Arts & Culture City Features In Focus

In the Dead of Winter: Night three

IDOW Night three or: the night Irish Mythen asked about my relationship status
There’s a story to go along with that headline, and I’ll get to it eventually – I promise.

Sarah Jane and the Big Country Ramblers. (Photo: John Sandham)
Sarah Jane and the Big Country Ramblers. (Photo: John Sandham)

Bluegrass matinee with Big Country Ramblers
This was a neat one. Seven Bays hosted these guys (six of them today, but they’re usually a bigger group) in an early afternoon show that was unique because of the genre of music they played. Bluegrass is a style of music I was first exposed to at a very early age since my grandfather used to give me cassette tapes (remember those…?) that featured bluegrass artists. Needless to say, I enjoyed this one – the energy was spot on. And just when I thought it couldn’t get any better… surprise! Sarah Jane Scouten came out and played a few tunes with them. Judging by the fact that she gave them chords for a few songs right before they started playing, a lot of the music was worked out on the fly. I’m so impressed whenever I see musicians capable of doing that. It’s a good thing they can, because they’ll be hosting an open mic event on Jan. 29 at Gus’ Pub when they say they’ll “back any song.” I’ll be there if anyone cares to join.
The music didn’t start up again today until after dinner at the Carleton. Because of an unfortunately scheduled shift at work, I couldn’t get to the first two performances of the evening. But I’m so glad I made it out for the final two.

Andrea Ramolo. (Photo: John Sandham)
Andrea Ramolo. (Photo: John Sandham)

Andrea Ramolo
Whoa, the Carleton was packed tonight. I could hardly move around. Luckily, I’m still young, so I had no trouble sitting on the ground in front of the stage for most of the evening.
Andrea performed tracks from her new album “Nuda” – she described it as a “downer of an album” – which was available for pre-purchase at the show (its actual release date is Jan. 27). She played barefoot, and I couldn’t have been happier when she told “all the chatterboxes at the back” to shut up. If you read my review from last night, you may remember I wasn’t too happy about that whole situation. Andrea was on point tonight; she played off the audience and they responded well to her energy, gladly doing their part when asked to sing along near the end of the set. Her Italian heritage shined through when she performed “Caruso” – originally by Italian singer-songwriter Lucio Dalla – which I couldn’t understand a word of, but it sure did a great job reminding me how beautiful the language is. She brought a new guitar with her tonight that she named “Danny” and referred to it as her new boyfriend. It sounded to me like they’re getting along just fine; the “honeymoon” phase is the best, after all.

Irish Mythen (Photo: John Sandham)
Irish Mythen (Photo: John Sandham)

Irish Mythen
I don’t usually swear when I write (I once wrote an article about swearing in the media, and only dropped the f-bomb once). But the only thing that came to mind when Irish took the stage and belted out her first song was, “holy shit, she’s incredible,” so I figured I may as well be honest and write that thought exactly how it first came to my mind. She’s one of the strongest vocalists I’ve heard in a long time – and from listening to some of her recordings, I can tell you that you need to see her live, because they don’t always do her voice justice. She recently toured with Melissa Etheridge and is up for Artist of the Year at the upcoming International Folk Music Awards. Not only did she have to deal with Air Canada losing her luggage earlier today (typical), there were also some tech issues during her set, which she overcame with ease by disregarding the microphone and amps for an entire song while the bugs were worked out. The crowd at the Carleton was hanging off every word she sang. My favourites? “Gypsy Dancer,” and her encore number, a brilliant cover of Van Morrison’s “Into the Mystic.” Do yourselves a favour and give her a listen.
Now on to my story: at one point during Irish’s set, she motioned for me to come up on stage and undo the knot in her scarf. As I did, she asked my name… and then asked me if I was single (I am, although as she later quipped, I’m not her type!). She then relayed my relationship status to the entire crowd. It was quite a scene. I may have had too much fun tonight. There’s photo evidence of this moment, thanks to Kimberly Sinclair:

To wrap things up, let me say that IDOW is a special kind of festival. Hosting an event like this at smaller, intimate venues allow for people to really interact with and experience the personalities of its artists. I wish more festivals were like this one.
As always, I’d like to give a big shout out to all those responsible for putting on this event; the organizers, volunteers, sponsors, and of course, all those who came out to support the arts and live Canadian music.

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