The Sound Cafe
My Five Memorable Musical Moments
By Anne Connor.
Anne Connor is with FEA Media, whose core businesses are Blues & Roots Radio, Boreal PR and The Sound Cafe Magazine. Anne presents a weekly one hour Album of The Week radio show and podcast on Blues and Roots Radio and The Sound Cafe featuring artists in varying genres from around the world. She has presided as a juror in a number of categories for The Canadian Folk Music Awards and The JUNO Awards in Canada.
You can listen to Anne's Show as a Podcast on The Sound Cafe HERE
To celebrate the one year anniversary of the Sound Cafe Magazine we asked Anne to tell us about five of the most memorable festivals or musical events that she has attended.
Taking the time to delve back into my memory vault of LIVE music events, I want to share the following 5 most memorable experiences. These are in no particulate order.
Woodstock, USA – August 1969
Photograph - Shutterstock
For my 60 plus years I have mentioned to many people, mostly American’s, my memories of attending Woodstock in hopes that one day I would meet someone that also attended this life changing event, and to share stories with them. To this day I have not yet met a living person that attended the same concert.
I think this is where my love for live music was born. I was just a young girl. My father (Eddy) was a writer and wrote about many things including Woodstock in 1969. My father piled my Mother, myself and my two siblings into the old white Rambler and off we went on an adventure from Ontario across the border. I’d like to share with you some of my memories of the journey as I remember them.
I remember driving down a road lined with cars and motorcycles, and people walking all in the same direction. During the drive down this long road people were singing, friendly, some looking tired of walking, we had the windows down in the car, as you would on a warm summer day, my brother invited some to sit on the front & back hood of the car to catch a lift even for a short while. We arrived at the gate and were allowed in with the car to a special area on the grounds. There were people everywhere the feeling of being safe and in the right place at the right time washed over me.
I remember watching all the teenagers hugging and greeting each other with great friendship and love for one another. I don’t remember the time the music started, but the crowd continued to grow as we settled in for the unknown. I do remember the sound of the Indian music genius Ravi Shankar, who was making his first appearance in the western world. For some reason Ravi seemed to be a very special person and his music set the tone for a very loving safe place to be. Ravi Shankar played as the rain came down and the audience stayed with him. He was followed by Melaine Safta, during Melanie’s set the audience lit up candles to accompany the music. Melanie went on to write songs such as “Lay Down” (Candles in the Rain). It was the most magical moment in my life and I fell asleep, just like a baby being sung to in the arms of an angel.
The next morning I went walking with my Dad and we ran into a beautiful woman with the biggest smile, it was Joan Baez. I remember her only because she took a lot of time to speak directly to me as a young girl in the shadow of my father, this made me feel very special. I don’t remember the conversation but what I do remember is that she was wearing a red string bracelet, which I commented on and she quickly removed it from her wrist and tied it onto mine. I don’t know what happened to the bracelet but to me it was worth all the gold in the world at the time.
By the afternoon the place went to new heights with the sounds of Santana and an incredible drum solo by Michael Shrieve during “Soul Sacrifice”. Later that evening Canned Heat took the stage as the sun was setting, the music kept everyone dancing. I remember waking up to CCR playing my favourite song “Proud Mary”, I’m sorry I missed The Who & Jefferson Airplane, Joe Cocker & Janis Joplin, Ten Years After and The Band. These were all bands I came to love growing up as a teenager. I grew up really liking the sound of Funk, and I wish I could have seen Sly & the Family Stone.
My lasting memory is waking up on Sunday morning to the fabulous sound of Jimi Hendrix. I’m sure there are many things I have not mentioned that have been burned and buried in my heart and mind forever. This was the best summer vacation ever and I don’t think it will ever be topped.
Shakura S’Aida, Toronto, Canada – July 2017
Roy Thompson Hall , Live on the Patio
Photograph by Anne Connor - Shakura S'Aida, Roy Thompson Hall, Toronto
If you’ve never been to an outdoor concert at Roy Thompson Hall, this summer series is in a remarkable sunken garden setting in the centre of downtown Toronto.
Shakura S’Aida is an outstanding artist and not many can hold the stage the way she does. I have had the opportunity to see Shakura on a number of occasions, in varied settings, and I have to say her performance at Live on the Patio is my favourite. Shakura, dressed in a beautiful long red dress, on a stage floating on the water was breathtaking to say the least. The lady knows how to command the stage and her talent is off the charts. By the end of the performance to a SOLD OUT venue, Shakura had the audience on their feet for not one, but for three standing ovations.
I hear that Shakura is working on a new album and I’ll be sure to keep you in the loop. This is one artist if you get the chance to see GO … you can thank me later.
Festival Interceltique de Lorient – France, August 2016
Photograph - William Hutton (Claymore), Anne Connor and Robert Lurato (Claymore)
It was an honour to have been invited to this wonderful festival in Lorient, France along with Neil Mitchell (Blues & Roots Radio Australia) and Stevie Connor (Blues & Roots Radio Canada)
We were there for an extravaganza of Celtic/Folk music and so much more from various Celtic nations and diaspora from around the world. It is the biggest outdoor Celtic Festival in the world. The setting is next to the historic Port in Lorient, this well organized event takes place from sun up to sundown over ten days. The streets were all closed off for the ten day event, it was the year of Australia in 2016 when I visited. Starting off with a great Press conference featuring some of the top artists from down under including legends such as Archie Roach and Eric Bogle, followed by a packed colosseum performance of these two musical legends.
