There are circumstances that unquestionably reinforce your opinion of people. This undoubtedly was one of those situations. A little context, AHI, though originally from Ontario, now joins a formidable list as one of Toronto’s prized musical exports. The singer-songwriter has been nominated for a Juno in the Contemporary Roots Album of the year category. Previously, he has won well deserved awards from the Canadian Songwriting Competition as well as the Stingray Rising Star Award at the Folk Music Ontario conference. The man is an incredible, gifted talent. Yet there were only about a dozen of us seated at the Blue Door on a Wednesday night to see him share those talents with us. A damn embarrassing reception to say the least.
AHI last visited the Blue Door in the Spring of last year, joining Patty Griffin as she began a series of dates for her tour. The show that night was sold out, a standing room only affair, that saw a fan tucked into any available corner or space. I was blown away by AHI’s mesmerizing set of songs as well as his engaging, confidence filled personality and demeanor that warmed the room. The audience loved him and I did too. I simply couldn’t wait to see him return for a full set of his own. Blue Door owner Greg Johnson undoubtedly felt the same. The Blue Door has scaled back some of it’s week night shows as Johnson battles some health concerns, yet Johnson made a point of booking AHI for a now rare Wednesday night performance. Whatever the reason, few showed up. It was certainly their loss. This was a beautiful night of music and circumstances that made the best listening room in Oklahoma all the more intimate and the songs more special.
I’m sure there was at least a moment of some disappointment weighing on his mind as AHI took the stage with his band of Shawn Killaly on drums and new addition, Jordan Peters on guitar. If there was, he pushed it aside and focused on those of us that were there to listen. Over the next hour and 45 minutes or so, AHI and his talented band shared songs, stories and humor with us, surrounding the room with their positivity and affirmations. “Closer (From a Distance),” “The Architect’s Hand,” “Ol’ Sweet Day” and the contagious “Goldenous,” a song that always creates a smile. AHI also treated us to a pair of new songs, “The Promise Land” and “Lift Me Again” as well as a stunning cover of Sam Cooke’s “A Change Is Gonna Come.” Though some of the circumstances may not have been ideal, AHI, Shawn and Jordan refused to allow that to be the focus. Instead, they lifted the room with songs, and perhaps their own spirits as well. Witnessing AHI’s approach and how he in particular handled the situation simply endeared him to those of us present even more. AHI is the type of troubadour you really want to succeed and hope the world for.. AHI continues a headlining tour while also supporting Lauren Daigle on the ‘Look Up Child’ tour. Find all the information here: https://ahimusic.com/
Originally billed as an evening with AHI, I was surprised and extremely happy when local songwriter Chloe-Beth was added to the evening’s festivities. The young songwriting talent grew up in Enid, OK and now lives in the OKC metro area. Vocally, she’s a powerhouse, and infinitely compelling. Chloe-Beth is one of several incredibly talented women songwriters in Oklahoma that have become a force to be reckoned with on the songwriting scene. Rightly so, these Oklahoma ladies have the advantage right now, and it’s only a matter of time before their names are common place on pages such as this. A testament to this is that earlier this year Chloe-Beth won the People’s Choice award at the second annual Jimmy LaFave Songwriting Contest. No easy feat with the talents she found herself competing with. While her set tonight was a short one, she used it masterfully. The occasional smiles that graced her face as she performed seemed indicative that she is having the time of her life doing what she loves. That confidence and energy fit in perfectly with the rest of the evening. I’m now definitely looking forward to catching another opportunity to see her share her songs and get to know her and her songs better. In fact, I really regret not having done so already. She and her songs are just that impressive. Chloe-Beth has a debut album “Remnant” available, and I highly recommend checking it out. Find out more information here: https://www.chloebethmusic.com/