With our 2016 concert season winding down into the last remaining weeks of the year, we are looking forward to the shows on offer for the year ahead.  Over the last few days, we have selected several shows for the months ahead, including another evening with Alan Doyle (who returns to Pennsylvania in March), and the opportunity to see brother and sister act Matthew and Jill Barber in late May.  Thanks to the suggestions from our new Canadian friends Lori and Doug, we have also committed to a second night with Blue Rodeo in February and our first planned evening with Hamilton locals Tomi Swick and Laura Cole to kickstart our 2017 concert plans.

Those of you familiar with this blog need no reminder of our devoted following of all things Blue Rodeo and Alan Doyle, so I do not plan on rehashing older reviews of their music.  But with our first live experiences planned for the other aforementioned artists, I feel that they merit some introduction to those of you unfamiliar with any of them.

Matthew and Jill Barber have been well received in Canada as solo artists, but with their recent collaboration for “The Family Album,” we welcome the opportunity to see two of our favorite artists share the stage in Oakville, Ontario.  With his indie folk/pop material, Matthew’s music has garnered popularity over the years, most notably with his 2008 “Ghost Notes” release (our first purchase after hearing him on satellite radio here in the US).

Conversely, with a shared indie folk background, his sister Jill has gradually shifted her musical focus to a vocal-jazz genre, with the highly acclaimed “Chances” CD quickly making its way into our music collections, followed by her French language “Chansons” collection of Francophone jazz classics.  The most recent brother-sister collaboration provides an almost perfect vocal blend of indie folk Canadiana that we had long flagged as a live event we did not want to miss.

When it comes to “local music,” there is no substitute for receiving personal recommendations from friends who have much more familiarity with a specific local scene, and whose tastes reflect ours so closely that we have no reason to doubt such suggestions.  Therefore we took the time this weekend to purchase tickets for an upcoming “Live and Local Music Series” show with artists Tomi Swick and Laura Cole at the Burlington PAC.

Having missed Tomi Swick at the Harvest Picnic last August, we have since become a little more familiar with his music (and regret the missed opportunity) and are happy with the knowledge that we can make up for this one previous error of judgment. We eagerly await spending an evening and hearing the rock-blues tracks from Tomi’s recently released “The Yukon Motel” album.

Laura Cole is a Hamilton native that never reached my musical radar until hearing the convincing words of our friends that this was an artist we should not ignore.  With a quick YouTube search, we have discovered a hidden gem: an artist who perfectly embodies the raw and gritty sounds of the rock-soul genre.  With her raspy vocal delivery, Laura Cole pays homage to the distinctive sounds of both Aretha Franklin and Amy Winehouse; a wonderful cross-generation mix of old and new soul, complete with an added rock swagger that separates her from the pack.  We are grateful for having this artist brought to the forefront of our musical attention, and really look forward to experiencing this unique sound in person in early 2017.  As more acts continue to announce tour dates, our calendar continues to fill….stay tuned for more musings.

~ M

Learn more about these great artists on their websites:

Matthew Barber

Jill Barber

Tomi Swick

Laura Cole