||May 30, 2013, 4:17 AM
nbt 5: charlotte macdonald!
well i showed up expecting destruction. and destruction got doled out in waves of four. allison haley comes back to host the final show.
round 1: encores
everybody picks their favorite song that they already performed in prior weeks and then 1ups it across the board.
kelsey mae crawley - katy perry - the one that got away
perfect execution. this seems to be kelsey's natural element.
erin king - when you were my man - bruno mars
every week produces improvement, and this was perilously close to perfect.
charlotte macdonald - adele - skyfall
i don't know what i'm supposed to write. her last rendition of this was near perfect but this one achieved it.
alix richards - fleetwood mac - rhiannon
nice intro banter recovery. and if this got layed down at a coffee house or open mic i think it would get talked about the whole show. turning emotive notes into strength and power, nailing it when the harmonies happen. in the last two shows i've seen huge jumps.
round 2: contestant/coach duets
they do a song with their coach. in which the coaches happen to be pro musicians. goodness me.
kelsey/jen - cyndi lauper - time after time
i had a hat tip ready to go for jen and then she says she messed up a harmony! brittany coombs was close by and i asked her what i missed. jamie then chimed in from the judging station and reaffirmed this (duh) perfect rendition.
erin/lj - sheryl crow/kid rock - i put your picture away
even mentioning this song on locals equates blasphemy. erin shows us that male/female unison can totally work, but i'd like to hear some harmonies. or what i call highway driving vocals (just please, don't do it at the lights). dubious hat tip to johnathan and steve allen for the shared mic falsettos.
charlotte/andrew - u2 - one
andrew's not afraid to hit difficult notes. charlotte uses em for batting practice.
alix/jen - lady antebellum - need you now
a slight instrumentation error on one part didn't give her the slightest problem. always a good thing. i can't nitpick because she's doing all the things i would look for at the kind of show i'd see her playing at.
last year's winner lena murphy writes in from brisbane, australia. understandably she couldn't be with us. allison reads it and i am convinced that lena is an extraordinary human being. not to mention singer. and keyboardist.
round 3: wide open
kelsey - elton john - bennie and the jets
when i say she belts and it's convincing i feel that it's a backhanded compliment. she belts and i want to keep listening to her belting. leads the percussion with her vocals. i'm retrospectively giving her 8 for 8. you've got two years to beat it.
erin - rihanna - stay
teetering on another perfect performance. dominating the competition's falsetto control, while never overusing it.
charlotte - cee lo green - fuck you
charlotte started dropping f bombs all over the stage and the crowd broke into a riot. oh i'm just kidding. she did the less cool but more radio friendly version. andrew gets all lol on us with some great backing vocs. good times were had. charlotte dances on it with finesse.
alix - rosa - two birds
hat tip to white shirt guy in the crowd. picking an original song from local band rosa, in which they back it up. major points for me. if she writes originals, she will excel in indie-rock land.
bonus: and the judges need time to tally before the final announcement. first year winner breagh mackinnin throws down, coming ecma nominated, and locals reviewed before i was aware of nbt. last year's second place winner johnathan macinnis brought a tour de force ensemble of nbt alumni performers which garnered him a standing ovation.
and the winner is...
charlotte macdonald had 'the thing'. it's hard to overlook this sort of singing talent, and i feel she's a natural that we don't see very often if at all. she won fairly, and can go quite a long way. starting with 19 grand of prizes isn't a bad start either. kelsey technically outperformed her sometimes, and did everything we could expect from somebody to win the competition. they were painfully neck and neck at the final show. i did not know which way it would go. kelsey will almost definitely win one of these, as she has two years of eligibility left, being in grade 10. erin continues to progress right to the very end, and alix made huge strides in the last two weeks. i wonder what kind progression erin will make by next year if she chooses to compete, and she could very possibly pull a brittany coombs if she does choose to do so. this was an impressive top four. i would have liked to have seen a mention of 3rd and 4th place, as both erin and alix did everything they could to battle for first. any top four placement is an accomplishment, and certainly nets bragging rights.
unsolicited advice: kelsey and alix sometimes came armed with guitars. erin and charlotte don't appear to be players. get an acoustic guitar! it's a small investment and only takes a few chords to play and sing your favorites. and that guitar will sit there in your future dorm/apartment/room, inviting at you to play it (and reminding you that you're a musician. especially when you have midterms). not that you have to become a 'guitarist' per se. but having some basic guitar really really helps, especially when communicating with other musicians. and it's fun. and i will greatly simplify the art of songwriting. IMAGINATION + CHORDS = SONGS! it's really that simple (unless you aspire to tech punk, but i know just the person to help you with that).
best song: charlotte macdonald - heard it through the grapevine. the definitive perfect performance. how is this not 100k views yet?
most improved: erin king again got stronger every week and employed new techniques while getting better on stage. what more can i ask for?
best fashion sense: i missed alix's one stars from the back of the room. otherwise people played it conservative and contemporary across the board.
worst fashion sense: allison haley's decades night garb. runner up: johnathan macinnis, for hosting a show in golf shorts.
best coach: andrew doyle. charlotte's rendition of valerie was good, but when she hit top 12 everything went up a few notches and stayed there until she won. andrew coached lena to win last year as well. hat tips to lj and jen.
