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First Friday’ Category

The Forest Pioneers Brighten Nov. First Friday

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The Forest Pioneers Brighten...

The Forest Pioneers Live at the Cheeky Monkey: Diamonds in the Rough Brighten a Slow First Friday by Brian Hay The first thing that hit the ear was the doubling from a pair of acoustic guitars. There was nothing lightweight — this stuff was being played with a chop. The next thing coming in was some crystal clear singing. Then a sweet bit of harmony vocals filled the air. Things might have been slow outside and the crowd in the store smaller than usual, but the music seemed like it was going to be fine. It was too. The guitars were played by Andy Genovy and Frank Kirkey with Kirkey delivering the lead vocal. The harmony work was done by the full group, which was rounded out by vocalist Shannon Kelly keyboard player Lauren Ihrig. Their timing was solid and the voices of both ladies were distinct enough to stand out individually. That ...

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Magical Music for October First Friday Evening

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Magical Music for October...

Sarnia’s First Friday, October 2018: Missy Burgess, Dwayne Cloes and Wulf Von Waldow at the Cheeky Monkey by Brian Hay The great thing about live music is the opportunity for spontaneous combustion is always there. When it happens, it’s felt as much as heard and it produces a moment in time that can never be duplicated. It’s a one-time thing and it’s glorious. When Missy Burgess and Dwayne Cloes came together with Wulf Von Waldow there hadn’t been a lot of time for them to “prep” themselves. Missy and Dwayne had played together a few times but the rest fell to each being able to follow what they heard and invent things on the fly without drifting away from each other or the songs. It’s risky. Playing “wrong bits” or showboating creates a train wreck. Paying attention and supporting each other to serve the music produces something that’s magical and often, magnificent. That ...

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El Camino Super Charging September First Friday

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El Camino Super Charging...

El Camino Rocks the Cheeky Monkey: Sarnia’s First Friday Celebration, September 2018 by Brian Hay The addition of bassist Glen Perry and keyboard player Lise Jordan changes the face of this band immensely. That Glen provides an excellent rhythm partner for drummer Steve Bird is a factor of huge importance. They listen to each other closely, slide lock-step into whatever the other does with (seemingly) no effort and it spins off to the rest of the band. Guitarist Marvin Eskritt slides in with lead or rhythm parts according to the needs of the songs. Lise Jordan reinforces Glen’s bass lines and injects ornamentation in the same manner while lead singer and guitarist Scott Whyte doubles rhythm lines or weaves with lead passages delivered by Eskritt. All of it is very tasteful. More on that later … The area that shows the most obvious difference stems from Lise and Glen both being solid vocalists. Having ...

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Emm Gryner Heating Up August First Friday

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Emm Gryner Heating Up August...

Review by Brian Hay The great thing about Emm Gryner’s songs is the strength at their core. Her studio albums are richly arranged but the songs themselves not only hold up well under unadorned presentation, they thrive on it. Part of it’s because Gryner’s an accomplished musician and seasoned performer but a lot is due to her songs just being really good. Her set list featured several numbers from her new disc ‘Only Of Earth (Days Of Games)’ and an array of pieces from various places in her catalogue. A rendition of ’Space Oddity’ that used Bowie’s original lyrics marked her time in his band and the subsequent collaboration with Chris Hadfield was given a heartfelt reading that conveyed much of what she feels about those times. ’Summerlong’, a track from year 2000’s ‘Dead Relatives’, displayed the virtue of revisiting older pieces — that song became so fresh it seemed brand new. ...

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Pulsing LIFE SIGNS During July First Friday @ Cheeky Monkey

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Pulsing LIFE SIGNS During July...

July First Friday at the Cheeky Monkey: Life Signs as a Three-Piece (Or Life Without Their “Fiddely-Bitter”) Written Saturday July 7, 2018 by Brian Hay Life Signs were missing their lead guitarist this time around but the change added a different element to their work. John Foster, who was unavailable due to work commitments, was definitely missed at times, as well he should have been. His kind of tasty work is hard to replace (especially when another member has to do double-duty and make things up on the fly) but being faced with situations like this often brings out things from band members that aren’t seen otherwise. That was true to the max in this instance. For one thing, the band’s rhythm section stepped things up a notch. That’s always good but when the players have the skills drummer Scott Elliot and bassist Mike Vasek bring to the fore, mesh nicely as a unit ...

