Local Group Brings Pandemic Experience To Live Performance

Wednesday November 17th, 2021

Posted at 1:54pm

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Crissi Cochrane (Handout photo)

Showcasing their roster, a local group of artists is continuing to bring live music back to Windsor.

On Friday November 19, a triple bill by the Soul City Music Co-Op will bring diverse talent to Phog Lounge (located at 157 University Avenue West). Playing the venue are musicians Mike Hargreaves (formerly Soul Brother Mike,) Crissi Cochrane and Madeline Doornaert.

Given the talent on hand, attendees can expect collaborations from all three.

“There’ll be quite a lot of cross-over between acts at this show,” said Cochrane. “[Co-op member] Dane Roberts will be performing on-stage with [Doornaert] as well as playing bass guitar on [Hargreaves’] set, I’ll be singing back-ups for [Hargreaves], and he will be playing bass for me. It’s fun to get to showcase different musical skills throughout the night, enjoy the difference between being a bandleader and being more of a supporting player.”

Having returned to live shows at outdoor venues in the summer, Cochrane played her first indoor concert last month. Still, the November event will be a return for her husband.

“This will be my first gig with a band since the pandemic began,” said Hargreaves. “I’m so excited to share my music as performed by a talented group in a live setting. It’s something I’ve been missing dearly.”

As a result, the artist is more focused than ever. With other life commitments impacting his time for music, Hargreaves’ passion for the craft has grown. This has driven him to push his voice harder, guitar playing skills further and ensure his equipment is in perfect shape to showcase what he’s excited about playing.

After leaving behind his previous moniker, it’s all contributing to a new chapter for the musician.

“I feel free,” he said. “It’s been liberating returning to my birth name. I’m not sure what it will mean for my music as a business but it has done wonders for my soul. I’m making music now that really represents my own unique perspective no matter what genre my music gets infused with.”

Drawing on post-pandemic experiences, Doornaert is also ready for a memorable show. Adapting to health and safety guidelines, Phog Lounge and Meteor (located at 138 University Avenue West) organized private concert routes throughout the past year for Windsor-based artists. Her inclusion kept the musician busy as she performed several backyard/driveway gigs.

Madeline Doornaert (Handout photo)

It’s something that allowed Doornaert to connect with audiences in a unique way.

“This initiative called ‘The Gravy Train’ allowed me to perform private mini-concerts for very small groups of people at a safe distance,” she said. “This experience was amazing because I was able to meet and connect with so many incredible people. My route occurred in the middle of winter and many groups thought of really creative ways to make their concert extra comfortable and enjoyable for everyone involved, like setting up a fire in the backyard, inviting neighbours to watch from their porches or creating a mini stage where I could perform.”

Beyond that, the artist also took part in several Soul City Music Co-op live streams. Although each medium had its own challenges, Doornaert got even better as a result.

Tackling a wide range of performance types, she now approaches interacting with fans differently.

“Both mediums have allowed me to focus on connecting with audiences in different ways,” said Doornaert. “In person, I am always trying to discover which ways I can best relate to different people watching the show by adapting to their energy during and between songs. When I am live-streaming, I can’t see the audience, so I kind of need to find the most effective way to connect with as many people as possible.”

After streaming online and visiting different corners of the city, Doornaert also wants to improve the accessibility of future shows. Connecting with those who couldn’t attend in person for various reasons, it’s something the artist is more mindful of now.

Bringing her own pandemic experiences into the show, Cochrane is also looking to put some of the lessons she’s learnt into practice. While focusing on attention grabbing songs to maintain people’s interest online, crafting in person sets with highs and lows is very different.

Even so, there’s one thing the artist is interested in maintaining.

“I often spent more time practicing my material and structuring out talking points for live-streams, whereas with in-person performances, I tend to focus more on getting ready to be social, professional and helpful with whatever needs to be done to run the show,” said Cochrane. “I do want to incorporate more of that structured-talking-points vibe into my live shows though, because what you say to the audience in between songs can create a connection just as strong as the songs themselves.”

Overall, she believes her time in front of the computer and away from the stage has made her a stronger performer too .

“Playing music with anybody in the room inherently makes me imagine the song from a different perspective,” said the artist. “And you can see it right away, if you’re keeping the listener’s interest or not. That helps inform some of the songwriting decisions I might make going forward, whereas with live-streaming, it’s a perfectly quiet environment with no distractions or background noise, so I really focus on perfecting the performance. I feel like I’ve become a stronger performer as a result of all that extra focus.”

Showcasing their roster so far, the co-op will invite outside artists to play with them in 2022: With a limited amount of resources, they can only have so many on the label. Despite this, all involved want these regular shows to support other musicians in the Windsor area as well.

In the future, Soul City Music Co-op also plans on welcoming musicians from out of town. This will provide exposure for talent from different areas while showcasing the music scene in Windsor.

Luckily for fans of live music, it’s set to begin within the first month of the new year.

“Our next Soul City Music Co-op Presents show will be at Phog on January 22, 2022, featuring [Hargreaves,] [Roberts,] and Toronto’s Matt Fasulo,” said Cochrane. “[Fasulo] is an incredibly talented singer-songwriter and we’re really excited to be bringing him to Windsor.”

Mike Hargreaves (Handout photo)

With event capacity limits often changing, concert organizers for this Friday’s show recommend grabbing tickets in advance. Having turned people away before the first act at their last show, it’s the only way to guarantee entry. Admission is $10 and they can be purchased through Eventbrite.

When it comes to other co-op members, all artists on the label are keeping busy. Continuing to play live and record new music, The Bishop Boys specifically will release their new single on November 26. For more information on the co-op and its artists, those interested can visit their website. With music and merchandise available, it’s one the best ways to directly support those in the group.

The label can also be found on social media through their facebook, twitter and instagram pages.

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