On an open air stage we experienced the wonderful sound of the Celtic band, Saoirse, who are based in Melbourne ( Anthony O’Neill , Kerry McManus , Sile Coleman and Bernadette O’Neill). Saoirse had the audience captivated with their performance. Another stand out performance we attended was by Welsh bilingual singer-songwriter, Lowri Evans and her musical partner Lee Mason.
We also attended a remarkable performance at a packed colosseum by international touring band, Claymore, who are also based in Melbourne, Australia, lead by the amazing William Hutton. Claymore are accompanied by a team of Highland dancers know as The Glenbrae Celtic Dancers who tour with the band along with their personal sound man Robert Lurato (AC/DC and many others).
There was also spectacular performances by The Corrs and Joan Baez.
It was a stunning event and such a thrill to meet all of these performers in person. This is a festival I will definitely go back to attend again.
The Black Sorrows, The Birds Basement, Melbourne, Australia – March 2017
Photograph by Neil Mitchell - Stevie Connor, Joe Camilleri and Anne Connor, Melbourne.
Joe Camilleri is a Maltese/Australian singer-songwriter and musician, he is a multi award winning Blues & Roots legend down under and around the world for his work as a solo artist, as a member of Jo Jo Zep & The Falcons, and The Black Sorrows.
Joe put on a late night dinner performance at the Birds Basement in Melbourne, to a sold out show, we were very honoured and lucky to be Joe's guests that night..
His mesmerizing sax playing can transform you to a whole other place, along with his blistering guitar work. After the show Joe invited us back stage to join him and have a chat. The man is a gentle giant with a heart of gold but a killer on stage. He’s someone you don’t want to take your eyes off for one second. Joe oozes with talent and charisma on and off the stage. We presented Joe with a book by Photographer, Randy MacNeil, called 'A Portrait of Blues in Canada' which we had taken down with us as a gift from Randy.
I have to make quick mention that the main reason I was in Australia was because Blues & Roots Radio had been invited to attend the amazing Port Fairy Folk Festival. It was a wonderful long weekend of music with acts from all across Australia and around the world. Some of the kindest people you would every want to meet are Australian's. I even met up with my dear friend, Richard Flohil, in Port Fairy, he was there with Canadian band, The Jerry Cans. A take away memory for me is sitting for an hour backstage, listening to Richard and Dobe Newton (The Bushwackers) tell stories from their past musical exploits over a pint of Guinness or two, they had never met in person until that day, I'm pleased to say I had a hand, along with Neil Mitchell, Anthony O'Neill and William Hutton in making that meeting possible, something I'll remember forever.
Joe's special performance in Melbourne was our last night before leaving for Canada, it topped a tremendous trip. I even got to see long lost cousins I had never met for a night over dinner.
SummerFolk Music and Crafts Festival – Owen Sound, Ontario – August Every Year
Photograph by Anne Connor
One of my favourite places to be in August is at Kelso Beach in Ontario for SummerFolk.
I met Canadian music legend, James Keelaghan, at a festival in Eastern Canada a few years ago, where he was performing, during our conversation he invited me to Summerfolk where he was, and still is, artistic director, I have attended every year since.
This fabulous weekend long festival at the beautiful location of Kelso Beach is hard to beat. I can say to each and every artist from around the world, if you haven’t played there, you will want to. This is one of the most well organized weekend festivals with sun up to sundown musical experiences you'll never forget. This wonderful festival is like being on your front porch with friends. The first year I attended Blues & Roots Radio interviewed 18 artists, bands and duo’s and I was hooked.
What makes this and other great festivals a success, in my opinion, are the volunteers, the enthusiastic and music loving committee's and well chosen artists for the event. Summerfolk is a stand out when it comes to this, I have never been so well treated by kind and friendly volunteers as I have been here, the Port Fairy Folk Festival in Australia is definitely on a par.
Four Chords & The Truth – January 2015 to present
The Dakota Tavern, Toronto
Photograph by Mike Highfield
Four Chords & The Truth is a series of in the round performances by some of Canada's best singer-songwriter's in a variety of genres, similar to the Blue Bird Cafe in Nashville. Andrea England created this quarterly event which is held at the iconic Toronto venue, The Dakota Tavern. Each show has surprise guest appearances which always blows my mind. It has become the hottest ticket in Toronto. During the last few years, I have been very fortunate to witness some amazing stripped back, intimate performances that I don't think can be replicated, and the reason is the venue atmosphere, the respect each artist is given by the audience - everyone listens to the songs and the introductions - and the placement and choice of each artist is exquisitely done.
I have witnessed performances from Liz Rodrigues ( songwriter for Eminem, Celine Dione and many others), Andy Kim, Paul Reddick, Suzie Vinnick, Sylvia Tyson, Stephen Fearing, Scott Helman, Justin Rutledge, SATE, Jully Black, Dan Hill, Bill Bell, I could go on and on, not forgetting to mention some of the surprise guests like Tom Cochran, Fred Penner, Serena Ryder and so many more.
Once the restrictions are lifted, if you are in the Toronto area, I'd highly recommend taking in one of these shows, these are very special nights to remember.
Thank you to The Sound Cafe for asking me to write this article to celebrate their one year anniversary. I normally just stay behind the scenes, but I’m thrilled to be writing. Maybe if I get asked again next year, I’ll share with you some other magical musical moments when I was able to watch and chat with some amazing talent, including ... James Taylor, AC/DC, James Keelaghan, Stephen Fearing, Samantha Martin & Delta Sugar and Willie Nelson to name a few.
Until then, I’ll see you in the Music !