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MUSIC REVIEW (Live)
Jim Bryson, Justin Rutledge
Live at the Black Sheep Inn, Wakefield QC

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Date: Saturday December 17, 2005


After almost a year absent from the Ottawa scene touring as Kathleen Edwards' guitarist/keyboard player, Bryson returned to the Black Sheep Inn in Wakefield, Quebec (just north of Ottawa) for what has become his traditional holiday show in the scenic lakeside village.

Opener Justin Rutledge opened the show with a solo acoustic set featuring some crowd-pleasing songs like "Too Sober To Sleep" and "Lay Me Down Sweet Jesus" from his debut album. Despite his apparent unease on stage, he finished the set by eschewing the microphone, standing on a chair in front of the stage, and getting the crowd to join him in a singalong of a "song about landlords and candy, which everyone can relate to."

Bryson took the stage with backing band consisting of mainstay drummer Peter Von Althen, producer Dave Draves on bass and piano and Jeremy Gara (currently the drummer for Arcade Fire) on guitar and keyboards. Bryson broke the "golden rule" (as he put it) of never playing more than four new songs in a night, by playing seven new songs. If these songs are any indication, his new album (ETA unknown) will be a little less poppy, and perhaps a little more introspective and hypnotic than his previous albums. The band had only practiced a few times together and it showed at times, such as Draves completely forgetting the bass line to one song, but Bryson's songs are not about perfection and the band plodded along with determination. The full-band songs were interspersed with solo songs by Jim and various banter about people talking during songs, Blackberry devices and Swiss Army knives.

In the end the crowd left the humid club and headed out in the snowy night hoping for a new CD sooner rather than later.

Steve Donnelly Email WWW

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