New Menu + New Band = Packed House, The Rosie Brown Band at BJ’s Creekside Pub, Saturday June 22, 2013, 7:30pm.
This was a much anticipated event. Of course it was much anticipated – the band had wetted audience appetites with a couple of preview performances at local coffee houses. This lovely group of ladies are well known musicians on the local scene and their coming together in this unique configuration was just so, so, right. The banjo player Paige Lennox had moved to the area a few years back with the burning ambition to play in a Bluegrass band. That did happen for a while but the whole band thing kind of fell apart. Paige faded from the scene slightly for a while until the flame was re-ignited with the purchase of a new banjo and a trip to the Bluegrass camps at Sorrento (BlueGrass Camp). In fact the Sorrento workshops can be held responsible for moving other members of the Rosie Brown Band in the same direction. Singer and mandolin player Shauna Plant was a founding member of the well known East Kootenay Band As the Crow Flies. She also has spent time at Sorrento. On the other hand and in another band, Heather Gemmell is best known for her for blues inflected guitar playing as a soloist and with the blues/rock outfit Heather Gemmell and the Peaks. She has recently acquired a dobro and has also spent time in Sorrento honing her bluegrass chops. Cosima Wells is best known for her vocal work with any number of vocal groups around the area. She also plays guitar and has also spent time at Sorrento. Last, but not least is the anchor of the group, Janice Nicli. Janice plays upright bass in this band but has been known to play electric funk bass with Billy Jive’s bands. She is also the Jazz bass player in The Little Jazz Orchestra. There you have it. Five fine ladies with a great stack of songs, great vocal harmonies, stage presence and obviously having the time of their lives on stage. So what more could anybody ask? The pub was packed way before the music started. In fact some patrons showed up at 5:30 to ensure that they could get a table. By 7:30 people were being turned away at the door. From then on, as Cosima would say, the band and the audience were “pumped”. This was not the usual Bluegrass band. The emphasis was on the vocals with some tasty banjo, dobro and mandolin solos sprinkled though out the performance. Manic, testosterone driven instrumental breaks were absent and that was a good thing. The repertoire was also a slight step away from the usual with Michel Shocked Blackberry Blossom, Cosima’s original tune Blood From a Stone, the Earl Scruggs and Lester Flatt’s ballad Rough and Rocky, Heather Gemmell’s reworking of An Angel from Montgomery, an acapella version of Coal War, the Carter Family song Bury me under the Weeping Willow Tree, some Stephen Foster tunes, and Janice Nicli’s standout rendition of the John Prine comedic masterpiece Let’s Talk Dirty in Hawaiian.The audience refused to let the band go and they were forced to recap their first set. It was an absolutely outstanding night of music and bodes well for the band’s future. If Calgary can weather the current flood situation and get things back on track The Rosie Brown Band will be performing at this year’s Calgary Stampede Showcase – good luck ladies. Here are some more images from the evening (click on the images for a larger view).