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Shari Ulrich's 'Trust Me' series set for Tir-na-nOg performance on Saturday

Jeanne Tolmie, Hilary Grist, and Shari Ulrich will be performing at Tir-na-nOg on Saturday, Sept. 24
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Jeanne Tolmie, Hilary Grist, and Shari Ulrich.

The past six months have been an unparalleled adventure in music. Not only was there a renewed depth of appreciation on the part of the artists, presenters and audiences that we were able to return to festivals and concerts, but there was an unexpected mix of different combinations of musicians I got to work with.

The Mavens (Lynn Miles & Susan Crowe), BTU (Bentall Taylor Ulrich), Rick Scott (Pied Pumkin), Daniel Lapp, Kirby Barber, and of course our wonderful Cindy Fairbank, but the biggest surprise came out of the biggest disappointment – the silver-lined glass of lemonade.  

After a two year ramp up to finally getting to tour with The Mavens, it all fell apart early on when Lynn had to return to Ottawa to look after her mother. I’d never cancelled a show before, and there were several that had to be, including the show on Bowen.

But the festivals were different as the schedules had long been set and publicized, and the organizers hoped I would not cancel but rather fill the spot with whatever I chose. The quandary suddenly turned into an opportunity!

I pondered who would my favourite maven-like women be to collaborate with and share a stage. And lo and behold, the two at the top of my list said yes! Hilary Grist and Jeanne Tolmie. Given Hilary has six year old twins and Jeanne is a full time social worker single parenting three teenagers, it was a miracle.

What I couldn’t fully anticipate, but of course hoped, was that the collaboration would be effortless, joyful, and exceptionally musical!  We were each amazed at how quickly we all fell into perfect three-part harmony, which is the sure sign of aligned musical intuition.

So after our triumphant sets at the Vancouver Island MusicFest we knew we couldn’t wait to repeat the experience. Well, of course that meant being a part of my own “Trust Me” series at Tir-na-nOg theater!  Yes, rather audacious of me to present myself as part of a show and say “Trust Me” – this will be good! But that’s what I’m doing!   

I should add, my connection with Jeanne and Hilary has a long history. I first had Jeanne at a Bluebird North songwriters’ concert series 20 years ago that I’ve been producing and hosting in Vancouver for the Songwriters Association of Canada for three decades.

I fell in love with her songs, her voice and her vivacious personality, and we connect whenever I am in Victoria. She has been the harmony singer on all of Tom Taylor’s albums and is one of the best I know. 

I’ve known Hilary almost as long and have always loved her piano playing, voice and writing.  As her profile on North Van Arts says: “Hilary Grist’s signature brand of firefly folk dipped in dreamy, art pop envelopes her dulcet, often delicate vocal delivery.

A diverse artist, her poignant and playful songs have been featured regularly on CBC Radio and heard on TV shows like: Grimm (NBC), Being Human (NBC), Arctic Air (CBC), Continuum (Showcase) and Degrassi (MuchMusic). Grist has toured Canada and abroad including the Busan International Rock Festival and Ulsan World Music Festival in Korea, The Edge of the World Festival in Haida Gwaii, Salmon Arm Roots and Blues Festival in BC, and The Cotton Club in Japan.

Her quirky creative flare with visual art and video has garnered admiration from fans across the globe.” So yes, I’m one of those admirers!

My respect for her took another leap when Bill Henderson and I were teaching a course at the VSO School of Music and brought her in for a day. What she shared with those students conveyed a profound and sophisticated musical education and perspective that opened my eyes to the depth of her knowledge and communication skills.  

I loved that both Jeanne and Hilary jumped in when I asked if they could save my ass at Music Fest but what surprised us all was that with literally just over two hours to prepare a mainstage show, we hit the ground like we’d playing the songs together for years. It was such a joy and I’m so happy to be able to repeat the experience this Saturday, Sept. 24 at 7:30 pm at Tir-na-nOg.

You can get tickets at Phoenix Books, and there may be some available at the door on Saturday night.