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Tag: Toronto

Royal Wood @ CBC Studio 211

Royal Wood
Royal Wood @ Studio 211

. : : March 2014 : : .

Royal Wood was one of my early Canadian Music Week discoveries. His powerful piano pop performances of songs Do You Recall and On Top of Your Love immediately made me a fan, and I ended up seeing him live 4-times in about 14-months spanning 2010-2011.

Alas! Other musical acts became a distraction, and he had slipped off my radar a bit when his follow up album, We Were Born To Glory, came out.

I did capture a couple of performances Royal did for CBC’s First Play Live program that aired shortly after the album’s release, but the station’s running interview tracks over top the first verses of the songs annoyed me to no end, and I didn’t give them the attention they deserve.

Kathleen Edwards @ Massey Hall

Kathleen Edwards
Kathleen Edwards @ Massey Hall

. : : May 4th, 2018 : : .

Concert-going wise, I have a few regrets.

Many of them either before I was old enough to afford my own tickets or after I started a family of my own, and expendable income became a distant, laughable memory or the past.

From the latter category: Kathleen Edwards, seemingly out of nowhere, was advertised to have an opening slot for Matt Mays at Massey Hall.

Now, I’m not gonna lie: I have no idea who Matt Mays is. I’m an admittedly horrible Canadian. But I do know Massey Hall, and I’ve written here before about how it’s probably my least favourite venue in the city.

Kathleen Edwards @ City Winery, NY

Kathleen Edwards
Kathleen Edwards @ City Winery

. : : January 31st, 2013 : : .

There’s something to be said about wineries.

Not content to merely be fancified drinking holes, North American wineries have diversified into premiere hot spots of arts and culture.

It is hardly any wonder that musicians, perhaps some of the greatest patrons of potent potables, seem to flock to them like moths to lamplight.

As a sober person, I can see and appreciate the appeal. It extends the relaxation and social aspects of concert-going throughout the afternoon. Or, if you’re there for the booze, you get to top your day off with a musical performance.

Because it’s not their primary purpose, these wineries are often smaller, intimate venues. The wine barrels give them warm, rustic ambiance. All-in-all, pretty great places for artist and fan to see a show.

City Winery is a chain of wineries throughout the US, and although I can’t claim to have visited one, “Keith from NY”‘s recording of Kathleen Edwards performing there in 2013 makes a strong case.

Kathleen Edwards @ Phoenix Concert Theatre

Kathleen Edwards
Kathleen Edwards @ Phoenix Concert Theatre

. : : April 23rd, 2008 : : .

Of course, I remember being charmed by Kathleen Edwards‘ set at NXNE for Six Shooter Records Outlaws & Gunslingers showcase in 2007. I was introduced to a lot of great new music that night, so I don’t remember quite what it was that lead me to investigate Kathleen’s recorded music specifically shortly thereafter.

But I do clearly remember queuing up the Asking For Flowers album for the very first time. I remember the intimacy of the sound of the piano bench creaking under the sparse but powerful chords of Buffalo. I remember the drums and guitar kicking in, matching intensity with a literal and metaphorical storm chasing the song’s protagonist across the Canada-US border.

I was instantly and irrevocably smitten.

Whitehorse @ Roy Thomson Hall

Whitehorse
Whitehorse @ Roy Thomson Hall

. : : June 15th, 2019 : : .

The most recently posted Whitehorse recording, about two entries back, came only a few short weeks after shuttering the previous version of this website.

My family had grown bigger, money tighter, and my web host was being a punk. I wasn’t getting any feedback from readers, leading me think everyone had (rightly) gone off to more fertile websites.

I also wasn’t entirely sold yet on Whitehorse’s full band dynamic, so when they announced their follow up Toronto date at Massey Hall — the MOST overrated venue in the city, if not the country — I skipped out on buying a ticket in the name of penny-pinching.

I justified seeing them two more times that year: once, the duo show with the erstwhile retired Kathleen Edwards opening in Port Perry (and it was free!), and another time in Ottawa at the historic National Arts Centre while I was in town visiting an old friend and fellow fan.

Although they came close, they never quite hit a public gig in Toronto in 2018, so I took a Whitehorse sabbatical that year. I likely would’ve taken 2019 off, too, given they had outgrown the best-sounding venues in the city and were moving on up to the bigger stages with the muddier sound systems, and ticket prices had inflated in tandem.

William Prince @ Roy Thomson Hall

William Prince
William Prince @ Roy Thomson Hall

. : : June 15th, 2019 : : .

