Winterfolk XV was busier, punchier and way warmer than usual, all good things for the folk that swarmed over the bridge to check the annual feast of blues and roots musics of all kinds. Folkie Peter Verity opened the launch party at The Black Swan with an engrossing set largely drawn from recent album Sometimes A Journey. Accompanied by fiddle virtuoso Thomas Hamilton, Verity rolled out the haunting narratives and minor key melodies of fan faves“Blue as I Can Get”, “The Healing Rain” and “North Ontario” among others.
Next up, the bayou brewed quirkiness of Soozi Schlanger, vocals & lead fiddle and washboard, with Conny Nowe adding guitar and vocals. The pair helm Toronto's most loved Cajun dance band Swamperella, so we got some of that but Soozi focused on recent joints from her solo project soozimusic, of which the artist has said: "The songs paints a personal portrait that exposes the private world of the artist behind the scenes, the internal world...the motels and hotels, the long drives, the one night stands...witty, gutsy, vulnerable and true. Faves here were "Don't Let Go" and " Road Trip Again".
With the dwindling number of live music venues in Toronto and GTA, the Taste of Colombia El Salon Room in Oakville, Ontario is a beacon of light on the darkening landscape. Much Music VeeJay and celebrity icon Michael Williams and his Michael Williams Presents shows are providing a listening room atmosphere for new acts and established artists to stage mini concerts. The venue serves coffee, some of the best coffee on the planet by the way, to a seated audience of around 50 music lovers.
On the Sunday before Valentine’s Day, two veterans of the Montreal music scene now living in Ontario, Lisa Hartt and Don Graham celebrated the night of love with a concert aptly called ‘One Night, Two Hearts’. Both artists performed solo shows of love songs to celebrate the occasion with Hartt adding bagpipes to her set on a couple of songs.
Don GrahamThe night started with Don Graham and the title track of his album “ A Willing Heart”and his set contained some new tunes he’d written including “ Everything About Her Feels like Home” as well as a version of the old standard “ The Glory of Love” to end his set.
Where do you start with Rory Block? Something of an acoustic blues legend these days, she's a lady who has played with the greats, sat at their feet absorbing their multi-hued styles and tones while always striving to open new boxes with her sassy, savvy driving vocals and strident, percussive fretwork. For over fifty years, Block has thrown down the blues gauntlet, pushing herself to the limit at times, known for her bleeding, scarred and torn fingertips and her refusal to compromise her music in any way.
It's only fitting that she has most recently centred her focus on the old generation of pickers, the guys that influenced, inspired and instructed her in the music, legendary names that every blues-fan both knows and reveres. Guys who were her blues buddies, sharing their own evident love of the music with her, as she honed her craft and powered her way along the care-worn, blues highway.
Currently riding a well-deserved wave of popularity, Block's stunning, Stony Plain 'Mentor Series' of recent releases have not only reacquainted many with the traditional roots of the music but also showcased her own, startlingly colourful mastery of a range of different and divergent styles of playing. This is a lady who doesn't just play the blues - she pretty much is the blues incarnate.
Submitted by Sam Jay Copeland (Editor's note: We sent a next generation punk appreciator to see how an iconic punk act from the way past stacks up with the young uns.)
Go to a punk show for the music, stay for the ritual. A fan climbed onstage during the middle of a song (don't remember which one, possibly A.I.D.S.) and declared her eternal love for lead singer Mickey DeSadist. He allowed her to come on stage and dance around for a bit, whilst cautioning her to "please not show everybody in the crowd your boobs like you always do."
The house was packed, the average age was probably about 40, but there was still a strong contingent of younger people, mostly making themselves noticed by smashing against each other in the mosh pit while all except the most hardcore older folk stood by the sidelines. The Kensington Market veterans were all in attendance, with Steve Goof (of TheBunchOfFuckingGoofs) and his entourage of refugees from the 1980’s frequently parading to the bar and returning to the pit with 4 beers each.
Mickey was wearing a shiny golden Mad Hatter's costume from some alternate universe version of Alice in Wonderland as imagined by David Bowie. His stage presence was on point, soaking up the crowd's delight and stopping to make sarcastic commentary when appropriate. His beer gut emerged from the shimmering suit vest in a way that me and my friends concluded was in fact proud. Rather than concealing his middle aged girth behind a veil of glam rock influenced sexuality he had integrated it into the performance.