Cold or not Sarnia’s downtown was still the place to be — the events hosted by local merchants guaranteed that. At the Cheeky Monkey the musical offering was good (as always) because Roland and MaryAnne know their stuff. More on that subject in a bit.
Beer Store Money, the band featured for the evening, is an ensemble that has a lot to recommend them. Singer/guitarist Khrystopher Luther-Heath is strong on both guitar and lead vocal. His playing combines subtle lead ornamentation with a solid rhythmic foundation and his singing is never less than fiery. Melissa Miller is a phenomenal vocalist. In addition to having a great mezzo/alto timbre she makes good use of expressive shadings and has exceptional control over her pitch. The pair also harmonize well, which is always a plus.
Marcus Moyneur is an acrobatic drummer who combines solid timekeeping with flourishes that would be expected from an orchestral percussionist. There’s no doubt the man’s in touch with his inner Neil Peart — the complexity of his patterns more than suggests the possibility, and in a very tasty fashion to boot. He spent most of his time behind the full kit but moved to the cajon periodically and employed it to great effect.
What makes the band really interesting though is the way they approach established songs. Numbers like ‘Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This)’ by The Eurythmics fit their acoustic format well and receive fairly direct interpretations. Other pieces, like ’Take My Sympathy’, a mix that combined ’Take Me Down’ by Pretty Reckless and ‘Sympathy For The Devil’ by the Rolling Stones, received a complete overhaul. In their hands the connection between the two numbers seemed like an obvious one. With its tempo reduced the excerpt from ‘Sympathy retained the song’s power and anthem like presence. That’s no small feat.
The band is still very raw and their sound wasn’t always balanced. Time and experience will take care of that. The other point is a more complex one and it’s something the trio may or may not want to do. Economics might defeat this notion as well but it would be nice to see what they’d be like with a good bass player on board.
The parts are all there for it to work and the suggestion came from a bass player early in their set. It’s food for thought. Whatever they chose to do, Beer Store Money and their approach provide a breath of fresh air from three very talented musicians.
As always, Roland and Mary Anne Peloza illustrated how vibrant the musical life is in Sarnia by hosting a band that filled the music they played with the freshness and life that belongs to it. They do this time and
again and everyone benefits. They more than deserve a good shout-out for doing what comes naturally so consistently and so well.
CLICK HERE for more photos taken by Brian Hay