Dr. Kathryn Ladano

Friday re-run: Epic All-Canadian Live Stream featuring Mr. Books and Agent Dekes

While the LeBrain Train is no more, we can still enjoy some past shows.  This one was special as it was the very first show on the Streamyard platform, 8/14/2020.  At the end we had six guests.  I called it “the shape of things to come”, and I was right about that!  Things only got bigger and better.  Not that this show wasn’t big on its own, as you can read below in my original text.

I am sure I will miss the LeBrain Train eventually, but you just don’t get this kind of interaction anymore, where I could snap my fingers and suddenly we have six people on the screen.  A moment in history, not to come again.

Enjoy!


History was made Friday night!

For the first time ever, Deke and I have shared the screen with Mr. Books himself, Aaron from the KMA.  The subject this week:  Top 11 Canadian albums of all time.  An absolutely epic discussion unfolded with so many different genres being touched upon.  As remarkable as the lists were (five in total), it’s also quite astounding when we talked about all the albums we left out!

Lists submitted by:

  • Deke
  • Mr. Books
  • LeBrain
  • Darr
  • Dr. Kathryn Ladano

With Deke coming in from Lake Superior, Aaron from Georgian Bay, and myself on the shore of Lake Huron, we had three massive bodies of water covered.  What should we call ourselves?  The Great Lakes Consortium?

For a look at the shape of streams to come, check out the end of the video.  We brought in Uncle Meat, Rob Daniels from Visions in Sound, and Kevin/Buried On Mars.  While six at a time is a lot, it sure was fun to see everybody together for the first time!

I can’t help but take a little bit of pride in all this.  My very first live stream was March 20, the week lockdown began. Eager to make connections with others in isolation, I hit that “live” button on my Facebook app just to see what would happen. It ended up being a lot of fun and it so happened that others liked it too. A few weeks later, we figured out how to get Uncle Meat to co-host and he came up with the now infamous “Nigel Tufnel Top Ten” format.

But there were limitations, because we had to use a Facebook phone app if I wanted to have a co-host.  This reduced the scope of awesome people available to share the screen with me.  Finally Kevin directed me to Streamyard which solved numerous problems.  After months of trying to figure out how to stream to Facebook (where my audience is) without having to use Facebook, Streamyard worked.  For the first time after many months of trying, Aaron has finally co-hosted a show.  A milestone!  So yeah, I’m proud of myself and proud of the awesome friends who have co-hosted along the way.  We made something here that is catching on with people.  I owe Meat a huge debt for being the first co-host and coming up with the Nigel Tufnel Top Ten concept.

Look at the first stream below, and look where we are now.  We’ve come a long way.

Last Train: The Mystique documentary with Marco D’Auria and special guest Martin Popoff

The Last Train – The MYSTIQUE Film

A big thanks to Marco D’Auria and special surprise guest Martin Popoff, for schooling us on Mystique!  From Hamilton Ontario, Mystique were a metal band with a riffy progressive rock bent.  Though they later evolved into a more hard rock sound, their metal side seems to be what has stuck with fans and collectors over the decades.  Their highly sought physical product commands high prices for original copies.  In this interview we covered:

  • The starting point, and Martin’s role in the genesis of the film
  • Mystique, their sound, image, and rare releases
  • Exclusive clips from the documentary film Mystique:  Standing on the Firing Line
  • Rare memorabilia
  • The Hamilton music scene
  • The future

See what the fuss was all about in Standing on the Firing Line: the Mystique documentary!  The film will be premiering in September:

The Westdale
1014 King Street West
Hamilton, ON L8S 1L4

Friday September 16, 7:30 PM

The band will be there, memorabilia will be on display in a “Mystique museum” of sorts.  Martin Popoff will be on hand and Marco will be introducing the film in person.  Tickets are still available.  Get your tickets by clicking here.


Additionally, we made the difficult announcement that this episode will be the final LeBrain Train.  Two and a half years ago, a pandemic changed everything about the way we interact socially.  Now the world is changing again and I need to re-prioritise certain things in my life. I spent a lot of Friday nights in front of a screen talking to you, laughing with you, sharing with you and surviving a pandemic with you.  Now I’d like to spend Friday nights looking at sunsets with Mrs. LeBrain.

It has been a pleasure and a privilege doing this for two and a half years, and I thank you all for making it possible!

