In the studio with Levon Helm
While the other members of Blue Rodeo used an unusual three-day break in their rigorous tour schedule to reacquaint themselves with family and friends, bassist Bazil Donovan attended a sort of roots rock fantasy camp in the form of a Ronnie Hawkins recording session.
There, at Bath Studios in Kingston, Donovan briefly got to play the part of the late Rick Danko in the company of drummer Levon Helm, keyboardist Richard Bell, guitarist Colin Linden and, of course, Rompin' Ronnie Hawkins himself.
"Colin knew that Rick and I were friends, so he told Ronnie I was the only guy that could take his place. We finished eight songs in three days, and it was definitely the most fun I've ever had at a recording session.
"Even if only half of what Ronnie says is true, it doesn't matter, 'cause he's such an amazing storyteller. Each one is like, 'Well, me and Elvis...,' 'Jerry Lee and me...' or 'Then John Lennon said...' and 'That reminds me of the time I was at Sunsplash with Bob Marley....'
"One day he had me laughing from 5 pm till midnight, and it would've gone on if I didn't beg him to stop because my stomach muscles were hurting so much. I could probably write a book just based on those three days."
SONY MUSIC CANADA
Thurs, May 4
Yeah, sometimes major labels suck, but other times they do things just right.
In an effort to hype new releases forthcoming from Sony, promo reps at the label invited a handful of media types to their Leslie Street offices Thursday for a casual sneak preview of new videos and singles.
While journos snacked on wraps and spring rolls, the clips rolled. Domestic sneak peeks included new boy band b4-4, featuring 20-year-old identical twin brothers and their 18-year-old best friend; 14-year-old cornfed country crooner Adam Gregory; and new music from Finger Eleven and 54-40. On the international front, Macy Gray, Wyclef Jean (new disc coming in August), Fiona Apple (in an amazingly artful clip directed by her filmmaking boyfriend, P.T. Anderson) and soulful singer Anastacia were spotlighted, and the presentation ended with a spin through the new Pearl Jam disc, Binaural, dropping Tuesday (May 16). To Sony reps Amber, Nicola, Mary and Erica -- nicely done.
As anyone unfortunate enough to hold a ticket already knows, D'Angelo cancelled not one but two shows at Massey Hall last week.
The New York soul shouter was scheduled to bring his awesome two-and-a-half-hour revue to town May 3 as a makeup gig for the one he blew off due to illness in late March. When Wednesday's show was scrapped, again due to illness, D'Angelo rescheduled for Friday, May 5, though insiders doubted he'd be back.
Good call. D cancelled Friday's show as well as the remainder of his Voodoo tour due to a severe bout of tonsillitis. Spokespeople at D'Angelo's label, Virgin, are remaining tight-lipped about the singer's string of bad luck, but those on the tour, and those holding the tickets, aren't.
In the past few days, D'Angelo's official tour diary (at www.okayplayer.com/dangelo/dtour.htm) has become a frantic, at times caustic, source of tour info. After pissed-off fans complained about D'Angelo giving Toronto the shaft, drummer ?uestlove posted a lengthy, wounded piece detailing D's illness as well as the circumstances that led to the Toronto cancellations.
Even more interesting is the May 7 posting that announces the tour's demise, hinting at bad blood and outright declaring, "Never again."
For those still interested, D'Angelo is rumoured to be returning to Toronto this summer as part of an Amphitheatre package tour featuring the Roots and Erykah Badu. Considering how the Voodoo tour ended, though, you shouldn't hold your breath.
AGO, Sat, May 6
Winding through the at times astonishing, at times distressing collection of autobiographical drawings made by German artist Charlotte Salomon -- who was murdered by the Nazis at Auschwitz at age 26 -- on display at the Art Gallery on Ontario, patrons can hear appropriately mournful fiddle music in the background.
Turns out the violin solo that accompanies a newsreel portion of the Salomon exhibit is played by Toronto fiddler/songwriter Oliver Schroer. Good on ya, mate. The exhibition runs until July 9.
Lee's Palace, Sat, May 13
A mere two weeks into his gig as the new GM of Lee's Palace and already Lyn McNeill is ready to tear his hair out in frustration.
The reason? Boss Hog, or rather, posters advertising the upcoming Boss Hog gig at Lee's Saturday featuring the comely Cristina Martinez in a bikini. Apparently, fans have been liberating the posters as fast as McNeill can put them up.
"Yeah, sure, it's funny -- until you have to keep running up and down the stairs to keep putting new posters up."
That's only half the story, though. Advance tickets for the gig read May 12 instead the correct date of May 13. Just so's you know.