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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Angela Saini brings her sweet, soulful sound to Hope on the Stereo celebration at Cameron House residency

as hope on the stereoI had the pleasure of attending the final performance of Angela Saini’s May residency at The Cameron House last night, which included a selection of tunes from across albums—with a special nod of celebration to her new record Hope on the Stereo—along with a few choice covers (I especially enjoyed Saini’s interpretation of Melissa Etheridge’s “Come to my Window”). Sharing the stage with Saini was her band: François Martin (guitar), Jeff Scale (bass) and David Sufrin (drums).

The sounds are rich, inviting and catchy—with snatches of soul, country and pop—including some haunting and driving guitar licks reminiscent of Chris Isaak and U2’s The Edge, courtesy of François Martin. And Saini invites us to sing and dance along. Whether taking us on the “love train” (“Right Beside You”); getting nostalgic (“My Once Upon a Time”); shouting out positivity (“Living on the Bright Side”); or grappling with issues of body image (“Something Like I’m Beautiful”), identity (“U Turn”, “Black Sheep”) and challenging human interactions (“Sweet Sweet Mouth”), Angela Saini’s songs are profoundly honest expressions of humanity and compassion—offering astute and ultimately hopeful glimpses into the human condition.

Last night was the final performance of Saini’s May residency, but you can give Saini’s music a listen and check out her upcoming gigs.

Here are some snaps I took at The Cameron House show last night:

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Melanie Peterson’s Anywhere From Here a heartfelt, beautiful mix of playful, introspective & melancholy

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Melanie Peterson – photo by Bri-anne Swan

Saskatoon-born, Toronto-based singer/songwriter/actress Melanie Peterson celebrated the launch of her new CD Anywhere From Here at The Piston last night, with guest artist Bri-Anne Swan opening the festivities. And what a celebration it was!

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Bri-anne Swan

Swan opened with a short solo acoustic set of mostly original songs, opening with a gorgeous interpretation of Gordon Lightfoot’s “If You Could Read My Mind.” Featuring crystal clear vocals, with a subtle haunting, wistful quality, Swan’s lyrical storytelling includes hints of folk – her latest CD Letters Home also includes a Lightfoot cover of “Now and Then” – and country (opening track “Have You Seen My Ghost”). Her sounds conjure up images of windswept, lonesome plains, big skies and misty, strange forests. Give her a listen/look-see on her YouTube channel. Bri-anne Swan is also the cover designer/photographer for Anywhere From Here.

Then, the main event. I first met Melanie Peterson about two years ago, when she was performing in a line-up of amazing, talented women at ovarian cancer fundraiser She’s Listening II, and I interviewed her last year. Peterson has been described as Mary Poppins with a broken heart. The songwriting is genuine and self-aware, and there is a positive tone even in the heartbreak. In fact, the progression of the songs on Anywhere From Here – which Peterson and her band played from top to bottom – reads like the life of a romantic relationship. From the initial magic sparks in “Truth Talking” and “Fallback Plan,” to words of warning “Where There’s Smoke (Lust Ain’t Love),” to the devil may care of “Just the Right Amount of Wrong,” and into the stall in “Holding Pattern” and when it’s over in “I Miss You Already” – she’s got all the feels. There are also lovely expressions of gratitude here (“A Path Laid Out Like Gold,” featuring backing vocals by Kasandra Sharpe) and love that’s so good (“A Gift” – the CD’s title comes from these lyrics).

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Melanie Peterson

Peterson’s sounds feature folk, pop (including a kicky Beatles-inspired riff in “Fallback Plan”) and country, with some reggae flavour (“Truth Talking”) – delivered with lovely, lilting vocals and sweet harmonies. Joining Peterson (guitar, lead vocals) last night – and also playing on Anywhere From Here: Mitch Girio (guitar, backing vocals and producer – he also produced Swan’s Letters Home), Pete Lambert (drums, violin, backing vocals) and Peter Collins (bass, backing vocals). By the time they got up to play their set, the room was packed with enthusiastic friends, family and fans – so much so that the crowd coaxed three encore songs, including “Cinema Girl” (my request – thanks again, guys!) and “Unbreakable,” from Peterson’s Unbreakable CD.

Melanie Peterson’s Anywhere From Here is a heartfelt, beautiful mix of playful, introspective and melancholy. Wrap your ears around it soon.

You can keep up with Peterson on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Soundcloud, among other platforms – see her website for all the platforms.

Here’s the poppy, fun the video for “Fallback Plan”:

Department of corrections: The song “Just the Right Amount of Wrong” was originally written as “Just the Right Side of Wrong” – that has been corrected and the link to the video has also been added.

 

 

Burn Apollo & guest Perivale rock the house @ packed Junction City Music Hall all-ages event

DSCN1896The Junction City Music Hall was rockin’ a packed house last night with an all-ages event featuring two local young bands: Burn Apollo, with opening guests Perivale.