Thank you to Meat, Harrison, Deke, Tee Bone, Kevin, Sarah, John, Geoff, Aaron, Marco, Tim, Rob Daniels, Robert Lawson, Max, Dr. Dave, Dr. Kathryn, James, J, Lana, Erik, Thussy, Dranovous, Michael Morwood, Mike Slayen, Brian, Brent, T-Rev, Scotty, Mom, and anyone I may have forgotten for coming on the show and bringing your own special sauce to the mix.  And of course, to Chris Sarre who I could never get to agree to come onto the show, but was still part of the heart and soul of it anyway.

I love you guys.  Truly I do.  Towards the end of the show, we played a brand new Tee Bone song called “The Last Train”.  It is a collaboration with Dr. Kathryn Ladano on bass clarinet.  I think it’s one of the best things they’ve ever done.

The Last Train…wow that’s hard to believe.  See you somewhere out there, some time, eventually!

It’s Synth School! The LeBrain Train with Seagram Synth Ensemble, Rob Daniels and special surprise guest Dr. Kathryn

Everything you wanted to know about synthesizer but were afraid to ask!  Thank you to the Seagram Synth Ensemble – James Reesor, James Dowbiggen and Dave Klassen whose No Moving Air album has provided many hours of listening enjoyment.  Thanks also to Robert Daniels from Visions In Sound for cohosting tonight!  And of course, special surprise guest Dr. Kathryn who had some comments and questions of her own.

Topics tackled tonight:

  • Starting out as students
  • Synths, maintenance, analog vs. digital, and more
  • The next gig (July 15 at TheMuseum in Kitchener)
  • Favourite players and influences
  • Formats such as tape and vinyl
  • Why No Moving Air was never released on CD
  • Who their favourite professor at school was and why
  • Top 3 science fiction films
  • And of course, their new single “Ephem”

“Ephem” is unique as a single, as it comes in a brand new format.  It is a piece of art and a statement about the way we consume music today.

This was a fascinating interview for me and I hope you give it a watch.

 

#987: The Summer Awakens

RECORD STORE TALES #987: The Summer Awakens

It’s official:  the earliest swim on record for any summer at the lake is May 13!  If you don’t believe in global warming, then I can tell you that past weekends in early May, we were snuggled up in jackets and long pants.  This year, early May was as warm as early July used to be.  What an incredible weekend.  Clear and sunny until late Saturday.  By then we were indoors waiting for the Toronto Maple Leafs to once again exit the playoffs in the first round.  But I’m jumping head of myself!

Traffic was light but the music was heavy.  Albums for the drive up:

As expected, both were awesome on the road.  There was no clear winner.  Interestingly, Jennifer liked “Roots In My Boots” by Scorpions, which I considered a bit of a throwaway.  Regardless, both albums did well on the highway and rocked us safely to the cottage in two hours.

First music on the porch:

  • Kathryn Ladano – Open

Not a new release, but since the good Doctor was next door, it felt right to serenade her with some of her best music!

From there we settled in with the first hot dogs of the year, and I began to prep for my show that night (Top 11 Star Wars movies) by watching The Phantom Menace.  10 years ago, the only way to do that would be to bring a DVD and watch it on the laptop.  If we wanted to watch a Star Wars movie 30 years ago, we needed to bring the tape and a VCR!  Everything is so easy now, but dependent on a good internet connection.  That connection enabled me to do the first cottage show of the year, and a success it was.  I experimented with some new lighting and it worked way better than last year after sundown.  A successful show — and one of the best we’ve ever done.   Certainly one of my favourites.

It’s always hard to sleep after a caffeinated show like that.  I got four or five hours, and was up and at ’em early Saturday.  It was so quiet.  Most cottagers have not opened yet — their loss!  They were not able to listen when I rocked Kiss on the front porch on Saturday.  Kiss albums this weekend included Dynasty, Kiss, Hotter Than Hell, Peter Criss, and Rock and Roll Over.

I made fish for breakfast (trout) and went to go pick up my new bass from neighbor Donna.  Her brother was Don Simmons of Helix, and this bass used to belong to him.  It is my honour to play it on the porch in his memory.  Although I use the word “play” very loosely.  I have never played bass before and can only “barely” play guitar as it is.  It took some time to get used to the size of the body.  Even the neck felt huge.  But it sounded great and really rumbled the porch.

