Tuesday, November 18, 2014

A November to Remember ... with Venue Accessibility Ratings

October 22nd and 25th

Time to get out a bit before the winter brings out our cocooning instinct.We filled November with two plays and a hand-full of concerts. Also slid in 3 family dental appts and a couple visits to the doctors...it's all good.

I'm adding the Accessibility Ratings for the venues Cece and I visit in case anyone googles that...we always do.

Gonna cheat a little and start my November in October because C R Avery is in Southern Ontario with a new show. Well, I’m hittin' the white lines to see a concert starring CR Avery, yeah, but you know it’s not the one that I had in mind. He’s got a new one out now, I don’t even know what it’s about, but I’ll see him in anything so I hit the white lines.

He's touring his new book of poetry, Some Birds Walk For The Hell of It. I love that cover,  the original 26X30" oil on canvas portrait is hanging in my Blues Room. Had the good fortune of purchasing this before it was selected to be the cover. When that happened See Are dropped me text to say: "Boss, you're painting just got picked for the cover of my new book. Doubled in value. BAM!" He talks that way.

You can see Man at Bar and his other works in this quick video.

But I digress and it's early.

I took in the Wednesday October 22nd show at The Supermarket on Augusta with my son, Michael. Though I was at the venue early 60 people slipped by me, when I got in there was only standing room at the back wall. I thought the entrance WAS that back wall and I was waiting for it to be opened. Turns out the entrance was around the corner towards the bathrooms, out of site of the main restaurant. In what could only be considered a bizarre coincidence someone else thought that was the entrance, as the wall was pushed towards me, Corin Raymond and his girl were trying to make their way in.
Hip-hop, beat box, blues singing, spoken-word, painter CR Avery felt he didn't have enough descriptors in front of his name. This year he adds carnival barker, stand-up comic, strip-tease dancin' Master of Ceremonies.

In Toronto he had three young members of the Toronto Dead Poets Society...or something. Kids with a great command of the language and a keen interest in contemporary issues. In Ottawa we had the more mature PruFrock opening. I've seen this guy before and he is a captivating artist.  I didn't tape the kids in TO or any of the Ottawa show so you can find more on PrufRock here. Under the link you just passed.

So what's CR up to? Semi-naked girls, that's what. In the east end of Vancouver there's been a marriage of the spoken-word and burlesque communities. I suspect Lola Frost has something to do with it but we haven't seen her in Central Canada yet.

This year's show is moving into performance art with the burlesque accompaniment, dance routines and even some comedy in the persona of hipster-hickster from the 'Schwa. 

Show opens with CR standing in the middle of the audience doing his acoustic homage to Amy Winehouse, Israel's Saviour and Queen. A lot of the rest of the evening is canned music and a single lead guitar...but it's primarily about the poems.

Spoken word and dubbed music all included in these tracks:

This Is Not Fine Art

Lunch Pick-Up Poem

 Accessibility Rating: D. You can't get in if you're not walking due to a couple steps at the entrance. All it would take is a portable ramp and a little help, not a lot of effort.

For the "hittin' the road" part Cece and I are off to Ottawa for a second show. Pretty much the same as the pace of the show is driven by the pre-recorded music and video vignettes that open each segment. A little bit of everything in this years incarnation of CR Avery.
In Ottawa we were at The Hub. A kind of community center/drop in center for those who miss the halcyon days of hippie-dom.

Accessibility Rating: A.  Venue is on the sixth floor but there's an elevator and helpful staff.

We also got to see some kids in Hallowe'en costumes when we visited with dear friends Ryan and Teri and their almost 2 year old son, Watson. Watson was hosting other friends and cousins for their first Hallowe'en.

The morning after we took some time to visit the War Memorial where a young soldier, Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, was gunned down in a tragic act.

November 2nd More costumes, less kids.

 Wicked was wrapping up it's second run in Toronto. November 2nd marked the last day for the Broadway crew's road stand. And my 58th birthday. We had a stand-in for Glinda (the 'ga' is silent), the not-so-good witch, as it turns out. Didn't matter. Couldn't tell. Great production, great story, you'll never watch the original the same way.

