Maria Dunn- Live at Festival Place, Sherwood Park, AB 2023 January 28

My horrible snapshots notwithstanding, it was a beautiful evening of folk music in Sherwood Park last evening as Maria Dunn (finally, after two-years of pandemic delays) celebrated the release of her now Juno Award-winning album, Joyful Banner Blazing (my review of the album is here.)

Dunn and her large band complete with horn section and featured vocalists provided us an overview of Dunn’s twenty-plus years of recording, featuring at least two songs from each of her albums excepting Piece by Piece along with (by my count) seven songs from Joyful Banner Blazing. Highlights were too many to accurately innumerate, but mention should be made of Jeremiah McDade’s arrangements, Dunn’s pristine voice, and Shannon Johnson’s playing. I especially enjoyed the presentation of “Shoes of a Man,” “Secondhand Skates,” “Troublemaker,” “Malala,” and “When the Grandmothers Meet.” Who am I kidding- every song was brilliant.

The McDades (Johnson- violin and vocals, Jeremiah- acoustic guitar, whistles, saxophone- and Solan McDade- bass) served as a consistent presence throughout the two-set, two-hour plus showcase. Vocalists Debbie Houle and Dawn Cross added depth to the presentation of Dunn’s amazing songs, with Joel Gray (trumpet) and Audrey Ochoa (trombone) further enlivening their performance.

I’ve never been disappointed in a Maria Dunn appearance, and certainly the Festival Place celebration left no room for complaint…well, beyond the absence of “Whiskey Evening.”

An incredible concert I feel fortunate to have attended.

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