Friday night was another Wrycraft tribute show. This time for Johnny Cash, in fact the 4th Johnny Cash show Michael has put together. The listing of participants was fascinating, but not half as fascinating as their interpretations of Cash's songs!
My wife and I were joined by friends Ralph & Miriam who are not familiar with the Canadian music scene. But Ralph sure likes his Johnny Cash, and Miriam was ready for a night out. We had a table right down in front, you can see the back of Ralph's head, and a bit of glare off my forehead on the right of this picture.
The show was opened by Kristen Bussandri who seemed nervous; it was her first appearance at Hugh's Room, and she neglected to introduce her accompanist. Guitarist Darcy Windover took care of that himself. Together they set the tone for a fine evening. Oh, the guy in the spotlight with the guitar is JD Edwards, who flew in from Winnipeg for the evening. (Man, were his arms tired!) [Sorry!] JD was probably about halfway through "25 Minutes To Go" (a Shel Silverstein novelty that Cash recorded in 1965) when this photo was taken...his first song was "Peace In the Valley". He was followed by a new band called the Rucksack Willies, who provided some country renditions of "Don't Take Your Guns To Town," and "Jackson". The Willies feature a pedal steel guitarist whose facial antics are almost as entertaining as his steel skills!
After twenty minutes or so, the lights dimmed again and South African Brian Litvin and Jabulani took the stage. Their sound check had promised real African rhythms but their first song was a rather straight take on "Long Black Veil". The township jive came alive with the next one though. "I Guess Things Happen That Way" never grooved so beautifully. Andrew Downing and Tim Posgate took the stage next, armed with cello and guitar to do an emotive version of "Home of the Blues", but when Posgate picked up the banjo things really happened. They played an instrumental "Folsom Prison Blues" like you've never heard before. It was fantastic. And Johnny Cash said [reported by Tim Posgate] there "are no banjos in heaven"...well there should be!
Paul Reddick and band then made their way to the stage. Reddick added blues to the mix, with "I Walk the Line" and "Train of Love" (which he had recorded for a Northern Blues Johnny Cash tribute CD a few years back). The addition of the Rucksack Willies' steel player Michael Eckert added new textures to Reddick's blues. Then it was time for Sam Turton, Jane Lewis and Eva Goldberg's new trio Gathering Sparks. I haven't heard their EP/CD yet but if Friday night's renditions of "Ring of Fire" and "Sunday Morning Comin' Down" are a sample, then I've gotta pick that up. Stunning harmonies. Beautiful! They took charge during the final number too, which Michael likes to call "a fine little train wreck". Everybody who took part makes their way back to the stage for a festival finish. Sometimes it is a train wreck, but with Sam and Eva assigning parts the version of "Will the Circle Be Unbroken" was absolutely gorgeous. Thanks to the audience for additional harmonies.
Wrycraft will be back in September with a tribute to the Eagles and I'll be there! Wouldn't miss it! Oh, if I could figure out who took the beautiful photographs I'd give that person credit! They're not mine, but they are fine!