BY YVETTE ROGERS
The East Coast Music Awards promise a weekend full of choices. The streets of Sydney will be teeming with musicians, delegates, and enthusiasts, and there are showcases and “no-cases” planned for several bars, arenas, and big-stage venues. But another choice in the mix I’d like to draw attention to, one that holds the “One Big Kitchen Party” moniker to task, is a concert held in a home in Sydney’s North End, a Heritage district neighborhood.
Oran Taigh (Song House) located at 42 Amelia Street, is hosting a special concert hosted by the Ghosts of the Northend. Music is part of the heritage that lives on in this neighborhood, the spirits of tunes capture the best of us, and many songwriters and tunemakers migrate here. Much like the pot-luck dinner (another tradition around here), wherein a diverse buffet is served up by way of what everyone brings to the table, where one is sure to find something that suits their taste and also sure to try something new, this kitchen party (well, living room party) serves up a diverse lineup of music.
Starting at 6pm in a come-in-find-a-spot-on-the-floor fashion, this concert mixes the comfort of feeling at home (whether or not you are familiar with the home owner, or neighborhood) with an impressive lineup of performers befitting a theatre: Al Tuck, Coco Love Alcorn, The Express, Carmel Mikol, Ian Foster, Dawn & Margie Beaton, Ruth Minnikin, Penny Blacks, and Rob Harris.
In case there is someone on that list you aren’t familiar with, I’ll tell you my impressions of the lot.
Al Tuck is a songwriter I thoroughly enjoy listening to. I would describe his sound as Tom Petty meets Bob Dylan, and his writing is incredibly witty and deep.
Coco Love Alcorn is everyone’s girl next door, who is absolutely charming as a performing artist and writes clever tunes about her loves, which include bicycles, and intellectual boys. I’m a bit confused about her roots, whether she’s a British Columbian–come-by-Nova Scotia, or a Nova Scotian-gone-the-way of British Columbia, but in any case, she’s lived here for long enough to garner her an ECMA nod, and we’ll take her!
The Express is a group from PEI who create melodic folkie pop. I personally have been introduced to this act as a result of investigating this lineup. Great find!
Carmel Mikol is a Cape Breton singer-songwriter who has a roots-driven style that is kind of country, kind of folky, kind of easy-listening.
Ian Foster is a singer-songwriter from Newfoundland. He named Ryan Adams and Daniel Lanois among his influences, and that is evident in his songs. He also reminds me a bit of Thom Swift.
Dawn and Margie Beaton are Cape Breton’s sweethearts. Their friendly demeanor and warm stage banter is charming, but it’s their lively and incredibly talented fiddling (and piano playing and step dancing) that give everyone a reason to hoot and cheer.
Ruth Minnikin hails from Dartmouth, and she’s one of my favorite folk performers. Her songs are interesting and captivating. Her clear, rich, warm voice has a classic sound. I describe it as a mix between Alicia Penney and Joni Mitchell.
Penny Blacks are from Newfoundland. They are a folk-rock band with lots of melody, and a sound reminiscent of The Shins and The Smiths.
Rob Harris is a local boy with a soft voice and melodic tunes. He is recognized by many around these parts as the frontman for progressive rockers Roots and Rhythm Remain, but he is playing this living room solo.
Hosted by the Ghosts of The Northend, this is sure to be a pleasing show. The Ghosts of the Northend Festival held last spring at St. Pat’s Museum became the springboard for a few other eclectic gatherings held under the moniker (on behalf of the spirits that float around the streets, of course). I’ve attended two shows hosted by the group and was blown away by the performances, both times I took away something new, became a fan of a band I’d never heard prior to the show, and felt a connection to the historic neighborhood. The last show was also a living room show held at 42 Amelia, and I must say it was enjoyed by all—those who plunked down in the living room or danced around the kitchen. See you there March 6th.