Monday, December 12, 2011

CR Avery
Last Show of Tour
The Neat Coffee Shop
Burnstown, ON

In the words of Jim Morrison; this is the end.

On a lighter note, it's only the end for this year.

Special treat tonight, two sets. Always worth the white lines you gotta pass to get to the evenings musical shrine. We find ourselves an hour or so west of the nation's capitol, in Burnstown, ON, The Village, at The Neat Coffee Shop. A quaint artists town on the banks of the Madawaska River in the Ottawa Valley. Kind of like Woodstock North.

The most wonderful ride along the backroads, heading north, through the land of lakes, trees dressed in snow, water freezing, water rushing, roads that are long and winding taking us to...well, we know where, but no one gets here by mistake. Everything's right about this trip. The Calabogie Motor Inn is a roomy, clean and quiet resting spot a short distance from the cafe. The venue, inside The Neat Coffee Shop, is a mini-Ramble like facility; beautiful sound and everyone is within talkin' distance of the artist.

Adam and Kim McKinty, who are organizing the music at this busy and virtually sold out venue, treat their artists well. First, the ambiance and sound are perfect. Second, the food and accommodations are all you could ask for if your career is still at the pre-rider stage. It's good treatment even if you're past that as the likes of Michelle Wright and Hawksley Workman already have SOLD OUT dates in Burnstown. And the front of house staff were just as friendly, the food terrific, from the Wood Oven Pizza to the Pork medallions in a pear chutney. On the tables, a menu/souvenir, with a picture of CR Averyon the front and today's specials and wine list on the back. Nice touch.

And there was some music. What kind of music? Well, that's the question isn't it. CR is not easier to describe now than he was 3 years ago. When you first see him you hear and see it and it happens fast. Now, you're not going to get it all, and you might hear the wrong words but you`re going to know you were there. Some describe him as a hip-hop-beat-poet-blues-harmonica-rock n roll-balladeer. But that misses the waltzes. I prefer to break his songs down into three categories; the sonically challenging, the captivating and the soothing. It`s the combination of all these elements in one show that never fails to win over the crowd. There`s many doors into CR. Every one may not suit your tastes but when you find one, the others become less intimidating.

So here`s how they broke down tonight; in no particular order. You can see the balance...three outside the box challengers, three soothing breaks and a ton of stuff that just reels you in from the onset.

Sonically Challenging;

Maggies Farm Much like Dylan's current show you can't tell it's a Dylan song when it starts. Unlike the Masters current show...this one gets better as it goes along. This year we're getting the "PJ Storm" dub. Now I don't know who PJ Storm is but they seem to like an electronic organ that sounds like a calliope. I had to Google to find that link...had a choice between some guy who has no friends on Facebook, someone else who writes porn for the 18-19 year old market and this eastern European DJ. I took the safe route. Even though this song was considered bombastic for Dylan when it was released (remember Newport '65?) this version makes the early one sound like a folk song.

57 Channels (And Nothing On) From the old Dylan to the new Dylan. Showcase song for CR's impressive harp skills. It almost delves into performance art; a sword-dance between breathe and sound, but not too choreographed. The audience buys itself an extra special version by breaking in no less than three times to applaud the spectacle.

Love Song The recently coke-free and rehabilitated keytar makes it's debut in the droning portrayal of people who ensure that negativity will stop them from pulling through. A love song to teen-angst and adult ennui. A cry in the wilderness for an end to 'shoe gazing' as an art form. To the L, to the O, to the V, to the E.


The Boxer Who Just Returned From London An autobiographical spoken-word piece; an homage to Charles Bukowski. A tour-de-force that displays CR's notable beat-boxing skills. Instant crowd pleaser.

My Bad This one appeared last year in a different configuration, as spoken-word. Now it's part of the banjo set done acuostically amongst the audience. The three vignettes never fail to elicit laughs.

The Grey Area Armpit of Rock N Roll Now we're getting into crossing-over, which may be the easiest way to describe CR; he's a cross-over artist. He's visited this theme in another song (Ballad of Charlie Parker and Patsy Cline), a nostalgic late-night song. This one is a little more late-afternoon libertarian/confrontational. Music finds it's lovers in the most unlikely places and guises.

PET In Ontario, this poem goes over very well. Different in Calgary and Montreal.

Jelly Roll Morton More banjo music about the salacious inventer of American Jazz.

Postcard From New York Now the captivating songs often come with some nice melodies. Which is not to say they can't be challenging topically, as this one proves. Postcard From New York is a mirror, literally and figuratively. It takes a well-known issue many young people have to deal with at that moment their bodies and lives are changing and makes it a 'what if' story. The keytar is present here, but it's the mellow keytar, set to 01, not 21.

The Wind Is A Speed Reader Just added to the set list this year, more spoken word, with a word-hook worthy of the best pop songs. The title alone conjures up images.

Dinner For One A rollicking good time is had by all and no one leaves unsatiated.

Hollywood Movie Blues Banjo #3, sardonic look at the plastic people on celluloid.

Doll House and Pocketknife Lovely piece about training your daughter to take care of herself when you're not around to help.


Blame It On My Troubled Youth I love the piano ballads, the funny ones, like this.

The Kind Man of Alexander Street I love the piano ballads, the sad ones, like this.

Israel's Saviour and Queen I love the piano ballads, the homages, like this one, to Amy Winehouse et al.

CR Avery's DVD Subtitles For A Foreign Film is available for purchase or download at Film Baby

CR Avery's CD Magic Hour Sailor Songs can be found for purchase or download at CD Baby

More CR Avery available a I-Tunes

C R Avery
Subtitles For A Foreign Film
The Making of...

Now available online at filmbaby

CR Avery Subtitles For A Foreign Film

It was a cold and windy June day in 2008 and when Cece and I settled into our seats at the Sirius Soundstage located on the Harbourfront grounds. We were there to see Billy Bragg. Didn't know there was going to be an opening act when a young man approached the center stage mic and tore into a harmonica-laden version of Leadbelly's Sylvie. OK, that warmed me up a bit. The tapes are rolling, so to speak, it's actually a digital thing beyond my comprehension. The artist settles into a position behind his piano and introduces the next song as a tune by Blind Boy Grunt. I'm thinking to myself, awright, we're getting some blues music...even as my brain was trying to tell me that was an early '60's Dylan alter-ego...almost simultaneously, we get a beat-box version of the Oscar winning song Things Have Changed. He followed with an excellent spoken word piece, an homage to pugalistic poet Charles Bukowski, called The Boxer Who Just Returned From London, and I was hooked.

Putting my limited interweb skills to work I found his website, Facebook page, mySpace page, twitter hash tag, medical history, porn preferences and Family Tree at Turns out he's an active road warrior who traverses the big country a few times a year. When I saw the Rivoli hosting a February show I dropped him a line to see if my son, a fledgling indie film producer, could bring a camera to his show...mostly so I'd have a record beyond my normal audio. He responded that he had a few boxes full of single camera samples and it's really difficult to get enough good material without a few cameras.

So we brought 4.

The shoot was virtually gonzo. No control over the lights, the audience or the stage blocking. No real idea of what CR was going to do. No plans whatsoever except to push REC and see what happens. Add to that the limitations of not being Martin Scorcese; we had two high-end cameras and a couple not so high end. Michael (my son), directed his camera assistants, set up a remote long shot camera and captured a SBD and audience audio feed. The result is pretty impressive...about 4 hours of raw tape to turn into a movie.

The editing was the time consuming part. Michael is meticulous and hard to please. A few late night sessions with CR, when he was in town, resulted in the final play list and an artistic agreement on how the show would look and feel.  It also coincided with another Rivoli date, more filming and more material, on September 6,2009.  The result is a look into a couple of CR Avery's varied persona; solo artist and band leader.

The first act opens with a staple of CR's set; a little something to make you claw your face off.  It's always interesting watching a crowd adjust to the sonic assault from the stage. The songs are at once vaguely familiar yet drastically altered. Whether it's Leadbelly's Sylvie, (as it is tonight), Dylan's Maggies Farm, Tom Waits' Big in Japan, or Springsteen's 57 Channels, it gets a beat-box, harmonica make over.  The audience reaction progresses from "WTF!?!?!?", to "Hey, I think I know this song," to "Man, he's doing a good job."

We get the superior slow version of Door By The River, a better piano-ballad than a rock song. One of the best opening couplets of the decade... "I take my orders/from a seagull perched at a busy intersection..." This usually comes near the end of the set, but CR is looking to get the patrons involved early with the sing-a-long chorus and wading into the crowd schtick. He's aided by local songstress Coco Love Alcorn who finds her way to the front of the stage to lend her soulful voice to the piece. An exercise in working the audience.

Birdcage is a powerful, hypnotic spoken-word tome. The stand-up bass licks provided by Michael Liston evoke a post-modern Beat feel. The poem is packed with strong visuals and surreal imagery. It's like you're sitting in a living room with this young couple as they dance the dance of the developing relationship; establishing the parameters, learning about each other, surrounded by their animated furnishings. Yup, you got it, I have no idea what it's about except it's an aural treat. Superbly captured, passionately delivered, a tour-de-force.

CR was headlining what had been a multi-artist evening and he is joined onstage by the other singers who had performed earlier for a hootenany-type sing-a-long on the aptly titled ballad, When I'm Gone. An impromptu, unrehearsed performance enhanced by the subtle guitar work of The Undesireables Sean Cotton.

The second act of the night features the Legal Tender String Quartet. Two violins,(Serena Eades, Meredith Bates) a bass,(Evan Bates) drums (Matthew Rogers), guitar (Noah Walker)and CR's piano-harmonica. A little high-end music for the streets. The arrangements for the songs in this show were done by the talented Matthew Rogers...and that had to be mentioned because this stuff is the bomb.