best chess game: kelsey's thriller cover. it put banter, fashion, originality, solo singing, acrobatics and general awesomeness into one performance. the judges were looking for all of these things. i wouldn't be surprised if team kelsey made a checklist of bases to cover for this.
analysis (shoddy, meta, etc)
a different type of competition than last year. female singers dominate. more reserved performers, and the shows in general were more tightly formatted.
they gotta get people in the door each week. how else will andrew pay for his sports car collection? the crowd vote served to achieve this by having supporters show up for their peeps. this, of course, could go disastrously. initially the concern was this would keep the wrong people in, and make strange situations for the judges. but it actually worked out pretty well. i think the general consensus was that owen was only hanging on by a crowd vote for a while, because things were a little shakey at the beginning. but he took that 1up and turned it into an opportunity to excel and make it to top 6 on his own. i think that's a good thing.
this came a long way since last year. i think that although the coaches as judges thing last year was cool, this year's format worked better. commentary was short and to the point. aaron lewis in particular resonated with me on a lot of points. jamie foulds brought a greater insight to us all, and we learned a few things on the way. tasha's perspective and familiarity with just about everything on tap rounded it all out. i thought that meaghan landry got eliminated too early, and she could have possibly rode it out to top four.
right across the board this came correct. from top 12 forward every contestant showed excellent mic control, coordination with their backing musicians and opening banter. and they all progressed as singers.
there's just one small amazing thing about last year that we can't see with the new judging/coaching format. near the end of last year's competition, the coach/judges took the stage and the contestants critiqued them. that was extremely hilarious, self referencing, and i of course had a field day with it. perhaps most importantly, it showed heart. i just thought it was worth mentioning a second time.
state of next big thing
pretty great. production wise everything got stepped up this year. and i see it as an opportunity for youth. andrew mortimer really hit a grand slam in making this an interesting and challenging show series, in which we got to see young people engage in pure competition while growing as artists and inevitably as people. the competition is authentic and credible, and this is why it attracts diverse and cool people to become involved. from high profile judges, coaches and backing musicians, to the best of indie rock show reviewers. hardy har. the alumni community shows a genuine bond which harkens back to the golden era of all ages shows. i'm glad andrew asked me to write these up last year out of the blue, becasue he made me get out of my comfort zone and now i'm hooked. let's hope the nbt board can deliver next year. i don't know anything about next year's board, except that it was mysteriously and often mentioned by the hosts. it will require excellent leadership to keep the competition at this level.
state of locals
you may not expect it, but writing these was at times terrifying. i was encouraged to write freely, as i was last year. i would ocassionally touch base with some of the people involved to see if i was on point. but largely i know very few in the nbt community. we live in a place that produces a freakish amount of talented musicians, and i have tried to be completely honest and unbiased, hoping to give advice where contestants can do better, and where they can capitalize. you've been held to pretty high standards, and as you know i'm not above nitpicking. but when i say you kicked ass, or had a perfect execution, it's not in the context of a high school talent search. it means you really did. i was fortunate to meet a slew of contestants and alumni before the show tonight.
the sun sets on locals, but it's hard to let go of. i don't plan on writing for a while. but if there is interest and i can get the recording gig, it would be a real treat to do this again next year. i never really thought about how locals may end, especially back when it was very big. but something about this feels right to me.
in closing i'd like to say great job to andrew, the organizers, volunteers, jenni and allison, devin and deaf audio, the judges, coaches and assistant coaches, instrumentalists and the greater nbt community. and finally the contestants, who are ultimately the reason we all got together each week.
the very best to all you guys. i hope we meet again. -harry
||May 24, 2013, 2:02 AM
4 (the big 6)
it's really hard to tell who's getting eliminated now. an excellent show with twelve solid performances. and now i can tell indie rockers they're losing out by not giving some of these shows a whirl. you are strongly recommended to show up next wednesday, where i expect it to be standing room only.
this week they sing the top selling artists assigned to them, then they get a freebie choice. it went 6 and 6 again, but i grouped 'em.
alix richards (sheppard/rideout)
madonna - hung up
this was a big improvement from last week, and the best she's done so far. the harmonies this time are hit with precision. still a few minor control issues. when the backing instrumention gets powerful, she takes it up a notch.
ellie goulding - lights
a few problems on certain notes, but she is trouncing everybody in the conviction department. a performer like this can't help but not fake it. i wonder if she writes originals. has the thing that a lot of good singer/songwriters have.
charlotte macdonald (doyle/coombs)
elvis presley - only fools rush in
proving that head-voice isn't just erin king's game. an almost perfect performance which only got stronger as it went.
stevie wonder - superstitious
here's a perfect one for ya. she growls when she needs to. and everything else.
danielle macphee (maclean/allen)
led zep - stairway to heaven
DOUBLE DOUBLE NECKED GUITARS! and taking danielle just about as far away from her comfort zone as she can get. is tasha responsible for this devilish assignment? and she chose to do it straight, instead of transforming it into something ostensibly easier. we can tell she keeps that country gal twang, but when it comes to power she delivers.
rascal flatts - what hurts the most
back on home turf. a few nitpicky notes, but she knows which songs to pick and how to make them work for her.
erin king (maclean/allen)
the beatles - let it be (with a little hey jude mashup at the end)
her best performance to date, and her first near perfect execution. aaron lewis notes that she belted on a few high notes instead of doing falsettos, and this was confident, powerful and performed like she meant it. now a powerhouse vocalist.
