JAY BENNETT with Staggered Crossing , NQ ARBUCKLE , SUPERGARAGE and the BLUE VAN as part of CMW at Lee's Palace (529 Bloor West), Saturday (March 5), 9 pm. $8. 416-532-1598. Rating: NNNNN
It's about time the name Jay Bennett stopped being preceded by the term "ex-Wilco." After all, it's been a couple of years since Jeff Tweedy and the boys ousted him from the band, as anyone who's seen the DVD I Am Trying To Break Your Heart (Plexifilm) knows all too well. But Bennett's easy.
"I don't mind talking about Wilco at all," the gruff-voiced but affable Bennett drawls through the phone from his Chicago home. "It was a huge part of my life for eight years, and I'm really proud of everything I did in the band. I think Jeff wanted to go solo, which is basically what he is now, and I'm happy to report no feelings of ill will toward any of the guys in the band."
Pretty admirable for a guy who co-wrote much of the music for Wilco's swan song, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot (Nonesuch).
Since then, the multi-instrumentalist/singer-songwriter/producer has been giving new meaning to the word "prolific."
"I'm in music mode now," offers Bennett. "I'm working with a lot of bands in the studio and have finished about five albums in the last five months. Not to mention releasing two of my own albums, plus a five-song EP that I wrote music and lyrics for and recorded all in a 24-hour period. And, yeah, I have about two whole albums' worth of songs in the can."
Obviously, Bennett has a lot to get off his chest. Both the albums he released in 2004, Bigger Than Blue and The Beloved Enemy (Undertow), are filled with soul-searching tear-jerkers.
"I'm actually a very happy person. It's just that when I sit down to write a song, even a happy song, it comes out sounding kinda sad. It's definitely harder to write happy."
Not to worry, though, since Bennett will be backed by Staggered Crossing at Lee's Palace Saturday. Judging by how excited StagX bassist Dan Black is about playing with Bennett, you shouldn't be surprised if they break into Iron Man mid-set.