Home Grown Music Society Coffee House: Centre 64, Saturday October 27, 2012, 8pm
It has been said before – time flies when you are having fun. This is the thirtieth season of the Home Grown Coffee Houses and once again, along with seasoned performers, new talent seem to have come out of the woodwork to enhance the local music scene. The Green room was crammed with eighteen talented musicians ready to go on stage.
A fresh season and a fresh configuration of some well known local musicians, in what will be a first for the coffee house, an all female Blue Grass band. I hesitate to to call PIX AND STIX a “girl band” because they are nothing like their gender opposite “a boy band”. Most of these ladies are fresh from this summer’s Blue Grass camp and they were anxious to strut their stuff. This very strong vocal ensemble included Paige Lennox on banjo (a new banjo at that), Shelagh Redecopp on fiddle, Heather Gemmell on guitar and her first outing playing dobro, Shauna Plant on mandolin, Janice Nicli on bass and Cosima Wells on guitar. All the ladies did heavy duty on vocals as well. After listening to their renditions of ‘Bury Me beneath the Weeping Willow Tree’ and ‘Long Gone’ I suspect Cosima Well’s musical direction had a lot do with the harmonies within the band. Interspersed with the vocals were instrumental breaks on banjo, fiddle, bass, dobro and mandolin. The ladies have only been together musically for a couple of weeks and this is sure to be the beginning of new, and hopefully, ongoing musical experience for local audiences.
Originally from Nelson, Darren Welch has more recently returned from “the centre of the universe” (Smithers, BC). Both Darren and I both met our wives in Smithers so, naturally, it is the centre of our universes. Darren treated the audience to three original songs,‘Pretty Wild’, ‘Great Divide’ and ‘Sunshine’ that were colored by his northern experiences. They all featured good vocals with some nice controlled dynamic shadings in his guitar accompaniments. Doug Mitchell is no stranger to Homegrown audieces. Under different circumstances I suspect Doug is out to aggravate his audience and get them to think about the issues. ‘Keep Jumbo Free’ (“who needs a summer place to ski”) was, naturally, playing to the converted. His spoof on the health life style benefits of Coca Cola and musical comments on the Enbridge pipeline proposal all hit very responsive chords. Liz Dowling had a transport malfunction (her car broke down) that stranded her in Marysville some eight years ago and she has not come up with a good enough reason to want to leave. She is originally from the Annapolis Valley in Nova Scotia and, naturally, folk music runs in her veins. She re-visited the folk music of a bygone era, threw in a Merle Haggard tune and finished off her set with Bob Dylan’s ‘Farewell Angelina’. Thank god for cars that break down in the most opportune and appropriate places. Rob Young and James Neve are two core members of the folk/rock band 60 Hertz. Rob plays lead guitar and James sings and plays a very choice Larrivee acoustic guitar. James and the band are noted for the number and quality of original songs that make up their repertoire. In a slight step away from 60 Hertz Rob and James were joined by Tristan Neve on a very original percussion set up that included a Cajon used as a kick drum. The Cajon is a small wood box drum originally from Peru. It has found its way firstly into Flamenco music and now into the musical mainstream. Tristan uses the Cajon as a kick drum and along with a snare drum, cymbal and Irish Bodhran he has managed to come up with a small kit that pretty well covers all the territory normal associated with a standard drum kit. His use of brushes on the Bodhran is very original. As always, it was another opportunity for the audience to touch bases with some of James Neve’s newer material that included ‘Take the Wheel’, ‘Safe to Sail’ and ‘Come Back’. John Gerlitz is one of a number of musicians proudly stuck in the past. For John it is the old-time music of the blues masters and practitioners of that style that he finds especially attractive. He proved this with his renditions of Jessie Colin Young’s ‘Sugar Babe’, Bessie Smith’s 1925 hit ‘You’ve been a Good Ol’ Wagon but now you’ve done broke down’, and the ever popular “Deep River Blues’. Dave Carlson insists that bluegrass songs are sad songs that always sound happy. I’m not so sure about that particularly after Dave and Carol Fergus chose to focus on economically devastated communities in such songs as ‘Last Train from Poor Valley’ and Si Kahn’s ‘Aragon Mill’. Never-the-less the songs were especially fine songs complemented by Carol’s stand-up electric bass and Dave’s nice clean picking on his beat up old Martin guitar. The last act of the evening was a nameless band in full Halloween regalia. The band included Leslie Pink on vocals and guitar, Mike Kennedy on blues harp and the young Jeff Curren on congas and percussion. The shading of the material was definitely bluesy with a little rock kick to move the night to a grand finale. That’s an apt description for their treatment of ‘Tied to the Whipping Post’, ‘On the Road Again’ and ‘The House of the Rising Sun’.
Until the next Home Grown Coffee House on Saturday December 1, 2012 that’s it folks.Thanks go to the many volunteers that make the evening possible and thanks to the MC Bud Decosse, Ray on sound and Terry on lights.