Friday, January 27, 2012

Corin Raymond and the Sundowners
Live Album Recording Night 1
with special guest Jonathan Byrd

It's finally here! SOLD OUT! Corin Raymond has been workin' and practicin', practicin' and workin' towards this night for about a year now. It's been a long and winding road, starting with Thursday night after Thursday night at The Cameron House trying the songs out on live audiences. Corin is compiling an homage to the great North American indie songwriters who keep the small time thriving. Some are knocking on the door to the big time but all are advancing the craft. More recently the excitement level has skyrocketed as the Canadian Tire Fundraiser has hit the local and national news, spreading the story across the nation and going viral...on a Canadian level.

All that attention is great and I really hope the Canadian Tire money spotlight attracts some listeners and critics to the show and the record, 'cause when they get there they will find so much more than that (soon to be iconic) underground anthem.

The first of two nights sees North Carolinian Jonathan Byrd coming in to support his good friend and (sometime)touring mate. Jonathan's roots album, Cackalack, recorded in Toronto a couple years ago, had some major successes Stateside this year. (It's the short-form of Cackalacky.) He's been won over by the hysteria surrounding the album and the fundraiser. This dream all started when he and Corin were sharing miles between Whitehorse and Dawson City last February. Back then the dream was to get drunk at the Dunright Inn. It's changed a little. He had some things to tell us too, a little of the Corin rubbing off on him. The Corin stories ranged from his sleeping through the 10 am sessions for Cackalack to the difficulty of getting Corin across a border. Jonathan was a gracious support act, paying proper respect to Corin's love for the music of other musicians while not hiding his love of the force that is Corin Raymond. He tells a great story, the highlight being a great piece on the difference between our 20 dollar bill and the American version. Comparing the Green Queen with the altruistic quote vs. the author of the Trail of Tears, Andrew Jackson.

And the songs. A cross between Henry Timrod and Bob Dylan. (Say what?!?! That's been done?) We were able to get Jonathan out of the country but you can't get the country out of Jonathan. Here's a southerner who understands his lands history, doesn't excuse it, even refutes a good deal of it, but still finds beauty in the people and the land that drives his unmistakable love for it.

You want something that's just a lot of fun? You're talkin' Chicken Wire.
I Was An Oak is an American masterpiece. It would be at home on a Lomax compilation or The Basement Tapes. It comes in under 3 minutes but it lasts much longer.
Corin and Jonathan share a co-write on the Texas flatlands ballad The Law and the Lonesome.
May the River Run Dry is the story of ??????? , well, I don't know but it evokes Dylan's Watchtower.
Following an interesting talk about the difference between our 20 and the USD 20 we get the tale of Diana Jones, the American Dream not quite working out.
The too-short set closes with next years hit - You Can't Outrun the Radio.

The Sundowners are:

Corin Raymond vocals, guitar
David Baxter guitar, mandolin, backing vocals
Treasa Levasseur accordion, piano, backing vocals, vocals
Brian Kobayakowa bass

I spent three years in Grade 11 math but I understood Aristotle when he said the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
Individually these artists are headliners. Together they are a hidden Canadian treasure.

We have no sound samples for Corin's set because this material is being used for a live recording that should be ready for your Christmas stocking. Now that might seem a ways off but Corin cares. When this is done we will all be proud on his behalf.

If you've whiled away the hours any early Thursday evenings at The Cameron House you will be familiar with these tunes. If you haven't then get on it, it's the best bang for your buck you'll find on Queen St West. I've talked about this set on other posts, if you care to look around the blog, so I'll keep this brief and hit on the newer stuff...well, new to me.

I'm guessing I've never heard Veronica before...'cause if I had I would have told you about it. It's not the Elvis Costello song; you can pick your girlfriend, but you can't pick your girlfriends name. The song is an open wound.

A new Doug Norquay song in the set, more darkness from the West, Cruel Cruel Town laments the fate of the artiste trying to make it in the real world.
Ridley Bent's Nine Inch Nails brought a lot of smiles. My son, who was one of the videographers this evening, is a big fan of NIN. His girlfriend is missing tomorrow's show because she's going to see Tool. They had to endure a little good natured ribbing in this story of misplaced records and love.

Tender moment in the middle of the show that was a testament to how tightly wound Corin is this evening. He's feeling the pressure of a showcase live performance that he's been promoting for a year. He's not succumbing, he's workin' it hard, but during the intro to Blues Mama he was telling a story about visiting his mother's grave. She passed away a long time ago and didn't get to see her grown son. He thought he'd play her a tune or two to let her know he's going OK and he drops 3000 Miles and Blues Mama on her. For a moment he choked up tonight, swallowed hard and poured his heart into the John Borra song.

Surprise song of the evening was a combination spoken-word piece and answer-song. Back in February of '11 Corin received a most peculiar invitation to perform at an open mic. While the organizer purported to love his songs, and thought his clientelle would as well, he wasn't too keen on the pre-song banter. Not necessary for his cerebral concert attendees. If only he could change then perhaps he could get a feature slot for the $50.00 compensation. It was all the rage on Corin's Facebook page. Within a few hours Taylor Ashton had written this reply and he was on the stage tonight duetting with Corin on Change (You're So Strange). Corin started the piece by reading the letter, tossing in the odd comment, then was joined by Taylor for the tale. Now while I don't have any mp3's I do have an audiographic memory, so I've transcribed the piece if you have the patience to read. This whole tale is punctuated with laughter from the audience.

