JIM BRYSON and KATHLEEN EDWARDS performing as part of Taste Of The Danforth, August 11. Tickets: free. Attendance: 1,000. Rating: NNN
maybe it was the souvlaki-scented woodsmoke clouds filling the air around the Taste Of The Danforth mainstage, or the happy families and lager-swilling 20-somethings milling around the beer garden at Logan, but the late-afternoon sets by Ottawa indie rockers Jim Bryson and Kathleen Edwards had the ambience of an informal backyard barbecue with old friends rather than a polished show.Bryson, backed by a band that included Punchbuggy's Darren Hore on bass and Starling drummer Peter von Althen, took advantage of the casual atmosphere, playing up the bratty sibling dynamic with guitarist-vocalist Edwards and taking stabs at audience stragglers and his hometown ("Ottawa, the city that always sleeps, and the home of eastern Ontario's biggest flea market... I think").
He delivered a consistently solid -- if unremarkable -- set that stayed true to the mellow vibe, though he managed to squeeze in a couple of rock-out numbers. His spectacled, button-down exterior belied a pretty convincing garage-punk edge, particularly on numbers like the raw, upbeat Pressed and an as-yet-untitled rockabilly-tinged new song.
After a short break, Bryson was relegated to the background as Edwards took over the mike, bringing bassist Kevin McCarragher onstage for the set. With her percussive acoustic guitar and sweet, smoky voice, Edwards could have been channelling U.S. roots country darling Lucinda Williams.
Although her lyrics could use some work, the singer-songwriter charmed with catchy melodies and a self-deprecating world-weary dame act. Anecdotes about fireball whiskey and lusting after Bryan Adams ("although he's apparently a real asshole!") seemed just right for the down-home show.
Sure, it wasn't a pyrotechnic extravaganza of a concert, but sometimes it's nice to just kick back and relax with buddies and have a beer in the sun.