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MUSIC REVIEW (Live)
Craig Cardiff, Matthew Barber, Julie Fader
Live at Black Sheep Inn, Wakefield Quebec

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Black Sheep Inn Wakefield Quebec

Date: Saturday April 7, 2007


The sleepy little village of Wakefield, Quebec, nestled in the Gatineau hills and hugging the river of the same name, is home to one of indie music's best-kept secrets, The Black Sheep Inn. This weekend featured a bevy of touring talent including Sunparlour Players, Matthew Barber, Craig Cardiff, Dave Evin, Julie Fader.

Friday night began with the relentless marching-band drone-rock of Sunparlour Players. Despite the plural name, the "players" consisted solely of Andrew (Penner) Sunparlour who pounded out Arcade Fire-esque anthems solo with one foot on a kick drum pedal, the other on bass pedals a la Geddy Lee/Eddie Van Halen, and alternately strumming and sliding on banjo and resonatory guitar (often referred to as a dobro). Penner wailed and yelped his way through a solid set of emotionally charged tunes between plugs for his (their?) CD and home-made mustard.

Julie Fader followed the hard act to follow with her folkier tunes. Looking and somewhat sounding like Suzanne Vega's sibling, Fader (formerly MacDonald, formerly of Hamilton's flux / flux a.d.) entertained the always attentive crowd with her simple acoustic tunes and unaffected voice, accompanied by moody electric guitar and keyboards.

Last up on Friday was Matthew Barber, somewhat well-know these days for his radio-friendly unit shifter "SOft One". Barber played mostly solo acoustic but still did justice to full-band songs like Soft One and solidly interpreted the more acoustic material from his catalog.

Saturday night commenced once again with Andrew Sunparlour's sweaty wailing which was once again well-received by the crowd, especially the cowbell-imbued final number of the set.

Dave Evin was up next. Pounding away on his toy-like piano (a Hohner Pianet), Evin regaled the crowd with his humourous tales of rocking receptions, tooth-brushing and general observations on everyday life, falling somewhere in the wide spectrum between Ben Folds, Moe Berg and Al Yankovic.

Craig Cardiff finished off the chilly night and like all those before him, complemented the crowd on their respect and attentiveness, a standard occurrence at the Black Sheep where much of the crowd has to make the significant drive from Ottawa and therefore wants to get their money's worth. Cardiff's distinctive style occasionally evoked aural images of Dave Matthews, Counting Crows and even occasionally a Peter Gabriel-like rasp.

All in all the weekend presented a variety of folk-tinged rock that is indicative of the wealth of talent in Canadian music these days.

Upcoming shows at the Black Sheep include Final Fantasy, and Jim Bryson's CD release shows. If you're ever in the area, check out a show, you won't be disappointed by the venue or its surroundings.

Steve Donnelly Email WWW

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