It's great to be back in Toronto. Tonight I wanted to get out and hear a new artist called Nathalie Renault. She's from Quebec but I heard about her in Pisek, Czech Republic. I was sitting in the office of UrbanWorld (the booking agency that got me these gigs) and there was a large, attractive colour poster on the wall - and it was ...Nathalie Renault. They were surprised I had not heard of her. Last week, I saw her announced in a press release - she was the opening act for a French "flamenco" guitarist called Serge...
Nathalie played great - doing all original tunes and giving long chatty intros for each song (in French). She would end each intro with "and I offer it to you" . (note to self: treat every song as an offering to the audience)
I stuck around for the guitarist - he had an electric bass virtuso with him and an amazing percussionist. It finished off very much like the Gypsy Kings with only one guitar.
I had a chance to speak to Nathalie and she was pretty surprised when I told her I had just been in Czech Republic myself (she had toured just a little before me). I told her she had just had a great "entree" into the Toronto Market with this concert. Wish we'd had a chance to talk a bit more...
...or I could have dragged her along onmy little "club crawl". As I left the Music Gallery venue, I decided to head to the Silver Dollar even though I hadn' made a note (mental, or otherwise) about who was playing this night. I walked into the club thinking "I like surprises" _ Indeed it was, it was the Paul James Band. These guys have been doing it forever, and even though there was a small house, Paul gave the complete show along with spinning aroud and playing in the audience.
After that, I headed straight down to Chicago's to hearm some of the best harp players in the city. I know, because I've had them all at my Thiursday Blues Nights at the Tranzac which regretable ended last night (with a very thin audience and another fabulou player - Barry Mack). But it's hard to lament over a regular Thursday night gig - after a year of it, I'm ready to "re-claim" my Thurdsdays.
The harp players at Chicagos were all rockin out and not worried about tryin new stuff. The band had to figure out right on the spot - usualy successfully. I heard Mark "The Bird" himself, Dr. Nick, Lil' Bobby, Raoul Bhaneja.