Letter From A Foot Soldier is another spoken-word epic, faster paced, a bit of the F-bomb potty mouth on this one. "I need a shrink or a drink or a quiet place to think..." CR takes us through the process of the indie artist. Clubs in the red light district, the search for a muse, walking a tightrope in the spotlight. It's bombastic but not narcissitic. Machine gun rhymes and a couple hints of the Zimmy.

The Boxer Who Just Returned From London,is a long-time regular in CR's set. Another spoken word piece, well paced,humourous, highlighted by some great beat-box/boxing interludes...and it never fails to captivate the audience. "I had to kill, stab, the myth, that beauty is only skin deep..."

The most orchestrally lush arrangement of the night is saved for a song about two monster stars. The Ballad of Charlie Parker and Patsy Cline, takes us to a far-away speak-easy, perhaps in the smokey, needle-strewn stairwell, hours after the music has died, where a god of jazz finds respite in the voice of a country queen. Another visually beautiful capture and stunning performance. I'm seen it 50 times and it still gives me goosebumps.

The night closes with a song that should have been in The Wrestler. Tragic Figure, done country style. I'm glad this song made the cut, it's such a life-affirming way to end a show. CR wades deep into the crowd for this one, far from the SBD mic. The day was saved by sound engineer Dwight Ivany who kept this from the dustbin with some deft sound editing of the camera audio tracks.

The Rivoli is a great place to see a show but it has a tendency to have a chatty backroom, near the entrance and the bar. CR had come into the audience a couple times already, trying to shift the center of balance so the whole hall was paying attention. He met with some fleeting success. To close the night he just figured, not tragically though, that he might as well bring the show to the talkers rather than try to shout them down from the stage. It all results in a special moment as CR croons out his tale of self-redemption, surrounded by the band and the audience.

This isn't all CR Avery has to offer but it's an intimate look at his talents and respect for the art of the show. Michael Levesque has done a wonderful job of capturing the passion of the performance and the subtle interplay of the artists. Whether it's the head shot of CR, sweat pouring down his cheeks, pushing the envelope, or the sweet crying fills of Meredith Bates' violin dancing around the lyrics; fades and cuts that add another dimension to the listening/viewing experience.

Here is the original, pre-release trailer.

The DVD also comes with a load of extras, a retrospective look at CR over the past decade and the irreverant "Olympic" video of the fast version of Folk Singer.

Friday, December 09, 2011

CR Avery
The Bookshelf
Guelph ON

5 1/2 hours of meetings downtown, a ride along the Don Valley Parkinglot during rush-hour, quick dinner then on the road for Guelph. Sounds like a Friday, but it's not.

Hook up with friends at The Bookshelf and we're early. Real early. Sometimes these cafe shows are slated to end by 10:30. The venue had a different plan...and they weren't wrong. The real start time was posted as 9:30pm, so we had some time to spare. Luckily, the Cambridge Chamber of Commerce was holding their annual Christmas party so there was food available.

A mere few minutes after 10pm the opening act, local favourites, Your Neck of the Woods takes the stage. A 6 piece band delivering roots music, reminiscent in sound and spirit to Great Big Sea. The kids are dancing early. Well, not early, but dancing. And they know all the words.

Just back from a whirlwind tour of North America, and still packing lots of swag from t-shirts to cd's to actual vinyl records, The Coppertones are a mirror of The White Stripes; girl on guitar, guy on drums. Lots of energy, they tore it up.

So as the day turns into night, turns into the next day, our hero CR Avery takes to the stage shortly after midnight. The kid is hot tonight. Right off the start, with the new calliope sound on the piano/organ, he's doing a Dylan to a Dylan tune, Maggies Farm. The night starts at full tilt as he plays with the phrasing to allow the cheers from the audience into the song.

He bounces up off his stool in the corner and strides to the center of the ring, pounding the pugilist pavement with The Boxer Who Just Returned from London.

Now CR doesn't ever want to be accused of not knowing his Canadiana. I mean, he's not a roots musician in the mold of Corin Raymond, but he respects the broad history of Canadian music. He's back at the piano to deliver the tune Anne Murray will cover in February of 2012 so it can appear in a Pepsi commercial on the Canadian broadcast of the Super Bowl, Dinner For One.

Back at the mic for a cover of a song by The Next Bob Dylan (Ver. 2.12), Bruce Springsteen, the even-more-relevant-now-than-it-was-then, 57 Channels (And Nothing On). Besides giving the audience something that may be vaguely familiar this song allows CR to stretch out that harp-blowing talent that got him the respect of Charlie Musselwhite and some stage time with Tom Waits in days gone by.

By request, and well loved by the left of center gathering, CR's song about Mirabel, PET, is received to raucous applause. Speaking of the 'left of center' crowd, the bar is filled with this generations version of the counter-culture; a mix of KEDS, skaters and wool caps. Whoever sells wool caps in Guelph is wintering in the Bahama's 'cause he's had a good year.

Feeling nostalgic tonight CR brings out his friend from another decade, the recently rehabilitated, keytar. It's a biblical instrument; only Jews and Herbie Hancock are allowed to play it. Tonight it's showcased in the sonic attack that is Love Song (Don't You Hate).

Now it's getting early, so we have a shortened set. CR comes into the center of the audience for the last two unplugged numbers. Hollywood Movie Blues, with banjo, closes the set and the lengthy, machine-gun paced, spoken-word piece, Commercial and First, brings the evening to a bombastic close.

Maggies Farm

The Boxer Who Just Returned From London

Dinner For One

57 Channels (And Nothing On)


Love Song

Hollywood Movie Blues

Commercial and First

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Corin Raymond & CR Avery
McNamara Family Xmas Get-together
A secret room in Toronto

I guess this is the natural conclusion to discovering these great Canadian performers and spending the better part of your entertainment dollar tracking down their live outings. You can search this blog to find plenty on both these wonderful artists.

CR Avery had some downtime between Southern Ontario shows and I put out an invite for him to come meet the wife's family. As fortune would have it, he convinced Corin Raymond to accompany him. Talk about 'bonus fries'. Big thanks to both you guys for a real treat.

Each year my sister-in-law, Theresa, hosts a family gathering, basically an all-day open-house, and it's become a tradition that kicks off the holiday season. This year the honours of hosting are being done by her niece, Andrea, and her husband David. They were kind enough to be open to the possibilities of incorporating live music into the mix. That's a precarious thing to do, this isn't an audience that chose to be exposed. In fact, it wasn't even an audience that KNEW it was going to be exposed.

All went well 'cause talent prevails. A big thank you to the attentive and appreciative crowd. I see live music so my blood keeps flowing; not everyone feels the same connection.

CR is in the midst of a quick-hit tour before the snow socks us in for the winter. He'll be returning home to East Van when he's done wowing crowds in rural Ontario. Corin is preparing for the 2 night live recording of indie North American artist songs (and a few of his own gems) due to take place at the Tranzac in January.

After the Artist-Trans brought the boys to the party we took some time to imbibe and eat and meet and greet before Corin starts off the festivities with a loose version of Sam Cooke's Cupid. CR is content to conserve his energy and play harp-blowin' wing-man to Corin's troubadour so we're treated to a preview of some tunes that will be on that upcoming live album and DVD as well as some originals and a nice rendition of John Prine's Please Don't Bury Me. All the while CR was dancing around the chorus dropping harp licks and adding some harmonies.

After a short break we entice CR to tune his banjo and deliver a couple tunes. It's a little too early in the night for those manic spoken-word, harp songs. They are best heard under a booming PA in a darkened bar, when the night is just starting to get dangerous. We get some slide-banjo on the humurous My Bad, followed by the just as funny Hollywood Movie Blues before he closed the evening with and appropriate song (perhaps soon to be in Corin's songlist) When I'm Gone.

Here are some sound samples:


Canadian Tire Money

Please Don't Bury Me

Blue Mermaid Dress

That's Life

There Will Always Be A Small Time

Hard on Things

Big Truck Brought It

CR Avery

My Bad

Hollywood Movie Blues

When I'm Gone

Sunday, December 04, 2011

CR Avery
The Rivoli
Toronto ON
Bidini BOOM!
or It's Not A House, It's A Home

Some places and artists are just made for each other; Gordon Lightfoot at Massey Hall, John Lee Hooker at Le Coq D'or, Ronnie Hawkins at The Nickelodeon, Corin Raymond at The Cameron, and we can add to that list, CR Avery at The Rivoli. While we can't revisit all those events we should be careful not to miss those that are still happening.

Special guests today, Bidini Band, fronted by former Rheostatic, Dave Bidini. You should be able to find these guys headlining in January upon the release of their new album. Tonight they warmed the room up and set the stage for another stellar performance from CR.

The crowd was the added ingredient that sent this set over the top.

Today we'll highlight a couple beat-box, harmonica blow outs;

Maggies Farm

57 Channels and Nothing On

A spoken word piece;

The Wind Is A Speed Reader (Playboy Dub)

(Note: The tunes above are SBD, the ones below, AUD. Something happened when the band came back onstage to join CR. I think it was the pick up on the guitar that caused some static and a drone sound.)

Two raucous blues tunes with the Bidini Band backing and a rock n roll celebration;

Dog Bark Blues

Motel: 50 Miles Out Of Town

Door By The River (Small Time version)

And to close the show a new piano ballad;

Hope To See You

Saturday, December 03, 2011

CR Avery
The Pearl Company
Hamilton ON
December 2, 2011

CR's back in Southern Ontario for a handful of shows before the winter socks us in. First up a night at the wonderful Pearl Company Building in Hamilton. Cozy couches and beat attitude; a room well suited to CR's talents.

So I'm not going to go on about it all. Search through the blog for past reviews with more detail if it strikes your fancy. As Corin Raymond says, if you haven't seen CR live yet, I envy you...that first time is mind-blowing. If you have, well I'll likely see you soon at one venue or another.

