Review – Strictly Acoustic with video bits

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Strictly Acoustic ran it’s 9th edition last night and I trundled out, not just to see and support James Finnerty

…and OK Giraffe

…but also to take in the show’s logic and concept, to meet the organizer and see if I could pass along some perspective here for musicians looking to get involved.

The night runs on a specific formula, and it’s getting into the regular groove of monthly at O Patro Vys – a venue carefully chosen for it’s crisp lovely acoustics and Mid-Mont Royal location. 4 acts are booked for the evening. Each act does 2 songs in the first set, 2 songs in the second. There is a 25 minute break between sets and the order of performers changes.

The night is run by a duo. Tess, an exceptional Canadian novelist in her other life, teaches Creative Writing at Concordia and hosts and co-produces the project with her partner who has grand schemes for the video, cd’s, and distribution deals, which make him the man behind the camera, and difficult to meet. (We have some parallel goals and complementary resources so I hope we may collaborate more in the future, but we’ll see!) They are equipped with enviable camera equipment, and they keep the doors closed a bit longer then you’d expect setting up the cameras and seating so the vibe and lighting is just right. Everything about the evening feels carefully deliberate, strict even (mandatory coat check?) and sincere in it’s desire to bring a very specific show-thing into existence. Like the Indyish Monthly Mess, Strictly Acoustic is a curated formula that offers audiences and artists a predictable context for endlessly diverse experiences. I may be biased, but I think that’s quite cool.

Before welcoming the Jan 17 performers to the stage – great singer songwriter, vocal heart-breaker Rob Lutes, Karine Novelle, James Finnerty and OK Giraffe – Tess welcomed the crowd and gave us an intro to the evening and an interesting and highly effective admonition to keep quite during songs. She urged us to listen carefully to the acoustic rawness, specialness and depth, and did it with a nice twist of dry wit. The performers thanked her for it, and you could see their faces open and relax into the odd experience of being listened to with the attentiveness of a live theatre audience. While the pub vibe has it’s undeniable good qualities, this resonant respectful silence at Strictly Acoustic gets awfully close to what’s spiritual about music from a whole other angle.

To Get Involved:

In the beginning, Strictly Acoustic was largely booked via Myspace trolling (ahh Myspace) but now, with a little momentum and a lot of musicians in town, it’s mostly a matter of reading through emails and picking out artists that that spark the producers’ hearts.

The best way to contact Strictly Acoustic is .
If you want to follow along with their project via video, they’re documenting here and of course you can always “make friends”.

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