Erica Mah at Rhizome Café

Photos by Alex Ramon

I’m what you call a music connoisseur, and as a result, I go to a lot of shows. My musical taste is very eclectic, which in turn brings me to a lot of different venues around town. It doesn’t matter where it is, or who it is for that matter, just as long as the music is good and entertaining. I’ve covered the likes of Metric, The Stills, and even Snoop Dogg. All of these musicians are fairly big, so the venue had to reflect that, but in all honesty, my love of music starts at the core, and the core meaning our very own local music scene. There are so many talented and amazing acts here that it’s hard not to imagine them rising up the ranks to the likes of those previously mentioned bands. Erica Mah is a perfect example of that, and I don’t want to put her in the same league as Snoop Dogg (her music does not in any way, shape, or form reflect that of Snoop’s… far from it actually), but her music reaches out to anyone willing to listen.

Erica MahWhen I got an email from Erica asking me to come out to her CD release party, little did I know it was going to be in a tiny café. But it didn’t matter where she played, because her love of music shined through the coffee and into the ears of her attentive audience. And what an audience it was, ranging from Main Street hipsters to high school students (she’s a teacher at Tupper High School), the eyes and ears of everyone in the crowd was fixated on this talent in the corner of the room.

Erica is a multi-talented musician, playing different instruments throughout her set. With her ukulele in hand, she showcased her finger picking skills all the while maintaining a serene, calm, and somewhat lethargic atmosphere. During her song “The Return,” Erica pulled out the good ol’ glockenspiel, and to wow the audience even more, she played it with one hand, while the other kept steady on the keyboard.

The one song that stood out for me was called “Harbour Commission,” which in fact is the title track off her new disc. Before she started, she told the crowd to close their eyes and picture whatever it was we wanted. So I had no choice but to be one with the music (and before I write down what I was thinking, I’ll just warn you all that I have a very wandering and interesting mind). I pictured a theatrical performance, similar to “Singin’ in the Rain,” but instead of Gene Kelly it was Duncan McLeod of the clan McLeod. Then out of nowhere another immortal beheads him, and so begun the flashbacks of his 400 year life. But then he wakes up and realises it was just a dream. It’s strange isn’t it, how music can have a different affect on different people, but that’s the beauty of it. Erica didn’t want to interpret the song herself, but as a true artist, she allowed the audience to go into their own world and develop their own meaning.

It’s great to see a classically trained musician playing some more contemporary, modern tunes. Her impact on those in attendance will be lasting, and hopefully you take the time to visit her myspace and website to sample some of her tracks. She’s inspiring to say the least.