Dave Grunsky shows veteran savvy as host of new Wed. jam
A longtime veteran Rock-Blues guitar player who “hung up his strings” for many years until recently, Dave Grunsky is back in action and raring to play with a wide variety of fellow artists.
Although he’s been a supporter of this publication for the past few years now, I’d never actually met him until we crossed paths at the second memorial celebration show for Robbie “The Blues Butcher” Bellmore at Black Swan on the afternoon of May 26.
I had no idea who he was when Grunsky was on stage with one of Robbie’s longtime musical pals, Johnny Cox, but certainly took note of his poise and taste in the backup role to frontman Cox’s sizzling Blues licks and vocals. Grunsky stayed up to perform with singer Nicole Dunn for her set with the house band and this time had the space to share a few of his own considerably accomplished chops.
After introducing himself later on at the event, Grunsky told me how he’d quit performing publicly years ago when he grew discouraged by the lack of recognition and respect that the music biz affords some of its brightest lights.
“But lately,” he added, “I’ve been getting the itch again and I want to give things another go,” which ended up leading me to gaining a fuller appreciation and respect for his versatility and command of the instrument at a show last week.
For his itch is what led to Grunsky’s appearance last Wednesday night as the host of a new weekly jam at a well-hidden (and totally underpromoted) club in east TO at the corner of Main Street and Gerrard St. West.
Melange has seen a parade of talented players appear there over the past couple of years (including a brief stint by Cox for a few recent Thursdays) but so far nothing has stuck –largely because the reasonably welcoming room pays the talent shit wages and hasn’t promoted its shows at all. (It also doesn’t help that they have a very screwy epilepsy-inducing concept of stage lighting.)
Despite the shortcomings of the room (though it also has some very positive features, I hasten to add, such as reasonably comfortable seating, great décor featuring framed photos of musical legends, a relaxed feel. a pleasant and friendly server and not-expensive beverage prices) Grunsky and bassist Malcom McQuaig (another talented veteran of the TO music scene) along with a guest drummer delivered a rip-roaring night of classic Rock and Blues tunes delivered with aplomb and passion.
But while Grunsky can obviously hold his own on the six-string, one of the things that impressed me was an absence of the “hot dog” mentality that afflicts so many electric guitarists. This combo just delivers the goods, tailoring their presentation to the material, in the service of the song, rather than using the song to show off their abilities. That’s particularly important for a jam host, because it demonstrates that they’re going to offer real support, not use the jammers as patsies to promote their own talents.
Problem was, the only thing missing was any jammers! Hopefully that changes tonight so that the band is motivated to keep the event going –it’s certainly not going to be the pay scale that does so.
The night kicks off at 9 p.m. in the room directly adjacent to the street car and bus stops at 172 Main St. a stone’s throw from the Danforth GO station and a short hop from Main Station on the TTC line. Grunsky tells me he’s particularly avid to have singers come out because, despite the very creditable job he did in the lead vocals role, “I don’t really like to sing,” he told me. Is there anyone out there who does?
-Gary 17, www.torontomoon.ca
Listings preceded by an asterisk (*) are repeating weekly events. (Double asterisk indicates repeating event with different hosts/guest/etc.) Admission prices followed by a slash and minus (/-) after the amount indicates door charge with availability of cheaper rates for some purchases. /+ indicates stated price is minimum.
