Date of show: September 7, 2012
Graydon James & the Young Novelists put together a great bill to celebrate their release of In the Year You Were Born. And to add to the great bill, the band made the atmosphere so welcoming by offering tea. Graydon James fronts this band with Alex Dodd on keys, Shawn Jurek on bass, John Law on guitar, Mike Paddags on drums and Laura Spink singing backup vocals. The band plays feel good folk/roots music and attracted a good-sized crowd to help celebrate their album release.
The band focused their set on songs from the latest album, but they also played a few songs released in 2009, “Alyson, Everything I Know is Wrong” and “For the Record” from Goodnight, Young Novelist and “You Don’t Feel Young Anymore” from Mistakes, Outtakes & Unfinished Business. The band is undeniably prolific, but the songs all come across as thoughtful and heartfelt. The same is true for their live show, as James’ sincerity on stage is obvious.
As the set was nearing its end, the band played some of their more upbeat tunes, “The Way it Was” and “I Was a Young Man’s Son,” which were personal favourites in the set. You can stream and/or purchase any of the band’s albums via their Bandcamp.
The Strumbellas are so incredibly fun to watch. Though I’ve already heard their music, I caught them for the first time at Hillside Music Festival in the summer, but I was far back in the crowd then, enjoying them from afar. On this night I was right up front and it’s impossible not to feed off of the band’s infectious energy. Frontman Simon Ward jumps all over the stage (without shoes) and leads the crowd in hand claps, foot stomps and sing-alongs. He is joined by Darryl James (bass, vocals), Dave Ritter (keys, vocals), Izzy Ritchie (violin, vocals), Jon Hembrey (guitar) and Jeremy Drury (drums). Together they put on quite a performance that is meant to be experienced.
The band focused mostly on songs from their debut full length My Father And The Hunter. “The Sheriff,” in particular, had the most audience participation, but other great highlights include “I Ain’t Tryin’ to Die (It’s Just My Style),” “Lakes” and “Sailor’s Blues.” At the end of the set, I heard Topanga’s Stefan Babcock (who was behind me) say, “Man, those guys really know how to be a band.” And honestly, there’s no better way to sum up The Strumbellas’ live show.
We missed the opening band The Unseen Strangers, but we did make it to the Horseshoe in time to catch Harlan Pepper. Dan Edmonds (guitar, keys) and Thompson Wilson (bass) front the band, with Edmonds on lead vocals more often than not. They are backed by guitarist Jimmy Hayes and drummer Marlon Nicolle. I swear if you close your eyes you wouldn’t believe how young these guys are. I’ve been saying it since I first saw them live and still think it every time I see them.
The band focused their set on new songs, only touching upon their debut full length Young and Old with “Reefer.” While the new songs sound great, the band jammed a little too much, which dragged their set on a little too long. However, just before the last song of their set, the band covered “Wooly Bully” by Sam the Sham and the Pharoahs, which was certainly an amusing highlight in their set.