Following up an above-average cheeseburger (though not a contender*) at Chez Lucien in the Market, I returned to Nouvelle Scene on the evening of February 9th, 2019 for the final show of the Ottawa Jazz Festival’s winter brouhaha. I hadn’t intended to attend the last day of the festival but had convinced myself otherwise, and I was happy to catch this festival set by Megan Jerome and her Together Ensemble.
Aside from loving the band’s name, I love the band. And how could I not? I see Mike Essoudry play drums whenever I can, his playing is perfectly rounded out in a plethora of ensembles by Don Cummings on the B3 organ, and I’ve been enjoying Megan’s quirky thinking-woman’s pop songs for years and years. And when the three of them added Fred Guignon on guitar the band gelled perfectly. Megan and her Together’s play around Ottawa all the time; I usually catch her at places like Irene’s where there is generally no cover charge and a good selection of tasty beers to pick from.
But (I wondered), why do I always go see them for free? Am I not a supporter of live music, the musicians who play it, and of great local initiatives like the jazz festival? Why, yes I am (I concluded)! And so it was that I determined my determination to catch (and pay for) Megan’s festival-closing set.
Sure, I was a few minutes late, but we can blame that on the popularity of Chez Lucien. When I did cross the room to take my seat Megan gave me a smile of acknowledgement from her electric piano bench, as did Mike from back there on his drum stool.
Between songs Megan mentioned that she and her husband Mike had met each other at university, and they had met Petr Cancurra (musical director of the Ottawa Jazz Festival) at Carleton U. as well. Megan used the school connection as a way of introducing their backup singer for the show, Rebecca Campbell, who Megan had first heard when she was studying music at Carleton. Of course all of this made me think back to my own days as part of Carleton’s music department when I too first met Mike, Megan, and Petr and it occurred to me that, heck, we’ve all known each other for a long, long time.
I got to feeling downright nostalgic and wistful, and Megan’s music was the perfect backdrop for such a warm and fuzzy feeling of reminiscence. My sentimental brain eventually settled onto Jennifer Giles, our late friend and sessional lecturer from Carleton, and I couldn’t help but to think how happy Jenn would have been to have seen this show, rife as the room was with her friends and former students. I told Megan as much with a slight hug after the show, and she agreed with a hearty Megan-esque smile.
I know I was glad to have seen the show, and I hope to see them again and again and again.
*I am permanently and gleefully on a noncompetitive worldwide search for the greatest cheeseburger on the planet.