Sunday, September 7, 2014

Southside Shufflin'

Having made no arrangements for a media pass, I arrived at the main gate prepared to pay my ten bucks (and glad to contribute and I noticed that all the people in the line were being searched and any bottles confiscated. They even made a little girl empty her water container. And here I had a nearly full coffee from Tim Hortons! I stood by the side and started to gulp it down when the security lady said "It's OK. You can come in if it's Tim Horton's." Man, Tim Horton's owns their ass! I guess that's why the festival is so fussy about making sure that "Tim Horton" appears every time they say "Southside Shuffle."

The first band I saw was The Burgess Brothers - Tyler Burgess is a great singer and plays drums with the laid back feel of Levon Helm and I always liked Chris Burgess' guitar playing even though he's as lackadaisical about his career as I am (I think he mostly likes working on cars). Still he's got a signature sound on that Strat - the same one he's been playing for 30 years I was told by Jerome Godboo, who was standing next to me.

Had a nice chat with Jerome and it was mostly about the role of the bass player - Jerome has been working without a bass lately and finds that his harp-playing is coming through better. He also complimented me on my style of bass playing - which is downright simple but in the groove. I guess if he's gonna have a bass player, it should be one who plays less.

I only made it to the last day of the Southside Shuffle because Friday night was rained out and I had a bass-playing gig at a block party downtown on Saturday. But I'm thinking they might have saved the best for last, though I sure wish I'd been there to see Janiva Magness. Here's a video that Randall shot of Janiva singing "I Won't Cry"

I've seen Janiva Magness at the Beaches Jazz and even talked with her a bit but now reading her bio in the programme book about how both her parents committed suicide when she was a teenager and she was on the streets at 17 (and pregnant). Yikes. She's got a right to sing the blues.

But notwithstanding that, and all the other fine female vocalists that played the shuffle this week-end (and there were many great ones), I can't imagine any of them equalling the performance I saw by Angel Forrest. There were some jaw-dropping moments, even from one of the aforementioned female vocalists who was sitting off to the side of the stage and started out looking unimpressed until she could just not hold that stoic look and started swaying with the music. So my fellow Townshipper showed them how it's done. And all without any bass and drums, just her voice and two acoustic guitars. It didn't hurt that one of them was Paul Delauriers who is moving up fast in the ranks of Canadian guitar royalty. There's something special about reaching the energy level of a rock-band in full flight with only acoustic instruments. I love it when that happens, and I think I have achieved that myself a few times.