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Saturday, February 01, 2014

Calgary Folk Club: January 31, 2014

Calgary Folk Club
January 31, 2014
The Crooked Brothers
Del Barber
Cara Luft

The Saturday Morning "Before-Noon" Arts & Entertainment Review:

Calgary Folk Club

The Crooked Brothers
Del Barber
Cara Luft

Funny how life circles around and around. Being born and raised in Manitoba, I grew up on what I felt were some of the best music acts in the country, and have a substantial record collection from my 30+ years living there. My first published writing was back there as well, an entertainment column for a music paper back in the day. 

Now, here I am in Calgary, writing about theatre, writing and music - and last night, getting a chance to see how much the scene back home has grown with a Manitoba Night theme at the Calgary Folk Club.

How it has grown...

Openers The Crooked Brothers inspired murmurs throughout the audience during their first song, "Your Love Is A Ghost Town", with growling vocals that fell somewhere between Leon Redbone, Tom Waits, and the vocals on the Christmas classic "You're A Mean One, Mr Grinch". Captivating and then some!

Multi-instrumentalists, all taking turns on vocals, their set was a rousing tour of roots, folk and blues anchored by a bit of dark humour, and it all worked to win over the crowd. "Windsor Beer' made me smile, just one of several Winnipeg bars I used to DJ in years ago - happy to hear they are back to live music there...

We got to hear selections from their 2011 album "Lawrence, Where's Your Knife", "Deathbed Pillowtalk", and their upcoming EP "Postcard" - but you can find out more and order any or all of those at crooked Representing all that's right in today's folk scene, you really should get out and see them live as well...

The man in the middle last night was storyteller Del Barber, and man, can this gentleman tell compelling stories.

I could fill this review with his clever lyrics (I've got a sink for my dishes, and a sinking feeling for my heart), but you need to hear that for yourself. One of those creative sponges that can take in most anything and wring it out into a heartfelt recollection, songs like "Right Side Of The Wrong" and "The Waitress" showcased the delicate but delighting union of melody and lyric under his purvey. 

Mr. Barber has certainly developed his own voice, but their were times during his set last night you could hear a bit of roots icon Jim Cuddy. Barber elevates the humour aspect considerably though - his musings between songs were just as entertaining as the selections themselves.

It is an over-used cliche to say that Del Barber had the audience in the palm of his hand last night (technically, he had the neck of a guitar in a least one for most of the night), but the version of his song "Home To Manitoba", which detoured over to a tender singalong at the conclusion, may have been that right perfect moment of the night.

Visit his website!

Finally, former "Wailin' Jenny" Cara Luft took the stage - just about the time I realized that my oldest sister had sent me a copy of her "Darlingford" album for my birthday last year. 

That still did not fully prepare me for her ability to shine on a variety of stringed instruments - including banjo and acoustic guitar last night. I think I was enjoying one song on banjo too much to jot down the title, but that track was one of my favourites.

Of course, there were others that I did remember to right down, like the opening track to the aforementioned album, "Only Love Can Save Me", as well as the audience participation "Charged!". 

The virtuoso side shined in her conversions back and forth between melding traditional and modern folk, with "Black Water Side" highlighting her attention to detail in that regard. 

While she is working on a new album, hearing several tracks come to life from "Darlingford" was a real treat. Around the time of her encore, she made a comment to the effect that coming out on stage every night, and getting the reactions from the audiences gives her life.

It feels much the same for the audience on hearing your music, Ms. Luft...

Check her out at  

And although last night was COMPLETELY sold out, be sure to get in on what folk fans have known about for years. Visit The Calgary Folk Club.



Mrs That Dan Guy said...

Whoa! What a night. The two I had not heard before, The Crooked Brothers and Del Barber, were a true gift! When the Crooked Brother began singing their first song I got goose bumps and they sustained for their entire set. Del Barber, what an interesting gentleman. His humour is catchy, but he has the heart and depth of soul to blend with it, making him a treasure. I can't wait to hear both Crooked Brothers and Del Barber's CDs today.

ThatDanGuy said...

Listened to the CDs yesterday - wowzers!!!