Eric Andersen The Unstoppable Force

Fri Jan 10, 2020

The unstoppable force that is Eric Andersen just keeps rolling along. The famous Eric Andersen song “Time Run Like a Freight Train” could actually be personified into Eric Andersen Run Like a Freight Train. From the 1960s to today,  Eric has not stopped creating, performing and evolving never losing his sense of wonder and thirst for enlightenment.  And he’s about to take all of this back on the road with one Canadian stop, the iconic Toronto listening venue, Hugh’s Room Live.

Called “a great ballad singer and writer” by Bob Dylan, Andersen has over the past fifty years toured the world and released more than thirty albums of original music. Andersen’s most famous songs include “Violets of Dawn” and “Thirsty Boots,” with potent lyrics that reveal his literary devotion to the likes of Dostoevsky, Rimbaud, and Kerouac. These songs and more have been covered by artists including Judy Collins, Fairport Convention, John Denver, Bob Dylan, Linda Ronstadt, The Grateful Dead, Peter, Paul & Mary, and more. Andersen has also co-written songs with Bob Weir, Townes Van Zandt, Rick Danko and Lou Reed.

Myles Goodwyn Live and Kickin’

Fri Nov 15, 2019

Myles Goodwyn brought his blues band to Toronto’s iconic listening venue Hugh’s Room for one night only and it was epic. Goodwyn and his stellar four-piece band, consisting of drummer J.R. Smith, Bruce Dixon on bass, Warren Robert on lead guitar and Ross Billard on keys were in town to promote Myles’ standout new album Friends of the Blues 2. I arrived early, at about 7 PM for an 8:30 PM start and was pleased to see the room already packed with an enthusiastic and anticipatory crowd. The age demographic was wide, some older and some kids and some happy couples enjoying seeing rock royalty up close and personal.

Winterfolk 2019 Roundup

Fri Mar 01, 2019

“And all the bars were filled to the rafters with tales of narrowly averted disasters and the whiskey was flowing... Like never before”... - Ani DiFranco

OPENING PARTY, MAGGIE AND MR. ROGERS, THE BLACK SWAN

The opening party of Winterfolk XXVII had packed the Black Swan (locally known by an older generation as The Dirty Duck) with a crowd of mostly middle-aged, white jazz folk and blues aficionados. There were a few exceptions to this demographic trend, as evidenced by the presence of a black jazz freak bobbing his head at the table in front of me when I arrived and sat in the side section which was still marked with a bygone era's segregated marker declaring it as exclusively for 'Women and Escorts.'

The staff appears to be mostly young people and on stage, the night's opening act (Maggie and Mr. Rogers) consisted of a very young petite woman and a very old looking bespectacled man playing music that seemed straight out of O Brother, Where Art Thou? As I gazed at the stage, Maggie seemed to make eye contact with me as she sang about a 'Truth In My Eyes' and her love for her sweet city. (maggieandmrrogers.com)

Lucinda Williams And Buick 6

Fri Nov 23, 2018

The crowd awaiting the entry of Miss Rootlessness was much like the songs on Car Wheels on a Gravel Road. There were rockers, roots gals, country fans, lovers of Americana, soulpatched blues dudes and guitar slingers everywhere you looked. All giving it up for Lucinda from the moment she strolled onstage to the final ringing chords. Backed by Buick 6,that being guitar player Stuart Mathis, equal parts sizzling solos and nuanced picking on the downtempo numbers, bassist David Sutton, who alternated between electric and stand-up, and drummer Butch Norton, a former member of Eels and a man with a Jason Bonham style touchon the skins, Williams launched into the tour of the Southlands that’s at the spine of Car Wheels…, this night celebrating its 25 anniversary.

Soja The Mod Club Toronto

Fri Mar 16, 2018

What with Toronto's deep and longstanding relationship with reggae music, the genre cognoscenti round here can be hard on contemporary acts doing original material. Luckily they were in short supply among a packed house because D.C. based Soja deal in a reggae muchly influenced by the area’s local hip-hop, with alt-rock in its DNA. So there was room aplenty for superbly dreadlocked frontman Jacob Hemphill to show off his shredding chops on songs like "Be Aware" and "Tear It Down".