I made chicken and steaks on the barbecue and burned up a bunch of old wood — without losing my glasses this time.  After being on my feet all day Saturday, I took it easy in the evening, missing the bright orange sunset.  I had been on my feet all day and it felt good to rest up in the evening.

We departed for home early Sunday.  Albums for the road home:

These albums, Priest especially, gave me some serious retro vibes, as if I had stepped into a time machine and was 16 again.  I had this happen numerous times last year, and I wrote about that feeling in multiple previous chapters.  It’s a very intense feeling, as if I was no longer living in the year 2022, but had stepped into 1987 again.  It felt as real as the steering wheel in my hands.  Looks like this summer will be no different.  Lots of flashbacks in store!

An excellent start to what I hope will be an amazing year.

GUEST REVIEW: An Evening With Bruce Dickinson, 03/30/22, Kitchener, Centre In the Square by Dr. Kathryn Ladano

BRUCE DICKINSON – An Evening With Bruce Dickinson, 03/30/22, Kitchener, Centre In the Square 

By Dr. Kathryn Ladano

 

On the evening of Wednesday March 30th, I headed over to the Centre in the Square with my good friend Dave to check out “An Evening with Bruce Dickinson”. Dave bought two tickets to the show as soon as they went on sale months ago and asked if I’d like to come. While I’m admittedly not an Iron Maiden expert, I did grow up listening to the band via my brother (Mike LeBrain) and was aware of all of their albums and singles throughout the 80’s. I spent a lot of time watching Iron Maiden videos on Much Music and I recall when I was in grade 3 or 4 being asked what my favourite song was and answering “Aces High”. No one had any clue what I was talking about. I have a lot of nostalgia for that time and when I was a kid I knew all of the members of Iron Maiden by name and instrument, and of course I was very much in awe of Bruce Dickinson. So when I had the opportunity to learn more about him and hear some of his stories, I was keen to take advantage of that.

When Dave and I arrived at the theatre, we were in row X on the orchestra level – the last row on the floor. The audience size wasn’t as big as I was expecting and shortly after we arrived an usher came by and asked us if we’d like to move up to row L – we said yes! I don’t think the theatre was even half full, but I liked that – especially in COVID times when about 75% of the audience was unmasked and I’m admittedly wary of getting sick. It also obviously gave us a much better view. The show started exactly at 7:30 PM. I had the impression through the whole show that Bruce Dickinson had meticulously timed everything. The show didn’t even start a minute late. The intermission was exactly at 9:05 PM. The length of the intermission was exactly 25 minutes – that sort of thing.

The show was in two sets. The first set was Bruce telling stories from throughout his life and the second set was strictly for audience questions. From start to finish, the show was a full 3 hours in length. It all started with Bruce coming on stage with the backdrop of a (very) old picture of him alongside a picture of his great uncle Frank. He started the evening by telling us about his uncle Frank, a WWII pilot and a huge influence on his life and interests. He also proceeded to tell us that in the image of him, he’d put blue crayon on his upper lip to make him look older. Right from the start you could tell that Bruce was extremely energetic and was going to give us everything he had. He was frequently bouncing around the stage – this wasn’t the kind of show where he sat on a stool and just talked the whole time (there was a stool there for him, and he never used it). He also came out with a beer – I suspect it was a “Trooper” beer – and enjoyed sipping that throughout his show.

While I was expecting him to speak primarily about Iron Maiden, he actually didn’t do a whole lot of this. He started out talking about his early days and how his parents sent him to “public school” – which we learned is essentially the equivalent of “private school” in North America. It was here that he started to get into music – originally wanting to be a drummer. His first band’s singer didn’t exactly work (a choir singer with an operatic approach), so Bruce switched over to vocals after a short time. I found his discussions about singing and the use of his voice to be the most interesting. Apparently when he started with Iron Maiden he was strongly encouraged to push his voice farther – to extend his range and use his falsetto voice and to really establish his own unique vocal timbre. He claimed that he really didn’t like the sound of his voice at first when he did this but gradually adapted to it. As a musician and teacher myself, I’m constantly trying to encourage my students to push outside of their comfort zone in this way, so I found his experience with this quite interesting. One other thing about his voice that was interesting to hear is that his voice, like everyone’s, has changed with age. He describes his as being deeper and rougher now, and he actually likes the sound of his voice better now than he did when he was younger. He feels the vocal changes that have come with age have allowed him to do things with his voice now that he couldn’t do before. This was really refreshing to hear because so many other singers have essentially lost their singing voices with age. Bruce Dickinson’s is just getting better.

