The campfire is in the shop. Hopefully just a power-cord issue. Our regular Tuesdays at Highway 61 BBQ have been great – full of surprises. Last Tuesday it was the “two Charlies” (pictured). Nova Scotia Music’s Entertainer of the Year Charlie A’Court and an 11-year old wunderkind whose blues moniker is "Sir Charles". The kid sat in on a couple of blues tunes then asked if he and his teacher Ted could do something by themselves and he proceeded to rip it up on Eric Clapton’s “Layla”. Andy Frank of Roots Music Canada came by with his camera on the Anniversary week-end and you can see his reportage at http://www.rootsmusic.ca. You’ll get the skinny on Highway 61 BBQ (but not the recipe to their secret sauce).
Out and about: Thursday was a big night out. First I checked in to the elegant Old Mill where Karrin Allyson was performing the first of a new jazz series produced by Downtown Jazz. Then off to find Charlie A’Court’s gig in Cabbagetown but I didn’t have the address or my cel phone and after driving up and down Parliament street I just gave up and headed over to the Caddillac Lounge where the Toronto Blues Society was having a showcase of up-and-comers. Missed Jesse Whiteley, who did a solo piano set and I would have loved to hear it because everytime I hear him play (with JW Jones or otherwise) I like what I hear. Proud dad Chris Whiteley was in the house along with his fiancee, Diana Braithwaite and we had a chance to catch up. Then a new band called Chloe Watkinson and the Crossroads, young but a bit of an old (r ‘n b) soul, and the glitzy Ginger St. James. Ginger had a way of singing behind the groove, but nowhere near as much as Karrin, who made you wonder sometimes how she was going to recover the phrase. I guess Karrin is quite the singer’s singer because the room was peppered with local jazz vocalists who all seemed to be in awe. I’m in awe of Sheila Jordan but it’s about more than just the way she phrases, but I didn’t get that connection from Karrin though she’s obviously an impeccable vocalist and a damn fine piano player. I cut out after a couple of Ginger tunes to hear Paul Reddick and his new band (?) in a new venue at 777 Queen St. Flohil told me about the gig and it was organized by his former assistant, Samantha, who I reminded was the entire audience for most of my showcase in the Sweet Beaver Suite at the Folk Alliance a few years back. Actually a couple of other people drifted in, including Donna Wilson who is married to Rounder founder Ken Irwin and whom any other folkie would have died for except Donna’s heard me play many times and has been a great supporter seeing as I was a bit of a matchmaker in her romance with Ken. Anyway, the venue is apparently a Persian restaurant but tonight it was a rockin’ blues bar with Paul. Teddy Leonard, John Dymond and Gary Craig. Not the same Gary Craig I met in an elevator at Canadian Music Week who told me he had been Long John Baldry’s manager back in Vancouver. Well, I couldn’t resist looking him up in the Baldry biography that Inever quite finished and sure enough there he is...probably not as flattering as he would have liked. I told him about touring Baldry’s circuit in Germany with Kathi MacDonald and when I told him we were doing some gigs without a rhythm section his comment was “you must be good!” All right, that’s enough patting myself on the back till I put my shoulder out of joint