Songbird Nicole Coward taking flight with new ep release tonight
It’s been just over two years since the release of Nicole Coward’s marvelous debut album of original Folk songs, Why Don’t You Care, which established that this leanly statuesque and passionate lady has a potentially big future ahead of her by drawing on the past for inspiration for her solidly crafted tunes.
During that time for a while she was somewhat waylaid from a potentially soaring career trajectory by the need to make a living —believe it or not, being a Folk songwriter, even one as undeniably talented as she is, doesn’t do much to help put food on the table and heat in the house in today’s world. And some jobs are just too soul-destroying to be compatible with a songwriter’s main mission.
But having resolved that situation a few months ago with a day job at the new Humble Beginnings, a west-end restaurant and music venue at which she also plays a prominent role as talent booker and host for the weekly Saturday afternoon showcases, she began recording new songs earlier this year with songwriter Derek Downham as producer and engineer Phil Houston.
(She also adopted a new moniker by promoting herself as “Songbird” —a name which I am on record as not being totally fond of, as I explained in an earlier article— and going so far as to even change the name of her website to www.songbirdartist.com, although nowadays, tellingly, she’s using www.NicoleSongbirdCoward.com, which goes to exactly the same place and her name appears as Nicole “Songbird” Coward on its banner and much of her recent promotion.)
Whatever she calls herself, this true songbird is unquestionably back on the wing again and ready to soar with her new six-track Strong Enough For Love disc, being released tonight at Junction City Music Hall at 2907 Dundas St. West.
Interestingly, she’s not only included a cover song in this set of tunes, but actually named the ep after it —as well as turning it into a kind of lynchpin theme for promoting her music and sensibility by putting it on t-shirts (available at tonight’s show) with the tagline: “I AM Strong enough for Love. BE PART OF THE MOVEMENT”. I don’t see any credits for the design of the very 70s-style icon, but it’s really nice work.
The ep’s title track and inspiration for the “movement” was penned by soulful songwriter and much in demand harmonica accompanist Harpin’ Norm Lucien, who will be one of several special guests at the show —which will be much more than just another record release.
(Coward’s version of the song is markedly different from how Lucien performs it, btw, and it has taken a little getting used to for me, having heard Norm do it several times. But he’s a fan of the new version, saying it gives the song wings and “releases it to the heart” —and he’s not alone in showering it with effuse praise: several music critics have raved about it and her enthusiastically. You can check out an excerpt of her version yourself at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fIzlm3-Agts.)
As well as featuring Coward’s current band (Chester Manoharan on bass, Venezuelan drummer Randolf Jiminez and keysman Blair Minnes), Lucien will perform, as will songwriter Christine Gaides, Ben Plotnick and Jarred Albright of Rye & Fairy Tales fame and flautist Jamie Thompson of The Junction Trio, with emcee Dan McLean Jr. tying it all together.
What’s more, the event is also being billed as a 60s/70s Folk-Revival Party. Expect lava lamps, tie-dye outfits and so forth. In the spirit of the occasion, Coward and the band will also perform songs by artists of that halcyon era such as Janis Joplin, Joni Mitchell, Gordon Lightfoot, Joan Baez et al —writers whose work resonates in her own approach to music.
It all starts at 6:30 and admission is just $10. You can pick up a copy of the new ep for an additional $10 and there will also be discounted copies of her debut album —plus, of course, the t-shirts!
-Gary 17, www.torontomoon.ca
SHOW LISTINGS for Sunday, September 07, 2021:
Listings preceded by an asterisk (*) are repeating weekly events. (Double asterisk indicates repeating event with different hosts/guest/etc.). Admission prices followed by a slash and minus (/-) after the amount indicates door charge with availability of cheaper rates for some purchases. /+ indicates stated price is minimum.
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11-2> The Pearl Motel @ Relish, 2152 Danforth Ave. TO East ~Rockabilly Blues
11am-2pm> Gloria Valentine & Nina Shapilsky for Jazz Brunch @ Free Times Café, 320 College St., TO ~
11am-6> Taste Of The Kingsway Festival with various acts @ Royal York Rd., Etobicoke
*11am-3pm> Rockabilly Brunch with The Cosmotones @ Dominion On Queen, 500 Queen St. E., TO ~Rockabilly
*12-3> Julian Fauth’s Blues Brunch @ Axis, 3048 Dundas St. W., TO West ~Blues
noon> Excelsior Dixieland Jazz Band @ The Rex, 194 Queen St. W., TO ~Jazz
1> No Angels Dancing (Allison Cameron & D. Alex Meeks) @ Tranzac Club (Southern Cross), 292 Brunswick Ave., TO
