. : : August 3rd, 2010 : : .
Kathleen Edwards is full of surprises.
It started off with a scant 8-day last minute announcement on her Facebook fan page (no announcement on either her MySpace.com blog, or official dot-com site) that she would be doing a special “solo” show for her friends at the Dakota Tavern. Tickets went on sale less than a week before show time, and were only available online. Rumours surfaced in line that although the Dakota has a capacity of 130 people, only 80 tickets were made available, which sold out promptly.
Another surprise was the announcement that although it wouldn’t be a band show, she would have several guests come and help her out. My initial reaction was “OK, so it IS a band show — just not with her usual bandmates.” Surprise! The event had three regular musicians: two members of The Good Lovelies performing back up vocals, tambourines and shakers, and Aaron Goldstein on the lap steel. Hardly a traditional band by any stretch of the imagination. Kathleen herself showed up with her familiar Gibson acoustic and turquoise Fender Telecaster, and also performed a handful of songs while sitting at the resident stand-up acoustic piano.
Surprise again! Kathleen also invited friend and fan Justin Vernon of Bon Iver came up to perform the prerequisite Failer favourite, Mercury. Vernon stayed on stage long enough to also perform the Asking For Flowers b-side Lazy Eye. If that wasn’t enough surprises, her setlist was exceptionally unique, comprising of many covers ranging from Neil Young to My Morning Jacket to America among some new songs, and some old and rarely played favourites.
This first thing I noticed when I walked in was the Dakota was even smaller than I remembered it. The second thing was that it was cleaner than I remembered it too (not to say it was ever unclean – just memory eroded it a bit). My companion was impressed by the Christmas lights strung around the stage, which gave it a homely backyard bbq-esque atmosphere. The room was filled with the amicable chatter of good friends and the regular clinking and clacking of glass beer mugs while the bar filled pint after pint — but the noise seemed to come to an absolute standstill whenever a performer took the stage. Because the sets by Kathleen and opening act Julie Fader were frequently rather quiet, the attentive audience was appreciated by tapers and artists alike, I’m certain.
And the people who decided to leave immediately following Kathleen’s set missed out on the final surprise of the night: Damhnait Doyle‘s band The Heartbroken invited themselves on stage and played an impressive albeit loose set of three or four songs to the couple dozen people who remained. Guitarist Stuart Cameron took over frontman duties after Damhnait was distracted by the booze and revelry happening off-stage. Although clearly neither planned nor practiced, Aaron Goldstein kept up on the lap steel the entire time. All-in-all, it was a nice cap on a night full of surprises.
My recording turned out pretty well. The sound in the Dakota was pristine, and I managed to position myself in a much better spot for recording this time, which afforded me a perfect view to accompany the great sound. The volume had to be recorded a bit low to compensate for the large rise in volume between the bands’ sets and the enthusiastic response from the audience, so there is a slight hiss throughout due to an amplification of ~5db in during EQ. Also, I made the rare decision to speak while recording, and shouted a request/bribe for The Lone Wolf — a song that’s long been a favourite, and I haven’t yet heard live. There were at least two or three other requests for the song audible on the recording for people further away, but I was much closer and was blessed with a loud, commanding voice when need be. It didn’t turn up TOO loudly on the recording, so don’t worry about it making your ears bleed while listening. Otherwise, the recording sounds terrific, and will be of immense interest to Kathleen Edwards’ fans.
01. Sweet Little Duck
02. The Plan [Matt Mays & El Torpedo]
03. Soft Place to Land
05. Knot Comes Loose [My Morning Jacket]
07. Hank to Hendrix [Neil Young]
09. Mercury *
10. Lazy Eye *
12. I Make the Dough, You Get The Glory
15. Pink Champagne
16. Bitter Beauty [Jason Collett]
17. Sister Golden Hair [America]
19. Fly At Night [Chilliwack] [tease]
21. The Lone Wolf
Thanks to Kathleen Edwards, The Good Lovelies’ Caroline Brooks and Sue Passmore, Aaron Goldstein, Justin Vernon, Julie Fader and band, The Heartbroken, and the spectacular Dakota Tavern.