And The Hits Just Keep On Comin': October 2010

And The Hits Just Keep On Comin'

A Music Journal Collective Effort

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Jim Bryson & The Weakerthans
Live @ The Horseshoe Oct 19th  

Most of the time, in music, the big name players get all the glory. Larger
record labels have larger distribution deals and hire marketing teams to
market their artists on a 24 hour basis. These big name players (and usually
by little fault of their own) end up hogging the airwaves, the grant money,
the video circuit, the big award shows, and just generally steal the spotlight. 
Last night, it was nice to see an underdog, hard-working, fifth business
Ottawa musician of the Canadiana scene take back some of that glory 
(and on a tuesday night, at that!) - The Horseshoe Tavern was packed to the 
gills as Jim Bryson (sideman guitarist & keyboardist for such esteemed 
acts as Kathleen Edwards, The Tragically Hip and many more) laid bare his
newest release 'The Falcon Lake Incident' which was written and 
recorded with none other than Can-rock Winnipeg kings The 
Weakerthans. Showing a varied range that wavered between floaty, picking
folk tunes to balls-out, drive-beat rock, Bryson seemed genuinely thankful
on stage and mentioned many times that he was thrilled to see so many
people out. 
More than that, though, was the obvious notion that The Weakerthans,
taking a break from the headspace of playing their own music, thoroughly
enjoyed themselves as smiles, nods and random tambourine solos
erupted from the band as they backed Jim up with authority. At one point,
a rowdy crowd member shouted 'play some WEAKERTHANS!' and John
Samson (who played a little keys and mostly sang harmony throughout
the set) gave the audience member a 'shoo' sort of motion with his hand
as if to say 'Get lost. That's not why we're here.'
Showing more of their true, good-natured colours, Jim and Weakerthans
guitarist Stephen Carroll even took their guitars off in a flash to lend a hand 
as they saw a girl in the front row begin to pass out. Luckily, a friend of
mine (who just happens to be a doctor) was able to help the temporarily
frazzled girl back to her feet. After a moment, the guitars went back on,
and the set continued without a hiccup. Ending things raucously with
the horn-blasting 'When The Wishes Pile Up', the crowd could not get
enough of the energy that was blasting from the stage. 
Having recently interviewed Jim for the magazine I write for (which you 
can read here) and having grown up in the same city, I almost felt overcome 
with pride for him in the success of the night and the the sonically golden
live presentation of his new record. The whole night was basically a
a statement showing that when friends help other friends, good things

Friday, October 15, 2010

The Kings Rock Kingston: 
Sloan Live @ The Alehouse 
(Oct 13, 2010)

Many Sloan-moons ago, during the release of their Between The Bridges
album, a few friends and myself witnessed a blast-battalion of the ages
that was fit for arena-rock gods and masters of the stage. It's a vivid
memory - old Jock Harty Arena, my friend Jeff and I holding up olympic
scoring signs (complete with decimal numbers), and another friend Justin
dressed up as The Flash (don't ask). Halfway through the performance, a
number of jocks began to chant 'MONEY CITY MANIACS!' over and
over again as Chris Murphy sat down to play a few quieter keys-inspired
songs. He looked at the group chanting louder and louder, and leaned into
the mic saying 'Oh - ok. I can play it now sounds a lot better with
the band' and he proceeded to play the main melody of money city on the
keyboard, very slowly and awkwardly, using only one finger at a time. It
was precisely this bantering, comedic yet full-out rock presence that
labelled their shows as legendary.

Sloan has a way of performing that is uncanny and unparalleled. In the
long list of Canadiana rock royalty, it can be said that Chris, Jay, Patrick,
Andrew (and even touring keys player Greg Macdonald) are kings.

Last night, and many moons from that Jock Harty show, the 'kings' fittingly
rocked the town of kings for all it was worth. Kicking off with 'Losing
California', the lads powered through a pretty extensive set that was a
great mix of new and old. Next, launching into 'Penpals', 'The Lines You
Amend', 'Underwhelmed' and 'Worried Now', Sloan sounded as tight
and dynamic as they did in 2001, if not tighter. Keeping their banter
limited, Chris at one point said into the mic 'So...we're not really promoting
anything, right now. We just wanted to tour.' Talk about your modern day
workhorses! The set crescendoed and mellowed with a middle set that
featured the odd but lovable songs of Andrew Scott. Andrew led strong
with 'The Great Wall', 'People Of The Sky' and from the latest Hit & Run
EP 'Where Are You Now?' Blasting out over 20 songs (featuring a rare
encore occurrence that had Chris Murphy playing guitar for 'Deeper Than
Beauty' and Greg Macdonald on drums) and playing for almost 2 hours,
Sloan made it clear that they are not showing signs of slowing down
anytime soon.

In 2011, Sloan is gearing up to release a new album at a concert that will
mark the 20th anniversary of their first live show. After blasting out 4
different flavours from four very different songwriters for 20 years, Sloan
are still leading the charge when it comes to playing live, mastering the
variance of a hearty rock sound, and working their asses off. No matter
what you think of the band, there is no denying their work ethic and
the undeniable body of work that they will leave behind.

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