*2-5> acoustic jam with host Bill Black @ The Working Dog Saloon, 3676 St. Clair Ave. E., Scarborough
*3-6> open mic with Nicola Vaughan @ Hirut, 2050 Danforth Ave., TO East
*3-7> open mic @ Moskito + Bite, 423 College St. TO
*3-6> Michael Brennan @ Graffiti’s, 170 Baldwin St. TO ~East Coast Rock/Blues Roots
3-6> jam with host Buddy Love Band @ Moonshine Café, 137 Kerr St., Oakville
*3-7> jam at CJ Barleys, 213 The Queensway, Keswick
3> Bluegrass Menagerie feat. Mathew Fines @ Black Horse Pub, 452 George St. N., Peterborough
3:30-6:30> Club Django @ The Rex, 194 Queen St. W., TO ~Django Jazz
*4-7> open jam with Mike Murphy @ The Brigadoon, 1109 Victoria Park Ave., Scarborough
4> Leon Knight & The Neon Lights @ Castro’s Lounge, 2116 Queen St. E., TO East
*4:30-8> New Orleans Connection All Stars & guests @ Grossman’s, 379 Spadina Ave., TO ~New Orleans Jazz
4> Sam & Mary @ Simcoe Blues & Jazz, 926 Simcoe St. N., Oshawa ~Jazz
*4:30-8> The Sterling Blues Band for Southside Shuffle Festival @ Roc’n Doc’s, 105 Lakeshore Rd. E., Port Credit ~Blues
*5-9> All ages open jam with Juggernaut Jam Band featuring Andy Narsingh @ West Shore Bar & Grill, 877 Bayly St., Pickering
*5-9> Danny B Band featuring Michael Keys @ Timothy’s Pub, 344 Brown’s Line, Etobicoke ~Pop
**5-8> John Borra & Sam Ferrara w. guest @ The Communist’s Daughter, 1149 Dundas St. W. TO West ~Country
*5-9> Robbie Lane & The Disciples @ Seven44, 744 Mount Pleasant Road, TO North ~vintage Rock/R&B; $10
5-9> The Telstars RocnkRoll Band @ Legends On The Queensway, 1184 The Queensway, Etobicoke South ~vintage Rock/R&B; $5
5-8> Sean Donald @ The Local, 396 Roncesvalles Ave., TO West ~old time Country
5> Monk’s Music @ Tranzac Club (Southern Cross), 292 Brunswick Ave., TO
5-8> Janel Jones Jazz Duo @ Gate 403, 403 Roncesvalles Ave., TO West ~Jazz
5-9> Tom Barlow; Freedom Train for Southside Shuffle @ Lake Affect, 1 Port St., Port Credit ~Pop/Rock
**5-8> The Stew @ Mulligan’s, 2458 Dundas St. W., Mississauga ~R&B/Rock
*5:30-8> Sam Taylor & The East End Love with special guest TBA @ Linsmore Tavern, 1298 Danforth Ave, TO East ~electric guitar Blues
*6-10> jam with Kerry Kalli & Jenn LadyEvil @ Fox & Crown, 646 Danforth Rd., Scarborough
6:30> Nicole “Songbird” Coward performs for release party for Strong Enough For Love ep; also featuring Harpin’ Norm Lucien + flautist Jamie Thompson @ Junction City Music Hall, 2907 Dundas St. W., TO West ~Roots; $10
*7-1> open stage with hosts Steve York & Tony Rabalao + feature by dame Alexander (2 songs each -signup at 7 or pre-sign online) @ The Supermarket, 268 Augusta St., TO
*7-11> Karaoke with Rob MacArthur @ The Edge, 250 Bayly St. W., Ajax
7> Pat Temple @ Cameron House (front), 408 Queen St. W., TO
*7-9:30> Hat & Beard @ The Rex, 194 Queen St. W., TO ~Thelonius Monk tribute
*7-11> open jam @ McGradie’s, 2167 Victoria Park Ave., Scarborough
**7-11> The Nomads @ Shore Grill, 71 Lakeshore Rd. E., Port Credit
7-10> Ukelele Night @ Moonshine Café, 137 Kerr St., Oakville;
*7> open jam @ Black Swan Pub Burlington, 4040 Palladium Way, Burlington
*7> open mic with Randy Hill @ Black Horse Pub, 452 George St. N., Peterborough
7:30> The Imperative Trio; See Through Trio @ Tranzac Club (Southern Cross), 292 Brunswick Ave., TO
8> Delrose @ Free Times Café, 320 College St., TO ~original Roots Pop
*8:30-12:30> karaoke with The English Rose & The Mad Scotsman @ Gryphon Pub, 114 Dundas St. E., Whitby
8:30> Loudon Wainwright III album release for Haven’t Got the Blues (Yet) @ Hugh’s Room, 2261 Dundas St. W., TO West ~Pop-Roots/Blues; $5/-
9-1> Roger Chong Jazz Band @ Gate 403, 403 Roncesvalles Ave., TO West ~Jazz
9> Los Cabelleros del Son @ The Local, 396 Roncesvalles Ave., TO West ~Cuban traditional
9-1> Joe Murphy All Star Jam for Southside Shuffle Festival finale @ Roc’n Doc’s, 105 Lakeshore Rd. E., Port Credit ~Blues
*9-1> jam with Mike Roland and Lenny Vaccari @ Stewart Maguires Landing, 15 Allan Dr., Bolton
*9-1> jam @ Ivy Arms Pub, 201 Main Street East, Milton
*9:30-1:30> jam with Rebecca Matiesen & Phoenix @ Southside Johnny’s, 3653 Lakeshore Blvd. W., Etobicoke South
9:45> Valeria Matzner @ The Rex, 194 Queen St. W., TO ~Jazz
*10> Horshack feat. Chris Caddell @ Orbit Room, 580 College St., TO ~Bluesy contemporary & classic Rock
10> Nick Fraser @ Tranzac Club (Southern Cross), 292 Brunswick Ave., TO ~Jazz
10> The Mercenaries @ Dakota Tavern, 249 Ossington Ave., TO West ~R&B brass band; $7
*10> open mic/jam hosted by Phill Hood (with backline avail.) @ The Cage 292, 292 College St., TO
10> The Doublecuts @ Cameron House (front), 408 Queen St. W., TO
**10> Blues jam with Brian Cober, Bill Hedefine & guest bassist @ Grossman’s, 379 Spadina Ave., TO
*10> jam with Groovestone feat. Dale Harrison @ Scruffy Murphy’s Uptown, 150 Eglinton Ave. E., TO North
10:30> Geoff Willingham @ The Hideout, 484 Queen St. W., TO ~indie Rock
10> Ambre McLean for First Sundays @ Not My Dog, 1510 Queen St. W., TO West ~eclectic
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