Accessibility Rating:   A very good experience. The wheel in from the cross-street parking lot is a little hairy as the roads are in terrible shape and there are street-car tracks, but that's a City issue, not a venue issue. The Ed Mirvish Theater has a wheelchair lift at the Victoria St entrance. There is no automatic door entry but the ushers are present and they will treat you very well. Inside the venue an usher pointed out where the accessible washrooms were the moment we came in. They also brought us into the theater in advance of the crowd.(First in, last out, get used to it.)  We did not have a designated wheelchair and companion seat (usually found at the outside wall of venues) so an usher took our chair away for storage. He came back at intermission to see if we wanted it and brought it to us when the exiting crowd passed our row.  We would never hesitate to see an event here.

Rating: A-  The lack of an automatic door opener means you struggle with the chair and door if the usher is otherwise detained and makes it an obstacle to people with no companion present. The lobby is very crowded before and after the show because it's small. Doesn't really allow you to go to the merch table or concessions stand very easily. The only things that kept this from being an A+

November  8th

From the big stage to the small time, where art thrives on love, not dreams of fortune or fame. Our friend, Toronto Troubadour Corin Raymond, has a song that champions the 'small time'; clubs where artists perform for hat-money, community theaters, street corner busking, all the places where the chance to practice the art is worth more than the compensation. The Durham Shoestring Performers "The Phoenix Lottery", at over two hours live running time for a mere $13.00 per person, is bang for your entertainment buck. It takes 3 months to prepare for 6 shows...and almost all the players have day jobs.

Cece and I were out here to see an old high-school friend, Boyd Tattrie, who spends his spare time working the community theaters in the small towns east of Toronto. We had become reacquainted this past year through a Facebook page and a Riverdale Collegiate reunion dinner. In fact we'd seen him in a Whitby Community Theater production of Cabaret just prior to the reunion. That dinner had Cece and I meet up with the person who introduced us to each other at a Food Truck Fair. We also found time to hook up with another comrade who had grown up to enjoy the same type of roots music we did...in two cities neither of us live in. Gotta love the interweb.

Follow this link to a friendly and accurate review.

Accessibility Rating: A  Parking close to the entrance, elevator to the venue and a front row seat. Small lobby.

November 12th

Back at the Tranzac where in November of 2012 we witnessed the live recording sessions that became Paper Nickels. I didn't write a blog about it because it was supposed to be a surprise. This year we are celebrating the 10th Anniversary of Corin Raymond's first CD, Record Lonesome Night. The deluxe package comes with a t-shirt, poster, book and the record. So I went for it.

The celebratory concert comes with a bindle full of opening acts and a special guest.

First up is the Steven Wright of folk-music, Jack Breakfast .
Think of early Simon and Garfunkel on 'ludes.
Here's a taste of the sardonic wit, a song about every young man's dream a woefully alcoholic girlfriend. While Jack's intro says this song is unrecorded, I beg to differ.


Jack's followed by country songstress Angie Gunn
She's got an old-time country voice that makes you want to keep on listening.  She performs at The Local fairly regularly and looks to be filling a couple of Corin's 6pm Thursday slots at The Cameron, at least December 4th. Here she is channeling Jimmie Rodgers.

(I Can't Give Up) My Good Ole Ramblin Ways

Next up Declan O'Donovan, who is doing a Wednesday 6PM residency at the Cameron House this December while visiting from the Yukon.  An aggressive and talented piano player, he has a commanding stage presence and some captivating songs.

Here he is singing a Song Loosely Based on A Story He Heard about Hank Williams.

Evalyn Parry has been called the "female C R Avery", and I'm not sure that can be done. A multi-talented artist she is wrapping up a year-long tour of her stage show, SPIN. After some brief technical difficulties, which were gloriously covered up by a rendition of Bucket of Time, we were treated to a musical bicycle and some suffragette history.