adele - turning tables
superior falsetto control. a few nitpicky notes.
owen maclellan (doyle/coombs)
elton john - sad songs
johnathan macinnis would be all over this, but owen makes it his own. reggae? a good performance where he forgot a few words and jumped right back into it. excellent backing vocal harmonies by andrew doyle and brittany coombs. and nice vocal tone and excellent pitch from owen. the backing instrumentation this year is exceptional and maybe some pro bands would like to have backing harmonies as good as provided for some of these acts. lots o' hat tips.
corey smith - twenty one
bravely playing solo with an acoustic guitar. the only one to go it alone in the last two weeks i think. minor hesitation a few times with quick recoveries.
kelsey mae crawley (sheppard/rideout)
michael jackson - thriller
4 for 4 flawless performances, setting a record that i don't expect to be beat any year soon. this is a highlight of the last two years (this is my second year involved). tremendous pitch, tone, control, timing and some really tasteful runs to top it off. and introing the song with the backing band was a great touch. wait till this hits youtube.
stevie nicks - landslide at mountain of love
she mentioned the stage smoke interference beforehand (i'm not a fan of it either), then it made her stumble on a single note. otherwise killing it.
crowd pick: erin
eliminations: owen, danielle
top 4: alix, charlotte, erin, kelsey mae
top 4 next week. i believe it is all choice, with judge elimination only.
||May 18, 2013, 2:17 AM
intermission (ie performance etiquette for hipsters or mainstream folks who seek hipster sensibilities. aka being awesome on stage. is it even possible to use the term hipster ironically? i mean in the 90's sense, man. when we made jokes about calling everybody baby. i said we but i meant albini. oh god. can you even say ironically these days?)
as the years creep i'm getting soft, or maybe just lame? i've thought about performances, and for somebody who grew up on all ages punk shows i've come to appreciate something of a reserved performance. but life is for learning (and sometimes embarrassing yourself on the way).
i remember a tilted show in 94 where geoff did the whole set wearing work coveralls and a welder's mask. or that last chitz show in 98 where gerry hubley duct taped himself to one of the other band members for an entire set. i mean it took the whole set for them to remove themselves from each other. if only i had a picture.
more recently you can take just about any tom fun set, or watch carmen kick it in a controlled environment. and i do mean kick it. i mean it! or what about this greasy ricochet video.
(aside). but there's a price to pay for being awesome. you can google any number of kick ass a+ tom fun videos, but there's always the awkward phase where you have to take a show with robot-head hype people that you're contractually obliged not to tell off. but from a performance standpoint ian macdougall is no slouch. homework: google the kick ass tf videos so you know what i'm talking about. EDIT: ian reports that the band actually invited these people on stage after seeing them in the crowd. my apologies
of course, i've been on the front lines myself, huckin' artiliery. from the formative years, on to the peak of all ages glory, to trying a bit too hard, to just rocking out. now i just do whatever i can get away with.
nowadays i find a gem in this great yarnells video that jenni welsh did for caper radio. the campus radio station is your friend, people, and they will help you. and you will meet awesome people there.
i feel like a broken record emphasizing naturatlistic performances. the truth of the matter is that you're all coming into your own coolness. it's something we all get to do for a limited time. so take advantage of it. pull out all the stops, but never fake it.
there were some great moments last year. from lena murphy's jaw dropping balcony performance, to erin king's huge stretch to leave the stage and hit the floor, to johnathan and vanna's duet, to kyle and tess's duet. and for the contemporary crowd, don't miss jonathan smith's buble cover, which was a highlight last year (geeks note the key transpose fix at the beginning).
ya'll are all doing a great job so far. i hope you guys keep music in your lives for a long time to come.
bonus: one day late (from bras d'or). half of them went on to do music degrees and i believe they all still play, although maybe not together. but we do love reunion shows. pop punk from 2002. performance and execution like nobody's business. (forgive a few pitch issues). somewhere out there (yep, they were in high school for this).. and then the next year, impatient but never on time. man.
||May 16, 2013, 3:59 AM
3 (east coast night)
the standard disclaimers apply (google, pro tools, etc). another round of good performances. an emphasis on my interpretation of the ideal performance and what the judges may want next week.
my concern is that you do the song well. performance always comes as a consequence for me. it's never faked, and is universally the result of an effort to make the song work. if you have room left after that, it's wide open.
a stern admonishment
we've also got some of the best east coast punk rock bands, which you've all universally overlooked. need i mention stars are fading out (one day late) or one match per open mind (i was a spy)? the heat'll be in the grooves, right (yellow). also, pulse, the three scenery soundtracks? burdocks? motorleague? how about carmen, slowcoater or tom fun? imagine if i judged this. ROCK RANGER. please take all of this humorously as intended. i'm deducting points universally so no cause for alarm.
the performers went 8 east coast, then again with 8 free choices. i grouped the performances for ease of reading (8 blocks of two). some of the coaching performers played for multiple bands. andrew doyle pointed this out to me beforehand, and it was agreed upon by everyone involved. i don't think sabotage is an issue here. johnathan macinnis hosts again, employing the same tired jokes as last week. allison?
sarah mclachlan - i will remember you
big sarah mclachlan fan here. my old band covered sweet surrender once, but no way i'm hitting falsettos like this (or at all). erin exercises good head-voice control. it's too bad they didn't dim the house lights until halfway through the song, which i think could have impacted her performance. as i pointed out last year, sarah played the capri back in her fumbling days.
