CITIZEN KANE at Reverb (651 Queen West), Thursday (June 8), 1 am. $6. 416-504-0744.
raw digi-tek (formerly blye) and
Spade.com, Child of Mecca (formerly J-Spade) -- aka Citizen Kane -- call themselves the New Age hiphop Starsky and Hutch. And they're on a mission to destroy every MC outside of Scar Town (Scarborough).
Citizen Kane's always street-style hiphop adheres to strict mathematical formulae, rules that Spade believes underlie all great art.
If an artist is oblivious to beats, form and structure, he says, "It's like drawing a landscape without a horizon.
"We wanna come out right," admits Digi-tek. "That's how we do music. Otherwise, we just close up shop."
The owners and operators (with manager Adrian Perry) of Treehouse Records -- a name that evokes images of youthful big dreams coming true -- stick by the adage, "All are welcome who respect the house." CK embodies everything that's opposed to corporate posturing and processed stars, they say in stereo.
"You can get the big cheddar and have someone else rule your life, but we're self-made people," affirms Spade. "Yo, we're effective and we get things done."JENNIFER LEONARD
JOHN WESLEY HARDING & THE RADICAL GENTLEMEN at the Horseshoe (370 Queen West), Thursday (June 7), 11 pm. $8. 416-598-4753.
for the typically unpredictable
John Wesley Harding, the only way to follow up his Trad Arr Jones (Appleseed) collection of English folk songs recorded in Seattle was, naturally, to head to Nashville and cut a cheery pop album.
Listening to the resulting Confessions Of St. Ace (Mammoth) album, with its boldly chiming guitars and gorgeous harmony vocals provided by pop savant Chris von Sneidern, who's currently touring as the bassist in the Radical Gentlemen, you'd never guess the record was cut in Country Town, USA. Well, apart from the well-placed Jimmie Dale Gilmore and Steve Earle cameos.
It seems that our boy Harding has no shortage of highly placed friends. The Boss himself, Bruce Springsteen, came down from his mansion on the hill to join Harding onstage at McCabe's for a cover of Wreck On The Highway that later turned up on the re-release of 98's Awake (Appleseed) album.
"Oh, Jimmie Dale, Steve and Bruce all happen to be members of the John Wesley Harding fan club," Harding deadpans. "No, I'm only kidding. They're people I've met and gotten to know a bit over the years. It was just lucky that Jimmie Dale and Steve happened to be in Nashville when I was recording.
"Jimmie Dale's parts worked really well, I thought, because he has that beautiful, ghostly tenor that reminds me of Jiminy Cricket. It's funny, I don't think you could find Jimmie Dale Gilmore and Steve Earle on a a less country-sounding record."
It follows, then, that Harding sees NXNE less as a business imperative than as an opportunity to catch up with some old pals.
"That's the whole reason I love attending music conferences. I mean, Toronto's a lovely city with some great record shops, bookstores and restaurants, but I'm really looking forward to spending some time with friends I haven't seen in ages."TIM PERLICH
NICE CAT at the El Mocambo (464 Spadina), Thursday, 11 pm. $6. 416-968-2001.
fun-loving toronto-based fuzz-
metal band Nice Cat specialize in sugary treats, thick riffs and Jägermeister: "It's the only thing we drink."
The Jäger girls, Caitlin (guitar) and Carol (vocals/guitar), have been known to share. Onstage at the Elmo last week, Carol affirmed their predilection for the 70-proof elixir made of 56 herbs and spices: "We do accept gifts of Jägermeister." Drummer Jim sticks to lager, though, and bassist Nicole goes for soda.
Sugar-filled or sugar-free, Nice Cat know how to rock -- all the way into Rage Against the Machine's Tom Morello's record collection, in fact. Carefully textured electric grind and loose beats underlie their molten tunes, each one bearing a trace of the collective's diverse musical tastes: Sex Pistols, Jesus & Mary Chain, YES, Deep Purple.
On the back of Nice Cat concert Ts are the words "Rock out with your cock out," a slogan they've adopted in the course of their three-year stage life.
Carol, also known as the Betty Crocker of the group, whips up a fine chocolate-and-peanut-butter "fudgie" that she customarily makes in bushels and passes out to the crowd before blanketing them with her soothing timbre and occasional yowl. Backstage she confesses her motive: "We like to get the audience hopped up on sugar so they have a good time."
Caitlin, her partner in crime, helps out by roaming the venue with a bag of candy featuring assorted suckers and the rare packet of Dirt Wheels, Offroad Scarfin' Snacks in five radical flavours: Grippin' Grape, Wheelie Watermelon, Offroad Orange, Cherry Challenge and Leapin' Lemon.
Although they're proud of their interactive sensibility (and their current equal-opportunity experiment with mantras like Shooters For Hooters), Caitlin admits, "I've seen more than I've needed to see over the years. It's amazing what someone will do for a shot of Jägermeister!"
one-man band Bot-grass
ROYER's ONE-MAN Band at Healey's (178 Bathurst), Thursday (June 7), 1 am. $8. 416-703-5882.
if you plan on making any money
busking on the competitive streets of Boston, you'd better have a really good hook.