It occurs to me that I'm beginning to collect a few artists performing the songs that Corin covered on Paper Nickels; Corin's 2 songs ,obviously but also Raghu Loganathan singing Sugar Candy Mountian, Scott Cook performing The Lord Giveth (and the Landlord Taketh Away) and Evalyn Parry doing Bucket of Time. I know John Borra (Blues Mama) is playing around Toronto. I've heard even Doug Norquay (Cruel, Cruel Town) is onstage once in awhile. I've seen Max Metraux (Anastasia) at The Cameron, at the bar...perhaps he can be enticed onstage. But I digress.

Here's a video of She Rides from SPIN

The Tranzac is filled to capacity on this chilly mid-week November night. 10 years ago, to the day, that Record Lonesome Night was released.

Corin opens his set with a 15 minute spoken-word piece about the making of RNL. Not the recording of the songs, that was simply the moment it was put down. It took a lifetime to get to that first record and it contains a lifetime of hurts and hopes. Besides being Toronto's Troubadour you can see that Corin has a future in just talking to us.

His crack band runs through the complete album, with special guest Sean Cotton (of The Undesirables) making an appearance on One Fine Day.

The evening is filled out with songs that will be making their way to next years album, Hobo Jungle Fever Dreams. Hard On Things, Morning Glories and Rain Bed are going to be highlights.

Which is why there's no recording of this night. Get thee to The Cameron House most Thursday nights between 6 and 8 to get your fix.

Accessibility Rating:  A. You have to walk through an alleyway from the parking lot if you don't get a spot right on Brunswick but that's not too big a deal. The venue is on the main floor so if somebody gets a door for you, you're good to go.

November 17th

No it's not the return of Vincent Price. Bob Dylan's back in town. Which is where he has to be for me to see him nowadays. At 150+ shows I've lost the urge to travel. The cowboy band and static set list makes it easy to stay home.

Now for those of you who haven't been keeping up, here's something you won't see at a Dylan show anymore.

He plays piano or he stands center stage with mic and harps.

I haven't been too enamoured with Dylan's band since Larry Campbell left back in another lifetime, one of toil and blood. Truth is, they are superb. The arrangements are lush and intricate, if a little slow overall.

The show has a strange configuration with 9 songs (50 minutes) followed by a half-hour intermission then 10 songs, including the encore, (58 minutes) to close the show. The band probably only requires a 15 minute nap but the audience needs the extra time to return to their seats with double-fisted drinks.

Toronto, Ontario
Sony Centre For The Performing Arts

November 17, 2014

1. Things Have Changed (Bob center stage, Donnie on pedal steel, Stu on acoustic)
2. She Belongs To Me (Bob center stage with harp, Donnie on pedal steel)
3. Beyond Here Lies Nothin'
(Bob on piano, Donnie on electric mandolin, Stu on acoustic)
4. Workingman's Blues #2
(Bob center stage, Donnie on pedal steel, Stu on acoustic)
5. Waiting For You
(Bob on piano, Donnie on pedal steel, Stu on acoustic, Tony on standup bass with bow)
6. Duquesne Whistle (Bob on piano, Donny on lap steel, Tony on standup bass)
7. Pay In Blood (Bob center stage, Donnie on pedal steel, Stu on acoustic)
8. Tangled Up In Blue
(Bob center stage with harp then on piano, Donnie on pedal steel, Stu on acoustic)
9. Love Sick (Bob center stage, Donnie on electric mandolin)

