Hungry For Christmas CD Helps Food Bank

Kingston This Week – November 25, 2010

Sandy Singers has stepped before the microphone one more time.

The executive director of the Partners in Mission Food Bank, and former singer in various bands, including the Soul Survivors, has brought together a group of friends to record Hungry for Christmas, a fundraiser he hopes will fill a few stockings.

And the shelves.

It comes as no surprise that demand at the local food bank is up.

“The challenge,” says Singers, “is keeping food on the shelves.”

That would be the result of a 22 per cent increase in demand over the last two years.

And, while help has come from both the corporate sector as well as local food drivers, “we find we’re buying a lot of food now. We’ve spent about $75,000 purchasing food this past year,” he says. “It’s the new normal.”

More than 800 food hampers go out every month from the Hickson Avenue food bank.

The Hungry for Christmas CD features Singers on a number of holiday tracks, including the title track, which he wrote. Notables in the local music scene are also on board. Sarah Harmer and Luther Wright team up for “White Christmas,” and Emily Fennell and Chris Brown deliver a bluesy “Please be Home for Christmas.” Singers and Kelli Trottier have some fun with “Baby it’s Cold Outside.”

Singers has a family connection with the last track, where he is joined by his daughter Shawna in a reworking of Simon and Garfunkel’s version of “Silent Night” that includes a voice over by newscaster Bill Hutchins.

Musicians include Spencer Evans, Jerry Clancy, Andrew Affleck, Kevin McKolskey, Matt Ray, Andy Thompson, Burke Carroll, Don Reed and Kevin Goss.

Hungry for Christmas costs $15 and is available at both locations of Sunrise Records, Renaissance Music, Cooke’s Fine Foods, Wal-Mart and three RBC branches.

Wildlife (in and out of the city) by Kyra and Tully

CD Review
Title: Wildlife (in and out of the city)
Artists: Kyra and Tully
Label: Buster Records
Released: November 2009
Stars: 3.0

Wildlife (in and out of the city) is Kingston, Ontario duo, Kyra and Tully’s debut full-length CD featuring a who’s who of talented local musicians who have contributed to this country and folk-pop treasure chest of acoustic ballads sung by a 21st century Ian and Sylvia.

Recorded by Chris Coleman (who also supplies bass, tambourine & mandolin) at Leopard Frog Studios in Battersea, and accompanied by just a few of Kingston’s able musicians including Danielle Lennon (violin), Roger James (banjo), Jay Harris (lap steel & electric guitar), Rob Gillespie (upright bass), Jay Middaugh (drums) and Jonathan “Bunny” Stewart (alto sax) among others, Wildlife is an excellent choice for an evening starlit campfire or intimate candlelit dinner party. It is obvious that Kyra & Tully are partners in every way as their voices compliment each other like peanut butter and jam and their music is the same kind of staple that everyone should have at least a little of.

Kyra Walker and Michael “Tully” Pearson, artists in every sense of the word, switch off on lead vocals on practically every track and these are soothing, soul-affirming, thoughtful songs that celebrate “beauty, sadness, and hope,” both from the road and from the heart. They’ve been described as sincere, truthful, and wistfully sad, but what you’ll notice right away about this collection is how sweet-sounding it is in its entirety, making it a little jam heavy for this peanut butter lover’s taste. Kyra, who sounds a lot like Sarah Harmer on this one, sings about nature and the strength and importance of her relationships while Tully reflects on travel and getting back to family and home.

Stand-outs include Tully’s classic Thunder Bay (which includes a striking harmonica solo), the up-tempo toe-tapper, Let It Ride (featuring Tully’s inspired keys), Under The Moon (highlighted by Jay Harris’ lap steel), as well as the delicate piano & glockenspiel lullaby, Far Away.

I know I’ve been listening to too many indie folk/pop singer-songwriters over the past few years because I find myself longing for artists with an edge, who sing from their groins; imperfect but full of fire and fervor. Although Wildlife (in and out of the city) is a solid effort that is somewhat melancholic without losing hope and often apple crisp delicious (Bruce Cockburn endorses it), it just doesn’t inspire me in ways that won’t make me forget it.