So in a city full of folkie guitar strummers, Eric Royer thought picking a banjo instead would give him the necessary edge.
He soon discovered the limitations of trying to play string-band music with only two hands.
Working with other players proved difficult to schedule, and splitting nickels four ways was barely keeping everyone in coffee. Royer, a carpenter by trade and a tinkerer by nature, had the answer.
"I've always been handy with mechanical things," he explains from his Boston home. "Just for the fun of it, I made a drum-playing device from the gearbox and motor out of a washing machine.
"So I went to work on making a guitar to accompany my banjo- and harmonica-playing that I could control with my feet, using pedals and pulleys to strum and change chords. That's my guitar machine.
"Right away I noticed a big change in the tips people left."
Royer's ingenious contraption also caught the attention of Toronto indie filmmakers Derek Emerson and Heather Emerson, who were shooting a documentary on one-man bands.
So along with entertaining footage of ornery Boone County basher Hasil Adkins and Crescent City kook Quintron, the Emersons' forthcoming feature-length film, Let Me Be Your Man, gives Royer a starring role. (A trailer for the film screens at the Bloor Cinema Saturday, June 9, 7 pm, as part of NXNE's SoundVision 01; see Rep Cinemas, page 106.)
Royer isn't too worried about the possibility of becoming an international celebrity as a result.
"I'd like to play some of those hardcore bluegrass festivals, because I really love that music. I've applied to a bunch of 'em, but for some reason they aren't interested in a one-man band playing bluegrass." TP
fiddle folkSisterly threat
Madviolet at Graffiti's Bar and Grill (170 Baldwin), Thursday (June 7), 1 am. $5. 416-506-6699.
violinist lisa macisaac wants to
"You could start by saying I'm sitting in Ashley's room," she says on the phone from Cape Breton.
Thing is, she may be in his room, but she's definitely not cloaked in her famous older brother's shadow.
Playing Graffiti's Bar and Grill tonight (Thursday, June 7), Lisa is one half of madviolet, a rough-edged, organic cross between folk and electronica. With singer/guitarist Brenley MacEachern, they're the evolution of zoebliss, a six-piece band that had to dissolve mid-2000.
"It's difficult to tour as a full band, because of the expense. Some of the guys at zoebliss were still working full-time, so we paired off. Madviolet was a side project initially, but it's the project now."
That doesn't mean there aren't any more side activities. She's been busy portraying a fiddler and recording four tracks for the Hollywood film Virgina's Run, shot in Shelburne, Nova Scotia, and starring Gabriel Byrne.
But this up-and-coming star still gets her big brother's support and has fiddled with him on gigs. Any chance for a family duet?
"If he's around he'll definitely come down, but I won't promise any surprises."ZACK MEDICOFF
Shabazz3 at the Comfort Zone (480 Spadina), Thursday (June 7), 1 am. $6. 416-975-0909.
shabazz3 want to be clear --
their shows are all about energy and crowd participation.
"We get in, we do what we gotta do," starts Bobby Dee, then, "Bam! We blow it up and we're out."
From Dino (slang for Dallas, Texas), Shabazz3 are DJ Bobby Dee (Bobby May), Fatz (Jonathan Dangerfield) and XL7 (Ty Macklin). Their sound is true to hiphop roots, with splashes of Herbie Hancock and the original jazz funkateer, Roy Ayers. "It's real. It's ambient. It's instrumental," says Bobby Dee.
XL7, the group's anchor, was a star in high school. "He was in DDT (Decadent Dub Team), with a track on the Colors soundtrack that went gold. Since he was my best friend," shares Bobby Dee, "I got to, you know, hang out with him."
Back in the day, Ty had a little 12-track studio in his bedroom ("His mom used to complain all the time," says Bobby Dee) that all the local underground groups gravitated to to record their demos, including Erykah Badu, who to this day lives down the street from Bobby Dee.
Virgins to Canadian soil, Bobby Dee and his crew are ecstatic to be slated for Thursday's NXNE gig at the Comfort Zone.
"We just want real hiphop heads to come out. We have something we want to give them. We want to let them know that down here in Texas we're not riding horses, you know, and wearing big cowboy hats. We're real heads. We understand the art form and we're true to it.
"Hiphop is universal, see. It doesn't matter where you're from. It all depends on where you're at. That's it."
How it works
NXNE 2001 June 7-9 at various downtown clubs. For a comprehensive listing of participating artists, venues and set times, consult the NOW club listings and the NXNE Web site, www.nxne.com, which will have daily updates. Complete festival wristbands are available for $18 at various HMV stores (333 Yonge, Queen West, Bloor, Yonge and Eglinton, Square One, Yorkdale, Sherway Gardens, Oakville, Erin Mills Town Centre, Scarborough Town Centre, Pickering Town Centre and Oshawa Town Centre), at NOW Magazine (189 Church), or call 416-870-8000 or order online at www.ticketmaster.ca. One-day wristbands are available at the clubs each night for $12.