Reviews

The League of Notions: The League of Notions

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Treaty Records

A joyous shambolic noise with sonic links to rock’n’roll satirists from Frank Zappa to the Barenaked Ladies, Talking Heads to Rich Aucoin. The self-described East Side guys of TLON are Corey Cosineau (gtrs, vcls), Kashiro Figueroa (bs) and Phil Hill (drms, percs, whistle, vcls) and they’re working their own little corner of the zany aesthetic like manic street preachers.

Which explains the album’s 17 tracks and its helter-skelter street party vibe. Beneath the boogie, there’s no mistaking they’re knowingly dancing in the darkness of urban disaffection. If there’s connective tissue here, this is it.

From the opening one-two of ‘The Park In The Dark’ and ‘Jar Food Man’ to the close out pair ‘Living On The Sidewalk’ and ‘Hope’, the collection’s spattered with the tears of a clown. A dancing clown.

Despite its 17 tracks, the album never overstays its welcome thanks to the speedy nature of the tunes. It’s not quite gone in 60 seconds but that aesthetic prevails. If you don’t get this one in 2.28 (average song length here) no worries, another quick tickler’s coming right along. Sooner or later you’ll hear something that’ll connect with you.

Jon Patterson: New Beginnings

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Submitted by Don Graham

Singer/songwriter Jon Patterson is that warm coat on a cold day. His songs are personal accounts that everyone can relate to. He sings and writes with the voice of experience but with a touch of innocence that shows his vulnerable side and makes it easy to connect and relate to his music. To say that Jon took the scenic route to get to his first CD recorded would be an understatement but it was well worth the wait.

Jon grew up in Ontario, in the blue collar town of Oshawa, and has carved out a life consisting of music, writing and being a father to three boys. All of this has formed the man that Jon is today and a listen to his CD ‘New Beginnings’ will give a great look at that life while relating a lot of his experiences to your own. This album is well thought out, well produced and masterfully sung.

Jon’s dad was a military man so the opening cut ‘Hero’, is a natural for him to sing and write. This song springboarded Jon into the military limelight allowing him to perform at many military functions and troop gatherings. It is probably his best known tune but when you listen to the rest of the album you discover there is much more to the man.

Jeanine Mackie Live and Then Some

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Submitted by Don Graham


Photo Credit: Ian Sinclair


To say there has been in decline in live music and live music venues would, of course, be an understatement. Gone are the days of six nights a week of live bands playing at bars and clubs yards apart and each one crowded with appreciative music lovers. It wasn’t unusual for bands to be in one spot for weeks at a time, drawing their crowd of followers and regulars with them. Lately the trend is to have recorded music, DJ’s for the most part with live entertainment once in awhile. Even the venues that have live music have pared down versions, singles, duos and trios. More cost effective.


So when we went to see the Jeanine Mackie Band at the Drake Hotel in the Drake Underground, in west end Toronto the stage set up brought a huge smile to my face. The stage was set for a six piece band, guitar, bass, keys, saxophone, drums and congas and two back up singers and Ms Mackie. There was an awesome feeling in the room that something exciting was about to happen. As the band took the stage, which by the way was a real stage complete with curtains and a real side stage or wings, the crowd was buzzing and it was like an old time Friday night.  
The band consisted of some the city’s finest; Bob McAlpine on guitar, Matt Horner on keyboards, Byron Stoehr bass, Colleen Allen sax, Steve Heathcote on drums and Art Avalos on percussion.

Jerry Leger & the Situation: Some Folks Know

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Maple


Beaches bar circuit mainstay moves to Hipster Cenreal and finds his voice. Or something much like that. He still has that countrified Dylanesque thing going on so it must be the songs that have changed up.


They’re still flavoured with pedal steel and piano, framed in roots rock and often emotionally ambivalent. This batch is carefully crafted to show off Leger at his best and has the feel of a break out album. Recorded live-off-the-floor with T.Dot roots rock mainstay Tim Bovaconti producing, Leger and crew blow through a 12 tune set with a fair recreation of their flat out rockin’ live shows.


