Nellie McKay finally returned to Canada! She had played the Jazz Fest in 2004, that was when I was just getting into her, so, alas, I did not see her (never even knew of the show). Since then, she decided to boycott playing Canada until the annual seal hunt ended. A little more on that later. Nellie is an advocate for animal rights, something I very much agree with.
This show, again part of the Jazz Fest, was her solo, not even an opening act, as there was some Jazz Fest show earlier in the same venue. The fact that there was no opening act was fine for me. To nail down an opening act for her would be a tough thing to do! I could think of some, but Nellie spans so many genres and styles it is what makes her unique.
It was just Nellie and a grand piano, and a few songs with ukulele. Nellie was introduced over the loudspeakers, and appeared on stage and went right into singing. She played numerous songs spanning all her releases (“The Dog Song”, “I Wanna Get Married”, “Lali Est Paresseux” (a French tune!), “Mother of Pearl”, “The Very Thought Of You”, and “Caribbean Time” on ukulele to name a few) including a Ukulele medley that included The Seekers’ “Georgy Girl”! She also did The Beatles’ “I’m So Tired.”
In the course of the set, she had a fair amount of stage banter, mostly in French, even if she struggles with her French! She also mentioned how she was in favour of the student protesters, a few random people said some stuff, I think Nellie was a little flustered, but concluded about the right to assemble. Soon after, she had done a ukulele song, and stopped midway, and went to her piano. Not sure why though. And she did make a mistake in her first encore song, saying in French how she started thinking, and then continued. She concluded the show with a second encore (each being one song), performing “Ding Dong.”
All in all it was a very entertaining solo set. I would love to see her solo set outside Quebec, so as to hear her stage banter in English, and also see her with a full band too.
Post-show, she signed discs, and briefly chatted with people (a queue formed to meet and greet her). I lined up after picking up a homemade sheet music book she had done for her debut disc, Get Away From Me. I had a couple of brief words, and she said she said how the Canada boycott was not working out too well. I might also add she is super nice, and as she seems from interviews and the like, very down-to-earth!
She has a few dates left on her current swing, I’d recommend checking her out for sure if any are close by
July 4, Blowing Rock, North Carolina at Westglow Resort & Spa
July 11, New York City, at Madison Square Park
July 14 East Meredity, New York at West Kortright Centre
July 28 Washington, D.C. at Washington Marriott Wardman Park
Check out her website, nelliemckay.com for additional information, and everything else!