By Alex Kruse

Kim Churchill is the one-man wonder from down under. The Australian native put on an energetic set at Crocks on November 9 and, even though he performs solo, his presence filled the whole venue. Not only is Churchill a masterful guitar player and singer, he also plays the drums, harmonica, and chimes all on his own—it’s hard to comprehend until you see it in person. Despite being a busy performer, he seems to genuinely enjoy every moment. In between a mix of tunes new and old, Churchill interacted with the audience and was particularly happy to be in Thunder Bay—he mentioned the Live from the Rock Folk Festival held in neighbouring Red Rock and his hopes to return.

Support came from Nova Scotian Mo Kenney, who put on a great 45-minute set to start to the show. Kenney’s voice is unbelievably strong – she opens her mouth and it appears to flow out effortlessly. Her two albums were produced by East Coast legend Joel Plaskett (who will be in Thunder Bay on April 11) and this influence is clear on a couple tracks, particularly “Déjà vu,” which I’ve had on repeat since the show.

The standout performance of the nigh was Churchill’s tribute to his late grandfather, “Smile As He Goes Home.” Before launching into the song, he told the audience the story about how he was surprised by the sombreness of his grandfather’s funeral considering what a lively man he was. As a result, Churchill decided to pen “Smile,” which he considers to be a more accurate reflection of his grandfather’s existence. The lyrics and sentiment behind the song are as sweet and thoughtful as it is upbeat and fun, making it a crowd-pleaser.