The 16th Annual Women's Blues Revue, at the Music Hall, 147 Danforth Ave. at Broadview, Sat. Nov. 23rd, 2002, was a gold-mine of undiscovered, and as yet unheralded talent of the female persuasion. Hence the title of this superb annual blues event put on by the TBS once a year since 1987. It was hosted with energy and fun all night long by Shelagh Rogers, well-known for her contributions to C.B.C. radio and
TV. The house band was ably put together by music director/band leader Lily Sazz. She was impressive on keys all night long.
My one personal fave was adorable 19 year old Serena Ryder who blew the place away with her energetic right-from-the-soul singing. She's a rare natural talent .. criticized by some later on for lack of formal training, while in the same breath praised for having a chance to evolve and mature her talent. Hey folks, this girl's a natural talent .. which
is what all that 'formal training/background/maturing' rhetoric aspires to be. She's reached that special position as an entertainer without 'conventional training', (which is a path, not the end result.) Serena's unpretentious and rousing vocal renditions are as good as it gets anywhere. The standing ovation she got at the end of her performance, was a natural result of her charisma and talent on stage. She's already reached the zenith of entertaining .. all I hope is that she can retain it, stick to her musical intuition, and continue in this fine form for many decades to come; bringing happiness to audiences like she did that night.
There were two or three other superb knock 'em dead performances. (All were excellent!) Most noteworthy by far was blues harp wonder, Tracy K's soulful, raw harp deliveries that backed up most of the first set's featured players. She opened the proceedings with a seasoned harp technique that effortlessly wowed and impressed the audience. Later in the first set, Tracy awed the crowd before intermission, with a
gut-wrenching harp solo that was beyond impressive, elevating Tracy's performance to sheer harp joy. It was highly enjoyable listening to and watching her perform her harp magic for the enthusiastic crowd at the Music Hall.
Suzie Vinnick's mind-blowing bass lines all night long, were only surpassed briefly by her acoustic guitar/vocals showcase spot
very nice to see. Lee Aaron's humorous schtick in between rousing vocals and great crowd appeal, was a real winner for me. She really knows how to rouse an audience's interest in a fun, entertaining way. Diana
Braithwaite was totally at home with the audience in the first set, singing some heart-warming blues that refreshed my soul to see and hear.
Marg Stowe is to me one of the unheralded super-talents that a show such as this brings to the attention of the musical laymen in attendance. (She's renowned and respected Mose Scarlett's guitarist.) Her careful attention to the written music on her stand flew into orbit on a few solos that backed the main performers
a time to leave the page on the stand, and soar into muse orbit -- which she did with style, grace and care for her fellow performers on stage. Georgette Fry's rousing vocals had the air of a blues 'music hall', apropos to the venue
she was a strong presence on stage that night. Michelle Josef's percussive talent on drums all night, was phenomenal. She's been in many terrific bands such as Prairie Oyster, David Wilcox, Sharon, Lois and Bram etc. It's
easy to see why!
Patricia Wheeler went wild on a soprano sax solo right from the heart; also leaving the paper to its stand, and the music to her soul. Colleen Allen did the same thing on tenor sax, as did Lina Allemano on her too few trumpet solos with wah-wah mute in hand, and finely operated. Anne-Marie Woods' romantic musical interludes on vocals earlier on,
would have been at home in any supper club or candlelight and wine dinner for two at home. A soul-cleansing experience.
Dawn Tyler Watson's powerhouse vocals at the end of this fabulous evening, oozed of the happiness a seasoned and talented performer can deliver to their audience. She sang rousing blues and jazz numbers for the most part, with some slower, soulful blues. Her enticing stage presence and love for performing reminded me of why we were all there
to be highly entertained and really enjoy ourselves, as I and the rest of this lucky audience definitely were.
The Music Hall
147 Danforth Avenue
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