bruno mars - when i was your man
but revamped for the girls' perspective. erin again exercises consistent falsettos, and thinking back, this is a strong point throughout last year's competition as well.
jimmy rankin - fare thee well
singing like a cape bretoner and doing it great. just watch holding some of the lower notes steady when you're hanging on to them. she looks like she's physically invested in hitting the notes, and i like it when people use gestures to steady themselves to nail notes.
deana carter - strawberry wine
nice pitch and general tone. a near perfect performance. (edit: she was eliminated, but why?)
the rankin family - never alone
some nice control over the low notes, and boy can she wail. some of the high notes that are super belted could be the teeny tiniest bit tighter. a+ dynamics control
lee ann womack - i hope you dance
i didn't see her as shy. i found she has a unique and almost sassy stage presence. watch the low notes. but maybe a key thing since low notes fine on the last one. keep belting. power!
jimmy rankin - midnight angel
owen delivers a pair of great performances tonight. singing with good pitch, tone and general competent execution. he's taking feedback and considering it seriously. timing great on this tune (by the water's edge). hat tip to johnathan macinnis, chewing scenery on the keys.
sublime - badfish
a band that falls within the radar that i can't stand. he plays and sings it with a tip of the hat to avery norman for solid percussion on the wood box. great falsettos and general vocal control. advancing on his own steam.
kelsey mae crawley
jimmy rankin - here in my heart
maybe if you guys weren't killing it so hard jimmy rankin would awkwardly sic his lawyers on ya'll. but it's all about the kids, right? another flawless performance which i can't find any sort of fault with. 2 for 2 now. judges upvote playing and singing, but i still can't figure out if this is points or not.
alicia keys - no one
now she's 3 for 3. do whatever you want next week. trills! i thought they were called runs, but at least jamie used that word as a description. fantastic and underrated execution.
stan rogers - barrett's privateers
a low song with some off/shakey notes. i'm familiar with this only because i went to a lot of bars in the late 90's. and the early 00's. sigh. but she tried something different and that's a plus for me.
guns n roses - sweet child of mine
some off notes, but gains on her last song with a natural key sig. i know we're not judging the back band, but i wonder if an instrumental track wouldn't have been easier to sing to. maybe she needed a cabaret tune.
mashup!! lukey's boat / nowhere with you
still shakey, and maybe a little too emotive on some notes, but it seems to work for the judges. i found that a few notes were not so gracefully missed. but in general, maybe she's doing a stylistic thing that i don't quite understand.
fleetwood mac - rhiannon
some really solid harmonies but the lead fell short. you can keep the emotives, but lose the shakeys. again, a different vocal characteristic may present itself. existing original characteristic may play in her favor.
gordie sampson - paris
wisely capitalizing on joe way's impossible guitar abilities. not that she needs saving by any means. charlotte is a natural and delivers as much as we can unreasonably expect. you might ask why this is a great performance when she sits in a chair 15 feet away from the instrumentalist. this sort singing doesn't require anything else. you can just sit there and enjoy it with this huge shit eating grin. but only becasue she's so good. performance isn't easy because it comes in many forms. but it should always be natural. and this is.
amy winehouse - rehab
the hand gestures suggest that these notes are getting thrown down like it's the god damn cheticamp rail. and indeed they are. this is the performance aspect. but i found that the bridge was suspiciously long, wonky, and maybe some sort of recovery. but this song ain't about recovery. b+
crowd picks: charlotte, erin
judge picks: alix, kelsey, owen, danielle
eliminations: katelyn, meaghan
next week: the big 6. contestants pay tribute to one of the top 6 highest selling artists of all time: beatles/presley/jackson/madonna/elton john/led zep
||May 9, 2013, 4:02 AM
or technically the third, but the first was top 20 where 8 were eliminated based on who each of the 4 coaches chose for their 3. add it.
a shakey review night for me. i had only heard 1 of the 15 songs performed tonight in my life. i was mostly with the judges but sometimes way off, which gave me pause. additionally the judges pointed out a few biggies which completely passed me. i could lie, but then why believe anything i have to say?
since one of the judges almost couldn't make it, jay bedford (local country dj) was recruited as third. then jamie was able to make it, so we had 4 judges tonight. the radio announcer vibe hit me immediately, and for somebody who just walked into this, he was really in his element here. more the merrier right (except for nightmare two way splits, not that i would be privy).
as usual, i have the recorded audio of the show to reference and revisit performances. and google, especially this evening.
video note: you have probably viewed all of the youtube videos from last week, and they came out pretty good. when watching some of them i began to second guess my review. i think when you take good performance plus good audio/visual, you are able take in the whole package and it minimizes the faults (which were largely nitpicky anyway). so it may not hurt to listen to these with no video if you want to concentrate strictly on your vocal performance. tech geeks might be interested in psychoacoustics and why snobs hate mp3's. i don't have any of those stupid flac things (if i may deny my own hipness). lol.
owen maclellan (doyle/coombs)
def leppard - hysteria
an improvement over last week, with a few shaky notes where he took a second to get there. also, holding them tight. apparently he was going to play guitar for it but decided against it at the last moment. so he sat and sung, leaning on his guitar. i raised an eyebrow, but not a big issue. if you think you were gonna flub with the guitar, then ditch it. i suspect this guy has many facebook friends. or real life friends as he was a big crowd favorite three weeks straight.
