Clamshell Quintet brings middle ground to council

Published in the Humber Et Cetera on Nov. 19, 2012 and online Dec. 5, 2012.

Watch the band performing Proud Mary.

In a crowded and low-lit Irish Pub in Scarborough, the words of Mayor Rob Ford kicked off the debut show of the Clamshell Quintet.

“Okay folks, let’s get down to some good ol’ rock ‘n’ roll!” Ford said to kick-off the performance.

Councillor Maria Augimeri’s deep Peggy Lee-esque voice commanded the entire Tara Inn for the first song of the night, the band’s rendition of “Fever.”

A quintet of a different kind

The Clamshell Quintet is made up of seven city council members and friends with a diverse political perspectives and opinions.

Ford introduced each member individually with his children, Stephanie, 7, and Doug, 5, at his side to open the show.

Members include councillors Maria Augimeri and Paula Fletcher on vocals; Tom Beyer, Mayor Ford’s special assistant on keyboard; Councillor Gary Crawford on drums; Councilor Mike Layton on guitar and local activist Dave Meslin on bass.

Crawford’s son Jesse Visser also played guitar with the band.

Councillor Crawford, Ward 36 Scarborough Southwest, was introduced by Mayor Ford as “the new kid on the block.”

Crawford was first elected in 2010.

Courtesy James Sheppard

Courtesy James Sheppard

Founded by the middle-men

Meslin and Beyer founded the band in February 2012.

“Tom and I were talking about politics and thought it would be fun to put together a band,” Meslin said. “We didn’t know if anyone played any instruments so I sent out an e-mail asking if anyone did and we got a whole bunch of responses, had some practices and here we are.”

Meslin said the name came because he is a fan of alliteration. He said if half of council thinks there is a deficit and half thinks there is a surplus, a quintet should be able to have seven people. He also said they try to stick to songs that keep a city feel.

The band raised $10,000 for Variety Village

The set was part of a fundraiser for Variety Village, a charity group that works with people with disabilities, which was flooded last summer.

After the set, Councillor Paula Fletcher said the band gets along great and had a blast at their first show.

“We really work well together as a band,” Fletcher said. “Music really brings people together, whether it be for a cause or at city hall.”

Councillor Gary Crawford said that Meslin wanted to put together a non-Partisan group to get together and enjoy music.

“We just get together and have fun,” Crawford said. “Outside of the regular stuff that happens at City Hall, this lets us get together and have fun and enjoy each others company.”

Ford and Berardinetti wanted more, more, more

The band’s first show came after only four practices and included a set of well-known rock hits.

Fletcher preformed “Proud Mary,” and ended the set with a crowd-pleasing “Twist and Shout” that got Councillor Michelle Berardinetti up and out of her seat showing off her twist while Mayor Ford called for an encore.

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