Concert Reviews

Linda Carone - The Jazz Bistro Toronto - Live

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Submitted by Lenny Stoute

The chestnut haired jazz singer finished Kitty White's "So Many Beautiful Men" with a knowing grin and a vocal swagger and as the place erupted in applause murmured, "Story of my life in my younger days. Now I'm focused on my big bad handsome man," beaming at the lucky gent in a scrum of well wishers as she launched into Imelda Mays "Big Bad Handsome Man."

So yeah, Linda Carone is a damn fine singer but she also brings da show. Abetted by a stellar crew of George Koller ( upright bass) Johnny Johnson (saxes, bass clarinet) Michael Shand ( piano) and Mark Kelso( drums), LC did that thing where she sets up a time trip by telling a little bit about the origin of a tune, applies her own vocal interpretation, then hands it over to the personna who takes it all the way home to the Thirties or so with a sense she fits the period like a kidskin glove and with nary a break in character.

On another hand, it was a lovingly curated shoutot to the huge contributions made to the blues by female artists, with Carone introducing the likes of Une Mae Carlisle (Oh I'm Evil), Lane Leighton(The Spring Don't Mean A Thing To Me) and Helen Humes ( Livin' My Life My Way) with such rapport that she surely made fans for herself as well as the artists she drew from.

Matt Andersen Live and Spellbinding

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Submitted by Don Graham
Photo Credit: Fiona Lawson Studio 22 Photography

Listening to a Matt Andersen CD is an exciting audio experience, seeing Matt Andersen with a full band is awesome, but seeing Matt Andersen solo takes it to a whole other level. 

The man and his guitar is something I wasn’t really prepared for. Andersen was over the top on all levels, his hold on the audience, his powerful and controlled vocals with acres of dynamics and guitar mastery that made his acoustic guitar sound like an entire band.

King Wizard and the Lizard Gizzard Danforth Music Hall (Toronto)

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Submitted by Lenny Stoute

"Please don't be smoking anything in the entrance. Please move away from the entrance." The security was addressing a large fogbank of high-grade resin hanging over the sidewalk directly in front of the venue as fans of the Aussie septet got their weed on. The vibe out front was all love and brotherly hugs as the fans of the neopsychedelic outfit adhere strongly to the hippie ethic and inside, it was thus also with the addition of genre touches like wizard hats and an excellent Lizard Gizzard mask.

Opener Orb stormed through the bottom half of their set to a two-thirds full room. When the left the stage it was full and by the time King Wizard and the Lizard Gizzard came on we were jammed up against the walls and the bars and if the woman in front of me stepped back just another millimeter I was gonna have to buy her dinner. Not bad for an act that gets zero airplay, whose albums are hard to find and whose music fits no genre. Someone noted that this was their third time in Toronto and each time, they play a larger venue, then turned to cheer for the roadies moving stuff around. That was how pumped the crowd was and the band did not disappoint.

One Night Two Hearts Love Was In the Air

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Submitted by Cashbox Canada
Photo: Lisa Hartt

Photo Credit: Fiona Lawson Studio 22 Photography

With the dwindling number of live music venues in Toronto and GTA, the Taste of Colombia El Salon Room in Oakville, Ontario is a beacon of light on the darkening landscape. Much Music VeeJay and celebrity icon Michael Williams and his Michael Williams Presents shows are providing a listening room atmosphere for new acts and established artists to stage mini concerts. The venue serves coffee, some of the best coffee on the planet by the way, to a seated audience of around 50 music lovers.

On the Sunday before Valentine’s Day, two veterans of the Montreal music scene now living in Ontario, Lisa Hartt and Don Graham celebrated the night of love with a concert aptly called ‘One Night, Two Hearts’.  Both artists performed solo shows of love songs to celebrate the  occasion with Hartt adding bagpipes to her set on a couple of songs.

Don GrahamDon GrahamThe night started with Don Graham and the title track of his album “ A Willing Heart”and his set contained some new tunes he’d written including “ Everything About Her Feels like Home” as well as a  version of the old standard “ The Glory of Love” to end his set.

A Tribe Called Red Rebel

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Submitted by Lenny Stoute

It was a packed and seething house at Rebel , the anticipation high for the First Nations DJ collective's unveiling of current album We Are The Halluci Nation. ATCR occupy a niche all their own in mixing party music with political lyrics, hip hop beats with powwow-step. On We Are The Halluci Nation and the set which followed, the dominant rhythms were those of hip-hop, reggaeton, and dancehall, with most of the EDM influences back burnered for the show.

The video mixing of Bear Witness brings the visual focus, keeping it real by deconstructing and subverting pop culture depictions of Indigenous people. For the energy and rabble rousing though, it's all down to Zoolman, DJ NDN and Bear Witness and whoa, can they bring the party. In the span of three album, they've arrived at a musical and cultural nexus where their three communities intersect: North American indigenous people, DJ/EDM club culture, and the post-millennial global music community and the audience reflected that. From the first rattle of the tribal drums underpinned by massive bass beats, the place went nuts.

