They had a ball – it was noisy, it was serene, the Mayor was TERRIBLE but it was a fun night.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  December 2, 2011 – It was an interesting evening.

Here is what we know.

The Mayor cannot play the piano but Rob Preuss plays the piano very, very well.

We know that Iranians wear red socks.

We know that while Mike Wallace, our Member of Parliament, can dance better than most people expected, but he can’t sing.

We know that Gordie Tapp has still got it.

We know that the Spoons can still do it.

We know that the Silverstein’s, a band that has a sound that isn’t to my particular taste (that’s my age showing) but man do they ever have energy.

Sandy Horne seemed to own the stage as she prowled around with her guitar and signature hat - the Spoons were back in town doing what they started out doing in 1979. Great stuff!

Where did all this knowledge come from?  It was the second to last show of the several month long opening of the brand spanking new Burlington Performing Arts Centre – and the community has certainly taken to the place.

It was “home town” hokey night with several exceptional pieces, as well as a couple that we can forget about.  Robert Stephen, performist with the National Ballet, did a short but touching dance piece that he choreographed himself, accompanied by a woman playing the violin that was close to divine – that would apply to the woman and the violin.

Jian Ghomeshi, CBC  personality and host of Q got convinced to MC the event when he saw the line up and he did his best to let Burlingtonians know that Farsi is the language Persians use and that there are some very nice Persians who come from Iran.  Burlington didn’t care – we are still working our way into diversity – we were just happy to see him up there introducing act after act of our own people.

The male lead in “Billie Elliott”, Miles Erlick, was on the stage with a young local dancer Addison Holley  – he can certainly dance.

And right in there with anything that happens in Burlington was the BTTB – the Burlington Teen Tour Band. They marched through the place as if they owned it – and perhaps they do.

Remember that smile - Gordie Tapp was on the stage in the town he has called home since 1952. He was at his best.

But it was when the man who got a standing ovation from the audience, just by looking at them, came on the stage that the evening took on a different tone and feel.  Everyone knew they were watching one of the great Canadian entertainers.  Gordie Tapp is right up there with Wayne and Shuster

Tapp, who is a consummate pro, still doing the show business circuit, was clearly the star of the evening in, as he informed us, his 90th year.  What I think most people didn’t know was that the hat he wore for years on his television program Hee Haw, was given to him by the late Jimmy Durante – and if you don’t know who he was – well you missed out on another great one.

Tapp told jokes that only he could get away with and the audience lapped up every second of it.

The evening started with that riveting cardinal red stage curtain opening – this was big time – then out popped – to our surprise – the Mayor and the MP.  Not another political speech about how great Burlington was and what a great building we had – please.  Nope – not this time.  These two clowns had gone into show business and they were there to perform for us – and, well let’s just say they are not going to give up their day jobs.

Rick Goldring, our Mayor had taken piano lessons, and in the second half, very innocently asked if he could play something for us – and decent people that we are – we said – sure.  JQ summed it up as well as it could be summed up – it was TERRIBLE.  Mike Wallace, our Member of Parliament didn’t help with his rendition of Gene Kelly doing that classic piece “Singing in the Rain”  It should have rained on that parade, but it was all in family fun – for that’s kind of what it worked out to be.  A community, that got together as a family  recognizing and celebrating its own, in a building that Gordie Tapp said he first heard about when he came to Burlington in 1952.

There were a number of people who just couldn’t make it to the event – so we used technology to pipe them in through an overhead screen – and there they were – talking to us.  One musician who had grown up in Burlington and plied his trade in small bar after small bar said “we would have killed for a place like this”

The Silverstein's changed the perception of music and still ROCK for their solid fan base.

Two groups, the Spoons and Silverstein deserve special mention.  The Spoons were as good as they were 10 years ago.  Sandy Horne, the female lead, prowled around the stage in one of the most evocative performances I’ve seen.  Her movements were the equal of  Robert Stephen the ballet dancer.  And their music – well when they had everyone, including Ghomeshi, sitting on the piano bench, doing a sing along – you just knew they had taken everyone back to a time when the band was at its peak.

The Spoons, formed in Burlington in 1979 grew and went on to become one of those groups that shaped popular music in North America.  They were a delight to hear.

Silverstein – well they were different.  Man, did those guys ever have energy.  The backup guys on the guitars were close to violent with the way they poked at those strings and the lead male did great things with that microphone.

For both the Spoons and Silverstein, the emotions must have been something they savoured.  The Burlington they grew up in and struggled to get a foot hold in the music business is not the Burlington they performed in last night.  They must have wondered how the city got to the point where it actually had a Centre with a great stage and a sound system that still has a little work to be done on it – but one that was miles ahead of what they have had to work with.

For the performers it was a welcome home, for the audience it was also a welcome home – and for Gordie Tapp, who sang – it was good to be home.  And it was good!


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