Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Preview: SummerWorks Festival Music Series 2012

The SummerWorks Theatre Festival — Music Series

All Music Series shows are at The Theatre Centre, in the basement of The Great Hall (1087 Queen Street West, at Dovercourt). Doors 9:30 PM, Show 10:30 PM

After a couple years at The Lower Ossington Theatre, the fifth year of SummerWorks' Music Series sees the shows returning to their original home in the basement of The Great Hall.1 It's a nifty spot to see a gig, with a variety of viewing options — hanging back and sitting, up front and dancing, or watching from the oval balcony above. It does get warm down there, though, so dress like you're going to sweat. As always, the artists are well-selected (this year by Julie Fowler) and there are promises that several of these are going to spectacles beyond just the regular sort of show.

Most of these shows are fifteen bucks (Buck 65 is $20; the opening party is free) with tickets available online through the festival website or at Soundscapes/Rotate This. You'd do well to check out any of these shows, but if you're wanting to learn more about the bands, I've reached back to some of my past live reviews to give you a hint of what to expect — and some live samples, too.

Opening Party

The Great Hall. Thursday, August 9, 2012. Doors @ 7:00 pm

I reckon there'll be plenty of art-scene schmoozing going down amongst the "performances about bodies" and free donuts, but there's a really fine musical lineup to head down for as well. Three of the sets come from artists that I know well, but who are out to remake/remodel themselves in modern digital form.

I'm especially eager to check out Kashka, which started as a solo-electronic sideline for Kat Burns, but is now her main outlet with Forest City Lovers having wound up. She's always excelled in clear-eyed rememberings of hearts won and lost, and her new Vichada album covers a similar emotional terrain, but it's now bathed in the warm digital beats she's assembled with co-producer James Bunton. Singer-songwriter grooves for the new century.

I've also never caught a set by Chrome And The Ice Queen, but given that the band is a sort of dark-mirror'd version of Del Bel, I'm familiar with the players here. Rumours suggest that behind Lisa Conway's languorous vox you should be ready for faint hints of trip-hop and Twin Peaks.

Warm Myth made their live debut back at NXNE, and I found it to be atmospheric, but not sedate — which isn't out of line for what you'd expect from principals Casey Mecija and Kieran Adams2. Woozy synths share space with assertive guitar and drum parts, making this more than just a typical bedroom solo-electronic project, and an intriguing new setting for Mecija's vocals.

Listen! Warm Myth - Working

The Magic (Ark Analog)

Friday, August 10, 2012

Cynics might get caught up in accusing The Magic of being mere '80's revivalists. Everyone else is too busy dancing. The Guelph crew, led by brothers Geordie and Evan Gordon, was building up a rabid fanbase a couple years ago based on their killer live shows. When they went quiet and got busy serving as sidemen in other bands (most notably in Islands), I wondered if the project was wrapping up, but it turns out they were just taking the time to properly record their songs. The release of the excellent Ragged Gold has more than justified the wait, and they'll be celebrating its release en route to fullscale disco inferno world domination. Taking inspiration from vintage episodes of the Midnight Special, the band has been dropping hints about "dancers, glitter, props" and confetti cannons. This night is not to be missed.

Listen! The Magic - 5th Business

Sealing the deal is a chance to check out Ark Analog, the new collaboration between Maylee Todd and Dan Werb. Anyone who knows their previous work (and especially Todd's collaborations with Woodhands) would have a notion of what they're in for here — something energetic to dance to.

Listen! Ark Analog - Was That It?

Buck 65

Wednesday, August 15, 2012.

Hip-hop lifer/drive-time DJ Rich Terfry probably requires no introduction. It's widely known that he's a fine live entertainer, but this show intrigues with its promise of a collaboration with dancer Ame Henderson. I have no idea what that's going to entail, but advance word promises "strange and beautiful faces, mirrors and ghosts and obstructions".

