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First Friday’ Category

March First Friday has Strong Band: Big Highway @ Cheeky...

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March First Friday has Strong...

Powerful Set From a Strong Band: Big Highway at the Cheeky Monkey for Sarnia First Friday March 2020 by Brian Hay The energy that Big Highway projected throughout their set last night was the work of a band that’s strong in all areas. Frontman James McNaule has excellent control of his voice and also contributes strong rhythm playing that reinforces their musical foundation. Drummer Ric Brown provides timekeeping that’s solid and provides dramatic markings for their musical shifts. Up front, lead guitarist Andrew Germain combines strong rhythm playing with lead playing that’s delivered with impeccable restraint. Bassist Dave Johnston is their Rock of Gibraltar and the importance of his role in their scheme of things can’t be overstated. James, Ric and Andrew all have points where the main focus falls on them. Brown steps out of the pocket with flourishes that are thrilling. Andrew keeps his solos short but his imaginative concepts and ...

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Beer Store Money Heated Up Cold Feb. First Friday

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Beer Store Money Heated Up...

Beer Store Money Warms A Cold February First Friday At The Cheeky Monkey by Brian Hay 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 ...

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1st First Friday of 2020 with Blackmore & Blackmore

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1st First Friday of 2020 with...

Mike Blackmore at the Cheeky Monkey: Inspired Playing on a Slow First Friday by Brian Hay 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 ...

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ECLECTIC CHRISTMAS FOR DEC. FIRST FRIDAY AT CHEEKY MONKEY

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ECLECTIC CHRISTMAS FOR DEC....

Prose And Song For December’s Sarnia First Friday: John Gardiner and Karen Morand At The Cheeky Monkey by Brian Hay There’s times when the Cheeky Monkey seems tailored to showcase the fact that some of the most interesting things in the world of music fall outside of the mainstream. With author John Gardiner reading from his collection, ‘Memories For Sale — Tales From A Small Town’, and musician Karen Morand performing between his narratives this was one of those times. Together, they illustrated the connection between literature and music in a way that showed how close that bond really is. John Gardiner’s prose is concise and to the point. Redundancies, run-on sentences and embellishments that would bog narratives down have been assiduously avoided. That spareness creates a directness that stimulates listeners to explore the layers surrounding the text whether they be listening or reading. His subjects resonate with the lives of anyone who’s ...

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Blackmore & Blackmore CD Release for Sept. First Friday

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Blackmore & Blackmore CD...

September First Friday at the Cheeky Monkey: Blackmore and Blackmore Show The Creative Way To Move Ahead And Release A CD by Brian Hay There are right and wrong ways to do everything. What Mike Blackmore did with his two instruments, a set of looping devices and a healthy influx of creative imagination was definitely an illustration of one of the right ways. Technological aids are frequently used to create shortcuts. That’s one of the knocks against them. Another is the reputation they’ve acquired for stripping the music of its warmth. With Mike Blackmore there’s no shortcuts. That, along with the imagination involved, and the fact that everything is put together live, insures the music carries the spontaneity and warmth of something that’s been created on the spot. That’s true of his live shows and of his new release, the CD ‘Coyote’. Mike doesn’t use prerecorded tracks. Songs begin with whichever instrument fits ...

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Hot Blues with Dressed To Kill & Cool art by Bill...

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Hot Blues with Dressed To Kill...

August First Friday At The Cheeky Monkey: Dressed To Kill Brings Hot Blues To Sarnia’s Ace Record Store by Brian Hay The blues band Dressed To Kill has mostly worked as a four-piece group. To be able to perform the cuts on their album ’This Ol’Train’ the way they wanted to however, they added several musicians. That ensemble gave their first performance in March. Their second one was hosted by the Cheeky Monkey and it provided an evening to remember. The core of the band is still the same. Bassist Bruce Sleeuwenhoek and drummer Dallas Labarre form what can only be described as a silk pocket for the rest of the group to work from. Their contribution literally epitomizes front man Keil Simmons catch-phrase “stay classy folks”. Up front Keil and lead guitarist Jeff Turnbull play off of each other intuitively. Both deliver solo and lead passages that provide treats for the ear ...

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Cool July First Friday with BobCatz

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Cool July First Friday with...

First Friday at the Cheeky Monkey: BobCatz Use Colour To Give Classic Songs A Shot In The Arm by Brian Hay “Life is like a box of chocolates — you never know what you’re gonna get”. That famous line from a well-known film (the name of which escapes me) is one that truly applies to the acts that the Cheeky Monkey brings to Sarnia’s First Friday Celebrations. They’ve featured performers playing from an array of genres with the only common denominator being that they’re good. With the BobCatz several of the musicians involved were familiar. Vocalist and keyboard player Robert Martin performed with the Casuals not long ago. Wulf Von Waldow brings his excellence on the saxophone to a number of local bands. Clarinettist and sax man Michael Murphy is prominent and anyone from the area who doesn’t know Mike Blackmore probably lives in a cave. Harmony singer Sue Furlotte and Sue Auty, who ...

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WarwiK Rocks Cheeky Monkey in An Acoustic Way

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WarwiK Rocks Cheeky Monkey in...

June First Friday at the Cheeky Monkey: WarwiK Delivers An Acoustic Set With Punch by Brian Hay Guitarist Ian Wills was the first member of WarwiK to make an appearance. What he came up with before his bandmates joined in made it easy to see that he was very good. Bassist Kyle Carlos was the next to join in and he was impressive as well. This was very promising and nobody ended up disappointed. When singer and drummer Derek Reno completed the trio they lived up to the high standard that had been hinted at. Their presentation went from strength to strength. Kyle Carlos was comfortable with either the bass or the acoustic guitar. Ian Wills shifted effortlessly between lead and rhythm playing. Derek Reno was strong on the drums and marvelous when playing the electric guitar. The musical communication between the members was stellar. All of them were strong time keepers and ...

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Rockin April First Friday with Brother Leeds

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Rockin April First Friday with...

London based, well technically Mount Bridges based, rock band Brother Leeds proved to be even better than anticipated. The 4 piece normally hard rock group brought it down a notch for the Cheeky Monkey audience doing an array of mostly original songs acoustically. They had hoped to have CD's to sell, but they are not quite ready yet, but will be soon. If you are a new fan after seeing them at Cheeky Monkey or missed them and want to check them out, we will be selling their CD's once released. Watch for details to come. CLICK HERE for photos taken during the April First Friday. Note the painting by Bill Walters in the background. His current exhibit is available for viewed & buying for a few more weeks. An entirely new work will displayed in time for the May 3rd First Friday. Photo ...

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Making some NOISE POLLUTION during March First Friday

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Making some NOISE POLLUTION...

Noise Pollution at the Cheeky Monkey for March First Friday: Young Band Gives Crowd a Great Time by Brian Hay Musically this band is on solid footing. Ammon Chaikram provides the grounding needed from the bass but adds some jump as well. He’s also a decent drummer, a point that probably strengthens his skills as a timekeeper. Maxx Cabajar does more than just play a guitar. He strives to make the instrument do things that are out of the ordinary and often succeeds beautifully. Chloe Kendel is a superb young drummer, literally one of the best this writer’s seen in some time. Her technical skills are excellent and she’s an imaginative player but that’s only part of what she offers. Her work has a graceful fluidity that can’t be taught. Transitions from beat to fills and back again are so smooth and so natural it’s almost as if she’s a conduit for ...

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