Bruce spent a good chunk of time talking about the early days before Iron Maiden. He had pictures and stories from one of these bands, “Samson”. He told humorous stories of going to a gun shop in the UK and seeing a plastic Canada Goose statue which he had to purchase. He then proceeded to tape it to the roof of their car as they toured north to Scotland, and as he explained it, with pot smoke streaming out of the windows. No one ever stopped them! During this time he explained that he was already friends with the guys in Iron Maiden. When they needed a new singer they asked him and the rest is history. He told some funny stories about how at the start, he loved being in the centre of the stage, but Iron Maiden’s bassist, Steve Harris, also liked taking that spot at certain times during the show – so there were some battles in the early years for the prime spot on stage (apparently their original singer would set himself up off to the side and not right in the centre of the stage, so this wasn’t a problem for the band previously).

We heard about Bruce Dickinson’s battle with cancer – which he won. Apparently he never lost any hair on his head, but he lost all of his beard hair – and almost all at the same time. We heard stories of him being at a restaurant and his plate filling up with beard hair. We also heard stories about when he met the Queen and Prince Phillip. They both asked him “and what do you do?”. The Queen seemed to have no idea who he was or what heavy metal music was. Bruce spent a good deal of time talking about flying planes and we learned that he was not the first member of Iron Maiden to learn to fly – that was actually Nicko McBrain.

I also really enjoyed his talk about beer. Apparently Bruce Dickinson is the biggest beer fan in Iron Maiden. The band was asked by a winery if they would like to create an Iron Maiden wine and the band said no, because well, that seems like an odd fit. It was this, however, that gave Bruce the idea to create an Iron Maiden beer instead. If you can believe it, every single brewery that he approached with the idea turned it down except for Robinson’s brewery. Bruce was primarily involved in the process of creating the legendary “Trooper” beer, which they had for sale at the show. We learned a lot about the process of creating that beer and also that there are Trooper breweries in several different countries – and each country has its own unique Trooper flavour that isn’t available anywhere else. I’m hoping that a Canadian Trooper brewery crops up at some point.

When the intermission arrived, the video for Iron Maiden’s song, “Writing on the Wall” was shown. At this point I had to temporarily leave the theatre because as someone with post-concussion syndrome, my head started to feel like it was going to explode as soon as the music started. For anyone else though, I’m sure the experience of this song being played through the Centre in the Square sound system, along with the video on the huge screen would have been something pretty special.

There are far too many stories to try to summarize in one review, but I found the evening to be really enjoyable. Bruce Dickinson is a great showman – he displays such passion for his life and career and I feel that we more than got our money’s worth. Kitchener was the final stop on this tour. He did inform us that he was travelling to LA at 8 AM the following day to start working on a new solo album and this summer Iron Maiden will start their “Legacy of the Beast Tour”. Unfortunately there are no stops in Kitchener.  Overall, a great show!

 

#976: Thank You! Happy 10 Years, Record Store Tales!

RECORD STORE TALES #976: Thank You! Happy 10 Years, Record Store Tales!

I don’t want to rehash the story again.  I just want to say thanks!

Thanks to my buddy Aaron, who I first met in 1996 at the Record Store I managed.  When I first started writing Record Store Tales, I sent him the earliest chapters to proof-read.  (This is back when I was calling the whole story “Rock, Rock, ‘Til You Drop” and I was going by the pen-name of…dear God…I was going by the pen-name of “Johnny Cock”.)  Aaron encouraged me to keep going.

Then my sister, Dr. Kathryn, twisted my arm to start posting the stories instead of just talking about it.

Finally former radio dude Craig Fee, wherever he is today, gave me the last push I needed to get going on WordPress.  He sent me a link and an email saying, more or less, “just do it”.  So I clicked the link, and began posting.  It’s really that simple.  I clicked a link, cut and pasted the first chapter, and hit “publish”.

