Sunday, August 18, 2013

Recording: Maylee Todd

Artist: Maylee Todd

Songs: I Can't Stand It + Pegwee Power

Recorded at The Great Hall – SummerWorks Festival ("Maylee Todd's Musical Planetarium"), August 17, 2013.

Maylee Todd - I Can't Stand It

Maylee Todd - Pegwee Power

Full review to follow. A Maylee Todd show is most often a raucous affair, featuring Todd's powerhouse band cranking out high-octane funk blasts. But her albums contain another, quieter side to them that don't fit into that environment as well. This special show gave Todd a way to present her softer side to an eager, quieter audience who'd be treating these songs as the main attraction and not a quiet spot between chances to dance. The set was played in the round, on a mini-stage set up on the Great Hall's floor, with the audience encouraged to bring blankets and lay back, watching the "planetarium" projections on the ceiling. They were well done (especially when interpolated with some processed live footage) but it was still difficult not to keep an eye on Todd, who took the stage looking like a Japanese virtual idol made flesh. Playing solo, Todd brought her harp as well as some of the tools (including tenori-on) that she's been exploring with her solo Maloo project — though here her voice was enhanced by a quartet of backing singers perched above her on either side of the room's balcony.1

In its best moments, the combined effect of musical, visual and spacial elements was quite spellbinding. Cheers once again to SummerWorks for underwriting these fabulous Music Series shows and giving musicians a chance to work on a bigger canvas than usual in collaboration with artists from other disciplines. Let us hope that the spirit of these shows is carried forward to next year's festival.

1 As much for my own future reference as anything, I should note that the backing singers were Heather Mazhar, Charise Aragoza, Hallie Switzer and Alex Samaras. The latter was one of the Music Series' secret ingredients, also appearing as one of Snowblink's auxiliary musicians.

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