Ineffable Soozi Schlanger starts Thurs. series at new venue tonight
Trying to describe the music —let alone the art and other artistic expressions— of Soozi Schlanger is at best a fool’s errand. Nevertheless, being a willing fool for just such a quest, I recently endeavoured to capture in words what it’s like to attend one of her shows after hearing her, accompanied by the equally formidable and versatile Tony Quarrington on second guitar, at Free Times Café back in March.
It seems pertinent to share some of my jottings about my experience that evening since tonight she starts a series of weekly Thursday night shows this month at a new venue on College Street, Bar Radio at 615 College about midway between Bathurst and Ossington. (This place, btw, is looking like it might be a new musical hotbed, based on its quality roster of Roots-dominated live music five nights a week and the fact that longtime Dakota Tavern adjunct and talented songwriter in her own right, Samantha Martin, seems to be heavily involved in promoting and probably booking the lineup there —as well as hosting a Monday open stage.)
If you go to the club tonight from 9 p.m. - midnight to see Soozi, who will also be joined by Tony for this series (except for June 12, when David Baxter sits in) you may well find that your experience is similar to what I’m about to describe. Or you might find it to be completely different —with this ineffably remarkable woman you probably just never know.
Anyway, here was my take on her March 21 Free Times show:
Attending a “Soozimusic” show of the very diverse and utterly personal original musical compositions of Soozi Schlanger is a bit like growing up.
At first, during the beginning of her opening set at Free Times Café the night of March 21, everything felt awkward, tunes and lyrics jumbling together in ways that were somewhat familiar yet difficult to process. But, like adolescence, once you start to get a feel for the way things work, by the end of the opening frame all of a sudden potency and prowess seemed to pour forth effortlessly to create a new world with exciting, if still somewhat undefined possibilities.
The artistic landscape she conjured up continued to evolve and to completely envelop not just my ears but my heart and imagination during the second set. By now the listener’s trepidation and uncertainty had given way to an awestruck appreciation of how inventive, deep and yet full of breadth are the mind and heart of this truly unique songwriter.
Her rather tentative guitar playing at the Free Times gig, somewhat overwhelmed by her accompanist and a voice that was sometimes almost too intimate –in that it wasn’t always easy to discern her lyrics– nevertheless worked together to weave a spell that lingered long after the show. While it may be easier to appreciate some of the lyrical cleverness that suffuses many of her songs as you listen to her soozimusic debut solo disc, and while there’s certainly no absence of feel and presence on her wonderfully produced album (which also benefits from a variety of accompanying artists playing various instruments such as piano, lap steel, organ, fiddle, accordion, saxes and more exotic devices) experiencing this creative force of nature in person adds an extra dimension that feels sensual and very special.
No admission charge is mentioned in the promo for tonight’s show, but if you don’t take along at least enough dough to buy a copy of her awesome soozimusic album then you’re a bigger fool than I for even considering going there, because believe me you’ll want to take her home, or at least the part of her that can be preserved and reflected in a recording. This is a fearless artist who, while no spring chicken, is actually just starting to take flight —on bold wings that no chicken could ever imagine possessing.
-Gary 17, www.torontomoon.ca
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Noon> Free lunchtime Jazz with tba @ The Rex, 194 Queen St. W., TO ~Jazz
*5-8> Jerry Leger & The Situation @ Castro’s, 2116 Queen St. E.. TO East ~Folk-Rock/Country
5-8> Roberta Hunt Jazz & Blues Band @ Gate 403, 403 Roncesvalles Ave., TO West ~Jazz/Blues
*5-8> Nelson Denis @ Frank’s Pasta, 42 King Street E., Cobourg ~eclectic mix (Folk, Jazz, soft Rock, Latin)
6> Angie Gunn @ Cameron House (front), 408 Queen St. W., TO
6:30> Elena Kapeleris Group @ The Rex, 194 Queen St. W., TO ~Jazz
7-9> James Carroll @ @ Relish, 2152 Danforth Ave., TO East ~songwriter
7> Alex Pangman Band with Peter Hill on keys @ Reservoir Lounge, 52 Wellington St. E., TO ~Jazz/Blues
7> Marta Pacek album release for Voodoo Dolls and False Alarms @ Cadillac Lounge, 1296 Queen St. W., TO West ~Auzzie Folk; $
7> Shugga @ Timothy’s Pub, 344 Brown’s Line, Etobicoke South ~Funk
7:30> Jay Harmony & The Groove Sharks @ Seven44, 744 Mount Pleasant Ave., TO North
*7:30-9:30> Bluegrass Thursdays with Houndstooth @ Tranzac Lounge (Southern Cross), 292 Brunswick Ave., TO
7:30/9:30 2 shows> Mark DeBonis Birthday Bash & album taping @ Free Times Café, 320 College St. TO ~comedy; pwyc
*7:30> Rob Phillips Trio with Chelsey Bennett @ 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> In Between Sounds @ The Only Café, 972 Danforth Ave., TO East ~psych soundscapes
8-12> Jackson Fox @ Fionn MacCool’s Ajax, 32 Kingston Rd. E. Ajax ~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> Loving Mary featuring Suzie McNeil @ Hugh’s Room, 2261 Dundas St. W., TO West ~Country Pop; $23/-
8:30> Robin “Kid Hawk” Hawkins @ Moonshine Café, 137 Kerr St. Oakville ~50s-contemporary Rockabilly covers & originals; $10
9> The Boot Hill Crooners @ Linsmore Tavern, 1298 Danforth Ave., TO East ~Country
*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
9-12> Melanie Brulee Band @ Gate 403, 403 Roncesvalles Ave., TO West ~Jazz
9-12> Soozi Schlanger @ Bar Radio, 615 College St., TO ~Roots Pop; pwyc
9> Ken Yoshioka @ The Local, 396 Roncesvalles Ave., TO West ~Blues
9-1> Jerome Godboo Band @ Monarchs Pub (Eaton Chelsea Hotel), 33 Gerrard St. W., TO ~Blues
9> Gas Staion Cowboys @ Legends On The Queensway, 1184 The Queensway, Etobicoke South ~Country
9> Rockabilly dance party with Ollie Vee @ Dakota Tavern, 249 Ossington Ave., TO West
**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> Sean Conway; Evangeline Gentle @ 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> Colin Amey @ Black Dog Pub, 87 Island Rd., Scarb. ~Pop Rock
9:30> Anna Gutmanis; Brynn Scott-Grimes; Susan Cogan @ C’est What, 67 Front St. E., TO ~songwriters
*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
9:45> William Carn/Tara Davidson Group @ The Rex, 194 Queen St. W., TO ~Jazz
10> Lydia Persaud Group with Tara Kannangara @ Tranzac Lounge (Southern Cross), 292 Brunswick Ave., TO
10> J. Swinnerton Band @ Cameron House (front), 408 Queen St. W., TO ~Roots-Rock
10> Jimmy Bowskill Band @ Orbit Room, 480 College St. TO ~Blues; $10
10> The Mandevilles & Friends @ The Painted Lady, 218 Ossington Ave., TO West
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> Scully & The Crossbones @ The Hideout, 484 Queen St. W., TO ~indie Rock
10:30> Samantha Martin’s Roots n Roll Revue @ Lula Lounge, 1585 Dundas St. W., TO West; Country Rock; $15
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