#SingItFwdFinale @ Vogue Theatre -- 01/14/16 & 01/15/16

This is it. The end of an era. Since 2011, David and Ambrosia Vertesi have been organizing the annual #SingItFwd event, with proceeds going to the St. James Music Academy, a music school for underprivileged children in the Downtown East Side. 
But this year, the shows came to an end with a giant, star-studded two night finale at the Vogue Theatre. They brought back old favourites, and new voices, for two completely different lineups to say goodbye. 

Each artist got a short, 3-song set (usually) and while in past shows they had been more acoustical, this year saw a mix of stripped-down and full-band sets.  Hosted by Tamara Stanners (of The Peak) and Cory Ashworth (formerly of The Peak), the night also included interstitial videos of various bands with the SJMA kids. 

Both nights are covered in this post, so click through to see everyone that played, the surprise (and not-so-surprise) guests, and who covered which David Bowie songs! 

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The Biltmore Phil Harmonic: A Phil Collins Tribute Concert @ Biltmore -- 08/12/15

David Vertesi sure knows how to throw a hell of a party. Every year he and his lovely wife Ambrosia put together a show called Sing It Forward, to benefit the St James Music Academy. Now, about half way between the last one and the next one, Vertesi has organised another fundraiser, a tribute to the great Phil Collins. 

With a backing band consisting of Johnny Andrews on drums, Andrew Rasmussen on keys, Mike Young on bass, and Tristan Paxto on guitar, there was a rotating cavalcade of singers covering the whole spectrum of Phil Collins' career; from his days in Genesis, to his solo material, to his Disney soundtrack. 

And while it would be impossible to give a full rundown of the night, I will say a few of the highlights for me were Dan Moxon (and the rest of Bend Sinister on backing vocals) going "Against All Odds"; a surprise Shad covering Collins' cover of "You Can't Hurry Love" originally by The Supremes; a version of the Genesis song "That's All" by Willa, which rivalled Zeus as the definitive of that song; and, of course, "In The Air Tonight", as owned by Hey Ocean's own Ashleigh Ball. 

Click through to check out photos from every single singer on stage:

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Ma Petite CD release @ Prophouse Cafe -- 05/16/14

A couple years ago, Indiana Avent made the journey from her homeland of Australia to Canada to record her debut album in Vancouver. She had previously played violin for people like Bon Iver, Dan Mangan, Gotye, and Amanda Palmer, but decided it was time to put her own songs out into the world, and with loads of Vancouver's finest backing her she recorded The Road That Led Me To Fall.
The album was finally released it last month, and Indiana returned to her second home to celebrate its release.

Starting off the night was Savannah Leigh Wellman, frontwoman of Redbird playing solo. In contrast with Redbird's new hip-swaying rock, Savannah played some softer jams, her strong voice soaring over acoustic guitar, as she started with a newer song called "Wandering One".
Early on, she noted that most of her songs were a little more dour than Ma Petite's, so made sure to play a few happier songs, including a lovely song called "Morning Day and Night". There were also a few Redbird songs in the mix; "Some Birds" and "Oh Please My Heart".
She ended her set with what ended up being my favourite song of the night, an absolutely heartbreaking ghost-story-slash-breakup-song, called "The White Eagle", as Savannah poured everything into the song.

Next up was Twin Bandit, the pairing of Hannah Walker and Jamie Elliott. Also armed with only acoustic guitars, they had a country-ish sound with the two girls' voices intertwined into nice, soft harmonies, complimenting each other very well.
Standouts from the set were a cover of Ana Egge's "Hole in your Halo" and one of their own songs, which I didn't catch the name of, that was more fiery than the rest and introduced as a song about "the kind of love that makes you want to die"
They had gorgeous voices and a great presence, but I feel like they would make amazing scene-stealing backup singers -- the Ana Egge & Rose Cousins to someone's Joel Plaskett, or the Watson Twins to someone's Jenny Lewis -- as their own songs were just not quite strong enough.
They did mention near the end of their set that they would be playing the Media Club next weekend with a full band, so I would be interested to see how they are with a fleshed out sound.

And finally, it was time for Ma Petite to celebrate the release of her album. Completing the theme, Indiana took the stage alone with an acoustic guitar -- switching to ukulele halfway through -- with soft songs that were held aloft by her gentile, almost fragile voice.
She started with the sweet "Morning Song", and was incredibly charming on stage, introducing most every song with a little story; joking that a lot of the songs were about either birds or boys, before going into a song about both birds and boys.
Her storytelling extends through her music, with songs like "I Like That You Like Books" weaving through the narrative of working in a bookstore/coffeshop and flirting with customers (rather, a certain customer) or the longing of an ocean separating people in "Make Like A Bird".
As the set drew to a close, she led the crowd in a sing-along to a favourite "Man About Moon" before wrapping up the night with the upbeat "Two Big Thick Duffle Coats"

Often times it seems descriptors like "cute" can seem dismissive or condescending when it comes to music, but Indiana's soft and intimate songs -- even when they are about sad things -- are incredibly endearing and you can't help but smile while listening.

Morning Song, Lonesome, Winter Wind, I Like That You Like Books, Make Like A Bird, Sparrow, Words To Keep, Oh the Vampyre [AA Bondy cover], Man About Moon, Two Big Thick Duffle Coats.