Erin Costelo: Album Launch at The Dakota Tavern

Erin Costelo

We very recently had the pleasure of reviewing an advance copy of “Sweet Marie,” the fifth album from Nova Scotia’s Erin Costelo, and kicked ourselves for not discovering this talented singer-songwriter sooner.  If good timing was partially responsible for bringing this phenomenal musician to our attention, fate definitely intervened when we learned that Erin would be formally releasing the new album at The Dakota Tavern on a Friday evening that we just so happened to be in Toronto.  Chances such as this do not present themselves too often, so a visit to this iconic watering hole on the corner of Ossington and Dundas streets provided us with a wonderful opportunity to hear some of these new songs live.

Refer back to our review of this album, and you’ll see mention of the incredible pool of Canadian musicians enlisted to work alongside Erin for this album.  Imagine how thrilled we were to learn that this same ensemble (sans the brass players and backing singers) would be joining Erin on this particular night; Glenn Milchem (drums), Anna Ruddick (bass) and Leith Fleming-Smith (organ), along with Erin’s long-time guitarist Clive MacNutt.  Arriving a little early at the Dakota Tavern, the band were close to wrapping up their sound check (not the first time we have inadvertently crashed a sound check), and from this brief sample alone, we knew that Erin Costelo was going to astound everybody come show time.

As music fans flocked to the tavern, Erin and her band would make their way onto the stage and perform twelve tracks, adding one additional encore number to satisfy the cravings of those in the room.  Opening with both “Lights Down Low” and “The Sign” from the new release, the band performed beautifully on that hallowed stage, mixing in a handful of Erin’s older material to complement the fresh material.  Both “Fighter” and “Everyday” would be included from her breakout 2016 “Down Below, The Status Quo” album, along with both “Too Young To Be Fooled” and “Oh Me Oh My” played in succession from the 2012 “We Can Get Over” album.

The intimacy of the venue also allowed us to be up close and personal with the band, to witness their musical collaboration.  We watched in disbelief as Leith Fleming-Smith simply glides over his keys, so haphazard to the naked eye, yet so calculated and simply stunning in execution.  Glenn and Anna worked flawlessly with the pace and rhythm ‘at the back,’ and Clive demonstrated some nifty guitar licks to maintain the mood and vibe.  And not too shabby on keys herself, Erin rounded out the music, and of course, provided those unbelievable vocals.  Adding “Topic Of Notes” and “Shadow” from the new album, the band would go all out with a lifting rendition of “All In Your Head;” one of my personal favorite tracks on this particular night.  Not sure if an encore was planned, but the Dakota Tavern faithful wanted more once the band left the stage, and of course, would be rewarded with a simply stunning cover version of the Chrissie Hynde/Pretenders hit, “Brass In Pocket” to close out the night.

We enjoyed another great evening of live music in The Big Smoke.  It was wonderful to chat with Erin after the show, and of course, to check in with her bandmates (we unfortunately did not get a chance to chat with Clive, but next time…).  “Sweet Marie” is now officially launched, and Erin is raring to tour extensively with this album, including some stops in the Eastern US.  Team GDW plan to catch this simply outstanding musician once more on one of those stops, and strongly encourage everybody to experience this show should Erin’s schedule bring her to a venue near you.

Set List:

  1. Lights Down Low
  2. The Sign
  3. Fighter
  4. Hands On Fire
  5. Everyday
  6. Topic Of Notes
  7. Too Young To Be Fooled
  8. Oh Me Oh My
  9. My Love
  10. Shadow
  11. All In Your Head
  12. Low


  1. Brass In Pocket (Pretenders Cover)

Visit Erin Costelo’s website.

The British guy that crossed the ocean and crash landed in central Pennsylvania (to quote Greg Keelor, “And I wonder what am I doing here?”). As the youngest of four siblings, exposure to music from a very early age nurtured my passion and appreciation for many musical genres. Continuing to discover some amazingly diverse and talented musicians based in Canada, I gravitate to live music experiences and remain devoted to spreading the word about such a vibrant music scene.

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