With or without keyboardist Fonfara, Bentroots delights
With summer finally in full swing it means that international touring acts like multi-award winning Downchild Blues Band are in much demand across the country and continent for festivals and various other events.
What that means to TO five-piece swampy Blues band Bentroots, which appears tonight as part of the Toronto Downtown Jazz Festival at Relish in east TO (sans the cover charge normally associated with TDJF shows) is that their star keyboard player Michael Fonfara may or may not be available for some of the twice-monthly shows they do at the funky tapas bistro at 2152 Danforth Ave.
Luckily they also have accordion wizard Ed Roth as part of the group. When they did a recent show at which Michael wasn’t able to appear, Ed, who this week was set up in the spot where Fonf’ usually has his keyboard, performed magically on his instrument, creating what to my ears was a sonic miracle by making it sound as if it were far more than just one instrument.
Between sets Ed told me that in fact his digital accordion basically is more than one instrument, with not one reed but a pile of built in sampled sounds plus various effects options that enables him to emulate voices and instruments to create a vast array of feels and aural colours –and which even allowed him to do keyboard solos on its little 36-key board. It’s more like a jukebox than an accordion!
Nevertheless, no matter how versatile the instrument, it takes a real virtuoso to make it come alive the way that Ed did. I was transfixed! Although the show was somewhat different in character from the normal more Blues-Rock oriented sound the group usually produces, it was still hugely entertaining and all of the other band members, (bassist Robert Newman, drummer Duncan McBain and lead guitarist/singer Nicholas Balkou) seemed to enjoy doing things a little differently.
Come to think about it –isn’t that exactly what Jazz is supposed to be all about? So whether or not Fonf’ is able to be there for the group’s 8-11 show tonight (and I’d be betting he will be –he missed the June 2nd show only because he was in Europe with Downchild) you can count on a hugely interesting evening that will delight not just Blues, R&B and Rock fans but also any Jazz connoisseurs in the house.
-Gary 17, www.torontomoon.ca
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Noon> TDJF: Drumhand @ Shops at Don Mills (New Balance Side Stage), 1090 Don Mills Rd., TO East
5-8> Jazz Forge @ Gate 403, 403 Roncesvalles Ave., TO West ~Jazz
*5> The Cosmotones @ Castro’s, 2116 Queen St. E.. TO East ~Rockabilly
5> TDJF: Jazz jam @ Shops at Don Mills (New Balance Side Stage), 1090 Don Mills Rd., TO East
5> TDJF: Viva Mexico Mariachi @ Shops at Don Mills (City Cadillac Stage, Town Square), 1090 Don Mills Rd., TO East
*6-9> Calliope’s Nest open stage/jam for women @ Lola Pub, 40 Kensington Ave., TO
6:30> TDJF: Tara Kannangara @ The Rex, 194 Queen St. W., TO ~Jazz
7-9> Danny Michel Band & guests @ Dakota Tavern, 249 Ossington Ave., TO West
7> Songwriters open stage with host Scott B Sympathy @ Bar Radio, 615 College St., TO
*7> Hard Time Mondays with Rick & Gailie @ Black Horse Pub, 452 George St. N., Peterborough
**7:30> M Factor Mondays with host Elana Harte & features Sara Teitel; Gen Gorman @ Old Nick, 123 Danforth Ave., TO East
7:30> Vincent Wolfe Orchestra @ Seven44, 744 Mount Pleasant Blvd., TO North ~R&B/Swing
8-12> open stage with Julian Taylor & 9:30 feature by Keith Holding @ Dora Keogh, 141 Danforth Ave. TO East
8> John K & The Outfit @ The Only Café, 972 Danforth Ave., TO East ~Rock
**8-1> open stage with host Jessica Bundy @ Free Times Café, 320 College St., TO
*8-11> open stage @ McGradie’s, 2167 Victoria Park Ave., Scarborough
**8-12> BBQ & jam night with Port Credit Review Band @ Moonshine Café, 137 Kerr St., Oakville; ($8.95 with BBQ dinner special starts at 6)
*8-12> open stage @ Simcoe Blues & Jazz, 926 Simcoe St. N., Oshawa
**9-1:30> jam with No Band Required @ Grossman’s, 379 Spadina Ave., TO
*9-1> Hamstrung Stringband @ The Local, 396 Roncesvalles Ave., TO West ~Bluegrass
9> blueVenus @ Castro’s, 2116 Queen St. E.. TO East ~original Pop
9-1> Richard Whiteman Band @ Gate 403, 403 Roncesvalles Ave., TO West ~Jazz
*9-1> eclectic open stage/jam @ The Painted Lady, 218 Ossington Ave., TO West
*9> open mic (2 songs; signup starts 8p.m.) @ Tranzac Lounge (Southern Cross), 292 Brunswick Ave., TO
*9-1> jam with Tom Barlow @ Shore Grill, 71 Lakeshore Rd. E., Port Credit
*9:30-2> Sebastian Agnello & friends @ Black Swan (ground floor), 154 Danforth Ave., TO East
9:30> TDJF: John MacLeod’s Rex Orchestra @ The Rex, 194 Queen St. W., TO ~Jazz
*10-2> jam with Kimberley Wetmore & Company feat. Dave Girdlestone of Soul Funkshun @ Roc’n Doc’s, 105 Lakeshore E., Port Credit
10> Jordan John @ The Orbit Room, 580 College St., TO ~R&B/Blues
10:30> Big Otter Creek acoustic duo @ The Hideout, 484 Queen St. W., TO
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