erin king (maclean/allen)
sugarland - stuck like glue
a few shakeys in the first verse/chorus then mostly dead on for the rest of it (and the duet for that matter). dynamics control good - the loud parts added a nice vocal characteristic i haven't heard before. hat tip to steve allen.
of monsters & men - little talks
i totally thought these were harmonies, but jamie points out unison in different octaves. unison is when two singers are singing the exact same thing. this is a little different because owen sings the low note, and erin sings the exact same note in a higher range. also their voices complimented each other really well. owen forgot a few words near the end which did not phase erin. he also recovered almost immediately. i chalk this up to nerves and not lack of practice. when you know someone else is depending on you and you have to both do the exact same thing it is super super unnerving.
katelyn bates (mortimer/macinnis)
bonnie raitt - i can't make you love me
tone is great. the smokey quality wasn't picked up by me until the judges mentioned it. but i'm inclined to agree. needs better vocal control especially on the runs (could someone please tell me if runs is the right word for this). pitch issues were minor but noticeable, but only on some parts. also, holding notes and keeping em steady.
charlotte macdonald (doyle/coombs)
adele - skyfall
the imperfections are negligible. demonstrating considerable range, flexibility and general vocal dexterity. harder than last week's song. i also understand singing is new hat to her (although impressive, neutral points. hi kyle). the backing track sounded a bit distorted to me, and perhaps it didn't need the light show for the sake of fairness. if you can believe it i saw this performed even better at sound check.
edward sharpe & the magnetic zeros - home
sung in alternates, unison (straight), and harmony. straight unison is tricky because when you don't sing exactly the same note it is super noticeable. i did notice this consistently throughout. erin and owen avoided this with the octave difference as well as the male/female vocal dynamic.
michael lloyd (doyle/coombs)
eli young band - even if it breaks your heart
mike points out top 10 from top 20, and you've all battled well so far. found another song that worked for his vocal range, and nice lead guitar part. if not for the lead guitar, it would have been more powerful played solo. but better to have the solo.
sara evans - suds in the bucket
a timid performer with a powerful voice for her small size. after 18 what? well, until her microphone accidentally got disconnected everything was going great. fortuitously a solo happened shortly thereafter and she was good to go for the closing chorus and massive (relatively speaking) ending note. the great thing about a great recovery is you never think it's gonna happen until it happens and you're still standing at the end of the song.
usually you run off stage for the holy grail of a holy shit cooldown, but no time for that when your duet is in about ten seconds...
in your arms again - george canyon (?)
... and you also have to explain the nature of the duet. although i don't know why anybody would intentionally listen to country music when there's so many classic lagwagon records on tap, this was a great performance from both mike and danielle. mike's guitar had a tiny tuning issue, but when it comes from fretting i can't fault ya for it. i hate when that happens.
kelsey mae crawley (sheppard/rideout)
katy perry - the one that got away
perfectly executed with great tone. worry about charlotte, while she worries about you.
kirsti roxsburgh (maclean/allen)
patty griffin - making pies
with bobby gill on rtm/lead guitar. good vocal and guitar performance. she came off the mic for a split second to get a visual check from bob on what part she was on and the judges slammed her for it. this wasn't a big issue for me (though i noticed it), but in this case comes down to practice instead of nerves.
brad paisley/alison kraus - whiskey lullaby
i had no idea they were trading harmonies (thanks aaron), but they could have been a little tighter (nitpicky and i couldn't determine who was off). overall a good performance. sorry for lack of feedback.
alix richards (sheppard/rideout)
brandi carlile - the story
played and sung fine, but voice is shakey from start to finish. this sounds like nerves to me, as pitch and timing were fine. if the shakiness is addressed, a much different voice may present itself.
meaghan landry (sheppard/rideout)
coldplay - fix you
i know i've heard it before, i just don't know where. but i know it's the coldplay guy. 5 or 6 notes away from a perfect performance, which were slightly off key or shakey. but this built on last week's performance and a possible finalist.
of monsters & men - little talk
harmonies put just where i want to hear them. alix still sounds shakey. unanimously confirmed as the judge-favorite duet. i preferred the owen/erin version, although shamefully i didn't notice that the same song was done twice until judging comments. the theatrics won it, with them sitting on a chair singing to each other and then getting off the chair singing to each other. as mentioned last week, both singers had the same coach and this may have contributed to a more finely orchestrated duet.
for me: chords, melody, performance, justified(!) theatrics and lastly lyrics. and just because lyrics come last doesn't mean you can cheap out (although no originals tonight).
crowd picks: charlotte, danielle, owen
judge picks (from remaining contestants): erin, katelyn, kelsey mae, alix, meaghan
eliminations: michael, kirsti
conclusion: another great round of performances. although not necessarily the eliminations i would have made. happy to report that people are getting nudged out becasue the competition is tight. not a poor performance yet this year.
next week: east coast night
||May 2, 2013, 4:57 AM
briefly, locals garners an unusual readership. don't mind the lack of a messageboard or upcoming events.
nbt continues with the top 12 show, and official commencement of this year's competition. it's decades week and everybody gets randomly assigned a decade to choose a song from. each contender only gets one song. 50's, 60's, 70's, 80's, 90's, 2000's, 2010's. next week is duets night, more on that below. of the 12, 10 make it through.
