Friday, March 23, 2012
Bumstead Kitchen Party
With a suite booked at the Royal York, Bumstead Productions Ltd threw an old fashioned East Coast kitchen party on Friday afternoon that was hosted by The Trews. Not wanting to miss yet another afternoon show, I took a half day off work to join in on the festivities with Catherine.
Having been away from the scene for awhile, I was more than excited to start the afternoon with one of my long-time favourites, Two Hours Traffic. Liam Corcoran and Andy MacDonald sat down with acoustic guitars and serenaded the living room with their syrupy sweet tunes, including favourites off both Little Jabs and Territory, as well as a new track “Faster For You.” They even brought up John-Angus MacDonald of The Trews to sing folk song “I Did What I Could” with them.
Two Hours Traffic has always been synonymous with summer for me, and on that unseasonably warm afternoon with the sun shining in, it sure felt like it could have been!
Having just got back into town after a month-long West Coast tour with The Trews, Poor Young Things were up next. Playing an acoustic set with the full band meant drummer Konrad Commisso sat on, and played a box with his hands. He pulled it off like a pro. After playing a couple songs, they called up their tour-mates to take part in “Reckless Young” and “Blame It On The Good Times.” They even threw in The Trews’ own “Ishmael & Maggie” as well. There was a casual comfortable banter between bands that likely comes as a result of having spent so much time together recently. It was really entertaining and great to see.
Tim Chaisson arrived just in time to add a fiddle to their cover of “Ooh La La” (Faces/Rod Stewart). They made it feel like they could be on any mainstage anywhere in the country and yet it was taking place in the intimate setting of a hotel suite.
Things were bumping as Tim Chaisson got started. It’s only so long that people can resist the lure of an open bar mid-afternoon on a Friday, right? He played really pretty folky songs off his record Broken Hearted Beat, as well as some traditional East Coast tunes on the fiddle. It’s just not a kitchen party without a fiddle!
Knowing that I would be seeing Chaisson again in just a couple hours, I took the time to mingle and enjoy the party. There’s something about daytime events, combined perhaps with the sheer overjoy of not being cooped up in my office, that I really started getting into the swing of the festival at this point. Thanks for the East Coast hospitality Bumstead – and one of the greatest swag bags I’ve ever received! | CD
Sherman Downey & the Silver Lining – 3:45PM @ Sneaky Dee’s (ECMA)
Bust out an accordion and it’s hard to predict what a band may sound like. Sherman Downey & the Silver Lining call their sound “party folk dance band” and I’m inclined to agree. It was relatively early when the band took the stage at Sneaky Dee’s, only following a few other acts, so there wasn’t much of a crowd for the party and dancing, but the upbeat folk and bluegrass-inspired sound was certainly there. Regardless of the turnout, the band seemed to be having a good time up on stage, making it easy for those who came out early to enjoy the set. Downey and company released Honey for Bees in 2010, which garnered the band quite a bit of praise out East. While they’ve got quite a sound that fits their hometown, it’s time for the rest of Canada to get on board. | CL
Carleton Stone – 4:20PM @ Sneaky Dee’s (ECMA)
As Carleton Stone arrived on stage, he was quick to make jokes about his 4:20 set time. The singer-songwriter, backed by a full band, writes great pop-country tunes, but it’s his youthful, charming personality that makes watching him play such a joy. Despite how young he looks, Stone graces the stage like a seasoned veteran. The maturity in his voice could honestly fool you. “Looks” and “Last Thing” stand out as favourites in the set, alongside his hilarious stage banter, of course. | CL
Racoon Bandit – 4:55PM @ Sneaky Dee’s (ECMA)
From Prince Edward Island, Racoon Bandit had just started as I made my way in. This four-piece won Music PEI’s Group Recording and Rock Recording for 2012, and it’s easy to understand why. While they’d just landed in the city mere hours ago, they played a great pop folk set filled with easy hooks and really powerful grooves, especially on the heavier “Catch/Release.” With their East Coast accents peaking through the vocals, their record Into the Hills feels perfect for spring. Too cute for words, they waved to the audience as they headed off stage. | CD
Tim Chaisson & Morning Fold – 5:30PM @ Sneaky Dee’s (ECMA)
Charismatic and personable, with one of the most lush voices, seeing Tim Chaisson for the second time was perhaps the best decision I made that day. Having experienced him acoustic, I was looking forward to checking him out with the full band. Plugged in, he still preserved the East Coast folky feel, while adding more of a jangly guitar sound. Highlights of the set were “Lay Low” and “Slippin’ Away,” which had the crowd singing and clapping along and Chaisson strumming away on the fiddle.
Chaisson just recorded a new album and previewed a couple of tracks including “Wherever You Are” and “Beat This Heart,” which was actually written at CMW last year and will feature a currently-secret guest vocalist on the record. With lots of East Coasters in the crowd, they were just loving it, and I now understand all of the buzz I’ve heard around him this past little while. | CD
Ben Caplan & The Casual Smokers – 6:05PM @ Sneaky Dee’s (ECMA)
Ben Caplan took the stage solo and started his set with the sorrowful lament “Drift Apart” in his deep grizzly voice. The Casual Smokers, complete with upright bass, then joined him for “Seed of Love” and the remainder of the set. Always one for audience participation, Caplan encouraged the crowd to partake in a call and response, not satisfied until they yelled it with spirit; he even had two girls come up on stage to sing back-up vocals and “shake their booties.” With a tendency towards the theatrics, during the last song he suddenly jumped down off the stage, went tearing through Sneaky Dee’s “missing his woman” before reappearing with a saxophone. Ben Caplan is definitely one you want to experience live – you just never know what types of surprises you may be in for! | CD
Gloryhound – 6:35PM @ Sneaky Dee’s (ECMA)
While most of the afternoon had been fairly light and folky, Nova Scotia’s Gloryhound changed all that. With no holds barred, the band came on stage and let it all out. Playing loud danceable rock and roll influenced by classic punk rock, there is a dirty garage essence to them. Bass and drum driven with some serious wailing on the guitar, their set instantly had me nodding my head along.
“Breakneck Speed” offered a bit of a respite, with softer vocals, but not losing any of the intensity. Offering lyrics like “I wanna fall in love at breakneck speed,” what more could ask for out of a non-cheesy rock ballad? “Electric Dusk” and “TKO Tokyo” are easily their most accessible, danciest tracks and were the perfect choices to close out their set. | CD