After not having seen irrepressible wit and smooth Jazz/Pop singer Danny B perform in a few years I was definitely more than curious to see if the larger-than-life showman still has what it takes to spellbind an audience. And as my visit to TO’s Cadillac Lounge a couple of Sundays ago demonstrated, he’s if anything even more polished today than he’s ever been, while his band of superior talents continues to happily back the always interesting frontman as he galvanizes the audience.
Assembling a veteran crew of accompanists like pianoman Michael Keys, drummer Tom Mehegan, guitarist Brian Gauci and bassist Uli Bohnet for what is probably far less money than they’re worth is only possible when the leading man is someone who gives pleasure not only to audiences but to those who provide the musical support for the act. And there’s no faking the sheer delight I could see on the faces of these players as Danny made his usual wisecracks between songs, regaled the too-sparse audience with a bit of an impromptu Blues history lesson and, of course, delivered soulful, authentic-sounding versions of tunes that encompassed several genres.
It was surprising to me that after a few weeks of already appearing in the room at 1296 Queen St. W. Sunday nights 7:30-10:30 there were so few people on hand to enjoy this virtuoso performance by an entertainer still at the top of his game and the superb band that can effortlessly handle everything from Chicago Blues through Boogie Woogie, Pop ditties and a smidgeon of Jazz. It certainly wasn’t due to the sound: the club’s soundman is definitely on the ball and makes a huge difference with an act of this calibre.
I will say the lighting was atrociously configured: two bright spotlights behind the band create too much glare to really see the group without your shades on and the diffused spots up front aimlessly pointed upwards did little to provide any useful illumination. I found myself turning my gaze away from the otherwise well-set up stage towards the tvs behind the bar off to the side (at least there’s no screens interfering with the show directly) not because I was bored but because there was nothing to see, though my ears continued to receive a delightful feast.
But the lighting is really the only quibble I could find with this otherwise magnificent presentation and hopefully, with the group held over to do two more Sundays in December, that’ll get tweaked and many others will be able to get out both to appreciate the show and to reaffirm to the club owner that there is still a strong market for this style of music. Incredibly, there’s no cover charge for this show (although you could toss a couple of bucks into a band-donations jar out front of the stage) and drink prices are pretty fair given the hip area the club is located in, while the draught selection is quite impressive. -Gary 17