Stream Team: Reviews Week of May 4
Torquil Campbell: live from the past
The Stars co-frontperson announced that this evening performance from his mother’s living room was his first solo show ever: “Fuck this is weird, man.” Billed as a night “live from the past,” Campbell sat at an unseen keyboard and played tracks from Stars, his other band Memphis, and a selection of covers—Billy Bragg’s “Tender Comrade,” The Replacements’ “Here Comes a Regular,” New Order’s “Bizarre Love Triangle.” He switched on a jangly guitar track for the Stars hit “Dead Hearts”—“miss you, Amy Millan,” he said to his co-leader watching among the 425 attendees, and dedicated the closer “Calendar Girl” to her as well. “Fists up for the beauty,” he implored those on video, who complied as quickly and as passionately as they would have pushed up against a stage. —Tara Thorne
The Power of Disability
With nearly 250 in attendance, host and playwright James Sanders introduced an evening “somewhere between a television show and live theatre,” all in celebration of the power of disability and the importance of community. Ticket proceeds went to the Planned Lifetime Advocacy Network (PLAN), which has been building support networks for more than 30 years.
With ASL interpreters on hand, The Power of Disability highlighted entertainment as educative as it was entertaining, opening with a rap from singer-songwriter Greg “77 Spokes” Labine that urged us to build bonds. Throughout the event, attendees were treated to music—including a song from Sarah Jickling about what it means to be okay when we’re at distance from one another (“we’re in this together/we’re in this alone”); humour—quick-witted insights from David Roche; and a comical sketch from actor Amy Amantea about her experience navigating physical distancing at the grocery store as a blind person. There was also storytelling—recording artist and broadcaster Christa Couture reading from her upcoming memoir about loss and resiliency; mime—physical comedian Maxim Fomitchev’s short performances standing in as delightful bridges between acts; and dance—an inspiring portrait of freestyle dancer Luca “Lazylegz” Patuelli, who lives with a neuromuscular disorder that affects the bones and joints of the body.
As the chat filled with comments from attendees watching from home, one stood out that captured the emotions and meaning of the evening: “This is so, so moving. I didn’t know how badly I needed this. WOW.” Before Labine closed the show with a song that urged us to seize the day, organizer Al Etmanski read from his book The Power of Disability – 10 Lessons for Surviving, Thriving, and Changing the World, and reminded us that when people move in the same direction, we learn to rely on what we have in common, our dependence on others.
It was a windy and rainy evening in Halifax, but Jon Corbin’s chill and soulful hip hop warmed the night right up. Streaming from his home in Milton, Ontario—at first his five kids were asleep, but some of them joined off-camera—Corbin performed a selection of songs from his beat tapes Nothing is Normal and Still Winter alongside new tracks due this summer, with some of his trademark spoken word mixed in. In one such piece he called himself “an odd concoction of Will Smith and Carlton Banks”; like Smith’s his rhymes are positive, swear-free, and focus on “faith, love, justice, and identity.” At one point Corbin—who is also a teacher—planned to quit music, but in self-isolation he’s found “the most fruitful season of music of my life.” Lucky us.
Tariq: Telegrams From Home
Juno-nominated songwriter Tariq hosted an intimate concert from his home in Vancouver on Saturday. Against a backdrop of soft lights and candles, Tariq played many of the songs from his album Telegrams, switching between acoustic and electric guitars—the teenage rebellion song “Last Chord” led to a rousing audience singalong—before treating the audience to a moving cover of Paul Simon’s “The Only Living Boy in New York.”
Tariq was delighted to perform for so many friends and fans from across the country, excited that hosting a virtual concert meant that “this time, I actually get to invite them!” One such friend was Brasstronaut bandmate Sam Davidson who joined the show from Victoria, playing solo on clarinet with some haunting reverb, switching to the “space clarinet,” an Electronic Wind Instrument. Closing out the show with an encore, a clearly moved Tariq took in the faces of the audience members and thanked everyone for an event that was “wacky and weirdly intimate. I can feel you out there. Let’s do this again.” —JW
Jill Barber’s Mother’s Day concert
Over 300 viewers tuned in to watch singer/songwriter Jill Barber perform a moving Mother’s Day tribute from her home in Vancouver, BC. Barber opened the concert by sharing that the room in which she serenaded us from, alone with an acoustic guitar and a celebratory bottle of bubbly, was where she birthed her two children with husband Grant Lawrence. This vulnerability set the tone for the rest of the event, which invited the audience to share their own experiences of motherhood and resiliency, and all the love that we haven’t known yet, as paraphrased from Barber’s song “The Knot” from her album For All Time. After a visit from fellow touring musician and mother, Jenn Grant—whose music was playing while Barber gave birth to her children—Barber treated the audience to a range of songs from her many albums, including “Never Quit Loving You”, “Two Brown Eyes,” “Ashes to Ashes,” “Mercy,” and “Girls Gotta Do” (delivered in tribute from a husband to his wife, a mother and doctor working through the COVID-19 pandemic). Visibly moved by the audience’s response, Barber paused often to check in: “Beautiful people. I feel very connected to all of you.”
As the performance wrapped up, Barber opened the virtual floor once more to allow the audience to call out their messages—“Happy Mother’s Day! I’ve got one on the boob!”—before finishing the show with a final listener request, “You Are My Sunshine.” While Barber sang us out, images of audience members holding their children and loved ones, and hoisting handcrafted signs and flowers, flashed by, the chat window a steady stream of love and support for everyone watching. —JW