This is something I want to share with you. You need to know about this. This is an email I received early in the year, in February from an open mic host. It's an invitation to play. He tells me he runs an open mic, I'm just sharing this with you because this is gold. You could not create this. he tells me,
"We're an open mic, of course, but we also have a feature in every show. I saw you about a year or two ago and thought you and your buddy would be a good feat'ch."

He's talking about The Undesirables.

"Our features do a half flhour."

I might as well read you what he wrote.

"Our features do a half flhour, we only pay 50 bucks but if you were stuck in town here on any 1st, 3rd or 5th Sunday night any month of the year this would beat sitting in a motel watching Simpsons reruns."

Which you realise, as the email goes on, that it would not beat watching Simpsons reruns.

"We'd have to know a few months in advance of course, but to be honest there was one problem. Your tendency to flood he audience with patter prior to each song would mean they would get one, or at best, two songs out of you guys during a half hour feath'ch. I mean, if we were to book you as a music act that would be a poor payoff for the crowd. And if we booked you as a word act, well then the music portion would seem superfluous."

This is my favourite.

"What to do?"

It sure is a puzzler.

"I know it's been a few years, maybe that need for extended talk prior to each song has passed. It wouldn' go down well with my audince as they are a well-read and well-educated bunch and do not appreciate long intro's or history. They'll "get" "

He put that in quotations.

"They'll "get" any song you throw at them, trust them. We really enjoy the music part of your portion of the show. ANyway I hope you're well and good and not wallowing in any of this flu shit that seems to be kililng everyone out here. Damn it, I had it for two weeks, got over it, to celebrate I went to a restaurant and got food poisoning."

I received that email in February. That thing's like a diamond, it's got facets. There are so many dimensions to that. So many levels to enjoy. I never responded to it. I didn't know how. I was touring with Jonathan Byrd, we'd be driving, he'd say, "Read that email to me again."

I put it on my music page on Facebook and asked, "What would you say?"
There were a hundred responses. Some people wrote a response to every line, they broke it down. I had trouble with it...what do I do?

Taylor Ashton, who's the front-man for an amazing band called Fishin Bird, Taylor was one of the first one's to respond and he said "You gotta write a song about this."
The thread went on and on and a couple of hours later he wrote, "Never mind, here it is" and he gave me the song. It was posted within hours.

I was never able to formulate a response to that email and I am very happy that he did.

Taylor's here now and we're going to sing it for you.

Taylor Ashton, playing the part of the open mic guy.

"Hey there Corin I like your sound
You're doing something that I like
and if you ever pass through town
well, you should feature at my open mic
i'll give you 50 bucks and drinks,
what do you think?

Oh the crowd is gonna love your songs
but there was just one little thing
you're introductions are kindo long
and they just want to hear you sing.
well if you change your style for us
i can give you 50 bucks
i'll throw in a couple of drinks,
what do you think?

Taylor/Corin chorus

oh just change, change, change, change,
you'd fit right in if you'd just change
you'd be so normal if you weren't so strange,

Corins response:

"I received your note today
thank you for your offer man
i'm a little concerned about the pay
could we make it 20 grand?
maybe change the venue
hold it in my living room
forget about the open mic
i'll talk and sing the whole damn night
we'll serve only milk to drink,
what do you think?

On second thought I'll have to decline
I just don't think it would make a good fit
you don't want my story time
and i don't want your...shenanigans.
next time you ask someone to sell out
you better have more to sell out
than 50 bucks and a couple of drinks
you wanna know just what I think?
Well I ain't gonna play for you
or anyone who wants me to....change

repeat chorus

That was precious and may not be repeated too many times.

More about the fundraiser on tomorrow's blog.

Set 1

JB Intro
Old Fort Mac (Rob Vaarmeyer)
Anastasia (Max Metro)
If I Were You Instead of Me (Bob Hannon)
Slip Away (Jonathan Byrd)
Rivertown (Hayes Carll/Guy Clark)
Little Byrd (Jonathan Byrd) Treassa Levasseur vocals
Lord Loves A Wino (Adam Olmstead)
Blues Mama (John Borra)
Mama It's Too Late(Scott Nolan)
Veronica (Corin Raymond)
Sugar Candy Mountain (Raghu Lokanathan)

Set 2

Change (Taylor Ashton)
100 Candles (The Swifties)
Cruel Cruel Town (Doug Norquay)
Bucket of Time (Evelyn Perry)
Time To Leave (David Ross McDonald)
Nine Inch Nails (Ridley Bent)
Do You Dream(Matt Fockler)
Coming Home To You (Andrew Neville)
I'm A Fucking Genius (Raghu Lokanathan)
The Lord Giveth (The Landlord Taketh Away)
Big Truck Brought It (Rob Vaarmeyer)
Don't Spend It Honey (Raymond/Vaarmeyer)
Italy (Michelle Rumball)
3000 Miles (Corin Raymond)
Postcard From A Friend (Corin Raymond)

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