Such a good time at Last Temptation Acoustic Wednesday last night, a new-ish open mic event in Kensington Market, hosted by singer/songwriter Jessica Speziale – with last night’s feature performer Kat Leonard (who performed on the eve of her birthday!) – and hanging out with my pal Lizzie Violet.
Jessica kicked off the evening with “Brace Yourself,” the first track off her CD Dear Reverie. I’d only ever heard her with her band, but there was nothing lost on this acoustic set of original tunes. This lady is a sultry bluesy powerhouse – and she can belt it! A bit later, she performed “Don’t Look Down,” my favourite ballad from the CD.
Next up were some open mic folks, starting with Toronto actor/musician Stephen MacDonald, a tall, slender young man in black with a smooth, soothing voice. Stephen performed a set of original tunes on a well-loved brunette guitar, a nice fusion of folk/rock/blues. Beautiful, poetic lyrics – this one really stuck out for me: “I’m a water-colour fighter nailed to the wall.”
Up next was Sky, from Austin, TX, also on guitar – and this man can play! – serving up a set of driving blues, a little gospel-infused and even a touch funkified on the last song.
Kat Leonard performed a set of songs from A Depper Kind of Love, opening with “Jockstrap,” as well as some beautiful cover ballads (“Alone,” “Cryin'” and “These Foolish Games”) – all sung in dedication to Mr. Depp. No matter how many times I see Kat perform the same songs of comedic heartbreak, it’s always different. Watching her move through the space as she performs, interacting (and even flirting – men and women alike) with the audience as she goes. During one song last night, she slow danced for a bit with one of the guys. Awesome! And I absolutely love how she can ad-lib “f**cking” into any song. And, of course, watching audience reaction – especially folks who are seeing her for the first time – so much fun!
Seeing as it was a school night, I wasn’t able to stay for the next round of open mic peeps, but I had a blast. There is so much amazing talent in this city – and lots of great venues to see them perform. And you don’t have to spend a lot of money, or any money in some cases, to see these folks. Acoustic Wednesdays at Last Temptation (275 Kensington Ave., Toronto – in the heart of Kensington Market) – check it out sometime.
Before I go – and I know I promised to not post too many cat anecdotes – here’s where I found Camille when I got up this morning.