Maria Taylor @ Horseshoe Tavern

      . : : March 21st, 2007 : : .

When I heard Maria Taylor was playing the Horseshoe Tavern, I’d never heard a single note from her oeuvre. All I knew was that she was on the same label as some of my favourites, Bright Eyes, Cursive and The Good Life, Saddle Creek. That had to show some level of quality, right? Furthermore, at the time, she was dating Bright Eyes’ Conor Oberst, and surely he couldn’t love anyone who didn’t at least show a glimmer of a reflection of his musicianship and talent, right? So, I took a risk and traveled out to one of my favourite venues in the city in spite of the fact that I was more than a little tired and knew nothing of opening or headlining acts.

To this day, I’m glad I did. I fell in love with Maria Taylor that night, and have seen her perform every time she’s returned to town since. This first time, however, has remained memorable for reasons other than it was just the first time. The most striking memory is how full her band was. She was accompanied by a stage full of friends and family who were all energetic and excited to be playing tracks from her latest album, Lynn Teeter Flower. In the times I’ve seen her since, she’s performed once with only Andy LeMaster, and another couple of times with a comparatively sparse accompaniment of three to four band members.

Many of the songs performed that night have gone on to become favourites, and although I wish I’d known them then so as to appreciate them that much more, it was heart-warming to fall in love with song-after-song-after-song. We were even treated to Maria’s take on Etta James‘ signature song, At Last.

Due to my lack of knowledge of Maria’s songs, the uncharacteristically overwhelming volume of the Horseshoe, and my exhaustion, I recorded this set from significantly further back than normal. The Horseshoe has a sort of bar-like ledge running down the middle third of the concert floor. One on side is standing room, the other side houses candle-lit tables and seats. Along this bar, however, there are usually three or four bar stools to be found. I spent the evening perched on the stool furthest from the stage and closest to the soundboard. As such, the sound on this recording was a little bit distant. Furthermore, as I mentioned, the volume in the venue was way louder than normal, and I struggled to find a good level. As such, there are at least three on-the-fly volume adjustments without.

This recording is NOT the original recording I released online some years ago, and may be circulating to some small degree. Unhappy with how it sounds, I went back and tried to re-EQ the tape. The problem is I no longer have the master recording, and I’m re-EQing the already EQ’d version. This wouldn’t be so bad if I did a halfway decent job of EQing the original, but unfortunately, that’s not a claim I could make. There was evidence of a little bit of clipping at the end of the original EQ that carries over to this re-release. And the hiss present on the original recording is perhaps even more noticeable now that I’ve had to play with the levels a bit. However, the overall finished product is well-worth a redownload because the mids have been raised to bring forth the vocals and guitars and the bass was brought down (as it was overpowering in its previous incarnation).

  1. Smile and Wave
  2. Replay
  3. Birmingham 1982
  4. No Stars
  5. Leap Year
  6. Speak Easy
  7. Clean Getaway
  8. At Last [Etta James]
  9. Small Part of Me
  10. The Ballad of Sean Foley
  11. A Good Start
  12. Xanax
  13. Song Beneath The Song

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Smile and Wave (Live In Toronto) [MP3 sample]

Thanks to Maria Taylor, Saddle Creek Records, and the Horseshoe Tavern. Please download and distribute this recording freely, and support the bands by buying their albums, merchandise and concert tickets when they perform in your town.

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