Tuesday, April 12, 2011
MUSIC REVIEW OF THE DAY: DAVID MYLES - LIVE AT THE CARLETON
We have a bevy of new Atlantic Canadian music releases this week, as it's East Coast Music Awards time. The even runs Apr. 13 - 17 in Charlottetown, and Mr. Myles leads the pack with five nominations (Dave Gunning has five as well, but one is an industry award). Fredericton's favourite son now resides in Halifax, and that's where he recorded this set, during a four-night stand this past December. That's a fast turnaround. I like the whole get-it-done, get-it-out-there attitude. It's also my favourite bar in the world, run by Mike Campbell and Mike Rhodes, answering the question "what ever happened to those guys from Mike and Mike's Excellent Adventures?" Actually, Steph runs it, the Mikes are eye candy only. It's where we did the Halifax launch for the Top 100 Canadian Singles last October. It's become a very popular spot among musicians, including Ron Sexsmith, Cuddy and Keelor, Willie Nile, Steve Poltz and of course, the cream of the crop of Halifax.
You can hear how much fun Myles is having at these shows, which is at least partly due to the atmosphere of the club. It also shows why Myles is quickly becoming a hit live performer across the country and into Europe. There's a lot of energy, humour and joy in the show. The perpetually-smiling nice guy just makes you feel good, and there's a buzz in the air that this is going to be a good night as soon as he hits the stage, at each and every concert. The big revelation here is how relaxed he's become on stage, with loose and engaging stories, the kind that win you over. He's a better stand-up comedian than most of the foul-mouthed examples working the rounds in the country.
Of course, you're there for the music, and that's working for me here too, maybe even more so than his Joel Plaskett-produced, ECMA-nominated Turn Time Off album. These intimate songs work well in the simple setting, with just three pieces. Of course, it helps that the other two pieces, guitarist Alan Jeffries and stand-up bassist Kyle Cunjak sing and play with such a direct connection to Myles' music. The rich harmonies they developed for these shows are special and stirring. Both musicians are steeped in bluegrass playing, and that gives an extra dimension not found on the album versions. The version of Don't Drive Through, Myles' song for New Brunswick on the CBC Song Quest project, flies along on Jefferies' sizzling leads and some high and hurtin' harmonies.
David Myles fans are going to know and enjoy this disc, a live best-of, a solid souvenir. It's also a smart introduction for others, showing him at his best, performing a fun live concert.