On a quiet wednesday night in a small bar called the Moonlight Cafe in Oakville, Ont., there was a man alone with a guitar on a small stage. The man by name was Terry Penney of Newfoundland and he was a storyteller like no other. He performed that quiet wednesday night in a venue like no other.
Now before I get into the show itself I need to take this moment to explain the Moonlight Cafe and what makes it spectacularly raw and real. It’s the kind of bar that, from the moment you walk into it, you know you’re somewhere special. While the man behind the bar is a long-haired cowboy hippy, Polaroids plaster the walls with memories of nights long gone, church pews with throw pillows serve as benches and a small stage exists in the corner – a silent proclamation to the rock-and-roll spirit of this place.
As it turned out there was no better soul to define such a place than Penney. From the moment his guitar rifts came out over the sound system and his voice filled the the room, the audience was transfixed by his mix of country, blues and rock ‘n’ roll. Every one of his songs was preceded by an inward look of what inspired the song and what it is all about, which gave the evening the feeling of a night spent around the hearth while stories of happiness, love, misery, loss and wonderful yet sorrowful tales on life well lived were told. All the while, the flames dance with beautiful darkness.
The two sets were dripping in tales of small-town canada and historical commentary that would leave even the likes of Bob Dylan awe-inspired by the beauty and drama of the stories Penney would weave, finding just the right sound for each story told. Two particularly moving country ballads that he played were ‘Benny Brown’ and ‘Normandy in Newfoundland’, both beautiful songs about Canadian troops in the two world wars. Penney also had a great melody called ‘Daddy was a Sailor Man’ about the relationships between fathers and sons that will bring a tear to the eye of the most masculine of men.
He closed the night with his last album’s title song, ‘Searching for my Last Guitar’, which are both an excellent album and song about love, loss and the journey of life.
All said and done, Terry Penney is an artist you need to check out. You can order his new album at his web sight http://www.terrypenney.ca/ or on iTunes. And as he says, “we played in those great days… bringing joy to the world through music.”