Some highlights from the soundboard;

Israel's Saviour and Queen

One of Those Faces

Just A Hobo


Small Town

A couple off-mic banjo tunes from the audience capture;

My Bad

Hollywood Movie Blues

Reprise tonight at The Rivoli on Queen West.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

My First Dylan Show
Rolling Thunder at MLG
a krewechief flashback

December 1, 1975 Maple Leaf Gardens Toronto ON

Guam opens the show. this is the name given to the supporting players collectively. usually the equivalent of a full set was put in by these guys, consisting of, but not limited to, the likes of Rob Stoner, Dave Mansfield, Mick Ronson, T. Bone Burnett, Ramblin’ Jack Elliot and a gaggle of other goons. there are added guests so we get a monster show tonight.

Guam’s 16 song opening set is extended to 20 by Joni Mitchell’s 4 songs, notable for the inclusion of Coyote which was to be featured next year at the Last Waltz and her refusal to play anything else remotely commercial. the opening set also included Rob Stoner covering Dylan’s Catfish and Neurwirth taking a swing at Mercedes Benz.

this set was followed by 7 songs with Bob and the band, a solo Times, then a 4 song set with Joan.
Joan’s solo set of 6 songs is extended to 7 when she duets with Roger (don’t call me Jim) McGuinn on The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down. her whole set was terrific, including Long Black Veil, Please Come To Boston and the wonderfully bittersweet Diamonds and Rust.
McGuinn then does his two signature songs, Eight Miles High and Chestnut Mare before he gives way to the night’s second special guest, Gordon Lightfoot.
Lightfoot’s set runs three songs: Race Among the Ruins, The Watchman’s Gone and Sundown, all from his recently released album.
back to Bob for 10 more songs. quite the night. that’s 53 songs by my count.

but it all started with these words:“…the streets of Rome, are filled with rubble…” as did every concert on the first leg of the RT review, save one. sources have it missing from the Nov. 2, 1975 Lowell MA show. but that show’s not in circulation so I can’t tell you one way or the other. seems a little incongruous that he would not play it at one of the few shows that are missing from the catalogue…but with Bob you never can tell.

interesting choice for an opener and more than a little cheekiness as Bob may well be unveiling his masterpiece, in the guise of the Rolling Thunder, even as he sings about doing it ‘someday’. works like a party-song, in the vein of RDW#12&35 …which is good because most of the time, Neuwirth’s with him and we can’t be depending on him to hit his cues. it’s not a big hit, having appeared only on the Greatest Hits series (and the Japanese Masterpieces) but not on any official album. tonight everyone is in control. remember, Momma Zimmerman is here, we’re in a foreign country trying not to cross the line, so we’re probably going easy on the partying. Bob misses the ‘oh’, or isn’t close enough to the mic so it starts curtly after a brief electric guitar intro. even with Neuwirth’s late entries on each harmony the song keeps its shape, eventually incorporating a couple nicely timed and placed interjections from both Bobs. first a nice run on the “land of Coca-coooola.....ah ha....(pause)....(pause)...I left Rome...” a deft little dance around the lyrics. then after “newspaper men eating candy...that’s what they do!....” everything’s loose onstage but in focus. tonight we get the ‘Botticelli’s niece’, instead of ‘pretty little girl from Greece” version. I had no way of knowing I wouldn’t hear this song live again for 22 years, not until I landed in Brussels in the spring of 2002.
no time lost between songs as the band swings into It Ain’t Me Babe. if you’re paying attention, you know things are moving well onstage, Bob is riding the crest of the wave. he dances lightly all around the song, in full control of every syllable, just waiting to drop it in a spot where it’ll have the most effect. if you’re not paying attention then the second verse should shake you from your doldrums as Bob incorporates a plethora of tricks, filling the verse with many layers, adding shadows and texture with the least effort, almost willing the song to a new life…first the extended ‘s-s-s-s-step back’…..this carry’s on to the first line of the next verse… ‘s-s-s-… not as pronounced but the points already been made. this song has never been better. much more intense than the folk delivery we’ve been used too.
next up, still with the slow songs, Hattie Carroll passes without making much of an impact. in my still-novice mind, I’ve relegated this song to the heap of ‘topical’ songs that didn’t have any meaning in today’s world. my bad.

in the fourth slot we get the new version, the powerful version, of Tonight I’ll Be Staying Here With You that opens with the exaltation....’throw my ticket in the wiiiiiiinnnnnnd ...throw my mattress out there too.....’ altered lyrics throughout and a heartfelt commitment to the joys of staying here with you. only played eleven times in total on the two legs of RT. a true gem that will get its due when it leads off the Live ’75 release in 2003.
Phantom Engineer is next, familiar due to its prominent placing at Bangladesh and the oft-played Highway 61 album. not to mention the alternate title supplied from the studio sessions. any memories of it get swept away by the audio assault that is Romance in Durango followed by Isis. could they play any faster? the whistling of Scarlet Rivera’s violin is still resounding in my ears as the band breaks down and we get the acoustic set.

starts with a crowd pleasing The Times They Are A-Changin’, with Joan Baez dueting. this was a magical segment of the show. got no idea what was going through their minds but for us it was like the universe was unfolding as it should. a little confusion in my seat as the second song opens just like the first, but it’s Dark As A Dungeon, unknown to me, most likely I took a mental break or started chattering throughout the song to friends.
back from that revelry as Bob and Joan wrap us up in one of the greatest love-song-duets ever written, the late, great, Johnny Ace’s Never Let Me Go. both are totally in the moment with this song, the passion is palpable.
just in time we get a sexually neutral rendition of Joe, no, that’s later, right now it’s I Dreamed I Saw St Augustine, a favorite of mine and a nice respite from the intensity, though it’s a song steeped with dire warnings about co-dependence.
not for long though. I Shall Be Released gets livened up by a well-timed interjection by Joan who, off of Bob’s ‘I remember every faaaaace’...she tosses in a little tremolo...’ including yours...’ ... smile inducing. Bob’s hitting his stride as Joan’s wailing harmony slides all around his words. she joins him on an extended ‘faaaaaaallllll’ and ‘waaaaallllll’ rhyme, their timing is perfect. nobody sings with Bob like Joan does...nobody.

long break in the show, the Bob-part anyway, where Joan, Roger and Gord get their sets. Joan’s got a lot of nerve playing that Diamonds & Rust song but Bob deserves it for putting her through the Don’t Look Back embarrassment. her whole set is strong with an a cappella Swing Low, a reprise of St. Augustine, er, wait, that was Joe Hill, a composition of her own, then Long Black Veil followed by a sweet, if a little syrupy, Please Come To Boston.

Roger’s set is a little more electric, a couple old war horses, among them a Chestnut Mare and Mercedes Benz.
then we get a little added extra, three songs from Lightfoot, Race Among the Ruins, the best of the three, though Sundown, a vicious break-up song about that chick that was with Belushi when he died, got the loudest response as it was the single from the new album.
back to Bob.

another treat, one of only 4 versions of It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue, done on the Rolling Thunder tour, both legs included, and the tour debut. quick on its heels, a lovely Love Minus Zero Over No Limit and another crowd pleaser...the first song from BOTT, Simple Twist of Fate. the only song from BOTT tonight. I mean, what is up with that?

by this stage, the band is pretty well warmed up and it’s time for some real music.
an absolutely powerful Oh Sister, with the longest, most excruciatingly aching, pause following a lung draining “mysteriously SAAAAAAAAAAAVED...pause...pause...pause... pause... Oh Sister...” the energy and passion in that one transition was played as well as any instrument.
hard on the heels of this, the reason for our gathering, the single: Hurricane. and no amount of calling for it since has made a difference. a crowd pleaser and a rollicking song, happy I got to see it once, glad it’s not a staple.

as great as it’s been to this point, it’s about to get better. the next three songs are spectacularly beautiful. first a moody, mysterious story about a girl, her sister, her father and an unbridled caffeine, it got crowded in this song. One More Cup of Coffee (valley below) starts almost stunted, a quirky rhythm, some bongos then the silky smooth sounds of Scarlet’s violin wrapping around the narrative. just a hint of the gospel voice, as he pours out the story. an almost hypnotic allure as you strain to follow the tale.
then a simple beauty...Sara. with altered lyrics...not that we knew it since the album wasn’t out yet. the “fought for my soul” verse didn’t make it to the album. a singular song in his vast repertoire. if all songs are biographical, on some level, this one is an MRI of the soul. and a ‘name check’ for the ages with the mention of Sad-Eyed Lady of the Lowlands. a real gift.

but he’s not spent yet. my personal BEST EVER Just Like A Woman is next. Bob at his most transcendent. instantly recognizable on the opening word....’nobody’......’feels any pain’. still got Scarlet’s violin, got the back up vocals, got Bob just diving into the song with a long extended.... ‘breaaaaaaaaaks, just like a little girl’. the guess/blessed/rest rhymes are delivered with a slight quaver, almost tremolo. but the bridge is where this song takes total control...’whatsa worse, is this-a pain in here’. a pregnant pause after an exasperated ‘ain’t it clear?????’ leads into a soft, resigned but not defeated, just accepting.... ‘I just don’t fit’....” game.set.match.

a sing-along with McGuinn on Knockin’, which I probably enjoyed more at the time than I let myself remember and a group grope through This Land and we’re back out on the streets.
I’m thinking I might catch this guy next time he comes through town. I didn’t know I could just follow him.

leaving the venerable confines of Maple Leaf Gardens, trough urinals notwithstanding, there were so many things about this show that I wouldn’t come to know for years. first off, that I’d never hear Hurricane, Sara, Isis, Romance in Durango or Oh Sister live again. after the second Night of the Hurricane in January 1976, not many people would hear any of those songs again. I wouldn’t hear When I Paint My Masterpiece until 2002. would only get one more outing of One More Cup of Coffee (Valley Below). you can’t repeat the past...or can you?

it might seem I’ve got a very good memory or I took copious notes. neither really. I’m able to relive these far-distant moments due to the work of many in the Dylan community who have kept the spirit alive and the tapes and cdr’s flowing.

some strong memories linger from this show; the stage being set up like a living room, Joni and Gord’s presence, they being Canadians, is another. recognized all the big hits, and there were more than enough. the BOTT song was among the highlights…along with Sara. other than that though, it was all a blur. you gotta remember that Desire wasn’t even released yet so songs like Romance in Durango and Isis would have just blown by as a series of images and a half-baked story. Hurricane was on the radio and the highlight of the show, raison d’etre, at this point, of the tour.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Ronnie Hawkins Talkin'
35th Anniversary of The Last Waltz

The Hard Rock Cafe in Toronto hosted an intimate 1 hour interview with Ronnie Hawkins this past Thursday. MC and Interviewer was the iconic radio legend,David "Mars Bar" Marsden , who didn't seem to have his little green bag with him this evening. While it was ostensibly a celebration of The Band's last show (the complete Band)the topics of conversation covered much more.

