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

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