MINI-TOUR May 2011:

We arrived in Kemptville, Ontario an hour before showtime, and I was immediately reminded of my hometown of Newmarket, Ontario.  When people think of Newmarket, they often mention the urban sprawl and the rush-hour traffic which can rival Toronto’s streets.  But I grew up in the old part of town; living out my teenage years on Main Street where my parents operated their second-hand bookshop.  Walking down that quaint main street would take you to a park called Fairy Lake.  The neighbourhood around Main St. kept its small-town feel while the suburbs and big-box stores multiplied around it.

I fell in love with Kemptville’s The Branch Organic Restaurant; a high ceilinged historic building with charming rustic decor:


The Branch’s owner, Bruce Enloe, is the co-author of “The Artful Vegan” cookbook.  I had a smoked tofu enchilada for dinner.  Yum!

The crowd was lovely, and many drove out from Ottawa to hear me sing.  Here is a photo from the end of the night:


* I’m happy to announce that I’ll be returning to Kemptville this August to play at Lock 17 Bistro on Saturday, August 13!
Thank you for the warm welcome, and I look forward to the next show.

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Montreal…

My first trips to the city of Montreal were with my best friend and former bandmate Rachelle.  We were 18 years old, and in our province of Ontario, you had to be 19 to get into the bars.  So we drove out to Montreal (problem solved).

Since then I’ve been back to the city a number of times. It certainly has culture, shopping, beautiful neighbourhoods… really — what is there not to love about Montreal? We stayed in Côte-des-Neiges with a musical friend, Jon Davis.

I soundchecked at the Upstairs Jazz Bar at 2 pm and afterward went straight to Aux Vivres, a great vegan restaurant on Rue Sainte-Catherine. I had a vegan gyro sandwich, with vegan tzaziki. Delicious!

The concert at the Upstairs club was great — such a joy to play with two fantastic musicians: pianist Vanessa Rodrigues and bassist Tim Nolan. Vanessa is so talented; the crowd was mesmerized by her soloing both on piano and on the keyboard. We played songs off the first album, jazz standards, a swung version of the Eurythmics’ “Sweet Dreams”, and in the last set, the new original songs. I brought my beloved electric guitar out for this show:

 

The room was full, and I met people from all over the world –London, NYC, New Orleans, etc.. it was a great night.

Hoping to return this August!

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Pierrefonds, QC…

I had a bit of time the next morning to relax before the evening show in Pierrefonds — I walked to a cafe in Cote-des-Neiges and sat down to finish Leonard Cohen’s first novel, The Favourite Game, while I sipped tea on a patio.  It all felt very Montreal-ish.

 

We drove through the suburbs in Pierrefonds until we found the St. David’s Parish Hall (home to the Side Door Coffee House nights).  In the daytime, the basement performance hall was like any church basement; in the evening, the stage, sound system and lighting transformed the space into a beautiful concert venue.  Very professional.  I was second in the lineup, and after playing my set, I enjoyed some great music first by Robert Atyeo, and then the group Swift Years.  Robert came up to me after my set and said he was “blown away” by my performance — it was so nice to hear this from a musician I respect!  His lyrics were crafty; his performance raw and moving (also very humourous at times):

Swift Years was terrific too; great musicianship – a rockin’ folk trio of mandolin, electric bass and acoustic guitar.  The mandolin player Bob Cussen was playing so fast and with such fervour.  When I complimented him after the show, he smiled and quipped that if I played mandolin for “100 years” like him, I could sound like that too.  I actually own a mandolin… maybe I will give it a try again…

 

Video from my performance will be up on the Side Door’s YouTube page.  Here is a another performance from that night by Swift Years:

Before leaving Montreal the next day, I spent some time with electronic music duo EZLV – we are collaborating on a track that will be released in the summer/fall.  Also got to hear my friend Jon perform some of his music at a funky cafe.

I can’t wait until the next mini-tour this August!  And the Maritimes this fall.

Thanks for reading,
Larra


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