Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Wrycraft salutes Johnny Cash! (and finally gets out of his apartment!)

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!

Next up was Jon Brooks, whose most recent CD Delicate Cages has continued to grow on me over many months.  He sang an updated and somewhat shocking version of "Delia's Gone".  At least some folks I spoke to were shocked.  Not everyone is aware of the violent nature of traditional ballads I guess.  It was the updates that pushed it over the edge though.  Michael says that Brooks wants to "piss people off" with his new album.  This oughta do it.  After Brooks it was time for a break.

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!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Happy New Year...and more

I can hardly believe that I haven't written anything here since October.  That doesn't seem possible, and yet...
That means no mention of Wrycraft's great Tom Waits Tribute of November 29th, or his equally fine James Taylor Show of January 10th.  Michael has another Carole King Tribute upcoming, although I'm not certain of the date yet.  You won't want to miss it.

Last weekend we took in the Rosanne Cash concert at the Burlington Performing Arts Centre, and it was excellent.  I'm writing a review of that show for Critics At Large (which should appear on Friday, Jan.31st). Suffice it to say that, apart from some troubles with John Leventhal's guitar setup, a good time was had by all!
Some news has reached my desk about new projects by our namesake, Ryland P. Cooder!  Not only did he release a dandy live album in the last few months, and select the bluegrass songs for the HighBar Gang's debut album but he has also produced what looks to be a good record for the Haden Triplets.  These daughters of jazz bassist Charlie Haden know how to sing harmony and Ry has kept things simple and straitforward.  Coming soon from Third Man Records!
Brian O'Neal from Conqueroo sent me some information about an upcoming appearance by Ry Cooder as the 'special guest' of Ireland's Chieftains for their upcoming Celtic Sessions (an intimate fan experience and live performance) in Saratoga Springs New York.  This will take place on July 7-11.
Brian says:
Over the course of 53 years and 58 albums, seminal Irish exports the Chieftains have uncompromisingly popularized their country’s rich musical heritage, collaborating with some of modern music’s biggest names, and ultimately earning the group six Grammys and 18 Grammy nominations.

From July 7-11, at the bucolic Gideon Putnam Resort in Saratoga Springs, New York, The Chieftains present The Celtic Sessions, with very special guest Ry Cooder. The five-day event will be an opportunity for fans — both musicians of all levels and non-musicians — to deeply experience the rich beauty of Irish music and soak up one of modern music’s most enduring and fascinating careers. 
This once-in-a-lifetime experience grants fans unique and intimate access to a legendary world-music institution. Paddy and The Chieftains will offer master classes in traditional Irish music techniques and instruments, as well as conduct breakout sessions on songwriting and authentic Irish dance. There will be extensive Q&As where Paddy might discuss anything from the band’s stick-to-your-guns early days to teaching Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards a tricky traditional Irish rhythm. The musicians will also host private shows in which participants can actually jam with the band, and there will be a rare show with the Chieftains featuring Ry Cooder. The all-inclusive event will also include fine cuisine and a whiskey-tasting session. 
“Paddy fits in everywhere he goes, and I do my level best to fit in with him when I get the opportunity,” says special guest Ry Cooder, known for applying an authentic feel and bold personal voice to myriad forms of roots music. “We’re the old-timers now, the ringmaster and the sad clown. We know a thing or two.” Cooder is sure to inspire some wonderfully freewheeling performances. In 2010 he collaborated with The Chieftains on the commercial and critical smash San Patricio. Paddy has said the concerts with Cooder were some of his favorite in the band’s half-century career.
It all sounds too good to be true, and only a short hop across the border.  We were looking for someplace to go for our vacation this summer.  Hmmm.