Rivoli, Thurs, June 22
Slowly but surely, local singer/songwriter Marshall Tully is building an audience for his pale blue, straight-from-the-diary songs -- a small but focused handful at the Riv Thursday suggesting word is getting out.
Of course, playing on the heels of resolutely average (through presumably quite new) guitar menace Drive Channel didn't hurt. With the exception of Jonathan Richman at the 'Shoe, a slightly snoozy night on Queen.
Skydome, Fri, June 23
Smoothed-out Toronto latin crew Dominicanada played in front of the biggest audience they're likely ever to see. Sadly, it's doubtful many people were playing attention.
The quintet was part of the pre-game entertainment at the Blue Jays latin night. Stuck on a stage a few yards behind second base, Dominicanada sang along to a backing tape while people settled in. Even from the fancy seats it was hard to tell whether anything, including the singing, was live, but while it wasn't the the most intimate gig, any hype Dominicanada can get for their new Ahora Si disc is presumably good hype.
Warehouse, Sat, June 24
If ever there was a gig where you'd expect to find generous amounts of Jack Daniels, it would be a double bill featuring redneck menace Nashville Pussy and metal gods Motörhead.
So it was a bit of a surprise Saturday at the newly renovated Warehouse to discover that there was no JD available at any of the bars. Those wishing to celebrate the newly created and significantly enhanced sightlines at the venue with a quick nip of Kentucky sour mash were left to cry in their Molsons.
When queried about this most vexing matter, self-described "Warehouse live entertainment guy" Gareth Brown posited that perhaps they'd simply run out. "You never can have enough around with Lemmy in the house," Brown quipped. "But rest assured, when the renovations are complete, we'll return to our full service." Hallelujah.
Lee's Palace, Sat, June 24
Chicago's HIM don't play covers of Upside Down or Expensive Shit, but they've got the afrobeat game plan locked down tight. It's a concept thing.
In front of a sparse Lee's crowd, the six-piece crew drastically stretched out Fela's endless breakdown pattern. Two drummers and a bassist hammered out thumping rhythms while guitar, Rhodes and massive, overblown horn lines led by a saxophonist doing his best John Zorn impersonation criss-crossed over top.
It was brutally heavy and just as funky. If they return, don't sleep.
Harbourfront, Sat, June 24
After ska-father Ernest Ranglin was through tearing up Harbourfront Centre's mainstage, the gentle giant of Jamaican guitar spoke candidly about his recently completed afrobeat concept album recorded in collaboration with Fela drummer Tony Allen and Brit saxophonist Courtney Pine among others.
While Ranglin talked excitedly about his polyrhythmic explorations, he seemed much less enthusiastic about his relationship with the RykoPalm label. The album has not yet been scheduled for release, and there are rumours it may be shelved indefinitely.
"If they do not want to use this record," said Ranglin at his downtown hotel room, "maybe they think they're doing the right thing, but I hope they'll realize they're making a mistake. It's my music and I want the world to hear what I'm doing.
"I would like to see how people react to it. After all, I'm here to please everybody, so if I do something that the people who listen to my music don't like, I'll know to try doing things differently next time. They should at least give the music a chance.
"Something else might be happening shortly but I'd rather not speak about things that are not yet done. We'll see."
Buddies, Sat, June 24
Checked out the talent at the FruitLoopz stage outside Buddies, where young musicians doled out some pretty dynamite sounds. Acoustic act 6X put on a strong display, with compelling lead singer Stacey Hammond able to hold the attention of a crowd in a situation where there were tons of distractions.
And keep your ears open for Angel Dust, a four-piece all-girl band -- with a drummer, Maureen Da Silva, who can drum -- and excellent songwriting in the Hole/Veruca Salt vein, courtesy of Silvia Nardi on guitar and backup vocals, Alex Saurez on lead vocals and backup guitar and Sonniea Negovetic on bass. Raw but promising.