Wednesday, 23 June 2010

NXNE Day 2: Outlaws & Gunslingers - Part 2

So, continuing from where I left off..., the next set was delivered by Royal Wood, Andy Maize and Amelia Curran. To be honest, this was probably the weakest set in the bunch for me (though I wouldn't consider it to actually be WEAK by any stretch), it seemed less cohesive, like they were much more comfortable playing their own songs than gelling as a "trio" (of sorts) and playing each others'. It could also be that I didn't know two of the performers in this set at all (Andy & Amelia)... but I digress.

I found myself anxiously waiting for Royal Wood's (who has this super sexy Don Draper look going on... rowr!) turn to come around. His songs definitely grab me. I was thrilled to hear the set end with his new single, On Top Of Your Love (check out the video linked. It's beautiful).
Amelia Curran was okay. She admitted to being a little bit nervous, due to only having a few rehearsals with the boys, and I think it came across a little. Still, I did enjoy her songs, and I would like to go see her in a solo show of her own.
Andy Maize, I'm sure, is the most popular among the rest of the crowd, as he is the singer of The Skydiggers... but somehow, they were a band that kind of flew under the radar for me, and I never really got into them. I did enjoy him though - especially the song "Where's My Baby Tonight" (which, I apologize, I don't know if it's a solo song, or a Skydiggers song). Beautiful song.

The next set was probably the most anticipated set amongst the crowd - Jim Cuddy, Hawksley Workman and Colleen Brown. So anticipated, in fact, that I ended up smushed right up against the front of the stage, so I didn't really have the best angle for photos during this set. I had never really heard of Colleen Brown before, but she was great.
I used to be a big Hawksley fan, but I think I somehow fell out of touch with his music after the release of Lover/Fighter in 2003... but I really love everything that he played! Especially his most recent single - "Warhol's Portrait Of Gretzky" ... but I think I liked that the most, because I got to hear Jim Cuddy sing the words "Pretty F***ing Sexy" ... which was pretty sexy in itself! Jim Cuddy is probably one of my favourite musicians ever, and he's got such a squeaky clean image and such romantic lyrics... it definitely made me smile to hear him sing this song with Hawksley.
This set is probably tied with the Danny Michel set as my favourites of the evening.

The midnight set was brought to us by Dakota Tavern favourites, The Beauties. Always a highly entertaining band to see live, they brought it out in full form for NXNE yet again. Some hilarious mishaps with a broken bass drum petal brought some fun improvisational and sing-along moments with the crowd... but my absolute favourite part of this set was when the ONE person who I thought was missing from this lineup came out to join on a song.

Serena Ryder snuck out from the wings of the Lee's Palace stage to sing backup on my favourite song by The Beauties - Hearts Are Down. It totally made my night to see her up there, and she looked like she was having so much fun, too!

Finally, the end of the evening in the 1am timeslot, brought out my friend Joel Stewart and his band, The Future Hall Of Famers (who seemingly have no web presence whatsoever to link to...). I worked with Joel back on the CCMA's in 2007 - and at that time, I got to see him perform live at one of many parties we attended, and thought he was brilliant. Also, at that same time, he introduced me to what would soon become one of my favourite bands - The Hold Steady. So it was pretty awesome for me when he closed the set, joined by Andy Maize and Shawn Creamer of the Beauties, singing an AMAZING rendition of Almost Killed Me. It was the perfect end to an all around perfect night of music! A night that I won't forget for a very long time, for sure.

Lots more pictures are right this way... and if you're interested in hearing/reading more about this night, check out THIS blog entry by a newfound friend! It's pretty awesome!
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Saturday, 19 June 2010

NXNE Day 2: Outlaws & Gunslingers - Part 1

Thursday night brought the show that I was looking forward to most of all - Outlaws & Gunslingers at Lee's Palace. I swear, this show was as if some divine being had rummaged through my head and said, "Who are the bands that Katie would die to see all together on one night?" and then put them all on one bill for me.
I took so many photos that I'm going to end up having to split this review into two, or maybe even three, parts.

