Imagine captivating a crowd by effortlessly combining the sounds of funk and folk inside the walls of an Ottawa church. That's exactly what Greg Sczebel and Carolyn Arends accomplished on their stop to the Nation's Capital on the Something2Give tour.
Sczebel kicked off the show with a few songs from his debut album, Here to Stay and tried some new material on the crowd. The young B.C. musician has already earned a long list of awards including three Okanagan Music Awards and a Juno for his debut album. See him play live and it's obvious he has many awards to come.
It was just Sczebel and the piano for the first four songs. With the first stroke of the keys, Sczebel proved his talent is at par with the best. With a mix of funk, jazz and pop, Sczebel sings with a voice that is reminiscent of Stevie Wonder and an energy few musicians can accomplish sitting at a piano. From his opening number "Here to Stay," which won him the 2005 John Lennon International Songwriting Contest in the Gospel/Inspirational Category, to some of his new songs, like "Popular Opinion," Sczebel captured the old soul of a professional musician with the vigour of his youth. His piano skills matched by the velvety and soulful sound of his voice is truly flooring to witness in person. Sczebel also has the gift of performance, conveying the inspiring and unapologetic lyrics of his faith with a natural ease.
Before breaking for a short intermission, Sczebel was joined by Dove Award winner Carolyn Arends and guitarist/violinist Spencer Capier. Arends sat centre stage, strumming her guitar and harmonizing to Sczebel's "In My Pocket" and "You've Got It," pulling off the "folk funk thing" as Sczebel described their collaboration to the audience. The crowd's enthusiastic clapping and stomping reverberating through the church showed that the two sounds complimented each other well.
After the intermission, it was Sczebel's turn to play backup musician to Arends, a veteran in her field, who has just put out her ninth album, Pollyanna's Attic. Showcasing some songs from the new album as well as some crowd favourites, Sczebel and Arends put out a rich, full sound along with Capier on violin, mandolin, guitar and bouzouki. Arends, a singer-songwriter who also hails from B.C., has the ability to communicate with the audience in a straightforward and intimate way. In "Travelers (The Airport Song)" she took the energized audience and held them captivated by the universality of lyrics that glimpse into everyday lives and conclude "we're all travelers who have not reached our final destination." The concert took on a worship feel when Arends invited audience participation in "Who You Are" and "Father, Thy Will Be Done."
Sczebel, Arends and Capier rounded out the show with a little bit of love and hope. The trio played the optimistic and soul searching "Something to Give" with Arends asking listeners to use their God-given gifts. She played the C.S. Lewis inspired "Not a Tame Lion," that seemed to uplift the audience with a fuse of folk, rock and blues and bring them to their feet to salute the three performers at the end of the show.
Sczebel returned to slow things down with a solo encore, stunning the crowd with "Climb," a song from his upcoming album. Arends and Capier rejoined Sczebel and closed the show with a modern day hymn, "I've Got a Hope" from her latest release, ending the night on a soft, beautiful and hopeful note.
Please visit www.gregsczebel.com and www.carolynarends.com.
Writer: Meghan Wubs