Sean Bourke won’t help you to define Country music
Country music comes and goes in popularity in Toronto it seems –while two new bars offering live Country music have opened in the last few months, a short-lived experiment at Legends On Queensway in Etobicoke of offering Country groups on Thursday nights seems to have come to an end, based on the lack of a listing for any show tonight on the club’s website.
Of course, defining exactly what is and what isn’t Country music ain’t that easy either. While everyone agrees Hank Williams, Willie Nelson and Johnny Cash fit the label, there’s a lot of argument or confusion about the place of what can be called “New Country” artists, whose music in many ways more resembles Pop than traditional Country.
Toronto songwriter Sean Bourke, for example, while citing Country influences such as Blue Rodeo and The Good Brothers on the jacket of his 2010 album Alone (which features a Bluegrass-style tune he co-wrote with the latter group’s Brian Good among other Rootsy tracks) also has some songs on here that wouldn’t be out of place on Rock radio, while others have Adult Contemporary/MOR stamped all over them and some defy categorization.
On the lead-off track, “In Your Eyes”, for example, the beat is all Rock, his voice is very much New Country, the instrumentation is AC/MOR and the melody very Pop! Other tunes, like the co-write with Good, “Bluegrass Nights”, the jig-like “Lost Irish Rose” and the Gospelish “I’m Waiting”, reflect Country offshoot/ancestor Roots genres. “Campin’”, however, is a rockin’ rollin’ Country-Blues toe-tapper, while “I Don’t Mind” and title track “Alone” are either Smooth Rural-Pop, Urban-Country or maybe just really beautiful songs.
The album also benefits from some superb accompaniment from musical stars like Wendell Ferguson, Martin Aucoin, Gary Craig, Doug Johnson, Larry, Brian and Susie Good, JP Allen, Paul Chapman and Peter Bleakney, with instruments such as lap steel, piano, organ, fiddle, banjo, dobro, electric, acoustic and steel guitars all making appearances.
It seems clear that Bourke, who had a successful show at Linsmore Tavern with his band last Friday and who tonight appears in acoustic mode from 7-9 p.m. at Relish (2152 Danforth Ave. a block east of Woodbine), won’t be much help, really, in clarifying the definition of what exactly is Country music.
But if you enjoy intelligent and stylistically varied songwriting performed by a very smooth and competent artist, you’ll probably find you won’t mind that at all. And it’s hard to imagine songwriting this fine ever going out of fashion. No cover but pick up the album from him while you’re there and maybe toss something in the tip jar too.
-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> Mark Ucci Duo @ 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)
5:30> Piper Hayes @ Market 707 Farmers Market, 707 Dundas St. W., TO
6> tba @ Cameron House (front), 408 Queen St. W., TO
6:30> Elena Kapeleris Group @ The Rex, 194 Queen St. W., TO ~Jazz
7-9> The Polka Dogs @ Dakota Tavern, 249 Ossington Ave., TO West
7> Gas Station Cowboys @ Timothy’s Pub, 344 Brown’s Line, Etobicoke South ~Country
*7:30-9:30> Bluegrass Thursdays with Houndstooth @ Tranzac Lounge (Southern Cross), 292 Brunswick Ave., TO
7:30> Queen’s Players present “Orange Is The New Burgundy” @ Tranzac Lounge (Main Hall), 292 Brunswick Ave., TO ~theatrical comedy
*7:30> open stage with Rob Phillips and 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> open mic with Anthony Abbatangeli & Ken Foster @ DeSotos, 1079 St. Clair Ave. W., TO West
8-12> Kenny V @ Ember Hot Stove, 3039 Lakeshore Blvd. W., Etobicoke South ~acoustic Pop
8-12> tba @ 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> Mike Celia album release for Falling Backwards @ Hugh’s Room, 2261 Dundas St. W., TO West ~songwriter; $20/-
8:30> Johnny Cox Band @ Melange, 172 Main St., TO East ~electric Blues
8:30> Spookey Ruben presents Roncy Boys & Friends @ Supermarket, 268 Augusta Ave., TO
8:30> Chris Martin Trio @ Moonshine Café, 137 Kerr St. Oakville ~Rockabilly Blues; $7
9> Single Malt Soul @ Linsmore Tavern, 1298 Danforth Ave., TO East ~6-piece party Rock
9> Songwriters Circle of Jerks episode 20 with Nelson Sobral; Hugh Wilson; Jeff Elliott; Anthony Lohan @ Free Times Café, 320 College St. TO ~songwriters
9-12> Soozi Schlanger with David Baxter @ Bar Radio, 615 College St., TO ~indie Roots/Pop; pwyc
*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> Kevin Laliberte Jazz & Flamenco Trio @ Gate 403, 403 Roncesvalles Ave., TO West
9> Tradition; Bron Halpin debut release party; Field Test @ The Painted Lady, 218 Ossington Ave., TO West ~indie; pwyc
9> Mississippi Bends @ The Local, 396 Roncesvalles Ave., TO West ~alt-Americana
9-1> Dan McKinnon Blues Band @ Monarchs Pub (Eaton Chelsea Hotel), 33 Gerrard St. W., TO ~Blues
9> Lucas Stagg Band @ Dakota Tavern, 249 Ossington Ave., TO West ~alt-Country
*9> jam @ The Wee Pub, 371 Wilson Rd. South, Oshawa
9> Rishing Low @ Simcoe Blues & Jazz, 926 Simcoe St. N., Oshawa
*9-2> karaoke with Joe @ Tudor Rose, 700 Harwood Ave. S., Ajax
9> Green Bank Trio @ 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> Neufeld Occhipinti Jazz Orchestra @ The Rex, 194 Queen St. W., TO ~Jazz
9:30> The Speck Brothers @ Black Dog Pub, 87 Island Rd., Scarb. ~Pop Rock
*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> Songs We Write, Covers We Love @ Tranzac Lounge (Southern Cross), 292 Brunswick Ave., TO
10> tba @ Cameron House (front), 408 Queen St. W., TO ~Roots-Rock
10> David Krystal @ Orbit Room, 480 College St. TO
10> Maps @ The Hideout, 484 Queen St. W., TO ~indie Rock
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
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