Friday, August 3, 2012

How Hamilton's Robin Benedict Will Become Famous

Robin Benedict and Done Deel, from robinbenedict.ca
Mike Mansfield, Robin Benedict
Hey, is anyone out there getting married or throwing a party?

Perfect! I knew there were hundreds of you.

What are you going to do for music? Deejay? NO WAY! Not as long as Robin Benedict and Done Deel are up for hire. This group will turn your party on its head, spin it around a few times, elevate it to the next level of excitement and then blast it through the roof into the stratosphere. A powerhouse voice has met its match in a powerful backup band.

There is so much energy bound up in Robin Benedict and her band that, in a way it seemed like the Ferguson Station venue was too small to contain it. I felt that the band was holding back a bit, and was letting Benedict set the pace completely. In fact, she is the perfect front woman for this group. After five years together they have worked out a good groove. Today's gig with a sub drummer may have given cause for some hesitation.

Done Deel have got a diverse playlist, which can be seen on the band website. They can go in several directions, based on the venue and audience.

I saw Benedict and Done Deel at the Ferguson Station lunchtime concert, as part of the International Village BIA's Music in the City. Arriving about twenty minutes into the show, and an audience of about twenty-five adults and children had arrived. Benedict was out in the audience with her wireless mike, getting up close and personal, bring smiles as she went. By the time the show was over, I counted fifty onlookers. They were just getting into it.

Robin Benedict has all of the pieces that make up a true professional entertainer. Not content to stand and simply sing, she lets the song grab her, take her out into the audience, roam around with the wireless mic and pass out shakers to a willing kid. It's that step of "bringing it" to the audience that makes the difference. She has great control of her wide-ranging voice, and applied it fully to a variety of popular songs.

Indispensable to Benedict's successful show is the experience and talent of her Done Deel sidemen. Steve Hilbert on bass, Mike Mansfield on guitar and Jamie Cameron sitting in on drums for Zach Lepp were able to "genre generate" many styles including hard rock, metal, pop, ska - anything with a catchy melody or groove and popular appeal. The volume and sonic quality were there. As a cover band they were convincing in every aspect of their sound. To take it consistently to the next level, they should constantly match the intensity of body movement and eye contact that Benedict brings to the table. Each guitarist can become a mirror of Benedict's energy, by replacing the deadpan stance with more body animations, gestures, and facial expressions.

To be fair, lunchtime, outdoor concerts are a difficult venue for musicians. There isn't much feeling of intimacy or control, and the comfort zone of the darkened stage and the spotlights is gone. But I'm splitting hairs. The audience at Ferguson Station was totally into it, myself included! This band has got what it takes to entertain with the best.

For example, Robin Benedict and Done Deel's set list included:

Walking on Sunshine - Katrina and the Waves
Don't Stop Believin' - Journey
Home For A Rest - Spirit of the West (Great Big Sea)
Santeria - Sublime
Ob La Di Ob La Da - Beatles

Next week, Wednesday August 8, Robin Benedict and Done Deel play Gore Park.

The downtown lunch crowd won't know what hit it. 

Part Two of this article is here.


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