Heather G’s Jam – The Blue Grass Session at Ric’s Grill (Prestige Inn, Cranbrook) Friday February 1, 2013 from 7:30pm to midnight. In a slight departure from previous sessions Heather opted for an acoustic session of mostly Blue Grass music. This was a significant sonic challenge. Blue Grass musicians are notoriously picky about plugging in their instruments. Their preferred mode of sound re-enforcement is to use condenser mics and for musicians to step up close enough to be heard. The idea is to to preserve the acoustic nature of the music. The dancing back and forth of the musicians to the microphones can be a little distracting but in certain circumstances it can work well. Unfortunately the sound characteristics of Ric’s and the crowded stage somewhat compromised the ideal. At the beginning of the evening the audience background noise was almost overwhelming and musicians had a hard time hearing each other on stage. As the evening wore on the musicians found an optimum, audience noise abated and the sound quality improved. Having said all that it was a night of marvelous music with a capacity crowd. The stage was populated by some of the finest Blue Grass musicians from up and down the valley. From as far away as Creston, Fernie and Invermere. Well know identities such as Mike and Annie Hepher, Elena Yeung, Steve Jones, Heather Gemmell, Shelagh Redecopp and Keith Larsen kicked off the night with some well known tunes. They were joined by other well known musicians such as Dave Carlson and Bud Decosse, Brian Noer and Heather Gemmell. On a quieter note Sheva (Shelagh and Van Redecopp), 11th Avenue Stopover (Beth Crawley and Rod Wilson) and Daze of Grace (Sharon and Jubal Routley), although not strictly Blue Grass, played acoustic sets that were consistent with the intent of the evening. The outstanding performers of the evening were Elena Yeung with her strong banjo playing, Heather Gemmel`s vocals on a minor key version of You are my Sunshine, Keith Larsen`s I am a Man of Constant Sorrow, Steve Lungal`s sing-along selections and Clayton Parsons` reworking of some old blues styles.
LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION: Heather G’s Jam, co-hosted by Dave Prinn and Heather Gemmell at Ric’s Lounge in the Prestige Hotel in Cranbrook, November 9, 2012, 7-11pm.
Location isn’t everything but it is certainly a step in the right direction. Ever since Finnegans Wake closed down local musicians have been bereft of a place to informally perform. Bj’s Creekside Pub is still very much on the scene but that is in Kimberley. The management of Ric’s lounge has stepped up to the plate with a live music policy that, if the two first Heather G jam session are any indication, seem destined for success. If so it will be well deserved. The location is perfectly obvious, accessible, well appointed, lots of parking, pleasant staff and good food. Add in some opportune timing (once a month, 7-9 pm) and a huge reservoir of local talent then it looks like we are in for some good times. On this particular night Dave Prinn and Heather Gemmell kicked off the evening with a great duo of their speciality – rocky / blues with lots of musical interplay. That was just the beginning of an evening filled with music by Sheva (Shelagh and Van Redecopp), Sharon Routley, Rick Marasco and Rod Wilson, James Neve, Mark Casey and Jon Bissett. But undoubtedly the stars of the evening were the ladies of the all female Blue Grass band PIXS AND STIXS (Cosima Wells, Paige Lennox, Janice Nicili, Shelagh Gunn and Heather Gemmell). This was only the second live performance by the band and although handicapped by some technical sound problems and the absence of their mandolin player (Shauna Plant) they proceeded to delight a packed house. At one stage people were lining up at the door. Here are some images from the evening:
So, thanks to Heather Gemmell and Brian Noer for a great idea. Thanks to the management and staff of Ric’s for the venue. Thanks to the musicians and patrons for a wonderful evening and last, but not least thanks to Dave Prinn for his superb organizational skills and the masses of sound equipment he managed for the evening.
Heather G’s Jam #3 will be held On Friday January 4th, 2013 7-11 pm.
OPEN MIC SESSION HOSTED BY DAVE PRINN at BJ’s Creekside Pub in Kimberley, Saturday November 3, 2012, 7:30 pm
“Jam Session”, “Open Mic” – is there a difference? To most people probably not but there is a slight difference in intent. “Jam sessions” are a hang over from the Jazz Age when musicians would get together and mostly improvise instrumental performances based on standard jazz tunes and tunes from “The Great American Song Book”. There was (is) an expectation that the performers have a thorough working knowledge of the melody and the chords. That still happens of course but as jazz has slipped into the background a modern day Jam session usually uses classic rock and popular music as vehicles for performances. In both Jazz and Rock Jam sessions performances are mostly unrehearsed and often musicians may have never before played together. There is always a high element of risk of things coming off the rails and ending in shambles. On the other hand if things work at their best there is the possibility of audiences being treated to one time incredible performances. “Open Mic” sessions probably owe more to the traditions of the folk music era. It is usually implied that the performers have worked and rehearsed together and have come up with credible polished versions for the performance. Occasionally, sometimes quite often in fact, other musicians may join the performance and the result is a “jam session”. Of course, there is some etiquette involved and “crashing” a performance without permission may cause some unpleasantness. The Open Mic sessions at BJ’s Creekside Pub are held once a month and, depending on the host, will usually contain elements of both types of sessions. Such was the case on Saturday night. Dave Prinn is a solid solo act who is very generous with sharing the stage during an evening. He opened the night with a solo performance and was followed by Bill St.Amand playing his jazzy standards. During the evening Dave jammed with Paige Lennox and Fred on such Blue Grass standards as “Blackberry Blossom”. It is not often in this area that two banjo players grace the same stage at the same time. Yours truly (Rod Wilson) did the Celtic thing with some songs and instrumental pieces such as “Dimming of the Day”, “Ben’s Lament”, “Bonnie Ciara / The Blarney Pilgrim” on the Irish Cittern. Who else played? there was Daze of Grace joined by Rod Wilson on Irish Whistle and percussion. On a rare night off from the Casino Tom Bungay did his thing and of course “D Squared” (Dave Phillipe and Dave Prinn – vocals and guitars) ripped up the stage with their very polished performances of classic rock songs. Solo performers Jon Bissett and a newcomer to the area “Lee” (didn’t catch his last name) provided some mellow sounds before Dave rounded out the night with his extremely fine singing and finger picking on a few classic tunes that include Neil Young’s classic “Old Man” . Keep an eye on calender – BJ’s Creekside Pub Open Mic sessions are usually on the first Saturday of the month.