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Jan. 29, 2022 | Saturday
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Swinging into lockdown with an impromptu performance before restrictions hit
Peter Shea and Juliet Dunn perform an impromptu set at Spirit in Niagara Tuesday night, the last before Ontario's three-week lockdown came into effect. (Evan Saunders)

At least some people got to swing into the latest provincial lockdown with their toes tapping and a belly full of strong spirits.

An intimate crowd gathered at Spirit in Niagara on Tuesday night for an impromptu musical performance by Niagara jazz giants Peter Shea and Juliet Dunn, the night before Ontario's new restrictions came into effect.

“We will definitely miss bringing you live music over the next three weeks,” the couple said in a last-minute message announcing the show.

Shea is a longtime drummer and piano player and Dunn has been singing for most of her life. The gig was extra sweet for Shea because he got to perform on his father's grand piano, Dunn said.

Shea’s father, now in a retirement home, was a criminal lawyer and excellent piano player, Dunn said.

And Spirit in Niagara on Lakeshore Road has become the new home of the family grand.

“I asked the owner, Arnie (Lepp), if I could convince Peter’s dad to have the piano live here. We would lock it up and just use it for events, if he would be OK with that,” Dunn said in between songs at the venue.

“And he said, ‘Absolutely.’ ”

Dunn says Spirit in Niagara is one of her new favourite spots in Niagara-on-the-Lake.

“We used to do shows in our studio but our studio is tiny so we can’t do them anymore because of COVID,” she said.

“So, I played the opening here in October and as soon as I walked in I went, ‘Oh, this would be a really great venue.' ”

Dunn said the large main hall at Spirit of Niagara is great for allowing social distancing, remarking during her first song that it was nice to play in a space where she could take her mask off while singing. 

The acoustics were pretty nice too, as Shea played piano and Dunn sang jazz standards and popular songs. They also performed a duet.

While she understands the importance of the lockdown, Dunn said she is frustrated with not being able to perform live for people.

“We’re going to do some live streaming but we are so sick of it. We’ve been doing it for two years – live streaming.”