Saturday, February 12, 2011

2 Nights
Hamilton, 2011-02-09
Toronto, 2011-02-11

Always a 'feel good' night when you get to watch a girl rip it on guitar. When she's 60 and still doing scissor-kicks it's life affirming as well. Add a singularly spectacular voice, more hits than you can count on both hands and a cross-country Canadian tour celebrating this bar-band from Vancouver, you got yourself an event.

Wednesday in Hamilton saw a subdued, mid-week, SAD inflicted crowd warm up nicely to the band on a night where the temperature was flirting with minus-life threatening. The show was excellent as this band knows their material, have put together a great retrospective and obviously enjoy every minute of the time on stage.

But Friday night, well, it was on another level. Full credit to the enthusiastic audience that rained love on the ladies from the opening chords. All of Massey Hall was on their feet for a good 3/4 of this show, no holding back. Ann Wilson seemed close to tears on occassion, especially while soaking in the raucous ovation that followed Alone.

There's an excellent review of the show available here:

Heart Rocks Massey Hall

For some sound samples, click on the hyperlinks below. (Same set list both nights.)

Set 1

Cook With Fire(Toronto)
What About Love?
Straight On
Dog and Butterfly(Hamilton)
These Dreams
Hey You
Desire Walks On
Gimme Shelter/Even It Up
Red Velvet Car(Toronto)

Set 2

Magic Man(Hamilton)
Crazy On You(Hamilton)
What Is and What Should Never Be (Zeppelin)(Hamilton)
Love Reign O'er Me (Townsend)(Toronto)
second encore
Dreamboat Annie(Hamilton)

Sunday, February 06, 2011

CR Avery
Great Books
Williamsford ON
brought to you by
Words Aloud!

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.

Set 1

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

Set 2

(w/ Big Bad Wolf)
Intrumental (Big Bad Wolf)
Like A Train in the Snow
Lesbian Blues
Milk Cow Blues
Jelly Roll Morton
Piano Lessons