Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Tom Waits Tribute / John Mayall / etc.

OK, it's been a busy time. the last couple of weeks I've been to Hugh's Room for A Man Called Wrycraft's Tribute to Tom Waits, seen Harrison Kenedy and John Mayall at Brock, been to Pickering for a high school production of The Music Man and supported my friend who plays in the Dundas Concert Band. Whew! That's a lot of music, most of it good, some of it excellent.

Hugh's Room is a great venue, but I have to say...they need to fix the kitchen. The menu has been the same forever, and while I used to stick with the salmon one overcooked fish helped me decide to experiment a bit. Well, I tried the Sausage Penne this time and the penne was...not quite al dente, but rather hard! No, I didn't send it back because I had already waited an inordinate amount of time, and was hungry! And the show was starting! I don't like to eat during the show, especially when my seats are pressed up against the stage. Now admittedly these are great seats, right next to the action, but nobody wants to watch people eating pasta while they're trying to sing about strippers and junkies! Big Rude Jake opened and having Coco Framboise do a strip tease dance just took the show to great heights. How could anyone top that?

Elizabeth Shepherd took the challenge by just playing and singing beautifully. Then Ariana Gillis and Band (fresh from a major success in NYC) won over the crowd. Al Parrish, Kim Stockwood, Joe Nolan, and the 24th Street Wailers, everybody was ON tonight. It was wonderful. The songs were dandy too, made everyone go back and revisit Mr. Waits' catalogue when they got home. And the closing act? Matt Brubeck and Roberta Harrison, couldn't have been better. It all wrapped up with a rather sloppy, but appropriate "Ol' 55" by everyone, including the audience. Almost made me forget my pasta...well...the beer helped!

A week later it's Harrison Kennedy opening the show for John Mayall. Kennedy is an acquired taste, going for the authentic, untrained blues-singer thing. He only recently came to the guitar, and seems to have taken that lack of skill to new lows by adding banjko and mandola to the instruments he can't really play. He'd do better with a band, since he still possesses a dynamite voice. But when John Mayall came out the night improved. With Rocky Athas on guitar, Greg Rzab on bass, and drummer Jay Davenport Mayall new band is hot. Add the godfather of British Blues on keyboards and harmonicas and you've really got something. My friends who really didn't know what they were in for said, "Wow, I've never heard anything like that...all his songs are really long." That's because everybody gets to solo, and these guys know their instruments! A good night's entertainment (the food at Grill on the Hill was good too) topped off by a signing in the lobby!

My nephew Andrew Wright was the star of the show at Dunbarton High School's The Music Man. Singing Meredith Wilson's classic songs he was Professor Henry Hill in this high school presentation. The cast was enthusiastic, with a couple of standout performances, and the band was excellent. A surprisingly good production!

The Dundas Concert Band needs to cut their concerts by a third. Their annual Christmas Concert found them tiring after an hour. Some horn players somewhere up there were running out of wind. But the night began with energy and good feelings. Marry Christmas to all, and to all...a good night!