It was folk night at the Neighbourhood Bookstore and Cafe on Westminster Avenue, Tuesday, February 11, when local musicians Raine Hamilton, Dan Frechette and TWIN shared their acoustic music with an appreciative audience. It was a full house at the cozy cafe where patrons sipped tea and coffee while eating their muffins and other fine food.
Raine kicked off the evening shortly after 7 pm with her 50-minute, 11-song set of mostly original tunes with a dash of Joni Mitchell, a sprinkle of Suzanne Vega and a helping of Gordon Lightfoot covers. She even sang one song in french.
A wonderful musician and brilliant songwriter, she played her guitar and spun her tales gracefully. She’s like the Melanie (70’s Brand New Key + Nickel Song) of our generation. From the very touching January Song (about ‘leaving a love behind which is sometimes a hard and wise choice’) to a song she wrote about a weird and eccentric friend she knew from 8-years-old until he suddenly passed away at age 20 (he answered all his questions at school in limericks and received 100%), her songs touch on the personal and emotional.
Raine has been playing and writing songs for the last ten years, but has been more serious in the last two. She will be playing at the Bell Tower Cafe (Westminster United Church) on Friday, February 14 at 6:30 pm. She will do a set and Dan Frechette will also do a set.
You can check out Raine Hamilton at http://manitobamusic.com/rainehamilton
Next up was the prolific singer songwriter Dan Frechette, with thousands of songs under his belt. Growing up in Pinawa, Dan left home in his 20’s with 900 songs and moved to Toronto. Thankfully for us he didn’t stay there long and came to Winnipeg. He performed at the Winnipeg Folk Festival in 1992 and opened up for Stephen Fearing later that year.
Dan is a great storyteller and gives his audience background to his lyrics in between songs. He has a wonderful stage presence.
Dan related a very funny story about the time he played at the Northern Hotel when a large man requested Charlie Major songs, which Dan didn’t know. The irate man was escorted out by three bouncers before he could get at Dan.
Also in the hotel that night was a 90-year-old woman who kept flashing the band and a few hecklers. So Dan really appreciated that we were “an amazing audience.”
Dan’s 55-minute set drew mostly from his latest CD Genuine Heart recorded, mixed and mastered in two weeks thanks “to the help of my good friends here.” Nine of the ten songs in the set were from the new CD (which Dan sold and autographed to many of the pleased fans after the show).
He kept the audience entranced with his stories and songs. He played his left-handed guitar effortlessly while blowing on a harmonica throughout the set. Dan is Winnipeg’s answer to Bob Dylan in terms of songcraft.
You can check out Dan Frechette at http://www.ramblingdan.com/
Last up was TWIN, back recently from their Music Armada tour in the states where they canoed up the Mississippi, Sacramento, Los Angeles and Assiniboine Rivers, performing all along the way.
TWIN is former Absent Sound guitarist Dave Fort on guitar and vocals, and Brooklyn Samson on fiddle, ukelele, vocals and hand claps. They were joined halfway through their set by Rhonda for the hand-clapping portion of the show.
The band has been described as hypno-folk which I think is an apt title as the audience seemed to be mesmerized by Brooklyn’s haunting violin which she played with ease.
With Dave’s sometimes frenetic guitar playing and witty lyrics, by the time they launched into their song ‘Dance‘ a few people could’t resist dancing along, although long-time Absent Sound / TWIN fan Sharon was up dancing as soon as the first note was played. As the lyrics to the song say ‘… doesn’t matter if you’re he or she or in between … let’s all dance … let’s all play … let’s just dance … just because.’
Check out TWIN at http://www.twintwa.com/reverbnation
Upcoming at the Neighbourhood Bookstore and Cafe on February 20 at 7:30 pm are Jack and Jane.
All photos by Doug Kretchmer