Good times & great sounds @ NSAI Toronto Tin Pan North songwriter round robin

I was out at the Black Swan Tavern last night for the early round robin set of singer/songwriters, part of NSAI Toronto’s annual Tin Pan North music fest – featuring headliner Wendell Ferguson, with Tori Hathaway, Shaun Devlin and John Cheesman.

Host Jennifer Noble, a singer/songwriter herself, introduced the songwriters and off we went on a round robin of good country sounds. Hathaway (who is 15 years old) has been busy travelling and recording, and treated us to one of the songs she’s been working on in the studio: “I’m Ready,” a sweet, poppy song about new love. Devlin’s warm, folksy storytelling style paints pictures of relationships and places – my favourite is of a couple who play bars together and are still so much in love after all these years. Cheesman has a passionate, blues-infused sound – and “I’m Not Superman,” his heartfelt ballad about a friend coming to terms with his three-year-old son’s diabetes diagnosis, brought tears to my eyes. Ferguson’s songs combine outstanding musicianship with hilarious lyrics – mostly memorably, one song warning women against marrying a musician.

It was a great night of music, storytelling and friends – the upstairs bar at Black Swan feeling more like a kitchen party as each songwriter showcased his/her work. Here are some snaps I took last night:

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Tin Pan North continues today (May 24) – check out their schedule for the final day of music festivities, then get out there and support the artists.

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Erika Werry & the Alphabet: video for Think yer so Smart opening track “What”

For those of you, like me, who missed last night’s launch of Erika Werry and the Alphabet Think yer so Smart CD at The Piston – and with it the premiere of the video for the CD’s first track “What” – here’s the video:

For more Think yer so Smart tunage, check it out on the Erika Werry and the Alphabet Bandcamp page. You can also find them on the CBC Music site.

Erika Werry & the Alphabet upcoming CD launch: Think yer so Smart

4109506142-1Toronto Singer/songwriter Erika Werry recently gave me a shout about her upcoming Think yer so Smart CD release, recorded by her band Erika Werry and the Alphabet and featuring co-producer Ian Blurton on guitar. While I won’t be able to make it to the April 4 release this week, I was able to give it a listen so I could tell y’all about it.

An eclectic 14 tracks, Think yer so Smart is an energetic and soulful mix of folk, roots and alt country, with a bit of punk thrown in. The CD opens with punk rock rant “What” (the video will be premiering at the CD launch on Thursday), an anti-anthem for posers, tools and jackassery, changing gears in the next track with the bluesy country ballad “Matchless,” a hint of gospel flavour with its organ arrangement. “Neil” has a kicky pop sensibility, with playful guitar licks and a story of love from afar. Later tracks are poetic, lyrics painting a picture in the introspective “Uh Oh,” and in the wistful memories and haunting harmonies of “Shirley.”

The songs on Think yer so Smart move and breathe, with Werry exhaling each story with all the ache, heart and soul-searching of life – some with a driving beat, others comfy and slow – like sitting by a campfire, wrapped in a blanket. Check it out on the Erika Werry and the Alphabet Bandcamp page. You can also find them on the CBC Music site.

The launch for Think yer so Smart is Thursday, April 4 at The Piston (937 Bloor St. West – near Ossington) – doors open at 9 p.m. Opening acts include Tim Vesley (who also co-produced Think yer so Smart), and Lost and Profound. Erika Werry & the Alphabet will also be premiering their music video of “What” (the opening track on the CD). Tickets can be purchased at the door only: $15 with CD or $8 without.

Some cool trivia: Think yer so Smart was recorded at the Woodshed (Blue Rodeo’s studio) and the video for “What” was shot in Toronto last summer at Trinity Bellwoods Park on one of the most scorching hot days of the season.

Drop on by cowbell again after April 4 – I’ll have the vid link for “What” posted.