Ted's Wrecking Yard, Thurs, July 20
He's been a Northern Pike and an A&R scout, but it appears the role of solo artist suits Bryan Potvin best. Playing last week at an industry schmooze to hype his new Heartbreakthrough disc, the singer/songwriter appeared relaxed and convivial alone onstage with his guitar. Of course, it helped that half of the Universal Canada staff -- former co-workers and current record distributors -- were on hand spreading the love around. Among them was Potvin's partner, Samantha Johnson, who, conveniently, is helping work the record. Good news -- nothing on Heartbreakthrough reeks of the grotesque sexism of the Pikes' horrific She Ain't Pretty. Hallelujah.
Horseshoe, Fri, July 21
We'd like to tell you that we were able to stick around to the bitter end of Trooper's 'Shoe set Friday, but a woman alone (and pretty much the only woman) at a gig hosted by old rockers tends to get hassled. A lot. Like, to the point of being driven from the club by drunken yabbos who mistake her -- heh, heh, heh, little lady -- for a fan and, therefore, a soulmate for all eternity. Cripes.
Between uncomfortably cozy chats with Dave the bootlegger and Russ the mechanic, here's what we ascertained. The BC-based combo are on the road celebrating 25 years as a band, singer Ra McGuire just turned 50 and the group is negotiating with Universal over the release of a compilation disc. Oh yeah, and righteous local rawk threat Plastic Bag kicked things off. Raise a little hell, indeed.
Ted's Wrecking Yard, Fri, July 21
When he last rolled into town, Ottawa's Jim Bryson stunned the yackety-yak industry crowd at Barcode into silence. Upstairs at Ted's Friday, the reception was a tad less restrained, but no less enthusiastic.
With bookers from virtually every other major club in the room, Bryson and band stormed confidently through tunes from his excellent The Occasionals disc, but it was the final tune that was the real corker.
"We didn't write this, but anyone over 30 should recognize it," Bryson laughed before launching into a slo-mo stroll through New Order's Regret. The whole room was smiling.
WILD OX MOAN
Barcode, Fri, July 21
Wild Ox Moan provided a pleasant refuge in Barcode for those trying to escape from the tragically dated grunge howl of Cleavage on Friday.
The threesome is led by guitarist/vocalist Eric Schenkman, formerly of the Spin Doctors. Don't let that scare you, though.
Rather than jangly hippy rock, the Ox crew play old time Delta blues, rough and raw and with very little to dress it up. Depending on where you are in the bar, it can be either full-on entertainment or pleasant background plucking.
Wild Ox Moan host at Barcode every Friday.
Harbourfront Centre, Sat, July 22
Judging by the enthusiastic cheers that erupted when bouncing Funk'n Lata frontman Ivo Mierelles shouted "Viva Bahia!," Toronto's Brazilian community was well-represented amongst the enormous turnout packed around Harbourfront's Molson Place stage for the Canadian debut of Salvador's rowdy samba squad.
Although, after the first five minutes of fierce batucada-style boom-de-da-boom drum thwacking and searing guitar leads, a number of older patrons could be seen shuffling for the exits with fingers stuck in their ears.
Unfortunately, those who left early missed one of the more dazzling discoveries of Harbourfront's Rhythms of the World summer program. Aggressively charging through their funky drum and chant jams -- and even slamming out a crowd-pleasing cover of James Brown's I Got You (I Feel Good) -- the horn-hyped, 16-strong Funk'n Lata crew proved they had more going on than matching soccer jerseys and kooky bleached-blond hair.