Hawksley in Hamilton
It isn't every day that opening acts seem to match up perfectly with the main attraction, so when word came out that Toronto balladeer Hawksley Workman would be warming up the lads for Morrissey February 16, we had to pay attention.
Morrissey, who when last in these parts was mistaken for one of his fans and tossed out the side door of Massey Hall like a sack of rice, shunned Toronto this time around and opted to play Hamilton Place instead. His career is, to be polite, currently on hold, with Moz lacking a recording contract and relying on old favourites to get the gladioli sailing.
Workman, on the other hand, appears to get more confident with every gig, and faced the very real possibility of blowing the 40-year-old Morrissey clean into Lake Ontario.
His solo set was, by all accounts, well received. The real question is, what happened backstage?
"I beat him in three straight matches of ping-pong," Workman claims with a laugh. "I thought the English were really good at those pub games, but I'm quite good at ping-pong. We didn't really get to hang out, though. I had another show to play that night, and Morrissey's a fairly reclusive fellow, it seems.
"He's a rock-and-roll icon. He's the original strutter, and I was quite aware of that while I was playing. I was out there strutting around, and I suddenly realized where I was.
"It was a peculiar experience, almost like a car-jacking. I had a great time, though."
Workman, in the midst of repairing his phone line, producing a record for Tegan & Sara and working on his own sophomore album, returns to more familiar ground this week. He performs with his band the Wolves and guest John Southworth at Ted's Wrecking Yard Saturday (February 26).
Better to be opening for him than closing for him.
At least that's our gut upon learning that English-bred, Toronto-based singer/songwriter Tamara Williamson returns to the old country to support hair-triggered former Jesus & Mary Chain dude William Reid during his first-ever solo acoustic gig Tuesday (February 29) at London's 12 Bar.
"It's a tiny, cool club just off Denmark Street," offers Williamson. "How this came about was, I did some UK shows last October, including one at this club. The guy who runs it really loved my stuff and pitched me as a good opener for William, who apparently agreed."
Williamson admits to feeling under-appreciated here, and says she's contemplated a move back. "The response in the UK has been very favourable," she says. "It doesn't seem as if anyone else over there is doing what I'm doing."
With that in mind, local fans may want to make a point of catching Williamson and her band March 10 at Ted's Wrecking Yard.
If at first they hate your tape, send them your CD.
Well, that kind of logic wouldn't normally fly, but in the case of Toronto rockers Tuuli, persistence paid off, resulting in a distribution deal with way-cool Long Beach-based garage/punk label Sympathy for the Record Industry. Noted for its grassroots operations and prolific output, Sympathy also boasts associations with cult mobs like New Bomb Turks, Rocket from the Crypt and the Muffs.
"What happened was, our singer, Jenny Vegas, booked us a 10-date California tour, which we just got back from," explains Tuuli drummer Mike Dutchin. "She'd sent (Sympathy supremo) Long Gone John a cassette of our stuff, which he wasn't crazy about, but she followed up with a CD of newer recordings.
"He came to see us play a show at the Troubadour and really liked us." Presto - Tuuli's Hot Rods And Honeysuckle platter now bears the Sympathy seal of appeal.