Passionate but perky songwriter Jessica Blake shines tonight
Personable, passionate, gorgeous and very animated on stage, Folk-Pop songwriter Jessica Blake wove a captivating spell the night I heard her with her trio last month at Relish on Danforth Ave. in east TO.
The highlight of that night was certainly originals of substance from her album, So Close, covering the gamut of love and politics plus some plain ol’ fun. But she also has a very soulful repertoire of covers that includes tunes by Sarah McLachlan (“I grew up wanting to be Sarah McLachlan,” she told us in a typical moment of candor), Roberta Flack and Jann Arden.
Her voice is very sweet and, even more importantly, feels completely honest, not affected in any way. Which indeed seems to characterize the entire persona of this very friendly lady, who engaged the audience by getting us to sing along on songs we’d never heard as well as to provide sound effects such as birds chirping and trains chugging on others.
Then there’s that smile. When she starts beaming her positive, happy energy it’s impossible not to find yourself grinning along with her as she shares stories about the genesis of some of her tunes and while you’re enjoying pretty love ditties like “In Our Own World”.
Of course not all of her material is happy songs. The title track of the album is a poignant ballad about longing and another tune she shared with us that night was written for a friend who was diagnosed with cancer. Yet another, “We Can Change”, is a kind of positive polemic that political advocates could use more of.
While she won’t have the trio backing her tonight (although she will have some accompanying vocals, I’m told), her 9-12 gig at Linsmore Tavern on Danforth Ave. at the Greenwood subway stop is one you should definitely consider checking out if you could use some inspiration and enjoy upbeat, catchy music.
There’s no cover and the historic room with a very warm sonic vibe at 1298 Danforth Ave. has a full bar with a decent selection of beers, including some on tap, at prices that will leave you enough to pick up a copy of Jessica’s album, which I predict you will want to do.
-Gary 17, www.torontomoon.ca
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5-8> Peter Kauffman Trio @ Gate 403, 403 Roncesvalles Ave., TO West ~Jazz
*5-8> Nelson Denis @ Frank’s Pasta, 42 King Street E., Cobourg ~eclectic mix (Folk, Jazz, soft Rock, Latin)
6> Corin Raymond @ Cameron House (front), 408 Queen St. W., TO ~Roots-Pop
6:30> Kevin Quain @ The Rex, 194 Queen St. W., TO ~moody Blues
7-9> Mira Black @ @ Relish, 2152 Danforth Ave., TO East ~songwriter
7> Jacky Bouchard @ Reservoir Lounge, 52 Wellington St. E., TO ~Jazz/Blues
7> Elmer Ferrer Band @ Timothy’s Pub, 344 Brown’s Line, Etobicoke South ~Pop Rock
7:30> Nashville Songwriters Association International festival (1st of 2 nights) with 2 sets in the round: 7:30> Alfie Smith; Gigi Sisters; Sahaj Shah; Melissa Pigg; 9:30> Brian Gladstone; Glen Hornblast; John & Sheila Ludgate; Elora Taylor @ Moonshine Café, 137 Kerr St. Oakville ~songwriters; $10 (reservations recommended)
7:30> Fern Lindzon Trio @ Homesmith Bar, Old Mill Inn, 21 Old Mill Rd., Etobicoke South ~Jazz; min. purchase reqd.
