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Review: Jay & Jo along with Brenner Holash play flawless holiday concert at Rock Trout (Nov.30/2023)

by Scott Roos

photos by Scott Roos/Scotty the Rooster Photography

This past Thursday, November 30th, the fine folks of Prince Albert were treated to an intimate performance from folksy duo Jay & Jo at the venerable Rock Trout Cafe. Accompanied by pianist/singer-songwriter Brenner Holash, the sister act made up of Janaya McCallum and Jolissa Trudel, played two sets of holiday cheer to a sold out, festive and moderately boisterous crowd. The evening, in part, was meant to serve as a bit of an album release showcase for the pair’s Ahatonhia Christmas album. Collectively, the show was titled "Folksongs at Christmastime".

Opening up the evening with “Christmas Must Be Tonight” , the classic song by The Band, the trio of musicians cycled through an uber chill series of songs featuring sparse instrumentation in order to allow the vocal harmonies breath a little more with the end product being awe inspiring. McCallum sang a version of Joni Mitchell’s “River” that would have made the writer herself proud. Not to be outshined by her sister, Trudel proved flawless in her rendition of original tune “Better Luck”. Holash’s distinctive high tenor warble was featured on “I Will Love You For Miles”, original song “Cigarette Ashes on the Yellow Brick Road” and emotional set closer “Auld Lang Syne” proving that vocally he is just as much a force to be reckoned with as the two ladies on this night. His bluesy, “dualing piano” style was also on full display during a rollicking rendition of “Go Tell It on the Mountain”. McCallum provided solid accompaniment on acoustic guitar throughout and even joined in on fiddle on a few songs too.

When it comes to performances of this ilk, it’s honestly hard to single out any one performance over the next. It was an enjoyable evening front to back and indeed a family affair. Colin Trudel, father to Jay & Jo, dutifully manned the soundboard whilst also watching the performance with a great deal of pride. Mom Janice worked the door. There was also a sneak peak of the up and coming Trudel Family Christmas concert with Janice joining her two daughters on stage for an encore rendition of Skaggs family classic “What Songs Were Sung”.

All in all, once again, the Rock Trout proved to be a vibey, chill venue that deserves continued support. Meanwhile, the annual Trudel Family Christmas concert is set to happen in Albertville at the St. James Parrish. There is no admission cost but donations will be taken with proceeds going towards the Rose Garden Hospice.

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