Sunday, June 10, 2012

CR Avery
The Brownstone Cafe
Orillia ON

2 hours on the road with cottage weekend traffic and classic blues on the player.  2 housrs drinkin' and chattin' with my wife and the artist. 45 minutes of music and words. 1 1/4 hours back home on the major roads and testing the limits of speed and my endurance.

Not a bad way to use up 6 hours on a Friday.

The Brownstone Cafe in Orillia is a terrific local waterhing hole. If it were in Toronto it would feel at home on Queen St West. Friendly staff, local beers and a conflicted attitude towards live music. Actually not conflicted, more polarized. Front of house was populated by attentive fans of music. Rear of house was populated by your regular local Friday night crowd that didn't have to pay a cover. Pretty evenly split.

In the end it was a draw.

CR steps into the ring knowing it's going to be bloody. An opening beat-box harminica salvo of Leadbelly's Sylvie has some success in focussing the crowd. Front half enraptured, rear half somewhat perplexed at the cacophony emanating from the stage but not yet lubricated enough to overcome it or disreagard it.

CR Avery: 1  Bar: 0

Not willing to risk any downtime CR swings into Maggies Farm. The front of the house is still mezmerized, this time by the PJ Shadow piano riff in place of the harmonica. Back of house thinks it's akin to race music and begins to assert itself. Aged but comical in a libertarian kind of way, drunk bar-fly can be heard commenting, "This is my bar," in response to requests to shhhhhh.

CR Avery: 1 Bar:0  Tied: 1

Boxer usually stops everybody dead in their tracks. Not so tonight. Front of house was attentive and laughing at all the right times. Rear of house was lost and loud. CR even called out to them in the middle of this piece, to no avail.

CR Avery: 1 Bar: 1 Tied: 1

Time to  venture into the snake pit. CR picks up his banjo and makes his way to the center of the talkin' crowd. Up close and in your face they had no choice but to tone it down a touch. This one worked. The show could have gone any way from here. It unraveled for all but those in the front.

CR Avery: 2 Bar: 1 Tied: 1

Time for something a little different. If CR really wanted to hold the audience he would have broken out Stairway to Heaven or some Abba tune...but nooooo, that would be too easy. With copper mic in hand and a new beat courtesy of his plugged-in iPhone, CR tears into Voodoo Child and the rear of house checks out.

CR Avery: 2 Bar: 2 Tied: 1

CR rips off a frenetic KKK. Everyone could have walked out and this would still be a win in CR's book for the performance alone. A tree falling in the forest with no one near.

CR Avery: 3  Bar: 2  Tied: 1

One more time into the audience, with the guitar and a new song from East Van, 4 AM Text. By this time the rear of house had moved beyond ignorant to belligerent. The bar-fly was so loud a friend of his walking by outside the venue heard him and came in to reminisce. The skater dude (who would later knock over a lamp while trying to stagger out of the venue with his oversized board) thought the last song was a call-and-response for him. Except his responses were boorish grunts.

CR Avery: 3 Bar: 3 Tied: 1

Maybe it wasn't a draw. The last volley goes to CR. Show's over.

Maggies Farm
Boxer Who Just Returned From London
Hollywood Movie Blues
Voodoo Child
4 AM Text (Happy Valentines)

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