ORPHANS OF GOD SONGWRITERS CIRCLE featuring VICTORIA WILLIAMS , MARK OLSON , LUKE DOUCET , MELISSA McCLELLAND , COLIN LINDEN and the SUPERS at the Palais Royale (1601 Lakeshore West), Monday (August 14), 8 pm. $30 (proceeds to World Vision Canada). 416-533-3553, 416-870-8000. Rating: NNNNN
You've heard all about the re demptive properties of music and its power to bring people together. Songwriters have been padding out their tunes with that kind of stuff for years.
But whether there's any truth to the feel-good platitudes bellowed by Celine Dion from a Las Vegas stage is debatable.
Victoria Williams and Mark Olson will separate fact from fiction at the Orphans Of God Songwriters Circle on Monday (August 14), when they find out if they can still perform their songs together in public after getting divorced in February.
While a number of artists have continued working together long after their marriages have ended - namely Jack and Meg White of the White Stripes, Janet Weiss and Sam Coomes of Quasi, and jazz greats Paul Bley and Carla Bley - it's a bit unusual that Williams and Olson are willing to give it a shot after just five months of healing time.
And this Toronto appearance isn't just a one-off gig. It's actually a trial run for their 15-date European concert tour that starts August 19.
"When I agreed to do this date in Toronto," explains Williams from her Joshua Tree home, "we were supposed to be sharing a bill with Buddy and Julie Miller, Gillian Welch and David Rawlings and some other couples, but it seems like that's all changed now. Hmm. Well, this oughtta be... fun.
"Mark and I are still friends - at least we're still on speaking terms. We're getting together in Toronto a day before the show for a rehearsal, so everything should be fine, heh heh, unless we kill each other first."
Although Williams is trying to make light of a difficult situation, it's clear from the way she talks about the events that led her to file for divorce that the scars are still there. She does not sound ready to forgive and forget, and apparently Olson hasn't yet gotten over getting dumped - twice.
"He's definitely still very mad at me for divorcing him. After I found out Mark had taken up with the girl he was seeing before we got married, I filed for divorce. But when he told this woman about our divorce, she dropped him, and now she's having a baby with someone else. So now he's mad at me for being so quick to divorce him, which he said was 'like a horse running to water.'
"Call me old-fashioned, but if you're having sex with another woman while you're married to me, it's over!"
That sounds like a country song right there, if not three or maybe four. So once Williams is ready to start recording her next album she should have no shortage of material to draw upon.
"I've got a couple new songs, but I haven't played them in public. Mark hasn't heard them yet either.
"The whole tour we're doing is going to be really hard. Right after our split, we had some recording to do in Wales, so we did that and then played a couple of shows in Ireland and England that went pretty well, but we had Razz Russell from the Creekdippers with us to act as a buffer.
"When I heard Razz wouldn't be doing this summer tour I tried to beg off, but it was too late. I'd already agreed to do it. This Toronto show will be our first together alone, so we'll see how it goes."
Due to the unfortunate turn of events, a few songs are likely to be off limits in upcoming performances, and it would be totally understandable if Williams felt it would be too painful to attempt singing My Ally with Olson. Conversely, however, knowing what they've recently been through could make something like When We Sing Together even more moving.
"There might be some songs that would be tough to get through, but I don't think there are any we've recorded that I wouldn't be able to sing now. I love all that music so much that I can't see myself not doing those songs. They all have lives of their own, and people relate to them in their own way. Who knows? Maybe something really good will come out of this whole experience."