Blues in the Basement

By Willa Wick in Arts & Music, Community, Places, Events, & History

The Basement Café stayed in the basement, but the February concert this year transferred to the Fellowship Hall (basement) of the Harriston United Church.
In his opening remarks, Wesley Bates of the Minto Arts Council explained the reason for the new location, and advised that the renovations to Harriston’s Carnegie Library, the Café’s permanent home, should be completed this spring.
“We may be taking the elevator to the top floor as soon as May,” he said.
Work on the elevator commenced on February 21 and it should be operational in about a month.
The Arts Council has been working on an ambitious schedule of exhibitions and events to be showcased at the library gallery during the next two years.
The Basement Café which runs about three times a year will return to the newly renovated bottom floor of the library next season. In the meantime, the United Church held a capacity crowd for the recent “Blues Concert.”
On the double bill were Dan Jeffares, lead guitar/singer of the Owen Sound based group, the Bearcats, plus Toronto’s 22-year-old Melissa Bel.
Blues is the name given to a musical form, much of which originated in African American communities in the deep south of the USA. It had its beginning in spirituals, work songs, field hollers, shouts and chants. It’s frequently melancholy or sad music with a repetitive trance-like rhythm. Lyrics regularly consist of a single line repeated several times. The lines are often sung in a closer-to-rhythmic talk rather than melody.
There are Canadian Blues societies which encourage the appreciation of blues music and are often involved in the promotion of Blues festivals and educational activities. Blues music has changed over the years to include everything from rhythm and blues, country and western, rock, pop, and everything in between.
The Basement Café concert alternated back and forth between the powerful voice of petite Melissa to the energetic, soulful, deep bluesy voice of 20-year veteran singer Jeffares who claims it’s all about tone.
Melissa Bel grew up in Burlington but honed her craft in Germany where, in her 2009 debut, she performed 14 shows in 16 days.