We played Chalker's Pub on Monday. Patrick Boyle and Jon McCaslin sang the praises of this club in Banff - good stage sound, a surprisingly decent Yamaha upright piano (especially considering the stage is in front of a window and beside the kitchen), and an ambience that can cater to dressing up or down. It is in one of the stranger locations - in a strip mall in the Toronto suburb of North York, on top of a pharmacy and a doctor's office.
Tranzac on Thursday was a bit rougher of a go - I love the vibe of the room but I found it really hard to hear my keyboards. That room is designed for acoustic music - the bluegrass regulars before us sounded fantastic and played the hell out of their tunes and murder ballads.
The Rex on Friday afternoon had a surprisingly good turnout, given that the Olympic opening ceremonies were mere hours after us and it was a pre-long weekend Friday afternoon at 4 pm. It's always surreal for me to return to The Rex. In terms of musical development, I literally grew up there, hanging out at the Tuesday night jam sessions and playing Saturday solo piano matinees when I was 14 years old. I miss the cloud of smoke that hung over the stage. Seeing the bartender that used to serve me iced tea in pint glasses and ordering a bottle of Steam Whistle is all a bit weird for me, still.
On our off nights, I took a couple of detours. Tuesday night I landed at old friend Derek Downham's Junction Jam session and pounded out some Stones, Beatles, Buck Owens, and Hendrix. Wednesday, Brownman and I joined forces once again at Trane Studio, to lead a quartet with a rhythm section of bassist Marc Rogers and drummer Jeff Halischuk. The night was evenly split across tunes from Indigone, Trio Bruxo, Cruzao and Brown's Electryc Trio. Marc and Brown were mentors to me in my Rex days, but this was the first time I had ever played with Marc and it was a true pleasure. Jeff is a relatively new drummer to the Toronto scene but he absolutely nailed every groove thrown at him by my tunes and by Brown's - from the Cuban-funk of Cruzao to the Brazilian samba covers, hip-hop to modern jazz straight-eighths. It was a truly fun evening of music.
Thanks to everyone who came out to any and all of the shows. Steve Johnston and I hit again at Upstairs on Feb. 17, 18, 24, & 25; we're at the Brook Street Hotel in Kanata, ON on the 20th and at Arousse in Ste-Therese, QC on the 23. We'll be joined by Aryeh Kobrinsky on bass, and Evens Baptiste on drums and percussion.