Monday, September 26, 2011

Dinner and a show: Blue Chair Cafe featuring Roxanne Potvin

One of the great things about going to Staurt Mclean's Vinyl Cafe Christmas Show is hearing the generally unknown Canadian musicians he features. Four (or was it five...six?) years ago when we attended the show (I know we saw the show in Kitchener, but we were living in Edmonton by then) the featured solo artist was Roxanne Potvin a singer-song writer from Hull. At that time, her newest album was The Way It Feels, and I remember that she performed La Merveille, her French-language song from that record. Since then she's released Iron and Solder, which got a fair bit of play on CBC (and we have a copy of), and most recently Play. For some reason this record didn't receive notice on CBC so I was unaware of its release. I found out about the concert by checking the website for the Blue Chair Cafe. Since we went to a couple of concert's last winter I've been watching the site for other groups we'd like to see, so when I saw Roxanne's name come up I was pretty excited.

On Saturday, September 17th, we headed over to the Blue Chair, starting with dinner, since it's sort of the thing you do when you go to a restaurant for a show. I had the vegetarian enchiladas with delicious corn tortillas, while Andrew had the pud thai. I was feeling a bit off over the weekend, so I wasn't able to finish entree, or my desert--which is a rare occurrence indeed (have I ever mentioned how much I love desert?). Desert was a giant chocolate chip cookie, which is baked fresh when it's ordered. We also partook in the special brew Alley Kat, which was an Octoberfest-style beer, (a taste of home, perhaps, with Octoberfest approaching in Kitchener?).

The concert started at 8:30, although Roxanne was milling around the restaurant beforehand. I find it a bit strange to see the musicians I've come to hear wandering about, having dinner, etc. At one point she walked right passed our table before I was 100% sure she was who I thought she was (I did say 2 posts ago that I rarely have any idea of what my favourite musicians look like) and I just sorted of nodded and smiled. I'm not sure why I should find it strange. Musicians, of course, are human. I know lots of them, but I guess I feel like, if I'm paying to go see someone play they're at a different echelon of performers and therefore I should only see them at a distance on stage. I suppose this doesn't make any sense, but there you go.

We were seated perfectly for the show, centre, just a row or two back, so when the music started I just had to shuffle my chair a couple of inches to settle in for the evening. Roxanne didn't do much chit-chat, which is fine. If musicians aren't very good at it, or don't feel comfortable talking to the crowd, they might as well stick to what they're good at--the music. When I saw BNL, and the Arrogant Worms, I almost wished they would do more ad-libing and chat because they were so funny. Then again, after listening to the live album of Little Miss Higgins, I've realized she told us the same stories as what is on the CD. So, Roxanne mostly just played and sang with only the occasional brief story. Songs came from all three of her albums.

I'm not sure if Roxanne has a 'normal' band, but she was accompanied by a drummer and a guitarist (who I think played electric, acoustic, slide and possibly bass, although I can't remember for sure). They seemed to be having fun and as she joked at one point, all of her songs are two minutes long, so they had to learn a whole slew of songs for her two, half-hour sets (not quite fifteen songs per set). It was a fun concert, although it strikes me that it must be difficult for the performer to play in a restaurant where people are eating, and drinking, and talking during their show. There was a table behind us that was rather talkative, although they quieted down during the second half. I'm also guessing that at least some of the audience members were there more because they were regulars of the Blue Chair, than because they knew who Roxanne was as we heard people make comments suggesting they'd never heard of her before.

I'm looking forward to November. Two more Canadian songstresses are performing in Edmonton at the Myer-Horowitz theatre on the U of A campus. Sarah Sleen will be in on November 16th, and Jill Barber will be performing a few days later on November 22nd. For now I have a couple of new CDs to buy (yes, I still like them in hard copies).



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