January 25, 2013 by Jay Minkin
Well, since we last visited Hey Mavis, Tootsie Parker and her husband Stevie McGillicutty had another baby, this time a boy to go along with their two daughters. They packed up their car and headed west with band mate Mavis Peachtree to perform at the world famous Telluride Bluegrass Festival in Colorado where they played their way into the finals of the band contest. But afterwards, Mavis Peachtree decided to go splitsville from Stevie and Tootsie with her upright bass and travel with her husband in a new band. Tootsie and Stevie had played on a record by their bearded mountain man friend awhile back, one thing led to another, and darn did he decide to join up with them. But they were still in dire straits needing someone to play Mavis Peachtree’s parts. To their amazing stroke of luck, they persuaded the one and only Professor of Double Bass who teaches at the local university to round out the ensemble. Now that you’re all up to speed, I’ll tell you about the biggest news to hit the county in days!
Hey Mavis will be celebrating their second record titled Honey Man on Saturday, February 2nd at the beautiful and rustic Happy Days Lodge in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. The band centers around the gorgeous voice and banjo playing of Laurie Michelle Caner and extraordinary fiddler husband Ed Caner. With the departure of Sarah Benn, whose harmonies and stand-up bass has found a home in her band Shivering Timbers, the Caners have added brilliant songwriting troubadour Brent Kirby who brings his acoustic guitar, harmonica, kick drum, and vocal harmonies to give the band a slightly new sound. Also coming onboard is Bryan Thomas to play bass.
Ed Caner is a full-time lecturer in the Department of Physics and the Director of the Science and Technology Entrepreneurship Program (STEP) at Case Western Reserve University. His credits as an author include Fiddling for Classical Stiffs and Fiddling for Classical Kids. Besides being a composer, Laurie is also home taking care of two daughters and the couple’s 20 month old son. Many readers will know Kirby as the leader of Brent Kirby and The Lost Fortunes along with their monthly transformation into the Gram Parsons inspired New Soft Shoe band. Kirby also hosts the 10×3 Songwriters Showcase at Brothers Wine Bar every Wednesday, is a member of local favorite The Jack Fords, and part of the holiday group Ohio City Singers. Thomas has been a regular bass player for Helen Welch along with the contra dance band Hu$hmoney with his lovely wife Tina Bergman. Thomas is revered as a faculty member at both the Hugh A. Glauser School of Music at Kent State University and the Cuyahoga Community College Metro Campus jazz program.
Although Laurie is credited for all the songwriting except for “Let The Water Do The Work” which was penned by Kirby, she felt many of them took on new life when the band started working on them together. “I wrote ‘Already Down’ about four years ago when I was in a real rough spot, but never felt great about how it sounded” explained Laurie. “I gave it to Brent and a couple of weeks later he brought it back to me and I was astonished at its amazing transformation. The song completely rocks now and Brent sings it with such soul, something the song was really lacking.”
The eleven tracks of Honey Man were once again produced by the great Don Dixon who also did the band’s first album Red Wine. The record is a compilation of songs that talk about love, relationships, heartbreak, severing ties, parenting, and perseverance. You’ll hear Ed’s “viola profunda” solos and fills throughout, but it’s Laurie’s voice that sets the table on the tempo of the stories behind the music. The title track is a sexy slow burner compared to the upbeat hoedown feel of “Red Hot”. A string arrangement accompanies “Song For Suitors” and a Celtic feel embraces “Why Must I”. Two songs that are worthy of radio play are the lovely “By Your Side” and the gritty Appalachian “Midnight Train”. Brent adds lead vocal tracks on the poetic “Let the Water Do the Work” as well as “Already Down” that has some crazy fiddle playing by Ed.
Tickets to the Season Premier of Hey Mavis at Happy Days Lodge are only $12.00 general admission with a dessert reception and CD autograph signing following the show. The concert is selling like hotcakes, so I recommend you call the Conservancy for Cuyahoga Valley National Park at (330) 657-2909 x100 for advance orders. Stay tuned-in to Stevie & Tootsie with their adventurous concert schedule and possible move from the big city to Pigeon Creek by visiting www.heymavis.com. Sign-up for the band’s mailing list so you don’t miss any episodes. It’s sure to be an awfully sweet season.