Mitchell Sherrin, Staff Writer, Gulf Islands Driftwood
October 29, 2003
An awestruck audience was wowed by the soaring
winged vocals and dynamic thundering piano work of Allison Crowe at
an ArtSpring concert Saturday.
But a new crop of freshly seeded local talent
threatened to steal Crowe’s show in the opening set.
The “miniature Lilith Fair” evening opened
with a charming performance by nine-year-old vocalist Sarah Robinson
accompanied by sprightly piano playing from her 13-year-old sister
The Robinson duo received whoops and cheers for
their winning performance, but then YJP’s Devan Banman added drums
to a bluesy jazz number to give the girls an even stronger punch.
Soloist Julia Beattie shared a
Laundromat-inspired song that knitted a cool lyrical rinse with
spin-cycle urgency to highlight her vocal range and stylistic
Like Banman and the Robinsons, Beattie will be a talent to watch out for. She also performs with a band and recently released The Orchid Room CD.
Another combo of talented sisters dazzled the crowd as Billie and Brittney Woods sang Brazilian jazz tunes accompanied by Billie’s guitar.
The duo was led by Billie who lingered lovingly
over each Portuguese syllable after a recent visit to South America.
Given Billie’s convincing accent and passion for the music, the
two girls invoked the romantic spell of an exotic transcontinental
Local songwriter Stacy Burke will be another
artist to look out for in upcoming shows. Her first lonesome-vocal
piece, Stay, rippled like cool green wheat, while a second untitled
song showed she could fill the bill for any band’s vocalist-wish
Just when it seemed like local talent must have
reached its peak, Mayne Islanders Zoe Guigeno and Marlies Iredale
met up with fellow Gulf Islands Secondary School student Lindsay
Bryan to cook up an amazing set of original tunes.
A hallucinatory folk funk piece composed by
Iredale for the Saturday show was well worth attending the event on
Accompanied by Guigeno on backing lyrics and
dreamy bass, Iredale blasted insistent jazzy piano riffs and let
loose with clever lyrics and richly textured songwriting of her
Guigeno switched to saxophone as Bryan joined
the duo with guitar to add sparks to Iredale’s song Highway.
Ironically, the girls sang about how they
“tried so hard to make (them)selves known.” But after one more
performance with a few more songs to their set, islanders may have
to clamber over scalpers to get tickets for future gigs.
Another piece written by Bryan, called Shy,
added a rockish rhythm to the girls’ talents that should convince
anyone to buy their CD as soon as they print one.
During the intermission audience members were
left wondering whether Crowe might have unwisely raised the bar a
little too high with such a potent mix of performers during the
Fortunately, the confident resonance of
Crowe’s singing in her opening song, Hallelujah, cast all doubts
aside. Lesser buildings would have collapsed under the emotive
onslaught of her voice.
Accompanied by Dave Baird on stand-up bass and
Kevin Clevette on drums, Crowe mixed gems of her own songwriting
with covers of Leonard Cohen, Keith Richards and Janis Joplin to
create an eclectic combination of musical styles that highlighted
her dynamic range.
The 21-year-old Nanaimo-based singer songwriter
thinks of Salt Spring as a second hometown after she performed one
of her first major gigs as an opener for Tara MacLean at ArtSpring
three years ago, said Crowe’s manager and event organizer Adrian
“I love Salt Spring, it’s so nice. Serenity
now,” Crowe giggled.
While the singer maintained bubbly banter
between songs, her rich writing and radiant voice lifted listeners
to the rafters with lyrical love songs like Montreal and the
feverish pitch of the break-up survivor piece Hooray.
A solo of Jewel’s Who Will Save Your Soul
left the audience stunned with the delightful ecstasy of Crowe’s
Her voice seared brain synapses with raw power
and then lapped ice-cream smooth for soft breathy seductions.
The microphone died just before Crowe launched
into Pearl Jam’s Jeremy but the soundman didn’t even seem to
notice a loss of quality since her unadorned voice still filled the
theatre so majestically.
It was challenging to take notes for a review. I sat slack-jawed through songs such as Misdirected (Disease), Be Yourself and Alive and Breathing, without writing a word. I didn’t want to strip my attention away from the pure experience of the moment to keep notes.
To be honest, I didn’t want to share. I greedily gobbled up every note of her performance. And I refused to listen to any other music for the remainder of the weekend so I could savour the last little morsels of the memory.
I won't have to wait too long for another Crowe performance. Once
the recent experience has dimmed, I will still have her new CD.
Lisa's Song, ready to pop open for a fresh blast of her roof-raising
rhythm and grunge blues.