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Old 06-11-2008, 09:50 AM   #1
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Default These songs are our songs, O Canada

These songs are our songs, O Canada - entertainment - These songs are our songs, O Canada

June 11, 2008
Martin Knelman

We've grown so used to the Great American Songbook it comes as a happy surprise to discover many great songs were written by artists born north of the border.

Luminato scored big points Monday by creating a whole evening at Massey Hall of Canadian songs. The concept: a new generation of performers paid tribute to songwriters of our past, with enough great moments to warrant a sequel at next year's festival.

Through a neat twist, a number of artists onstage were already featured in other Luminato events which made the evening a bonding ritual one reason the packed house loved this event.

And through another twist, two of the greatest living Canadian singer-songwriters in our history Leonard Cohen and Joni Mitchell happened to be making high-profile appearances in Toronto this week, even though they have lived in Los Angeles for decades.

Eventually some of the thrilling talent in the lineup made the evening soar, but there were rough patches along the way.

The night began on a shaky, perplexing note when Molly Johnson sang the weirdest version I've ever heard of "I'll Never Smile Again," that classic written almost 70 years ago by Ruth Lowe. Yes, it's a poignant song, but Johnson made it suicidal, and breathed the words heavily rather than singing them.

Things didn't get much better when Dan Zanes paid underwhelming tribute to Ian & Sylvia with two songs, one written by each of them: "You Were On My Mind" and "Someday Soon."

Karen David offered samples of Bryan Adams ("When You Love Someone"), Joni Mitchell ("Come In From the Cold") and Shirley Eikhard ("Something to Talk About.") David may be the perfect front person for Roots, but she came across as a bar singer.

During the first half-hour, the band seemed so loud you couldn't make out the words even if you already knew them. This may have been caused by mic problems.

Luckily Luke Doucet came along and roused us from our stupor with lively versions of Robbie Robertson's "Ophelia" and Bruce Cockburn's "Wondering Where the Lions Are."

Emcees Kim Stockwood and Damhnait Doyle, who kept things moving all night with entertaining patter, took centre stage to sing Leonard Cohen's "Ain't No Cure for Love" even while Cohen was giving the last of his four amazing Toronto concerts just blocks away at the Sony Centre.

Juno-winning Alex Cuba closed the first half of the show with Gordon Lightfoot's "In the Early Morning Rain" and an exquisite Spanish version of Blue Rodeo's "Bad Timing."

After intermission, pianist Marika Bournaki dazzled the crowd with "Papillon" and "O Canada."

Nikki Yanofsky, that 14-year-old bundle of excess, redeemed herself with a sweet take on Mitchell's "The Circle Game" after a blast-you-out-of-your-seat "Big Yellow Taxi" that seemed more assault than tribute.

Mikel Rouse, the New Yorker whose trilogy of chamber operas is running in rep all through Luminato, provided one of the high points with an unforgettably wonderful performance of Neil Young's "Harvest Moon."

Danny Michel somehow found a way to make Paul Anka's "My Way" sound fresh.

Ron Sexsmith provided the ultimate tribute. When he did "Song for a Winter's Night," the nuances made him sound like Lightfoot. With "Sisters of Mercy" he morphed into Cohen. And even singing Gene MacLellan's "Snowbird" I swear he sounded almost like Anne Murray.

By the time Stockwood and Doyle wrapped things up on an upbeat gospel note with MacLellan's "Put Your Hand in the Hand," the crowd was high mellow, festive and patriotic.

Play it again, Luminato.
"I'll see you all next Saturday..."
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Old 06-11-2008, 11:23 AM   #2
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Default Re: These songs are our songs, O Canada

Ron Sexsmith sounding like Anne Murray..I'd have loved to have heard that!
Maybe he'll give it another go at his own concert at Massey in October..
the Great Canadian songbook is awesome..
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Old 06-11-2008, 11:51 AM   #3
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Default Re: These songs are our songs, O Canada

We certainly have some great musicians here in Canada, unfortunately many remain unrecognized. In the past Canada has often refused to acknowledge it's musical talent until they make it big elsewhere. It is only then that we strut around boasting that they're Canadian. Thankfully that seems to be changing. Regardless, it is difficult making a living as a musician in Canada. Below is an interesting article from Toronto's Globe & Mail newspaper about the income of the average Canadian musician.

Riches rare for Canadian musicians, says study

Globe and Mail Update- GUY DIXON

June 10, 2008 at 3:21 AM EDT

Toronto The average Canadian musician earns only $16,500 a year from music after taxes, according to a study of the music industry by Rotman School of Management professor Douglas Hyatt and polling company Pollara. The survey of 684 Canadian musicians, songwriters and vocalists polled last December and January found that two-thirds also have a job outside music that earn them less than $21,000 in extra income, on average. And 43 per cent of musicians polled have become more reliant on income other than music in the past three years, as certain sectors of the music industry, especially CD retail sales, have suffered.

The study released yesterday comes out as proposed copyright legislation remains in limbo in Ottawa. Major groups representing the copyright holders, such as the Canadian Independent Record Production Association, which has been heavily involved in lobbying Ottawa, lent their names to the report.
("the river is the melody, the sky is the refrain")
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Old 06-11-2008, 11:58 AM   #4
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I don't think that study is news to folks like Aengus and Jory (who probably participated in the poll) who make their music their lives and still have to work other jobs and apply for music grants...Supporting the indie artists is so important - for their sakes, the music industry as well as the listeners..
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Old 06-11-2008, 01:40 PM   #5
Jesse Joe
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Default Re: These songs are our songs, O Canada

Thanks for these great articles...
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