On March 9, 2012, the newly re-dubbed Record Store Tales Part 1:  Run to the Hills quietly premiered right here on WordPress.

I had almost no audience except Craig and Aaron.  Not even HMO, our Heavy Metal Overlord, was reading yet.  That is, until May 7 2012Everything changed at that point and suddenly, the hits went crazy!  If not for May 7, I probably would have lost interest years ago.  If there’s one way to commit me to a project…it’s to tell me to quit.

So:  Thank you to all of the above, and to all of you, new or old!  I hope you enjoy what we’ve done here and where we’re going in the future.  If not…too bad!

Rock, Rock, ‘Til You Drop indeed!

This Friday, we will be celebrating 10 years of Record Store Tales, and mikeladano.com, on the LeBrain Train.  Please join me!  If you would like to appear as a special guest, let me know in the comments.

#963: Birthday Man

RECORD STORE TALES #963: Birthday Man

At some point in the mid-80s, I realized my little sister had crappy birthdays.  She was a December 28 baby and it seemed she got decent gifts for Christmas, but only boring dresses and clothes for her birthday.  So I decided to invent a new character to the pantheon of imaginary gift givers:  Santa, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy…and now, enter Birthday Man.

The only problem was at that young age I didn’t own any money.  So I’d re-gift little things for my sister.  “To Kathryn, From Birthday Man”.  She believed in Birthday Man for as long as I could find pencil erasers or pens or other assorted “gifts” for her.  She did question me as to why none of her friends had heard of Birthday Man.  She seemed to be the only one.

Even as we got older though, I wanted to make sure she got good things for her birthday.  It did appear in my experience that kids with birthdays around the “big holiday” seemed to get shorted.  So I tried to outdo myself every year, getting bigger and grander birthday gifts for my sister.   I hope 2021 is no exception!

So happy birthday to Dr. Kathryn Ladano.  Hopefully we can see you soon.  Enjoy some takeout, Nintendo and the company of furry friends.

VIDEO: Last weekend at the lake, music by Dr. Kathryn Ladano

#929: “The Neanderthal Flute”

RECORD STORE TALES #929:  “The Neanderthal Flute”

When Beethoven invented music in 334 BC, he had no idea we would owe him a debt of gratitude over two millennia later.   When his friend, Presley of Elvis, heard this wonderful sound, he decided to pin some strings to a piece of wood and created the first guitar.

That’s how it all started right?  Beethoven, Bach, Elvis, the Beatles?

Music has likely been with us since the dawn of abstract thought.  Ancient evidence is difficult to find, since most musical instruments would have decayed to nothing over tens of thousands of years.  Without physical remains, an “invention” of music is difficult to date.  Even musical notation came much later.  According to Dr. Kathryn Ladano at Wilfrid Laurier University, those who played ancient music “were improvisers. Improvisation has to be the oldest and first form of music, before anything was written or passed down in the oral tradition.”

The oldest musical artefacts we have are flutes made of bone.   The most ancient of these could be the 45,000 year old Divje Babe flute, discovered in Slovenia in 1995.  It was dated using the Electron Spin Resonance (ESR) technique.  The bone is commonly called the “Neanderthal flute” but there is no consensus on who made it…if anyone.   If indeed it is a flute, it would be the oldest known musical instrument ever found.

There are other, younger known bone flutes, but the Divje Babe femur would be the most ancient found by far.  What we do know with certainty is very little.  It has never appeared on a Jethro Tull album for one thing, which is truly unfortunate.  The Divje Babe flute is a broken juvenile cave bear bone, with two clear holes, and possibly the remains of two more at either broken end.  Bones with holes in them are common.  Rather than a flute, it could just be a fluke – a piece of bear femur, pierced by the teeth of a predator.

We have theories.  Was the bone just left as-is by an animal?  Both ends are damaged, probably by a predator looking for the tasty marrow inside.  Tests were made with metal castings of various predator teeth.  The hole alignment does not match any known animal’s teeth, but the holes could have been made at different times rather than simultaneously.  Canadian musicologist Bob Fink thinks it unlikely that such a situation would result in four holes in a straight line.  Tests also showed that bones often broke when trying to duplicate an animal bite.  Finally, we can’t rule out that the holes could be a modern hoax, nor can we rule out Ian Anderson as a suspect.