next big thing is a talent competition catering to high school students anywhere on the island. started in 2009, this is its fifth year running. the vast majority of the acts aren't locals-centric, but if you want to see a fluff-free talent contest this is worth attending. i am not familiar with american idol or similar. the contenders are put through a rung of interesting challenges, with the winner netting an 18 grand prize package. andrew mortimer is the mastermind behind it, and while not judging, he's coaching his picks (along with andrew doyle, lj maclean and jenn sheppard), and part of the prize package is a deal with his label/promo company. considerable effort is put into making this a fair competition. andrew mortimer's participation as a coach is ballsy, but i don't feel it puts him in a conflict of interest.
i am working with nbt to record the sets and give the audio to jenni welsh, who is doing videos for youtube. tonight's show introduces robotically controlled additional live cameras to two big screen projectors on both sides of the stage. robots are cool. i worked last year's shows in the same fashion and was asked to write freely about them. this year i volunteered to write, although locals will go back into reclusion afterwards. a funny comeback scenario. i am not familiar with the majority of the content, however i can listen to the recordings while simultaneously using google to determine the source material.
three judges this year. aaron lewis judged last year and is picking it up right where he left off, giving contestants meaningful input to build performances in the coming weeks. tasha lee from the giant is judge number two giving a great crowd perspective. jamie foulds of soundpark studios finishes off the three panel judging station with a pro studio perspective. i found the chemistry and order of judges to be just right.
judges are not coaches. instead we have main coaches with an nbt alumn assistant coach:
lj macLean / stephen allen
jenn sheppard / dakota rideout
andrew doyle / brittany coombs
andrew mortimer / johnathan macinnis
you should always and never listen to me. i have seen a great many good and bad punk bands. i could not name one carrie underwood song, but i can tell you if you're killing it or not. as recordist, i can listen to the shows afterwards as i write. i have no say in what unfolds. shall we? edit: I forgot that gordie sampson penned jesus take the wheel for a grammy. did you also know a caper won an oscar way back?
kelsey mae crawley
coach: jenn sheppard / dakota rideout
1950's. Blue - LeAnne Rimes cover version.
this is some serious throwing down right off the hop. really great soft yet powerful voice doing all the right things. could see her getting to top 4 without much problem. there were maybe some super nitpicky off notes but they were buried deep in some of the more complicated runs. performance wise i suspect the coaches are getting it down to a t. the clapping part in the middle worked great, then she grabs the mic from the stand for the last section of the song. this addresses a common complaint from the judges last year. especially since a song like this doesn't require any theatrics to speak of.
coach: andrew doyle / brittany coombs
60's: heard it through the grapevine
i know they can't judge 'em on the accompaniment (if there's a full band like last year's dirty rabbit choir, all the contestants are judged collectively in the band, and must all fit the contest's eligibility requirements). but god damn it if joe waye isn't a monster on the guitar. that stacatto jazz thing was out of this world. and she is dancing all up on that like nobody's business. pitch, timing, and general vocal performance were perfect and frankly stunning. could win it if this is an indicator.
coach: lj maclean / stephen allen
60's: where the boys are - connie francis
i don't know if it's good or bad that i'm reduced to nitpicking, but everybody is so good! the only problem here is that sometimes she hit the pitch but took a tiny bit to get there once singing the note. maybe going up to the top of the register she was a little short. it's too bad you can't get the instrumental tracks a half step down, or choose the key you want to perform in with these. i guess that's an advantage you have with real instruments - you can play in whatever key you want. last year you saw this a lot with johnathan/lena/jonathan getting to transpose their keyboards before playing.
coach: andrew mortimer / johnathan macinnis
70's: delta dawn: helen reddy
i agree with the judges that maybe this was a bit low in key for her. it's hard to control pitches that are out of your natural comfort zone. some main notes were off, and ultimately she was cut. this performance was definitely nothing to be ashamed of though, and the thing about this competition is that everybody is bringing the good stuff to the table. i would consider the competition extremely stiff.
at this point in the competition allison haley started to pick up on technical terms used by the judges and did everybody a service by looking things up on the fly and explaining them to us. this was really funny and allowed everybody greater insight into the competition and judging commentary in general.
coach: jenn sheppard / dakota rideout
70's: dolly parton: jolene
can any human play that bad ass guitar hook ENDLESSLY? i always thought that was looped somehow, using 1970's technology. this performance was good, but some notes were shakey, and i think that is generally caused by nerves. it can also cause minor pitch issues becasue you end up in vibrato when you don't mean to be. this is the kind of thing where if you can make yourself forget you're on stage you get a better performance 'for free', so to speak. she played and sung this as well, although i don't think that gets you additional points.
mike mombourquette (aka mic mombo. aka michael lloyd.)
coach: andrew doyle / brittany coombs
80's: journey: don't stop believin'
speaking of playing and singing. i couldn't picture this guy without the guitar, and i see him as a guitarist stretching out into a frontman. i initially thought that maybe he bit off more than he could chew, but he did a great job with this. the vocal range was right where it needed to be, and the guitar parts were well within his ability. that afforded him room to breathe, and i see this song as a great strategic move, allowing him to capitalize on the overall performance. i believe nbt alumni brittany coombs backed him. what's the significance of meadow's parallel parking in the final scene? did tony get whacked or not? mike's general stage presence is great, and he's overconfident without it being an issue. you don't see that often. but he can still find a hat that fits, right? wise responses to the judges include yes no and thank you. non verbal replies include putting your hat on or off.
