I had the chance to catch a bunch of music last week as both Governor’s Pub and The Upstairs Club played host to packed houses all weekend long.
Governor’s had Donnie Dumphy in on Friday and Sunday as a part of his ‘Wheelie Wheelie Big Tour’. The Newfoundland ‘gib rap’ act performed with a full band backing him up and had a raucous crowd egging him on.
Personally, I went into the shows with low expectations. The little I had been exposed to reeked of a cheesy sideshow attraction. After the weekend, I have to say that I am happy to have been wrong. While the humour still stands front and centre, the band is fully capable of presenting a fun and interesting set of music. Donnie himself is quite endearing on stage and his banter is, at times, quite witty and hilarious. For the most part, the band members were also pretty great guys and made up for the portion of the crowd that was not.
On Saturday, I hit The Upstairs Club for the earthquake relief concert hosted by Shannon Ezzat. With Tom Fun and Colin Grant headlining, I knew it would be another busy night. The show kicked off with Buck and Kinch, the North End’s blues duo. I liked their set quite a bit, which was much more laid back than I had previously seen. Hash Jesus followed and picked up the volume quite a bit. The set was not their best, but the songs are quite good in their simplistic form. The Colin Grant Band was next and was my surprise of the night. Not really being a fan of traditional celtic music, I expected an uninteresting set of reels and jigs but was instead treated to a well crafted rock band. The drums and bass really carried the songs while the piano and fiddle did their thing. As much as this band is named after fiddle player Colin Grant, the foursome really shone because of the strong arrangements they’ve created as a band.
Tom Fun finished off the night with a rowdy set of favorites, bringing the crowd to the dance floor. It had been quite a while since I had seen them live and they were everything I remembered. My favorite parts were when the band would fall to pieces, fragments of musical chaos filling the club, and then bring it back to form. I enjoy the intelligence of the band’s music, which is not often seen in acts that have reached their level of success.
So… this week!
Thursday night only has one show on tap, a songwriters’ session at Governor’s Pub featuring Mike Fagan, Colette Deveaux, Colin Burke, and Matt Fahey. I have had a chance to do one of these with Mike and Colette previously and can say that these shows are a pleasure for both the performers and the audience.
Friday night is a can’t miss night. The previously reviewed Colin Grant Band hits Governor’s Pub while The Upstairs Club has a rocker on their hands with The Wilds of Borneo, Sons of Nebadon, and an acoustic set by Ricochet. Hard to choose, but Ricochet gigs are few and far between and it’s always fun to hear them throw a great sing along cover tune in with their set.
Saturday night is another songwriters night at Governor’s Pub with Montreal based duo Cinema L’Amour accompanying locals Danny MacNeil, Jacob Noonan, and Andrew Grieg. Couldn’t ask for better local support here, as all three performers have great songs and differ quite a bit from each other. Over at The Upstairs Club, the Tom Fun crew split into their smaller forms as Buck and Kinch, Hash Jesus, and Ladyslippers hit the little stage for some bluesy/folky rock n’ roll.
Track of the week: ‘Take 12’ by Andrew Greig. When I was younger, I hated the Weakerthans. I just couldn’t get past the vocals. When I saw them live, the realization hit me that it was these vocals that gave the necessary heart the songs needed to live. Get past the imperfections to find the perfection. Andrew Greig has just started hitting the bars as a solo performers but, with songs like this and from his previous band ‘And Here We Go’, he brings tons of heart to the table.