Canadian Music Week took place from May 6-10th in Toronto, and this year the multi-venue extravaganza even more firmly entrenched itself as one of the go-to music industry events in this country. Luckily, fans of good folk music can take advantage of a Week of Canadian Music, too, and Shapenote was in attendance at a few of these, including the Paquin Artists Agency Showcase at the Rivoli on May 8th. Here’s Carol McGimpsey’s take on the show:
First up on this night’s bill were The Fortunate Ones, a couple from Corner Brook NL who I’d been hoping to see for some time. Andrew James O’Brien on guitar and Catherine Allan on accordion charmed me with their lovely harmonies, down-to-earth folk songs, and endearing personalities. The songs were poignant (I especially loved “West Street Serenade” and “Solitary Sparks”) and they made their two instruments sound like an orchestra.
Next up were Winnipeg favourites The Bros. Landreth. With a nice blend of covers and original songs and a sassy 70’s vibe they had the Rivoli rocking out – these guys are extraordinarily talented and make it look easy. Their set was relaxed, fun, and over way too quickly.
Over the last few years I’ve seen Jeremy Fisher perform in many venues in several cities, but this show was special – with his new album, The Lemon Squeeze (due May 13th) he’s been venturing out of his comfort zone with a new band and a new set of tunes for piano. The new album is a combination of songs that are energetic, funny, subversive, sentimental and sincere, and he featured some of these in a fast set that was really exciting. I’m especially enamoured of Jeremy’s partner-in-guitar-and-vocals, Matt Ouimet, a gifted musician with a quirky mischievous grin who is a perfect counterpoint to Jeremy’s offbeat sense of humour.
Following Jeremy Fisher et al was The Heartbroken. I wasn’t familiar with their music, and I have to admit that I wasn’t entirely won over. They were certainly very talented–Damhnait Doyle in particular has a beautiful voice–and they all played incredibly well. However, as singer and drummer Blake Manning pointed out, they aren’t called The Heartbroken for nothing: the songs were intense and deeply emotional.
Finally we had the “secret” guest: The Strumbellas. I’m a huge fan of these six young stompers and I sang and clapped and jumped along with abandon. However, I was concerned for Simon, the lead singer, who said he’d had some bad news and was visibly shaken. His transformation from bearded to clean-shaven made him seem even more vulnerable in the light of this admission, but he was a trooper and the obviously tight-knit group delivered a great set. In the song “Sailing,” the lyric “I have seen too much pain, too much hurt, too much death in this life” was especially poignant, but it was impossible not to be uplifted by the joyous and upbeat music.
Someone at Paquin Artists Agency has a very good ear – I congratulate them on representing such a remarkable group of accomplished musicians.