Back in November we had a wonderful weekend in this bucolic little community when we attended the Words Aloud Festival. CR had a full band with him then, tonight he's here to do a solo opening set and local heroes, Big Bad Wolf, join in the second set. Well part of them, the rhythm section and guitarist. They did a wonderful job, with little time to rehearse. It seems the blues are a universal language.
This Bookstore and Cafe is the schnizzel...or something like that. It's cool. We have hippies and kids of hippies in attendance. And folks who don't look so hip anymore (this writer included) but still got an ear for the divinely bizarre and interesting.
CR was brought out east by the lure of a weeks residence at The Bowery in NYC and a showcase appearance in Halifax. Ontario got a break as he's made his way from Toronto to Williamsford to Guelph and Kitchener before heading towards the east, stopping in Ottawa and places even more remote. He's telling us we won't see him here again until September (GTFOH!). I may have to make my way to Vancouver for a springtime booster shot, I can't be waiting until September.
His last set here was very good and it seems he remembers the vibe because he tracked these guys down to see if they would have him again. It seems they were prepared as the venue was packed to capacity. Smiling, laughing, attentive crowds always bring out the best in CR and I can tell the ambiance here is perfect for his brand of performance art, which covers much more than the harmonica and piano.
CR is a visual artist. He challenges the crowd sonically. The harp blasts and beat-boxing are aggressive. He uses those instruments to push the envelope a bit. Sometimes it hides his songwriting skills (great ballads from this guy), it's such a cacaphony of sound. Most times it makes the audience realize they CAN tolerate something outside the accepted norm. Even learn to love it, as many here tonight were here in November and came back for another dose.
These songs may become available for download via the Words Aloud site for a small donation in support of the arts so I'm just going to drop a teaser, one of my all time favourites, Birdcage.
57 Channels (and Nothing On) (B.Springsteen)
Blame It On My Troubled Youth
The Boxer Who Just Returned From London
Voodoo Child (J. Hendrix)
Hollywood Movie Blues
(w/ Big Bad Wolf)
Intrumental (Big Bad Wolf)
Like A Train in the Snow
Milk Cow Blues
Jelly Roll Morton