The story of The Hawk is well known up and down the Yonge St. strip. He may be the most astute evaluator of talent that's ever lead a bar-band...or he's as lucky as all get out. He's introduced us to, well, The Band of course, but also John Till of Janis Joplin's Full Tilt Boogie Band, Ken Kalmusky, bassist in Ian and Sylvia's band The Great Speckled Bird,Robbie Lane and the Disciples, on to Pat Travers, '70's guitar virtuoso. His own career, now spanning over 50 years, has garnered him a place in rock n roll history as an influencer of many, and an innovator of sorts as he exploded onto the scene with a live act that got him the nickname 'Mr Dynamo'.

I'd imagine it would take a few consecutive weeks of non-stop talking to cover half the mileposts in this guys life. While 1 hour won't do it, it goes a long way to hitting some of the highlights.

The evening started with a Thanksgiving Dinner, just like Bill Graham served up at Winterland in 1976. As dessert was being cleared from the tables the familiar chords of the Last Waltz Suite streamed over the PA system while a young couple waltzed around the tables. That was our signal that the upstairs facility was open for business. Ronnie was holding court at a side-stage table, signing autographs, posing for pics, and glad-handing with the fans and the dignitaries. He was in terrific spirits, giving as much attention to the album-toting fans as the name-dropping in-people, maybe more. In keeping with the spirit of the evening I brought along the artwork from the bootleg Lost Waltz DVD to get signed.

The format of the Q&A was a little, well, informal. Dave Marsden broke the ice, laid the groundwork, then deferred to whatever insanity Ronnie wanted to add to the story. Political correctness took the evening off. While it was terrific watching Ronnie laugh and cackle about his mispent youth I was pleasantly surprised by the unexpected twist Dave brought to the party. And it had nothing to do with his standing as Toronto's Best DJ Ever; from the time he took over at CFNY until Brad McNally left, that radio station was the BEST EVER! As a youth managed a Stratford based band, The Revols, who where fronted by Richard Manuel and were so good that Ronnie decided not to compete with them, but to hire them to play in his establishment in Arkansas and tour other southern bars. This releationship was the source of most of the stories told tonight. But we get a lot more than that, we get personal insights into moments with; John Lennon and Yoko, Bob Dylan, Bill and Hillary Clinton, Van Morrison, Eric Clapton, oh, and The Band, of course. But that ain't all either. Let's revisit.

Ronnie on Robbie

Ronnie on Bill Clinton's 65th birthday party

Ronnie on Richard Manuel, this one is bittersweet

Ronnie on Eric Clapton

Ronnie on Van Morrison

A little tip of the hat to Canada

Ronnie on the first time he met Dylan

Ronnie on John and Yoko

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The White Stripes
a krewechief flashback
Patriot Centre, Fairfax VA
This May Be The Last Time

UPDATE: Actually it was the last time, just didn't know it then. I thought I'd be seeing The White Stripes well into my 80's. Just not to be as Jack and Meg recently announced the roller coaster ride has come to an end.

In my original blog I didn't go into detail about what a horrific fast-break trip this turned out to be. Always the food troubles on a long trip one-way, Fairfax VA is about 13 hours away from home. Decided I could drive after the show, cut off some hours from the next days travel while coming down from the buzz. Would have been a good plan...except for the torrential downpour that had visibility at zero on the highways and no vacancies in any hotel you stopped at. We pulled off the road to sleep in our car for 4 hours before waking, still in the middle of a downpour, and driving off towards home.

In retrospect, I'm really glad I went.

"Okay, you hear and see it and it's going to happen fast. Now, you're not going to get it all, and you might hear the wrong words, and then afterwards, see I can't...I won't be able to talk to you afterwards..."
Bob Dylan in Don't Look Back.

He could have been looking ahead.

An above average show from an artist that never fails to amaze. I'm on about my 18th show with Jack and there's always something new.

Overall the show was a little shorter than some this year but filled with more than enough special moments to warrant a "BEST EVER" or two in the immediate afterglow.

Standard opener in Dead Leaves And the Dirty Ground from the breakthrough third album, White Blood Cells. Usually the first two slots are fast-paced warm-ups. Tonight it was done at about 3/4's speed. Not quite the 'rip your face off' pace it usually has. I think it was better for the care he took with the song.

What You Might Have Missed:
"I didn't feel so bad till the sun went down (plaintive moan)
then I come home
no one to wrap my arms around."
He did a 'timrod' on this one and just stole those words from Son House.

Always like it when he steps over to talk to Meg in a spot where you expect the second 'candy cane' song. Jack opts to do a verse of Icky Thump (normally the third song) and create a medley with When I Hear My Name, the song likely slated for the #2 slot. The extended center of this song explores the melody of WIHMN before
Jack closes with the remainder of an energetic Icky Thump. A two-fer.

What You Might Have Missed: WIHMN...not much to this one besides a monster beat. Icky Thump; "White Americans, what?/ Nothing better to do?/Why don't you kick yourself out?/You're an immigrant too?"

The long musical interlude had the effect of slowing the tempo, making this opening trio of songs a little less driven than normal. Later in the show Jack questions the audiences enthusiasm, saying he can't tell if they're excited or bored. He might have laid the seeds for a reticent audience in the opening segment. Icky Thump closes with some intensity but that momentum is lost during the rather long break for a guitar switch before Death Letter Blues. This made no difference in the quality of the opening, it just made it slightly different than your average show.

Death Letter Blues has moved up the set list a few slots. It's traditionally the blow-out guitar extravaganza of the night...or one of a few, in any case. In slot #4 it's shorter by a few minutes but no less intense. This song is the best modern-rock
interpretation of a Mississippi Delta Blues song I've ever heard. Jack's love of the blues is evident in most of what this band does but this song shows his unconscious talent. He has tapped into the soul of this music and it's passion explodes where it may have merely simmered in the original version. We got a very good version tonight.

What You Might Have Missed: The ghost of Son House slapping his knee.

A show without Cannon is no show at all. When it's paired with Little Room, instead of it's normal mate, John the Revelator, it becomes a rare moment to savour. I'm not sure why we didn't get JtR but if you listen at the point the song switches and Meg starts her beat, Jack is laughing, saying "oh, oh, oH, OH, OH", as if he is reading her lead and gives her what she's playing. Maybe he's not the control freak some make him out to be.

What You Might Have Missed: "Lord above, how could man, be evil?"

Hotel Yorba is fun filler at the best of times. And fun filler at the worst of times. Mostly it's just fun filler.

What You Might Have Missed: It's country night in Virginia.

Finding It Harder To Be A Gentleman is another treat. Love the songs where Jack switches from piano to guitar.

What You Might Have Missed: "every single girl needs help/ climbing up a tree/ you know it don't take much/to satisfy me"

And now for the NIN-moment, complete with disco ball and crowd grunts. Slowly Turning Into You is the center piece of the whole set. Jack pulls out all the audience-participation tricks and light-show he has at his disposal.
Lovely moody piece that kind of noodles along until we get the hook and Jack implores the crowd to chant on queue. Great lyrics, the song is broken into two segments...the primary verses and the chant...which is where he really channels Trent. A little exploration of love-hate, coming down sqaurely in favour of love.

What You Might Have Missed: "I even love it when you're faking it/And it might sound a little strange for me to say to you/But I'm proud to be you/ And I'm slowly turning into you"

Next up another instrumental. Instinct Blues tease with Rat tease, basically the primary riffs from both those songs repeated alternately three times. Sometimes, most times in fact, when you get these musical teases you get a song
with lyrics attached to them. Lately the Rat tease has accompanied Martyr For Your Love and for a brief moment at the end of the triumvirate pair of teases it sounds like that is what we're getting, then he breaks down into the chords for
One More Cup of Coffee.

Coffee was extremely well done and much more enjoyable than the last time I heard it, while ducking flying beer pints in Glasgow. He really nails this, the quaver in his voice is bang on.

What You Might Have Missed: Likely not a beat.

Martyr For My Love For You is fast becoming a favorite from the new record. I don't worry too much about the possible age difference between the main characters or the reason he has to be a martyr, it's just a bitter-sweet story told with an edge and from a perspective not often seen in rock. He has come close to mastering that pregnant pause before he delivers the title...tonight it was excruciatingly long and he waited as long as we could bear.

