Country front and centre at Aeolian on Friday night
It was an evening of sweetheart heartbreak at Aeolian Hall Friday night as a double-bill of two musical couples ran through an evening’s worth of country laments.
London’s Tom and Tara Dunphy of the Rizdales and Michael Weston King and Lou Dalgleish of UK’s My Darling Clementine made for a quietly dazzling night of pure country music straight out of Nashville by way of both Londons.
The Rizdales were not in full-force that night as the Dunphys were accompanied only by guitarist Blair Heddle. Despite that seeming drawback, all three of them revelled in the sparseness, allowing the songs to stand front and centre and the sound to rumble evocatively throughout the Aeolian. Taking full advantage of the relaxed yet atmospheric backing, the trio tackled material they admitted they hadn’t played in years. As such the mournful title track of How The Marriage Ended and Radio Country’s This Is My Story were marked by an aural expansiveness and starkness rare for the usually boisterous Rizdales. Although there are few country pleasures that top that of a Rizdales barroom gig, their Aeolian Hall performance revealed a more relaxed yet pensive side that the venue and an attentive audience allowed them to explore. It was a different Rizdales on stage. They should do it more often and soon.
For their part My Darling Clementine showed why they’ve become a critical sensation across the pond. Michael Weston King has been described as a cross between Nick Cave and Rodney Crowell while his wife Lou Dalgleish is a superb country heartbreaker with a voice that has elicited comparisons to Tammy Wynette. Although their acclaimed CD How Do You Plead? boasts a backing band with a liberal smattering of British vets of bands like Graham Parker’s Rumour, and Nick Lowe’s touring outfit, they took the Aeolian stage armed only with King’s guitar, Dalgliesh’s tambourine and a liberal sprinkling of Brit charm and droll wit.
Their show focussed fairly tightly on their new CD How Do You Plead? with a few covers tossed in for both good effect and occasional tribute. In particular Dalgleish’s solo take on Elvis Costello’s Indoor Fireworks was both hypnotic and moving in a way made Costello’s take sound rote by comparison. The Costello tribute continued with their cover of George Jones’ A Good Year For The Roses, covered rather well by Costello on his Nashville record some years back.
At one point in the evening King shouted out a quick survey of how many audience members were ‘real country fans’. The strong applause reassured him that they were in front of the right audience.
The reverse was also true of course. The satisfied Aeolian patrons knew this was a night of real country music. That it was also superb was a given.
Bob Klanac has been scribbling about music since he was young enough to know better. For more, go to klanac.blogspot.com. Watch for his Reviews online at beatmagazine.ca and his Sound Bites columns in The Beat.
Fiddler on the Loose: The Show Created for the Talent
Fiddler on the Loose
Directed by David Rogers
Choreography by David Hogan and Adele McKenzie
Musical direction by Mark Payne
Performed by Jess Grandmont, Stephanie Cadman, Diane Chase, Janelle Murray, with Alex Baerg, Dan Baerg, Klinger’s lix, Mark Laidman and Mark Payne.
Victoria Playhouse, Petrolia
May 15 to June 2, 2013
Fiddler on the Loose is billed as “Country, Celtic and a Dash of Classical” – and yes, it’s all that and more. They could have added Broadway, jazz, and comedy. With regards to other musical revues, I’ve said in the past “There’s something for everyone” but in Fiddler on the Loose, it’s definitely true.
Six Funny Ladies: A trilogy of dramatic stories
Six Funny Ladies
By Paul T. Gantt, Maud Merritt and Betty Smith
Produced by Heather May
Presented by Maybles' Productions
Directed by James Wybrow
Set, Lighting, Sound Design: Heather May
Costume Design: Diane Haggerty
With Diane Haggerty, Shelley Levi, Liz Marra, Heather May, Edie Nemeth, Catharine Sullivan
The ARTS Project
Until May 18, 2:00 & 8:00 p.m. show Sat.
As a tribute to the courageous women who kept the North American economy and way of life going during the Second World War, while their husbands, sons, and fathers were off fighting for freedom, this trilogy of one act plays works. I encourage audiences for today’s shows to go and enjoy Six Funny Ladies on that basis but it does not work as a comedy trilogy.
Sullivan & Gilbert: A Story Celebrating Balance Lacks Balance of Its Own
Sullivan and Gilbert
By Ken Ludwig
Music by Arthur Sullivan
Lyrics by William S. Gilbert
London Community Players
Directed by Ceris Thomas
Played by Phil Arnold, Joel Dell, John White, Monica Maika, Rachel Sherret, Dean Gregory, Rod Culham, Duane Woods, Andrew Richardson, Grace Barnhart, Kristina Baron-Woods, Hillary Greet, Ted Winter, Moria Gray, Tricia Colvin, Becky Lenko, Dale Hirlehey and Jamie Kim
During one scene in the London Community Players’ production of Sullivan & Gilbert, Alfred, the Duke of Edinburgh (portrayed by Matt Stewart) attempts to right a painting that’s hanging askew. The painting stubbornly refuses to stay level, which ends up being an apt metaphor for this “play with music.”
Guys and Dolls: Rolling the Dice
Guys and Dolls
Written by Jo Swerling and Abe Burrows
Music & lyrics by Frank Loesser
Directed by Tadeusz Bradecki
Choreography by Parker Esse
Musical direction by Paul Sportelli
Performed by Elodie Gillett, Kyle Blair, Jenny L. Wright, Shawn Wright, Thom Allison, et al
Festival Theatre, Shaw Festival, Niagara on the Lake
April 12 to October 12, 2013
The action begins in Guys and Dolls with a plethora of characters moving around the stage in all directions. You don’t know where to look first – the bum drinking out of his flask hidden in a paper bag? The bobby-soxers giggling? The lady tossing her fur stole over her shoulder? The big musical dominating the stage this year at the Shaw Festival promises lots of action in the exciting opening number.