One of the beauties of house concerts is that wonderful music happens in unlikely spots. Such was the case as Kim Beggs, along with accompanist Marcel Desilets, performed in a home just a bit off Menaik Road near Highway 2. Apparently a small group of friends have been presenting house concerts in the area for a couple years, and tonight was Ken and Leanne’s turn to step up and host their first show. They did a lovely job, and welcomed just over twenty of us into their home.
I’m not sure what it is about Yukon singers, songwriters, and musicians, but for some reason several of them are among my favourites: I think it all started with the Undertaken Daddies, and the list has expanded to folks like Gordie Tentrees, Annie Lou, Brandon Isaak, and a few others I’ve likely forgotten. But leading the way is Kim Beggs who I have written about several times here at Fervor Coulee (and elsewhere) and whose last album Beauty and Breaking headed my Polaris ballot last time out.
Kim and Marcel did nothing to disappoint us this evening. Opening with tunes from Beauty and Breaking, including “Not Only, Only From the Whiskey,” a personal fave, the duo presented a pair of musically clean, personable sets. While weighted toward her fourth album (with five or six songs culled from that most excellent disc including “Oh Boy” and “Not a Mermaid Song”), they also featured several songs from each of the albums including “Summertime Lonesome Blues” and “I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight” from Blue Bones. They closed the show with the lively “Can’t Drive Slow Yodel” after delivering a fairly devastating reading of “Longest Dream.” Songs from earlier releases included “Streetcar Heart,” Bucko,” “Down to the Station,” and, if I recall correctly, “Gidyup Cowboy.” Kim played guitar while Marcel handled things on the resophonic and 5-string banjo. A couple songs I’ve not previously heard performed by Beggs were the standard “Little Birdie” and the blues song, “See That My Grave Is Kept Clean.”
I appreciated so many elements of this little concert. Kim Beggs’ voice is huge; seemingly without effort, her voice goes from soft, playful, or emotive to bluesy and rollicking with the turn of a couple notes. When the music would drop away, and Beggs was left singing a line or four without accompaniment, one was treated to something not soon to be forgotten. Desilets’ provided spot-on-perfect vocal harmony that provided depth to the show, while his instrumental contribution added unembroidered texture to each song.
While many of Beggs’ songs speak directly to her Yukon home (“A.J. Goddard Shipwreck” being just one-and maybe best- example), she makes the emotions behind the songs universally appealing; while I am guessing most of the audience was previously unfamiliar with her music, one could tell that she was making connections with just about everyone. This speaks to the magic that can happen at a house concert- fifteen or twenty folks walk out humming songs and singing the praises of those they may not have previously been familiar.
Wonderful stuff, then. Kim and Marcel next head to Crooked Creek in Northern Alberta before Kim continues on to Rolla and Fort St. John, BC before heading back south to Edmonton for a show at The Artery on February 19. She heads to Banff for a residency where she is planning on writing her next album. The next area Home Routes show is March 13 at the Usona Hall, but the New Mexico performer’s name slips my mind and the Homeroutes site is next to useless.
A great night of music with a personal favourite made the drive through the dark well-worth the effort. Thanks for hosting us, Ken and Leanne and thanks to Kim and Marcel for an enjoyable show.