Tuesday, April 30, 2013


A big year is planned for the Toronto faves, as they celebrate 25 years together.  This is the first of four quarterly packages in 2013 a 3-disc affair that has three concerts from the start, middle and current days of the band, each separated by 12 years.  The first two are on CD, while the third is a DVD shot last year at the Glenn Gould Theatre.

It's just mainstays Andy Maize and Josh Finlayson that are doing the partying for this, the band changing personnel so often that it's long been just them and hired players when needed.  But the dynamic duo have proven you don't have to be a big band to have a good partnership, and they've kept the spirit alive and well, as can be shown by these snapshots at various career points.

Disc one is from the dawn of the band, a half-hour at the Spadina Hotel, where they'd hold court back in '88.  Peter Cash was still in the band then, adding an another voice and writer, and favourite Monday Morning was already in the set list.  A hard-gigging act, they built their reputation on strong, smart entertainment.  This covers-heavy disc includes audience-pleasing numbers such as Peggy Lee's Fever that quickly becomes the theme song to Spiderman.  Another hip, jazzy tune reveals itself to be Led Zep's Whole Lotta Love.  Maize was the funniest front man on the scene.

The next set comes from the Horseshoe Tavern in Toronto at the turn of the millenium, supplemented by 3 tracks from an Edmonton gig.  Maize and Finlayson were the only holdovers from the original group.  The obvious humourous numbers were no longer included, as by now there were plenty of fans that loved the band for their own numbers.  The covers they were doing were just plain cool now, like George and Tammy's Slow Burning Fire, and Jesse Winchester's Biloxi.  They had their own claims to fame by then, including A Penny More and I Will Give You Everything.

The DVD, shot in black and white, comes from October 2012, the live group now a full eight players, including violinist Anne Lindsay and duet singer Jessy Bell Smith.  Some old songs, some new, this time it's all original stuff, not a career retrospective, more of a statement of intent, that they plan to soldier on.  I'm glad they chose the DVD route for this, as it gives the viewer the full picture of Maize on stage.  He's still fun and full of life, someone who warms up the room with his personality, as well as being able to rock the joint.  Funny and brainy, and the songs are catchy.  I'm looking forward to seeing what else they have planned for the Silver Anniversary releases.

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