Ray Bonneville’s musical style is said to have been heavily influenced by New Orleans.
In 2000, the singer songwriter won a Juno Award for his album Gust of Wind.
The songs Bonneville writes have been described equally as roots, blues, and folk and he has shared the stage with artists like J.J. Cale, Muddy Waters and B.B. King.
On Oct. 1, Bonneville will be performing at The Loft as a kick-off celebrating the new partnership between Black Fly Jam and the Algoma Conservatory of Music.
Bonneville is no stranger to patrons of Black Fly Jam.
The association has brought him to the community to perform a number of times over the years.
“Ray has played for us a few times in the past and we are so pleased he is available for our first event in The Loft,” says Robin MacIntyre, one of the key organizers of the Black Fly Jam association.
Black Fly Jam previously presented Bonneville to a packed house at The Tech theatre in May of 2018, and then at a more intimate house concert setting in 2019, right before the pandemic hit.
“The Tech show really stands out for me,” says MacIntyre.
“That concert was well supported by our patrons with close to 300 in attendance.”
This show will be Black Fly Jam’s first concert held at The Loft, one of the city’s most beautiful and acoustically sound performance spaces.
“We are very excited about this show. We have had lovely supportive venues in our past years but size, accessibility, function and congeniality rarely come together in the perfect presentation room as they do at The Loft,” says MacIntyre.
“Black Fly Jam knows the secret to creating a good show depends on a lot of factors. Most importantly, success depends on our patron's comfort, as well as setting the best stage possible for the performer to enjoy playing in their company.”
Black Fly Jam’s partnership with Algoma Conservatory of Music has been years in the making.
“To finally have this reality available to rent, a comfortable venue exclusively designed for music, just makes us all the more inspired to bring in great performances. I hope our audience really enjoys and supports it as well.”
Fans of Bonneville have described his performances as ‘mesmerizing.’
“He gets you listening to every word and nuance. It is a richly layered sound, and the lyrics tell a story each time that builds like a good short story should. He does it all with voice, foot, guitar and a bit of harmonica thrown in to underscore the songs.”
One of MacIntyre’s favourite reviews of Bonneville’s music described him as “true Americana, with an indigo twist."
Bonneville, true to the singer-songwriter tradition, is also a great storyteller both in his songs and outside.
“It is no surprise that Ray has started writing prose as well, and has published several narrative stories on his website to date,” says MacIntyre.
“His songs are lyric-driven and his characters are wholly recognizable as real people.”
A few months ago, Black Fly Jam launched a GoFundMe campaign to get the organization back on its feet after the impact of the COVID pandemic.
In a previous Sootoday story about Black Fly Jam, MacIntyre noted that when facing the pandemic, Black Fly Jam donated their reserve money to another local not-for-profit organization with similar values who were fundraising for infrastructure to support their local festival and teaching facility building.
“So to begin again, we need[ed] a small nest egg to guarantee artist fees for a first show, and the costs associated with rental and hospitality.”
Patrons and supporters of Black Fly Jam were elated by the announcement that the organization would restart its booking of concerts.
“We are so grateful to [those] who have already donated to our fundraiser and are buying advance tickets [to this show],” says MacIntyre.
“We’ve had many positive comments, lots of ‘shares’ between friends. We love all the good vibes. Our patrons' support means everything and it shows us there is still a social demand for the type of shows we love to bring to the Sault. Watching the performance space in The Loft take shape over these past two years has been so inspiring. We just knew it would be an amazing opportunity for Black Fly Jam.”
The Bonneville show will be opened by local singer-songwriter Trevor Tchir.
“Tchir is an adept guitarist with the sensibilities of an emotive storyteller,” says MacIntyre.
“His lyrically rich songs are complemented by a voice that one reviewer described as ‘smoke and velvet.’”
Tchir has five albums to his name, and outside of music, is a professor of Canadian politics and political philosophy at Algoma University.
“He recently received the Distinguished Faculty Award for his efforts in indigenizing and decolonizing the politics program at Algoma U,” says MacIntyre.
“This work, like his music, strives to build community and encourage cross-cultural learning by sharing perspectives and stories about how we live in our world.”
This will be Tchir’s first performance at a Black Fly Jam event.
“We are very excited to have these two great songwriters together at The Loft.”
Ray Bonneville, with special guest Trevor Tchir, will perform at Algoma Conservatory of Music’s The Loft on Saturday, Oct. 1. Doors open at 7 p.m. Show starts at 8 p.m.
Tickets are $30 and available online for advance purchase on the Algoma Conservatory of Music website or by calling (705) 649-2880 for other arrangements.
Capacity is limited and sales at the door are not guaranteed unless reserved. Seats can be arranged for those who need to sit apart from the theatre-style audience. Masks are not required but are welcomed.
Black Fly Jam, in partnership with Algoma Conservatory Concerts, is also presenting a double bill featuring Katherine Wheatley and Wendell Ferguson (aka Wendell and Wheat) on Saturday, Nov. 19. Find out more about Black Fly Jam and their future events on their Facebook page.