This Autumn, there’s something for all musical tastes.
Country Music week, culminating in the Country Music Association of Canada Awards shindig, is over September 11, sadly. But never mind, London, there’s more great music to come. The next couple of months promise a bonanza for classic rock fans – and down-home folkies too.
Budweiser Gardens offers a pair of blockbusters. Sir Elton John, 68 years young, will be there on September 29 to warble some of his numberless hits – and no doubt play selections from his latest album, Wonderful Crazy Night. It’s his 32nd, released earlier this year. Will the Rocket Man and his Canadian hubby, David Furnish, spend time at their Port Dover mansion while in the vicinity? (Or, wait… was Chateau John on Lake Erie just a wild rumour?) Tickets go for $75.50 to $165.50.
On October 30 the Bud serves up a double bill of brassy rock, funk and fusion, with Chicago — fresh from their controversial induction into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame earlier this year, and Earth Wind and Fire (who were inducted several years ago). These bands have been touring for over 40 years, often in tandem. There has been lots of personnel turn-over since the glory years, but enough of the originals remain to keep the music authentic. And they still fill arenas. (Tickets: $60.50 to $126.00.)
On a more modest scale, but still in a nostalgic vein, Aeolian Hall has venerable troubadour Valdy on October 21 ($25 advance, $30 at the door). Home County old-timers will remember Valdy from way back in the 70s, and more recent summers too. It’s a good bet the man won’t play you no rock ‘n’ roll songs, but you will get lots of his catchy folk tunes and droll, laid-back humour.
More folk music? Oh, there’s a bunch on offer this fall.
The Aeolian has a pair of much-praised young Celtic bands from the UK: Scotland’s Breabach (it means “kicking” in Gaelic) on September 22 ($25 and $30); and from Wales, Calan, on October 7 ($25 and $30). Both are quintets, with similarly traditional instrumentation — fiddles, guitars, whistles, pipes, accordion — and both bring a youthful zest and energy to the old-timey jigs and reels and story songs.
Roy Schneider & Kim Mayfield, who play what they call “Blue-Twangled Folk & Roll” are in at the London Music Club on Friday, September 23 ($15 in advance, $20 at the door). Schneider, a nationally syndicated cartoonist in a previous life, writes the songs, plays acoustic guitar and harmonica, and sings lead. Mayfield accompanies on various instruments and sings harmonies.
Sean McCann, late of Great Big Sea, now making a comeback as a solo act, scored a hit at Home County this past summer. He’s back to play the London Music Club on October 30 ($25 and $30). McCann is a born entertainer. If his Home County set was anything to go by, expect lots of sing-alongs and earnest chat from the stage. Hey, what can you do with a drunken sailor?
Ian Davies’ Cuckoo’s Nest folk series is back at Chaucer’s Pub on Carling St. downtown. Tickets are $20 in advance, available now at the pub, $25 at the door. First up (September 25) is U.S.-based Brother Sun, a trio of veteran singer-songwriters — Greg Greenway, Pat Wictor, and Joe Jencks. They make fabulous harmonies together. Archie Fisher, the 70-something Scottish folk singer, has been making records since 1968. He’s a fine finger-picking guitarist, with songs both traditional and original. Fisher is in on Thursday, November 3. Maire Ni Chathasaigh & Chris Newman come to roost November 9. She’s an amazing Irish harpist, he’s an equally amazing guitarist from Britain. Expect Celtic flavours, but don’t be surprised if they mix it up with a little jazz. Then it’s Scantily Plaid on Sunday, November 13 – “Canadian
Celtic Roots Rock,” according to the quartet’s website. Guitar, fiddle, harp, bagpipes. And kilts. Loads of fun.
Enough with the folk music already? Fair enough.
The Aeolian has Maria Muldaur on October 8 (prices not yet announced). Her raunchy 1973 hit, “Midnight At The Oasis” has often been credited with initiating more sexual encounters than any other song of the 1970s. (“And you won’t need no camel, no no/ When I take you for a ride.”) Muldaur has played all kinds of roots music since then but these
days, it’s mostly blues, with a recent special focus on Cajun.
And finally, check out Winnipeg songstress Chantal Kreviazak. She’s at London Music Hall November 14 (tickets $48.25 – which includes a copy of her new CD, Hard Sail). Kreviazak started as a signer-songwriter in the late 1990s, but has lately been concentrating more on composing songs for others (Avril Lavigne, Drake, Christina Aguilera) and music for film and television. The new album is a collection of recent more personal songs: melodic, emotional, with a contemporary electronic sound. Definitely not folk music.
Gerry Blackwell is a London-based freelance writer.