Parsely - This is a solo act from Vanessa Degrassi of the fine (psyche) folk band, Pree. She sings and plays electric guitar tonight at the Paperhaus, which houses the band of the same name (one of whom is in Pree) and regularly schedules house shows such as we have tonight. The sound is fine for this simple approach and the room is full of music fans. Her songs range from good to stunning as she lays out some nice folk music with a subtle yet jarring psychedelic touch. Her voice reminds me of Licorice McKechie and the guitar is a more ragged electric take on the sound that Meic Stevens used to get. Psyche folk fans will certainly enjoy this, as will folk fans that can look beyond Judy Collins purity. Nice set.
The Distillery - This is a trio from Toronto who are touring throughout the midwest and east coast and are just working their way home this week. They play blues music which often does not excite me, but it does not take long before I realize that this band is not just an ordinary blues band. There are female vocals, acoustic guitar, and the third member rotates between harmonica and piano. The first song showcases outstanding harmonica. This is not one of my favorite instruments, but he plays it with great control of the volume and an incredibly smooth transition between notes. Shrill this is not. The vocals are excellent and also show a great understanding of dynamics and do not go off into pseudo-Joplin territory. The guitarist is fitting in nicely until the third song when he moves to the front of the sound and shows that he is one of the best guitarists you will likely see in a while, as he has incredible speed and touch. The three of them continue on with a softer lounge jazz take on the blues. They combine great style and substance and know how to work off of each other. This was an excellent set that went over extremely well with the crowd. Yet another great band from Toronto, even if one of the members disagreed with my assertion that Toronto's bands are much better than the more heralded Montreal. He may be right, but as I see or hear bands one at a time, I still believe Toronto is as vibrant a scene as anywhere.
Jonny Grave - Grave is a local blues guitarist/vocalist who at least recently is playing out all over the area, so there is not any excuse to miss him if you like the blues. And you should check him out as his electric guitar style is quite the pleasure. He has a stinging sound with nice slide moves. His vocals are assured and he plays plenty of obscure material along with the familiar electric blues sounds. There is a slight modern spacey sound at times which is welcome to me and his set moves along nicely, also going over well with the crowd. But as he mentions, this is a sharp bunch that knows and appreciates good music. He said it was far more intimidating than most of his shows where people are drunk at the bar, checking out the waitress or TV (or cellphone). Imagine that--people actually come to see musicians play and sit/stand and listen attentively the whole time. Check out this set some time. I will likely be doing it again.
Quote of the Night: Jonny Grave during a song setting up his solo... "Here's the part where I try to outdo the last guitarist. It won't work... ...Aw shit, told ya so. Expectations low". Yes, merely a good solo (followed by a really hot one after that).