Samantha Garvey, Roving Editor Ω
Mainstream music was demoted to boring for anyone lucky enough to catch the classical training of Lizzy Hoyt, who captured the vibrancy of indie-pop, but exceeded it with her depth and diversity.
Dynamic, talented, charming, and charismatic are just a few of the words to describe the total experience received by fans at the afternoon show on Thursday, Sept. 20, at the Alumni Theatre.
For more than an hour, Hoyt hooked fans, body and soul, through the forceful performance of violin, guitar, harp, singing and tap dancing.
Her performance at the TRU Alumni Theatre was made possible by the Live at TRU! event series.
“It’s a wonderful opportunity for people to go and see and hear things they wouldn’t otherwise touch,” said Susie Safford, the event’s planner and TRU’s associate vice-president of student affairs. She added that the cultural event series has been running for approximately 40 years.
“It’s an intimate setting where you can talk to the practitioner,” she said.
Thompson Rivers University supported the event with funding as did the Faculty Association. The culinary arts department was responsible for snacks outside the Alumni Theatre where patrons had the opportunity to meet Hoyt and buy CDs.
“It’s great to have these events this fabulous ticket price,” Safford said.
The concert series has always been free.
Before mesmerizing crowds across Canada, Hoyt had professional musicians as parents and as a result began violin lessons at age four. She said she was dismayed to discover that upon first picking up the violin she did not have the skills of the professionals that were frequently practising in her home.
She admitted to mild teenage rebellion, temporarily resisting music, but in the end, “fiddling got me through,” she said.
After two finalist finishes and one nomination (USA Songwriting competition Finalist, John Lennon Songwriting Competition Finalist, Canadian Folk Music Award Nominee), she took top prize in 2012, winning Best Female Artist at the International Acoustic Music Awards.
All the while Hoyt’s career has been bubbling upwards, she also earned a degree in sociology at the University of Alberta, graduating in 2009 with distinction. Since then, she has worked full-time as a musician.
As the inaugural performer of Live at TRU!, Hoyt set the local audience’s expectations high.
The tunes began and with it a toe-tapping rhythm was laid down by Hoyt accompanied by guitarist and mandolinist, Chris Tabbert. The encouraged crowd erupted into timed clapping.
Throughout the upbeat tracks and traditional sets, Hoyt’s feet were never stagnant.
“I think we have an awesome crowd on our hands,” she declared to Tabbert after the first song.
She identified the types of songs she plays as either traditional, covers or originals. But the members of the crowd saw before their eyes immense diversity and from one song to the next, it could have been a different person performing to their delight.
Through the second song, “Star of County Down,” Hoyt easily transitioned from high-pitched, fast vocals, to even faster riffs on her violin. In fact it was a borrowed violin, she explained to the crowd, as her own had suffered some damage during a flight and she reached out frantically to a musical network in Calgary for a spare.
Each song ended with a bright smile from Hoyt, where she made it obvious her joy of performing.
Her third song of the afternoon was the first original, “Picture on my Heart,” and like many of her own crafted songs, was inspired by her home in Alberta.
“One of my favourite things about going away, is coming home,” Hoyt said.
She followed that with “Home,” the title track off her latest album, which fans bought eagerly after the performance. It was here she switched to guitar, while Tabbert showed seasoned talent, picking up the mandolin.
Although the fifth song was popular to the crowd of over 130 people — a cover of the Rankin Family, “North Country” — it was song number six that captured any stragglers that weren’t already infatuated with the girl-next-door charm and talent flourishing before them.
“Jolene,” a Dolly Parton original was stamped with unique passion and intensity. The song was “Celti-fied” according to Hoyt, adding another element of urgency and panic.
The playful jostling between Hoyt and Tabbert was ever-present and natural. Hoyt entertained the crowd throughout with her dynamic proficiencies, but also with her easy-going humour and natural rapport.
Comparing the crowd to others across the country, Hoyt explained her shows in Nova Scotia were responded to with the most ‘yips’ and hollers and she encouraged the Kamloops music-lovers to engage in the show however they saw fit.
But the audience went silent in captivation when she sung in French, deeper, and strummed the gorgeous harp that had been teasing the crowd with anticipation since the show’s opening.
To truly establish herself as an overachiever, she tap-danced to close out the show, including the last song, another set of traditionals, wielding the violin in between stomping segments with masterful ease.
Hoyt is the first of six Live at TRU! performers this season. The next is Oct. 18 with Canadian bluesman J.W. Jones in the Alumni Theatre.
“J-Dub is gonna heat up this stage like you wouldn’t believe,” Safford said.