Friday, March 29, 1991

The Bermuda Onion

The Toronto Blue’s Society’s “Blues with a Feeling” Award dinner and show at the Bermuda Onion, one of the classiest blues venues in town. It’s in a fancy complex call the “Colonade” and serves pricey meals and weak cocktails but presents some world-class artists one would not see otherwise. This evening the Toronto Blues Society was honoring Jodie Drake (with a heartfelt tribute by Jani Lauzon) and they tied it in with the appearance of Otis Rush. Jodie played a few tunes backed up by Gordie Johnson and Big Sugar followed by a slightly disappointing show by the “Legendary Otis Rush”. You know he’s legendary because all the members of his band wear satin jackets imprinted with “The Legendary Otis Rush Blues Band”. And if his legend is to let his band play most of the show, play a few great leads and even fewer vocals, then he lived up to it. The trouble with these “legends” is that they think all they have to do is show up. But there were some great moments. The drummer was all over his kit, but oh so musical, with the hi-hat almost ripping over and sticks flying. And when Otis was bending those strings in a way that is hard to duplicate unless you play a normally strung guitar left-handed like he does, I couldn’t help but notice Big Sugar guitarist Gordie Johnson watching oh-so-carefully and trying to figure how to re-create those bends.