as the competition reaches a level of maturity, we see people loosening up and having some fun with each other. jokes are fired both ways across the front line, and it helps bolster the spirit of goodwill and fun in the competition. you'll win even if your friend loses, and i think the reality of that created bonds in people last year. there is no shame on either end of that. if there is one lesson you can learn from me, it's that kicking ass with good sportsmanship is paramount (pitch and timing be damned).
to the casual reader, i would recommend going to the rest of these shows. i think you will get drawn in like a good hbo program. plus everyone eventually gets offed except the winner, so at least you get closure with nbt.
coach: lj maclean / stephen allen
80's: cyndi lauper: true colors
i raised an eyebrow when she didn't go up all the way on the first chorus. but she brought really tightly controlled falsettos on the subsequent ones. i think that nerves might have made her miss some not-so-important notes and caused shakiness on some parts. per usual, she picks a song that i would never peg her for. and vocally she only does erin king, which is a big plus.
coach: andrew mortimer / johnathan macinnis
dropped out after problems at soundcheck? ironically the only act that would normally be covered on the cblocals radar. except now locals covers things it doesnt cover. eliminated by default. with andrew mortimer as coach, i think this development would squelch any would be conspiracy theorists.
coach: jenn sheppard / dakota rideout
90's: martina mcbride: independence day
isn't it ironic? you oughtta know? fortunately nobody had to suffer through a track from the canadian superstar's only good record. but it's not about who was listening to what when bad religion's all ages wasn't in the jukebox. what was i talking about? meaghan delivers on this, with almost perfect pitch and timing. maybe the first half of the choruses could have had tighter harmonies, but this is really super nitpicky. a+ overall.
bonus review: nbt alumn dakota rideout backed meaghan and gave a fantastic performance. you can't fake this sort of enthusiasm, while delivering a great performance that lets meaghan come through as the lead. let the weak be strong (tough and acrobatic harmony on both ends). this is great stuff.
coach: andrew mortimer / johnathan macinnis
2000's: mumford and sons: little lion man
with i believe johnathan macinnis on keys and dakota rideout on backing vocs. excellent control and delivery. could get to top 4 without much trouble.
coach: andrew doyle / brittany coombs
2000's: matt nathanson: come on get higher
voice was fine but guitar was out of tune. i know what it's like to forge through a song with an out of tune axe. i don't feel any points should be deducted if you have to take a minute to tune. he topped the crowd vote, automatically advancing to next week.
coach: lj maclean / stephen allen
2010's: lady antebellum: american honey
we're only 3 years into this decade, so it's still a challenge. a country tune with good overall pitch and timing. a few off notes, be careful when trying to go up.
the crowd vote decided the first 5, untouchable by the judges. the crowd (if they want their votes tallied) has to vote 1st and 2nd weighted. overall tallies determine the first 5 before the judges get to them. the crowd favs were owen, katelyn, charlotte, danielle, alix. t treezzy was eliminated by default, leaving one person of the remaining 6 to be cut by the judges, which ended up being erinn squarey. subsequent weeks give the judges more control.
next week is duets. who knows. coach and assistant coaches are in brackets. alix richards and meaghan landry have the coaching edge. how does the voting work next week?
Kelsey Mae Crawley (jenn sheppard / dakota rideout) - Kirsti Roxsburgh (lj maclean / stephen allen)
Charlotte MacDonald (andrew doyle / brittany coombs) - Katelyn Bates (mortimer/macinnis)
Alix Richards (jenn sheppard / dakota rideoutt) - Meaghan Landry (jenn sheppard / dakota rideout)
Danielle McPhee (lj maclean / stephen allen) - Michael Lloyd (andrew doyle / brittany coombs)
Erin King (lj maclean / stephen allen) - Owen MacLellan (andrew doyle / brittany coombs)
||April 18, 2013, 3:50 AM
i temporarily bring my defunct website back to life for a six part review series on this year's next big thing high school talent search. i wrote about these last year and had a lot of fun. i am hired to record the audio of these shows so that jenni welsh can put them to the video she is recording. so please understand that i am not a judge or coach. but i do like to get out of my comfort zone and write about things that are unfamiliar to me, coming from an indie rock/punk area of the music scene. i'm about two levels after hipster. i ain't pretty (or funny).
i learned a lot last year, namely that real talent and drive comes in all shapes. to see the competition mold itself and follow the top 3 over the last year has been fascinating. lena murphy won it, then didn't take a full scholarship at cbu. she went on to do missionary work down under, recording some great tunes and duets along the way. johnathan macinnis placed second, attending cbu on his own buck and playing a few sold out shows while he was at it. kyle mischiek continued to hone his craft at a frenetic rate even after the competition was over. not sure what erin king did. fifth place powerhouse jonathan smith went to music school and i suspect we haven't heard the last of him. vanna white was spotted at governors playing originals.
it's been a rough year and i'd be remiss if i didn't mention the loss of the supremely talented phil tarr of mess folk and more recently guitar wizard jay smith who i played more shows with back in the day than i can count. and just this morning it was reported the loss of rita macneil, who johnathan macinnis did a terrific one song tribute to, to start the night off.
top prize this year is valued at around 18 grand.
