IAN TYSON with CLAY TYSON at Hugh's Room, August 17. Tickets: $30. Attendance: 150. Rating: NNN Rating: NNN
before the show, hugh's room was abuzz with chatter about whether Ian Tyson would jam with his son Clay, who was splitting a club bill with the old man for the first time. But hopes of a freewheeling family getdown soon turned to fears when it became apparent that the Tyson performing gene had skipped a generation.
Clearly feeling the pressure of the situation, the lanky young Tyson spoke quickly and rushed through tunes as if he had a cab waiting. Not that anyone was complaining. Judging by the soaring demand for coffee, each superficial pop tune he picked with a sha-na-na-hey-budda-da-hey chorus was making it tougher for the elderly-skewed crowd to keep their eyes open.
It was becoming too much to bear when the Frank Jr. of Can-folk began making up his own words to Heard It Through The Grapevine. Mercifully, that was the last of Clay Tyson for the night.
Dad stepped forward and launched straight into Navajo Rug. He was already through the first verse when he realized his stool needed readjusting. It didn't matter to Ian Tyson that he was in the middle of one of his best-loved songs. He just reached back with his left hand, fixed the problem while continuing to strum with his right, and moved into the second verse without missing a beat. Smooth.
Flanked by guitarist Gord Matthews and bassist Gord Maxwell, the Stetsoned Tyson spun tales of the Old West leavened with cowpoke wit to turn what was shaping up to be a stodgy folk recital into a campfire guitar-pull.
People put down their coffee cups and hung on every word Tyson uttered about range-running mustangs and longhorn cattle. They were on their feet cheering before he could yodel the final notes of his closing clincher, Somewhere Over The Rainbow. Hope Clay was taking notes.