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.
The Boxer Who Just Returned From London
Dinner For One
57 Channels (And Nothing On)
Hollywood Movie Blues
Commercial and First