Given that this is album #6 from the hard-gigging Leger, expectations were high among the fan base and dude does not disappoint.There’s a wide screen quality to Leger’s narratives, given life by his voice. Within Leger’s self-imposed urban country parameters, it’s an adaptable set of pipes enabling him to slip in and out of character without disrupting the flow.


Be it the pumping ‘Old Soldier’, the jangle pop of ‘Don’t You Fret’ or the paint-peeling candour of ‘Filthy Mouth’, Leger is right there, vocally shape-shifting to make you a believer. Which, after you’ve heard his amazing duet with Serena Ryder on the down tempo ‘All Over Again’, should do the trick.


Dude’s such a commanding singer and The Situation such a tight unit, his axemanship is often overlooked.. Whether on acoustic or electric, Leger is a seasoned, hold your attention guitarist, the kind you need to be to thrive in the bar wars.

Joe Bonamassa - Roy Thomson Hall, November 17th, 2012 - Toronto

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Submitted by Tracey Savein

Say it ain't so, Joe...was my first thought the instant that last note was played at Roy Thomson Hall this November 17th night in Toronto... and I'm sure I wasn't the only one as Joe Bonamassa's blistering rendition of ZZ Top's "Just Got Paid", playfully riddled with Zeppelin licks, brought the house down AND blew the roof off all at once. Up or down, whichever way you chose to look, it was one hot night of stellar blues and crafty musicianship.

Decked out in dark suit and shades, with slicked back hair and matching purple kicks and tie, Joe looked the consummate bluesman backed that up while playing his rainbow of guitars.

Starting off the night with a beautiful solo acoustic mini set, intermitantly accompanied by Tal Bergman on percussions, Joe's soulful cover of Bad Company's "Seagull" was a pleasant and well received surprise.

Then came the electric blues mega set, cue band. Veteran aces Carmine Rojas (bass), Rick Melick (keyboards), and returning to the stage, Tal Bergman (drums) were individually like a groove and rhythm seminar, each showing us their proverbial prowess, but add those three seasoned pieces to Joe virtuoso, and you have one powerhouse musical pie.

Jarvis Church & Soul Station: The Hoxton

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Toronto, ON


It was hot, hot, hot, onstage and off during the Jarvis Church soul throw down in front of a near full Hoxton, Management had dutifully cranked the heat for the usual November conditions. Except last Saturday night was Memphis warm outside and sauna like inside. Even the babes in barely there camisoles were sweating up way before the dancing started. No question this was a dancing demographic, primarily made up of newish fans brought into the soul fold by such as Usher and Timberlake, salted with a small number of veteran genre fans reliving their old soul days.


All comers were pleased as Church and backing crew Soul Station set a torrid pace which put everybody on the good foot from the get go.
The former Philosopher Kings front man is on a mission to bring soul back and with the Sam Cooke catalogue as the template, he went to work with sweaty enthusiasm and impressive vocal chops.


Church is arguably the finest falsetto in the land and selections such as Cooke’s Civil Rights anthem ‘A Change Is Gonna Come’ and his own current single ‘Do It Better’ showcased a painstaking and emotive approach to the material. Anyone familiar with Cooke’s work knows it’s no easy task covering all his vocal bases. Church was up for the challenging, cleverly balancing the testifyin’ with the smooth operatin’ on such as ‘Having A party’ and ‘Signed, Sealed, Delivered’.

The Dan Bodanis Trio – The Last Set

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Submitted by Bill McDonald

I recently spent an evening at the Azure Restaurant listening to the Dan Bodanis Trio featuring Dan Bodanis on drums, Bernie Senensky on piano, and Steve Wallace on bass. By itself, this isn’t unique. I have been there almost every week of their remarkable four year, three night-a-week engagement. The difference was that this Saturday was their last performance at Azure.

All good things come to an end. Whatever ancient, unknown bard first penned that phrase certainly got it right. But that doesn’t mean we can’t indulge in a brief moment of reminiscence before time inevitably marches on.

Throughout this gig, these incredible musicians have spent hundreds of evenings playing thousands of wonderful renditions of jazz standards. This will come as no surprise to anyone familiar with their talents. Every evening was filled with mastery, and some moments that went beyond. They would probably cite times when they may have got a bit derailed. But that is the yin and yang of improvisational playing – particularly when measured against the bar of their expectation.