As humans, we hope the bone is the first known musical instrument and there is some evidence to support that.  For one, the bone appears to be cleaned of marrow, since the inner and outer surfaces are the same colour.  This would be necessary if it were a flute.  The holes are also quite circular, which is unlike most oval-shaped bite holes.  There are no marks on the bottom of the bone, which you would expect if it was between an animal’s jaws.  It takes a lot of pressure to bite a hole in a bear femur.  However there are also no tool marks, which are common on actual man-made bone flutes.

Here’s the most interesting evidence, if not the most compelling.  According to Fink, the four holes line up with the “do, re, mi, fa” of the diatonic scale.  Can you imagine?  45,000 years ago, somebody playing “do re mi” on a bone flute.  Perhaps for ceremonial, religious reasons.  Maybe just to entertain the tribe with a hit song.  Binding communities together, person by person.  Expanding the capabilities of the human brain one note at a time.  The same scale we play today.*

Before you get too excited about the possibilities, the bone is a juvenile cave bear and would not have been very long even before it was broken.  One study (by Nowell and Chase) indicates that the bone would have had to be twice its natural length to play the diatonic scale.  Fink countered this with the possibility of an added mouthpiece that extended its length.

Why not use modern technology to create a replica flute and try to play it?  In 2011, Matija Turk and  Ljuben Dimkaroski did just that.   Their study showed “it was possible to perform a series of musical articulations and ornamentations such as legato, staccato, double and triple tonguing, flutter-tonguing, glissando, chromatic scales, trills, broken chords, interval leaps, and melodic successions from the lowest to the highest tones.”  Furthermore Dimkaroski found that a longer bone was not necessary to play music.  The reconstructed instrument had a three and a half octave range and was less like a flute and more akin to modern woodwinds.

One of the most fascinating aspects of the flute is that it could have been made by our Neanderthal cousins, which would prove that music is a trait shared by two species and not just ours.  Even if the bone really was carved by Neanderthals, there is no way for us to know for certain.  It could have been left in the cave much later on by a wandering human.

We do not have all the answers yet, but the possibility of the same musical scale that we use today being at least 45,000 years old is an enticing one.  It sets the imagination on fire with possibilities.  You could go back in time and play “Heartbreak Hotel” on this ancient flute in that dark cave, if the theories hold true.  What an incredible thought that is.

 

* Dr. Ladano notes, “Even if it didn’t match with the western major or minor tonal system, it isn’t any less valid. Other cultures use different scales and maybe the maker of this flute used a different scale system as well.”

GUEST CONCERT REVIEW: Chantal Kreviazuk – Friday, February 12, 2021 (Sessions Live) by Dr. Kathryn Ladano

Review by Dr. Kathryn Ladano

CHANTAL KREVIAZUK – Friday, February 12, 2021 (via Sessions Live)

I’m going to preface this review by saying that at the start of the pandemic, I spoke openly about how I didn’t like virtual concerts and didn’t think they could ever replace live concerts. While I still feel that virtual concerts can’t and won’t replace live concerts, now, after viewing a number of virtual events, I’m seeing that they are simply different animals. And the best virtual concerts I’ve seen are the ones that embrace the fact that it’s a different and new platform. In other words, the ones that aren’t trying to be replacements for live concerts. Friday night (February 12 2021) I attended Chantal Kreviazuk’s live-streamed concert presented by Sessions Live, which definitely falls into the category of digital concerts that embrace the platform, and in the process give you something new and innovative, and in this case, really intimate as well.

Chantal’s concert was streamed from her own home. We got to see her perform on her own piano with a simple black background with three of her own paintings in the background with a couple of candles in front (we learned during the concert that the artwork was all painted by Chantal and put on display for the live concert by her husband, Raine Maida of Our Lady Peace). There was a single camera being used that allowed the audience a side view of Chantal and her piano as she performed. The format was very unique: She had no pre-determined set list going into the concert. Instead, she asked for audience requests via social media leading up to the concert, and then also took requests via the chat option on the Sessions Live platform. You really felt that you were witnessing something new and special. Nothing was pre-planned, which meant that Chantal would get requests for songs that she hadn’t played in decades. What I loved about this was that instead of just skipping over those requests, she tried to play the songs anyway – even when she couldn’t remember the lyrics and wasn’t sure of the melodic or harmonic material either. As an artist myself, I can say with certainty that I wouldn’t have even attempted to play something for an audience that I wasn’t 100% confident in my ability to do – so I really, really admire her for doing this. The music was all about the fans – not her image, not her vanity, not to display her skills as a pianist or singer. I feel that this is exceptionally rare, and it was one of the things that made the night so special.