Listen! Buck 65 - Small Town Boy

Aline Morales & Sandro Perri

Friday, August 5, 2011

Birthed from Tranzac's primordial folk/improv ooze, Sandro Perri has put a futureactive spin on his music, with the tunes on last year's Impossible Spaces album vibrating with subtle but undeniable grooves. Live, his band pushes this even further into extended polyrhythmic bliss. I don't know Brazilian-born singer/percussionist/bandleader Aline Morales, but it sounds like this should be an inspired match with Perri — and unlike the other "x with y" music shows, this is billed with that intriguing ampersand — I don't know if that means anything, but it would be cool to see some sort of collaboration here.

Listen! Sandro Perri - Changes

Evening Hymns (Fiver)

Friday, August 17, 2012.

The sound of dusk settling in over a backcountry lake; of driving down a narrow gravel concession road in a thick, darkened forest; of families: lost, broken and cherished. Previous album Spirit Guides announced Jonas Bonnetta's sound and themes, but the new Spectral Dusk is more vibrant and more personal, mixing atmospheric abstraction and dust-level detail — in other words everything that you can see both close up and far away from a log cabin window.

Listen! Evening Hymns - Arrows

Also on hand will be Fiver, the latest project from One Hundred Dollars' Simone Schmidt. Pitched as an outlet for the sort of songs that might not easily fit into her usual projects, there's certainly an element of that at play — but there's no doubt that they're "Simone Schmidt" songs, and the stories she weaves are fully engaging whether they're backed by a full band or, as will be the case at this show, in a duo with Paul Mortimer.

Listen! Fiver - Beeton

Bry Webb (Doug Paisley)

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Ex-punk Bry Webb's Provider album impressed a lot of folks, but it's been live that he's really been shining — finding his "mature" voice against a spare, acoustic musical backdrop. This is sit-down-and-listen music, about growing up and facing sobering responsibilities. But it's also about the small victories — at the end of every hard-earned day people find some reason to believe, which is the reason Webb'll take time to remind you that he's not singin' a sad song.

Listen! Bry Webb - Ex-Punks

Webb's rootsy counterpart for the night will be troubadour Doug Paisley, a smooth-voiced craftsman who makes it seem easy with deceptively-simple songs about complex truths. His set should be one of the series' gems.

Listen! Doug Paisley - Always Say Goodbye

Closing Party

The Great Hall. Sunday August 19,2012. Doors @ 7:00 pm

The festival closes with a jam-packed night back upstairs in The Great Hall proper, with some fabulous local talent on the bill. Inspired by 90's smooth R&B, OG Melody are writing the jams to celebrate summer in our city. Tuxedo-clad Chris Cummings used to be known as Mantler but is becoming Marker Starling — but he's still guaranteeing good times with his sad-lounge Wurlitzer stylings. Chrissy Reichert's Tenderness is one of most intriguing under-the-radar projects in the city right now, her loop-based, fader-flicking music kept untethered by a rotating cast of top-flight improvisers — and coming out of the clash rough-edged but user-friendly. And sibling-rockers Rival Boys hint at rock'n'roll sophistication in a trio that leans just a bit more to "pop" than "power".

Listen! OG Melody (feat. Peet Moss) - We Can Do It

Listen! Mantler - Husbands

Listen! Tenderness - We Lay Our Broken World in Sorrow at Your Feet

Listen! Rival Boys - Mutual Feelings

Besides all of this — and, of course, all of the theatre that is the festival's original raison d'être — there are also some cool bands at the performance bar, which promises nightly "eclectic performances and happenings". I'd especially recommend you keep your eye out for the tom-waits-for-no-man stylings of Ronley Teper (Friday, August 17) and the positive revolution vibes from the conscious Abstract Random hip-hop crew (Saturday August 18).

Listen! Ronley Teper - Cornered in the Alley

Listen! Abstract Random - Mi Nah Wanna

1 I seem to recall that one reason the music series moved was the amount of time required to turn the venue over and get it ready for the musical performances after the plays had finished, leading to a series of late starts. There are plays going on in the Theatre Centre at seven on most music nights, so hopefully there's enough turnover time now incorporated into the organizers' plans.

2 Mecija is best-known for her work in Ohbijou; Adams has many projects on the go, including the fab new DIANA, and has also recently been seen backing Bonjay.

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