In The Dead of Winter Music Festival (Day 3): Closing Out In Style at The Company House

Saturday Night was the last night of the 2013 In The Dead of Winter music festival, and despite their being wonderful artists at both the Bus Stop Theatre and Cempoal, I decided to return to my new favourite live music venue, The Company House.

For day three of the festival, the sold-out Company House featured Gabrielle Papillon, JP Hoe, Jennah Barry, and Andrew James O’Brien. This line-up closed out my IDOW festival experience in style, helping to make it one of my all-time favourite music weekends.

When I arrived just before start time at 8:00, the place was packed. As the night progressed, more and more people arrived. Some of the Halifax notables in attendance were Bill Wood (comedian), Adria Young (The Coast), Louis Thomas (Sonic Entertainment), Dana Beeler (musician), Tara Thorne (entertainment writer/ musician) and Ben Caplan (who will be playing 3 sold out shows at The Company House next week).

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Ben Caplan and Gabrielle Papillon

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Don Brownrigg and Gabrielle Papillon

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Bill Wood and Adria Young

Halifax’s favourite actor Stewart Legere was the host for the event. He also sang with the first act – Gabrielle Papillon.

Gabrielle Papillon

This was my first time seeing Gabrielle Papillon live.  I first heard of Gabrielle Papillon from Jen Ochej (Jen on Twitter), who was raving about how great Papillon is. Then the next couple of times I heard about Papillon were also from Jen Ochej.   While in Vancouver in November, I almost had the opportunity to see her play, but missed the show by one day.

Papillon’s latest album, Little Bug, has been nominated for a 2013 East Coast Music Award (Folk Recording of the Year), however, prior to arriving Saturday, I had only heard two of the songs (“Little Bug” and “Go Into The Night”).  I loved them both so knew I would enjoy her show.   I had been holding off on buying the album until I could attend a show.  (sidenote: I have the album now).

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Papillon started the show with “Little Bug” , a lovely upbeat number which I take to be about landing in a new place and meeting new people.   She has a soothing voice that one can take comfort in, and the audience immediately settled in on this cold, cold night.

Papillon is another instantly likeable IDOW artist.  She told stories and had witty banter with her backing band (Stewart Legere and Taryn Kawaja).  The admiration and respect that the three had for each other was evident.  Papillon also has some funny one-liners, including “I own awkward”.

She sang a few songs from her prior releases and played a couple of new ones.  My favourites of the night were “Oh My Favourite”, “Concrete of the City” “Go Into The Night (a song about her great-great grandfather, a lighthouse keeper, who died at sea heading to get the doctor when his wife went into labour.)

Here is her performance of Concrete In the City:

JP Hoe

Following Papillon was Winnipeg’s JP Hoe.  He was the Saturday night performer I was not familiar with.  I soon discovered he was another great IDOW storyteller.

Hoe has a big voice and a big sound. He was smartly dressed and (even before he picked up his electric guitar for his third song) made me think of Chris Isaak.  Hoe has a great rapport with the other festival singers and it was easy to see why they love him.

Hoe opened with a song he co-wrote with Luke Doucet about about a few of his heroes (Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell & (I think) Neil Young), called “Conversation” from his 2012 release Mannequin.   He told stories and sang songs about joining a cult, Mrs. Claus, and co-writing with an actress from Hamilton.

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One of my favourites was the song December 22, Hoe’s mothers birthday, when “a guy named Dad takes us all out to dinner”.

Hoe will soon be touring with famous Nova Scotia troubadour Ben Caplan; and will be returning to Halifax in March for a show at The Carleton.

Here he is performing “Veils on the Way”:


Jennah Barry

What can I say about Jennah Barry, who is on cover of this week’s Coast,  that wasn’t already said in the article written by Tara Thorne?

Jennah (who seems so sweet I don’t feel comfortable referring to her as Barry in this piece) is Nova Scotia’s new musical sweetheart.   She always has a big smile and strikes me as one of the friendliest people on the planet.  Jennah is the talk of Halifax, loved by musicians and music fans alike.  She released her debut album, Young Men, last year.

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With a band featuring Rebecca Zolkower and Desiree Gordon, Jennah easily won over the(already partisan) audience.  She played a mix of songs from Young Men and new songs.  If her new songs are any indication of what is to come, fans should expect to hear more great things.

Following her last official song, the crowd cheered wildly wanting more.  Jennah, who seemed honestly humbled and appreciative of the crowd response, complied with their wishes and returned for an encore.  I say returned, however she never left the stage saying “I’ve never had one of these before.  Am I supposed to go offstage”.  She returned to play “Slow Dance” from Young Men.

Here she is performing Honey:


Andrew James O’Brien

The last performer of the night, and of the festival, was Newfoundland’s Andrew James O’Brien.  O’Brien is a marvellously talented singer and songwriter.  I wrote a piece on him prior to the start of IDOW (read it HERE).

This was O’Brien’s 2nd IDOW festival.  He was a perfect choice to close out the 2013 festival at The Company House.  A fan favourite, O’Brien combines all of the qualities that make IDOW performers so likeable and successful.  He is a talented songwriter,  a great story-teller, is personable, and possesses a lovely voice and captivating singing style.

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O”Briend started his performance with the catchy “City Song” and followed it up with a wonderful love song written for his girlfriend “Built To Last”.  He played a few more songs from his award-winning Songs For Searchers album, including “Go Easy” “West Street Serenade” and “We Were A Boat”.  O’Brien also tried out a couple of new songs (including “Oaks and Willows”) and covered Sherman Downey’s “Blue” – a song about a cat that went missing on New Years eve.

This magnificent performance by O’Brien was the perfect way to end a marvellous music festival.

Here is O’Brien performing “Oaks and Willows”:

For more videos from the In The Dead of Winter music festival, click HERE

For my recap of Thursday (click HERE) or Friday (click HERE)

For further information on the artists, go to:

Gabrielle Papillon
JP Hoe
Jennah Barry
Andrew James O’Brien

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