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First Friday’ Category

April 2015 First Friday live music review by Brian Hay

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April 2015 First Friday live...

Sarnia's First Friday, April 10, 2015: El Camino Live at the Cheeky Monkey and Mike Blackmore Live at Zzas Pizza Bistro Saturday April 11, 2015 by Brian Hay It wasn't hard to see the members of El Camino were an experienced group. Something was little loud on their opening cut. It threw them off the way running into a post a guy doesn't see does but they recovered quickly. A fast adjustment between songs had the group consisting of singer and rhythm guitarist Scott Whyte, lead and rhythm player Marvin Eskritt and percussionist Steve Bird firing like a tight three piece group starting to like the tread on their new walking shoes. They marched through pieces by Elvis Presley, Dire Straits and even a take on the Beatles' classic from the film 'Help', 'You Got To Hide Your Love Away'. For me, that was a huge treat because they did a good job ...

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March First Friday with Incredible Mike Blackmore

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March First Friday with...

Mike Blackmore is not new to playing at Cheeky Monkey. He has been in here leading several different configurations of bands during First Friday's, ArtWalk and Record Store Day events. The evening of March 6, 2015 First Friday was totally unique compared to all the previous shows. He was solo! And may I say - amazing! This performance was actually the debut of his new CD called ".......Seriously?" Mike played the entire album of original penned songs for a very attentive audience. The first song of the night was called "A Little Love". Right off the bat, I noticed his clever lyrics. "Tomorrows only virtue is that yesterday can't hurt you like today can and I guess that's okay then."  Bittersweet and thought provoking to say the least. Another stand out song is track 8 from the CD called "Eh?". For this song, Mike asked for 2 volunteers from the audience that could ...

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February Fun for First Friday…

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February Fun for First Friday&...

February 6 First Friday was a chilly night outside, but inside Cheeky Monkey everyone was warm and toasty in part thanks to the hot band Life Signs. Made up of Wes Beveridge on bass guitar and (mostly) lead vocals, Lise Rankin on keyboard,  (occasional) lead vocals & harmony, John Foster on lead guitar and drummer Scott Elliott this 4 piece group are fairly new at playing together.  Each has a long history of playing in other bands though, so their obvious years of experience shone through. Despite fighting a cold with sore throat, Wes soldiered on to give a sometimes raspy performance which I felt added an extra depth to his vocal style. Lise took the lead vocals now and then including an enthusiastic rendition of "Midnight Special".  Her keyboard skills really came through on the Billy Joel number they did. Scott on electronic drums did a great job of not only keeping the ...

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1st First Friday of 2015 with Erika & Sara & The...

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1st First Friday of 2015 with...

Erika and Sara and The Guys Live at the Cheeky Monkey for Sarnia's January 2015 First Friday Celebration Saturday January 3, 2015 by Brian Hay There was a number of things noticeable right off the bat. The most striking was the effortlessness with which singer Erika Sit projected her voice. It was obvious through all areas of her range and served her well, especially for the material they've added to their set. More on that after a few other notes. Their sound system, which they set up themselves this time had, by far, the best balance they've achieved since they began working with bassist Scott Vegh and drummer Gerry Hawley last summer. With Hawley's kit not miked and him being able to play energetically while holding back everything came through with pristine clarity. The internal dynamic between the players has arrived in an area of delicious harmony as well. Sara Campbell, always a strong ...

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Mike Blackmore @ Zzas Pizza Bistro December First Friday

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Mike Blackmore @ Zzas Pizza...

Mike Blackmore at Zzas Pizza Bistro Impeccable Rhythm Playing Combined With Strong Lead Reveals The Charlie Watts of Guitarists Review written by Brian Hay Mike's basic style stays in place and the interpretation of the songs remains uniquely his but the amount of lead playing changes dramatically. What sets it apart is how he does it. With other musicians around his playing cues patterns for their work the way a good drummer would. The signals are loose enough to give free reign to soloists but timely chording signals changes of patterns, suggests their musical directions, and when to close. Impeccable timing makes it seem as if those beat chords are placed right under key notes from other players and his singing. In an ensemble it makes him seem like the Charlie Watts of guitarists. On his own he does this to himself and it's even more pronounced than when he's in the middle of ...

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December 2014 First Friday Fun @ Cheeky Monkey

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December 2014 First Friday Fun...