and without further ado, 19 quick reviews to get you (and me) warmed up for the coming weeks. best of luck to all the contestants.
timothy hatcher - mgmt: kids - and i'm reminded that even though i don't listen to the radio i still hear the songs. timothy hails from the northern area of the island, and this was a decent acoustic representation of the song. everything went well for him even though his acoustic guitar hit the mic a few times causing some really loud interference. i was impressed that he was not distracted in the least by this. nerves of steel in the first act of the first round.
meaghan landry - carrie underwood: temporary home - sang solo with guitar accompaniment. this was done well and i didn't hear any real problems with pitch or timing. will be interesting to see how she performs in the conditions of future shows. [top 12 - coach: jen sheppard]
cyrus orkish - house of the rising sun - an eccentric with the competition's first t-shirt bonus. this is perhaps an overly ambitious interpretation of the song. a few off key vocal and key notes. but this had character. super intrigued by what else he can do. keyboard sounded a little hot going into the house sound system. surprised this wasn't top 12.
violet ross - original - points for playing an original (even though we don't know the name). watch your pitch during transitional parts (on the way up or down). also, guitarists should use di's instead of guitar mics for these shows.
katelyn bates - gregory alan isakov: big black car - awkward intro banter followed by a great vocal performance. [top 12 - coach: andrew mortimer]
charlotte macdonald - amy winehouse: valerie - another great and almost perfectly controlled vocal performance. i think it is making sense for people to play it safe and deliver proficient performances. [top 12 - coach: andrew doyle]
mike mombourquette - don henley: the boys of summer - make sure to get the vocal key dead on right off the hop. i found the vocals took time to hit the right pitch especially on the verses. second guitar solo better than the first. maybe i am harsh, but at the same time i think the job was more challenging than some of the other acts. this is mike's solo act with a backing rock band. didn't the ataris do this? maybe i am dated. i think i'm dated. [top 12 - coach: andrew doyle]
danielle mcphee - dixie chicks: travelin' soldier - sung to an instrumental recording. another great and controlled performance. sorry i don't have more to offer on some of these. [top 12 - coach: lj maclean]
t treezzy - original - choosing a great beat works. having flow works. points for original writing. telling the dj to cut the beat at the end with no notice is also a plus for me. i think they will put him way out of his comfort zone in the following weeks. tribe? children's story? more please. [top 12 - coach: andrew mortimer]
erinn squarey - les mis: on my own - challenging song that requires the vocs to go all over the place. pulled off with great poise. could go a long way in this competition. [top 12 - coach: andrew mortimer]
noah reashore - breakfast at tiffanys - this was played and sung fine.
the ocelots - the used: the taste of ink - i thought this might have been a full band. two piece act with acoustic gtr and female vocs. vox and guitar tight together. original vocal characteristic.
erin king - ed sheeran: give me love - an honest performance, picking up where last year's top four finish left off. good baritone control and ending. can we has more metric covers? [top 12 - coach: lj maclean]
andrew macdonald - as the night falls (original) - points for writing! a bass player/singer being backed by a band. this is a new one.
alix richards - britney spears: toxic - she plays guitar and sings it, making it work. [top 12 - coach: jen sheppard]
anna leblanc - phillip phillips: gone gone gone - with stephen macdougall on guitar. she sings and plays keys. no problems with this performance.
kelsey mae crawley - adele: one and only - via an instrumental recording. another technically great rendition with a sudden ending. you guys are all playing chess with me. [top 12 - coach: jen sheppard]
kirsti roxsburgh - taylor swift: safe and sound - i'm not sure if this was two guitars or guitar and mandolin, but they wren't in key with each other. vocally it was fine. but there is no shame in last minute tuning. [top 12 - coach: lj maclean]
owen maclellan - city and color: come home - he played this on acoustic guitar and sang it. not a bad note in the whole thing. smooth guitar and vox. [top 12 - coach: andrew doyle]
so there's the 19 contestants. i think this will get more interesting as it goes on. it's understandable to play it safe at this stage in the game - made it hard for me to give meaningful feedback in some cases though. it is really too bad to see so many people eliminated who played original music. i understand next wednesday is decades night. i'll fill you in.
||November 18, 2012, 3:36 AM
cblocals + messageboard going into retirement!
it's been a helluva 16 years. i think that from its humble beginnings to its expansion around the maritimes and brief run as the most popular site in eastern canada, locals has been a resounding success, but has finally reached the point of total obsolescence. i'm only writing a few times a year, and i don't check on events or the messageboard. it's a different time now than 1997, and people are connected in ways i could never have envisioned. and i've moved on to a different period of my life. it's just time i think. i am super happy and proud of what i've done, and grateful to the many people i couldn't have done it without.
the messageboard will be shutting down very shortly, though it is possible the hfx and moncton admins will still run their main pages. the cblocals frontpage will be turned into a static html page, which i might update occasionally or write something or post some photos.
my apologies to the messageboard users if this is short notice. i hope you have enjoyed using the resource over the last 9 years.
the conclusion of the cblocals project will be scenery 3, the third cblocals skate video set to local bands. this has been a major undertaking for me, and is premiering on dec 21. check out the facebook page at www.facebook.com/scenery3
i'd like to thank all of you who were there in the beginning, my mentors at chatsubo, the people that helped me run the site, everybody who has offered encouragement over the years and people all over the place i've met through the site. i wish you all the very best!
keep rocking -- harry
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