Inevitably, due to other commitments, individual band members would need to arrange for a substitute. The “A-listers” that they drew from read like a “Who’s Who” of Canadian jazz – Terry Clarke, Don Thompson, Dave Young, Reg Schwager, Kieran Overs, Dave Restivo, Jim Vivian, Lee Wallace, Pat Collins, Adrean Farrugia, Nancy Walker, and others of this ilk. On one occasion, legendary sax player, Lee Konitz, sat in with the band.

Eliades Ochoa: Danforth Music Hall

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Toronto

The crowd on the sidewalk smoking was abuzz with excitement in at leas three languages. Scalpers were taking a whipping as anybody with tickets in hand were gonna use them. The Cuban community was out in force as were many Toronto fans who’d caught the Cuban music bug while vacationing on the island. Put them all together and they spell a sold out show for the Cuban guitar maestro.

Backed by a well-schooled seven-piece band dressed in various shades of grey and black, the man best known to many as the lead guitarist and singer with Buena Vista Social Club set about turning a concert hall into a churning Havana barrio dance club.

When Ochoa takes to the stage, the music that he and his band play: clattering percussion, yearning trumpets, full-blooded vocal harmonies, swinging guitars, are markers of a specific Eliades Ochoa sound. Even though he's a fierce protector and champion of Cuba’s indigenous musical forms, Elidaes live and in the moment is the guy who revolutionised son by bringing percussion and horns into the mix. The guy whose unique harmonic guitar can sound like a tres (traditional Cuban guitar) or a regular guitar.

Ladyhawk: No Can Do

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Triple Crown


On this one, lead dude Duffy Driediger sounds done with the Crazy Horse roots rock thing and ready to find a new sound. The new sound is the old sounds of the Nineties.


The Van band lineup’s yer classic quartet of Driediger(lead vcls, gtr), Sean Hawryluk(bd, vcls), Darcy Hancock(ld. Gtr, vcls) and Ryan Peters(drums, vcls) and their comradehood in the B.C. bar wars shines through in the performances. Consequently, as change ups go, this one gets it rIght more often than not. It helps that some classic rock hooks and the harmonies ae still in place to help the transition.


Which may be why opener ‘Footprints’ manages a nod to grunge pioneers and genre bridgers Velvet UndergrOund via a letter perfect VU guitar intro coupled to a Reed-ian melodic sensibility. Also possibly why The Pixies get referenced a lot during Ladyhawk’s run at the Nineties.


Want garage grind? Go to ‘You Read My Mind’. For a touch of grunge-pop avec harmonies you’ll want ‘Bedbugs’  Speaking of which, it’s one of the tracks where Driediger gets to have his cake etc.


Known to be aN acerbic observer of his situation, on this one he drops tellling lines such as ‘There’s no hope, this is a Terminal City/But don’t they make it pretty?/Don’t they make it nice?” in a thinly veiled stab at Vancouver’s penchant for hiding social disarry ‘neath sunny skies. The beauty part is the music sounds like vintage nihilist grunge, so let’s hear it for the boy for staying on mission.

So Many Days: Julie Doiron

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Aporia

On this first album for Toronto-based label Aporia, Julie Doiron cements her status as the A-Coast’s indie folk queen.  We go to Julie for meditations on the simultaneous beauty, fragility and unpredictability of life and this un’ has them aplenty.

F’r instance, "Last Night I Lay in Bed", starts off as a simply put love ballad steeped in the moment which plays a dark card when she intones: "It scares me to think about losing you," delivered with a scary intensity. The emotional checks and balances inherent in the day to day are a Doiron strength which puts her observational style some way ahead.

Doiron's songs are gently direct, more longjohns than frilly underwear, written with entirely plausible lyrics. The combination makes for material which leaves haunting and long lasting impressions. And in the case of "Homeless", downright harrowing.

Doiron's burned out vocal augmented by mournful bass runs combine to bleak out a confessional that’s a peak moment. Opening with "I used to be good," Doiron plunges into a tale of the debauched and bitter life of a narrator who knows all too well what she’s let go."To all who love me," she sings, "I am sorry."

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