Various Musical Notes: Let It Snow!

Written by Gerry Blackwell

The snow is snowing, the wind is blowing but, hey London, we can weather the storm. We’ve got music to keep us warm. Mighty fine music too.

On Sunday, January 15, American country star Lee Ann Womack plays the Chatham Capitol Theatre in Chatham ($40-$60). Womack has been compared to Dolly Parton and Tammy Wynette: a traditionalist, but with a contemporary twist. She wowed them in a televised appearance at the 2016 AmericanFest, the Americana Music Association’s annual shindig.

If trad jazz is more your style, catch the Uptown Dixieland Jazz Band, also January 15. They’re at the Shrine Centre Hall on Colborne Street, courtesy of the London Jazz Society ($6 members/$12 non-members). The Uptowners are a lot of fun, and can really cut loose. Next up in the LJS series: the Ken Foster Quartet on Sunday, February 12.

Then crank up the excitement: the Sam Roberts Band is coming to London Music Hall – Saturday, January 21 ($43.50). SRB has a new record, Terraforming, with a sci-fi theme. Terraforming (say what?), the subject of the title track, is the idea of going to another planet and making it habitable for humans – perhaps not your usual indie-rock fodder, but intriguing.

Jazz for the People continues its 30-plus-years run of free Wednesday night concerts on January 25 and then again February 22 at Wolf Performance Hall (Central Library). Performers to be announced. But the price is right, and the quality always high. You really can’t go wrong.

Don Ross

Don Ross

Phenomenal finger-style folk guitarist Don Ross is at the Aeolian on Friday, January 27 ($25/$30). Ross has been making records since 1989, plays like a wizard, wins awards, but still flies under the radar – except among hardcore guitar fans. They revere him.

Or here’s a cool idea for a cold Friday night: drive over to Stratford to the Revival House for a dinner-concert. They’ve got Samantha Martin & Delta Sugar on January 27. The soulful, whiskey-voiced Martin, a multiple Maple Blues Awards nominee, is based in Toronto but channels the Mississippi Delta. Concert only, $25; concert plus prix fixe dinner, $34.99. Sounds like a deal.

Back to Chatham. The Capitol has a pair of early-February concerts to entice in-the-know fans. Singer-songwriter-record producer Marc Jordan, who has written for the likes of Diana Ross, Rod Stewart and Cher, will be there Thursday, February 2 ($30). And on Saturday, February 4, it’s alt-rockers The Tea Party ($40-$50). They’re on tour celebrating the 20th anniversary of their hit CD, Transition. The Party will also be at London Music Hall, Tuesday, February 21 ($30).

Sunfest’s World Music & Jazz Series continues with the Juno Award-winning Mike Murley Trio at Aeolian Hall on January 28 ($25), offering their lyrical take on jazz standards. The Michael Kaeshammer Sextet plays on Thursday, February 9 ($35/$40). German-born Kaeshammer emigrated to Canada as a teenager in the 90s and almost immediately became a fixture on the jazz scene here. Always a phenomenal boogie-woogie piano player, he also writes and sings now, most often trad jazz style. Michael is touring a new album, No Filter.

Us the Duo

Us the Duo

London Music Hall has folk-pop outfit Us The Duo on Friday, February 10 ($25). Interesting back story: the husband and wife duo are credited with being the first music act to win a record deal by amassing a huge following on short-form video sharing site, Vine. The music? Sweet, infectious, engaging.

Acoustic blues man Harry Manx is at Aeolian February 10 ($40/$45). Manx plays a unique mash-up of Delta blues inflected with classical Indian. His signature instrument, the Mohan veena, is a 20-stringed modified Hawaiian guitar invented by Vishwa Mohan Bhatt. Manx studied with Bhatt in India. Hence his 2015 album: 20 Strings And The Truth. The man’s an original.

Roots music super group Essig Taylor Gifford Miron are at the London Music Club Saturday, February 11 ($15/$20). Front man David Essig is a Canadian folk legend. Rick Taylor is the prodigal Londoner who came home recently after years away on the road. London festival-goers know him these days as a raucous solo blues man, but he started as a finger-style guitarist. Should be a dynamite show.

Blue Rodeo

Blue Rodeo

Happy Valentines, London! Blue Rodeo is coming to the RBC Theatre at Budweiser Gardens, Tuesday, February 14 ($36.50-$61.50). Can’t quite place these guys? Check out this CBC Music Backstage Pass ( It focuses on the October release of Rodeo’s new album, 1000 Arms, which they’re now touring.

Ladysmith Black Mambazo bring their joyous, intricate rhythms and harmonies of South Africa to London Music Hall on February 16 ($55). Founder Joseph Shabalala has led the group for over 50 years, recording with a wide range of international stars, most notably with Paul Simon on Graceland, and the group won the World Music Grammy in 2013.

March comes in like a lion, with Matthew Good at the London Music Hall on Friday the 3rd ($32.75). Long a solo performer after years fronting The Matthew Good Band, he’s now touring his December 2016 EP, Miss New Wave: Beautiful Midnight Revisited. It features new recordings of songs from MGB’s iconic 1999 album, Beautiful Midnight.

The month continues strong with a homecoming concert by Chatham-Kent’s country darling Michelle Wright. That’s on Friday, March 10 at the Capitol in Chatham ($45-$65). This is a rare concert on home turf for one of Canada’s all-time great country stars.

See, winter ain’t so bad.

About the author

Gerry Blackwell

Gerry Blackwell is a London-based freelance writer.