There are plenty of bands out there, many of whom will not make that emotional connection to a listener. For some, it will require a certain time or an event that opens them up to that transmission from a band or artist. Personally, great things were always written or said about Hey Rosetta! and more so about its lead singer Tim Baker’s solo work, but it always swirled around me like a quiet static, but 2023 was the year that I was able to tune in and truly fall in love with the music.
After catching Tim earlier this year at the Light House Arts Centre performing with his full band, and later finding the decoder ring I needed to crack the code on these beautifully sparse and atmospheric tunes, it was no surprise to see him as one of my most listened artists on 2023 on my Spotify Wrapped. What was a surprise was that he then announced a pair of December dates at The Stage at St. Andrews as part of a solo tour.
It didn’t take long for the shows to sell out, as the pairing of Tim Baker and the acoustics of a Church was a match made in Heaven. After winding through the basement corridors, you’d make your way up the walkway into the Church’s nave entering alongside the altar/stage. It was an unusual entry point for the show. At the altar, you could see three main points of interest, a piano, a keyboard and a mic stand.
Before Tim hit the stage, the sold-out room was treated to a performance from a wry soft-spoken singer-songwriter Haley Heynderickx. Haley and Tim first met at a Vancouver folk festival where they played together in the round. Haley is an artist who is somewhat out of time, evoking a folk performer of the ’60s-’70s with a slight warble to her Dusty vintage sound, at times shades of early Tori Amos would shine through. This was Heynderickx’s first time seeing the East Coast of Canada, as she hails from Portland, OR. She was a fantastic albeit (Self-proclaimed) low-energy opener, who also bore similarities to local favourite Jenn Grant on the track “Oom Sha La La”.
Prior to their Maritime dates, Tim and his travelling companions had to find a way to escape the clutches of Montreal, as it took a couple of attempts to depart the majestic city. When they eventually managed to escape Montreal and start heading east, it was smooth sailing to the East Coast. The St. Andrews nave was comfortably packed, as people quietly re-entered and quickly found their seats. Then it was time for Tim’s headlining set, one in which he played cuts from his solo debut Forever Overhead (“Dance”, “All Hands”, “The Eighteenth Hole”), 2022’s The Festival (“The Shield”), threw in some a couple of new tracks, along with a handful of tracks from the delightfully wry Hey Pointsetta, apt as the stage was adorned with a swath of the crimson fleurs. The Hey Rosetta tunes “Kintsukuroi”, “Red Song” and “Red Heart” always slot in alongside Baker’s solo work beautifully.
While this was primarily a solo performance, Tim welcomed his friend, collaborator and bandmate Kim Harris at a couple of different points in the night, once when Baker joked that it was the point of the show where Kim Harris comes up and critiques the set, but all jokes aside the harmonies generated from Tim and Kim’s vocals on “Red Song” were delicious. The Halifax Patrons were not only treated to some of the prettiest (and sometimes saddest) pop-infused folk tunes, but we got to witness Baker’s musicality firsthand as he effortlessly transitioned between keyboard and piano mid-song, and at points played the two seemingly simultaneously.
In 2023, the city played host to a wealth of live music, with many of those shows taking place in some of the bigger barns and larger rooms around town. Seeing Tim Baker with a full band in the Light House Arts Centre was a treat that served as my proper introduction to the music of the Newfoundland-based singer-songwriter, so when it was announced that he would be returning to Halifax for two sold-out nights at The Stage at St. Andrews you knew it was to be a hotly anticipated ticket. It was every bit the magical night, that it had the makings to be.