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Krista Cain, Mo Magazine
April 11 - 24, 2002

I have to admit that when I was invited to Allison Crowe’s show last Saturday at Collectable’s Café in Ladysmith, my first reaction was "Allison who?" While I grew up in Nanaimo and had lived on the island until moving east nearly three years ago, I had not yet heard of this young, vibrant talent. Now that I was back in my hometown of Mo, I needed and wanted to be in the know. So I made the trek south to the cozy café on the hill and got ready for what would prove to be an earth-shattering night of amazing vocals and electric energy.

Stepping onto the stage as the opening act for Crowe was acoustic guitarist-singer-songwriter Ryan McMahon formerly of local band Citizen Strange. Entertaining with his melodious tunes, smooth voice and witty repartee, McMahon warmed up the crowd for the much anticipated headline act.

With refills of hot tea and frothy lattees on their tables, the audience settled in for their fix of local star power. Crowe emerged, seeming sweetly nervous, and hit the stage running with several covers by diverse artists such as Leonard Cohen, Rufus Wainwright, Ani DiFranco and Pearl Jam. Backed by the restrained yet tasteful jazz sensibilities of Kevin Clevette (drums) and Dave Baird (bass), Crowe’s seamless piano abilities rounded out this trio of talented musicians.

Crowe’s own songs proved to be a potent mix of dark, poetic lyrics and melodies, akin to that of Jewel and Sarah McLachlan, but pointedly individual in their own right. She captivated the audience who seemed to hold their breath waiting for the next poignant song to emerge from the soft-spoken, tiny woman on the stage.

And as if all this wasn’t enough, the best was yet to come! Crowe brought the house down near the end of her set with her rendition of Janis Joplin’s Me and Bobby McGee. The sheer power of Crowe’s voice during this song nearly blew the froth off my cappuccino. It was hard to believe this thunderous presence was emerging from that same young woman who sweetly quipped with the audience between songs.

Needless to say, this performance warranted an encore, which Crowe obliged with a Sarah McLachlan cover. The evening ended on such a high note that the crowd buzzed into the crisp Ladysmith night air wearing ear-to-ear smiles.

Crowe and her band are set to release their debut full-lengthCD, Midnight Syren, this summer. I, for one, will definitely be in line to buy it. If the sold-out crowd at Collectables last Saturday was any indication of Crowe’s devout following, it would seem that I may have to wait in that line for quite a while to get my hands on the coveted release.

While I had no indication of what Allison Crowe embodied before attending her show, I definitely will never forget the impact her musical brilliance had on my mind, body and spirit that night.

[Picture] Getting treated to a night of sublime music in the magical setting of Ladysmith's Collectables Cafe.