A torrential downpour on Wednesday, Dec. 13, didn’t stop music enthusiasts from gathering at The Ship Pub for another weekly instalment of Folk Night.
This particular Wednesday featured a headliner that was a departure from the norm, self-described by the band as “an unusual fit” for the long-running weekly event, presented by the Folk Arts Society.
Play Date is comprised of Joanna Barker, Kelly McMichael, and Sarah Harris, who are all recognizable names within the local music scene — movin’ and shakin’ women with a worthwhile axe to grind: the underrepresentation of women in music.
This was not the case Wednesday, as women made up the majority of people gracing the stage that night, during Play Date’s sets and throughout the open mic intermission. This will be a great tidbit of info for McMichael, Harris, and Barker to pass on to their students at Girls Rock NL.
Play Date was born out of the trio’s involvement with Girls Rock NL and Girls Rock Camp. They began playing together in April, as Angel’s Cove, an Angel Olsen cover band for a Girls Rock NL fundraiser.
It’s impressive that these three women are able to find time to create music together.
Barker is a solo musician, the founder of St. John’s Women in Music (SWIM), and is vocal about industry sexism, and treatment of indigenous peoples.
Harris plays in Property, Dame Nature, and Mary Dear, and works at Port Rexton Brewing and with the Victoria Park Lantern Festival. She is also semi-secretly a killer sax player.
McMichael is Renders, Kelly McMichael and The Gloss, and Thelma and Louise, all while working at Fred’s Records. Renders was recently featured in promo material for the St. John’s International Women’s Film Festival, with a track called “She’s Badass.”
That track title applies to all three women in Play Date.
Before launching into their set as a trio, each musician presented a solo number to the audience. As they switched in and out, they often switched instruments — acoustic for electric, guitar for bass, tambourine for keyboard, etc., showcasing their impressive musicianship.
After two rounds of original and cover material, McMichael, Harris, and Barker joined forces on the stage, becoming Play Date.
They started off with an Angel Olsen tune, as a salute to the American singer-songwriter who brought them together months ago. “Those Were The Days,” the trio crooned, as Barker strummed the electric guitar, Harris played bass, and McMichael was on keyboard.
For the next track, McMichael and Barker switched instruments for a cover of “Valerie,” as made famous by Amy Winehouse, followed by a Joni Mitchell track, and another Angel Olsen tune.
Next up was a Feist cover, prefaced by a noteworthy nugget of information from Harris: Feist was the only female artist on the cover of Exclaim! Magazine in 2017. This was met with a collective disappointed “ooh” from the gathered crowd.
After an intermission that featured Illia Nicoll, Darren Brown, John and Caroline Clarke, Maria Cherwick, and Finn Shea, Play Date resumed, playing a blend of covers and originals gleaned from each musician’s lengthy catalogue.
Though the rain poured outside, it was cozy and inviting in The Ship, with a warm and fuzzy feeling of girl power permeating through the cold.