GAIA JAVA: John Hanson and Sally Robinson on June 24

The duo of John Hanson and Sally Robinson have not graced our stage before, but they come very well-recommended by people who know!

Sally’s background is in Classical music. She has a Bachelor of Music degree and works as a freelance musician.  She is as an accompanist with the Ottawa Children’s Choir and has a teaching studio in her home, where she gives piano lessons. As well, she leads singalongs at Retirement Homes and plays weddings and background music with other musicians.

In her 30s, she took up electric bass which led to the formation of the band, “The Toasted Westerns”, Ottawa’s favourite singing sandwich!  They were sometimes a duo and sometimes a five-piece, (“The Full Platter”).  Sally played keyboard, clarinet & accordion as well as electric bass with them.

She then became the keyboard player with “The Herb Girls”,(“Ottawa’s answer to The Spice Girls”).  More recently, she formed a jazz trio, where she sang and played keys with an acoustic bass and electric guitar.

In 2009, she made a CD of all original tunes, “The S Files”.The tunes range from sassy to seductive, sentimental to sincere.

John Hanson came from the UK to Canada around 1957 and learned to play piano at an early age. He found that he really embraced music  when he was given his first guitar at the age of 12. Largely self-taught, John developed a unique style of finger picking and it wasn’t long before he was writing original compositions.

Starting in 1968 John devoted himself to learning the repertoire of James Taylor (Sweet Baby James and Mud Slide Slim). To this day John remains a Taylor fan, and that influence is probably most notable in John’s rendition of the Stephen Foster composition, Oh! Susanna.

In the mid 1970s John struck up a musical partnership with fellow guitarist, composer and local music teacher, John Cooper. For the better part of a decade Hanson & Cooper, (often performing as Jive Johnny and the Ozone Ranger), built a large local following as the house band at an Oakville club called ‘the Riverside’. The repertoire was an eclectic mix of original ballads and often obscure, up-tempo cover tunes.

In 2007 (having moved to Ottawa to work for the federal government on sustainable communities) John decided that a serious recording of his music was long overdue. Pulling together his musical friends, he spent two years working with Fred Tomlinson and Sjef Frenken at Max Digital in Ottawa to produce It’s a Sin to Tell a Lie. As local jazz broadcaster Ron Sweetman says, the result is “refreshingly straightforward and unpretentious.” “It’s a Sin to Tell a Lie” is an eclectic collection of jazz standards, ballads and original compositions that immediately puts the listener at ease with beautiful melodies, rich harmonies, and outstanding performances by prominent Canadian musicians.

Sally Robinson and John Hanson have been playing together informally, on and off for the last couple of years.  They’re happy to finally launch their duo, so come along and check them out this Friday.

John Hanson and Sally Robinson play on Friday, June 24 at 7:00pm at Gaia Java on Stittsville Main Street.

-Paul Jay


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