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Review: NXEW showcase with The Mountains & The Trees [Videos]

The Mountains & The Trees "I Made This For You" (new album).
The Mountains & The Trees "I Made This For You" (new album).
album cover (press)

Arriving on time for any musical performance is a challenge for myself, but on this night it was quite easy with the anticipation of seeing St. John's/Cornerbrook's The Mountains & The Trees. Essentially this band is the singing and songwriting of lead vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Jon Janes, who always brings his banjo in tow. He is quite ably backed up by Jillian Freeman, a vocalist & guitarist among many other instruments. They form the backbone of what's known as The Mountains & The Trees, with at times as many as 8 band members playing at once.

For this show I was told (by Jon) that only Jill and he were to be playing (he read my earlier NXEW article!). Kidding aside, we have maintained contact since that fateful day of our interview at CMW, and have promised him ever since, to finish editing the 25 minutes of video. In the interim, The Mountain & The Trees have been quite busy! They have toured the U.K. and Jon blogged about his adventures (click on here -> U.K. Tour). As well, they have finally completed their full length album (LP) titled "I Made This For You" that is to be released nationwide on August 10th, 2010.

So after all this anticipation, The Mountain & The Trees (TM&TTs) finally performed at the Gladstone Hotel on Thursday June 17th, 2010. As a special thank you to fans at the show, early release copies of "I Made This For You" were available to purchase (I got mine!). Unfortunately, it's a little early to discuss his new album, but I will tell you all about their show. Luckily for you, I captured most of their songs from the set on my HD handycam, however, video is still not the same, as the real thing.

First of all, the atmosphere was very positive, as The Mountains & The Trees followed a wonderful set by "Volcanoless in Canada". With quiet self assurance, Jon and Jill strode to the stage to give us a taste of folk/country/roots/progressive music, with poignant & memorable lyrics.

Jon and Jill managed to breeze through an hour long set that included: Goodbye Little Town, Hospital View, "More, More, More", I'll Pick You Up, Travellin', Up & Down, and a Janes family traditional lyric song (unreleased).

It's impossible to go over everything, but a few key points stay with me. The music of TM&TTs paints a story or audio picture, an image of a simpler time, it takes you away from the busyness of the day. Their music is soothing, relaxing, and gentle on the nerves (isn't that folk music?). The music makes your foot tap, your body sway, and turn to your neighbour for a chat. The force of their "nature-like" music brought a home-style country feel vs. the typical Torontonian hardness.

As a keen observer, throughout the set I noticed that the audience were chatting with the company they brought (as well heading to the bar moreso than other acts). This is a music performance you can enjoy to watch, listen to, and share with the company you brought.

The one thing that surprised me a bit, was that Jon was quite the storyteller. To preface each song, Jon would tell a story that would share his inspiration, tales from the road, or just to tell a good joke.

Highlights of the night include their performance of Travellin'. Watching Jon & Jill play banjo's and guitars at full speed with the whole crowd handclapping and foot stomping was quite a treat. "Hospital View" was a treat to hear it live and see the lyrics come alive. I personally enjoyed "I'll Pick You Up" as it was sung with such deep meaning. Closing his set with "Up & Down" was exciting to watch his looping of guitars and layering extra guitar parts live!

Near the end of the set, Jon went unplugged into the audience, to play "us" a song. It was a family traditional song (that I don't remember the name). At this point, everyone spontaneously surrounded Jon and I was unable to see much less film anything (sorry Jon - we chatted about this afterwards). It was a priceless gem and it's songs like those, that make the crowd feel closer to the music and each other.

Thank you Jon and Jill for a great performance! I have the new album and am listening away to it, as I write this article. Hopefully The Mountain & The Trees will make your way back to Toronto for another performance when the album is released nationwide!

The Mountains & The Trees tour schedule:
The Mountains & The Trees - NXEW showcase @ Gladstone Hotel (Thurs. June 17th, 2010)

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