If a First Friday has to be slow Mike Blackmore is one of the musicians who will bring some life to it. Whether he’s playing for one or a hundred, Mike gives inspired performances and genuinely enjoys putting music out there. It shows in everything he plays and he isn’t the only one. Mark Blaney will deliver the same way. The same holds true for Missy Burgess, Sue and George Webber, the Celtic Hillbillies and many artists who are both good and dedicated. Mike was the one on the spot this time however and he showed why he, along with many local performers are deserving of our respect.
Always the relentless innovator he continually seeks new ways of exploring or presenting music. The use of looping pedals and the possibilities they offer play a role in it but the real story lies in his manipulation of the technology. It’s redundant to say it again but the Wah-Wah effect he pulls out of the hat is the best I’ve ever heard from an acoustic guitar. The fact that he’s an excellent percussionist and rhythm guitarist allows him to create solid foundations under the songs that are performed. Then there’s his lead playing.
Use of the pedals opened the door for him to do a lot more lead playing and that just shines. Words that come to mind describing it are, expressive, sensitive, fluid and (above all) tasteful. There’s no shredding or excess, just good solid picking that sounds fresh every time out and has nothing to do with effects. The channels on his equipment can produce sounds but it’s up to the musician to give them feeling. Mike does that in spades, whether there’s a crowd on hand or not. His interpretations of songs evolve continually. ‘House Of The Rising Sun’ was presented in yet another way. One of his own pieces, ‘Mr. Bad Lucky’, was played with many changes in its makeup. That’s just a few examples. He also understands the communal aspect of music and offers a welcoming presence for musicians. Annette Dillon and Missy Burgess were around at various points during the evening and both joined in at times. He and Missy delivered a heartfelt rendition of ‘Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door’.
As mentioned earlier this was a slow First Friday. There wasn’t many people out and apparently many of the shops that normally participate didn’t remain open. Whether it’s due to the post Christmas letdown or part of a larger problem is impossible to say. Hopefully it’s not the latter. With the fare offered by large outlets becoming increasingly bland (and likely to get worse) independent operators are the only source for great service along with goods that are both individual and interesting. Sarnia’s First Friday has been a fabulous showcase for them and it warrants interest from the community.
What the Ckeeky Monkey’s owners Roland and Mary Anne Peloza, along with their musical guest Mike Blackmore brought to the evening proved that.
Of Note: I picked up Fernada Cunha’s CD ‘Canta Filó Machado’ and it’s excellent. The disc available through Fernanda’s website or at the Cheeky Monkey.
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