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Arts & EventsSupporting Local Musicians Sounds Simple in Hintonberg Concert Series

Supporting Local Musicians Sounds Simple in Hintonberg Concert Series

Supporting Local Musicians Sounds Simple in Hintonberg Concert Series

All photos by Andre Gagne,

“Home is where I want to be / pick me up and turn me round,” the Moonfruits sang in a folky rendition of the Talking Heads hit to those gathered last Thursday night at the Wellington Eatery (1008 Wellington Street West). The husband/wife duo of Alex Milaire and Kaitlin Milroy mean it too, having just returned from honeymooning around Europe.

“You work and work for years and years always on the go,” they sing in “Enjoy Yourself” from their 2014 release Début. As they recall it, they were on the go quite a bit, busking the songs around Europe before a return to some shows in the area, a wedding last August and then off once more to the UK and back again.

At the Eatery that night some friends cheer loudly, clink their plates where the remnants of fries lounge around pools of ketchup. The two musicians give each other a loving look, smile and meld together gorgeous harmonies that give a passing couple outside a cause to pause and gaze through the window, the fog of their breath in the frigid air not enough to conceal smiles of their own. For the Moonfruits, who have been playing together since 2012, it was a fine return.

The group was part of RedLeaf Music’s Sounds Simple series that will bring 13 shows to the Wellington Eatery on Thursday nights. RedLeaf strives to help artists achieve their goals by offering more than just support but also an outlet to showcase their talents by setting up shows like this around town. It’s a real family orientated atmosphere.

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OLM sat down with RedLeaf’s Artist Manager/ Presenter and Sounds Simple curator Trish Murray to talk more about series, the interesting choice of venue and future shows.

Ottawa Life:  Can you give me a bit of background on the Sounds Simple series and how it all came together?

Trish Murray: The original inspiration came from conversations I was having with the artists I work with through my artist management business. A few of them were looking for the chance to play solo acoustic shows locally, similar to house concerts. The Sounds Simple series was created to bring people in our community together around music in a fun, relaxed and social way. It’s set up to be welcoming and accessible, connecting music lovers and musicians and involving new venues for music.

How were the artists chosen for the shows?

I curate the series, working with artists who are part of our Redleaf family or artists I’ve gotten to know by being involved in the local music community.  I also welcome touring artists I’ve gotten to know through the music festivals and conferences I attend elsewhere.

This is the second series. How did last year’s series go?

The response to the first series was immediate and positive. The venue, A Thing for Chocolate, has its own charm and of course chocolate is appealing all on its own. It was a great place to launch the series, begin to get the word out and start building those connections I love to nurture. The series is designed to move around, exploring new places for music that listeners return to time and again.

What were some of the highlights of the first series?

It was really heart-warming to see the support the series got from community members, through their attendance and the way the word spread so that soon friends of friends were coming too. It was also very touching to hear how much the artists enjoyed playing the series. While some of the artists perform regularly, others are early in their careers or aren’t used to performing solo. This series gives them a safe and supportive place to spread their musical wings and try something new or different.

Speaking of different, the Wellington Eatery is certainly a unique venue for a concert series. How did it come about that this venue was chosen?

We look for venues that are eager to welcome the music community, that have space that feels welcoming and comfortable and that are in locations that are easy for people to get to no matter how they travel. The Wellington Eatery is a really great space for music for all of those reasons.

What are some of the ranges in styles of music we can expect throughout the series? Were you trying for an eclectic range?

Building on the success of the first series, which featured solo singer-songwriters, with the extra space at the Wellington Eatery we continue to feature solo musicians but also include some smaller acoustic groups. The series isn’t limited to a particular style of music and that makes it more fun for everyone. People can attend regularly and hear something a little different each time.

How has the response been so far?

The response has been really positive. We always have a great group of people who come out to the shows. Some come every week and others are discovering it for the first time. It’s a listening room environment so the people attending get to really hear the music and the artist gets to play to those listening ears without competing with sports games on TV or the chatter of other people talking and laughing at the bar.

Red Leaf continues to support local artists. Anything you can tell us that is on the horizon?

I’m excited to have a new monthly series starting up. I live in Vanier and I’ve been looking for a place to bring this same experience there. The Second Sunday series starts Feb. 14th with Ron Mills in concert at Maison Baguettes, 381 Montreal Rd. It’s a small and cozy café offering homemade soups, sandwiches and baked goods. It definitely has that house concert feeling because it’s in a converted house.

The series runs until April 14th with shows by local melody seamstress Amanda Cottreau, the rootsy twang of Jack Pine, the acoustic styles of Leonard Youngfoot and one of Toronto’s rising indie songwriters Angela Saini to name a few. You can go to redleafmusic.ca and sign up for the newsletter to stay in the loop.

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