At Spade Cafe on Commercial Drive music fans hurriedly shuffle inside to get away from the cold and into the friendly, lively atmosphere of the cafe. The place is filled with eager fans, awaiting the night’s first act.
The show has been put together by Root Dwellers, a local organization that puts on monthly music and interview showcases featuring Vancouver artists. Tonight’s show is particularly special, as it’s Amy Blake’s CD release show for her debut disc All That You’ve Known.
The opening act is Caroline Allatt. She takes the stage alone with a Fender Telecaster strapped on, standing confidently in black boots, a black leather vest, and a black hat. She plays a lively blues set, stomping her feet on the floor and strumming the guitar intensely. Her voice is wildly expressive. During the song “I Hurt Myself” she playfully mouths the second guitar part, drawing a laugh from the crowd. The song ends with the lyrics, “I miss you, Oliver,” which draws a collective ‘aw’ from the audience. She then jokes, “Oops. I wasn’t supposed to say his name;” everyone has a good laugh.
The next act, Mark Adams, takes the stage accompanied by a pianist and a backup vocalist. The trio play a lively set of upbeat folk rock songs. It’s the kind of feel-good music that gets the crowd clapping their hands along to the beat. They play a great song about being an Assistant Editor in the film industry. It’s a very humorous song that draws loud laughter from the audience at numerous moments.
When the final act takes the stage, the host of the night, Nicola Kill, also takes the stage to interview Amy Blake. We learn about her Irish background and about the challenges of moving to Vancouver and breaking into the local music scene. When the interview portion is done Amy takes the stage accompanied by a pianist and another guitarist. She’s wearing a eye-catching sparkling jumper that she explains was the same outfit she wore in the music video for “Tread Lightly,” which will be released on YouTube at midnight.
For the second song she performs the titular track of the EP “All That You’ve Known.” She puts her guitar down for this one and just sings. Her voice is absolutely enchanting. Behind her is the backdrop of the Commercial Drive sidewalk, pedestrians rushing through the cold, their hands stuffed deep in their pockets. But each of them stops momentarily despite the chill to peak inside and see what all the ruckus is about. Meanwhile inside, everyone in mesmerized by the soft lilt of Blake’s voice.
When the song ends the Root Dwellers organizer, Claire Baker, walks onto the stage with a brownie adorned with lit candles. The audience starts to sing Happy Birthday, as they learn that it was recently Blake’s birthday, making this show a little extra special.
After blowing out her candles, she begins her last song, “The Well.”
The night ends with many thanks: to the artists, to the Cafe staff and owners, to the Root Dwellers team. “The bar is still open,” the host announces. The crowd, totally quiet and attentive until now, becomes a hive of activity, as some shuffle outside to head home and some get in line for a glass of wine.