Jane Harbury’s Live Discoveries

Discoveries Photo Credit Pat Blythe A Girl With A Camera The Picture Taker.jpg

Submitted by Don Graham
Discoveries Photo Credit Pat Blythe A Girl With A Camera The Picture Taker

Hugh’s Room in Toronto is a highwater mark for artists and entertainers. It’s a big room and the stage has been graced by many, many legends. Jimmy Webb, Joan Baez, Judy Collins, Eric Andersen, Sylvia Tyson, Jesse Winchester and so many more. It’s a room emerging artists strive to perform at. But local publicist and music veteran Jane Harbury wanted to find a way to make that dream a reality for bubbling under artists before their big break and for over a decade has been providing them an opportunity. “All the talent on stage is handpicked by me. This isn’t a talent contest or American Idol, these are artist that impressed me enough to believe that they are almost there.” And Jane should know, she worked at the iconic Riverboat in Yorkville during the folk boom and saw many of today’s legends in their infancy. “These folks you’ll see tonight on stage are just steps away from achieving  their goals and I’m proud to be able to help them by providing a stage like Hugh’s Room. If this were baseball these folks are Triple A, one jump away from the Show.”

And so the stage was set. Getting the evening started, there were no openers or closers just a random order, was a young man with an old soul and more talent than one man should have. Matt Nakoa is ready now to take the leap to the big stage. An accomplished guitar player and classically trained piano player Matt has come into his own as a songwriter and his vocal styles is uniquely his own. He handled the audience with the ease and confidence of a seasoned pro, aided no doubt from working a bunch of live shows with a master audience charmer like Tom Rush  Matt did three songs on guitar and one at the piano, highlights being his own “ You Are My Moonshine” and a participatory version of “ Route 66”. Masterfully done.

Next was Christian Veigh, a teenage guitar slinger, a little bit Page and little bit Satriani, accompanied by a three piece band  featuring Vanessa Harnish on drums, Keith Wilkinson on bass and keys and Lee Cochrane on  guitar. “Lee was my guitar teacher.”  Veigh worked his way through his set mixing up the tempos and textures to make for an interesting performace. He is taking a year off from his  schooling  at Berklee College of Music to dedicate his time to recording, songwriting and performing.

Next up a true songbird, singer/songwriter Claire Hunter.  Accompanied by just her acoustic guitar the young singer did herself proud with a rich yet emotional voice singing from her heart and lungs. For some reason watching her I pictured her on the TV hit Nashville,something in the uniqueness and tone of her vocals. Look for her in the very near future.

And the evening ended on a high note with a truly entertaining set by an odd combination of slide guitar, banjitar, jew’s harp, didgeridoo and funky slap bass, not all at the same time but played in interesting formations by the talented duo Jennis, Jen Dennis  and Dennis Gaumond. Reminiscent of the goodtime bands of the  jug band early Spoonful days of early Greenwich Village days, these two masterful musicians ran through an energetic set featuring originals by Gaumond and including a rollicking rendition of the old bluegrass favourite “Sugarfoot Rag”.

What a great night of musicianship and showmanship. Keep your eyes and ears open for the next installment Jane Harbury’s Discoveries at Hugh’s Room.