First up, Mr. Andy Kim.
Andy and his band are always super tight and put on a very entertaining show, and this was no exception. I never get tired of seeing him live, because he always delivers. Andy has a new cd out, and played a lot of new songs (many of which I'd heard at his previous shows). He also played old favourites - Be My Baby, Baby How'd We Ever Get This Way (Ron Sexsmith, who introduced the band, came out and joined Andy for this song, too!), and if memory serves me well, they closed the set with back-to-back Sugar Sugar and Rock Me Gently. Pretty awesome!!

Next up, the set containing my favourite musician ever - Mr. Danny Michel - along with Justin Rutledge and Oh Susanna. In my opinion, this was the best of the singer-songwriter triple acts of the night. Danny has a new cd out on July 1 (but, as he announced to the crowd, he had just picked them up from being pressed, and they were available for that night only, before the actual release date... so, naturally, I have my new cd in hand - thanks for lending me the $20, Chrisy!!) So, each act did three songs each, one at a time, and Danny's were all songs from the new album. He played Maybe You Can Find It In Your Heart, Wish Willy, and Who's Gonna Miss You? ... and I loved each song more than the next! Fantastic cd. I definitely recommend it.

Unfortunately, I'm not quite as familiar with Justin or Oh Susanna's music, though I have seen them live a few times before. I did recognize Justin's song "Be A Man", which was absolutely beautiful performed live.
The reason this set stuck out from the others for me was that it seemed like they really enjoyed playing each other's songs. It didn't seem like they had barely had any rehearsals, which I'm sure was the case! Also, their stellar back-up band included Bazil Donovan and Glenn Milchem from Blue Rodeo, so how could you go wrong with that!?

More photos HERE, and the rest of the review & photos from this show to follow!
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Thursday, 17 June 2010

NXNE Day 1: Karen Elson

Firstly, I feel like I should apologize for my lack of entries lately! Life has been crazy... and I'm planning on doing a redesign, so blogging wasn't really the first thing on my mind. Sorry 'bout that!

So, yesterday was the first day of the North by North East music festival here in Toronto. I decided not to get a wristband this year, but there's still a few shows that I wanted to check out. My friend Chrisy is in town from Ottawa for the week, and she happened to have an extra ticket to last night's show, Karen Elson at the El Mocambo. First thing to note... it was my first time taking my new Canon point-and-shoot camera for a spin on the concert scene - and it was returned today, if that's any indication on how it performed. I'm not at all pleased with these shots.

Anyway, back to Karen Elson. Before being invited to the show, I hadn't heard of her at all. However, she is well known as an internationally renowned supermodel, and as wife of Jack White, of the White Stripes. Thankfully, I had listened to a couple of her songs before I knew all of that information, because though I realize it may be a draw for some, for me, it would actually be a bit of a downer for me. I'm not a fan of piggybacking on other work.

But as it turns out, she is actually a really talented singer-songwriter. It came across in her recorded tracks that I had listened to, as well as in last night's show. She has a beautiful voice. She is stunning and captivating to watch. And her band is made up of incredibly talented musicians as well.

That being said, you can tell that it is a very polished act. Not like a typical singer-songwriter who is releasing her debut cd. That's not necessarily a bad thing, just something I was aware of. The band was all dressed really nice (3-piece suits, dresses). They were all playing super expensive gear. They had a roadie who was also dressed in a 3-piece suit! Hah. Maybe it's just me, but I think there's something to be said to get to that level of success.

In any case, she was very sweet and gracious. She didn't expect the applause after every song, and seemed very genuinely grateful. I definitely appreciate that. Also, at the end of the show, when we were walking back to the car, even though she was in a rush, she paused to take a photo with my friend Chrisy. Bonus points for her.

Also worth mentioning is the opening band, San Sebastian. The sound was COMPLETELY different to Karen's alt-country vibe. They were more straight ahead rock with a bit of pop infused... and very catchy hooks. I enjoyed it!

A couple more photos, including the bizarre note that was left on my car, over at my flickr page.

Tonight - the show I have been looking forward to most. It is my dream show, with some of my favourite musicians. The Outlaws & Gunslingers show at Lee's Palace. Featuring: Jim Cuddy (of Blue Rodeo), Danny Michel, Andy Kim (you guys know how many times I've blogged about all three of these guys! Honestly... I'm dying here!!) and other talented performers: Hawksley Workman, Joel Stewart (who I've actually worked with in the past!), The Beauties, Justin Rutledge, Royal Wood, Oh Susanna, Amelia Curran, and more! I can't wait.
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