Melanie Peterson’s “Christmas Breaks My Heart” a gentle, melodic nod to holiday heartache

Melanie Peterson, live at Free Times Cafe for last night’s “Christmas Breaks My Heart” launch.

 

It was standing room only at Free Times Café last night, as Melanie Peterson celebrated the launch of her new holiday single “Christmas Breaks My Heart”, featuring the talents of fellow Toronto-based singer/songwriter guests Matt Gerber and Angela Saini.

The evening opened with the whimsically playful sounds of Matt Gerber, whose delightful tunes borrow from folk, barber shop and pop—from songs for kids for all ages, to sweet and nostalgic romantic musings. Gerber had us singing along with his acoustic set, accompanying himself on guitar and ukulele, punctuated by kazoo and some impressive harmonica chops. Give Gerber a listen, and check out upcoming dates, on his website.

Shining with positivity and poignant at times, Angela Saini both moved and entertained with genuine, heartfelt, and sometimes cheeky, observations of life, love and self-image in a pop-inspired acoustic set. And I dare you to not smile, sing along and tap your feet to her upbeat, energetic sounds. Keep up with Saini’s music, merch and gig dates on her website.

Main attraction Melanie Peterson more than lived up to her “Mary Poppins with a broken heart” reputation, treating us to a selection of folk-infused songs from her earliest recordings to her new release in an acoustic guitar set accompanied by Peter Collins on bass. The lyrics and vocals are melancholy, but hopeful, resilient and determined through heartbreak; and full of gratitude and joy in love. Combining cheer with heartache—sometimes with hilarious results (the tequila song)—Peterson’s sounds get real with the warmth and gentleness of a good long-time friend; all delivered with her signature sweet, lilting vocals.

“Christmas Breaks My Heart” offers a rarely heard take on the holiday season—not always a joyful time for some—acknowledging the loss, grief and wistful nostalgia of missing that someone special by your side. Check out the lyric video; and wrap your ears around Peterson’s catalogue and videos.

Next up for Peterson: Live at Sauce on the Danforth on Sat, Dec 28 from 4:00-7:00 pm.

Here are some snaps I took at the show last night.

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Upcoming music, theatre & spoken word awesomeness

It was some big fun, not to mention a great pleasure, as I worked the door at Lizzie Violet’s Cabaret Noir (LVCN) last night, with feature artists Andrea Thompson, Frenchie Fatale and Hugh Wilson. It was LVCN’s first night at its new home at The Central – and the place was packed, with an incredibly engaged audience.

There’s still all kinds of awesome goodness coming up in T.O. this month, my friends. Here is just a small sample of what’s happening on the small stage and indie scene:

David Hustler & the Trustworthy EP release – Wed, Sept 11 @ Horseshoe Tavern @ 8:30 p.m. – $5 cover

Songwriters Circle of Jerks – Thurs, Sept 12 @ 8:30 p.m. @ Free Times Café, featuring Hugh Wilson and Nick Verona from Big Name Actors (among others), Nelson Sobral from Melting Pot and I Hate Todd, and David Hustler of David Hustler & The Trustworthy, with guest Meghan Morrison – PWYC

Eclectic – September Group Exhibit – opening Thurs, Sept 12 from 6-8 p.m. and running till Sept 29 @ Fran Hill Gallery

Jeff Cottrill’s tour fundraiser show Keep Calm & Get Rid of Jeff – Sun, Sept 15 @ 7:00 p.m. @ Black Swan, with a whole line-up of music & spoken word guests – $10 cover

Studio BLR punk rock production of A Streetcar Named Desire – The House Show – Sept 19 – Oct 5 @ 8:00 p.m. – show starts in Dragon Alley at the northwest corner of College/Dufferin

Alumnae Theatre production of The Underpants – Sept 20 – Oct 5 on the Alumnae Theatre main stage

Anglewalk Theatre production of tick, tick… BOOM! – Sept 21 – Oct 6 @ Toronto Centre for the Arts Studio

The Beautiful & the Damned – Thurs, Sept 26 @ 7:00 p.m. @ The Central, hosted by Duncan Armstrong, and featuring Heather Babcock, Brock Hessel & Nelson Sobral

Matt Gerber CD release – Sat, Sept 28 @ Tranzac, doors @ 7:00 p.m. – $15 cover

Look out for Big Name Actors and I Hate Todd as the play various dates and venues around the city.

Wonder Women & Super Men rock The Central in Wonder Women 2013 fundraiser

Big fun times with amazing artists and friends at The Central on Saturday night for LMG Productions’ Super Wonderful New Year Kickoff fundraiser for the upcoming Wonder Women 2013 festival in March. Organizers and hosts Arlene Paculan and Kat Leonard (aka Musedy Tag Team) treated us to some tunes, including their new Michael Jackson mash-up, and some kick-ass raffle prizes, including CDs from participating artists and tickets to the upcoming Wonder Women concert on March 8.

This was one incredible party – and we were moved, rocked and amazed by feature acts of Wonder Women and, for the first time, Super Men – check them out:

Asleep in the Machine

Dread Eye

Matt Gerber

Linda Inthahack

Miquelon Rodriguez

Candice Sand

Supertash

Lizzie Violet

It was a reunion of sorts, and I got to see folks I hadn’t seen in a while, including some of the incredible open mic guests: Angela Saini, Meghan Morrison, Alyssa Vox Raw, Aynsley Saxe (who I finally got to meet in person after our ongoing chats over Twitter), JP Saxe and the Four Winds (Arlene Paculan, Heather Hill, Kat Leonard and Meghan Morrison, who got together on Hill’s song “27”), among others. Hanging out with these folks was like being enveloped in a big, warm hug – such an inspiring and supportive group of artists, family, friends and fans. With thanks to The Central staff for keeping us fed and beered all night. And, damn, those boneless chicken wings are good!

Shout out to Ellie Anderson, who was set to feature but was off sick. Hope you’re feeling better today, lady. And I was sorry to miss Candice Sand’s set, but it was getting late and I had some commitments on Sunday that required a good night’s sleep (more on that later).

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Linda Inthahack
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Arlene Paculan & Kat Leonard
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Angela Saini
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Supertash
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Matt Gerber
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Miquelon (aka Mickey) Rodriguez
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Dread Eye
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Aynsley Saxe
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Lizzie Violet
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Alyssa Vox Raw

This year, the Wonder Women fest will be a week long, happening during International Women’s Week (very fitting): March 4-8. The fest will include two concerts: Super Men (at The Central on March 7) and Wonder Women (at The Gladstone Hotel on March 8). Stay tuned for more details!