I’d never heard of William Prince before seeing his set at Roy Thomson Hall, which is crazy given how ubiquitous he’s been since releasing his Reliever album earlier this year.

Somewhat fittingly, Prince bantered over the opening chords of the night’s opening song Earthly Days, “You wouldn’t even know that it took me 15 — 20 years to be an overnight success.”

The name recognition wasn’t there, that’s true. But it wasn’t long before it was apparent that Prince wasn’t exactly a novice at this either.

Whitehorse @ Phoenix Concert Theatre

Whitehorse
Whitehorse @ Phoenix Concert Theatre

. : : April 20th, 2017 : : .

Memory’s a funny thing.

I’ve written (I think a couple of times) in earlier blog entries that this was Whitehorse‘s record release party for Panther In The Dollhouse.

I understand why I’m misremembering it as such. The band had been using social media to create some pre-release hype for the album throughout the recording sessions, making its release feel imminent. The lead single, Boys Like You, had been hit the airwaves three months prior. They’d previewed a couple of additional tracks from the disc at the end of the set, giving that exciting, brand-new feel. Luke Doucet and Melissa McClelland even used some in-between song banter to recognize and thank producer Gus van Go, who was in the audience (and I believe about 8-feet from where I was standing).

In retrospect, the biggest reason I likely made that mistake was because of how much this felt like the beginning of a new era for the group.

Tanya Tagaq @ Phoenix Concert Theatre

Tanya Tagaq
Tanya Tagaq @ Phoenix Concert Theatre

. : : April 20th, 2017 : : .

Arguably the biggest draw of the night, the crowd was now at capacity and stood shoulder-to-shoulder for the third performer of the evening, Canadian Inuk throat singer Tanya Tagaq.

This observation would be much less note-worthy if Tanya wasn’t constantly contextualized with phrases like “Experimental vocalist” and “Avant-garde” — hardly large selling points for the masses.

Check Apple Music, Spotify, YouTube Music, or your local record store for an Inuk Throat Singing genre — you probably won’t find it represented anywhere. So, what is it about Tanya that has managed to find cross-over success, earning her feature pieces on 60 Minutes, NPR, the New Yorker, the Washington Post and the Guardian?

I won’t pretend to be qualified to throw my opinion out there, but the fact remains: Tanya’s a hit. Her albums have won Juno Awards, the 2014 Polaris Music Prize, Canadian Folk Music and Western Canadian Music Awards. Her debut novel, Split Tooth, similarly was well regarded: it was shortlisted for the 2019 Amazon First Novel Award and won the 2019 Indigenous Voices Award for Published Prose in English.

She’s going to need a bigger trophy case.

Amelia Curran @ Phoenix Concert Theatre

Amelia Curran
Amelia Curran @ Phoenix Concert Theatre

. : : April 20th, 2017 : : .

Can you imagine a line up of four bands where the talent is so formidable that NQ Arbuckle opens the show, and Amelia Curran is only the second performer?

That’s exactly the set-up for Whitehorse‘s record release party for Panther In The Dollhouse album at the Phoenix Concert Theatre, and it’s clear Six Shooter Recorders was prepared to present this show with all guns blazing (pun unfortunately intended). Luckily, the Toronto crowd knew not to miss a good thing, and although the floors hadn’t filled up by the time NQ Arbuckle got off stage, things were starting to get much cozier for Amelia’s set.

Hot on the heels of the release of her eighth(!) album, Watershed, Amelia had gathered momentum with its universal acclaim and mainstream media attention as the album that most blurred the lines between Amelia’s art and work as an advocate for mental health in Canada.

NQ Arbuckle @ Phoenix Concert Theatre

NQ Arbuckle
NQ Arbuckle @ Phoenix Concert Theatre

. : : April 20th, 2017 : : .

NQ Arbuckle seems like the ultimate basement-bar band. It’s no wonder they’re frequently playing sold out shows at venues like Dakota Tavern in and around Toronto: front-man Neville Quinlan‘s sprechgesang (a german word for spoken-singing — don’t worry, I had to look it up too!) and clever lyrics, the band’s tight rhythm section, the hooks that are instantly catchy (but maybe not in a top-40 sort of way), there’s no question that they’ve carved a comfortable niche for themselves and developed a devout following.

But I can’t help but wonder if they’re really pushing for any more than that. After all, there was five years between the Juno-nominated album Let’s Just Stay Here and the follow up album, The Future Happens Anyway. Their recent single, Love Songs for the Long Game, was the first sign of new music from the band in the six years since.