Beautiful Harmonies Finished Off With Solo Acoustic Work and Fine Pizza by Brian Hay First Friday's around Sarnia are always interesting because there's no shortage of events going on that are worth looking at. At the Cheeky Monkey, Roland and MaryAnne Peloza, two of the most reliable people to point to solid talent showed their eclectic tastes are by bringing an a cappella group of singers in. Seaway Sounds, an ensemble of ladies from several age groups provided two sets of ravishing harmony singing that mixed mostly Christmas favourites with some fun and a few surprises. Abba's hit 'Dancing Queen' really wasn't what was expected to be heard there. They did a good job on it though. Their rendition differed greatly from the original but maintained respect for it. Some fun happened when they pulled 'The Grinch Who Stole Christmas' out of the hat. With their exquisite harmony work and a solo "Grinch" in ...

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Brian Hay Review of November First Friday and more

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Brian Hay Review of November...

Downtown Sarnia First Friday and more by Brian Hay The abundance of talented people in Sarnia who work hard and who like to go out and work means there's rarely a shortage of events worth looking at. The First Friday celebration inevitably offers an abundance of choices and this one was no exception. Here's the rundown on how a few of the events came off. Deja Voodoo Live at the Cheeky Monkey The Cheeky Monkey featured 'Deja Voodoo', an ensemble consisting of and singer/ throat harp player Matt Berube, bassist Jeff Murphy, drummer Guy Bastien Jr. and guitarist Pete Michieli. All of them have been playing for ages, know their way around working in ensembles, and understand the importance of setting up the sound. For their first show (which Matt half-jokingly referred to as "three years in the making) their feel for that facet paid off in spades. From the start it was obvious the ...

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October 2014 First Friday review by Brian Hay

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October 2014 First Friday...

Along with the live in-store music of THE INDECISIVE (reviewed below), October First Friday was the opening night for our newest art exhibit. Local abstract artist LUCIEN PILON is a man who views what some may consider a "disablity", to be more of an abiltly. His positive attitude and insight into Schizophrenia is refreshing. His art is a window into the heart and soul of a man who is coping, growing and learning constantly. Lucien's exhibit will continue until at least the end of October. Sarnia's First Friday, October 2014: Talent Everywhere You Look Saturday October 4, 2014 by Brian Hay Remember an old radio show called "Chicken Man"? No? It was satire and the introduction led with awed cries of "He's everywhere! He's everywhere"! The same could be said of the musical talent that was out and about to help celebrate Sarnia's First Friday this month. Sue Webber's group, The Sisters of Soul, ...

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September First Friday Review by Brian Hay

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September First Friday Review...

The Element of Surprise Project: September's First Friday Event at the Cheeky Monkey Saturday September 6, 2014 by Brian Hay Usually the first thing that grabs attention is the musical dynamic a group has. This time it was the placement of the sound system and the musicians being spread across the entire back end of the store. Mostly players there seem to confine their activity to about half that space. The reasons are obvious. The business couldn't function that way and the band would sound terrible if the volume overpowered the room. That wouldn't be good for anyone but they had it controlled well. That was probably the doing of bassist Graham Dalley who's also a sound man. The next surprise was realizing 'While My Guitar Gently Weeps' was their opener and it was followed by hearing how well guitarist Darren Diamond's voice was suited to the piece. Warming an audience to what's going ...

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August 1 2014 First Friday HUGE FUN

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August 1 2014 First Friday...

To say the August First Friday at Cheeky Monkey was eventful and memorable is an understatement! To kick the evening off, Chris Gormley of Toronto band Daylight For Deadeyes timed his arrival from Paddy Flaherty's perfectly.  Chris has been drumming as he walks in all the various cities they play, including his home town, to raise awareness and funds for Sick Kids Hospital.  Sarnia was no exception.  Wearing his trademark kilt and harnessed drum, Chris got here just before 7:00 pm when the  band  consisting of Mike Blackmore, Chris Molyneaux and Dan Martin was due to start inside.  Gathering a crowd of spectators who kindly donated in his can, Chris then came inside with his entourage to have some photos taken.  Instead of the normal "posed" pictures, Mike Blackmore invited Chris to play a song with the band.  What resulted was a killer jazzed up version of 'House of the Rising ...

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