Maple Syrup Love Songs

Bubbles floated dreamily onto the stage, glistening soft shades of blue and green and pink. The comforting scent of fresh pancakes and Canadian draft beer wafted around The Biltmore on Monday night, and three of the most charming, angelic male voices took over the microphone with grace, wit, and finesse. It was a night filled with dreamy loves songs, slow dances, bubbles, pancakes, and hugs. And what better way to celebrate Canada Day than watching and listening and dancing to the beautiful music of three very talented Canadian singer-songwriters? Victoria-bred, JP Maurice, Vancouver’s own budding artist, Dante Hadden, and Calgary’s finest, Michael Bernard Fitzgerald all performed this Canada Day and it was a truly magical and heartwarming show.

Dante Hadden was up first, all bones and limbs, and such a youthful face and appearance, you’d think he couldn’t possibly be the owner of a voice so pure and elegant and mature. He surprised us all. With vocals that glide from low to high and back with ease and feel like silk on your inner ear, his performance was soft, warm, and mellowing. He used a loop station to loop his guitar with layers of vocal harmonies and his own subtle, enchanting version of beat-boxing. He sang a song called “Be My Husband” prefacing that the song was normally sang by a woman, and that here, there would be a bit of a role reversal.

“I’ll be singing about a guy- but who really cares, right?”

Whether intentional or not, his song choice and statement were bold and delivered with such confidence that it immediately made the ambiance a little safer, and a lot more queer-friendly.

JP Maurice brought a different Canadian flavour to the stage. His vocals were a little deeper, a little edgier, and had a fuzzy little rasp. His music seemed to turn more corners; its edges were sharper, more accented. One of his most memorable songs performed was a song about one of his favourite pastimes: having sex with more than one person at a time.

“It’s a free country, right?” Maurice joked.

And everyone cheered.

photo by Heidi J. Loos

Still, Michael Bernard Fitzgerald wins the award for funniest song preface of the night. Before singing another of his beautifully crafted, heartwarming love songs, Fitzgerald told the crowd, “There is kind of a romantic story behind this one.” As we prepared ourselves to be wooed with chivalry – a story of flower petals and proposal, or kissing in the rain – Fitzgerald went on to tell us of a time when he was staying at his Uncle’s house, and his Uncle was going to take a bunch of stuff to the dump…

“Do you need me to help you?” Michael asked his Uncle.

“No,” his Uncle said, “You stay here and write a song.”

“This, is that song.”

It was quite unexpected and comical, and throughout the night, Fitzgerald told us many more silly and charming little anecdotes that had everyone in the crowd grinning ear to ear and laughing out loud. It was a very aesthetically pleasing performance to watch: Michael, his drummer, and his two backup singers were all matching in different shades of blue and denim, and Michael and one of the female backup singers had matching hipster haircuts, (amazing!).

In all seriousness though, Michael Bernard Fitzgerald and his band put on an incredibly beautiful and moving performance. And the smell of pancakes continued to waft from the far corner of The Biltmore where a booth of pancake makers flipped flap jacks, raising funds for Calgary flood victims. The three bubble-blowing girls near the front of the stage continued to blow bubbles of all sizes onto the dance floor and up to onto the performers until the very end of the show, doing their small part to maintain the dreamy surreal atmosphere that had been established early on in the night. Michael Bernard Fitzgerald and his band sang their hearts out, performing each piece with so much feeling, and passion, and life, and presenting each song to us like a gift. When their show finally came to a close, Michael Bernard Fitzgerald came out onto the dance floor with open arms, giving thanks and hugs to all.