January is a typically slow month for big-ticket shows in Toronto, but there are a few highly anticipated events to help stave off the winter blahs until the spring thaw.
Last year's sprawling indoor folkstravaganza returns for a triumphant second edition, with over 70 musicians strumming earnestly in five clubs for a three-day stretch. This year's version kicks off January 30, featuring performers from every folkin' facet you can imagine - everyone from sweet Guelph rootsy pop crooner Tannis Slimmon to American blues prodigy Josh White Jr. Better yet, all the clubs - the Silver Dollar , the Swallow , Thymeless Bar & Grill , Rancho Relaxo and the Free Times Café - are within a few blocks of each other on College, so you won't have to freeze your folk-lovin' tail while tailing the class acts. Check www.winterfolk.com for a full schedule and details.
When ex-Arkansas belter Beth Ditto led her gospel-punk bashers the Gossip through town last winter, she treated the ecstatic crowd at Lee's Palace to a full-on striptease and wound up moaning soulfully wearing nothing but her bra and panties. The post-riot-grrrl revolutionaries, who never disappoint live, return to Lee's with local no-wave darlings the Sick Lipstick February 23. 416-532-1598.
Elvis Costello 's woefully pretentious North (Deutsche Grammaphon) album is so abysmal you have to wonder whether its utter lameness was intentional. Costello's no fool. He must know that any studio collaboration with his easy-listening pin-up wife, Diana Krall , would be a hard sell to his long-time fans. However, after subjecting people to the bland bellowing tedium of North on the current tour - which brings our man to Massey Hall February 28 - he'll have even hardcore Attractions fans begging for a schlocky duets disc. Smart. 416-870-8000.
Those stuck in Toronto during Mardi Gras and the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival can get a taste of that Louisiana flava when Buckwheat Zydeco and the Ils Sont Partis Band heat up the Horseshoe with a fratoir-scraping frenzy February 12 that conveniently doubles as an engagement soirée for club commandant Jeff Cohen . Those Horseshoe hombres know how to throw a party. 416-598-4753.
Get your laptops out
Some drastic changes have been going on with the Liars since the arty Brooklyn blasters unleashed their wired debut, They Threw Us All In A Trench... (Mute), which had them set up as the next big dance-punk things. They jettisoned their jerky Nebraskan rhythm section, and upwardly mobile frontman Angus Andrew left the Williamsburg hipster enclave to join partner the Yeah Yeah Yeah 's Karen O in a New Jersey estate with a basement recording studio. The aggressive grooves have been replaced by more spacious glitch-scapes on their forthcoming They Were Wrong, So We Drowned (Mute) disc. It should be interesting to hear how they recreate the new sound at their Lee's Palace show March 17. 416-532-1598.
THIN AND DEEP
When Roger Glover got together with his Deep Purple mates Ian Gillan , Steve Morse , Ian Paice and Don Airey to plot a North American tour recreating their heavy rock masterstroke Machine Head - you know, Smoke On The Water, Space Truckin', Highway Star, etc - they had no idea if the concept would fly with ticket buyers, especially at $65 a pop. Evidently, they had nothing to worry about in Toronto at least. Deep Purple's Massey Hall show February 26, with Thin Lizzy opening, sold out in less than an hour. Maybe they'll need to come back and replay Fireball and Stormbringer. 416-870-8000.
cmw and you
March 4 marks the kickoff of this year's Canadian Music Week fest, wherein eager fans get to brave the sleet and slush armed only with their wristbands, hoping to catch a glimpse of their fave acts during quickie showcase sets in jam-packed clubs. CMW organizers have yet to post the full roster, but early word from the Horseshoe promises surf-garage goofball-turned-MuchWest reporter Nardwuar will help his Evaporators lay waste to the legendary Queen West tavern along with fellow West Coast punks the Smugglers . Stay tuned for more CanRock highlights. www.cmw.net