What You Might Have Missed: the tricky word dance that is the opening verse; "She was sixteen and six feet tall/ In a crowd of teenagers comin' out of the zoo /She stumbled started to slip and fall / Teeter-tottered on the top of patent leather shoes /I happened to catch her and said, /"maybe these ruby shoes are a little cumbersome for you"

Meg always gets a good reception from the audience. Deservedly so too. For all people want to argue about her drumming style I'll say this: Jack White can play solo, he can play with the Raconteurs or he can back Dylan...he'll always be great.
He'll only be The White Stripes when Meg is on the drums. She's a much stronger singer now than she was a few years ago. Gotta like the way Jack sits at the back of the stage, with his back to the audience, and lets her have her moment. He also takes the opportunity to mention it's her Virginia debut, as the Stripes are playing this state for the first time.

What You Might Have Missed: this is one creepy song.

What You Couldn't Have Missed: Meg's kinda cute when she's coy.

One verse of Do is a gift, tonight we get the second verse. Unfortunately it's coupled with/lost in a medley with Black Math, a screamfest that has it's own charm though it may not be immediately evident.

What You Might Have Missed: the angst in Do, "it doesn't matter cause my eyes are lying/and they don't have emotion/don't wanna be social, can't take it when they hate me/but i know there's nothing i can do "

What You Surely Missed: the slam at the education system in Black Math, mostly because he absolutely butchered the lyrics on this one. He repeated the first verse twice, almost catching himself the second time by putting the last couplet of the first verse in there. Hedoes nail the middle verse: "Mathematically turning the page/Unequivocally showing my age/I'm practically center stage/Undeniably earning your wage/Maybe I'll put my love on ice/And teach myself, maybe that'll be nice."
Then he spits out one line of the last verse, the wrong line, and packs it in, closing with guitar and drums.

Let's Shake Hands is another 'candy cane children' song, a single, not on any album. Well loved by one and all. Too raucous to be called filler but not that complex.

What You Might Have Missed: "oh, say my name/ oh, baby say my name/ you can do what you wanna do/ you can do it in a garbage can/say my name."

Ball and Biscuit finds Jack having some trouble with his onstage monitors. He claims it sounds like "donkey", which is a strange description for an audio sensation. He keeps on trucking though and we get a good sounding version from our side.

What You Might Have Missed: Having played this song live with Dylan he was channeling him a bit early on...dropping words from lines, either
by design or through sloppiness or distraction.

Hardest Button To Button is appropriate the day after the debut of the Simpson's.

What You Might Have Missed: I don't care to go on about the more popularly recognized tracks. It's the gems I'm looking for.

On to the encore. A fairly full first set clocking in around 60 minutes so I don't expect more than a half hour in the next segment.

The Blue Orchid tease at the start of the encore was actually a relief...not too keen on the song. An extra bonus when he broke into Screwdriver and even that was up another notch when we get the alternate opening verse. I don't know what monkey Jack was talking about but that was an enjoyable experimentation in ad-lib. He really extends this song as Meg finds a groove and elicits a wailing refrain of "got
a little feelin' goin' now" to close.

What You Might Have Missed: "what am i supposed to think?/drop a nickel in the sink/i love people like a brother now/ but i'm not gonna be their mother now/ what if someone walked up to me/ and like an apple cut right through me?/ i'm not just gonna stand their grinnin'/ i'm not the one that's sinnin'/screwdriver!"

300 MPH Torrential Downpour Blues is one that has to grow on you. Tonights version might not be the one to turn the trick. It was a little slow to start though he did nail the final verse. Jack visits his fetish for three's (and red-headed women) in this song probably better suited for a concert hall rather than an arena. It's not the easiest song on the new record to replicate live so many points for effort
and outcome. The lyrics to the whole tune are substantially changed in the center portion.

What you might have missed: the screamfest that closes the song and somewhat approximates this; "But I can't help but wonder if after I'm gone will I still have these three hundred mile per hour, finger breaking, no answers makin', battered dirty hands, bee stung and busted up, empty cup torrential outpour blues...." which is where it ends as Jack leaves out the closing couplet:
"One thing's for sure: in that graveyard
I'm gonna have the shiniest pair of shoes"

He admonishes the crowd for it's silence before sucking up to them and talking to some chick in a red dress.

Seven Nation Army sees the return of the malfunctioning monitors and Jack's whine.

We Are Going To Be Friends in yet anothe 'candy cane children' song. I like it. The wife doesn't. You can decide.

Now we get to the absolute gem of the evening, Sam's Place, a Buck Owen's cover. First a little useless information. Back in '05 when I was about a year into my 'bored with Dylan' phase, Cece had completed my database of Stripes songs.
I turned my energies to producing a couple compilation of rare songs and blues covers. One of the comps was called: Jack White's Kitchen: Rare Songs Well Done, a nod to Robert Johnson's Come In My Kitchen that appears on the disc. That comp opens with a bunch of songs that contain the name 'Jack'... Jack On Fire, Everywhere I Go, I'm Jack and Black Jack Davey. I also had a song, played only once and unidentified, that came from a 2003 show. The taper called it "Oh Well", due to it's appearance throughout the song. I subtitled it Jack's Prayer, because Jack is talking to God in the song and that would make four consecutive songs with "Jack" in the title. Flash forward to Icky Thump where that song appears as Little Cream Soda. Around the Stripes boards I came across a post that posited that Ben Blackwell, a member of the Stripes camp, passed on a 'show' with song called "Jack's Prayer" that had only been done live once. Legend (if we can build it) has it that Jack liked it so much he did a slight rework and put it out.

Now one might think that was stretching it a bit but Sam's Place is also on that comp. It's likely just as rare. I don't have all the shows but I have more than a handful. If we ever get Red Death at 614 all doubt will be eradicated.

So Buck Owen's, eh? told you it was country night. This was a terrific version of the song and a real special treat. Nothing to say about this song except enjoy it as many times as you can.

A really good version of I Just Don't Know What To Do With Myself, a song I'm at risk of tiring of but really enjoyed this evening.

What You Saw: a rock god.

The White Stripes
Patriot Center
George Mason University
Fairfax VA

Disc 1/Main Set
Dead Leaves
Icky Thump>When I Hear My Name>Icky Thump
Death Letter
Cannon>Little Room>Cannon
Hotel Yorba
Finding It Harder to Be a Gentleman
Slowly Turning into You
Instinct tease>Rat tease Medley
One More Cup of Coffee
Martyr For My Love For You
Cold, cold, night
Do >Black Math
Let's Shake Hands
Ball & Biscuit
Hardest Button to Button

Disc 2/Encore
Blue Orchid tease>Screwdriver (monkey version)
300 MPH Torrential Downpour Blues
Jack Talks
Seven Nation Army
We Are Going to Be Friends
Sam's Place
I Just Don't know what to do with myself

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Corin Raymond and the Sundowners
Cameron House

Heading downtown in the rain, 5:30 on a Thursday, nevermind.

Back for another dose of Corin and he has the whole group behind him tonight.

Not gonna bore you with the usual excessive verbiage.

There's not a better deal to be had in the city of TO than seeing these guys for two hours at a PWYC room.

Corin's in the Yukon and NWT for a month and will be back at The Cameron House the day after his b'day, November 24.

Without further ado, some great songs.

t01 100 Candles (The Swiftys)
t02 Anastasia (Max Metro)
t03 Slip Away (Jonathan Byrd)
t04 Mama It's Too Late (Scott Nolan)
t05 I'm A Fucking Genius (Raghu N)
t06 Rivertown (Hayes Carll)
t07 Canadian Tire Money
t08 Stealin' My Heart
t09 3000 Miles
t10 Ole Ft Mac (Rob V)
t11 Hard On Things
t12 Take Me To The Mountain
t13 Big Truck Brought It
t14 There Will Always Be A Small Time

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Corin Raymond and CR Avery
30th Anniversary of The Cameron House

There's trouble brewing in TO this weekend and it ain't just the Occupy Toronto crew you gotta watch out for. Lock up your daughters and keep your wives close by, Corin and CR are on the prowl.

Corin's about to embark on a month-long tour of the semi-frozen tundra before he returns to create and record a live album of indie covers. CR's wrapping up a short Southern Ontario tour but it looks like he'll be back around the same time, late November, early December.

'Till then, here's what went down last night.

Great to be taking in some live music with my longtime travelling companion, Michele. Last week she introduced her husband to the phenomena we call CR. This week she's brought along her daughter-in-law for a daytrip into the city, a little shopping and a surprise sit-down in a darkened bar off Queen St, through the curtains into Paradise. Cece and I have shared way too many Dylan shows with Michey, time to branch out.

With Corin tonight the ever inventive David Baxter on guitar and Sarah Fitzpatrick fiddling around.

The impromptu neo-Sundowners are in fine form. I'm guessing it was a two handkerchief night for Corin, would have been three, but he had an extended break.

He's still working the covers that should be on next years record; Ole Fort Mac, Sugar Candy Mountain, Dirty Mansions and I'm guessing the Jonathan Byrd cover, Slip Away, is going to make it too. That song is a creeper, I like it more and more, every time I hear it.

He brought along some old songs; Ridin' West on Dundas, 3000 Miles (recently included in a Blue Rodeo encore), Micheline, Stealin' My Heart and the lovely Blue Mermaid Dress. It'll make you pine for your youth.

A couple new songs; Hard on Things and Canadian Tire Money. The first has a little more gravitas as you might imagine.

That weren't all but the song of the night was a house-led version of The Cameron's theme song, There Will Always Be A Small Time.

CR's set was shorter, but no less passionate. He was hindered by a crying baby but even managed to work that into the set as you can't always get what you want. Don't even ask me why there was a crying baby in a bar.

The opener, Springsteen's 57 Channels and Nothing On is getting better every night. The beat-boxing and lyrics are becoming more defined, you can pick up more lyrics early than you could a year ago. The harp solo is bombastic. This song should be moving down the list to set closer or encore piece soon.

