johnnie johnson, november 30
The tiny white Korg keyboard set up on the Silver Dollar stage where a proper piano should've been was only the beginning of a hugely disappointing show by legendary former Chuck Berry sideman Johnnie Johnson.
Backed by the mullet-positive bar bloozers known as the Reverb Rockers, the frail-looking Hall of Fame piano pounder could only lightly brush his slow-moving fingers over the keys as if he were picking lint off a cardigan. There were neither cordial greetings nor any between-song banter whatsoever as Johnson wheezed his way through tired standards like Every Day I Have The Blues, Stormy Monday and Kansas City. Conspicuously absent from the set list were all the Chuck Berry favourites Johnson cut, which many people had come to hear. After 30 minutes, Johnson creaked off, and just over half the audience knotted up their piano-key scarves and split with him.
convoy cubano, november 28
Mashing up hiphop and traditional Cuban music might sound like a stretch, but Montreal's Convoy Cubano made it seem surprisingly natural in front of a boisterous crowd at Lula Lounge Thursday. The band's secret is its double-barrelled approach.
Three MCs played off one another at the front of the stage, slinging rhymes back and forth en español, but it was the rhythm section that provided the real punch. The live collection of grizzled son veterans provided a flexibility and raw edge that no DJ could have, wavering between stately clave rhythms and lurching funk.
The mix made perfect sense, as did the occasional detours into dancehall and straight-ahead salsa. Judging by the chaos on the dance floor, Cuban music fans are ready to get modern.
upcoming, lynn breedlove
Forget Peaches, Princess Superstar and the rest of those foul-mouthed babes. Lynn Breedlove and her in-your-face bandmates in Tribe 8 made a name for themselves castrating big rubber dildos onstage while yowling about sex of all shades. Makes Fuck The Pain Away seem pretty tame, huh?
Breedlove's always leading the pack, so it's worth checking out her gig at Tallulah's Cabaret at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre (12 Alexander) Friday (December 6). With spoken-word spitfire Sini Anderson of Sister Spit in tow, Breedlove mixes things up with a performance that's half reading (from last spring's wicked Godspeed novel) and half funked-up dance/performance art piece (lots of cool Riot Grrl-y music and projections over beats). Bring your dildos.