Micah Barnes “New York Stories” Summer Tour
The better something is, the more challenging it is to write a fitting description. This has been the case for me and the recent CD launch concert of Micah Barnes’ “New York Stories” at Glenn Gould Studios, Toronto. With thesaurus laid out beside me, I have battled to find the words that will do justice. I was so enthralled that I was shocked by the seemingly early arrival of intermission. It was too soon, I wanted more and I wanted it NOW. Fortunately, this was a CD launch, and I now have that CD with its eclectic mix of all emotions that are within that one, simple word: Love.
Micah had opened the first set with tracks from the new CD, starting with “I Came Back”, followed by “New York Story”, a love song directed not only to that special someone, but also to that special city. A couple of additional songs followed, teasingly delicious and reminiscent though fresh. Although this concert was the launch of his new CD, “New York Stories”, the complimentary nods to the past included such understated classics as “I’m Crying” (Burdon/Price, 1964) in duet with the accomplished and incomparable Jackie Richardson. Hearing Jackie sing live is an exceptional experience, but hearing Jackie live in duet with Micah is orgasmic.
My dear friend, Divinesque was in attendance; a professional musician with an appropriately extensive education. He was in tears at intermission mumbling, “Oh, you don’t know! It’s a religious experience…”
My vocal coach, Georgina Johnson, sent an e-mail to me the next day, from which I quote, “there are times when your music education is a blessing. You get far more than the average audience receives simply because you understand what’s happening at a more multi-layered, deeper level Last night’s experience at the Glenn Gould studio watching and listening to Micah Barnes & company was (this type of) musician’s audience experience. From the opening number of “I’m Back,” to the magical, moody harmonies in “Harlem Moon,” this musician had the pure joy of listening to ear candy imported from the Gods. Micah is a vocal chameleon able to move easily between R&B, 60s doo wop and jazz, with a tone, sometimes smooth, sometimes deliberately raspy, that is truly exciting. Every single song was not only performed beautifully, each song had something uniquely mixed to the arrangement adding a creative element not often heard let alone seen live.”
In neither case do I think there was any degree of hyperbole. This really was an ethereal experience. Micah has a creamy, luscious baritone that caresses the listener’s ears and beguiles one to willing enchantment. He has an impressive range which reaches from baritone up into the realm of counter-tenor, with carefully controlled textures and dynamics.
Opening the second set were solos by Micah, at the piano, performing two soulful numbers from this album before being joined by the rest of the band, brother Daniel Barnes on drums, Russ Boswell on bass, and Michael Shand on keyboards, all in tuxes and bow ties – a very dapper group! Shortly after, they were further joined by back-up singers Miku Graham and Rique Franks.
Also during the second set, Jackie Richardson worked an arrangement of “New York State of Mind” (Joel, 1976) offset by the backup singers dropping in sections of “Empire State of Mind” (Hunte/Keys/ Shuckburg, 2009) – it was magic.
For the month of June, Micah’s CD “New York Stories” is available at the counter of Chapters Indigo at The Manulife Centre, as well as via Itunes. Additionally, there is an entire summer tour of “New York Stories”, a selection of tour dates of “Stand By Me: The Music of The Brill Building” celebrating the golden age of pop, Sunday Brunch at The Jazz Bistro for the month of June, and an appearance at The Old Mill, with Jackie Richardson, for The Jazz Festival.
With a plethora of performance dates and venues, and a new CD, there is no excuse not to treat yourself to this truly gifted artist.
All details can found on Micah’s Facebook Summer Tour page