Cold Specks Mod Club Toronto

Fri Dec 08, 2017

This gig was a coming out of sorts for Ladan Hussein, the show where she dropped her stage monikers of Cold Specks and Ali Spx for her birth name. It was also the one where she dropped the organic instrumentation of her previous albums for a pair of synths and the occasional electric bass.Hussein started her set by lighting incense and a candle in a gold-gilded vase. “Scent is stronger than sound,” she said as the sweet fragrance wafted throughout the venue. “It holds memories." Then plunged into newest release Fool's Paradise, an experimental, textured work that, lacking much in the way of hooks except for set closer "Exile," is all about the voice.

Which is why it seemed odd that in many places, where a powerful resolution was called for, songs like "Void' just seemed to drift away. Maybe it was the stress of touring, having just got back from Europe but the large midsection of the show sounded she was in her own bubble, not really working the songs.

Miles Electric Band Koerner Hall Toronto

Fri Oct 20, 2017

What with the Iranian cabbie banging South Indian bhangra on the way to the transformative music of the Miles Electric Band, crosspollination was in the air this Saturday night. Miles Electric Band focuses on entirely on interpreting the music of Davis’s electric period, when he released Bitches Brew, On the Corner and Jack Johnson. This however, ain't no tribute band. It does not faithfully replicate the songs; instead it holds to the spirit of the recordings, which was all about fusion and improvisations. The original recording sessions were convened with no music written down beyond basic song structures, the playing field that Davis required for what was to come. This is the jumping off point for the music of Miles Electric Band.

Kim Doolittle Hugh's Room Live Toronto

Fri Jun 16, 2017

Last winter I walked into a Kim Doolittle show just as she was wrapping up a song called "Snowballs Day In Hell." It's a droll little narrative about why she no longer takes requests at shows and I wished I'd heard more. Got my wish on a muggy summer's eve when I entered HRL just as the lady was getting started on, yeah, "Snowballs Day In Hell." so finally heard the whole thing and it was worth it.

Do Make Say Think Danforth Music Hall Toronto

Fri Jun 16, 2017

If you were looking for a mosh pit last Saturday, you probably didn't find it at the Danforth Music Hall. But the self-described 'old farts' of Toronto's own Do Make Say Think definitely delivered excitement for the crowd, even if it was more in the form of a mesmerized audience swaying back and forth, bathed in purple light.

Originally an art project which practised in the basement of the CIUT radio building, Do Make Say Think is now over 20 years deep into a career that is as innovative as it is referential. Their music lacks lyrics, but is packed with emotion and energy. The average track length is maybe 9 minutes, and when I first heard it long ago as an artsy 14 year old, it reminded me of Godspeed You! Black Emperor complete with emotional rollercoaster, the jazz drum beat which is reminiscent of a train chugging forward into eternity but without the despair or obvious political messaging of Godspeed.

Blurred Vision Live in Mel Lastman Square, Toronto

Fri Sep 25, 2009

Vision provided the ideal alternative for Toronto International Film Festival crowds who were looking to shake things up outside the regular film fare.  The second day of the festival here was also Quds Day in Persian culture - a time to show support for the oppressed and an ideal time for gathering as the sun dimmed over the glistening parabola of the amphitheatre at Mel Lastman Square in Toronto, Ontario.

This concert was aligned with other events occurring in the free world meant to draw attention to the impending arrival of Iran's dictator for a meeting at the United Nations in New York on September 24. The same United Nations that published the first charter on human rights which was drafted by the Persian king Cyrus the Great in 539 B.C. The same building where the entrance to the Hall of Nations is graced by a poem on human rights penned by the Persian Sufi and poet, Sa'adi. Who better to throw a highbeam into the shadows than Blurred Vision?