Star & Micey at Painted Lady.
I was running late when I got to the Painted Lady for Star & Micey's 8 p.m. set, but the gospel-tinged indie Memphis band (who are, perhaps, the four-piece mentioned in Julia's LeConte's Wednesday writeup?) were running even later. Singer Josh Cosby apologized and said something about a delayed flight and border crossings, but they'd actually driven from New York and were just plain late.
Luckily, these guys can pack a lot of musical enthusiasm into 25 minutes. They ended their short set with an unplugged finale on the bar.
From there I biked up Ossington to the Piston where New York's Ed Askew had just started his set.
Askew was backed by a keyboard player and a fellow who alternated between banjo and tiple (an unusual, beautiful little ten-stringed instrument in the guitar family). The band walked the line between technical precision and tentative, exploratory folk, and Askew's lyrics weren't just poetic; they were a kind of poetry. On a song about building a tree house, Askew's glockenspiel stood in for the hammering.
The Mod Club, where I went to catch Calexico, was a stark contrast to Ed Askew's intimate show, the room felt over-crowded and the music too polished, too lush. But Calexico won me over by bringing things down a notch, then inviting local fiddler Miranda Mulholland up before bringing things back up (the generous set had a huge arc). Where else are you going to dance to celebratory mariachi-inflected Americana in Toronto?
Afterward, outside, I overheard some of the band members talking about applause - a little reminder that we're all just people when the spotlights aren't on. I needed fuel, and chose the greasiest snack possible - half a panzerotti from Bitondo's on Clinton - and caught some of Sunfields' set at the Monarch Tavern. On the way out, I ran into José Contreras, who had a better reason than me for leaving early: he had to act in the film Porch Stories (with Laura Barrett) this morning at 7 a.m.
Unforgettable: The sparse and poetic musical magic of Ed Askew's entire set.