Saturday, August 17, 2013

Recording: The Wooden Sky

Artist: The Wooden Sky

Songs: Ambient Alleyway #1 + River Song One + An Evening Hymn + Take Me Out + Baby It's No Secret

Recorded at various locations (see below) ("The Wooden Sky Travelling Adventure Show"), August 16, 2013.

The Wooden Sky - Ambient Alleyway #1

The Wooden Sky - River Song One

The Wooden Sky - An Evening Hymn

The Wooden Sky - Take Me Out

The Wooden Sky - Baby It's No Secret

Full review to follow. A rather amazing night! One of my fondest memories of The Wooden Sky is that time they headlined Lee's Palace, played their encore in the alley behind the building and then finished off with a massive traffic-stopping singalong in the middle of Bloor Street. This SummerWorks presentation was planned in the same spirit, taking the audience on a walking trip down alleys and through streets. Just to give a sense of the variety of experiences on the night, here's a larger-than-average number of selections, with some quick notes following the trail of the action.

1) "Ambient Alleyway #1" recorded in the alleyway west of Ossington Av, north of Queen St. The show started in the back parking lot behind the Lower Ossington Theatre that's been serving as the festival hub's beer garden. After playing four songs, "City of Light" didn't actually end — instead guitarist Gavin Gardiner and violin player Edwin Huizinga slung mini-amplifiers over their shoulders and started walking down sound the alley that runs parallel to Ossington, leading the crowd pied-piper style. Musicians were playing along the way, and a series of speakers in wagons provided keyboard atmospheres. This recording is an edit of my trip down the alley. It's a little rough, given the circumstances, but it captures the sound-journey reasonably well. It ends as the crowd reached the intersection with the east-west alley parallel to Queen, as Gardiner climbed onto a box, plugged his mic into one of the wagon-speakers and launched into a singalong version of "The Late King Henry".

2) "River Song One" recorded on the lawn of CAMH While still playing that song, the journey continued as Gardiner led the crowd onto Queen Street, and stopping traffic for a couple minutes, kept the song going. The crowd then moved onto the new lawn beside Lower Ossington on the CAMH grounds and sat down for a stripped-down mini set.

3) "An Evening Hymn" recorded on the back of a truck being pushed down Stokes St. The show then moved over to the corner of Lower Ossington and Stokes St., and Gardiner and Huizinga climbed into the back of a pickup truck, instructing the crowd to push them along while they played this song. When finished, they played one more song in the truck while sparklers were being passed around.

4) "Take Me Out" recorded on the loading dock of Real Food For Real Kids Then, cutting through another alley, the band took to a "stage" on a loading dock. With all of their gear waiting for them, they launched into a more rocking series of tunes, pausing to help the crowd warm up by passing out a few bottles of whisky for everyone to share.

5) "Baby It's No Secret" recorded at BLK BOX After another ambient alleyway excursion, moving up the back lane parallel to Dovercourt, the show ended in the basement of the Great Hall, with horns and drums marching from the street and keeping the music going as the band leapt on stage. The set closed with an unamplified singalong in the middle of the floor before the band took a much-deserved break. But then they returned for one more set, nearly exhausting their storehouse of songs before throwing in a couple brand-new numbers, including this one.

Addendum: I've posted a few more photos from the night over at the MFS Facebook page.

Special thanks to Mick and Emily who helped me to be able to get these recordings in some unusual circumstances.

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