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Live Music Cafe: The Sisters of Soul review by Brian Hay

Posted in: Concerts & Events, Local Talent, Reviews | No Comments | Posted on by Mary Anne

Live Music Cafe: The Sisters of Soul

Saturday September 13, 2021

by Brian Hay

There’s a reason for the name of this event that honestly never dawned until I walked in the door. The ladies provide snacks to go with the music. They’re good ones too. Sandwiches, cubes of cheese, chips, a desert or two and coffee, all of which they make themselves make up the fare. The coffee, according to Fran Schweitzer, is even freshly ground. Before show time one or more of the musicians invariably greets people as they enter to make them feel at home.

On stage, the core (for now anyway) seems to be Fran, percussionist Sue Webber, her husband keyboardist and harmonica player George, and singer/guitarist George Ayers. Hedda Doyle and Jaime Keelan augment the lineup frequently to lead numbers and add harmony vocals. Hedda especially, is an exceptional backing singer. Her lovely voice and perfect pitch penetrate and surround whatever’s sung without overpowering it. She’s apparently moving away soon. She’ll be missed, a lot.

This wonderful lineup will still have plenty to offer though. George Ayers and Jaime Keelan are both solid rhythm players. He also augments his playing with some beautifully expressive ornamentation. George Webber helps anchor their rhythm playing from the keyboard and adds tasty R&B flavoured solos whenever the opportunity presents itself. The ladies love hearing what he lays out so the chances come regularly. When he’s not doing that the harmonica comes out and differently flavoured tidbits wash over the ears. Sue, sings, plays the mandolin, and keeps the time in place as well as anyone around. When she does all three simultaneously it still like one’s in the presence of a great magic trick in the making.

Vocally, the ensemble is one of diverse richness. Sue sweetened the famous Johnny Cash number ‘Walk The Line’ with a wonderfully feminine interpretation. George Ayers performed a great rendition of ‘The Weight’ during their soundcheck. He adds element of wistfulness to his singing at times and creates emotionally moving segments by doing so. Jaime has an edge that makes her voice ideal for placing a distinct touch on work by people like Neil Young or Catherine MacClellan. Hedda’s lead singing is as rich as her backing work. After the set she played and sang (with Sue if memory serves) a delectable reading of Lennon and McCartney’s piece ‘You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away’. Fran belted out several numbers with a flourish and absolutely floored Adele’s song ‘Make You Feel My Love’. The wind and cool conditions at Kenwick Park a few weeks ago must have bothered her because, as good as she was, she didn’t step up the way she did last night. She comes forward as if born to it.

Most importantly, their sets are characterized by warmth and an intimate connection with their audience. Their combination of enthusiasm and a strong musical dynamic between players keeps the songs surging forward while their harmonious presence settles like a gentle mist. Their verbal interplay and a nicely unstructured feel relaxes everyone on both sides of the stage. Their sound set up was crystal clear at all times and loud enough to be sumptuous but low enough for comfort.

They go out of their way to make their event as inviting as possible and to share a wonderful musical experience. Saying they succeed is an understatement. Times like this define the best things that music has to offer.


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