Artword Artbar 15 Colbourne Street
I have long awaited our return to a spot that caught my eye during our first ever Art Crawl as a group during the Tour. Kristin, Carly and Jenny have joked about making our grand return and have dubbed me ‘the jazz expert.’ Mind you, I am no jazz expert, though I definitely have an appreciation for jazz music, stemming mainly from my band geek days in high school. Located just off of James Street North, the Artword Artbar seems unassuming from the outside, but who knew all of the events they house in this quaint space! From the moment we walked in, sat down and caught a performance by jazz ensemble, The Altobeelays, I knew this was a place I had to revisit. From the saxophone that just oozed of music brilliance, to the string bass, and the trombone, trumpet and percussion providing subtle but equally effective touches to the music, it’s not hard get lost in some jazzy beats. That was back in May and I’ve been dying to go back since. Okay, that’s an exaggeration, but come on. Not only does Artword Artbar feature musical performances, they also host a whole slew of artsy events, from dance to world music, spoken word and poetry, book readings and plays, all of which you can find on their event calendar each month.
I stumbled upon this singer/songwriter’s showcase on Twitter, of all places. Featuring some of Niagara’s finest singer/songwriters, the name of the event caught my eye and after reading about it, I promptly messaged Kristin and pretty much said, “we have to go.” So off we went to Artword Artbar to get lost in lies, fables and old wives tales. Thinking about it, this was a superb segway (note to my Tour friends: why have we not used that word yet?! It is a very Tour-esque word) from hip hop to rock and roll.
This was actually the first Tour stop where we sported our I Heart Hamilton Tour buttons, thanks to our friends at The Button Pushers! Kristin and I were pretty excited to wear them for the first time. We arrived a bit early and took the time to catch up, have a mini A & K team meeting (we love our meetings) and take in our surroundings. With a red and black colour scheme, Artbar has that jazz club kind of vibe to it, which is why I think I love the space. With seating at the bar area, tables and chairs lined along the wall, there is plenty of space for people to sit and relax. The fairylights and candlelight also added an extra touch. When we’d first arrived, Kristin and I noticed for the first time that there was a menu! After scanning the items and being a bit indecisive, we decided on some delicious hot chocolate, perfect after coming in from a chilly winter evening.
Adam Webster started off the evening with an acoustic set, remarking to the crowd that it’d been a while since he’d played a live show. You wouldn’t have been able to tell from his performance that evening. Even before the show as he sat, adjusting the mic, tuning his guitar and scanning the crowd, I got the sense that he was silently preparing himself and that we were in for something special. His tunes and style reminded me of Dallas Green from City & Colour, in the best of ways. There was a warmth in his soulful voice that drew you in as he crooned about life, love and relationships and also an ease as he strummed his guitar, one leg propped up on the chair.
Hailing from Fort Erie, Jesse T. Reid took the stage next, offering up some tunes inspired by past girlfriends. With an easygoing personality and great sense of humour, Jesse had the audience laughing in between songs as he provided a detailed account of each song and the girlfriend or event which had inspired it, without naming names, of course. His music has a folksy/bluesy sound to it and you can tell how passionate he is when he’s on stage, crooning his little heart out. The simplest of words get transformed when he sings and his songs possess a certain authencity, filled with honest emotion. His latest album, “Dumb as Chance”, embodies all of these qualities. Take a listen to “Drop Dead Girl,” “Belong To Me,” “Home Again,” and “House” to get a taste of his music.
Sarah Beatty closed off the show with yet another fantastic acoustic set. Having gotten a new guitar strap, Sarah started off standing up, but later took a seat, finding it more comfortable. As she played on, Kristin and I both found that she reminded us of someone and looked at each other, trying to figure out who. While it took a few minutes to put our finger on it, we remembered Feist! Major aha moment. Sarah’s voice and tunes definitely have that quirky, Feist-esque sound to them. While I enjoyed all of her music, including songs “The Right Shoes” and “The Finer Things,” the highlight of her set for me was a song she’d written recently about water called “Molecules”. She brought a smile to our faces as she sang about all things science, a song filled with fun rhymes and a great beat.
What I liked about these three musicians was their easygoing, down to earth personalities. Their interaction with the audience allowed us to connect with them and it felt like we’d been invited over to their house for an impromptu show. Ronald (Ron) Weihs & Judith Sandiford of Artword Artbar also made the night more entertaining as they introduced each act and engaged in friendly banter in between. It was so fun watching their interaction on stage and Kristin and I couldn’t help but giggle at how cute they were. At one point, Judith remarked, “Apparently it’s hard to have conversations while making hot chocolate!” Too funny. Another thing I appreciated was the attentiveness of the audience to the musicians as they played. The room got unbelievably quiet as all attention was directed to the stage and it was humbling to experience.
I am so glad to have had a chance to be introduced to some new singer/songwriters. Adam, Jesse and Sarah certainly weaved lies, fables and old wives tales through their music and they are definitely going places. And I am obviously pleased to have FINALLY revisited Artword Artbar. So looking forward to going back!
X’s and O’s, Avi