Gig Review: An afternoon of live music with Kennedy Station

by JD Stanley
Gig Review:  An afternoon of live music with Kennedy Station

IMG_20160724_170557572Spent a sunny afternoon down in Kensington Market today with Sam Willison taking in some live music by local quartet Kennedy Station at Supermarket (268 Augusta Ave, Toronto).

Friends with most of us in the Bony Fiddle group, while we didn’t sponsor their event, we gave Kennedy Station some facetime on our Facebook feed and, of course, went to support their show. We’re always up for some live music and they didn’t disappoint.

Kennedy Station LogoMembers Wendy Koslow, Isabel Matwawana, Richard Bacon and Martin Mitchell haven’t been together long, making their debut in March of 2015 at Sgt Peppers Pub & Grill (115 First Commerce Dr, Aurora), but they’ve already come a long way. With everyone working a full-time job, Kennedy Station is more about the simple love of music than being driven by anything as banal as a burning need for fame. Their show today reflected a very genuine and heartfelt approach to their arrangements, a playfulness with the audience and just generally having a great time themselves where we were all invited along for the ride.

Just because they do this in their spare time doesn’t mean they skimped on the length of show, either. They came well-practiced and prepared. For only a $5 cover, over a three-hour span, they played three full sets and in some pretty high temperatures, too, while still managing to keep their energy up.

Kennedy Station live music - Richard Bacon, Wendy Koslow, Isabel Matwawana, Marty Mitchell
The crowd was small, but engaged and were treated to a variety of genres that spanned an eclectic selection of folk, rock, pop and blues. The first set included some Canadian staples and a short, but playful medley of t.v. themes (WKRP in Cincinnati, Greatest American Hero, The Jeffersons) and we even saw Isabel bust out a ukulele along with Marty and Rich on guitar.

Richard Bacon (left) and Wendy Koslow (right)Into the second set, we were treated to some a capella work from Wendy and Isabel on the Buffalo Springfield hit For What It’s Worth and a sultry smooth Isabel on lead vocals for Nobody Does It Better. An interesting mash-up arrangement of Bowie’s Let’s Dance and Jefferson Airplane’s Somebody to Love worked extremely well and the set ended on a strong note with Wendy on lead vocals for her personal best performance of the day (at least from where we were sitting), Jefferson Airplane’s White Rabbit.

The third set opened with an original ballad written by Marty, Driving Back From Nowhere, where he took the lead on vocals and guitar. The low-key continued through a Kennedy Station arrangement of Bowie’s Major Tom with Wendy and Marty taking turns to play the ground control/Major Tom portions that even engaged the audience enough for them to spontaneously do the claps through the bridge. From there it was Proud Mary, Simon and Garfunkel’s Sounds of Silence and the afternoon ended on a high with Isabel belting out a killer version of Joplin’s Piece of my Heart.

Isabel Matwawana and Marty MitchellRich was quietly awesome for the whole afternoon, changing guitars from bass to acoustic to electric and gave a nice a variety to the sound while Marty played a solid and consistent lead acoustic through all the sets. Isabel supported the variety with some cowbell percussion, rhythm sticks and shaker and both Wendy and Isabel took turns keeping time on tambourine.

Will they be bigger than the Beatles?  Probably not.  Do they care about that?  Doubtful – pretty sure their main focus is more about a continuing celebration of music, singing whatever moves them, and sharing it with others. Can’t argue with that.

Interested? They’re getting together again September 24th, 2016 at Free Times Cafe (320 College St, Toronto). Keep an eye on the Kennedy Station Facebook feed for info about this upcoming event here in Toronto.

Want more info?  Check out Kennedy Station online.

/JD Stanley

Creating a Night of Music for Nightingales

by JD Stanley
Creating a Night of Music for Nightingales

The motivation behind creating the Nightingales acoustic music show was simple.

John Salib

John Salib

We’d heard from local performers we knew that musical artists have a difficult time finding gigs that allow them to do original music and not covers. There really aren’t a lot of places around willing to take a chance on an unproven vocal artist, never mind allow them to perform something no one has ever heard.
The idea for our show grew after a night out where Blair saw John Salib perform in the Song Book Series at Theatre Passe Muraille. It was the night they did their Les Miserable cover night. Pretty cool as a theme night to see and a great show that left a definite impression. And it sparked something. All of us love music and we’re very much interested in supporting local emerging talent in any form. So it got us thinking.

Chris Tsujiuchi performing music written specifically for Nightingales

Chris Tsujiuchi

Blair ran with it. It was a simple concept – all you need to do is find a venue, gather some musicians and plan the night. There’s little prep, no rehearsal time needed since everyone would know their own music, and seemed something very uncomplicated to produce. I mean, it wasn’t a film or a theatre production which are often fraught with a vast array of complexities just to get in motion and take months to bring to fruition. Definitely seemed doable. And it would help a lot of performers out with getting their music out there in front of an audience.
Again, similar to putting on a theatre production when we’d never done that before, either, this was something far outside our film experience. But so what? We never let a little thing like not having done something before stop us. We got educated. Fast.

For the first show, we were grateful for help from the multi-talented John Salib and his close ties to the Toronto music scene. Through his personal network, we ended up with 5 amazing performers for that first show on January 9, 2015 where John was also our evening’s host.

Jeremy Panda

Jeremy Panda

The performers sent in videos of themselves performing for us to preview and we were blown away by the calibre of these music artists who were just at the start of their careers. Headlining the show was the wonderful Maccie Paquette and while not an emerging artist at this point, in keeping with the purpose of the evening, a performer independent in drive and spirit and like a glimpse ahead for the others into what can be achieved by an artist’s perseverance. Rounding out the music line-up for the evening was Chris Tsujiuchi who wrote a song specifically for the show, Shayne Stolz, Katie Pereira and John himself as we took over the Buddies in Bad Times Theatre.
For the second show, we had a much better idea what we were doing and what we wanted out of the evening and so aimed even higher. We solicited videos ahead of time, so we could choose the performers ourselves. Based on the experience from the previous show, our expectations were high. There was never any doubt we would hear a lot of quality music and we weren’t disappointed. Even better, we were pleasantly surprised by the amount of videos we received from those who were eager for the experience and exposure.

Shannon Doherty and Peter Chadwick

Shannon Doherty and Peter Chadwick

With so many more fabulous performers to choose from, this time we made choices based on music type and attempted to create a nice flow for the evening with the line-up and it worked out very well. In addition, we put together door prizes and a couple of gift basket give-aways and even a sweets table for those who attended. We had one performer cancel very last minute due to unforeseen circumstances. Despite that, we were able to fill the vacancy and round out the line-up of Jeremy Panda (who had provided the entertainment at our opening party for the double bill show A Man of Two Minds/Lost Refuge), Edward Sayer, Kevin Myles Wilson and Shannon Doherty (who Blair has known since high school where they were in theatre together), with Peter Chadwick.

Have we become music promoters? No, not at all, we’re film makers at the core. Was it worthwhile? Absolutely. It was a great learning experience for Bony Fiddle in terms of production and promotion and a great experience for the performers. We love the music, it was fun, and anything we can create as a platform for local emerging talent we consider worth our time.

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