Up and coming talent shines at open mike night
By: Anna Borowiecki
| Posted: Saturday, Jan 19, 2013 06:00 am
One progressive St. Albert venue where you are guaranteed to find an absorbing collection of musical talent is La Crema Caffé.
It’s flowered into a prominent listening room, a place to discover the music makers of tomorrow.
Once a month, folksy-blues duo Blue Harvest features an acoustic open mike night for burgeoning musicians and singers. It’s a tempting teaser, with emerging talent – mainly from local high schools – performing short sets of folk music, jazz, blues, country, rock and pop.
In this musical melting pot, some voices deliver a budding mainstream flair. Others establish a fringe-appeal sound.
“We tend to get kids in the school rock and pop programs and music programs. They practise their songs and music at school, and then they bring them out and get a whole new audience,” says co-host Donovan Weihmann.
Weihmann is a singer and harmonica player who makes up half of Blue Harvest along with guitarist-backup singer Shug Puto. Together they launched this eclectic jam in May 2011.
“It’s been growing and growing. People even get upset when we take time off for a vacation. Everybody wants us to keep doing it,” says Weihmann.
The next session of the new year kicks off Friday, Jan. 25 from 7:30 to 10 p.m. So far, eight singer-musicians have signed up. More are expected to join the lineup.
The Friday night slot is always rushed, with members of Blue Harvest dashing home from work, grabbing their equipment and setting up.
“But at the same time it’s very rewarding,” Weihmann said. “I can’t tell you how many kids have been on stage. It’s a safe, wonderful environment for them to experience. And the parents love it.”
One of the eight entertainers is St. Albert Catholic High School’s Ella Marie Coyes, a strong singer who furnishes her audience with well-crafted, heart-felt arrangements.
“At our last open jam she sang Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah. It was her first time performing in front of a crowd and she did very well. A couple of her aunts were in the audience and they were in tears.”
Another accomplished high school student, Kyeler Tymasichuk, plays more than 15 instruments.
“He picks up just about anything and he’ll play it. He’s keen and willing to learn anything,” Weihmann said.
Paul Kane’s Conor McIntyre (standup bass) is a semi-regular who has signed up and will likely bring the rest of his trio, Stephen Badry (guitar) and Sean Peacock (guitar) for some of their bluesy jazz charts.
In this non-stop flow of music, Edmonton singer-songwriters Richelle Ziola and Alyssa Strand will serve up several originals. And St. Albert slide guitarist Matthew Potter is also stopping by.
“He’s always a favourite. He does such a unique thing with the slide guitar on his lap. He sounds like Paul Simon, but the slide guitar makes him sound so different.”
Oh yes, and Weihmann’s daughter, Sarah, following in her vocalist father’s footsteps, will sing a few covers and originals.
“You can expect great local talent and it’s a great way to support youth,” he said. “Come out for a great evening of music and food.”