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Jan 29, 2014

Music Event Review

Spotlight Live Music Show, January 25th

Review by Caritas Longman


            The Spotlight Life Music Show, hosted by LimeLighter, was remarkable not only for the musicianship of local singer-songwriter Jake Vance, Vancouver musician Emily Rowed, and Scott MacKay of PEI, but for its welcoming atmosphere. “It’s really nice to be here,” said Rowed, inviting audience to join in on her songs. “It’s all about being in the same place at the same time, doing one thing.” Though the audience was small (around twenty people), every person listened with attentiveness and enthusiasm.


            Opening act Jake Vance entranced listeners with haunting yet hopeful melodies. With a gentle voice, impressive talent in both musicianship and lyricism, and a warm, playfully self-deprecating sense of humor, Vance both charmed and impressed his audience. Highlights of his performance included a cover of Lana del Rey’s “Video Games” and his own song “Olive Trees,” the latter of which included using the body of the guitar as a percussion instrument while simultaneously strumming.


            The next act, Vancouver musician Emily Rowed, performed folk music with longing, passionate vocals, accompanied by the guitar. Rowed’s beautiful and distinctive voice, along with her energetic personality, infused the room with a powerful sense of optimism. For all her exuberance, her musicianship was honest and intimate – listening to her music, one has the sense she is talking to them personally, sharing a secret. This openness extended not only to her lyrics but to her stage presence, as she invited audience to join in, asking where they were from with genuine interest. When Rowed sang, “I’ll stand by you, love you whatever you do. I feel it in my bones – we’re so close,” listeners had the feeling this was true.


            Finally, Scott MacKay filled the room with his fully, clear voice and a diverse range of instruments, including banjo and an accompaniment on mandolin. MacKay’s vocals were the strongest point of his performance, as he demonstrated both an impressive vocal range, especially beautiful when accompanied by deep guitar tones, and an ability to hold stunning, haunting harmonies. However, his selection of songs was also impressive in itself, ranging from a cover of “You Are My Sunshine,” to a heartbreaking song about his grandfather’s Alzheimer’s disease, to a powerful rendition of “The House of the Rising Sun.”


            All these musicians showcased stunning talent and contagiously positive energy. The show was warm and welcoming, and an experience I would recommend to anyone.




Here is another perspective from writer, Louise Fournier.


In the homey concrete walled and floored room of Loft 112, three folk musicians gathered to rehearse for their late evening show. These three musicians were Jake Vance, Emily Rowed, and Scott MacKay. Guitars were tuned, chairs were positioned and water bottles were acquired all before the audience began to arrive. Foldable blue plastic chairs and metal chairs, along with a couple of couches, filled the audience’s section of the room. People leisurely entered the building, paid their entrance fee of merely ten dollars, and proceeded to chat with others who had already arrived. LimeLighter’s event took place on January 25th 2014 from 7:00 to 10:00p.m in Loft 112 on the southeast end of downtown Calgary.

The first musician to entertain the audience that night was none other than Jake Vance, a teenager who has a wonderful talent for writing his own music. Guitar in hand, he sat comfortably in front of the twenty to thirty people who attended, as he strummed the first chords of his song “Hang My Head”. Between most songs Jake took some time to joke around with the crowd, which helped to create a friendly atmosphere. His other songs included “Winter”, “Olive Trees”, an Untitled piece that he is still working on perfecting, and a cover of “Video Game” by Lana Del Rey. “Olive Trees” was an amazingly unique piece. As Jake explained “it’s a lap song” and thus he proceeded to place his acoustic guitar in his lap so that it could double as a drum and guitar. This inventive use of his only instrument proved beyond a doubt how Jake likes to come up with new patterns for his songs rather than using the same three chords for every song. Jake Vance combines his complex strumming patterns and distinctive vocals to create wonderful music that the audience, judging by their loud applause, loved.

Next up to the stage was Emily Rowed from Vancouver. To start off her set for the night she chose to cover the familiar “Cup” song but added a unique twist to it with her folk style.  Her song selections for the night included “Homesick”, “I’m Going to Find You”, “Where Am I Going”, “Paper Love”, “Loving You” and “In My Bones”. While singing her beautifully written lyrics, Emily also strummed her guitar while being accompanied by Dane who picked out patterns on his own guitar. Throughout the night Dane had small guitar solos in a few of the songs performed and played a musical lick on his harmonica in one of the songs. Emily expressed that she was glad to be performing unplugged and was good at joking around with the crowd. Between songs Emily shared amusing stories of her recent touring experiences.  “I’m going to find you; you’re going to find me. If lightning can strike in the same place twice, why wouldn’t it be, why couldn’t it be? Come on, come on destiny…. I’d really like to love you…” are some lyrics from her song I’m Going to Find You that caught my attention. Overall, Emily Rowed was good at drawing her audience in with her amusing stories while sharing her unique style of folk music with an appreciative audience.

The performer that got the responsibility and privilege to close the show off for the evening was Scott MacKay. It was interesting to see how many different instruments Scott and his band mate Benjamin brought up to the stage. They were well equipped with a mandolin, electric guitar, banjo and an acoustic guitar. Their first song of the night was one titled “Heaps of Hearts” which featured the electric guitar played by Benjamin and the acoustic guitar played by Scott. The vocal quality of this musician was unique in its gravely tone which added an interesting texture onto the notes sung. Scott also performed a cover of “House of the Rising Sun” and a cover of “You Are My Sunshine” among his originals which included “Pale Flame”, “If I Could Build a Woman”, “If I Was a Magician”, “Going Home”, and “Dry”. Scott delighted in sharing the amusing story of a critique’s opinion on his song title “If I Could Build a Woman”.  This critique was offered by a woman who and was not amused with his title. After hearing this song I don’t think any other title would do it justice or draw in the audience in the same way.  The song is all about what good qualities he would put in a woman if he could build one himself but he also states “If I could build a woman, that woman would be you”. Scott’s twin brother Ben also helped throughout the set by adding in beautiful harmonies when needed. Scott not only entertained us with the amusing stories and jokes but also shared a piece of himself by explaining the background to a song about his late grandfather. The audience thoroughly enjoyed singing along to “You Are My Sunshine” and seemed to appreciate his unique vocals and talented accompaniment.

LimeLighter’s concert allowed me to explore a genre of music which I don’t normally listen to, all while hanging out with people who share the same appreciation of musical talent. The atmosphere was welcoming and most of the people appeared to know each other or were at least comfortable enough to strike up conversations with each other. The performers were genuine and interacted with the group not only through their joking on stage but also through being a part of the audience during the other performer’s acts and during the intermissions. It was interesting to be a part of a small audience and to get the chance to learn about some newer Canadian artists. I enjoyed the whole night and am glad that I was introduced to these three amazing entertainers. I believe that Jake Vance, Emily Rowed and Scott MacKay all have a successful career ahead of them and I look forward to hearing more of their creative music.  


Louise Fournier