It was standing-room only at The Haviland Club last Friday night, with the main lounge filled and dozens more crowded around the doors, as Island singer-songwriter Katie McGarry launched her brand new CD, Waiting On.
It has been an exciting past few years for McGarry, following the release of her debut 2010 album, My Side of Town, which garnered two Music P.E.I. Award nominations in 2011. Touring and then a journey to Nashville in 2012 aligned her professional music career even more, as the prep and recording work for this new CD began shortly after.
Recorded by Jon Matthews at The Sound Mill in Emyvale and produced by McGarry and Dan Currie, the album is described as providing “a satisfying serving of sweet vocals tasty country licks and contemplative lyrics that help to justify the description of her music as being timeless.”
And from the sweet sounds of what I took in at The Haviland Club last Friday, it is clear that McGarry has followed her path of country roots to develop her style in what has grown to be a serenading blend of country/Americana folk pop for this new record.
The night began at 8 p.m., as young Dylan Menzie warmed up the crowd and kicked things off — literally.
With his signature kick-drum-infused original folk/pop gems (as he keeps the beat on a kick drum while playing the guitar and singing), fueled by a tenor ukulele and his charming bellowing vocals, Menzie performed an exuberantly well-received opening set of about a half dozen originals, proving to those who had never seen him before why he’ll be one of the busiest dudes around amid the exciting performance opportunities that next week’s ECMA will bring with it.
Shortly after 9 p.m. the crowd surged in applause to welcome McGarry to the stage, as she smiled and greeted the audience warmly before sailing into her first tune of the night, On Fire.
Proving that her creativity has not halted with the production of this new album, McGarry uniquely began her set with two brand new songs that have yet to be recorded. The first, Lover for the Night, followed on Fire.
“I say that it’s about liars and cheaters, but it’s really about moving on from things stoically,” McGarry said in introduction to her next song, Till I’m Already Gone, whose slow waltz soothed the room, as the sound was filled out around her by brightly-toned leads on the electric guitar by Currie, backing vocals and keyboard by Drea MacDonald, bass by Brien McCarthy and drums by Eli MacDougall.
The title track of the CD then took the spotlight in the next song of the set. Waiting On was decorated in lovely harmonies as McGarry’s voice rang out purely and effortlessly over the strums of her acoustic guitar and the four-piece band’s cushioning accompaniment.
Songs like One of Those Things, the fired-up Brokenhearted (which featured McGarry’s first-ever electric guitar solo) and My Side of Town were key highlights as the night carried on. The music was enhanced by the presence of recording engineer Matthews on backing vocals and keyboards.
The last tune of the set, It Shall Be Done, got the audience singing along with “sun’s gonna shine on me,” complete with a trading-solos rock-out between Currie on guitar and Matthews on the keys.
Wild applause brought McGarry back for what was perhaps one of the best moments of the show, in a time-slowing encore of Lay it All on the Line, performed by just McGarry and MacDonald on stage.
Copies of Waiting On are at Back Alley Music or on iTunes. Also, be sure to check out McGarry in the CBC Searchlight competition, as she has submitted her new song, Go Easy, in CBC’s hunt for Canada’s best new artist. Visit http://music.cbc.ca/#/artists/Katie-McGarry for more information.
Next week: The ECMA’s begin! And I’ll tell you all about its opening shows and all the excitement that’s in store for us.
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.
1. The Paul McKenna Band - The Old Triangle, today and tomorrow, 9 p.m.
2. Comedian Pete Zedlacher - P.E.I. Brewing Company, today at 8 p.m., featuring opening sets by Francois Weber and Eric Payne.
3. 2014 P.E.I. Community Theatre Festival - Carrefour de l’Isle St. Jean, Charlottetown, tomorrow at 1 p.m.
4. Tim and Koady Chaisson - The Old Triangle, tomorrow at 5 p.m.
5. Winterjazz with Ian Sherwood and the Glen Strickey Quartet - The Pourhouse, tomorrow at 7 p.m.
6. Out Like a Lion - The Guild, tomorrow at 7:30 p.m., featuring the UPEI Jazz Ensemble, Nadine Haddad, Melissa MacKenzie, Parker Clements, Olivia Barnes and more.
7. Meaghan Blanchard - The Albert & Crown Pub & Eatery, tomorrow at 8 p.m.
8. Strathgartney Chamber Orchestra - Rodd Charlottetown Hotel, Sunday at 3:30 p.m. Classical music in an elegant setting, directed by Leo Marchildon. This concert is free to the public although donations are gladly accepted.
9. John MacPhee, Liam Corcoran and Dylan Menzie - Marc’s Lounge, Sunday at 8 p.m.