One of my favourite Simpsons quotes comes from the episode where the family wins a trip to Africa after eating an excessively stale box of Animal Crackers, but toward the end of the episode where Homer and Bart share an exchange after a chimpanzee approaches them: “Hey, maybe he’ll lead us to bananas”, and Homer retorts “or more mouth watering monkeys”. It speaks volumes about the Halifax music scene; as you can find a band you love, and while you can follow them for their music, they will more often than not lead you to new bands you wouldn’t have experienced otherwise. This is very much the case with Kim Harris, an artist whose name I’ve seen crop up around town, but prior to Friday night, I had been unfamiliar with her work.
From the moment I pressed play on Quiet Parade’s eponymous release, I was enamoured. I had an opportunity to catch their set at the Halifax Pop Explosion, and Trevor Murphy and co were able to replicate that subdued brand of pop-infused folk tunes. Having been in attendance for that HPX set, I knew what I was in for. It was Kim Harris I was unfamiliar with, but from the moment she and her band hit the stage, I was intrigued. The warm lushness of Harris’ vocals in addition to the harmonies shared with Stewart Legere (of the Heavy Blinkers) and Margot Durling were magical and alluring. Harris effortlessly shifted between manning the keyboard to wielding her black and white Airline guitar, and in doing so proved to be the perfect complement for the headlining act.
After a short changeover, it was time for Trevor Murphy, Julia Weir, Jay Methot, Anthony Phillips and Connor Booth to step onstage and enjoy the fanfare surrounding the release of their eponymous album. It may seem silly to some to have an album release party a solid two months after the album dropped, but the Quiet Parade founder was a little preoccupied with the Halifax Pop Explosion that took place in October. Those who had acquired the album prior to the album release party, and those who were fortunate enough to catch the band’s HPX set at the Carleton, would have had an inkling of what was to occur onstage at the Seahorse as the Quiet Parade live show doesn’t stray far from the in-studio performance. If you were to go back and listen to the debut recording of Quiet Parade when it was a one-man parade led by Trevor, it is clearly a much sparser, thinner sounding record. However, in rounding out the band, the sound has filled out nicely into a warm intimate embrace, much like a beloved wool sweater on a cool evening. The band even injected a cover of Boy & Bear’s “Southern Sun” into their set, a tune that was squarely in the band’s wheelhouse and could easily be mistaken for a Quiet Parade original.
As Trevor Murphy paid respect to the evening’s opening act Kim Harris (& company) and everyone for coming out to the show and supporting local music, he quipped “Sad Bands Get All the Love”. It would appear so, as the relatively sparse crowd steadily grew as the evening progressed, even though the folky emotion-laden pop tunes aren’t exactly what anyone would consider party starters. (Unless, maybe it was a pity party?) It was quite curious when the crowd continued to build through the headlining set. It appeared that while people enjoyed Quiet Parade, they were showing up for Wildest Dreams, a Taylor Swift tribute show (featuring over ½ of Quiet Parade, in addition to a rotating cycle of singers) which was happening after the album release party. So with that clever marketing, there was a definite percentage of the crowd hearing the tunes from the album for the first time. Between sets, Trevor swung by and introduced himself and thanked us for the kind words, which honestly I thought was quite cool as, after all, it was a party for his Parade.
I opted to stick around and check out a bit of the Wildest Dreams set, partly because my 5 year old daughter is well versed in Swifty’s 1989 album, and partly because I was interested to see who was going to come out to play. As the crowd grew, the demographic steadily declined, to a point where the dance floor was packed with a large percentage of college girls and a few fellas; but everyone on the packed dance floor was having a blast from the moment “Welcome to New York” started. It was a sentiment shared by everyone on stage including Quiet Parade keyboardist Julia Weir who appeared to be having a fantastic night. Kim Harris returned to the stage for one of the tunes early in the evening (“Shake It Off”), then Dance Movie’s Tara Thorne hit the stage to reunite with Trevor Murphy and covered “Blank Spaces” in a spirited performance, with Thorne showing flashes of Brittney Howard (of Alabama Shakes) with her vocal delivery. While it would be easy to stick to the latest Swift release 1989, Dana Beeler eschewed that notion the moment she joined the folks on stage to perform the Swift classic “Teardrops on my Guitar” with an elegant confidence. Thorne returned to the stage and cranked out a couple other Swifty gems, but it was shortly thereafter that I opted to head out (not before saying hello to Ms. Thorne and letting her know how much I enjoyed her performance).
As I headed toward the exit down that long Seahorse corridor, I was surprised to see a healthy line-up was awaiting an opportunity to join the Wildest Dreams love affair inside. While it would have been easy to enjoy my banana and show up only for the Quiet Parade set, it was the promise of more mouth watering monkeys that lured me in to catch a fantastic night of music loaded with some of the best talent Nova Scotia (and Newfoundland) has to offer. I walked in a fan of Quiet Parade, and walked out a fan of Wildest Dreams, Kim Harris, Dana Beeler, Tara Thorne (but you already knew that) and of course Quiet Parade.