Arts & Culture City Features In Focus

In the Dead of Winter: Night two

I got a bit sidetracked tonight and ended up seeing fewer shows than I had planned. I didn’t even get out to the Seahorse at all, so my apologies to the acts I missed. I’m still figuring out how to be in two places at once. I’ll let you all know once I do.

Gavin Gardiner and Megan Nash. (Photo: John Sandham)
Gavin Gardiner and Megan Nash. (Photo: John Sandham)

Megan Nash and Gavin Gardiner
I liked Megan Nash so much on the first night that I came out to see her a second time. For my thoughts on her music, check out my review of night one. Good Robot hosted her and Gavin Gardiner of The Wooden Sky tonight in a more intimate setting than any venue I was at last night. The two artists took turns playing songs, something that immediately reminded me of an experience I had in a place called the Bluebird Café in Nashville that puts on shows with singer-songwriters in a similar format. The banter between the two only made the evening more special. Hailing from Manitoba, Gavin’s a prairie guy as well. His music and personality tonight were so laid back that it almost put me in a trance (it actually did put Megan in a trance at one point…). I like him, but more than anything, I loved the format of this show. On his last song, “Don’t You Worry About a Thing,” Megan provided backing vocals on a call and answer portion of the song. It was kind of magical.

Sarah Jane Scouten. (Photo: John Sandham)
Sarah Jane Scouten. (Photo: John Sandham)

Sarah Jane Scouten
As far as the next two artists go, I’m totally biased. I did an interview with Sarah Jane earlier today for CKDU, which will air next Wednesday at 6pm (88.1 on the FM dial, or live stream it at She’s a lovely person and I was really looking forward to her show (side note: she has the coolest Instagram handle of all time: @blackstrapsadie. It’s also the name of a song from her latest full-length album “The Cape”). Her storytelling prowess shows in both the lyrics of her songs and the stories she tells in between them. She settled into the set well, finishing off with a song she admits, “makes no sense.” I haven’t seen an artist smile that much during a song in a long time. Also, she gave CKDU and I a shout out, which was pretty cool.

Justin Rutledge. (Photo: John Sandham)
Justin Rutledge. (Photo: John Sandham)

Justin Rutledge
This is the point when my evening stopped going according to plan. In the middle of Sarah Jane’s set, I spotted my cousin and his wife at the bar (does that make her my cousin too…? According to Yahoo Answers, she’s my cousin-in-law. That makes sense, although I don’t want to take anything that website says as gospel). A few minutes later, it came up in conversation that Justin is engaged to my cousin-in-law’s best friend. Long story short, I ended up briefly speaking with Justin after his set, and he’s a super nice guy. I also introduced myself to Megan after Justin’s set, so I’m proud to say I met 75% of the artists I saw tonight. That’s a pretty good percentage.
But I digress. When Justin plays, it almost looks like he’s experiencing the music with his whole body. It’s captivating to watch. It’s clear that his home province of Ontario heavily influences his music (see “Kapuskasing Coffee” for proof). He closed off his set by getting the crowd at the Carleton to sing along on “Don’t Be So Mean Jellybean.” Nice way to end the night.
Speaking of the crowd at the Carleton (yes, we’re on to the airing of the grievances portion of this review), what’s up with everyone at the back talking as if there wasn’t a show going on? I mean, they’ve paid their $20 like everyone else in the crowd – and I would have hoped they paid that to hear good music. Then again, maybe that’s just wishful thinking.
Also, I have to throw some shade CTV Atlantic’s way for showing up halfway through Justin’s set with full video gear that they placed in front of some patrons for an entire song. As we learned in ethics of journalism class, rule one is “be there.” Rule two is to “be on time.” Still, I’m willing to give them some leeway here because of the scheduling change.
Here’s a countdown of sorts that outlines the highlights (and lowlights) of tonight:
5: The number of times I drove around the downtown core looking for a parking spot near the Carleton (I didn’t realize how far away from it I actually parked and I didn’t bring a coat with me. Big mistake…).
4: The number of shows I was supposed to see tonight (I only got to three. I blame family).
3: The approximate number of songs I stuck around to hear the house band at the Carleton play after Justin’s set (sorry guys, if you’re asking me whether I want you to play a Sex Pistols song “now” or “later,” the answer is “never…”).
2: The number of songs I heard tonight that referenced Cain and Abel.
1: The number of days this festival has left!

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