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Wednesday, November 5th, 2008

The Golden State

Kathleen Edwards and John Doe at The Dakota Tavern in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangThe Dakota Tavern, a little subterranean rec room of a bar, has fried chicken. This is a very exciting fact to me, as I’ve been at a loss as to where to get non-gross, non-fast food fried chicken in this town. This assumes, of course, that the quality of foodstuffs there measure up to reputation the Tavern has as both a cool, rootsy watering hole and a friendly, intimate venue. It was these qualities that made it the perfect locale for a warm-up show in advance of the “Hurtin’ And Flurtin’ Tour” that would take co-headliners Kathleen Edwards and John Doe across America, starting tonight.

While I expect the tour itself will be decidedly more put-together and probably feature full backing bands, I would hope for the sake of their audiences that Edwards and Doe continue to eschew the traditional opener/closer roles and play as they did Monday night to a packed house, alternately playing together and separately. This format allowed them to display their obvious musical and personal chemistry, backing each other up and harmonizing on a choice selection of covers and songs of their own, including “The Golden State” off of Doe’s latest A Year In The Wilderness on which the two duet marvelously. They apologized in advance for being a bit under-rehearsed, and while they definitely were that, they were also quite relaxed and having a great time of it. The tightness will come – the rapport was already there.

I’m not as well-versed in Doe’s repertoire as I probably should be – I know some X material and had a couple of his solo records in university, but that’s about the extent of it. That lack of familiarity didn’t keep me from thoroughly enjoying his songs, though – the man has been at it for some 30 years and is damned good at what he does. I had expected from the company he was keeping that he’d be operating in a more country-rock vein, but I guess he saves that for The Knitters – his solo material was thoughtful, melodic and direct singer-songwriter fare, seasoned with charming and witty banter. And the mention that he was in the process of cutting an album with The Sadies was particularly exciting to hear.

But it was Edwards who really impressed. I’ve counted myself a fan since her debut Failer, but my interest had drifted since then and I’m on record as having found her latest effort Asking For Flowers, Polaris-nominated as it may have been, decidedly underwhelming. I had, however, never seen her live. Came close a number of times but it’d just never happened. And based on this performance, I have to wonder if I might have been even more favourably inclined to her stuff than I am because she was really terrific. It’s difficult to say exactly what’s different about hearing her live than on record because production-wise, her albums have always been pretty straightforward, but for whatever reason her songs – and in particular the characters contained within – really came alive. I think I now more fully appreciate her more intangible qualities, that certain resonance that she has beyond just her songs and her voice. It really was an eye- and ear-opener.

Though there’s no local – or even Canadian – dates on the formal tour, Edwards has already started planning her 2009 and it includes a date on February 13 at Trinity-St Paul’s Centre, a venue that – as lovely as it is – couldn’t be further in vibe from the Dakota. I guarantee you they don’t serve fried chicken.

The Richmond Times-Dispatch has an interview with Kathleen Edwards.

Photos: Kathleen Edwards & John Doe @ The Dakota Tavern – November 3, 2008
MP3: Kathleen Edwards – “In State”
MP3: Kathleen Edwards – “Back To Me”
MP3: Kathleen Edwards – “Copied Keys”
MP3: Kathleen Edwards – “One More Song The Radio Won’t Like”
MP3: Kathleen Edwards – “National Steel”
MP3: Kathleen Edwards – “Six O’Clock News”
MP3: John Doe – “The Golden State”
Video: Kathleen Edwards – “The Cheapest Key”
Video: Kathleen Edwards – “I Make The Dough, You Get The Glory”
Video: Kathleen Edwards – “In State”
Video: Kathleen Edwards – “Back To Me”
Video: Kathleen Edwards – “Hockey Skates”
MySpace: Kathleen Edwards
MySpace: John Doe

Beirut mastermind Zach Condon will be releasing two new EPs of material next year on February 17 – March of the Zapotec under the Beirut banner and Holland under the Realpeople nom de plume. Details at Paste.

Okkervil River’s Will Sheff makes a mixtape for Drowned In Sound, makes conversation with Filter.

JAM talks to Emily Haines and James Shaw of Metric about the process of getting their heads together to create album number four, currently looking for an early 2009 release. They’re headlining that big Canuck-rock shin-dig at Sound Academy on December 13.

Spinner’s Interface welcomes Margot & The Nuclear So And So’s to their studios.

Daytrotter offers up a Born Ruffians session for download. And congratulations to Andrew, who won the tote bag and stuff.

In addition to headlining the Make Some Noise concert at the North York Central Library on November 15, Gentleman Reg has got a show scheduled at the Drake Underground for December 4, tickets $12. The release date for his new album Jet Black is still a moving target (though you can hear new material at his MySpace) but there’s a new 7″ single out now and an EP intended to introduce Reg to US audiences entitled Little Buildings is set for release south of the border on November 11.

And speaking of things south of the border… congratulations America. You did a hell of a thing. Though between you and me, I think I was more choked up when Jimmy Smits won the White House on The West Wing. Yeah, sometimes I’m weird like that. But still, bravo.

By : Frank Yang at 8:11 am
Category: Concert Reviews

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RSS Feed for this post3 Responses.
  1. Beth says:

    Nice review / photos, I’m so sorry I couldn’t make this. That Dakota lighting can be tough, but you got some really lovely shots. And for the record, I totally agree on Kathleen being far more appealing live than on record. I love her sweet, interactive personality live.

    But the real question remains: did you TRY their fried chicken? If so, POST THAT REVIEW.

  2. Frank Yang says:

    I did not – they weren’t serving. but believe me, I intend to go back and try that there fried bird. Oh yes.

  3. mchen says:

    Lovely post, terrific photo! You might be interested in checking out post from last night (Jan 13th), where I do a little gushing over Kathleen too. Great blog! I’ll be back :)