I came out to hear a singer billed as a mix of blues, roots and country music. I must admit, as I looked around the cool funky blues venue, Red Onion in Calgary Alberta Canada, that my attention was starting to wander by the end of the second song. Roxanne Potvin's opening number "Home In Your Heart" at its best possessed a slashing riff. The second song was a good honky tonk tune, but not what I came to listen to.
Then then passionate vocals like you seldom hear from a twenty-five year old singer filled the candlelit room. Clad in a tight black vintage gown and with a white Fender guitar strapped to her Potvin now owned the stage. She effortlessly cooed, "Give me a love that's simple/ Don't want to make it so hard/Still I break down when everything's fine/Must be something wrong with this love of mine/" The song is the number one track from her CD The Way It Feels, and judging by the audience's response, with Potvin singing, it feels mighty good!
One moment Potvin proves her prowess as a gritty blues guitarist and the next the petite brunette oozes sensual vocals. I was trying to think of what other female artists have proven equally excellent as singers and guitarists. I came up with three (no doubt there are more) Bonnie Raitt, Sheryl Crow and Tracy Chapman. It won't be long before Potvin joins that select group. She coaxes mournful notes from her Fender and acoustic guitars one moment and uses the instruments to cajole and tease you with the next song.
The singer took total command of the stage with the smoking tune "While I Wait For You". With that 'come a little bit closer young man' voice Potvin melted more than one man's heart in the audience on this night. Her sultry vocals are reminiscent of Holly Cole at her best. At this juncture we also need to compliment the outstanding work of Chris Bozezicki as he plucked the strings of his upright bass. He added much needed depth and texture to an otherwise average backup ensemble.
Other highlights of the evening included the smoking riffs Potvin laid down for the song "Hittin' On Nothing" Her first set closed with the saucy "I Want To Do." I swear I saw the image of Clifford Antone come to life from the various posters adorning the walls. If the late owner of the legendary blues establishment in Austin, Texas wasn't brought back to life, certainly the men in the audience were as they listened to this attractive francophone tease them with, "I want to hold you in my arms until you say turn me loose/I want to do little things for you until you say it ain't no use/I want to wake you every morning with a wakeup kiss/I want to kiss you to sleep the same way because I know you like this/"
Canada has watched as its Divas have taken center stage on the international music scene in Jazz (Diana Krall, Holly Cole), country (Shania Twain, Michelle Wright), pop Celine Dion and rock with Alanis Morissette. Canada is on the verge of announcing her blues Diva, Roxanne Potvin. Go out and see her now while you can afford to because the days for inexpensive tickets will soon pass you by.