Wednesday, July 17, 2024

These Talents Are On The Map

The Fall Coffee House gang was back in town at Pontiac High School (PHS) on Nov. 9 and they did not disappoint.
On hiatus thanks to the pandemic, this ever-changing gathering has seen up-and-coming talent from PHS sign-up to show their skills in this low-key venue with support from in-house and out. From vocals to musicianship to acting, they have it all and this rendition was in full swing.
Emcee Rebecca Grant had the house in her palms with quick-witted delivery and kept things on schedule, keeping studio execs in their seats. She even playfully referred to them as “kids” while nodding in their direction and seemingly winking at the not-quite-capacity crowd.
Emma Carty started things off with an impassioned version of Stevie Nicks’ Planets of the Universe. Her smokey voice lifted searing lyrics to every corner and brought attention onstage with her.
She was followed by Ava Schellenberg and her ukulele, lamenting Will Wood’s White Noise. Lighting lead Mo Weatherall had the lights set perfect to match the lyrics and Schellenberg’s well-timed stage presence swept the audience, visually keening what her music was implying.
Faith Hamilton switched things up and brought a kitchen party to centre-stage with old time fiddling and her rendition of Peekaboo and the Westphalia Waltz. Accompanied by her father, Jared, their fiddlesticks never stopped and neither did the temptation to get up and dance with them.
Switching gears once again, Heaven-Leigh Smith arrived on stage sporting a trench coach and a story to tell in Lost Boys, by fellow Canadian Ruth B, making it an anthem for strength and an open invitation to find your place. Her delivery was spot on and her passion, palpable.
Not to be left completely aside, studio head Matt Lottes and exec Brock Young took stage with a delightfully airy delivery of more Canadiana and When the Night Feels My Song, by Bedouin Soundclash. With Lottes on beat and backup vocals, Young led the audience in toe-tapping and head-swaying joy.
A dramatic set acted as interlude, flipping the usual stage production playbook, and Robin Lottes, Kayden Gauthier, Grace Kelly and Charlotte Graham had the audience laughing along at the all-too-close-to-the-truth rendition of an older generation’s social interactions in Finding Love, penned by Lottes. The hold-nothing-back delivery of a lady being courted was particularly real and you could hear shifting in seats throughout the audience as folks grappled with either the hilarity or, perhaps, the reality.
Switching back to stage with a mic in hand, Stacey Desabrais took on the establishment with her rendition of Harper Valley PTA, a Tom T. Hall song from the 60s made into a classic by Jeannie C. Riley. She eased into rhythm with the guitar and soon her vocals warmed, in time for her to fully channel Hall’s table-turning message and Riley’s will-not-be-denied delivery.
In an open audition for a new label, Austin Scheuerman’s guitar practically caught fire while blazing through Jenny, by Texas rock band Nothing More. His casual entrance and departure added poignant contrast to fiery musicality; agents take note.
Slowing things down a notch, Gray Charette put Shawville “on the map” with House of Gold by Twenty One Pilots. His ukulele sang out and his vocals held court - this was his stage, and Weatherall once again nailed the lighting ensuring that we knew it.
Rounding out the evening, Ava Robertson’s rendition of NEEDTOBREATHE’s Talk of the Town, left you wondering if you were watching a 2022 version of Alanis Morissette’s budding angst. She has more and we will be following.
The evening ended with a shoutout to execs Lottes and Young, who modestly credited and thanked the artists before inviting everyone to the after-party where doughnuts from the Pontiac Home Bakery were on hand.
You’ll want to make sure you catch The PHS Coffee House when they’re back in town, because, as Gray suggested, this talent is on the map now and there’s a new playlist trending.

Actors in “Finding Love” penned by Robin Lottes.
Faith Hamilton and her father Jared
playing Peekaboo/Westphalia Waltz.


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