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  • Writer's pictureAlex First

Songs from the Canyon (Mrs Reznik Presents) at Chapel Off Chapel - 85 minutes without interval

Sensational. A revelation.

That is the coming together of nine supremely talented musicians to recreate the magical sounds that emanated from Laurel Canyon (just a few kilometres from Hollywood) in the 1960s.

Photos by Serge Thomann

I speak of folk rock and country rock that had such a profound influence.

I refer to the songs of Joni Mitchell, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, The Beach Boys, Carole King, The Byrds, The Doors, The Mamas and The Papas and others.

The first act kicks off with a rich and redolent rendition of the Mamas and The Pappas hit California Dreamin’.

What follows is For What It’s Worth by Buffalo Springfield, The Byrds’ Mr Tambourine Man, Canned Heat’s Going Up the Country and Everybody’s Talkin’ by Harry Nilsson.

The pitch perfect vocalisations and melodic harmonies delight and excite.

Throughout the one-and-a-half-hour concert, Songs from the Canyon showcases individual and collective brilliance – on multiple instruments, as well as vocals.

Members of the nonet give us anecdotes about the artists that came, saw and conquered Laurel Canyon.

Carole King’s So Far Away and Home Again are on the slate, before Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young’s Our House, Joni Mitchell’s California and then God Only Knows, off the Beachboys’ Pet Sounds’ album.

There is sheer joy in watching and savouring the glorious palate.

After interval, the musos tackle The Doors’ People Are Strange, After the Goldrush from Neil Young and Joni Mitchell’s Both Sides Now and River.

Crosby, Stills and Nash get another look in with Suite: Judy Blue Eyes, before the band members are introduced one by one to rapturous applause.

Among them are Hannah Cameron, Ivy and Mabel Windred-Wornes (known as Charm of Finches) and Bree Hartley, alongside Husky Gawenda, Dan Kelly, Stephen Grady, Dan Challis and Ryan Monro.

Their encore again turns to Crosby, Stills and Nash with Helplessly Hoping, finishing on a high with Turn! Turn! Turn! from The Byrds.

Rarely have I seen such an atmosphere of collective bonhomie and good will amongst band members and patrons alike.

The warmth in the room is all encompassing and embracing, the vibe is electrifying.

The brainchild of Rick Chazan, Songs from the Canyon is directed by Evie Gawenda, with musical direction from Husky Gawenda and Dan Kelly.

It is a show of sheer artistry and virtuosity, which richly deserves a wide audience.


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