artists “are just beginning their creative journeys. The concept is a simple one, (none of these artists is yet able to fill the room on their own, although we have confidence that each one will get to that point) bring four talents together, give each 30 minutes on stage and have each one bring out their fans, family and friends. Suddenly you have a full room and everyone present cheers on their artist and in the process discovers new talent to support in the future.” What a concept!
Opening the night was singer/songwriter/musician Matt Nakoa. Sharp, witty, fabulous sense of humor and very accomplished on the guitar and particularly the piano. Just reading his bio and finding Nakoa was trained as a concert pianist. It most certainly shows. His fingers just fly over the keys and the music they make is magical. My favourite song of the night, “You Are My Moonshine” is fun and playful….a “drinking song and a love song”. Nakoa has a way with words and a style that reminded me of Arlo Guthrie (lyrics) combined with Billy Joel (must be the piano) with a dash of Joni Mitchell (song construction). Go figure! He’s a poet with a quick rhyme, a great ditty, folk or rock, or a full on “orchestrated” piece and his voice carries it all. According to a piece in the Boston Globe Nakoa is inspired by Chopin, Brahms, Beethoven and Led Zepplin. I love the combination! Comfortable on stage and with his music, I would attend one of his shows in a heartbeat. Read more about Nakoa, listen to more of his music and find out his touring sched here http://www.mattnakoa.com/
You Are My Moonshine – Matt Nakoa
Christian Vegh and his band then took the stage. The young teenage guitar prodigy opened with a number that was distinctly reminiscent of Pink Floyd. After a symbolic deep inhale (me) the full band cut into the song with a bang. Vegh knows what he wants, has full control over what he hears and how he plays. His technique is patiently particular. He plays each string, each note with a surety that belies his age. A young life full of accomplishments including being named to the “Brotherhood of the Guitar” as one of the top 16 international guitarists under 21. Vegh is currently taking a year off his studies at Berklee College of Music to pursue recording (he is currently working on his third CD), songwriting and performing. Vegh’s closing blues number….excellent. Recognizing the skilled musicians backing him Vegh introduced each of them — Vanessa Harnish (drums), Keith Wilkinson (bass and keys) and Lee Cochrane (rhythm and lead guitar). Vegh’s voice live….it’s not comfortable on the high end….the low end….just fine.
Ahhh….interesting…..just checked out some of Vegh’s work and found a video of him performing Wish You Were Here by Pink Floyd. When I listened to his self-titled CD, guitar players of the 1970s and early 80s come instantly to mind but one guitar virtuoso in particular, Dave Barrett. Christian, you should check Barrett out. Everyone else, you can read all about Vegh and listen to a number of his tunes here http://christianvegh.com/
The Farm – Christian Vegh
After a 10-minute change over Harbury introduced us to singer/songwriter (and sometimes actor) Clair Hunter. Hunter has a powerful, rich voice when she lets loose, which reached all corners of Hugh’s Room. I have a suspicion the woman doesn’t need a mic. Jann Ardenesque with a touch of Jewel, Hunter’s acoustic set was “music to my ears”. Folk, sprinkled with some pop, sometimes balladeer….passionate, sweet and gentle….Hunter released her first four-song EP, all original material, this past February. A resident of our fair city, the EP, entitiled Something Safe, was Funded by a grant from The City of Toronto Arts Council.
Something Safe – Claire Hunter
Jennis – Jen Gilmor and Dennis Gaumond
To close out a fabulous night was Jennis. This Guelph-based, multi-instrumentalist duo — Dennis Gaumond and Jen Gilmor — brought some fun and a few extremely interesting instruments to the stage. Ever seen a didgeridoo, or a dobro or how about a wazinator? Both a visual and auditory feast, this duo covered the gamut. Jazzy, bluesy, some funk rolled into folk. I loved their sense of fun and appreciated their skillful musicianship. ….and I do love me a great sounding cello. From the website…. “Dennis’s compositions, while rooted in blues traditions and inspired by the likes of JJ Cale and Ben Harper, hint at his love of Middle Eastern and African music. Jen….infuses the duo’s sound with her passion for many styles and traditions ranging from rock and reggae to funk, Celtic and African music.” An eclectic mix of genres combined with consummate musicianship. They brought a sense of whimsy and great music to send us into the night.
Read all about them here http://jennis.ca/
Closer To Me – Jennis
Thank you Jane Harbury for your relentless search and promotion of new talent and thank you for sharing your love and passion for good music. Check out Discoveries, you’ll never know what you’ll “discover”.
L-R – Jen Gilmor, Matt Nokoa, Dennis Gaumond, Jane Harbury, Claire Hunter & Christian Vegh
October 7 and it’s Julian Taylor night. Desert Star, the latest release from the Julian Taylor Band (JTB) was launched at Lee’s Palace last Friday. OH MY GOD!!!!! What a show. The band was on fire and Taylor himself was just smokin’. Let the man loose on stage sans guitar and he takes on a whole different persona. My camera had mind of its own and just took over. From the opening number “Do You Remember When” from the album Tech Noir through “Bobbi Champagne” to one of my favs “Chemical Low” (this one is now my ring tone on my new mobile) and of course my personal summer song “Just A Little Bit”. The place was just electric and the floor was packed. There was indeed a whole lotta love at Lee’s that night. Everyone of the musicians….superb. My fellow scribe Frank Gutch wrote a piece on JTB yesterday and did the leg work obtaining all the names of the musicians who performed with Taylor….and here they are….JTB… Julian Taylor/guitar, vox; Bill Bell/guitar; Steve Pelletier/bass; Jeremy Elliott/drums; Norman Ryan/sax; Ritch Thoman/sax; David Engle/keys; Richard Fairthorne II/keys; with Laurel Tubman and Karen Scovell providing backup voices.
Please excuse me, I haven’t forgotten the opening acts. I’ve run out of time. It’s late and I need to get this posted. Next week…..
It was one hell of a night. Taylor and the band should be chuffed! Taylor deserves all the accolades coming his way. It might be a bit overwhelming but I’ll side with Mr. Gutch, “this guy, THIS BAND, is on their way up….this band is outstanding!” I have my vinyl copy of Desert Star. Do you?
Julian Taylor….look ma, no guitar!
I took so many pics that night I’ll have to post them on at A Girl With A Camera “The Picture Taker”. ….and I do believe I caught all of you….
All photos (except the album cover) © Pat Blythe, A Girl With A Camera “The Picture Taker”
Pat’s column appears every Wednesday.
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“Music and photography….my heart, my passions.” After an extended absence — 33 years as a consultant and design specialist in the telecommunications industry — Pat has turned her focus back to the music scene. Immersing herself in the local club circuit, attending the many diverse music festivals, listening to some great music, photographing and writing once again, she is eager to spread the word about this great Music City of ours…..Toronto. Together for 34 years, Pat also worked alongside her late husband Christopher Blythe, The PictureTaker©, who, beginning in the early 70s, photographed much of the local talent (think Goddo, Frank Soda and the Imps, BB Gabor, the first Police Picnic, Buzzsaw, Hellfield, Shooter, The Segarini Band….) as well as national and international acts. Pat is currently making her way through 40 years of Chris’s archives, 20 of which are a photographic history of the local GTA music scene beginning in 1974. It continues to be a work in progress. Oh…..and she LOVES to dance!