Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars
Complete Live Performance
by Sean Cotton
Corin Raymond and the Sundowners
with special guest
CR Avery
Cameron House

The Cameron House is  a heritage building but it's the mood it evokes that should be saved for posterity. Indie music rules. This cozy, street-level lounge hosts a variety of local artists and a quick walk-in to the building with ants will result in an evening well wasted.

Last Thursday was a little extra special.

Holding down the fort, as he does most every Thursday during the dinner hour, is Toronto's Troubadour, Corin Raymond. Tonight he's joined by his crack-band, the Sundowners; local guitar-guru, producer, David Baxter, multi-instrumentalist, JUNO nominee, Treasa Levasseur, bassman Brian Kobayakowa and for one night only, violinist and birthday girl, Sarah Fitzpatrick.

Corin is embarking on a lengthy US tour with Jonathan Byrd that will see him absent from this room clear through until April. He's working his new songs that should be available next spring on a collection of covers by various North American artists. Throughout the set he sprinkles tunes from 2004's Lonesome Record Night and 2008's There Will Always Be A Small Time and plays the role of most gracious ring-master, giving up the stage to CR Avery, inviting us to the back room for the Ziggy extravaganza and reminding us that Greg Cockerill's band is filling in the quiet time and closing the night on the front room stage.

Corin Raymond and the Sundowners

Set 1
t01 Intro
t02 Old Fort Mack
t03 talk
t04 River Town
t05 talk
t06 Lord Loves A Wino
t07 Hard On Things
t08 talk
t09 ?Just 'Cause I'm In Love With You(Jessie WInchester)
t10 talk
t11 ?Isn't That So(Jessie Winchester)
t12 talk
t13 I'm A Fucking Genius
t14 Sugar Candy Mountain
t15 talk
t16 If Wishes Were Horses
t17 talk
t18 3000 Miles

Set 2

t01 Intro
t02 Better Him Than Me
t03 talk
t04 Freezing to Death in A Boxcar
t05 talk
t06 Postcard From Winnipeg
t07 talk
t08 Little Bird (Treasa Levasseur, vocals)
t09 There Will Always Be A Smalltime

CR came into town with a box full of new songs. His opener, always a harp-blowout, is from the Boss tonight, 57 Channels.Second harp song of the night is Hendrix's Voodoo Child, complete with PA feedback. And three ballads, from the introspective Troubled Youth, the sardonic Hollywood Movie Blues and the lenghty forary into jazz history, Jelly Roll Morton.

Click on the hyperlinks for sound samples.

CR Avery - harmonica, piano, vocals
Sarah Fitzpatrick - violin

t01 Corin's Intro
t02 57 Channels (and nothing on) (Springsteen)
t03 Blame It On My Troubled Youth
t04 Happy Birthday To Sarah
t05 Hollywood Movie Blues
t06 Voodoo Child (Hendrix)
t07 Jelly Roll Morton

The back room show gets off to a slow start as no one took the time to go to the bar and let everyone know it was on. Sean stumbles over a lyric line in Five Years and doesn't quite find a groove for Soul Love after a false start. These things happen sometimes and the beginning often has nothing to do with the end. I think this is only the second time this performance has been done live and it's one thing to rehearse the songs, quite another to stage the show from front to back with proper pacing.

From Moonage Daydream onwards the performance was inspiring, near flawless and most important, interesting as hell. Sean's between song patter was illuminating us on the themes and schemes behind this story, as well as illustrating why some songs didn't make the cut. The second set was bombastic, well, as bombastic as you can be with one guitar and a mic'd case for foot stompin'. Lots of care put into this show and Sean does a terrific job of simulating little riffs with his limited orchestration. The gadgets helped but it was the arrangements that made it easy to hear the record in your head.

Sean Cotton performs
The Complete Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars

Set 1

t01 Five Years
t02 Soul Love
t03 Moonage Daydream
t04 Starman
t05 It Ain't Easy
t06 Lady Stardust

Set 2

t07 Intro to outtakes*
t08 John, I'm Only Dancing*
t09 Velvet Goldmine*
t10 Star
t11 Sweet Head*
t12 talk
t13 Hang on to Yourself
t14 Ziggy Stardust
t15 Suffragette City
t16 talk
t17 Rock 'n' Roll Suicide

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Wanda Jackson and Billy Bragg
Woodsongs Oldtime Radio Hour
Kentucky Theater
Lexington KY

So wasn't that a fortunate break? I book a date to see Billy in Ann Arbor
then find out he will be doing a Woodsongs episode (or two) with Wanda Jackson in Lexington
...and we're invited down by our local friends, Abby and Bryan.
Both these artists are on my 'must see' list, Billy didn't make it to TO this year and I had a scheduling conflict with the Wanda shows. But if you live right, things fall your way.
This is a special recording for Woodsongs, the first time they've done a two part episode. Each of these artists would have warranted a full show on their own but the timing required that we double up. Nice bonus for the miles covered.

