MORRISBURG – Despite cloudy skies, a few sprinkles and the ever-present possibility of mosquitos, the audience gathered at Stone Crop Winery Sunday evening, May 22, for the launch of the Harmony Concerts 2022 season was soon smiling and applauding.
Sweet Alibi (pictured left), an amazing trio of female singers, with two back up musicians, charmed the crowd with their creative harmonies and versatile, rich voices. Their style is a mixture of folk/pop/rock, with the occasional touch of country in their lyrics: “I keep walking the same roads again/And that road keeps bringing me down/ So lost…looking for direction.” Each artist took the lead on different songs throughout the concert, revealing the individual singers’ strong voices and wide vocal ranges. And they are all talented instrumentalists as well.
Amber Nielsen, Michelle Anderson and Jessica Rae Ayre come from the Winnipeg area, and have been “best friends” for years. Sweet Alibi has been a dynamic musical force for over a decade: the group has been honoured with a Western Canadian Music Award, and their single “Confetti” made the Top 20 of CBC Radio 2’s national chart for a number of weeks. The concert at Stone Crop Acres was the last in the trio’s current Canadian tour, since they leave for a German tour in June. The performers were clearly enjoying their time at the Winery, often sharing anecdotes and humourous asides with the crowd. Before the number “What Were You Dreaming,” they shared a memory. “Our friend Matt asked us to join him for a concert that was being held in a church, and we said yes. His first song at that concert was ‘666’: we knew we were in trouble.”
Their music was thoughtful, and occasionally introspective, like the powerful, “Walking in the Dark,” and the reflective “One Chance,” but always rich and harmonious. Their rendition of Leonard Cohen’s “Almost Like the Blues” was particularly striking. Yet they also had a lot of fun with a Sharon Jones song, “Mama Don’t Like My Man.”
They shared songs from their new release, Really Great, to the delight of the audience, who applauded enthusiastically. Sweet Alibi’s show was simply an outstanding start to what promises to be an exciting Harmony series of concerts, held at the warm and welcoming Stone Crop Acres Winery. “We really enjoyed our time here,” said Amber Nielsen, after the show.
“This was a great audience. And we didn’t mind the cold at all. We move constantly on the stage, and really, the thrill of playing live keeps us warm.”
Just before the concert, Jan Fox, producer of the Harmony Concerts, presented a cheque for $2,500, from last year’s concert series, to representatives of Baldwin House, a “safe haven for women and children escaping domestic violence.” Harmony will continue to support this organization during the 2022 season.