It has now been almost a year since renowned Nova Scotia blues/R&B/soul musician Charlie A’Court launched his latest album, Triumph and Disaster. And, since its release, it is clear that A’Court’s career has been a series of disaster-free triumphs.
Taking home both the blues recording of the year and R&B/soul recording of the year awards at the 2013 ECMA’s for the Chris Kirby-produced album, and now just last week, receiving the news that the album has also been nominated for a 2013 Music Nova Scotia Award, A’Court’s year has certainly brought forth a great deal to celebrate.
He is just about to continue the triumph and head Down Under with an Australian release and tour this fall, but before this adventure abroad — and to the delight of his Island fans — A’Court was able to work in a P.E.I. performance last weekend at the Old Belle River Church (OBC).
And I was definitely glad to be heading down the road to the OBC last Saturday night, particularly because this was my first time doing a review at this much-loved 2013 Music P.E.I. venue of the year award-nominated location.
The restored/revamped church venue is owned and operated by Wendy Jones, who does have her residence in the church — and thus the shows that do take place there are technically considered house concerts.
But with a grand stage, an expansive seating area, a high sanctuary ceiling, and beautiful sound-hugging wood all around, the experience becomes what I would call a “highly-enhanced house concert” for performer and audience member alike.
It was standing-room only for Charlie A’Court, as he made his way up to the stage for his performance at 8 p.m. last Saturday evening — and without even saying a word, the singer/guitarist dove straight into his first song of the night, belting out If This is Love I’d Rather Have the Blues over top of a sweetly chugging and blues-lick-a-fied acoustic guitar.
There was an optional sound system at hand, but I must say, it was very much an awesome thing that A’Court decided to sing all night long with no microphone whatsoever.
This mike-less concert experience is something we rarely get in this day-and-age — when sound systems are often used even in performance spaces where they are entirely unnecessary. And to take in an entire show of the genuinely world-class non-amplified vocals of Charlie A’Court, as the brilliant natural acoustics of the OBC were allowed to do their work, was a captivating treat.
Through about 20 songs and over two hours of playing, A’Court delivered a powerhouse arsenal of material, notably decorated by a good handful of catchy tunes from his latest release, and amidst highlights of songs such as Sun is Gonna Shine, I Gotta Run, and Carolina.
And, with an end to the night that featured a completely mind-blowing rendition of Sam Cooke’s A Change is Gonna Come (which actually made me leap to my feet in an immediate standing ovation), and then a chilling encore cover of Seven Spanish Angels (which I suppose served as our benediction for the church concert), A’Court impressively wrapped up what was truly a remarkable performance at OBC.
As I mentioned, Charlie will be busy travelling to Australia this fall, and so he may not be back to P.E.I. until the new year. But you can check out his music for yourself — and purchase his stellar album, Triumph and Disaster — at http://charlieacourt.com/.
And be sure to keep an eye out in the listings for upcoming shows this fall at the lovely Old Belle River Church — including Ashley Condon tomorrow night, Erin Costelo and Ryan McGrath on Sept. 21, and Catherine MacLellan on Nov. 1. Check out www.oldbelleriverchurch.com for schedule and info.
Next week: The 18th annual Shellfish Festival!
Todd MacLean is a local freelance writer and musician. If you have a comment or suggestion for a review, you can get in touch with him at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 626-1242. But he won’t be offended if you don’t.
See Page 2 for Todd's Picks