By: Dan St.Yves, Calgary Herald
Recording artists from long bygone eras seemed to have the market cornered on exuding coolness, grace and elegance both with their recorded work, and their live performances. A few of those performers are still around, and they’re just as classy as ever. Tony Bennett and Johnny Mathis come to mind, both still capable of sharing their catalogues of popular songs that have stood up for decades, and in a way when you see either of them live that makes you wish there were more musical acts of that calibre level still out on the road or appearing in some swanky, high-class nightclub.
Canada does seem to be offering that in at least two of our current artists, given the performances last night out at Redwood House for Bragg Creek Performing Arts.
David Myles and Ellen Doty both keep their music modern and captivating, and both owe much to artists before them, along the lines of greats like Nat King Cole, Frank Sinatra, Ricky Nelson, Marty Robbins and so many more.
Whether she was offering a new song (Passing Mile), a personal, heartfelt ballad (Just So You Know) or a standard (I’ve Got You Under My Skin), Doty displayed grace in full measure. She can interpret a song in captivating fashion, or prove she’s capable and measures deep in the genre with a mashup of her own Say You Will combined with the timeless Stand By Me.
A young artist to watch, given she’s only one full-length album into her career…
At some point during David Myles’ set, I got to thinking about You Belong To Me, a 1950s pop song that has been interpreted by a variety of artists over the years — Dean Martin, Patti Page, Jim Reeves, Johnny Mathis, Bing Crosby and dozens more.
Turn Time Off from Myles is one of my personal favourites of his, which to my mind is Myles’ You Belong to Me, although he has many other strong contenders.
As a songwriter, his affection and respect of the past makes his own songs and lyrics reverberate with those great artists and tracks.
Balancing a quick wit with his ability to nimbly move back and forth from classic country, doo-wop, modern pop music and jazz (even secular non-denominational gospel), it all sounds cohesive under the Myles umbrella.
He can at one moment sound like Jesse Winchester enthralling a listener with a ballad that sends a chills along your spine, to a one-man collaboration between Art Garfunkel and James Taylor.
Last night Myles chose to insert some new music he hasn’t even recorded yet, plus a romping bluegrass version of a track from his latest Here Now disc, It Don’t Matter. That track is making some noise literally, climbing the charts — the bluegrass version was pretty killer on its own…
Performing as well in a trio format (Alan Jeffries on impressive acoustic country guitar licks, and Kyle Matthew Cunjak handling upright bass), Myles wears his influences on his sleeves, and the songs that funnel from those sleeves to his own acoustic guitar make for music that brings back, or keeps alive, the elegance and grace of all those greats.
Keep it coming, both of you. You’re doing great work.
Read my preview feature on Ellen Doty here, which has a link to the full video version of the interview.
Find out more about David Myles’ new album Here Now from my preview feature with him.
Next up for Bragg Creek Performing Arts is The Colin James Duo, again relocated due to ongoing restorative work in their main venue. James appears May 16 at Webber Academy, Centre For Performing Arts, but like this past evening, the show is sold out.