I haven’t written about music on this blog yet and it’s only fitting that the first time I do, it’s to talk about Jim Bryson. He is one of my favorite local artists.
This past weekend Jim held the 11th edition of his Christmas shows at my favorite venue in the whole wide world, the Blacksheep Inn, in Wakefield Québec. Typically there is a show on the Saturday night and a Sunday matinée and for the past few years I have attended the Sunday edition as my daughter is a big Jim fan and children are allowed in for the matinées (you can actually see her in action as part of Jim’s band here: Sleeping in Toronto Live – note that she practically doesn’t take her eyes off of him for the duration of the song).
The Sheep is always packed for Jim’s shows and this year was no exception, luckily we secured two seats right next to the stage, which was a prime spot to take pictures from. It was also a great spot from where to watch the sheer joy of the little girls dancing to Jim’s music; so adorable.
The show featured most of the songs from Jim’s 4th studio album, and yes I can call it that because I actually own it on vinyl: The Falcon Lake Incident. The album features The Weakerthans as a backing band and was recorded in a cottage in Falcon Lake during the frigid Manitoba winter. The cover art is actually a shot of the house that the album was recorded in. I am a big fan of this album and my favorite track, by far, is Constellation. This is kind of interesting to me as my all time favorite Bryson tune is Satellite. Something about Jim & the sky I suppose.
André Bluteau opened. He’s another Kelp artist, like Jim, and I had seen him before as part of a Kelp review show. I had liked him then and getting to see a bit more of him was great. He reminds me of a younger Kevin Quain (resident artist on Sundays at the Cameron House in Toronto). He is very talented and quite intense & passionate. Getting lost on the way there meant that he had actually worried that he would be late and still appeared a bit stressed about that and was a little rambly & nervous, which really just added to his charm.
When it was Jim’s turn to take the stage, his adorable daughter wasn’t quite ready to go and sit with her mom so she took to the stage with him. Fistful of orange slices, she stomped her feet to the beat and mouthed the lyrics to parts of the song. She was quite the crowd the pleaser. Ironically one of the songs that Jim sang while she was on stage was “Raised All Wrong” which made Jim smirk as he looked at his adorable monkey hamming it up on stage next to him.
A couple days prior to the show I wondered aloud on twitter if I could pre-request Satellite and Jim said I could but would still have to request it on the day of. Fine, I thought, we were a group of 7, so surely we would be heard. When I saw Jim before the show he mentioned that he had already played the song the previous night – but that he would play again. I immediately commented on twitter that the nice thing about knowing the artist is that even if they played your song the night before, you can usually get them to play it again. He did play a beautiful rendition of it, prefacing it by how crazy it was that between seeing me and getting on stage I had time to remind him on twitter to make sure to play it :). Here’s a great version of Satellite, it was recorded at a small secret show in the fall, at about 2:20 he also breaks into a The Who song.
Sitting stage left there was a marquis, backlit sign with the name of the band and details of the 2 shows. No one paid too much attention to it until Jim made a comment about Dave Drave’s nice slacks – I really can’t add anything to this, because yeah, what could I possibly add… Anyhoo, Dave suggested that this might be a perfect moment to reveal what was on the other side of the marquis. They described it as the test photo for the backlit sign, but there really are no words to describe it. Fortunately, a picture is worth a thousand words and I did get one… right after Jim called me out, by name asking me to put the camera away – good thing I’m a rebel :)
Jim will be touring in February & March in support of The Falcon Lake Incident with The Weakerthans. You can catch him in Toronto on February 4th at Lee’s Palace & Ottawa on February 11th at Capital Music Hall. For full listings you can check Jim’s site and you can look at my Flickr stream to see more pictures from what was a great evening.