Opening recently in support of Great Lake Swimmers at The Royal City Mission in Guelph, we can thank Tony Dekker from the headlining band for bringing this very talented all-female choral group from Niagara, ON to our attention.
During the early stages of creating “Uncertain Country,” the latest album from Great Lake Swimmers, Tony felt that some of the tracks needed additional vocals or harmonies, ideally those you would expect to hear from a choir. Fortunately, Tony’s friend and co-producer, Joe Lapinski, just so happened to be working with Minuscule, and brought both acts together to collaborate on the album.
With fluidity in their personnel, on this given evening Minuscule would consist of seven vocalists, along with Joe Lapinski and Taylor Hulley handling the bass and percussion duties. All seven vocalists were regaled in black attire, except for founder and lead vocalist Laurel Minnes, whose forest green dress allowed her to stand out from her companions, with her ukulele in hand, and who introduced both family and friends following their 35-minute set: Karen, Erika, Leanne, Cat, Jill, and Tara (Jill and Tara would also rotate keyboard duties).
Their seven-part harmonies were displayed immediately as the choir launched into “Oh Da Dee,” itself the opening track on their debut 2020 “Great” album. “Thank you so much Guelph,” Laurel offered following their second performance, happy to converse with the crowd. “This is our first time playing in Guelph. We are so, so happy to be here. You have a very lovely city, with lots of churches. Lots of beautiful, beautiful churches, but this one’s my favourite … right now, at this moment.” Hey, choirs and churches go together like peanut butter and jelly, right?
Confessing that she had left her set list backstage, Laurel asked her bandmates which song was next, and could only smile when told “Embarrassment.” “Yay perfect, a song called Embarrassment,” she retorted in jest. “I’m hoping you all have felt this so you can relate to this song as deeply as I did the day I wrote it. You deserve to get over it, because everybody else has.”
Returning to their album material, prior to performing “Praying For War,” Laurel would invite a guest vocalist out onto the stage. “I’d love to invite Tony [Dekker] to join us for a tune,” she stated. “He’s been gracious enough to hop on this tune when we joined him out east, and all over the place. It’s a duet and it doesn’t make sense for me to sing it by myself, so I really appreciate Tony hopping up.” Handling both a full verse and joining in on the chorus, it was wonderful to see Tony offering his talents for this number.
With their final number, Minuscule opted to perform a song that they had contributed to a recent appearance at the Global Climate Strike event at the NAC in Ottawa. “This last song … is the concept of dependent origination which means that our identities are based upon the things around us and that they create our meaning,” Laurel said. “A stump in the woods is a stump in the woods until you sit on it, and now it is a chair. And we are humans because of planet earth, and without planet earth, who are we? What are we? We need to take that relationship a lot more seriously … I hope that there is some major systemic change that happens … and there’s more to be done, and I hope we do it soon. This song is for the planet.”
- Oh Da Dee
- Praying For War (ft. Tony Dekker)
- Lukewarm Love