Jesse Winchester + Hugh’s Room = Magical Night of Music & Memories

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Review: Don Graham

Hugh’s Room, packed house, Jesse Winchester, an acoustic guitar and great songs. That’s a combination for an entertaining evening that doesn’t come around often but when it does it’s magical.

I remember seeing JESSE many years ago in a smoky bar in Montreal with a full band and a loud, although appreciative, crowd singing along and clapping in time, sort of!

Hugh’s Room, which has to be THE best listening room in Toronto, great sound and sightlines, was a completely different atmosphere with this performer on stage.  The run of shows was three nights, Friday, Saturday and Sunday night. I was fortunate to go the show with my good friend and guitarist Bob Cohen, who toured with Winchester years ago and knows him better than most.  We went on the Sunday thinking it would be less crowded and give us a better opportunity to “spread out” and watch and listen. However Sunday night was also packed, not an empty seat in the house.

Come show time the entire room got quiet and Jesse Winchester took to the stage armed with his gut stringed guitar, a stool and his catalogue of amazing songs. For the next hour and half, the sweet sound of memories and new tunes fill the quiet, respectful air in the room. This singer/songwriter has never sounded better (no small feat after coming back from  cancer of the esophagus last year) as he sang his best know songs Yankee Lady, Brand New Tennessee Waltz, Mississippi You’re on my Mind, Biloxi and Sham a Ling  Dong Ding as well as some brilliant new tunes, while in between songs entertaining the audience with stories and anecdotes. This was all delivered in his unmistakable southern drawl. You could hear a pin drop, literally, during the entire show, as Winchester sang and played  with an honest, smooth delivery that made the time fly by and made me want to go home and put my Jesse Winchester records on and  hear some more.

Well done Jesse, well done!