When I started this blog I promised to show you more than just beautiful pictures along the Umpqua River and Oregon Coast, but to also give information about the various activities and events available. These would include fishing, dune riding, crabbing, boating, hikin and more. In addition there are a variety of music and dance venues up and down the Oregon Coast including folk dancing, contra dancing, old time fiddling, jam sessions, orchestras, chamber ensembles, plays, musicals and top quality professional entertainment.
One of the many hats I wear is as a review writer for Seacoast Entertainment Association’s concerts presented monthly at the Florence Events Center in Florence, Oregon. As a means of letting you know some of what goes on in Oregon’s Coastal towns, I will be posting my reviews here on the blog. It will give you a good idea of what is available for you to do when you visit or live here. The most recent review follows:
A NIGHT ON THE ROAD TO CARNEGIE HALL AT FEC
The sounds of upbeat music from piano and double bass rang out as Ken Lavigne walked out clapping his hands and encouraged his audience to join him Saturday, November 21, 2015, on stage at the Florence Events Center.
Dressed in concert black, Lavigne sang full out one of Luciano Pavarotti’s favorite songs, the Neapolitan tune “Funiculi, Funicula” written in 1880 by Luigi Denza and Peppino Turco. It is risky to perform works favored by famous and well-loved singers. But Lavigne has a powerful voice and amazing timbre and carried it off well. The audience continued to clap along at the appropriate times and the piece ended to resounding applause.
Lavigne had a good start to an evening of songs of mixed ethnicity and genre. Between selections, Lavigne took the audience along on his Road To Carnegie Hall with tales of his dream to get there, his struggles at times with the dream and the many on his team that assisted with his eventual performance on stage there.
And tales they were. Lavigne is an accomplished and multi-talented performer who has honed his many talents to near perfection. He is as intriguing as a storyteller as he is as a classically trained singer. His true-to-life stories were compelling and his fun sense of humor often peppered them with spontaneous laughter from his audience.
One audience member said she would have opted for more singing and less talking. After hearing Lavigne talk about his personal singing dream, another attendee was challenged to question if she had any dreams and discovered that she did. No doubt Lavigne’s story-telling talents became thought-provoking throughout the hall as he sang Mitch Leigh and Joe Darion’s 1965 hit from “Man of La Mancha” – “The Impossible Dream” – beautifully.
Early in the program Lavigne again took a big risk singing Maruo Malavasi and Andrea Sandr’s “Dell’amore non si sa” which was made famous by Andre Bocelli. Lavigne had a bit of trouble reaching some of the high notes in this one. It may have been that his voice wasn’t warmed up enough because the rest of the evening he nailed all of the many high notes that were to come.
One outstanding period in the evening was when Lavigne spoke of his discovery of Robert Goulet as a Broadway singer in “Camelot.” Lavigne performed Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe’s “C’est Moi” as well as anyone has. But it was his surprising musical theater presence and animation that caused him to delightfully shine during this song.
Any singer is only as good as his backup band and Casey Ryder on both double bass and guitar and Patrick Courtin on keyboard were barely noticeable. They were that good. Attention is focused on the solo performer and except for a couple of mini-solos along the way, the two instrumentalists played so well that they didn’t stand out. That’s a good thing. Singers do not always perform a piece exactly the same way every time and musicians must be attuned to every nuance, pause, breath, entrance and possible hiccup a singer may make. And they must do it perfectly. Courtin and Ryder did just that.
Lavigne was admittedly inspired to classical training by Luciano Pavarotti who Lavigne believes is the greatest male opera voice of all time. Pavarotti ended every concert singing the 1898 Neapolitan song “O sole mio” written by Giovanni Capurro and Eduardo di Capua. Lavigne took another risk singing this one but was totally up to the task and received a standing ovation for his efforts.
There were some wonderful Elvis Presley interpretations, some actual 1940s style crooning and more but space runs out to report on it. Lavigne, Ryder and Courtin were impressed with Florence and very much wish to return. When they do, be sure not to miss them.
Ken Lavigne was one of Seacoast Entertainment Association’s 2015-2016 series concerts. Don’t miss SEA’s next exciting concert with award-winning guitarist Jesse Cook, on Friday, January 29, 2016. Join SEA for the pre-concert talk at 6:15 PM and the performance at 7:00 PM. For tickets phone the FEC box office @ 541-997-1994.
Left to Right: Pianist Patrick Courtin, SEA Producer Sandy Kuhlman, Ken Lavigne, SEA Producer Karen Smales, Double Bass and Guitar, Casey Ryder