The new big ballad this year is a waltz,Israel's Saviour and Queen. I've been trying hard to get a pristine recording of this song but I've been running into a string of problems. Back in Kitchener, where we had the Grand Piano and a soundboard patch, I plugged into the wrong outlet on my recorder. In Stratford there was no opportunity for a board patch. I think the Ottawa one is the best but CR had a strange introduction and it may not sound right out of context as a single track on a record. Which leaves us with The Cameron. Could have had a patch but I left my expensive rig at home. Brought the pre-amp, brought the mics, just left the rig. Fortunately I had a back-up but decided to forgo the patch and just do an audience capture. Good news came out great. Bad news is...the attack of the crying baby.

I don't quite get this song yet but that's OK, I'm still trying to decipher many of CR's word bombs. He's like an aural version of Dali's Discovery of America by Christopher Columbus. You can look at the whole picture, or hear the whole song, and get a sense of the subject but you really have to break down the elements to discover the hidden content. Trouble is, once you have all the parts it's not always easy reassembling them into a cogent thought.

Israel's Saviour and Queen is filled with small pictures, little scenes,pop-culture grenades, apparently unconnected. We open and close with the wish for a Tarantino/Spike Lee collaboration, written by Joplin and discovered in the floorboards of the Chelsea Hotel. A song about wishing things could be different, that those on either side of an argument could find their way together. Big E and Tupac freestylin', Romeo and Juliet conceiving a saviour in a West Bank motel. More telling; "i wish... my ex-lover and I could remain close friends." Those things can't happen in a world where "jealousy is gentrified by ambition," and "rich and famous aren't even a couple anymore, they just like getting drunk together and rolling around in the nude."

Tonight's version gets lost as CR's already been distracted to the point of fumbled lyrics and now the crying baby is adding to the soundtrack, squeeling at the word "nude" and totally breaking down the song as CR turns into Charlie Harper and creates his own kids jingle, adding "boobies" and "poopie" for laughs but relegating this track to the dustbin of 'interesting shit that happens at live shows'.

The song is brought together by a wonderful chorus, that tied to the lone 'ex-lover' allusion, exposes the theme of the song;

"tonight, no music fills my room
i can't sing
here's the thing
she said she'd ring

but then didn't call.
there were 35 candles on my birthday cake
you know i could blow out them all."

This is delivered with a lovely little waltz swing. A gem inside this ceiling to floor pastiche. Even the sequence of the words in that last line, a deft handling of the available words as you want to say 'i could blow them all out' but the rearrangement adds an unconscious beat.

Picking up a banjo and making his way into the crowd we get an off-mic unplugged Hollywood Movie Blues, a great send-up of the industry's tendency to mask reality behind sentimental bullshit and misrepresentation. A fun song.

Cr's back to the hip-hop-beat-box-mic-poppin' spoken word stuff. He's honing his skills for this weekends poetry showcase and pulls out The Boxer Who Just Returned From London for a training session. Also helps to drown out the baby.

Back to the piano for another ballad, One of Those Faces. A story of being in the right place and the wrong time.

Last song of the night finds CR channeling a little Corin Raymond as he opens with an extended story in front of the spoken word piece Commercial and First. This poem is a challenge to deliver. Machine gun speed and more words than an Obama answer to any question. It closes with the punchline to the introductory story.

So brings an end to the fall concert season, time to search out some pumpkin carving patterns, get footloose and visit some haunted houses.

Here's the set list and some sound samples.

Corin Raymond
Cameron House

t01 Intro
t02 Ole Ft Mac
t03 talk
t04 Micheline
t05 talk
t06 Slip Away
t07 talk
t08 I'm A Fuckin' Genius
t09 talk
t10 Ridin' West on Dundas
t11 talk
t12 Hard On Things
t13 Canadian Tire Money
t14 talk
t15 Stealin' My Heart
t16 talk
t17 3000 Miles
t18 talk
t19 Sugar Candy Mountain
t20 talk
t21 Dirty Mansions
t22 talk
t23 Hello, Hello
t24 There Will Always Be A Small Time
t25 talk
t26 Blue Mermaid Dress

CR Avery
Cameron House

t01 Intro
t02 57 Channels and Nothing On
t03 Israel's Saviour and Queen
t04 Hollywood Movie Blues
t05 The Boxer Who Just Returned From London
t06 talk
t07 One of Those Faces
t08 talk
t09 Commercial and First
t10 talk

Sunday, October 09, 2011

CR Avery in Southern Ontario
October 4,5 & 7
coming to The Cameron House
on October 13th

It's been a long hot summer and we're getting an instant replay in Southern Ontario. Sunny and 24 degrees all week. Great time to be on the road taking in the fall colours and a home-grown talent.

Tuesday night in Kitchener finds us hooking up with long-time friends, Dylan-travelling companions and fellow music fans, Michey and Rick, who live close by. Wings and beer before we make our way to the cozy Jazz Room inside the historic Huether Hotel. They've done a good job of filling the place, it's packed to capacity.

CR's set has a few new songs and some familiar staples. The venue provides a Grand Piano which entices CR to spend quite a bit of time on the stool. We get a few harp-beat-box tunes (Boxer Who Just Returned from London, Grey Armpit of Rock n Roll and Springsteen's 57 Channels and Nothing On.) One on banjo Hollywood Movie Blues. Piano ballads abide with the wonderful Troubled Youth, Just A Hobo and the new Israel's Saviour and Queen. Dinner For One never fails to get the house laughing out loud, even if some are a little crimson faced. Bus to Baton Rouge, a Lucinda Williams cover, gives him room to roam as he combines his knack for pounding out a few chords with his penchant for delivering a hip-hop ballad. A couple other spoken word pieces; the always pleasing homage to the last great politician this nation has seen, PET, and his advice to my daughter on her miscellaneous birthday, Dollhouse and Pocket Knife.

Now that is a night out.

Home and in bed at 1 pm last night, off to work for the day and back on the highway at 5pm. Heading a little farther west, the Evergreen Terrace Cafe in Stratford ON.
Richards ghost is gonna have a fun time tonight.

Stratford is 40 minutes down a dark road away from Kitchener. Town closes at 5:30 pm on weekdays and the business square is taken over by skate-boarders. Not a lot of opportunity for walk-ins so we have a sparse, but loyal and appreciative crowd tonight. Big thanks to Carol Mcleod and the St Mary's Storytelling Inc for putting this show on tongiht. You can never tell what kind of crowd you will entice, there are so many factors involved. Carol was a gracious host and while the numbers weren't high, the quality of attendees was. The fortunate who gathered close to the stage for CR's set get treated to a house-concert and a bunch of big songs; Dylan's Things Have Changed, Waits' Big In Japan and Birdcage among them. CR is showcasing a waltz, Israel's Saviour and Queen, hoping to include it on an upcoming album with the banjo song, Hollywood Movie Blues. Another new song tonight, that may or may not, be called I'm No Genius. We get a reprise of 57 Channels and Nothing On as CR seems to be taking a liking to the extended harmonica blow-out in the middle of this one. He delivers an epic spoken word piece, Commercial and First, and doesn't miss a beat. We get Purple Cotton Dress in the mix and he closes with Motel: 50 Miles Out of Town...a song that sounds different every time I hear it.

After a day off to successfuly make sure the Conservative Party doesn't get a taste of power in Ontario it's back on the road early Friday morning, towards our nation's Capitol. We head north to Peterborough, joining Highway 7 Eastbound, the scenic route. It's taking us through CR's old stomping grounds in and about Lanark County. Time enough to stop for some fall photos. Except we didn't come across too many accessible opportunities. We did pass some wild turkeys on the side of the road. I stopped to shoo them back into the woods. Like, don't they know what weekend this is?

Some people bring their friends to the shows when CR comes to their city. We try to go to our friends cities and bring them to CR shows. In Ottawa tonight we have our children-from-another-mother, Ryan and Teri. They talked Ryan's sister, Janine, and her boyfriend, Aaron, into joining us for the set.

This show was organized by Noah and Margaret Sullivan and they did a great job. The sound was superb, the venue a cozy as you can get. Bit of a churchy feel to it but we are praying at the altar of independent music. Opening tonight is Lindsay Ferguson. Only a few songs but an impressive set. She opens with a French Language tune and closes with a Celtic acapella ballad. I'm a French Canadian sitting here with my Irish Canadian wife. It's like we called the tunes.

Stellar performance from CR tonight. Opening with The Boxer Who Just Returned From London, he's momentarily distracted by the return of 15 patrons who were outside having a smoke break between sets but found themselves enjoying the lovely fall weather a little too long. By his own admission he had trouble focussing during Israel's Saviour and Queen because his keyboard stand was a little unstable. That was not evident from the audience as he delivers a superb performance. Sometimes he's an unconscious talent. It's during a slightly self-indulgent, in a good rock n roll way, harp solo in 57 Channels and Nothing On that he finds his mojo. He gets control of his brain-waves, pushes aside the distractions and tells himself to just pitch to the audience. So we get some curves, a change-up, a slider and a screaming fast ball down the center of the plate. (Hey, it is October after all.)

So far we've had a spoken work piece, a piano ballad and a harp-laden, beat-box cover of Springsteen. It's only a one-man show how many more incarnations can there be? Well, one more, banjo-strummin', talkin' bluegrass, CR. Hollywood Movie Blues is a laugh-riot. Usually it's delivered unplugged, while walking in front of the audience, and tonight is no different. Doesn't make recording any easier but it's an important element of the set and never fails to hypnotize and engage the crowd.

Next up a huge spoken-word piece, The Wind Is A Speed Reader followed by Neil Young's The Campaigner and Hendrix' Voodoo Child complete with feedback solo's. Both Nixon (from The Campaigner chorus) and Hendrix will make another appearance in this show.

CR sits down at the piano for (Blame It On My) Troubled Youth before standing to deliver the Hendrix/Dylan tome, The Grey Armpit Area of Rock n Roll to close the set.