In addition, doing the concert from her home meant that you got a little glimpse into Chantal’s life. At one point she wanted some water, so she grabbed her phone and texted Raine upstairs, asking him to bring down a glass (during the middle of her live stream!). Raine arrived a couple minutes later with a glass of white wine instead of water. While Chantal wanted him to appear on camera, he refused and all we saw was his hand as he handed over the glass of wine. During her performance of “Before You”, which she sang right after receiving the glass of wine, and she referred to as Raine’s song, she tried to keep herself composed as her 12-year old son mimicked and did impressions of her off camera. These are the types of things that may seem trivial, but you’ll never see them as a part of a live show. As I said earlier, this show was just about the fans and what they wanted to hear, as well as creating an intimate and unique experience from home.

While I am most certainly fan of Chantal’s music, I must be perfectly honest and confess that I am primarily a fan of her first two albums. I own the first four, but I mostly just listen to the first two. When she first emerged in 1997 with the album Under These Rocks and Stones, her music hit me hard at a pivotal moment in my life. I was in my early 20’s and the raw and angst-filled themes in those songs resonated with me in a way that no other music did. The first album does have some happier themes, but it also deals with loss, low self-esteem, feeling that one lacks in social prowess, death, unhealthy relationships, and feeling like one doesn’t deserve to be treated well by others. Chantal is only 2 years older than me, so I believe she was likely writing about what young women of that age feel and experience – and boy did it speak to me. Her second album, Colour Moving and Still was also a big favourite of mine. At this point in her life she was with Raine (she got married to him the same year the album was released), and you could begin to hear the influence of those “happier” themes in her music (such as in the song “Before You”). While this album wasn’t as dark thematically, it still had some very powerful material and still dealt with themes of death, loss, separation, and uncertainty. While the first album was more emotionally raw, the second album was more musically strong. Chantal is a classically trained pianist and you can really tell – there’s no doubt that she has chops. As someone who was studying music performance in university at the time, this was another reason why her music resonated with me. The music and the piano playing were so much more sophisticated than most of the other popular music I was hearing at the time. As I said earlier, the first two albums are what I’m mostly a fan of. That’s not to say her later music isn’t as strong, it just didn’t impact or resonate with me the same way, so I’ve found myself less attached to it (even though I love many of the singles from her third and subsequent albums). Chantal writes from within – from her own life. And I think that when she got into a happy marriage and had kids, her music shifted along with her lifestyle, and I just didn’t exactly shift with it. I couldn’t relate to it the same way.

That being said, last night’s concert was a real treat because many of the fans sending in requests were asking for songs from the earlier albums. While I think I may have forgotten a song or two, I do recall the following songs being performed: “Feels Like Home”, “Time”, “Green Apples” (she couldn’t quite remember all of this one), “Souls” (she also couldn’t quite remember all of this one), “Before You”, “Unforgivable”, “All I Can Do”,  “What if it All Means Something”, and “Surrounded”. She also sang a rendition of “Happy Birthday” to an audience member named Jennifer. This is where I learned that Chantal’s real name is Jennifer, and Chantal is actually her middle name. She mentioned that this concert was one in a set of three that will be coming up over the next little while. She also ran out of time and promised that the next performance would feature “Wayne” from the first album (the song that hooked me as a fan), and “Wings” from her most recent album. I also have a song named “Wings” on my latest album! But they couldn’t sound more different from one another.

In addition to the concert ticket, I also purchased a one-on-one meet and greet with Chantal following the show. It was very brief, but really great (each person had only 3-minutes, but she did go a little over with most people I think). I was very nervous and while I had several questions and comments pre-planned, I didn’t actually get any of them out. Instead I asked her about her dog who jumped into her lap during our chat. She is very personable though and I really appreciated even just having a couple minutes to talk to her like anyone else. I did want to tell her how much her first two albums impacted me, but I didn’t get that out either. All in all, it was a fantastic experience and I will definitely be attending the next live-stream in mid-March.

4.5/5 stars