10. High Water (For Charley Patton)
(Bob center stage, Donnie on banjo, Tony on standup bass)
11. Simple Twist Of Fate
(Bob center stage with harp, Donnie on pedal steel, Stu on acoustic)
12. Early Roman Kings
(Bob on piano, Donnie on lap steel, Stu on acoustic, Tony on standup bass)
13. Forgetful Heart
(Bob center stage with harp, Donnie on viola, Stu on acoustic, Tony on standup bass with bow)
14. Spirit On The Water (Bob on piano, Donnie on pedal steel, Tony on standup bass)
15. Scarlet Town
(Bob center stage, Donnie on banjo, Stu on acoustic, Tony on standup bass)
16. Soon After Midnight (Bob on piano, Donnie on pedal steel, Stu on acoustic)
17. Long And Wasted Years
(Bob center stage, Donnie on pedal steel, Stu on acoustic)
18. Blowin' In The Wind
(Bob on piano, Donnie on violin, Stu on acoustic, Tony on standup bass)
19. Stay With Me (song by Jerome Moross and Carolyn Leigh)
(Bob on piano, Donnie on pedal steel, Tony on standup bass)

Bob opens with his Oscar winning song, Things Have Changed. It's a primer for those who were looking for the blue jeans, acoustic guitar and harp halo.
He follows with a '60's classic, She Belongs to Me.  It used to go like that, now it goes like this.  Bob gets to exercise his lungs with a couple harp solos. He's as warmed up as he is going to get.
With Bob you can never know what he means in his songs but perhaps Beyond Here Lies Nothing should be later in the set. Unless of  course he's being sarcastic, in which case it may be time to start paying attention. Co-penned by Robert Hunter, from Together Through Life, or To Get Her Through Life, as you wish.
I suspect the girl in She Belongs to Me, from Bringing It All Back Home, is not the same one he paid tribute to in the previous song. Sounds a little more high-maintenance.

Workingman's Blues #2 is epic. It's The Times They Are A-Changin' of it's day...or maybe the Desolation Row, or Only A Pawn in Their Game. I mean the third line is "the buying power of the proletariat's gone down".  It's the story of where we are and why we're fucked. This one is worth annotation.

You can get the official lyrics here http://www.bobdylan.com/us/songs/workingmans-blues-2  but that's not how he did it on the 17th.

Waiting For You has most of the audience wondering where this song came from. It's another sound-track release, it was in Divine Secrets of the YaYa Sisterhood. It's a waltz. No more need be said, break out the skates.

The band hits its highest speed in a rocking  Duquesne Whistle which takes on a bit of the power that used to reside in Summer Days and Thunder on the Mountain.

Pay In Blood doesn't reach the apocalyptic heights of the recorded version. It's a big mood song and the mood isn't quite achieved. "I got something in my pocket make your eyeballs swim/I got dogs could tear you limb from limb"

Bob throws the crowd a bone with Tangled Up In Blue. Once he reaches the refrain the audience recognizes it's hearing a song it knows.
Set closes with Love Sick . No Soy Bomb but a new arrangement with Charlie laying blues lines all around Bob's vocals, a little reminiscent of Freddy's quieter moments..

Then we get an Intermission. WTF?!? This is a ridiculous addition to the show.

A banjo version of High Water (for Charley Patton) opens the second set. While this song has rocked over the years I prefer the banjo in it, because I was there in 2001 when it first came out..

Then we get, with the exception of the aforementioned Workingman's Blues #2 and the last three songs to come, the best Bob-moment of the night in Simple Twist of Fate. A bit of upsinging appears but a wonderful turn of a couplet saves the song and makes it  smile-inducing.

I like Early Roman Kings. It's not epic but it has a great pace.
They're peddlers and they're meddlers
They buy and they sell
They destroyed your city
They'll destroy you as well
They're lecherous and treacherous
Hell-bent for leather
Each of 'em bigger
Than all them put together
Sluggers and muggers
Wearing fancy gold rings
All the women goin' crazy
For the early Roman kings


Forgetful Heart has people swoooooooning every where it's played. I say, ehhh. Way too, oh, I don't know, emotional, maybe maudlin. Not emotional in a way that you can see a happy resolution, more in the way of ... we're never getting out of this dark tunnel of love are we? 

Spirit on the Water will not leave this set list soon it seems. A dark song hidden behind a light, waltz-like melody. Not a highlight of the show for me but when Bob growls You think I'm over the hill, You think I'm past my prime, Let me see what you got, We can have a whoppin' good time" you know he has to be smiling a little bit inside.

