RICHARD BUCKNER with the DOTTIE CORMIER BAND and KATHLEEN EDWARDS at the Horseshoe, January 11. Tickets: $10. Attendance: 250. Rating: NNN Rating: NNN
the hell's angels were a popular topic of bar conversation at the Horseshoe Friday night, but the motorcycle enthusiasts must've picked another nightspot for their weekend frolic. Come to think of it, there was one surly-looking tattooed dude in dirty, sagging denims sporting goofy Willie braids who might've been mistaken for an outlaw biker, but Richard Buckner probably gets that a lot since he stopped shaving.
There was no mistaking Ottawa's Kathleen Edwards for anything but a less charming Sarah Harmer with far too many Lucinda Williams records. She was fortunate to have singer/songwriter Jim Bryson accompanying her groanings about ice rinks.
His inadvertent blurts of feedback distracted those people deep in conversation and caused them to momentarily turn to the stage to see what Edwards was doing. It was a bit odd when she started flopping around the microphone like a trout on a dock for no apparent reason. If her management has any sense of humour at all, they'll have her keep the fish dance in the routine.
Dottie Cormier and her stellar string band, featuring mandolin marvel Andrew Collins and teen guitar prodigy Marc Roy, provided some welcome relief from Edwards's dreary tedium.
Cormier's upbeat country twang turned out to be the only bright spot in a gloomy night, since Buckner took the mood down a few more notches from the low point where Edwards left off. Much like Jay Farrar, he's developed a unique way of phrasing his bellows that makes it seem like he's singing the same song over and over again.
Guest sideman Bob Egan did an admirable job of adding much-needed instrumental colour, improvising stinging National steel counterpoint and coaxing cool Cooderesque slide runs from his Strat.
Unfortunately, Buckner appeared to be more concerned with adding empty whisky tumblers to the rising stagefront stack than connecting with the crowd on the other side of them.