Billy and Wanda get 8 songs each. It's a tough medium to get the power of your live shows across. The volume is moderated. The songs are interspersed with interviews and you just can't get an extended groove on. On the other hand we do get some insight into the artists careers and the host, Michael Jonathan, asks just the right questions, eliciting interesting information.

Billy didn't want to work in the car factory. Wanda found Jesus. It's cynicism, not conservatism or capitalism, that is our enemy. The party ain't over. The Clash rule. Elvis is King. Those were pretty well the highlights.

Well, not counting the songs.

Billy Bragg

Ain't Got No Home
I Dreamed I Saw Phil Ochs Last Night
Tank Park Salute
Way Over Yonder In A Minor Key
A New England
To Have and Have Not
Tomorrow's Gonna Be A Better Day
I Keep Faith

Wanda Jackson

Mean, Mean, Man
I Gotta Know
Shakin' All Over
Fujiyama Mama
Rock Me Baby
You Know I'm No Good
Right or Wrong
Let's Have A Party

You can hear the songs and see one of the shows by scrolling down to Shows 593 and 594 on this page CLICK HERE TO SEE AND HEAR

This pic has nothing to do with the weekend except that it's Jack White related. The last site we saw before we crossed the border line.

Monday, January 03, 2011

Joan Armatrading
Danforth Music Hall
Toronto ON

Fourth in a series of shows I missed posting about over the past few years while we wait for this years concert season to start up.

Joan Armatrading has been at this game a long time now. Her independent streak, including strict control over her artistic output, has probably kept her in the grey area of rock n roll instead of the spotlight of fame on an international level. She has received critical acclaim up the wazoo, Brit Awards, gold records, Grammy nods, most revolving around her cross-over successes in the late '70's and early '80's. While music industry interest has waxed and waned over the decades, that is a reflection of the fickle nature of popularity not Joans ever growing talent.

She had the unfortunate luck to be bringing singer-songwriting skills to the airwaves at the moment the kids were clamouring for incoherent scream-fests fueled by middle-class post-pubescent angst. She was positivity and creativity in a time of negativity and deconstruction. She was a black-girl playing superb jazz-fused guitar in a time we wanted skinny fucked up white guys who couldn't play at all.

Of course there's only one question: Where are those guys now?

2007 saw Joan Armatrading become the first British female artist to debut at # 1 on the Billboard Blues Charts with her Into the Blues project. (Her 2010 follow up, This Charming Life also climbed to #1 on the blues charts.) Almost 20 years after her last charted hit she is at an artistic peak. All the instruments on the record (save the drums) are played by Joan. All original songs (she has never recorded a cover song). As impressive as that is, when she is on stage her band-leading and playing skills are a wonder to behold and a pleasant surprise. While she has been perpetually labelled with those marginalizing post-it note tags; black artist, jazz infused, singer-songwriter, female artist, blues artist, she is, on stage, simply a girl who wants to front a rock n roll band.

One big let down tonight...no songs from Walk Under Ladders. Can't understand that. She did go as far back as 1975 for Cool Blue Stole My Heart. Played a healthy helping of hits; Show Some Emotion, All the Way From America, Call Me Names, Me Myself I, Drop the Pilot. No complaints there. A smattering of songs from throughout the '80's and a decent insight into the new record, 6 tunes. She struck a terrific balance between representing her former self and introducing us to her new project.

Joan Armatrading
Toronto ON
Danforth Music Hall
Disc 1
01 Heaven (Am I In) (from Track Record, 1983)
02 The Devil I Know (from The Shouting Stage, 1988)
03 Joan Talks
04 A Woman In Love (from Into the Blues, 2007)
05 Show Some Emotion (from Show Some Emotion, 1977)
06 Something's Gotta Blow (from Into the Blues, 2007)
07 Play The Blues (from Into the Blues, 2007)
08 Into The Blues (from Into the Blues, 2007)
09 Tall In The Saddle (from Joan Armatrading, 1976)
10 Love And Affection (from Joan Armatrading, 1976)
11 All The Way From America (from Me Myself I, 1980)
12 My Baby's Gone ( Come Back Baby) (from Into the Blues, 2007)
13 Empty Highway (from Into the Blues, 2007)
Disc 2
14 Cool Blue Stole My Heart (from Back to The Night, 1975)
15 You Rope You Tie Me (from To the Limit, 1978)
16 (I Love It When You)Call Me Names (from The Key, 1983)
17 Me Myself I (from Me Myself I, 1980)
18 encore - audience
19 Band Intro
20 Willow (from Show Some Emotion, 1977)
21 Drop The Pilot (from The Key, 1983)