Wednesday, June 25, 2008

It's Always Something...Else
Gilda's Club Fundraiser
The Drake Hotel
Toronto ON

On behalf of Gilda's Club, the Toronto chapter. This is an organization, spread throughout North America, that provides assistance to those living with cancer, in honour of Gilda Radner.

With a cast of millions!

Just happened upon this event while stalking new favourite artist, Buck 65.
A Tuesday night show in Park(ing hell)dale wasn't enough to keep us away.
The added cost of dinner to ensure a place wasn't enough to keep us away.
15 other acts, including comics and dj's, wasn't enough to keep us away.
Hell, even having Ron Sexsmith on the bill wasn't enough to keep us away.
You can't get enough Buck.

Of course, we had no idea what we were getting ourselves into at this venue. A call to the Hotel didn't clarify matters as I was seeking out the order of appearance. I was told things would be happening "all over the building." Check me if I'm wrong but that doesn't seem to be conducive to actually enjoying anything. In the end I decided they'd have the performing artists and comics in the 8-11 pm slot and the listed dj's in the 11-2am slot...which means we should be done at 11:02 pm.
Turns out it was a little more complex than that, even. Comics were in the upperloft and the best of the bunch was Sean Cullen, so there was no enticing me to climb the stairs. Both Dala and Most Serene Republic were playing in one of the two main floor lounges but they were bracketed around a couple hours of 'workshops' with various artists, and we didn't come out tonight to listen to people practice. So we found ourselves in The Underground with some live music.

The night opens with the solo acoustic stylings of Pat Robitaille. A folk-singer with a little edge. Most of it in his interesting guitar play. His current single, The Summer of Love, was his most notable song. I do think he named 1969 though, and if I'm not mistaken (and I could be, because I was around then), I thought the summer of love was 1967. By 1969 the reactionaries had already taken hold. Woodstock and Altamont were the dying throes of the counter-culture...not it's heyday.

Julie Crochetiere , or Julie C as her friends and the linguistically challenged call her, has the trappings of a sultry, bluesy, songstress/temptress. At least that's her goal. What she really has is a band made up of Chess Club graduates, backing the best-sounding cheerleader at Our Lady of Cursed Maladies High. Her voice is more than decent, if a little canned. Her songs are as good as Ron Sexsmiths. And she's cute as a button. All that's missing is any hint of authenticity. Most memorable song...well, that's where you got me.

Set List
Julie Crochetiere

t01 Hillside
t02 The Only Thing I Know For Sure
t03 Maybe We'll Meet Again
t04 A Better Place
t05 talk
t06 Rich Girl
t07 You Got A Hold Of My Soul
t08 Shine

Sample: Rich Girl

We're stuck in the basement here because to leave would be to relinquish the terrific seats we have a mere 5 meters from the booming PA system. While there's lots of activity (ostensibly) in the other three performing rooms we are spending a third of our time watching acts unravel cables and bag drum sets. A little more organization could have resulted in one less room with the comics doing their bits in between sets.

The Dunes look interesting as they take the stage. A bunch of youngun's that seem to be aiming for an audience that doesn't miss Cole Porter. Pretty well straight-ahead power-pop with lots of guitar; a breath of fresh air in The Underground.
It's not easy playing to a dead room. Most everyone is hanging a good 30 feet away from the stage, near the back of this small venue, standing around tables. Cece and I are on the wall, close to the stage and PA and it wasn't until Sexsmith's set that anyone stood between us and the stage. Julie C's set suffered from the same distancing of the audience. The Dunes just punch harder and louder and go for the end. After their set lead-singer Kevin Pullen, while side-stage packing his gear, commented to Cece he saw her moving her foot. It was a good-natured poke at our reticent nature and a shy thank-you for being interested, amongst a crowd a little less so. Good job by this band, they've got a set that demands attention...soon it may command it.

Set List
The Dunes

t09 Lost (?)
t10 talk
t11 Shock You
t12 Let It Go (?)
t13 talk
t14 No One Knows(?)
t15 drum solo
t16 World Needs A Change (?)

Sample World Needs A Change

Buck 65

I've gone on about Buck on a couple occasions. Check out these other blog reviews for past dates and more detail:
Annotated 1957 (incomplete)
VFest 2006
2008 Music Hall show

Tonight he's running solo. Just Buck and the laptop. We get a short 20 minute set but it made the whole night out worthwhile. Same disinterest from the audience, until he ratcheted up the volume with the Dang remix. We got reworked versions of all the songs, excepting the unreleased Break Chains. Enjoyed them all. He didn't have much time to 'wow' the crowd but, as always, he's paying attention to the art and he painted a different picture tonight. That's why I try not to miss him.

Set List
Buck 65

t01 Indestructible Sam
t02 talk
t03 Way Back When
t04 Dang (remixed)
t05 Kennedy Killed the Hat
t06 Break Chains
t07 Bandits

Sample Dang (remixed)

Who let the Pillsbury Doughboy in? Ron Sexsmith is doing some live rehearsals of songs on his upcoming album Exit Strategy Of the Soul. He's always been a bit of a cherub but he's moved on to portly now, and his stage-patter shows he's aware. I've got to admit I've never quite got Ron Sexsmith, in much the same way I've never quite got Barry Manilow. This is the third time I've seen him...and never on purpose. He was an unannounced opener for John Prine back in '05. He was a 3 song guest performer at a Nick Lowe concert in '07. Tonight he's headlining a show I attended for 20 minutes of Buck 65.

Set List
Ron Sexsmith

* denotes from upcoming album

t08 Never Give Up On You
t09 *This Is How I Know
t10 *One Last Round
t11 Gold In Them Hills
t12 *Brandy Alexander (Sexsmith/Leslie Feist)
t13 talk
t14 Former Glory (w/ Sean Cullen)
t15 *Brighter Still (?)
t16 Listen
t17 *Thoughts and Prayers
t18 Lebanon, Tennessee

Sample Brandy Alexander

And here's an afterthought, you can make of it what you will. Every artist tonight made a "call out" to the artists following them during the evening. Robitaille, Julie C and Buck 65 all mentioned Ron Sexsmith's set with different degrees of enthusiasm. The Dunes made small talk about being big fans of Buck 65. Ron, on the other hand, was not so aware. Even though he was being followed by local hip-hop icon k-OS, he just mumbled something about wondering/thinking that someone else was coming up...maybe, maybe not. We opted out of k-OS's set, due mostly to morning appointments, but I'm sure he succeeded in waking everyone up for the duration.

On a final note...nice job by The Drake . Dinner was actually very reasonably priced, at a mere $20.00. They had a special 'event menu', for the Gilda Club benefit. I'm sure everything was at a reduced price but they didn't chintz on the quality. The meal begins with a cocktail...some lemon based concoction, tart but tasty. The appetizer is a pea soup with a dollop of cream...a little cold though (bg). We passed on the salmon dish and had the best pasta dish I've ever tasted at a restaurant. Nice light scone and creme desert to end the evening. Many thanks to them for being there hosting these types of informal, interesting and innovative nights of entertainment.

torrent running at dime

No comments: