The New House of R&B

The New House of R&B

Recently, I was a lucky invitee to the John McKenzie House in Willowdale. I went there for an album launch party and really enjoyed the space. With its old style charm, it was an elegant backdrop for an important event. The house was built around 1913 and is now part of the Ontario Historical Society. Recently they opened it up to the arts to have events, so I decided to go see a live performance there by Ryan Gazzolla. As it turns out, they really want the public to witness more of these events in the future. If it is anything like I experienced with Ryan Gazzolla, I will be going back there often.

Ryan Gazzolla is a Pop artist with plenty of R&B up his sleeve. His songs are fun, funky and have a splash of disco to it. He mixed up the evening with some original song as well as well crafted covers songs. The second song in was an original song called “Sightseeing”. This one takes you on an R&B vacation. He did another one called “Cyclone”. This one seemed to me to be about someone walking away from a storm, and the timing was good because the drummer really pushed this ending to a force of 4 and blew away the intimate audience.

Yes this place is very intimate, as it holds about 30-40 people in two rooms. I was surprised that the band was not feeling too nervous, because there was a portrait of Queen Elisabeth on the wall right behind them staring at their backs the entire time. I hope she was amused.

Some of the covers, they did was a very clean version of “Careless Whispers”, a chilled out version of “Valerie” and a Maroon 5 tune called “Sunday Morning”. I had never heard this song before, and I could swear it was a Stevie Wonder song, that I never knew. That was a nice surprise to the evening.

Ryan Gazzolla has innocent wide eyed youth about him. His songs come off both pure as well as a little circumspect. The one thing that really stands out about his voice is that it comes with a lot of sincerity. The other thing that stood out for me was his shirt. It was a really cool shirt. It made him look like a winner! Ryan has been around for about 10 years and is really looking to making a name for himself here in Toronto. He is originally from Vancouver and has been struggling like the other artists here. He had to deal with a throat operation, and like everyone else, he was put on hold during Covid. He is standing tall and letting the city know, if it is R&B you like this is the guy you want to see.

He even mentioned he was feeling a little strange playing in this old house because everyone was so polite and actually listened to his music. He is use to noisy bars were sometime he is just the background noise. When they finished the show, the audience was asking for an encore. He and his band mates quickly got together to figure out what song to play. He admitted they were unprepared for an encore song. That was the moment you realized that Willowdale always asks for an encore

Here are some images of Ryan Gazzolla:

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