December 7, 2015 | Reneu Boutique | Fredericton
By sophia bartholomew sophiabartholomew.com
PIERRE VON BISCUIT The first three songs are about winter, more or less. All of the words are speaking about cold and the snow and death and indecision: about looking for reasons to live, and looking for reasons to die. His guitar is making sounds that feel like circles, but maybe they are wreaths: intricate, and fragrant like the forest. They are swimming, turning around, down near the floor, moving between all of the lightly drawn shadows. “We were haunted by a ghost,” he sings, “but at least we were never alone.”
I think about how some nights I can forget about the heavy stones in my heart, and other nights I can’t.
This is Matthew Legere’s solo project, but it’s the first time I’ve seen him perform it alone. Like he tells us, part way through the set, usually he invites others in to do the work with him. Tonight he’s sitting right up at the front of the makeshift stage, baring his songs to us, just him and his guitar. Quick with a joke and a twinkle in his eye, between songs. The room has filled full of people who receive these sad stories so warmly, and everyone’s so much more attentive than they would be at the bar my friend says, and she’s right.
It picks up a little bit and the melodies start to move around at chest height, shoulder height, head height, heart height. Brydon Crain is pulled in for one song, singing and yelling, sitting a few steps away, and then there are a few other voices around the room that chime in quietly, here and there. Mouthing the songs they’ve helped fill out, before.
CATRIONA STURTON “Pronounced Kat-rina,” she says, “like the hurricane.” It’s the Gaelic spelling. She starts and I am taken aback by the number of distinct instrument sounds extending from this single and finite person, standing, singing her songs for us in the middle of the room. Sending her voice and harmonica melodies out through two different microphones, and sometimes letting them call out alone, bare in the room; there’s her electric guitar, played so many ways, and she fills out all of the percussion with the heels of her shoes. It sounds like at least seven different instruments, but I’m still counting.
I think of the French word chaleureux. She so openly invites us into each of her songs; dedicating them to things we can understand – to bad decisions that could be fun, to the shyness of late blooming, and the solitude in painful secrets. “I want to burst in to flame and touch the everlasting light.” I find it incredible that one person can fill the room with such big music, but maybe that’s the blues in her.
Penelope Stevens sings Catriona’s last song with her, before Brydon and Adam Sipkema join them on stage.
GREVILLE TAPES MUSIC CLUB “Sort of a musical blind date,” was the description I’d heard. They’ve all been working and living together for the last eight days: first playing and recording music at the Quarantine in Port Greville, Nova Scotia, and then taking these tunes to all the roads that stretch between here and Halifax. Everyone’s using the word “magic” a whole lot. Catriona nods across the room to Peter Rowan, saying “he made this whole magical thing happen.” Later, Peter nods back, enthuses about the last week spent with these musicians, and acknowledges all of the people who were a part of that who are not on stage.
SIDE A This song feels like a doo woop song, alternating between male and female voices. Catriona passes her mic back behind the drums, and someone blurts out, “I didn’t know Adam could sing.”
“It feels like love, but it’s a deep dark hole.” Twin voices. The sounds are light and airy but the words are hard.
MOTHERHOOD The room feels like a blanket, warm and tight knit, coherent, more coherent than most of the nights we spend standing around in this store. It might just be magic, like everyone keeps describing.
Motherhood starts with a few familiar songs, but they‘re more breath and space than the last time I heard them played. There’s the feeling of melodies and rhythms pulling away from each other, songs stretching open. I feel like they’re cultivating a heightened disharmony in these songs, creating a really unsettling energy. As soon they dig into new songs, that energy gets bigger, denser. These songs are more difficult.
SIDE B It starts with a sarcastic and lilting melody, but then the drums and three panicking voices start shaking you by the shoulders. Teeth rattling.
Woeful, blues harp laid out over a similar skeleton. Intervals. Stops and starts, a screaming chorus, angelic layers.
And I think about what Peter said, earlier: rock and roll might break your heart, but it’s always gonna win you back….