Monday, January 28, 2013

Review: 4th Annual Mangoff and Friends: The Winter Therapy Sessions – Jan 26th 2013

      I was fortunate enough this past Saturday night to be part of an intimate audience at the newly christened Artaban Hall in Orillia, the occasion was the 4th Annual Mangoffand Friends: The Winter Therapy Sessions. This past week's Mime-gate scandal surrounding Beyoncé supposed lip-synching at the Presidential Inauguration got people asking the question "What's real and what's not?" well I can tell you without a doubt the music I saw and heard Saturday night was LIVE and it was REAL.

   I'm just going to take a minute here to mention a hidden gem we have in Orillia that I discovered Saturday night. As I walked the stairs up into the Artaban Hall I could feel the history but it wasn't until I got a chance to start checking the place out I was flabbergasted by the utter size and beauty of it. It wasn't just me; I think the first 5 people or so I spoke with also expressed their amazement of this place. All I have to say is Orillia please start utilizing this space, it's very cool.

  Alright, so the first artist of the night to take the stage was Kayla Elizabeth. I had not had the pleasure yet of hearing her so I didn't know what to expect, as she spoke into the microphone there was no indication of the powerful and elegant voice I was about to hear. You can see it in her face when she's singing that she loves it, she will be doing this for many years to come. If I could tell her one thing it's to make your voice your number one priority, you can always find someone to play along with you, but when you have a voice like yours use it to its fullest ability. Also, not that you needed it but the Best Coast cover helped win me over.

   The next performer to grace the Artaban stage was finger-style guitarist ChrisThompson. For some reason (maybe because I'm stuck at home most of the time) I have never seen Chris perform, but I had given his CD , the 5 song EP entitled 'La-La'  (released via Sleeper Records) a good number of listens so I assumed I knew what I was in for….don't ever assume anything. This guy just blew me away, the first song he played I sat there picturing myself driving long distances across a deserted landscape (weird eh?), the song just planted thoughts in me…good music does that. Watching him play, what he does with his fingers almost places you into somewhat of a trance, he's just that fine….go seek him out.

   Now the next performer I have seen live before, a few times and was really excited that she was on the bill. Lauren Campbell is just a true singer/songwriter, you can sense that when she takes the stage, this isn't just a passing thing with her….this is her life. She told us that everything she was performing tonight were all originals, don't get me wrong I love to hear an artist's take on another musicians song but to really understand the performer you have to experience their own stuff. She played a couple of songs that she had co-written with Moe Berg and as a TPOH fan I thought that was pretty cool. She had a few hiccups at the beginning of her set but as I said to her after the show that's what makes it real, I know to the performer up on stage that can be killer when you forget a line of mess up a chord to the audience that just makes it human.

  The final performer and host of the evening was AaronMangoff.  He took to the stage with his new guitar strapped around him (grand looking guitar btw) kicked right into "The Best Part" and he never looked back. I can't really say too much about Aaron that hasn't already been said, but maybe to say his voice is getting stronger with every song, listening to the few new songs he did perform Saturday night his song writing is unfolding to let in everything that builds a great song. I think if he just keeps performing and writing non-stop he won't have to look for that big break, the big break will come looking for him.

  For his last four songs of the night Aaron invited back up on stage Kayla Elizabeth and on banjo Sean Patrick. I couldn't have dreamt up a better ending to the night than having Aaron play in between this tiny girl with the huge voice (and a uke) and a dreadlocked banjo player….was I on some other planet? Nah it was just Orillia on a January night. Orillia we have such talent, get off the couch and go see some LIVE music now!

     I noticed while Aaron was performing that he was looking up quite a bit, it intrigued me so I asked him:

SMM-When you are on stage performing I notice you look up quite a bit…are you looking at something?
or maybe someone?

A M-I attended a workshop that a fella named Ray Dillard hosted about performance anxiety and there was a lot of talk of where to go in your mind while feeling anxious and nervous to do something in public eye or just anything that gets you feeling this way (in my case it's playing music in front of people). I think even before the discussion I had been doing things in my head subconsciously to get comfortable on stage and I feel weird looking into the crowd while singing so I tend to look at their feet, right above their head, up towards the ceiling or at the fret board on my guitar haha which probably isn't the most professional looking.
In the workshop we talked about how when you're on stage performing you really have to perform for yourself and I think while singing I am disregarding any distracting thought and focusing on where the song is coming from to still be able to feel it the most in the room. So it's just become a habit I think to be able to find the mind set and not let the nerves effect how I'm singing. I think.

    Finally I'd also like to say that part of the proceeds went to The Couchiching Community Initiative; it will go towards supporting day camps, in-school programs, and different events in the area. Great Big Shoutouts  go to Aaron Howes and Sleeper Records for presenting the night, also for all the hard work that went into putting on a show like this. Thanks also go out to Alleycats Music & Art here in downtown Orillia for sponsoring the event.

     I forgot my camera at home so I was left trying to take pictures with my iPhone..they just didn't cut it, so I asked Ross McIntyre from Camp Couchiching if I could possible use some of his photos for this review, he said no problem…so a big Thank You goes out to Ross! 

Joe Cornelisse-SMM

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