The North Coast Repertory Theatre was undeniably the place to be last night, for the « Four Songs, Four Musicians Evening », produced by Bionic Sisters Productions in collaboration with NCRT. The evening was held in support of the Arts for Healing Program at Sharp McDonald Center, which treats addiction and alcoholism, a family disease. This special program was described by Liz MacKenzie who welcomed questions at a display about the Center and program after the show. Each performance was introduced by co-emcees BSP President Bridget Brigitte and Theatre Producer Tracy McDowell.
Far from contenting themselves with playing for a very enthusiastic public, the four performing artists played their pieces energetically and swamped the cozy space of the Solana Beach theater with sensitivity and emotion.
Beginning with a precise soundcheck, the tone was set: Studio West’s team from the TRAC Recording Arts Center was on site under the direction of Mark Kirchner for the occasion and offered sound mixing worthy of the biggest concerts. The special intimate acoustics of the room brought out the best sounds of the instruments including a baby grand piano, various guitars, and an ancient Chinese Gu Zheng; the atmosphere captivated the audience. Professionalism prevailed, and the rehearsals for each musician occurred without a hitch.
It was 7:30 pm when the theater opened its doors, and the public was on time. The evening began with Mira Parfitt, an acoustic songstress who mixes folk and pop. She brought us into her acoustic universe with a lively beat and very personal lyrics. The natural shyness of the young artist strengthened the charm of her songs, and last night she easily won over the public’s heart.
Then Jing Jing Evans took over to bring us on a musical trip abroad as part of the sensory experience of listening to music. This Gu Zheng player, also a world champion martial arts instructor and Women’s International Center Living Legacy, introduced an original musical style on a traditional instrument. It was easy to imagine traveling around Asia to remote lands as we were lulled by the notes of each romantic song. Without a doubt, this performance will make people want to discover more of this special style of music.
The following duo brought a rare feeling to the evening. Marshall Hattersley on guitar, accompanied by his father Mark at the piano, delivered a performance that was so touching that members of the audience were in tears, owing to his special mild voice and sensitive songs. Marshall’s mother Barby joined them for the duo’s closing song, which proves that music made in and by a family brings a very rare and moving quality to songwriting.
For the final performance of the evening, the acoustic songstress Christine Parker revealed her rare talents. After the first song, it was impossible to resist her catchy lyrics and very “Californian” guitar sound. The song « Take Me Home, Country Roads » by John Denver was sung in unison by the audience and left no doubt about her singular talent. She played an encore song that thrilled the audience.
The evening ended with a reception where people could indulge in delicious brownies and 7 layer bars made by health and sustainability conscious Jimbo’s. Since the show happened just two days before Thanksgiving, audience members generously brought donations for a food drive in support of the San Diego Food Bank.
This concert at North Coast Repertory Theatre won everyone’s heart, with the quality of its programming and a warm welcome from the whole BSP and NCRT teams. Most likely one of the best acoustic musical events of the year, hopefully there will be many more to come!
– Matthieu Saint-Wril, Sciences Po Aix-en-Provence