After sloshing our way through the merciless storm that was raging around Toronto on Friday, it was a case of ‘more of the same’ Saturday night. Much, much more of the same. Let me tell you, someone must have pissed the thunder gods off something chronic because they showed no pity for us poor, sodden souls all weekend. I mean jeez, if I enjoyed rain that much I could have stayed in England. But then I wouldn’t have caught all this excellent live music… or indeed the cold that has currently set up shop in my sinuses. Thankfully, the entertainment on day four made every slippery step and drip down the neck worthwhile.
Initially we had planned on seeing The Balconies at The Horseshoe Tavern but we foolishly turned up ten minutes before they were on and couldn’t get in. No matter. Oh, and what’s this Lee’s Palace? Venue staff at The Horseshoe being friendly and honest about our chances of getting in. Some guy actually walked down the queue in the rain to give us the lowdown. Nice effort mate, well done.
Back up Spadina it was then for Monkey Junk at Silver Dollar, and the chance to check out a new venue. Gotta say, I liked it a lot. A real blues bar; full of grooving grandmas and handlebar moustaches. We entered and caught the end of Thom Swift rocking everyone’s sopping socks off, then bought ourselves a beer and settled on in. Before long Monkey Junk had us back on our feet and shaking our money-makers to their startling array of bluesy riffs. The virtuoso harmonica solo mid-set by lead man Steve Marriner was breath-taking, for him quite literally. It went on so long I was all set to jump on stage and demand he come up for air when finally he sucked in a breath and dove headlong into his next thunderous riff. And if only we could all look as cool as their snappily dressed drummer. Man, did that guy have style! Overall, it was a barn-storming performance by the Ottawa based band and, with more shows in the offing this coming month, I might well be getting my next fix of the blues very soon.
Leaving Silver Dollar and popping down to College Street we were suddenly aware that, 4 days into the festival, we had yet to see a show at Sneaky Dees. That needed rectifying pronto. Trudge, trudge, splash. Trudge, trudge, splash. And we were there. Jicah were the band onstage. I warmed to them a lot. A collection of down to earth guys from Winnipeg who delivered an earnest brand of rock and roll that, despite not blowing me away, had me nodding my head in approval.
The last act of the evening was an absolute joy to behold. Maylee Todd and Pegwee Power at Bread & Circus in Kensington Market. If you get a chance, go see them. This woman’s natural charm and charisma demands that she be on stage… all the time. Their’s was a set that felt more like we were privy to an impromptu jam, as they played around onstage, shared jokes with the audience and delivered us an inventive set of free-flowing imagination. She really jazzed it up, as she went from guitar to harp and back again, keeping the audience guessing with her experimental forays into anything from tender soul to bouncy electro-funk. Their sense of fun made for an atmosphere of carefree enjoyment and the bopping crowd keenly lapped it up. At the risk of sounding painfully corny, experiencing Maylee’s live show is to experience service with a smile. It was the perfect set for a cool venue in the coolest district in town. After that it was time to go home, to DRY MY HAIR.