. : : October 18th, 2010 : : .
I saw Rocky Votolato perform years before I was a fan.
I still remember sitting on the floor of the Kathedral, watching and listening politely but not really totally into his solo / acoustic singer-songwriter bit. I had come to the venue to see local openers, The Postage Stamps, and Rocky was second in a three-band bill. The Postage Stamps were still a rather loud, rockin’ band in those days, so a single artist with an acoustic guitar in the middle slot was an odd choice, and dramatic change in energy.
I wish I could go back in time and tell myself to pay close attention — this man would go on to write one of my all-time favourite albums (Makers), and wouldn’t be back to play in Toronto for something like four and a half years. As it was, that set has all but slipped from my mind. I remember the venue, the circumstances, and the last name I couldn’t pronounce, but I couldn’t tell you the first thing about any of the songs. A shame.
Interestingly, it was also Rocky Votolato’s most recent visit at this very venue, The Drake Underground, that has the honour of being the first blog entry on this website, and also encouraged me to get serious enough about my taping to make a big upgrade to my outmoded recording rig. I only wish my long-delayed replacement microphones had arrived in time, but unfortunately, they are somewhere between Core Sound Laboratories and my house. Too bad: it would have been a nice sort-of full circle to compare and contrast the recording and see how far I’ve come in the last six months.
Which reminds me — it was a pleasant surprise indeed to see that Rocky hit Toronto twice on his tour itinerary for his most recent album, True Devotion. He only came around twice for the last three albums combined, so his second date in 2010 is welcomed. Unlike his last, completely solo set is April, Rocky borrowed touring opening band Ha Ha Tonka‘s drummer for about half the set list, which started off a bit subdued, but a handful of songs in, started breaking out the big guns. For a moment, I thought I was dreaming: the set list could have been written by me, and was fairly different than the set he played only six months ago (about 5 new songs)! The brand new, unrecorded song, Fool’s Gold sounded great, and sets a promising example for his next record. The drums were more often than not subtle, softly brushed, but add so much depth and energy to a lot of these songs that Rocky should consider always touring with someone on the skins.
Rocky didn’t chat much. He let the music do the speaking, and it worked well. The crowd around me sang around to virtually every syllable, and (except by the bar) stood silently in rapt attention. Except for the enthusiastic applause and shouts of requests as the night started to come to a close. After closing his set and starting to walk on stage, he stopped and decided to entertain a request for one final song — one that one enthusiastic gentleman to my right had been hoping for out loud all evening — The Light and The Sound.
The recording, as most recordings from the Drake, sounds wonderful. I barely touched up the EQ’ing at all, and had the tracks EQ’d, down sampled, split, and encoded in just over an hour after getting home. How efficient is that? I did have to cough once during Goldfield (but it didn’t turn out TOO loud), and there MIGHT be some shirt ruffling, but I haven’t heard any yet. That being said, what are you waiting for? This is a great recording by a fantastic artist. Get downloading!
05. Portland Is Leaving
06. White Daisy Passing
07. Postcard From Kentucky
08. Tinfoil Hat
09. Fool’s Gold
13. What Waited For Me
15. Suicide Medicine
19. Silver Trees
20. The Light and The Sound
Thanks to Rocky Votolato, Barsuk Records, Ha Ha Tonka and the marvelous Drake Underground and its staff.