A tribute to Ray Charles

TicketMOMster review: A Tribute to Ray Charles @ Winnipeg Art Gallery (Izzy Asper Jazz Series) (April 15, 2017)

Vocalist/pianist Wayne Holmes and many other musicians collaborated for “A Tribute to Ray Charles”. /ANNE MARTIN

My Mom hates magic. She can’t stand magic shows and refuses to watch them. It’s not because there’s anything inherently wrong with magic shows, millions of people love them. It’s just not for her.

I’m beginning to realize that I feel the same way about “tribute” shows. They really irritate me.

Let me clarify, so you know exactly what I’m talking about. I LIKE the shows where Joe Blow gets on stage as Joe Blow and sings other people’s songs. I especially LIKE when Joe blows me out of the water by putting his own spin on classics. I mean isn’t that a huge portion of the jazz genre? Reworking classics and making them your own? Cool! I like that.

What I don’t like is when Joe Blow gets on stage and pretends he’s a dead musician. My brain hates that. I ALWAYS want to see the original. And if the original is dead, then I’ve missed the boat and that’s just too bad. I’ll have to re-live their brilliance via You Tube.

I was already running late as I reversed out of the driveway and…drove down the street at a reasonable speed. At the end of the street was a lemonade stand and I cursed under my breath. I’M RUNNING LATE! But I cannot and will not drive past a lemonade stand because…priorities. I was back on the road in less than 5 minutes with a lighter wallet and a glass of lemonade.

I ran into the Winnipeg Art Gallery Theatre just as the band was being introduced. As usual, I scanned the musicians to figure out who I knew and who was new. I immediately noticed Quincy Davis and as usual, felt a little spring of joy in my chest which happens every time I’m unaware he’s playing at a show I bought a ticket for. This emotion was instantly followed by sadness.

A few days ago, Quincy posted on his Facebook page that he’s leaving the University of Manitoba in the fall to pursue a job as the Assistant-Professor of Jazz Drum-set at the University of North Texas. I’d be lying if I said I was happy to hear this news. Of course I wish him well and this is probably a fantastic opportunity for him, but damn it…he’s my favourite drummer in Winnipeg. So I was sad to see him up there knowing my days of seeing him up there are now numbered. Insert bawling emoticon here.

Vocalist/pianist Wayne Holmes, was introduced and he came out pretending he was blind. He flashed a Ray Charles smile and sat at the piano. Wayne moved and sounded a lot like Ray Charles, but all I kept thinking was I wished Wayne Holmes came to Winnipeg as himself. I wished he played his music and sang in his voice for us. Alas, that’s not what I paid for and he was definitely giving the audience what they paid for in a pretty convincing manner.

The arrangement for “Georgia On My Mind” was nice and I enjoyed saxophonist, Craig Bailey’s solo. The first set consisted of other hits like “Just For A Thrill”, “Busted” and “Come Rain Or Come Shine” which were fine. I’m not sure if it was due to all the slow songs and my irritation with the show in general or if it was because I was bummed out about Quincy, but the first set left me feeling kind of blah.

Concert picked up dramatically when several women singers contributed their brilliant performances. /ANNE MARTIN

The second set started with “Hallelujah, I Love Her So” which was nice, BUT THEN…the women vocalists entered the stage. It was as if someone lifted the roof off the dark theatre to reveal the bright blue sky. The crowd stirred as they took their places. The band began “Smack Dab In The Middle”, the women sang, and the whole theatre came to life. THANK GOD FOR THE WOMEN.

After that tune, Heitha Forsyth and Micaylee Rodyniuk left Anna-Lisa Kirby on stage and she sang a song about a woman who discovered her husband was unfaithful. It was convincing and gripping like she was telling ME this story and I was totally captivated; at the end I was full of chills. This was my favourite performance of the afternoon. The audience seemed to love it too, people were hooting and hollering after it was over; it was fantastic. I wish I could tell you the song name, but I’ve never heard it before, so I don’t know.

Micaylee Rodyniuk sang “Crying Time” with Wayne and she did it well, but I think the song content was ill-fitted for someone so young.

Heitha Forsyth tackled Mary Ann Fisher’s part in “Night Time Is The Right Time”. It felt like she was holding back a bit, but all in all, great performance and the crowd loved it too.

The show ended with “What’d I Say” which was fun. There was no encore.

This will be the last “tribute” show I go to for a long time. Maybe I don’t like tribute shows because I can’t relate to them. I’ve yet to go to a tribute show that’s honouring musicians of my generation. Maybe when I’m in my 70’s, I’ll go to “A Tribute to Pearl Jam” and there’ll be some long-haired kids dressed in plaid shirts, climbing up scaffolding and jumping around to “Even Flow”. I’ll have flashbacks of my youth and I’ll finally get the appeal of tribute shows. But right now, I can’t get past people pretending to be dead musicians. I just don’t like it.

Again, good show by Wayne Holmes, Craig Bailey & the Big dig! Band, but it’s just not my thing.

Good night.

TicketMOMster is a Rock and Jazz-loving Mom; single-handedly keeping Ticketmaster alive in Winnipeg. Follow her musical journey here: www.facebook.com/TicketMOMs

Anne Martin


TicketMOMster is a Rock and Jazz-loving Mom; single-handedly keeping Ticketmaster alive in Winnipeg. Follow her musical journey here:

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