At first glance, Central Heights appeared to be empty. Many of the doors facing McCallum Rd. were locked and lightless. Then, after being let in at the Nikkel Hall entrance, I discovered roughly 200 people, the vast majority of them under 30, mingling and pursuing art as they waited for the performances to start at Central Heights’ second Spring Artists’ Café on May 29.
The two hours of performances mainly featured soloists, primarily playing acoustic guitar but some switching things up on the piano. Skill level ranged from talented novices to more experienced musicians. Only a few, nearly imperceptible signs pointed to the former — an off note here, a stilted moment there where the voices and instrumentals didn’t quite meet up — and the latter were tingle-inducing. In particular, Natasha Stobbe on the piano and an acoustic set by Scott Currie, a member of local band Oh Village, stood out as exceptional. Following Oh Village’s most recent release, Ocris, Currie is currently working on his own EP, which he aims to complete by June.
Each performer was introduced with two truths and one lie, with the audience having to guess the lie. This gave audience members a small glimpse of the musicians behind the music, and created a sense of familiarity and inclusiveness.
While onstage, performer Alexandra Pahl shared another artistic initiative she is currently working on as part of a program called Rewarding Wardrobes. The program receives clothing donations to be auctioned on Facebook in support of We Cultivate, a mentorship group for girls.
Recently Pahl created three unique dress designs to be auctioned through the program; she then got to expand into a line of nine outfits for a fashion show.
“I came up with designs for what I wanted [the clothes] to look like, then did a model call and gauged the amount of fabric based on [their measurements],” Pahl explained, adding that her designs were simple styles to fit various body types — that worked in her favour when a couple of models dropped out at the last minute and she needed to find replacements.
The experience twinned her interest in sewing with an ability to contribute to We Cultivate.
“Not a lot of people my age get the opportunity to design for a fashion show … and it’s amazing to see how I can give back to the community by sewing scraps of fabric together.”
Central Heights’ second artists’ café was well attended by an enthusiastic crowd — so enthusiastic that you won’t have to wait a full year to attend the next one; they plan to host another in the fall, with details to be posted to their Facebook page.