Another moody song, Scarlet Town, really hits its mark.

And one more waltz because we all know you can't get enough of them. Soon After Midnight.

The last three songs really elevate the show. Long and Wasted Years, cousin to the rambling Brownsville Girl, just has a magical allure.

Usually Blowin' sucks but this version has a little juice running down its leg. Blowin' In the Wind 2014 is closer to the Basement Tapes version than anything else you might remember.

We close with a Frank Sinatra cover. Really? Perhaps a portent of things to come on the 2015 album. Will it be all Frank all the time or will it be standards done by various artists? One thing's for sure, no Bob songs. Stay With Me is really glorious though.

Remember Hermans Hermits Henry the VIII ? Well this is like that; second verse, same as the first. I'm tempted to mash the two nights together, left-channel 17, right channel 18, just to see how much variance there is. Very little I suspect but Bob's often dropping little lines or interjections when least expected, so it may be a project for a snow-bound weekend.

Not unlike reading this post. When will it ever end? Well, not tonight and not here.

Some of my opinions of the quality of these songs may be wrong. Check 'em out yourself.

Accessibility Rating: A+ You even get to park in the front driveway if you reserve a month before the show.

November 21

 4-6-3, an X, an O, can't think of a better way to end the day.

It's white-rapper month and Buck 65 is Canada's contribution to the genre. He's had a rough go of it the past couple years. Changed his life, then changed his wife. Some things were his choice, others were not. His stint as the afternoon show jock on Radio CBC 2 has limited his touring in the past few years. Seems he's decided the changes weren't all he hoped they would be and he's back on the road, ending a worldwide tour in Southern Ontario.

We're at the wonderful Danforth Music Hall where they've recently taken out the floor seats for Standing Room GA...on a severe slant. Really works your calves, never mind your bucks. My son and I spend the opening set in the balcony seats and good thing too as Buck 65 puts on a two-hour show. With NO intermission. (see above)

Lots of stuff from recently released records and yet to be released records. Neverlove, due out right now, is Buck's divorce album, his Blood on the Tracks, if you will. I like his early stuff...and we get a sprinkling of those with new arrangements.

FIRE! FIRE! FIRE! Open the Gates of Hell for sure. Buck opens with a song that threatens to blow his throat in a few short minutes.  It's an invitation to an evening with a guy riding the subway naked.
"we'll know we found a perfect beat when everyone is speechless"

D1T02    Zombie Delight
D1T03    Buck talks

Ballad time with eerie Kate Bush like wailing from the back up singer. Roses in the Rain tells the story of the moment the love was finished.

"In cold and blinding silence
Doesn't want to
Leave the house
He's in divine defiance
Harmonizing unbeknown
Studying the ceiling
They're running for the last room everybody and concealing "

D1T05    Shutterbuggin'/Only War

I like it when Buck is subtle, witty and sly. Love Will Fuck You Up is not one of those times but he has a story to tell.

D1T07    Buck talks

Wicked and Weird I'm road hog! Great travellin' music.

D1T09    Band intro
D1T10    All There Is To Say About Love
D1T11    ??/Bandits/??/Indestructible Sam(medley)
D1T12    Laundromat?
D1T13    ??a song about paris  ?

A medley featuring side boob/Roses and Blue Jays/September She Comes/Poland/Bachelor of Science

D2T01    So Fresh (Laundromat Boogie, 2014)
D2T02    Heart of Stone/Pants on Fire/Stella
D2T03    Paper Airplane
D2T04    A Case For Us
D2T05    Buck talks
D2T06    Centaur
D2T07    Dang/NSFW Music Video
D2T08    Full Moon (Bike For Three)
Smalltown Boy
D2T10    Buck talks
D2T11    Superhero In My Heart

Blood of A Young Wolf is like The Cult meets hip-hop.

No better way to almost end the day. 4-6-3

D2T14    Super Pretty Naughty

Accessibility Rating: B You can get in but the GA isn't conducive to a good view.

A November to remember is a wrap.