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*5-8> The Mediterranean Stars @ Castro’s, 2116 Queen St. E.. TO East ~Jazz
5-9> Lula All Stars for MOSAIC Of Music @ East Lynn Park, East Lynn Ave. @ Danforth Ave., TO East ~Jazz
6> The Morals @ Cameron House (front), 408 Queen St. W., TO
6:30> Kurt Neilsen @ The Rex, 194 Queen St. W., TO ~Jazz
7-11> Blues Night with Julian Fauth & guests @ Gate 403, 403 Roncesvalles Ave., TO West ~original Juno-winning Blues
7-9> Love & Le Blanc featuring David Love @ Vivian Lane (between Main Street N. and Theatre Lane), Brampton ~acoustic Pop
*7-11> open jam with Wayne Buttery Band @ The Beacon, 146 45th St., Wasaga Beach
7> Brian Haddelssey @ Black Horse Pub, 452 George St. N., Peterborough
*7:30-10:30> Peter Griffin & BTBs @ Relish, 2152 Danforth Ave., TO East ~Jazz
7:30> Right Rounders @ Tranzac Club (Southern Cross), 292 Brunswick Ave. TO ~old time music
7:30-9> Debbie Fleming’s Songs and Stories of Canada @ Artists’ Garden, 345 Balliol St., TO North ~Folk
7:30> fundraiser for This Magazine Summer Reading Issue @ Supermarket, 268 Augusta Ave., TO
*8-12> Girls Night Out Jazz singers jam with Lisa Particelli, Peter Hill et al @ Chalkers, 247 Marlee Ave., TO North-West
*8> open jam with Juggernaut Jam Band featuring Andy Narsingh @ Rockpile East, 2878 Eglinton Ave. E., Scarborough
*8-1> open jam with Wednesday’s Child feat. Johnny Bootz Hutt @ Lola, 40 Kensington Ave., TO
8> Andy de Campos Jazz Band @ Monarchs Pub (Eaton Chelsea Hotel), 33 Gerrard St. W., TO ~Jazz
*8-11> Fraser-Daley @ Inter Steer, 357 Roncesvalles Ave. TO West ~Roots/Blues
8> Vic Garden + Michael Kirkotovlof @ Free Times Cafe, 320 College St., TO ~songwriters; $6
8-1> Three Dads @ Timothy’s Pub, 344 Brown’s Line, Etobicoke South ~Pop Rock
8-1> Sarah Beatty’s Songbirds & open stage with Nicole Christian, Mimi Shaw, Hannah Naiman @ Moonshine Café, 137 Kerr St., Oakville ~songwriters; $6/pwyc
*8-11> open mic @ Frank’s Pasta, 426 King St. E., Cobourg
8:30> Morgan Davis album release for I Got My Own @ Hugh’s Room, 2261 Dundas St. W., TO West ~Blues master; $16/-
*8:30> Crazy Strings host High Lonesome Wednesdays with opening acoustic act @ Silver Dollar 486 Spadina Ave., TO ~Bluegrass
*8:30> open mic with Jenn Fiorentino @ Earl Of Whitchurch, 6204 Main St., Stouffville
*8:30> Something Country @ The Endzone, 1900 King St. E., Hamilton ~Country
*8:45> Bradley & The Bouncers @ Reservoir Lounge, 52 Wellington St. E., TO ~Jazz/Blues/R&B
*9> The Phil & John Show feat. Phil Naro @ Molly Bloom’s Waterloo, 170 University Ave., Waterloo ~acoustic Pop Rock
9> Ron Leary @ The Local, 396 Roncesvalles Ave., TO West ~Roots
9-12> Sean Peever @ Bar Radio, 615 College St., TO ~Roots; pwyc
*9> open mic with Skip @ The Queen’s Legs, 286 Eglinton Ave. W., TO North
*9> open mic with Sean Barker @ Monarch Tavern, 12 Clinton St., TO
9> The Northern Ramblers Roadshow feat. Greg McEvoy & The Great Novel @ Dakota Tavern, 249 Ossington Ave., TO West
*9?> jam with Michael Zane @ Shakers, 580 Kerr St., Oakville
*9-12> jam with Damage Control @ St. Louis Bar & Grill Ajax, 11 Harwood Ave. S., Ajax
9> Bruce Gorrie @ Simcoe Blues & Jazz, 926 Simcoe St. N., Oshawa
*9-1> open mic jam with Whiskey Birds @ Sweetz Lounge, 5289 Hwy 7, Woodbridge-Vaughan
9> Blue Cheese Brothers @ The Red Garnet, 231 Hunter St. W., Peterborough ~
*9:30> open stage with Nicola Vaughan @ Black Swan (downstairs), 154 Danforth Ave., TO East
9:30> Julien Dionne; Garage Baby @ C’est What, 67 Front St. E., TO ~comedy/variety; $10
9:30> Seamus Blake with Kirk MacDonald @ The Rex, 194 Queen St. W., TO ~Jazz
9:30> Saxy Sady & The It’s Not Just Jazz Cats @ Appolonia Café, 1504 Danforth Ave., TO East ~Jazz
*9:30-2> jam with Live Animals @ The Unicorn, 175 Eglinton Ave. E., TO North
9:30> The Carson Freeman Diversion @ Shore Grill, 71 Lakeshore Rd. E., Port Credit ~Pop Rock
10> J Swinnerton @ Cameron House (front), 408 Queen St. W., TO
10> Josh Cole and Friends @ Tranzac Club (Southern Cross), 292 Brunswick Ave. TO
*10-2> Blues-Rock jam with Bruce Domoney @ Grossman’s, 379 Spadina Ave. TO
*10-2> Paul & Curtis @ Roc’n Doc’s, 105 Lakeshore Rd. E., Port Credit ~Rock/Pop
10:30> The Undercovers @ The Hideout, 484 Queen St. W., TO ~indie Rock
*10:30> The LMT Connection @ Orbit Room, 580 College St. TO ~Funk/R&B; $10
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