I wanted to shorten this to a top 10, but can’t. Even looking at this list, there are some painful omissions. Check it out, and please consider commenting with your own top 10 list or your thoughts/comments/reactions/rebuttals!
April 6 – Old Man Luedecke w/Del Barber – Folk Exchange – not only a great chance to see the amazing Old Man Luedecke up close and personal (what great songs), but also my first chance to see Del Barber. I went in not knowing who he was and not really wanting to care, and left a superfan for life.
April 16 – Matthew Ryan – Sauce & Spirits Sound Bar (Minneapolis) – amazing show full of amazing moments. He kept trying to get comfortable in the odd, noisy bar, eventually taking the show to the floor in front of the stage, before abandoning the mic to go play unplugged in the middle of the room. He also did Guilty for an encore. He was also a super nice guy and let us sell his CDs for him (which were very cheap ($10) and surprisingly plentiful)
April 17 – Matthew Ryan – Project Lodge (Madison Wisconsin) – well worth the long drive to this strange little town that gets a ton of great shows. Odd venue that I don’t recommend, and some very unusual people in the very small crowd, but what a show. He sang Cars & History right in front of me (almost stepping on my toes.) Shoulda gone to Chicago the next day…
June 18 – Del Barber CD Release – West End – Del Barber is the bomb in just about any incarnation, and this show illustrated that nicely, with a tasteful solo set and an amazing full-band production. To put on that kind of a show and almost sell out the West End so young and only two albums in? Watch out for this kid!
June 19 – The Jayhawks – First Ave. (Minneapolis) – seeing this legendary band in their home town was an amazing treat. Unfortunately, I screwed up and almost missed the show entirely, showing up as they were already on. I got stuck far away, surrounded by really annoying jerks. Still, they did not disappoint. I’d go see this band again anywhere, any time.
July 7-11 – Winnipeg Folk Festival – Birds Hill Park
(highlights: Gregory Alan Isakov, Hoots & Hellmouth, Jim Bryson & The Weakerthans, John Hiatt, The Swell Season,)
July 22 – NQ Arbuckle – Times Change(d) – The guy played for well over 2 hours with a full band, played amazing song after amazing song, told great stories, was a super nice guy, and it only cost $10 to get in. Take that, Neil Young.
Aug. 4-8 – Edmonton Folk Festival – Gallagher Park
(highlights: Calexico, Brandi Carlile, Alejandro Escovedo, Colin Hay (concert, NOT interview…), Dave McCann, Van Morrison, John Prine)
August 13-15 – Trout Forest Music Festival – Ear Falls, Ont.
(highlights: Matt Andersen, Del Barber, Ginn Sisters, Fish & Bird, Christina Martin, Oh Susanna, Leeroy Stagger)
September 17 – John Wort Hannam w/Danny Schmidt – Café Vogelsang house concert – I saw John Wort 3 times on this trip (including a great show in my living room), but this one stands out, largely because of the set by Danny Schmidt and John’s amazing Guy Clark story.
November 27 – Del Barber – Café Vogelsang house concert – Again, what can I say about this kid? I went to this knowing it would be good, but not expecting to be blown away, having already seen him so many times in one year. But amaze me, he did, with a bunch of new songs, some amazing stories that I hadn’t heard, and just a great all-around performance. He connected with everyone in the crowd, and once again proved that he is the real deal and is someone to watch for in the future. This was the house concert of the year (and I saw and hosted some great ones!)
December 4 – The Lowest of the Low w/Jim Bryson & John K Samson – Lee’s Palace (Toronto) – Wow, what a trip. To get to see one of my favourite bands of all time reunite for a wildly appreciative hometown crowd and do my favourite album of all time front to back, was a treat I don’t think I’ll ever forget. Throw in two of my other faves of all time as an opening act, a marathon energetic encore, some great new T-shirts (right Jaine?), a cool in-store appearance that afternoon, and the new DVD Low Roads, which features ME, and you’ve got the makings of one of the best events of all time. In fact, this may be the best show I’ve ever seen, anywhere, any time. Sorry Rodney.
December 18 – The Weakerthans (Reunion Tour + other 3) – Walker Theatre – Another wow. I admit, I had become a little bored by Weakerthans live shows – they’re just too perfect and just too predictable, but pulling out all the stops and doing all 4 of their albums in their entirety, in ONE NIGHT was impressive, to say the least. Left & Leaving is another of my favourite albums of all time, and to hear it all was unbelievable. Plus, I was joined by my two favourite ladies of all, Jaine and Elysha, and they seemed to enjoy it. Life doesn’t get much better than that.
Promises to be amazing (hope I can go…)
December 31 – Del Barber (Springsteen tribute) – Park Theatre – This promises to be epic. Can someone lend me the dough to go, and watch Jeremy for me? Please?
Discovering Del Barber – April 6 – Old Man Luedecke w/Del Barber – Folk Exchange
September 21 – Sweet Thing (opening for Justin Nozuka) – West End – thanks to Eugene for weaseling me into this and introducing me to this super fun live band. It’s pretty poppy, silly stuff, but man, are they entertaining live. The band includes Nick Rose, one of the best young singer/songwriters that you’ve never heard of, and if this band continues its meteoric rise to fame, perhaps, sadly, you never will.
October 6 – The Wooden Sky – West End – they came out and played a few songs in the lobby, and had a huge crowd signing along. Amazing end to a pretty great show.
Most expensive, most boring, most overhyped, least memorable show of the year:
July 27 – Neil Young – Concert Hall – I was so excited to see one of my life-long idols perform an intimate solo show. It was way too expensive ($250 !), way too short, absolutely lacking in surprises (same set list every damn night), and Neil showed absolutely no connection to the crowd (never spoke.) The opening act was horribly boring. All in all, a complete waste of time & money. I’m still glad I went, just so I know that it’s time to give up on Neil and stick with performers that care about an audience.
April 6 – Matthew Barber – Lo Pub – I love Matt Barber, but paying $16 to see a short solo show didn’t leave a good taste in my mouth. I found him pretty boring solo, and the venue & crowd made it a little uncomfortable and unpleasant.
April 22 – BOP Ensemble – West End – first, again, nobody shows up to see what promised to be an amazing night. Second, even the most engaging member of the band Jasmine Ohlhauser, didn’t show up! It was legends Bill Bourne and Wyckham Porteous, but something about not having Jas there made the guys take the show less seriously maybe. I was really looking forward to the show, but left pretty disappointed.
August 12 – Christina Martin – Sunset Saloon – not because of Christina, because she was charming and amazing and wonderful, but because it was so much work to get people to come out to see one of my favourite songwriters in the world in my own damn living room. Jaine even made a special ice cream and gave it away free. And still, only 20 or so people came. It made me question whether I should do any more house concerts.
September 3 – Nathan – Old Market Square (lunch hour concert) – only because the sound was so horribly bad
February 11 – Haiti fundraiser w/John K Samson, Ridley Bent, Nicky & Ruth (Wailin Jennys), and Daniel ROA – West End – Amazing show, great lineup, great cause, well promoted, and yet, NOBODY was there to see/support it