Sarah Skinner. Rod Wilson file

Sarah Skinner. Rod Wilson file

Studio 64 (Kimberley) Spring 2022 Jazz and Blues Concert Series – Red Dirt Skinners

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Basically, music is a performance art that, at its best exists at the moment of creation. It requires performers (obviously) and an audience in a physical environment that promotes the interaction between the two. Given the right mix the experience can be transcendental. During the pandemic there has been no shortage of digital down load music. Music is just about every wear, but live performances have virtually disappeared. This has been extremely hard on performers. Incomes have disappeared and the emotional feed back required for the self actualisation of the artist is non-existent. That has been the situation for over two years but now appears to be becoming to an end. The Pandemic is not over but restrictions on social and cultural gatherings are easing to the point where live music is emerging from its enforced hibernation. The Kimberly Arts Council Spring Jazz and Blues Concert Series is part of the renewal of the live music scene in Kimberley. The Melody Diachun Quartet concert in April was the very first in the 2022 Spring Jazz and Blues Concert Series. It was a very tentative step with only about 40 patrons in the audience. In this, the second concert in the series the audience was increased to around 75. It is anticipated that for the third and final concert in the series the audience numbers will be back up to full capacity.

Keith Nicols has been negotiating with The Red Dirt Skinners for over two years and after numerous cancellations and postponements, The Red Dirt Skinners (Rob Skinner – guitar, vocals and foot percussion; Sarah Skinner – back up vocals and soprano sax) finally made it to Kimberley for a much-anticipated concert.

The Red Dirt Skinners are an Anglo-Canadian multi-genre duo, who formed in 2011. They had been very active in Britain and Europe before their “accidental” relocation to Canada about five years ago. As the duo explains it, they were contacted by the Stratford Festival for an engagement. It wasn’t until the festival organizers sent them airline tickets that they realized that it was Stratford, Ontario and not Stratford, England. Driving to the gig would not be an option. They ended up doing 12 shows over 17 days. The engagement was so successful that the duo started looking at the possibility of relocating to Canada.

Patrons may have a hard time categorizing their music. Based on the Kimberley performance I suggest they have a very unique blend of a “classic rock” vibe, singer/song writer sensibilities with jazzy melodic enhancements on soprano sax. Their acknowledged musical influences include Supertramp, Pink Floyd, David Bowie and Queen. Their repertoire is mostly original material with the occasional cover songs. As with the best of song writers their songs and stories have come out of a wealth of personal encounters and experiences. Currently their use of soprano sax in a rock environment is unusual. The only other similar use of the soprano sax that I can recall is Branford Marsalis performing with Sting in the mid 80s and 90s.

The evening kicked off with an original song advising young performers to follow their muse (“Why Don’t you listen to your own dreams?”). What followed was a number of songs that included an ode to the pandemic A Life on Pause; Hey Crawford – a nod to a long-time teacher they met in Ontario; Your Hearts Not Here – a song lamenting dementia; Bad Apple; Brighter Days Ahead; Blossoms and Rain; Lay Me Down; Day Break and a cover of David Bowie’s Space Oddity (Ground Control to Major Tom). For me the best story of the evening was “Frank’s” persistent request for Pink Floyd’s Comfortably Numb. The final song of the evening, Feet of Clay, celebrated Fionna Campbell’s eleven-year 20,000 mile walk around the world.

Once again thanks must go to the Kimberley Arts Council, the organizing Committee and the volunteers who make the evening possible. In keeping live music, well “Live”, they have stepped up to the plate in these difficult times. Thank you, Thank you, Thank You.

 

Rob and Sarah Skinner. Rod Wilson file