*7:30-9:30> Bluegrass Thursdays with Houndstooth @ Tranzac Lounge (Southern Cross), 292 Brunswick Ave., TO
*7:30> open stage with Rob Phillips & Chelsey Bennett Band @ Black Horse Pub, 452 George St. N., Peterborough ~Jazz Blues
*7:30-12> open mic with K.M. Smith @ Molly Bloom’s Guelph, 91 Wyndham St. N., Guelph
*8-12> jam with Tommy Rocker Band @ Karla’s Roadhouse, 4630 Kingston Rd., Scarborough
8-12> Blues jam with Howard Ross & Big Mojo @ The Hub, 15 Simcoe St. N., Oshawa
*8> open mic with Anthony Abbatangeli & Ken Foster @ DeSotos, 1079 St. Clair Ave. W., TO West
8> The Vaudevillian @ The Press Club, 850 Dundas St. W., TO ~Ragtime Blues
8> Trianna Project @ Supermarket, 268 Augusta Ave., TO ~Flamenco
8> Peter Eastmure’s Animal Kingdom @ The Only Café, 972 Danforth Ave., TO East ~songwriter
8> Hoshi; Furu; Sol Ardour; J’Nai @ The Garrison; $8
8-12> Kenny V @ Ember Hot Stove, 3039 Lakeshore Blvd. W., Etobicoke South ~acoustic Pop
8> Snak The Ripper @ The Rockpile, 5555 Dundas St. W., Etobicoke South ~Metal; $
8-12> David Leask @ Fionn MacCool’s Ajax, 32 Kingston Rd. E. Ajax ~Roots-Pop
*8-12> open mic & jam @ Black Swan Pub Burlington, 4040 Palladium Way, Burlington
*8-11:30> Christopher Plock & Stevie G @ Mulligan’s Pub, 2458 Dundas St. W., Mississauga ~Blues/Jazz/R&B
8-11> open mic with Sandy MacDonald @ Williamsburg Arms, 1187 Fischer Hallman Rd., Kitchener
8:30> Valdy @ Hugh’s Room, 2261 Dundas St. W., TO West ~iconic Canadian Folk songwriter; $28/-
8:30> Anna Gutmanis & Friends with special guest Kevin Wong @ Free Times Café, 320 College St. TO ~songwriter; $6
9> Jessica Blake @ Linsmore Tavern, 1298 Danforth Ave., TO East ~acoustic original and cover Roots Rock
*9> jam with Ted Rusk @ The Sauble Dunes, 11 Southampton Parkway, Sauble Beach
*9-1:30> open stage with Jay Pennell @ Dave’s On St. Clair, 730 St. Clair West, TO West ~eclectic
9> Nicole Coward; Heather Hill; Arlene Paculan; Alec Steinwall; Stephen Didunyk; Valerie Shearman @ Amsterdam Bicyle Club, 64 The Esplanade, TO ~songwriters
9-12> Annie Bonsignore Duo or Trio @ Gate 403, 403 Roncesvalles Ave., TO West ~Pop
9> Nichol Roberts & His Honky Tonk Boogaloo Boys @ Bar Radio, 615 College St., TO; pwyc
9> Elise LeGrow; Freeman Dre @ The Painted Lady, 218 Ossington Ave., TO West ~indie
9> Sean Conway @ The Local, 396 Roncesvalles Ave., TO West ~Rootsy Rockabilly
9-1> Ross Neilson Band @ Monarchs Pub (Eaton Chelsea Hotel), 33 Gerrard St. W., TO ~Blues-Rock
9> Marshall Dane Band @ Legends On The Queensway, 1184 The Queensway, Etobicoke South ~Country
9> Ron Hawkins & The Do Good Assassins @ Dakota Tavern, 249 Ossington Ave., TO West; $15
**9> jam with Laura Lee Montgomerie @ DNA Bar, 15474 Yonge St., Aurora
*9> jam @ The Wee Pub, 371 Wilson Rd. South, Oshawa
*9-2> karaoke with Joe @ Tudor Rose, 700 Harwood Ave. S., Ajax
9> Balls & Jane @ The Red Garnet, 231 Hunter St. W., Peterborough
*9:30-2> Skip Tracer @ Southside Johnny’s, 3653 Lakeshore Blvd., Etobicoke South ~Rock/Pop
*9:30> karaoke with The English Rose & The Mad Scotsman @ Coyote Jack’s, 64 Harwood Ave. S., Ajax
*9:30> karaoke with Kiki @ Relish, 2152 Danforth Ave., TO East
9:30> Lorne Lofsky Group @ The Rex, 194 Queen St. W., TO ~Jazz
9:30> David McLachlan; Michael Lake; Brian Donkers for Tin Pan North 15 @ Cadillac Lounge, 1296 Queen St. W., TO West ~Country/Roots; $10
9:30> Voodoo Kings @ Black Dog Pub, 87 Island Rd., Scarb. ~Pop Rock
9:30> Derek Christie; Ditch Horses; Greenway Blvd. @ C’est What, 67 Front St. E., TO; pwyc
*9:30> jam with Jack B Nimble @ Abbey Road Pub, 3200 Erin Mills Parkway, Mississauga
9:45> Mary Mckay @ Reservoir Lounge, 52 Wellington St. E., TO ~Jazz/Blues
10> Dissonant Histories @ Tranzac Lounge (Southern Cross), 292 Brunswick Ave., TO
10> Matthew Hornell @ Cameron House (front), 408 Queen St. W., TO
10> tba @ Orbit Room, 480 College St. TO ~
10> The Tonkas @ Roc’n Doc’s, 105 Lakeshore Rd. E., Port Credit ~Blues
*10> Salt & Pepper karaoke with Josh & Danish @ St. Louis Ajax. 11 Harwood Ave. S., Ajax
10:30> tba @ The Hideout, 484 Queen St. W., TO ~indie Rock
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