Perivale brought some high-energy rock infused with hints of pop and blues, as well as some 80s/90s-influenced sounds like U2. If Sting and Chris Tait (from Chalk Circle) had a baby, it would be front man Jacob Bihun (songwriter/vocals/guitar). Solid musicianship from the entire band, which includes Nick Corcoran (lead guitar), David MacLean (bass/engineer) and Jordan Dias (drums). Keep an eye out for their upcoming CD Protagonist and go give them a follow on Twitter.

Punk meets rock with a touch of introspective melancholy in headliner Burn Apollo. Mixing up the set list with some covers from the likes of The Clash and Sum 41, and original tunes, the band got the crowd moving – and even inspired some interpretive slam dancing with songs like “First Date.” I was only able to stay for their first set, but was very impressed by the band’s talent. Headed up by the deep, edgy vocals of Finn Scott (lead vocals, rhythm guitar), rounding out the band are Tyler Twigger (drums), Jackson Seaward (lead guitar), Michael O’Meara (bass/back-up vocals) and Vivien Shepherd (back-up vocals/soloist). From the cheeky, poppy “She Lied to the FBI” and the stray cat strut sounds of “Hitchin’ a Ride” to a poignant acoustic ballad about growing old together, a well-rounded selection of songs brought out all the feels. Burn Apollo brought a blend of stellar musicianship, sweet harmonies and easy-going presence that made you feel like you were hanging out in their basement. You can keep up with Burn Apollo on Twitter and Instagram. Here are some of Perivale and Burn Apollo from the show last night:

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Big eclectic, quirky fun with music that moves and grooves – The Fairest & Best @ Horseshoe Tavern

Was out on a school night at the Horseshoe Tavern last night to see The Fairest and Best. I’d met front man Robert Graham a couple of years ago at a Red Sandcastle Theatre fundraiser – and had a chance to sample some of his solo work Storm in a Teacup, but this was my first time hearing him with the band.

The band played a short, early set – an eclectic mix of pop, 80s-inspired rock and Latin stylings on a variety of themes, from sweet love songs (“Do You Believe in Love?”) to rockin’ anthems of social commentary/consciousness (“Refugee”). Quirky, fun and engaging, the band got the crowd movin’ and groovin’.

The Fairest and Best features some outstanding musicianship and tight vocals with excellent harmonies. Band members are: Robert Graham (lead vocals and keyboard), Tony Nesbitt-Larking (drums), Darryl Wood (bass guitar and vocals), Gerry Williams (guitar and vocals), Jimmy Reilly (guitar and vocals) and Caitlin Holland (vocals).

Keep an eye out for these guys; check out their upcoming show dates here. You can follow The Fairest and Best on Facebook and Twitter – and stay tuned for their upcoming EP release later this year.

Here are some pix from last night’s festivities:

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Rockin’ out with Supertash & guest Kat Leonard @ Breakdown EP launch party

unnamedIt was a super fantastic night of music, friends and celebration at 3030 Dundas West last night, with two reasons to party: Supertash launching her Breakdown EP and Kat Leonard’s birthday (with Leonard performing as the opening act)!

Leonard treated us to a sneak peek of her new solo show in progress My Selfie, a comedic, frank and thought-provoking piece on positive self/body image. More than just an ode to body parts, this is a singing, dancing, storytelling trip in and around the external self – and we are all so much more than the sum of those parts. Keep your eyes and ears peeled for future performances of My Selfie.

Supertash (aka Natasha Jolly) and band rocked our world with tunes from Breakdown, as well as some selections from her last record Before the World Ends. Featuring kick-ass vocals, outstanding musicianship and passionate lyrics – especially on the title track and “Serial Killer” (Supertash’s ode to Dexter) – as well as some soulful, keyboard-driven pop (“Control Freak,” which brings to mind the sounds of Sade), Breakdown is full of heart and edge. Joining Supertash onstage last night were: Frank Bartoletti (lead guitar), Dave Carreiro (bass), Rick Carreiro (drums) and Toad (keys/guitar/back-up vox).

You can check out Supertash’s music on Soundcloud and iTunes, and follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

Here’s a little taste of Breakdown – “Serial Killer”:

And here are some pix from last night’s music/birthday bash extravaganza:

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New Heather Hill music vid makes me Stupid Happy

I absolutely love this super fun, quirky, sweet love song – and this amazing music video by Toronto-based singer/songwriter and bringer of positive vibes Heather Hill:

You can catch Heather Hill live, along with Kat Leonard, Melanie Peterson, Angela Saini and Jessica Speziale, tonight (Wed, June 4) at The Cameron House for She’s Listening Toronto II, a fundraiser in support of Ovarian Cancer Canada. 8 p.m. Suggested $10.