Leon Russell, Big Bop, August 26
Piano legend Leon Russell - barely moving and looking like he could keep his band in check with just a raised eyebrow - shot through a blistering set of blues, rock and gospel classics last Thursday at the Big Bop . The show was supposed to happen at the Reverb, but Russell's 700-pound keyboard couldn't make it up the stairs and around the corner, so the gig was shifted at the last minute. Russell rocked out everything from old hits like Delta Lady to the covers he became famous for, like Jumpin' Jack Flash, which he'd played at the Concert For Bangladesh - made all the more visceral by blazing-hot axeman Jon Woodhead . If having his daughters Tina Rose and Sugaree Noel sing backing vocals was intended to spark added interest in the tour, it didn't work musically. The two, though competent, spent most of their time onstage playing with their hair - and it certainly did nothing to fill the club.
Russell, unfazed by the small turnout, put on a helluva show. Strangely absent were renditions of his monster compositions Superstar and This Masquerade, presumably so that no one in the audience would wonder, "What's a great songwriter like that doing in a club like this?"
Canadian Urban Music Awards announce nominees
Last Tuesday, in a cozy conference room on the top floor of the CBC Centre , Can-rap rabble-rouser Michee Mee announced the nominees for the sixth annual Canadian Urban Music Awards. K-OS and Melanie Durrant lead the pack with three nominations each, with nods also going to, among others, Big Black Lincoln , In Essence , Norah Jones , Ray Robinson , Swollen Members , 50 Cent , Beyoncé , Kardinal Offishall , IRS , Sean Paul , Jacksoul , Eminem and Kyprios . Anyone surprised? Didn't think so. Predictably, every watery-ass token Canadian group Flow 93.5 (one of the night's sponsors) plays only to fulfill its Can-con requirements made it. And since when is Norah Jones considered urban?
One thing is certain - neither Jones nor any of the other international (read American) acts will be in attendance when it all goes down October 21 at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre's John Bassett Theatre . Tickets for the CBC-televised show are $35, $100 if you want to hit up the pre-awards luncheon and after-party, on sale through Ticketmaster starting September 20.