This Ain’t Hollywood 345 James Street North
Having been introduced to the backstage area with Avi by owner Lou Molinaro a couple months back, I figured, since I was on Tour duty and all, I could mosey on back there and say hello to the guys. With my Tour button as my only visible credentials, I gave it a shot, and it worked. That green room really does feel like a whole other location; it’s like you step out of the dimly lit bar and suddenly you’re in somebody’s home.
The rain started to belt down just shortly after I got there, and it ended up creating some suitable ambience for the show. Matt Paxton was up first, and I was excited to see him play since I hadn’t for a quite a while. I love his sound; it is so polished and seasoned, yet very laid-back and effortless. I was also happy to get to meet and chat with him at the show, having exchanged a few Tweets back and forth. I had just featured his newest single, “Shore Pine Walk,” on my March Playlist, and I mentioned to Matt how pleased I was to see that the song, as well as “Harbour Town,” have been getting play on Radio 3, which Carly and I in particular are avid listeners of. Matt played “Harbour Town” during his set, as well as “Charlotte,” both off his album How the Land Lies. Although Hamilton is Matt’s hometown, he had been living out in Vancouver for a year, and his talk of the beautiful beaches that inspired his songwriting made me think that Canada’s West Coast must be a detour at some point in my life!
By the time Ben Somer hit the stage, the lightning really started to flicker through the windows of the venue. I was happy to get the chance to feature Ben as part of our Tour – I had visited with him at Boxcar Sound, which he co-owns with Matt Montour and Sean Pearson, but I had wanted to feature his own music. I first saw Ben play a couple of years ago, and was immediately struck by his unique vocals, intricate songwriting, and endearing onstage presence. I was pleased to him play “Big City Slang,” which I’ve listened to a lot, and enjoy the recording of it that was captured by Southern Souls at Boxcar. The flashing lightshow that continued outside suited his tunes, particularly as Ben crooned, “Pour me another one, drink it down, drink it down,” from the jazzy and, dare I say, Tom Waits-ish “Codeine”. Another highlight of his set for me was “Stiff Drinks and Hand Grenades”. Ben also played some newer songs, such as “Heroes & Villains” and “Old Love Don’t Come Around Here”.
Jerry Leger & The Situation were up next to close the show. Just before the band went on, I got in on a pre-show ritual in the green room with Jerry and the band – a playful prayer circle/go-team huddle. Just a little perk of being a Tourist for the blog! Thanks for including me, gentlemen. As the only out-of-towners on the bill, hailing from Toronto, Jerry Leger & The Situation rocked out with a fun, folk-rock-country sound. The band has received a lot of acclaim from Ron Sexsmith, Jian Ghomeshi, and critics alike, and I can certainly see why. Citing many classic singer-songwriters as influences, such as Bob Dylan, Hank Williams, and Neil Young, Jerry fits right in with that kind of caliber. After their set, Jerry was nice enough to send me away with a copy of his album Traveling Grey, which I was happy to take for the road, noting that it will make a great addition to my soundtrack, especially given its title.
Jerry’s set must have got everyone revved up because one of the bartenders strapped on some roller skates and whipped around the bar as he was cleaning up. It was pretty impressive. Wanting to contribute to the fun, I couldn’t help but point out the stack of hula hoops that are always present at The Saint. Avi and I have been eyeing those for a while now, telling each other that one of these days we’ll take a couple for a spin. Jerry took up my challenge and grabbed a hula hoop. Not to be outdone, drummer Kyle Sullivan grabbed another, and the hula hooping was on!
It was great bill; I’m so glad I ventured out to see it.