As you can probably tell, the four of us love music, whether it be listening to music or singing our favourite songs at karaoke. I for one am the kind of person you will find with her iPod, dancing around the house, scrolling through her music library (an interesting mix of music ranging from indie rock to hip hop to jazz) blasting music in the car and belting her little heart out without a care in the world, attracting looks of surprise or bewilderment from pedestrians and fellow motorists, or simply curled up with a good book, chilling and listening to some tunes. Let’s face it, music is one of those things that many of us are able to appreciate, regardless of genre or musical taste. It is an art form, a medium which allows individuals to express themselves both vocally and instrumentally and weave stories about life.
Throughout the Tour, we have had the chance to immerse ourselves into Hamilton’s music scene and check out a wide array of local music, from the pretty acoustic sounds of the ever-present Max Wray, Amberley B. and Xo.Ex.Oh’s, to rocking out with bands like San Sebastian and Young Rival, and getting in on the action with Ghosts of Memphis, hard at work on their new album (which is nearly finished!). While we’ve covered mostly rock bands and acoustic musicians on the tour, we thought we’d delve into a new genre of music and turn the spotlight over to a soulful singer by the name of Sara London.
Kristin and I thought we would venture into the city and do something low key. After reading about Sara London performing at one of our fave coffee spots, Mulberry Street Coffeehouse, we were set. We started off the evening with an A&K team meeting over coffee. As previously mentioned, we have some exciting things in store for this year and with notebook and pen in hand, we got to work. Kristin tried out the Baileys and coffee while I went for the Coconut Cream Latte, intrigued by the idea of coffee and coconut together, which was delicious! Again, who knew that something like coffee and coconut would go so well together?? Definitely try it if you’re a fan of coconut or are up for something different. As we caught up on the past week’s events, we also took in the fun decor at Mulberry, including the black and white lampshade printed with the city landscape and a painting/collage sort of art piece, seemingly inspired by Hamilton. I love the feel of Mulberry; it is definitely the perfect spot to grab coffee with a friend, read a book and just relax, taking in the smell of fresh coffee.
It was just after 10pm that Sara London hit the stage. Kristin and I headed to the next room, known for housing artwork and photography by local artists. While we had ventured around the corner before, during the James Street North Art Crawl, this was our first time seeing this area set up as a stage. This was a more intimate setup tucked away in the corner with dimmed lighting to create that soulful atmosphere.
I had taken a listen to some of Sara’s tunes prior to the show, but seeing her live was an experience in itself. After a quick mic check, Sara took the stage with DJ J-ill on deck, Vanessa Williams on backup vocals and guest keyboardist Jesse O’Brien. From the moment she stood up to the mic and belted that first note, I knew we were in for something special. Sara started off her set with “Breaking Hearts,” a song about not being able to stay in love and breaking hearts as a result. Another favourite was the title track “Cryin’ Cafe,” a song about getting together with your friends at a cafe and confiding in each other about the men in your lives. I smiled to myself as I thought of a number of times that the four of us have gotten together and the topics of love, men and relationships have inevitably come up in conversation and it’s been somewhat like a cryin’ cafe. The song of the night for me, however, was “Breathe,” a happy love song which captures the feeling of wanting to be with someone, stripping away everything else and simply wanting to breathe with them. The sweet harmonies from Sara and Vanessa and the lush instrumentation brought this track together.
Throughout the set, you could hear the richness and warmth in Sara’s voice which conveyed genuine emotion as she sang about love and loss, and certainly resonated with myself and the audience, I’m sure. Her voice reminds me of artists like india.arie and Alicia Keys who pour their heart and soul into their music and sing it like they mean it. This, along with the R&B beats and synths definitely had the audience getting in the groove and being drawn into Sara’s world. Despite the title of her EP, Mulberry Coffeehouse was no certainly no Cryin’ Cafe by the end of the night. Sara London is most definitely a musician to keep an eye out for.
Sara London’s EP “Cryin’ Cafe” will be released just in time for Valentine’s Day, February 14th, 2012. If you’re in town and are in the mood for some soul, be sure to check it out!