Bob Wiseman brings his legendary act to theatrelovers.
SUMMERWORKS MUSIC SERIES (with BOB WISEMAN, LAURA BARRETT, the BICYCLES and more), at the Theatre Centre (1087 Queen West), August 8-16, 10:30 pm.
This year summerworks is branching out. While theatre remains the primary focus, a whole series of music showcases, featuring performances by 16 of Toronto's best indie bands and artists, has been added to the fest.
While cynics might see this as a strategy to attract a younger, hipper crowd, SummerWorks is actually using music to widen the scope of cultural dialogue between two artistic communities. It also gives patrons a place to grab a beer after an evening of theatre-?hopping - and while doing so to hear some of Toronto's most exciting new sounds.
The festival certainly has done its homework. The bands and artists selected come in all sounds and sizes, but each is currently doing something noteworthy. From the full-?on jangle rock of the Diableros and the exuberant indie styles of the Bicycles to Laura Barrett's quirky one-?woman kalimba pop, the programmers seem to have all the bases covered.
Kicking off the music series is Bob Wiseman, a critically acclaimed veteran of T.O.'s music scene (and a one-?time member of Blue Rodeo), who serves as a good crossover between music and theatre.
"I'm a huge fan of what goes on at SummerWorks," says Wiseman, "which is why I was so excited that they asked me to play. Of course, my first question was, ‘Do I get a pass?'"
While he modestly claims not to be "an actor or a theatre guy," Wiseman does have stage credits amongst his myriad music accomplishments. Back in 2001 he acted in a SummerWorks play by writer/performer Anand Rajaram called Hys Unauthoryzed Lyfe And Tymes.
"It was a big fiasco," Wiseman remembers with a laugh. "It was a big production, and I don't think we had enough rehearsals."
In 2005 he again appeared at SummerWorks alongside Rajaram, this time in the more polished Cowboys And Indians, which they later toured across Canada. Most recently, he provided the music for Maggie MacDonald's celebrated post-?apocalyptic rock opera The Rat King. So much for not being "a theatre guy."
An active musician since the 80s, Wiseman works to keep his shows fresh and exciting.
Recently, this has meant integrating his solo work on guitar, piano, accordion and a range of other instruments with Super 8 films he's shot.
"Some films are directly about songs I play, so I perform the song to the video, like live accompaniment. Some of the longer films stand up on their own, and some act as a segue while I switch instruments."
While Wiseman likes to play selections from across his extensive 12-?album catalogue, he'll definitely touch on material from his most recent release, a live album called The Legend.
"I was booked to play a gig in Wolfville, Nova Scotia," he says, explaining the title.
"I thought to myself, ‘Who's going to come and see me in this little town? This is going to be embarrassing.' But when I showed up, the little theatre was full! It turns out they'd put a sandwich board outside that said ‘Tonight: Bob Wiseman, The Legend,' and I thought that was pretty hysterical."