Kick-Off To Canada Day; Keonté Beals
June 29th, 2018
Dartmouth Crossing Amphitheatre,
Dartmouth, N.S., Canada
What started as a rainy and dreary Friday, leaving one wondering if there was any hope of sunshine to start the weekend; Mother Nature performed a beautiful 180. From dark grey, cloud covered skies to piercing sunlight and temperatures warmer than the region has seen yet this season. All the best conditions for a kick off party to open the Canada Day weekend.
North Preston singer, songwriter and performer Keonté Beals was slated to take the stage at the Dartmouth Crossing Amphitheatre. A beautiful outdoor venue consisting of tiered, landscaped retaining walls which encompassed the stage. The amphitheater sits in a small valley adjacent to a stream and walking path, situated low enough to create a very natural environment amongst the strip malls and shops just 20+ feet above the performance space.
Keonté went on to do two sets that evening, 8pm & 9pm starting times, delivering an extremely potent show. With a glossy vocal performance over top of some funky guitar licks and some truly tight drum chops. In addition to the excellent vocal work, Keonté executed executed a very dynamic performance. Displaying some smooth dance moves, that engaged audience members near and from a far.
By the nature of the venue, there was a lot of space, and a considerable distance between Keonte and the audience. Almost an invisible barrier that appeared it was not to be crossed. Until one adorable little girl wandered over to the stage and began dancing along with Keonte, it created an invitation for many more young children to come and join the dance party, along with their parents. Before long the stage was full of energetic young ones dancing up a storm. Keonte further committed his young listeners by doing a sing along of “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” which definitely went off as a hit!
As the night approached an ending, Keonte wrapped his set. The event concluded with a low budget firework show that was none the less, a beautiful ending the the evening. I promptly left just before the end of the fireworks to avoid the insane traffic that was about to ensue. A lovely start to 2018 Canada Day Weekend!
Rockin' 4 Dollar$
Silhouette of a show-goer
January 8th, 2018
Seahorse Tavern, Halifax, N.S. Canada
Rockin' 4 Dollars is a weekly open mic night that takes place on Monday Nights at The Seahorse Tavern, in the North End of Halifax. Its appeal is more than just the great time, but the ability for full bands to get up and practice their chops in front of a potentially unfamiliar crowd. The fact that the venue facilitates and welcomes full bands to play, opens up the doors for not only the artists, but the show-goers as well as the music community as a whole.
Spirit of the Wildfire in their element
In the lovely city of Halifax, there is an undeniable venue shortage. And as a result, it becomes difficult and potentially expensive to book out a venue to play a show as a full band; especially if said band is just starting out and has little experience or reputation in the city. So the ability to get out and play, get exposure, practice and have fun doing it is invaluable to bands of all experience levels.
With regard to the show-goers and the music community; once the general public is aware, events like these will hopefully intrigue the common person enough to come out and witness what the Halifax music scene has to offer, and not be discouraged by the idea of listening to ten people play cover tunes on their acoustic guitars. Not to say that there isn't a place for those events , because they certainly foster up and coming performers as well. But for a common person who may not otherwise be obligated to listen to live music, the idea of hearing an "amateur" bang out some covers isn't super appealing. Rocking 4 Dollar$ brings a level of professionalism and a whole new energy to open mic nights that I think would energize people beyond their expectations, and maybe even get them out to enjoy and support more local performers.
Halifax Jazz Festival
Anderson .Paak & The Free Nationals
.Paak enticing the Halifax crowd
July 15th, 2017
TD Halifax Jazz Fesitval, Halifax, N.S. Canada
Back in 2015, I had the pleasure of seeing one of my favorite bands as a part of the TD Halifax Jazz Festival.
The venue for that show was the no longer existing "Company House" which served for almost 10 years as an comfortable, intimate venue in Halifax, N.S. that was toted as "Safe Space" for a long time before its controversial closure in late 2017.
Going by the name of "Moon Hooch," that energetic trio, composed of two saxophonists and a drummer brought more intensity to a room than I had ever experienced. For almost three hours straight, they filled the space with a sonic pulse that would vibrate any human to their core, while maintaining an infectious groove that evoked positive vibes and visceral dance moves.
The Free Nationals contoured by epic back lighting
The Halifax Jazz Festival has always been a well curated group of local and exported acts, but that Moon Hooch show went unrivaled until 2017, as underground as that show may have been.
In doing some research for the upcoming 2017 festival, I had noticed that the main headliner was listed as an artist called "Anderson .Paak." Being familiar with the name but unfamiliar with his work, I took to the internet to see what might crop up. Ironically enough, the first video that made its presence on the search, was the same platform through which I experienced Moon Hooch for the first time; NPR Tiny Desk Concerts.
Anderson's performance is currently the most viewed Tiny Desk Concert.
If you haven't already had the pleasure of seeing one yet, check out the following links:
Anderson .Paak Tiny Desk Concert: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ferZnZ0_rSM
Moon Hooch Tiny Desk Concert: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wwBhxBBa7tE
His skill and diversity as shown in that video is beyond impressive, but the live experience was only multiplied.
His ability to command the audience, entertain with his raspy and soulful voice, wavy and blissful dance moves, while also jumping behind the drum kit from time to time to knock of some of his pro level chops was impressive.
And not to be disregarded, his band; The Free Nationals, present a wide palette of sonics, funky grooves, and undeniable melodies that get the crowd rockin'.