In the encore we get a song about the Montreal Airport, PET and a new ballad about the ebb and flow of success and failure on the road, One of Those Faces.

Highlight of the night was the intro to Folk Singer, and the performance, as CR shares a story about the pitfalls of impromptu stage patter.

So that brings to a close this week's adventures with CR. See you at the Cameron on the 13th, you can find him at The Pilot on the 14th, in Niagara Falls at the OCFF and on Sunday, in St Catharines, at a yet to be identified venue.

Here are the set lists, with a few select samples.

Kitchener ON
t01 The Boxer Who Just Returned From London
t02 Israel's Saviour and Queen (for CR STE000 vg)
t03 57 Channels and Nothing On
t04 don't talk talk
t05 Troubled Youth
t06 Hollywood Movie Blues
t07 PET
t08 talk
t09 Dinner For One
t10 talk
t11 Grey Armpit of Rock N Roll
t12 encore break
t13 Just A Hobo
t14 Bus To Baton Rouge
t15 talk 2nd encore
t16 Dollhouse and Pocket Knife

Stratford ON
t01 Intro
t02 57 Channels and Nothings On (Springsteen)
t03 Israel's Saviour and Queen
t04 Purple Cotton Dress
t05 Hollywood Movie Blues
t06 Things Have Changed
t07 Commercial and First
t08 I'm No Genius
t09 encore break
t10 Big In Japan
t11 Birdcage
t12 talk
t13 Motel Room 50 Miles Out of Town

Old Town Hall
Ottawa ON
t01 The Boxer Who Just Returned From London
t02 Israel's Saviour and Queen
t03 57 Channels and Nothing On
t04 Hollywood Movie Blues
t05 The Wind Is A Speed Reader
t06 The Campaigner
t07 Voodoo Child
t08 Troubled Youth
t09 Grey Armpit of Rock N Roll
t10 encore
t11 talk
t12 Folk Singer
t13 PET
t14 One of Those Faces

Special Track, Lindsay Ferguson's O'Donnell Oge , a lovely Irish ballad.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The White Stripes
Masonic Temple Detroit MI
09-30-2005 to 10-02-2005
a krewechief flashback

The fall concert season is a little light so I thought I'd fill up some space by showcasing concerts I saw before this blog began. Then some I just didn't have the time or energy to publish when I attended the shows.

Since I had a horrific recording experience at MI Fest why don't we start with my first recording ever...a White Stripes weekend in Detroit.

Back in the summer I bought a ticket to a White Stripes show for a friend of mine who had a DAT recorder. He had technical issues. I thought it was time to start doing my own dirty work. It's only a memory if you don't record it. I've got my trusty SONY Mini-Disc and I'm ready to capture my first concert. First three actually, as the wife and I are on a White Stripes pilgrimage.

So many things to long does the disc record? When is the encore break? Can I flip fast enough in the dark? Thing is, I should have been worried about metal detectors at the door. Only in Detroit, much as I love coming to this city for friends and music.

I had received some sage advice from a taper friend. My rig and mics inside two money belts, under my jeans, covered by a fanny pack that contains my phone, keys and wallet...which I offer up for inspection. Usually that's good enough but they wand me and it detects my mics. They ask me to remove my fanny pack, they wand me again, and it beeps again because it's definitely picking up the mics. I reach into my jacket pocket and show them two cd's, bootlegs of a show from a week ago that I downloaded and am passing along to a friend. It's taken a lot of time already so they pass me by. The next two nights I put my complete rig inside the fanny pack (back pockets), show my keys and wallet and hold it out like I was on a cross. They wand my body and I get in no problem.
I've done about 300 shows since then and haven't been caught at the door yet. Knock on wood.

In three nights we had 86 songs; 2 were done 4 times...a couple teases, the mega-hits, Ball and Biscuit and Dead Leaves on the Dirty Ground. 8 songs were played each night, 3 times; The Nurse, 7 Nation Army, My Doorbell, I Just Don't Know What To Do With Myself, Hotel Yorba, Hardest Button to Button, Boll Weevil and Blue Orchid. 9 songs were played 2 times; apple blossom,as ugly as I seem,fell in love with a girl (fast then slow),in the cold night,instinct blues,lets shake hands,little ghost (with the blue moon kentucky line),passive manipulation,red rain. And 36 unique songs were played...even though some of them were just alternate mash-ups.
That's 55 unique songs if my three years in Grade 11 math held up.

It's September 30,2005, my wife's birthday. And I'm treating her to a weekend in Detroit. Jack better bring something along to make it worthwhile.

When a White Stripes concert starts there's prelude, no build-up to a climax. It starts with the orgasm and gets more intense from there. Oh, you take a couple breaks in between to catch your breath but you never quite recover from the opening sonic boom.

Tonight we get screamo versions of Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground followed by Black Math, to get the andrenalin coursing through your veins. This is good showmanship. No sense dawdling around at the beginning. Jack takes a break while Meg does the lead on a subdued Passive Manipulation. Then he stays at the piano to reprise the opener, Dead Leaves, but at a much more leisurely pace. A rare version.

Jack asks Meg where they are before they swing into Hotel Yorba. I Think I Smell a Rat morphs into a complete version of Instinct Blues. Jack's loving the piano tonight and he stays there for a rendition of My Doorbell.

Time for a joke about Kwame Kilpatrick, the ill-fated (read: criminal) Mayor of Detroit who was about to spend some time in jail.
" Kwame Kilpatrick came over for breakfast this morning at my house. He did. Said he wanted to borrow some money. I said, get it like you always get it Kwame. He can't fool me we went to the same highschool. Anyway that's my 'talk with the audience' part of the show." Only it wasn't.

We get into the heart of the show with the ever-present Cannon mashup, this time with When I Hear My Name, the first of three distinct Death Letter mashups, this time Jack sings I Can't Keep Myself From Crying at the stage apron with no mic before ripping into the showcase song of the evening. A rare, and a little goofed up, version of One More Cup of Coffee breaks the mold of your usual show. But it's back to the structured part with Astro, Nurse, Cannon reprise, Cold Cold Night (very good) and Ball&Biscuit, also the best version of the three nights. In between he sneaks in a wonderful Big Three Killed My Baby. That's about all you deserve in a White Stripes show, but there's more to come.

There's still a bunch of new songs to go. When I see these I wonder when or if we'll ever hear them live again. We get a powerful version of I'm Lonely (But I'm Not That Lonely Yet) and the best Red Rain of the three nights. At the end of a wonderful Little Ghost Jack was getting talkative again: "How do feel now? (crowd cheers), That's alright. Alright let's hear how I feel now. (crowd cheers)That's alright.That's about right. Over-medium, I'm kinda cooked over-medium now. That's how I like my eggs if you're coming over for breakfast tomorrow, but I'm going to Kwame's house. This is a song off our new album "Get Behind Me Charlie", it's called Red Rain. You don't mind if I play a little bit longer in this encore do you? I got nowhere to go." I'm thinking, ummm no, I got no more tape left.

A couple more candy-cane songs and the 'Saginaw' version of 7NA with the Bacharach epic thrown in makes it a night. Best of the three, though the other two were no slouches. We got a lot of rare songs...and if they weren't rare in 2005 by the time we had the '06 and '08 Racs and the Dead Weather, with only two righteous tours in between...they are rare now.

Check the songs in the set list below for a few mp3s.

White Stripes 2005-09-30
Detroit MI
Disc 1
01 dead leaves (partial) / 02 black math / 03 passive manipulation / 04 blue orchid /05 dead leaves on piano / 06 hotel yorba / 07 I think I smell a rat /
08 instinct blues / 09 my doorbell / 10 the mayor for breakfast / 11 cannon/when I hear my name /
12 death letter (first he started singing I Can't Keep Myself From Crying to the front rows with no mic) / 13 one more cup of coffee / 14 astro / 15 jack the ripper /
16 the nurse / 17cannon /18 big 3 on piano (finish on guitar) / 19 in the cold night / 20 ball and a biscuit
Disc 2
01 I'm lonely (but I ain't that lonely yet) / 02 as ugly as I seem / 03 hardest button to button / 04 fell in love with a girl (fast then slow) /
05 I just don't know what to do with myself / 06 little ghost / "get behind me charlie" /07 red rain / 08 apple blossom / 09lets shake hands /
10 seven nation army (Saginaw)/11 boll weevil

White Stripes 2005-10-01
Detroit MI
Disc 1
01 / lets shake hands / 02 blue orchid / 03 party of special things to do / 04 dead leaves / 05 passive manipulation /06 cannon/i think i smell a rat / ball and a biscuit / harold, there's something wrong with this guitar* / 07 st. james infirmary /08 death letter tease/little bird/letter out / detroit at 3:30* /09 i want to help you out....from the album, i thought he'd never play this song!* /
10 Stones In My Passway (Robert Johnson) / 11 my doorbell / 12 wasting my time / 13 jolene / 14 in the cold cold night /15 same boy you've always known /16 girl you have no faith in medicine /17 cannon/passive manipulation (guitar and drums)/cannon/i think i smell a rat riff / 18 hardest button to button
Disc 2
01 when i hear my name / 02 instinct blues / 03 laffyette blues / 04 the union forever / 05 the nurse / 06 seven nation army / 07 we are going to be friends /
08 forever for her (is over for me) / 09 red rain /10 i just don't know what to do with myself / 11 hotel yorba / 12 boll weevil