Sean Jones Candyland

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Submitted by Lenny Stoute

'Twas standing room only and given a plurality of fervent dancers, precious little of it, resulting in a bump 'n' hustle vibe for the entirety of Sean Jones set inside Candyland. The gig was the closer for Jones' summer tour and the rising soul star's fanbase was out in force. Which is tres femme and demographically varied. There were rich white ladies from round Rosedale way, inherited from his Casa Loma summer residency, fly soul girls from the burbs, downtown hipster club babes, all up on it from the get go.

Backed by a nine-piece crew including sax, trombone and horn, Jones passed on a set salted with his classic interpretations in favour of leaning heavily on material from current album, Waiting For Midnight. Opening with the crackling tempo of 'Pot Of Gold,", the pace never slackened as Jones gave the people what they came for: hot, sexy, up-tempo soul via " One In A Million,' "Night Time Is The Right Time", "Out My Window" ,"Bad Till I'm Good" and the anthemic ballad "In My Arms"

The Ault Sisters -120 Diner

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Submitted by Lenny Stoute

An unseasonably warm November wind was setting the mood for The Ault Sisters at 120 Diner. The Mississauga trio, mostly still in their teens, work the retro swing thing and work it with style and grace. Case in point, they faced a tiny crowdlet  and went about engaging everyone of us with a full-on performance. In the process turning out vivid interpretations of such as "Ain't Misbehaving" and "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy" . Between sets they worked the room like it was packed solid, stopping by each table to check that everyone was liking the vibe.  Which was inclusive enough for a sweet, swinging, almost scatlike take on Van Morrison's "Moondance."

What they're currently up to was highlighted by an original, "Wasting My Time With You", a soulful nugget with a contemporary feel even as it references The Andrews Sisters and The Ronettes.  It's part of an album currently in the production stage and due in March 2017. If this single's an example of its DNA, it should be a grabby one.

For more information visit www.aultsisters.com

KC Roberts & The Live Revolution-Revival

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Submitted by Lenny Stoute

Heading west as the temp drops and the wind kicks up. Good thing next stop is Revival and the incendiary funk styling of KC Roberts & The Live Revolution. The recipe they cook from involves classic Stax funk, D.C. late Eighties acid funk and the hard-as-diamond power funk of Living Colour. An irresistible floor-filler of a mashup when delivered by the Parkdale octet and abetted by the urgent, testifyin' vocals of K C. The set leaned into recent album From The North and its crowd pleasing faves including "Diamond On The Dancefloor", "Soulwalk" "Find You Again" and "Tribe Beneath The Storm," as the folks on the floor didn't so much dance as pulsate like a massive, single-minded sweaty life form.

For the diehards, they hauled out back catalogue bullets "Drift Away," "Money Ways," "Between The Cracks," "Fire Burning" and the fans were literally throwing themselves into it as the band blazed on, three piece brass section to the fore and the backline of bassist Matt Fullbrook and drummer Chino de Villa keeping the beat strong. The gig was promoted as the last one for the band in 2016 but if you're into it, wouldn't be a bad idea to keep an ear open over the holiday season.

Leaving the Revival and checking out the lineup for the second show, it must be said that the funk sure brings out the diversity. One nation under a groove indeed.

For More Information Visit www.kcroberts.ca

Tom Rush Rush Hour At Hugh’s Room

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Submitted by Don Graham

It had been over three years since Tom Rush had performed  at Hugh’s Room in Toronto and the overflow crowd was a testament to how well loved and missed the man had been. When long time friend and former waitress at the iconic Riverboat in Toronto, Jane Harbury, introduced him and Tom ambled, yes ambled , to the stage you could almost feel the room smile with love and loyalty. Tom acknowledged how he happy was to be back in Canada although not without some trepidation, “ I’m 75 now and that’s about 99 Canadian!”

Tom and accompanist Matt Nakoa (more on Matt later) started the night off with a tune that gave an idea as to what was in store, “It’s Gonna Get Hot Tonight” and the party had begun.  For his second song Tom explained,“I’m going to do a new song and the reason I’m doing it so early in the set is cause if it sucks I have the rest of night to redeem myself.”  After he finished “Come See ‘Bout Me” the crowd let him know “it didn’t suck.”  Next up was a song by The Austin Lounge Lizards, “How can you not like a band that has a  song called ‘Jesus Loves Me, But He Can’t Stand You” called “Old Blevins.” Needs to be  heard to be fully appreciated but is perfectly suited to a Tom Rush set.

Coffee, Country and the Blues

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Submitted by Pat Blythe
Photo Credits: Pat Blythe

It was Super Bowl Sunday and the hype hadn't seemed to penetrate those of us heading to Taste of Colombia for an evening of music. As a matter of fact, I didn't even know "the game" was on until somebody wondered out loud what the score was. The half-time show apparently bombed....big time. The sound system...well...in a word....sucked.

In my humble opinion, nothing compared to what was happening at Taste this fine Sunday night. Sam Taylor, a new blues sensation, and singer/songwriter Don Graham (the country part) were about to give us a "taste" of what music is really supposed to feel like. The event was organized and hosted by the ever gracious Michael Williams, he of rapier wit, lover of music and master of the java bean.

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