Considering that the In The Dead Of Winter aims to bring warmth and comfort of good music from some of this country’s best singer-songwriters to music fans, it seemed fitting that festival goers (including the Mixtape crew) spent their evening venue hopping in the frigid Halifax air. And the second evening of the three-day festival did not disappoint, keeping music fans cozy and blanketed in amazing sounds. Check out our review of the night’s musical adventure.
Starting another cozy night at Parentheses Gallery, McCallum (of P.E.I.’s Raccoon Bandit) gathered the audience together for a friendly show — with a relaxed vibe he played well to the small audience. McCallum has an unpretentious talent for his craft and, like so many musicians, when on stage his guitar becomes an extension of his body. His last song of the night “Get Off and Go” is a funny story about a party on a winter’s night, showcasing his unique blend of charm and sass. He also managed a successful singalong when he played “Just Passing Through,” made popular by Leonard Cohen.
Not to recap Field Assembly but he was so great we went again. So there’s that. He and Gianna Lauren have easy stage chemistry and put on a delightful show. He works and lives in Edmonton, so look out for him out west.
Baby Eagle, the project of ex-Constantines member Steve Lambke, opened the set with a Christmas song and acknowledged it is not in fact Christmas before playing. Sometimes Lambke plays with backing members, but last night’s featured a solo Lambke with his guitar. The Toronto artist has some ties with the Maritimes, which was something he proudly referenced multiple times. He recorded an album in Nova Scotia and mentions Parsborro (Nova Scotia’s own dinosaur fossil heaven) in the song “Brook and Branch”. The songs were transportive, taking the audience to a quiet space where thoughts have space to breathe around sounds of acoustic guitar and earnest vocals.
Krakus is most certainly an old soul. And that’s not because she came on stage in a grampa sweater and Sorrel boots. Her expansive voice commands respect and attention she takes the listener inside her world. Her songs are artful and deep and can be a bit dark (ok more than a bit). “I am occiasionally inhabited by unhappy old men,” she said, “and then they ask me to write about them.” Her songs hit the usual themes, but the addition of unhappy old men certainly gives her a twist.
Topics covered by Steve Poltz at his show: recording an album at Neil Young’s ranch, starring in a Jewel video, a testicular ultrasound, San Diego Chargers, and sewing machines – just to name a few. Poltz charmed the crowd with moments of hilarity (spitting stories at 100 words per second without missing a beat) and thoughtfulness. Poltz now lives in California but was born in Nova Scotia. “Damnit I was born in the infirmary. It’s now a parking lot,” he proudly stated. The peak of hilarity of his set came when he sang an improvised and auto-tuned songs about Halifax, his meal next door at EDNA and Justin Bieber’s recent drag racing and alcohol fuelled arrest. Poltz is hilarious and charismatic, but most importantly, a great song writer.
The best part about In the Dead of Winter is how focused the festival is on singer-songwriters. This naturally leads to good banter as attentive audience members absorb every last detail of the songs and the stories behind them. Simone Schmidt (The Highest Order, 100 Hundred Dollars) balanced darker songs with light humour including talking at length about the back story of the Undertaker (the wrestler). Schmidt was backed by members of Sackville, N.B. band The Mouthbreathers. They learned the songs last week, but you’d never know based on the on-stage chemistry and straight forward delivery.
Photo: Mixtape/Jonathan Briggins
Video: Mixtape/Bill McEwen (on behalf of IDOW)
Words:Mixtape/Evelyn Hornbeck and Jonathan Briggins