White Stripes 2005-10-02
Detroit MI
Disc 1
01 (who's the cry baby intro) / 02 dead leaves / 03 blue orchid / 04 hotel yorba / 05 the denial twist / 06 apple blossom /
07 i think i smell a rat/passive manipulation/i think i smell a rat tease/harrigan / 08 dead leaves/cannon/john the revelator/cannon /
09 fell in love with a girl (fast then slow and some weird shit at the end) / 10 ball and a biscuit intro (tease) / 11 my doorbell / 12 as ugly as i seem /
13 death letter/grinnin' in your face/death letter / 14 do / 15 screwdriver / 16 blackjack davey /17 ??? / 18 walking with a ghost (tegan and sara) /
19 hardest button to button / 20 ball and a biscuit / 21 seven nation army
Disc 2
01 i just don't know what to do with myself /02 little ghost (with the blue moon kentucky line) / 03 red rain / 04 you've got her in your pocket /
05 astro (slow) / 06 the nurse / 07 boll weevil

Sunday, September 18, 2011

The Inagural MI Fest
Michigan International Speedway
featuring The Raconteurs, Sheryl Crow, Ronnie Dunn and more

The Raconteurs 10:00
Sheryl Crow 8:15 - 9:30
Ronnie Dunn 6:45 - 7:45
The Romantics 5:30 - 6:15
Mark Farner 4:10 - 5:10
Jeff Daniels 3:05 - 3:50
Wendy Starland (Special Performance) 2:30 - 2:45
Mitch Ryder 1:25 - 2:10
The Ben Daniels Band 12:30 - 1:00

The Rockets 7:00 - 8:00
Ty Stone 5:30 - 6:30
JEFF the Brotherhood 4:25 - 5:10
Black Belles 3:30 - 4:00
PUJOL 2:40 - 3:10
Black Milk1:50 - 2:20
Thornbills 1:00 - 1:30
Shock Wave 12:00 - 12:30

A weekend festival to celebrate Michigan. Sounds like a plan. I've had some good times in Michigan during my life. Seeing the Lions defeat the Cowboys on a last second field goal at Pontiac back in the late '70's. Springsteen at Joe Louis Arena in 1981. Dylan at Cobo Hall, in Ypsilanti and at the Crysler Arena, The State, The Fox. I was there the night Jack White and Dylan played Ball and Biscuit. 6 shows with the Stripes. Visits with friends. The best cherry chicken dish ever in St Joseph's.

A bit of an inauspicious start for this ambitious endeavour. Tickets prices were suddenly lowered by $20 the week before the show...a portent of things to come. Two days before the show 11 acts were unceremoniously dumped. None of the main acts but it decimated the local talent. Fans of Hotclub of Detroit, Jill Jack, The Juliets, Thornbill, The Ragbirds and the Howlin' Diablos were disappointed to see these bands dropped. Perhaps they reached too high, too soon...

It's not easy coming up with a theme for a road trip to Brooklyn MI...but I found one.

While taking in the best of live Michigan music, I took the opportunity to visit some not so live artists.

Our first stop is Westlawn Cemetery in Wayne, MI, where the soulful Jackie Wilson, is buried. Sad story at the end of a troubled life. Drops while performing his signature tune, 9 years comatose, no way to treat a man with such a vibrant life force.

Getting to the speedway was no problem at all. A 30 minute ride from our hotel, straight into the Wheelchair Parking spot and onto the tram that brings you to the grounds. We have the "VIP Grandee" tickets which cost $20 more than the regular general admission and promised free drinks, food, close stage access and mingling with the artists. I didn't mingle much but the 3 free drinks were worth $21 so the rest was a bonus.

On the side stage Shock Wave were greeting the early bird audience with a cover of Alice Cooper's I'm Eighteen. They were shockingly loud for 12:10 pm.

I didn't mind, 'cause I knew Jack White was performing today.

We're already commited to the main stage and we find ourselves a nice spot about 30 feet from the stage.

Alive and kickin' at 1:25 pm are Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels!
He's flogging a new album, had some blonde cutie in the audience selling copies. Got the crowd on their feet for Jenny Take A Ride and Devil With the Blue Dress. Voice was terrific, still belting them out.

I stick around to watch a minute or two of Wendy Starland. She was added to the roster, even as all those local bands were being dropped. Apparently she's a "special" guest. I heard some mumbling about her winning some songwriting award. As I'm meandering towards the drink line I'm wondering where that was...not country wide, surely, unlikely it's even a state wide award. My guess is it was the Hamtramack Songwriting Award. I believe her greater claim to fame was 'discovering' Lady GaGa.

I didn't mind 'cause I knew Jack White was performing today.

After drinks it's food and a chance to take in the grounds. The organizers have done a terrific job; the drink lines are short, the food lines are short and there's a large variety of choices. Plenty of vendors as well. Wanted to grab a lovely Hwy 61/49 Crossroads necklace but at $100 I figured I'd just go visit it again. The longest line in the place was outside the Third Man Records Rolling Record Store Truck Thingie.

Jeff Daniel's comes onstage to play us some of his contemporary bluegrass stylings. I'd say he was the pleasant surprise of the day. He was happy that the Tigers had clinched their division and started his set with The Tiger Fans Blues . Even though he didn't mention Tramell once I believe my buddy Doug is going to enjoy this song. (This is the only song I was able to salvage from 6 hours of taping and even it's marred by the wind off the stage mics. More on that later.)

During Jeff's set, which included a few Michigan-centric tunes and a cover of I Heard It Through the Grapevine, Jack White was side-stage with his kids.

Between sets I wander over to catch Third Man Record Artists, Black Belles for a few seconds. They look like extras from Wicked. As I'm moving away from the stage the singer notes that it's hard to keep her hat on in the wind. I comment to the lady walking next to me, "Ya, that's what's hard about rock n roll." Without missing a beat she replies, "The wind."

Mark Farner, formerly of Grand Funk Railroad, was the second pleasant surprise of the day. I cut him a little slack for his Made In America rant because he did note it was his wish to get his country back. Opens with We're An American Band. Locomotion was a real treat and Closer to Home was dedicated to the troops.

Time for some more drinks and I come across Little Jack Lawrence watching the end of Jeff the Brotherhood's set on the side stage.

The Romantics. What can I say. There is no greater hell-on-earth than to be an '80's hair band and have to be reliving that decade when you're in your 50's. Ask Flock of Seagulls. Or Duran, Duran. That's why I just took a picture of their drum set.
They opened with a song that had the same melody as their biggest hit, only was slightly slower. Played another one or two vaguely familiar tunes, then they did Talking in Your Sleep, before they closed with What I Like About You. They were well received and didn't suck terribly, although they were a little repetitive.
OK, here's what hell is like in the music industry.

On the main stage we're waiting for Ronnie Dunn and Sheryl Crow. Now looking around the venue, and knowing what I know about the star-making machinery behind the popular song, these two artists are a bigger draw than The Raconteurs. Now I'm not saying they're better than Jack...I'm just saying. And the audience really took to both artists. To me they made vanilla seem exotic. Dunn has a big...truck. With his name splashed across a 30' trailer. Real subtle. His persona exceeds his personality though. Songs were a little light. Too many allusions to being a country addict or freak or bleeding red-white-and-blue. Sheryl Crow was amazingly underwhelming. I was expecting a more powerful set. She pretty well mailed it in. Even her good songs were merely background music, carried more by the audiences enthusiasm for their memory of the songs than the performance itself.

But that's ok, 'cause Jack White is performing tonight.

It's getting a little cool now but we've had a wonderful weather day. Bright sunshine with enough cloud cover to keep you from keeling over unless you were one of the dozen walking-dead who had imbibed a little too much. We came prepared and are sitting with a warm blanket and an open view of the stage. We couldn't see through the packed crowd in the VIP section during the previous two innocuous sets but now we have the equivalent of unobstructed front row seats.

How can that be, you might ask. First off the organizers did a great job of keeping interlopers out of the sequestered area. Secondly Jack has learned a little from one of his three fathers, Bob Dylan. He's learned how to cover up lyric flubs with incoherent mumbling and, it's evident tonight, he's learned how to empty a room.

Now in fairness to Jack most of those who left were predisposed to leave and were making their way towards the exit after Sheryl's set wound down. Some had kids. Some were older than the performers by a couple decades and weren't planning on staying past sunset. It was getting cold so the casual festival goer may have had his fill. Not to mention that on the main stage it was the headliners who were fish out of water. The Raconteurs should have closed the showcase stage, following the Third Man Record bands.

Many of those who did stick around to see what all the fuss was about started to peel out after the 3rd or 4th song. That left about 2,000 people watching the headliners.

I just don't get it.

The Racs were a little loose. Slightly new arrangements for most of the songs. Highlight was Top Yourself. Brendan's songs were good. Jack's showcase songs lacked the emotional punch they used to have. He went crazy on his solo's but his voice was not as captivating as it could be on the epic Blue Veins or Carolina Drama.

Salute Your Solution
You Don't Understand Me
Top Yourself
Old Enough
Many Shades of Black
Intimate Secretary
Switch and the Spur
Blue Veins

Steady As She Goes
Carolina Drama

I'm having a little fun at the expense of some bands but it was a terrific day. The event was well organized and the festival help was gracious beyond anyone's expectations. I mean it was so good I was not even surprised they were offering a happy ending to the concert goers at the exit.

OK, the wife tells me that does not mean what I think it means.

Not leaving good enough alone we stay up drinking 'till 3:00 am and severely pay for it the next morning.

In Woodlawn Cemetery, located south of 8 Mile in Detroit, we find Jackie Wilson's cousin, Levi Stubbs.

Was hoping to get a picture of Ted Nugent's grave.
Imagine my disappointment when I found out he was still alive.

Postscript: Been having some trouble with my recordings this year. Partly due to the fact the shows have been few and far between due to health issues in the family and I got a new rig which I thought I was having trouble mastering. After doing a little research (which I could have done BEFORE I went to the Festival) I found out the H2ZOOM has a problem with it's peak control when in line mode. There's ways around it but the easiest way is...don't fucking use it. I'm going back to my Edirol and Tascam and should have my act together for Coachella 2012.