The St. Lawrence Acoustic Stage finished off its 2011-2012 season in a big way on Saturday, May 26, at the Morrisburg Meeting Centre.
Not only was the Stage the recipient of a Canadian Heritage grant, presented by MP Guy Lauzon earlier in the week, but three outstanding artists rang down the concert series curtain on a very special high note.
Ambre McLean, Fraser Anderson and Tara Holloway did not know each other before they shared the stage Saturday night.
“We were a little mean about this,” board member Sandra Whitworth laughed, just before welcoming the trio to the stage. “We threw these three artists together, performers who had never met each other, just to see what would happen. However, the singers assure me that they are going to enjoy this.”
So did the audience at Saturday’s concert.
It was, as Tara Holloway had suggested in an earlier interview, “some sort of combustion, a magical moment when these song writers (came) together to sing.”
The individuality of each of the performers’ vocal styles made the on stage mix a very interesting and unexpected one.
While none of the artists can be pigeon-holed into a particular genre, Ambre McLean’s soaring, beautiful voice has a rich, jazz/blues flavour colouring it. Fraser Anderson, a slight Scottish burr underlying his wonderful, seemingly effortless vocals, might, in another era be described as a balladeer, a romantic. Tara Holloway is a powerhouse on stage, her vocals strong and uninhibited and daring.
Anderson, born in Scotland, but now living in France, often prefaced his music with anecdotes. (“My son is attending school in France. He came home shortly after he started classes and announced, “Dad, I learned to say something in French!” “Wonderful son, what is it?” “I can say sit down and be quiet.”)
It led to an Anderson number, an hilarious musical blending of French and English lyrics (“I just can’t choose ce soir…is it masculin ou feminin?”) and brought Tara and Ambre in on the chorus, creating a truly spontaneous magical moment.
To considerable audience approval, McLean performed her beautiful award winning song, “Me, Myself and the Moon.”
“I got the idea for this song when I overheard a woman in a restaurant say that she knew she was in love, because she felt it ‘with her whole body,’” Ambre explained. “Doesn’t that make you weak? When you fall in love, it is the simplest, most amazing time in the world.”
Tara Holloway, who creates some very unusual harmonies, powerfully delivered on “Girls, Girls, Girls,” and was joined, again spontaneously, by Fraser and Amber, on “The Heart Goes” from her newly reissued CD Sins to Confess.
Throughout the evening, I was repeatedly impressed with the lyrics of the songs I was hearing. Anderson, Holloway and McLean are genuine originals. Their individual themes, their plays on words, their ability to express even traditional ideas in the most unexpected of ways, was a source of real pleasure.
At the end of the evening, Fraser Anderson, Tara Holloway and Ambre McLean united their voices in a beautiful ballad by Anderson. Music really does bring strangers close together.
We all saw that on Saturday evening.
Look for the upcoming 2012-2013 concert series at the St. Lawrence Stage this September.