THE OPPENHEIMER REPORT (March 28, 2022)
Shortly before the pandemic shut down all live entertainment, and just about everything else, Shauna Leigh and I had purchased tickets to see singer/songwriter Matt Andersen (stubbyfingers.ca/) perform at the Algonquin Theatre (algonquintheatre.ca) in Huntsville. I’d seen him in that venue a few years before, but Shauna was not able to attend that concert. She’s a big fan of Matt's, and I knew she would love his live performance. She was so excited about hearing and seeing him live, and then, everything shut down. One week ago last Sunday, we finally attended that concert, presented by the great Huntsville Festival Of The Arts. It was Shauna’s first live concert since seeing Blackie And The Rodeo Kings (blackieandtherodeokings.com) back in February, 2019.
That Sunday night, while sitting in the Algonquin Theatre, wearing our masks, it felt a little strange at first. Nevertheless, as soon as the music started, the magic of a good live performance elevated everyone in the audience. One could almost hear a collective sigh of relief. We've been art-starved for 2 years, and with all the political upheaval and craziness, and now with the looming threat of world war, I wondered if we would ever return to the good things that men and women have to offer. Personally, I’ve been most affected by the lack of live music, and the effect that this has had on my musician friends. I corresponded with a lot of those friends over the past 2 years, and some were barely hanging on emotionally. Many were doubtful they would ever be able to return to making a modest living doing what they love. Some performed live stream concerts to keep the money trickling in, but the disconnect of a streamed performance really diluted the magic. Now that things are opening up after the long hibernation, I wondered if everyone would be able to recover their live performance skills.
The answer is yes. Matt was brilliant. His opener Dave Sampson (davesampson.ca), a singer/songwriter based in Halifax, NS was entertaining as well. Both artists shared their feelings about finally returning to the stage, and the overall message was gratitude. Matt made us laugh, and he put us all at ease with his wit and charm. Then, he floored us with his outstanding voice, guitar chops, and passionate delivery. It was obvious that the audience was truly grateful, illustrated by several standing ovations throughout his performance. A live concert at the Algonquin Theatre was another step in the direction of normalcy. For some, normalcy is the luxury of eating out, for others, it is going to a movie, or a sports event. For me, it is seeing and hearing a live musical performance.
Last Saturday, a friend and I attended a concert at the newly refurbished Gravenhurst Opera House (gravenhurst.ca/en/explore-and-play/opera-house.aspx). Three talented solo artists, Angie Nussey, Katherine Wheatley, and Tannis Slimmon, came together as the group BOREAL (borealsongs.ca), and blessed us with their spectacular harmonies. While I already knew Angie, though I’d never met Katherine or Tannis in person, I have been a fan of their voices and their songwriting for quite some time. As a trio, their harmonies are beautiful and to hear their accompaniment on each other’s songs, many with which I was familiar, was just plain good for the soul.
I don’t know if we will ever get back to "normal", whatever that was. I’m not sure I even want to go back to the way things were. I for one feel as if I was in a kind of coma of complacency. To see those 2 live concerts was a blessing, and it reminded me that good music, and art in general, can truly heal what ails you. These live performances reminded me to continue to be grateful for beautiful things. Hopefully, I will revive my social skills and once again learn to feel comfortable among people; that’s a work in progress. Thanks to Dave Sampson, Matt Andersen, Katherine Wheatley, Tannis Slimmon, and our friend Angie Nussey for reminding us how beautiful the human spirit can be. We simply need to be directed to that beauty. Spring has arrived, albeit slowly, and Shauna and I look forward to hearing more live music soon.
Written by Jamie Oppenheimer ©2022 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED