Jeanine Mackie Live and Then Some

Jeanine Mackie.jpg

Submitted by Don Graham

Photo Credit: Ian Sinclair

To say there has been in decline in live music and live music venues would, of course, be an understatement. Gone are the days of six nights a week of live bands playing at bars and clubs yards apart and each one crowded with appreciative music lovers. It wasn’t unusual for bands to be in one spot for weeks at a time, drawing their crowd of followers and regulars with them. Lately the trend is to have recorded music, DJ’s for the most part with live entertainment once in awhile. Even the venues that have live music have pared down versions, singles, duos and trios. More cost effective.

So when we went to see the Jeanine Mackie Band at the Drake Hotel in the Drake Underground, in west end Toronto the stage set up brought a huge smile to my face. The stage was set for a six piece band, guitar, bass, keys, saxophone, drums and congas and two back up singers and Ms Mackie. There was an awesome feeling in the room that something exciting was about to happen. As the band took the stage, which by the way was a real stage complete with curtains and a real side stage or wings, the crowd was buzzing and it was like an old time Friday night.  
The band consisted of some the city’s finest; Bob McAlpine on guitar, Matt Horner on keyboards, Byron Stoehr bass, Colleen Allen sax, Steve Heathcote on drums and Art Avalos on percussion.

The two background singers were the lovely Quisha Wint and Jarelle Christie. The room is not a big room but a comfortable size and with such a large band the possibility of the band being overpowering loomed large but these group of pros had their dynamics down. They sounded amazing, great blend and super sound. Mackie herself was in rare form, starting the set with the James Brown classic I Feel Good. You’re singing it right now aren’t you??!! I am!  Then came Stevie Wonder’s  Signed, Sealed, Delivered followed by  See Saw. Otis’ Hard To Handle had the whole band in the pocket and Use Me  had the dance floor packed and the rest of the crowd swaying in time. Shotgun was pure R ‘n’ B and the beautiful River by Joni Mitchell was a nice change of pace.  And the hits kept coming. What’s Going On?,  Chain of Fools and the classic Respect, the MJ hit Shake your Body Down to the Ground and my highlight of the night, No Woman No Cry.

Classic music, played by a great band and sung by a talented, dedicated and soulful interpreter of song made for an awesome night of memories and appreciation for live music. So if any club owners/managers are reading this and thinking you don’t need live music I wish you’d been there.