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

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