Lions and Lambs: On the music scene this spring

Written by Gerry Blackwell

Spring is around the corner, London. Truly it is. And with it comes some great music. The Dixie Chicks are here,The Lumineers, Tom Cochrane, the Gypsy Kumbia Orchestra … Wait, gypsy who?

March enters like a lion, with latter-day punkers Simple Plan playing London Music Hall, Saturday the 11th (7 p.m., no prices yet). They’re touring their fifth studio album, Taking One For The Team, with its cool cover shot of the lads dressed as punk athletes. Expect a high-energy win.

If you’re craving something a little more traditional, Clan Hannigan is at the Cuckoo’s Nest Folk Club (Chaucer’s Pub) on Sunday, March 12 (7:30 p.m.,$20/$25). Clan Hannigan is Steafan Hannigan, partner Saskia Tomkins and their three kids. The Cobourg-based outfit plays “mostly” Celtic music, the girls Irish-dance, they all play instruments. They have a ball.

With the London Knights out of town, Budweiser Gardens sets up a mid-March musical hat trick.
On Saturday, March 18, it’s country star Chris Stapleton, on his first Canadian tour since releasing Traveller, his Grammy-winning debut album. Stapleton was already a songwriter (six #1 hits), bandsman (SteelDrivers) and session musician. Now he’s a mega solo star. Nashville-based Canadian singer-songwriter Lindi Ortega opens (7:30 p.m., $52-$72).

Multiple-Grammy-winning Hall of Famers Green Day play the Bud on Sunday, March 19 (8:00 p.m., $41.50-$87.50) — another dose of punk to wake you from your winter lethargy. They’re touring Revolution Radio, released in October. The LA Times called it “a barnstormer of a new punk record,”USA Today, “a bracing return to form.” ’Nuff said?

Finally, indie-folk trio The Lumineers play the Knight’s barn, Wednesday, March 22 (7:00 p.m., $37.50-$74.50). Have a listen to their second studio album, Cleopatra, released last April ( It’s infectious, poignant … luminous.

For a dose of sweet-and-funny, catch harmonizing folk duo Dala at Aeolian Hall on March 24 (7 p.m./8 p.m., $25/$30). The duo — childhood besties Amanda Walther and Sheila Carabin from Scarborough — sing like angels and go for the giggles between songs. They were great fun at Home County a couple of years ago.

Still in a folky vein, London Music Club offers up Australian newcomer Daniel Champagne, Friday March 24 (8 p.m./8:30 p.m., $12/$15). A songwriter and “unique guitar virtuoso,” Champagne is a big deal at home. Now he’s on a world tour with his album, The Heartland Hurricanes. Your chance to see the next Nick Cave?

Revival House in Stratford continues its Friday-night dinner-and-concert series. The Small Glories — Cara Luft (late of the Wailin’ Jennies) and JD Edwards –are there on March 24. Minstrel Craig Cardiff is in on April 7. Then it’s American singer-songwriter Joe Crookson, with Toronto-based husband-and-wife folk duo The Young Novelists, on April 28. ($25 concerts only, $35 with dinner.)

March does not go out like a lamb. Not with vintage rocker Tom Cochrane and his Mad Mad World Tour playing Kitchener’s Centre in the Square, Tuesday March 28 (8 p.m., $39.50-$79.50). Cochrane released his iconic Mad Mad World album 25 years ago. To mark its quarter-century, he’s touring with his old band, Red Rider, playing the entire album live. A fan’s delight.

For jazz buffs, it’s slim pickings this spring (so far). Except for good ol’ Jazz For The People. It keeps chugging along with its series of free concerts at the Wolf Performance Hall (Central Library). London vocalist Laurraine Segouin and The Ken Foster Quartet appear Wednesday, March 29 at 7:15 p.m. Then on April 26, it’s Group of Seven, another London outfit. Did we mention it’s free?

Bill and Joel Plaskett

Country fans will want to head to Brantford on March 29 (about 70 minutes away.) The Sanderson Centre has country darling Terri Clark, a multiple Juno and CCMA award winner, and the only Canadian regular at the Grand Ol’ Opry (8:00 p.m., $46/$56). Clark, with hits such as “Better Things To Do,” “Poor Poor Pitiful Me,” “and “Northern Girl,” is a certified Big Deal in country and her opening act, Jessica Mitchell, is an exciting up-and-comer. Definitely worth the drive.

Here’s an interesting concept: father and son duo Bill and Joel Plaskett. Joel, the alt-rocker familiar to CBC radio listeners and aficionados of his band Emergency, teams up with one of his biggest musical influences, Dad. They’re everywhere this spring, promoting their Solidarity CD. Catch them at Aeolian Hall April 12 and 13, with guests the Mayhemingways (7 p.m./8 p.m., $30/$35). Or Thursday, May 4 at Dominion Telegraph in Paris, Ontario (7:00 p.m., $45). Or May 5 at Bayfield Town Hall (7:00 p.m., $39.55).

Gypsy Kumbia Orchestra

High-energy all-girl alt country band the Dixie Chicks hits the Bud on Tuesday, April 18 (7:30 p.m., $71-$141). We’re wondering what the Chicks have to say about the Donald. If they were “ashamed” of George W. Bush, what must they think of Trump?

And finally, yes, Gypsy Kumbia Orchestra: Saturday, May 13 at Aeolian Hall (7 p.m./8 p.m., $25/$30.)Who are they? Imagine a mash-up of Afro-Caribbean, Balkan brass and Roma fiddles, with dancing, colourful costumes and energy overload. That’s GKO — definitely not your average orchestra.

About the author

Gerry Blackwell

Gerry Blackwell is a London-based freelance writer.