The National Arts Centre is one of my favourite places in Ottawa. It is a beautiful home for the performing arts: classical music, English theatre, French theatre, dance, variety, and community programming. Housing four performance venues – Southam Hall, Theatre, Studio, and the Fourth Stage – there are many international and Canadian musicians coming through the doors on any night of the week.
In March I saw a fantastic jazz show by Laila Biali (piano, vocals), George Koller (bass), and Larnell Lewis (drums) at the Fourth Stage. It’s a great little cabaret-style venue…round tables, candlelight…and you’re right up close to the performers.
Then in June I walked through the door at the Fourth Stage that said Artists Only. I was the keyboard player in the backing band for Harmony and Groove (original R&B/soul). I covered the horn and string sections, at the same time, all night long. [Now, how to do that is a story for a different day!] I met some great local musicians like Norm Glaude (bass), Ralph Buch (drums), Sharley St. Phard (piano), and Garry Elliot (guitar). I think we had the most efficient sound check ever! The pro tech crew at the NAC made it easy. It was privilege (and lots of fun) working with everyone.