~ by Fred Middleton
Thereâ€™s nothing like an afternoon of home-grown talent to send the February blues packinâ€™.
Randy Stark hosted a most enjoyable acoustic open mic at the Whaleâ€™s Rub, Sunday February 19th. First up was Jon Taylor on guitar and vocals.Â Jon, backed by Randyâ€™s leads and harmonies, presented a folk standard sandwich with a bluesy filling. Iâ€™m more of a blues fan yet the number that stood out for me was â€˜Working Manâ€™, due largely to the harmonizing – great rendition of this east coast tribute to the men who work underground. Thanks for getting the ball rolling Jon.
Next came Wisteria Wildwood who played guitar and sang three lively blues numbers, the second of which was an original composition. Wisteria tells me she has more in the drawer – self-penned songs, that is. I hope to hear them at future open mics. Blues man Randy added some tasty licks and spot-on harmonies to the mix. Now that youâ€™ve exposed yet another talent, Wisteria, any chance of hearing a song with every purchase of a dozen or more baked goods?
I must say here that playing music is one thing, performing another and songwriting yet another.Â Hats off to those who do it all – most appreciated.
Emma Point and Kindra Rosgen took the stage next and performed three upbeat cover tunes including a fine take on a Be Good Tanyasâ€™ song (I think). As Emmaâ€™s guitar did not have a pick-up, she agreed to play one that was considerably larger. Ultimately this caused a finger cramp and consequently a few breaks in her playing. The effect on the duoâ€™s overall sound was very minor, however. Not only do Kindra and Emma harmonize well, their uniquely different voices compliment one another tremendously.
The next three songs Kindra performed solo. The first of these was an original composition, speaking of songwriting.Â Kindra is a very talented, prolific songwriter and Iâ€™m guessing, from what Iâ€™ve heard, that some of her tunes would be considered alternative. Another talent methinks – outside-the-box writing. Itâ€™s no small feat coming up with songs that are difficult to categorize musically yet still within enough of a framework to make them appealing to the listener.Â And appealing they are.
Then came the heavy hitters.Â There were four of them and they all had voices and instruments â€“ big voices and, well, at least one big instrument. They were Backbone Road in what may be their last performance in quite some time due to the departure of the lovely Lori Anderson. Apparently, Lori is moving to someplace called Revelstoke? to hang out with some guy named Bob. Our loss, Bob’s gain … we’ll miss you Lori.
Lori, Stephanie Eakle, Michele Meisler and John Rosser delighted the audience with 13 wonderfully harmonious tunes. â€˜I Scare Youâ€™ always stands out to me, perhaps because it deviates from the bluegrass mould, contains unusual chord progressions and has pleasingly disturbing lyrics, not to mention Stephanieâ€™s delivery of those lyrics and the fantastic harmonies. Another standout tune is â€˜Atheistsâ€™, delivered a cappella. Great harmonies, very funny lyrics and with Lori and Stephanieâ€™s hand signals for â€˜lower caseâ€™, I think it could become part of the curriculum at A.J. Elliot.
There is one more song Iâ€™d like to mention – â€˜Ritaâ€™.Â Itâ€™s a treat for me to be able to â€˜meetâ€™ Rita through a song and, I expect, for those who knew her, to remember her through a song. We have Betty Carlson to thank for that. Betty wrote the first part of â€˜Ritaâ€™ and compiled the rest, originally perforing it with Fifth Wheel (Betty & Guy Carlson, Stephanie Eakle, Michele Meisler and Marg Colwell). Fine song, Betty.
Wisteria and Randy returned to the stage at this point to usher out the afternoon with two blues numbers. The last of these was a great version of â€˜Come on in my Kitchenâ€™.Â Good stuff, W.W..
And now for the other two components: the audience and the crew (yes, there was a crew). The audience responded to all the performers with great gusto making it possible for anyone who took the stage to relax somewhat and give it their all. Dagnab it, we just have the best audiences.
The crew, Greg Dobson and Ros Bangham, did an outstanding job with the sound. Part of what made this possible was the loan of Paul Davidsonâ€™s â€˜snakeâ€™, which is an extension of cords (encased in one housing), that enables the soundperson to set up the mixing board out in the audience. From here he can hear what the audience is hearing and control the tone and volume of various instruments and voices. This is doubly important in the case of an open mic because every one who gets up on stage would, potentially, need a different setting to optimize their sound.
Unlike some of the open mics in the past, I found everyone who took the stage was well balanced.This was particularly evident in the four-part harmonies of Backbone Road. Thanks for the loan, Paul and thanks Greg and Ros for taking the scary factor out of electrified sound.
What next, you may ask:
Sunday, March 11 @ 2:30 pmÂ Â Â Â Â Â Â