Oh, Canada

16 04 2007


By Jill Ettinger

Canadians look like Americans; they even sound like us at times. But upon increased exposure, it becomes clear that there are vast differences. For one, music. The genres reflect a vast territory of frigid land. Long winters are embedded in their soundtracks, the faint glow of the northern lights seeping with eerie reflection.

I visited last week, privileged to see two great shows. One was via a good friend of InnerContinental, Canadian’s award winning Eccodek . I’ve heard the founder, Andrew McPherson, DJ before, but the live band was something else. Surreal, psychedelic and hypnotic beats become undeniable. They rocked Guelph, a small, conscious community an hour outside Toronto, alongside jam funk band Brainfudge. A lot of thinking arose regarding this type of remote living. Creativity flourishes in the quietude and introspective opportunities of such small towns. Living so close to Manhattan, I’m bombarded with the best music shows ad libitum. It’s impossible to see them all, and yet while sitting in a crowded, cozy club in Canada, I realized just how much art makes up our world family, despite our unawareness of it. Tucked away in the corners of our planet, this pulse is thriving and working its way into our hearts through musicians and artists creating in obscurity.

Over the course of the few days I spent in North Country, the phrase “kill them with kindness” kept popping into my head. Canada, I concluded, could obliterate us in a war if the concepts of humility and pleasantry were the only weapons. I was generously given many gifts: Besides the endearing charm and hospitality of new friends, I was treated to yet another incredible show, this one in Toronto proper. It’s always great to see live music of artists I’ve no expectation of. Kevin Breit, a guitar wild man (plays with Norah Jones), and Harry Manx put on an outstanding show at Hugh’s Room. The music of Breit and Manx is folky, bluesy and progressive. Manx plays the mohan veena with a Hindustani classical influence, banjo and guitar, blending alongside Breit’s unusually penetrating guitar into a harmonious convergence incredibly heart wrenching and purely, proudly, Canadian. I had to chuckle when they opened the show with none other than a cover of New Jersey’s favorite son, Springsteen’s “I’m On Fire.” Manx is particularly charming, he exudes a sexy sensibility in his use of classical Indian ragas, soulful voice and lightness in progression.

Despite my preconceived notions about rabid Moose attacks and Gordon Lightfoot sightings, I was showered with another side of Canada. Mapley sweet sweater clad Canucks, you’re all right after all.

Here’s Harry Manx’s gorgeous bluesy “Bring That Thing.”



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