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El Camino Revving Up June First Friday

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El Camino Revving Up June...

What a wonderful June First Friday it was at Cheeky Monkey thanks entirely to the local 5 piece band El Camino. I have to admit, the store was so busy, I was not able to fully listen to the band.  Having said that, a few songs really caught my attention and brought back fond memories of my younger years.  Music, played well has that magical ability.  Two songs in particular really stood out for me.  James Taylor's 'Fire and Rain' and Cat Stevens 'Wild World' were outstanding.  I was evidently not alone in enjoying the band seeing how many people lingered to hear them play. It is hard to critique individual members since together they create such sweet sounds.  The original core members of singer/rhythm guitarist Scott Whyte, lead/ rhythm player Marvin Eskritt and percussionist Steve Bird where enhanced by newer members  Lise Jordan on keyboards/vocals and Glen Perry on bass guitar. We sincerely hope ...

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Wild Cards + surprised during May 2018 First Friday

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Wild Cards + surprised during...

First Friday at the Cheeky Monkey: Wild Cards Cheeky-Jacked — Surprise and More and More Surprises by Brian Hay They might have been “Monkey-Jacked”. It has to be that or “Cheeky-Jacked” because there’s too many syllables in “Cheeky Monkey-Jacked and none of them are accurate anyway because (apart from being surprised hosts) the owners of Cheeky Monkey had no part in it. They were as surprised as everyone else. A good time was had by all though, and that’s what matters. With their drummer Gerry Hawley and the set-list he’d have laid out absent due to a family tragedy the members of Wild Cards were already “making do”. Singer/guitarist Renee Card and guitarists Sara Campbell and Scott Vegh played tentatively for a couple of songs while they got a sense of who’d do what to to fill the space normally held by the drums but intuition and a paying close attention to each ...

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Toes Tappin April First Friday

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Toes Tappin April First Friday

April’s First Friday at the Cheeky Monkey With The Casuals Saturday April 7, 2018 Vibrant Harmony Singing Gets The Toes-A-Tappin’ by Brian Hay Solid and basically faultless rhythm playing that wasn’t quite straight out of textbooks didn’t hurt either. The Casuals found a pocket early on and projected everything clearly from its centre. It’s a guess but, as their set progressed, there was a sense the cues were being set up by guitarist Bill Hines and not their rhythm players. The concept is great … when it works. If it isn’t done perfectly the energy falls out of the music faster than a skydiver who forgot about the parachute but when it is there’s not much that can stand beside it. The Rolling Stones and the Who came up with two of the most exciting rhythm sections on record with Keith Moon taking cues from Pete Townshend while Bill Wyman and Charlie Watts wove magic ...

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March First Friday Blues To Make You Happy

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March First Friday Blues To...

First Friday at the Cheeky Monkey: Four Barrels of Blues Combines For One Sweet Sound Review by Brian Hay Describing the Four Barrel Blues Band as a class act is the best way to sum what this band has to offer. They’re all classy players, stylish but without excesses and what they form as an ensemble meshes together in much the same way. Drummer Stephen Bird is an articulate player who lays out a solid backbeat without becoming heavy. Glen Perry employs a fretless bass to reinforce the time signature and provide a melodic foundation with sustained notes that type of bass delivers. They’re harder to play than conventional models because of their demand for such an exact knowledge of where “the right” spots are on the neck but the way their notes tend to hang slightly as the next ones are being introduced gives their sound a musical sonority that’s both ...

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Funking Up the Jan. 2018 First Friday

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Funking Up the Jan. 2018 First...

Enduring one of the coldest First Friday's in a long time, fans of the local band REMINISCENCE filled Cheeky Monkey on January 5th. And they were not disappointed by them. Playing many familiar songs, the all instrumental band helped us keep warm with toe tapping tunes such as Stevie Wonder's 'Isn't She Lovely' and especially 'Superstition'. Another favourite was the Mark Ronson/Bruno Mars hit 'Uptown Funk'. Their playlist was perfectly suited for Reminiscence who rely on bass guitar, drums, keyboard, saxophone and trombone to jazz up their song selections. I had many listeners comment on how enjoyable it was to hear them, including music teacher and musician Al Weiss. He gave them high praise and encouraged them to reach even further to lift their performances to the next level he is sure they can attain. Hopefully, in the future, you will get chances to see and hear them again. With four of the ...

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