Live Reviews: Archive

“Whether you’re listening or enjoying your conversation, I hope you’re having a good night” – K. Hikele, 2014

Brantford, Ontario – Glen Silverthorn, writer for The Brantford Expositor (source)

My next stop was at The Station Coffee House, where the Sunday afternoon two-hour Roots Revival sessions are happening again.

On hand was singer-songwriter-guitarist Kaleb Hikele, who produces CDs at his home studio under the name of The Sun Harmonic. The 25-year-old was performing a piece from a CD that he’d been working on for close to a year.

His presentation included many songs sung from experiences. He often related, before each tune, what feelings or situations inspired him to write it.

He sang with his flowing tenor voice, Big City Weatherman, about living in the city as compared to country living. Another Get Me Through The Day tells of silence getting the person through the day.

He then followed with a Paul McCartney song, Blackbird Fly. As with all songs his guitar accompaniments were very sensitive such as on An Empty Room.

A more up-tempo solid strumming style came through on the song, Coffee Girl, which he wrote about a girl he often saw at a Toronto coffee shop that he frequents.

Hikele has been living for six years in Toronto, where he has produced an album, Song By Strangers by The Sun Harmonic, with 16 covers of such artists as Randy Newman, The Beatles, Bob Dylan, Tom Waits, Van Morrison, Leonard Cohen, Billy Joel and more.

With his group, The Broadview Band, he has recorded 11 excellent originals on a soul and blues oriented album titled Love Is Gone Away. From it he chose a beautiful slow ballad, Hear You Say (only you), for his solo version. While adding harmonica, his vocal range and dynamics were really tested on this one. He told me during the interview that he’s working to develop his falsetto but his upper voice range seemed strong and secure on all songs.

He grew up in St. Thomas in a house filled with music. He was playing classical piano at age five, singing in a choir and playing guitar by age 14, and writing songs. After spending about four years playing in punk rock bands, he moved to Toronto and became more selective about the type of music he wanted to compose, record and perform. He stated that his original music reflects what is on his record collection, which ranges from Beethoven to Billie Holiday to modern rock.

For the past four years, he has been working on a winter concept project and has produced a preview album of eight songs. His high-calibre piano work on these compositions is a must hear.

Next year he plans to release a double album of these songs. Check out The Sun Harmonic for some great online listening and a more detailed bio.”

Charlottetown, PEI – Todd MacLean, editor for The Guardian (source)

Last Saturday night, a small-yet-appreciative Charlottetown audience took in a serenading performance by touring folk artists Elder Sister Plum and The Sun Harmonic.

The Sun Harmonic is the stage name of Toronto-based folk singer-songwriter/recording engineer/multi-instrumentalist Kaleb Hikele, and Elder Sister Plum is the stage name of Victoria, B.C., folk singer-songwriter Tanya Semple.

While the two have established themselves well on their own in recent years, with several recordings each to their names, Hikele and Semple have united as a duo on an East Coast tour this spring.

And as the two presented their music to Marc’s Lounge last Saturday — music that was spiced by seamless-vocal-harmony infused tunes ranging from lullabying ballads to thoughtful folk love songs to even some country classics in the mix (including Waylon Jennings’ I’m A Long Way From Home) — they took turns at the lead vocal mike with their acoustic guitars, while the other backed up with harmonies and percussion (floor tom, cymbal, tambourine, shakers, etc.)

It was an interesting setting for a performance of indie folk music that night, as Marc’s Lounge was filled early-on in the evening with a private function — and thus a co-mingling of patrons inevitably took place, as show attendees arrived to do their best to listen to the performance amid ongoing chatter from those who were part of the private function.

So, while it was certainly not the most ideal environment to enjoy Elder Sister Plum and The Sun Harmonic (as they would be suited for a house concert, an intimate night of music at P.E.I. venues like The Trailside or The Old Belle River Church or The Dunk or perhaps a more low-key weeknight at Baba’s Lounge), the duo did exceedingly well to surf on through the waves of noise that surrounded them throughout the night, to not pay attention to those who weren’t paying attention and to connect with those who were, indeed, there for the music.

Some great in-the-moment seizing of attention took place, too, at the beginning of the second half when the two sang Happy Birthday to the person at the centre of the private function, as the crowd applauded and sang along.

“Whether you’re listening or enjoying your conversation, I hope you’re having a good night,” Hikele added.

Second half highlights included songs like Semple’s Northern Bound and Darling Come Home and Hikele’s The Morning Breaks and It Was All Okay Thanks to You.

In general, it was a delight to take in this show by The Sun Harmonic and Elder Sister Plum. Their contemplative, laid-back original folk music is like a right and left foot of the exact same shoe: the fit for the act is perfect, and as they journey around the country one-foot-after-the-other, it is clear that there is a mutual musical strengthening going on, every step of the way.”

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