Monday, July 4, 2011

Music at Petite Riviere Vineyards

Yesterday I took some time off from my hectic golf schedule (five rounds in seven days!) to head over to Petite Riviere Vineyards to take in a concert with my friend and biking partner Pam. The winery is located in the La Have River Valley, an absolutely gorgeous area.  Just driving to the venue put me in a relaxed and happy state of mind.  We drove up the driveway to a lovely view of the vineyard and an old stone farmhouse that houses the winery. (As an aside, you might not associate Nova Scotia with wine but we do have a couple of local wineries, which are fun to visit even if their offerings don't exactly rival those of Napa Valley.  You can check out the varietals at Petite Riviere Vineyard--and their music schedule-- by going to http://www.petiterivierevineyards.ca/?page_id=20).   Once we arrived, we made our way to an intimate performance space that seats about 100 people.   This could of course go both ways--if the performers are good, you feel like a special guest; if they're not to your liking, where do you hide????   This wasn't an issue last night, though, as the music was great and the acoustics were amazingly good for a room that wasn't build for this purpose. 

I really had no idea what to expect going into the evening.  Canadian of all types are a mystery to me (along with the Canadian system of government!)    I knew from the Vineyard website that there would be two performers whose styles sounded somewhat disparate.   Carmel Mikol headed up the evening, and I fell in love with her music.  She's a singer-songwriter-musician whose lyrics sound like they were written by someone who's lived a lot more than her 20 some years.  Carmel finds the inspiration for her "story songs" in her family history and her travels.  During last night's performance, she placed each song in a context, be it an aspect of her life that triggered her writing or where she was when the song took shape.  One of my favorites of the evening was a song called "Georgia," which is a tribute to--but not a rip off of-- "Georgia On My Mind."   At the break, I talked with her a bit and found out that she went to an artist's workshop in Seaside, an area near my home town of Panama City, Florida.  Sometimes it seems like a small world.  Anyway, I liked her music so much that I bought her CD entitled "In My Bones."  (Carmel won first place in the Folk Category of the 2010 Great American Song Contest for the title track.)  You can check out some of her music on her website (http://carmelmikol.com/).   

Cut to the evening's second performer:  Ben Caplan.  I have to say that I had a hard time warming up to Ben.  Carmel's music is warm and engaging and intimate and lent itself to the coffeehouse feel of the performance space.  Ben told us that he has primarily performed in bars, where he has to be "raucous" in order to get the audience's attention.  I certainly don't begrudge him that, but the decibel level was a huge contrast to Carmel's style and, combined with his Wolfman Jack look, made me a bit tense.  He seemed to thoroughly enjoy himself, though, and a lot of the audience was quite into it, so it's just a matter of different strokes for different folks.  Overall, though, it was a really great and unexpected evening. 

Last night was yet another reminder that if I take the time to have new experiences, more often than not I'm pleasantly surprised by the outcome.  I'm looking forward to listening to more live music this summer, starting with an afternoon at the Halifax Jazz Festival next week-end.   After all, I can't play golf every day!!!   

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