Coffee, Country and the Blues

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Submitted by Pat Blythe
Photo Credits: Pat Blythe

It was Super Bowl Sunday and the hype hadn't seemed to penetrate those of us heading to Taste of Colombia for an evening of music. As a matter of fact, I didn't even know "the game" was on until somebody wondered out loud what the score was. The half-time show apparently bombed....big time. The sound a word....sucked.

In my humble opinion, nothing compared to what was happening at Taste this fine Sunday night. Sam Taylor, a new blues sensation, and singer/songwriter Don Graham (the country part) were about to give us a "taste" of what music is really supposed to feel like. The event was organized and hosted by the ever gracious Michael Williams, he of rapier wit, lover of music and master of the java bean.

Lisa Hartt, Sam Taylor and Don GrahamLisa Hartt, Sam Taylor and Don GrahamTaste of Colombia began as an on-line business in 2008.  Founder and head barista Yury Wu's goal was to assist vulnerable Colombian communities export their products into Canada. Wu's business has expanded into a warm and inviting haven for coffee and music lovers alike. According to Wu, "Taste of Colombia is a place where I can put all my passions together: Colombia, coffee, music, social justice, equality, all things organic and fair trade." In 2014, Taste added the space next door and opened El Salon to community social events, dance and exercise classes, and Live Music with Michael Williams. So, bundling  Sam Taylor, Don Graham and Sandy Graham (yes, they're brother and sister) and guitars into our mode of transportation, we headed due west to Oakville and the night's gig. Road trip!!!!

What a fantastic night! All seats were occupied and everyone enjoyed themselves immensely. It's magic when the performer connects with the audience and both Taylor and Graham accomplish this with aplomb. El Salon provides an intimate and casual setting, allowing everyone to relax and let the music flow. It's truly up close and personal, an experience not to be missed.

The acoustic evening was opened by Taylor, who refers to his music as "soul rock", combining his deep passion for the Blues with an edgier sound, stopping just short of full-blown rock riffs, with a whole lotta soul. You can hear it in his voice and feel it in his music. Sharing tales of his trip to Nashville and his "almost" gig to open for BB King, of growing up in St. Thomas, Ontario (yep, he wrote a song about that too) and his rapidly changing life over the past six weeks with the release of his first two singles.

Singer/songwriter Don Graham then took the floor and added a touch of country to the evening's event. A veteran of the music business for over 40 years, his songs are stories of life and "the road", each one accompanied by amusing anecdotes that had some of us snorting into our coffee.

Before you knew it, the night was over with the lovely and talented Lisa Hartt joining Sam Taylor and Don Graham behind the mike for one final song, The Beatles’ "I Saw Her Standing There". A shout out to sound technician Paul Chin. The room, unlike the Super Bowl stadium, was "tuned" perfectly.

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Having a laugh (and they won't stand still) -- L-R - Don Graham, Michael Williams and Sam Taylor

It was a beautiful evening. Great music, excellent coffee and those brownies....they need to be licensed. Truly orgasmic!!!!

All photos by Pat Blythe, A Girl With A Camera "The Picture Taker", copyright 2016