Hey music lovers! This just in from Marketing/Promotions Director Tina McCulloch, who attended this music event last night:
Last night, the Studio at Alumnae Theatre was rockin’ with the musical stylings of Alumnae’s Rental Supervisor and frequent sound designer Angus Barlow (mandolin, guitar, vocals), and a band comprised of his friends Adam Orr (vocals), Toby Orr (ukulele, harmonica, vocals), Chris Bellsmith (bass, guitar, vocals) and Robin Pierson (percussion).
Billed as an evening of their favourite covers, it was a free event, with cash bar, ably [wo]manned by Alumnae’s Exec Producer PJ Hammond. An appreciative crowd – covering a wide spread of ages – filled the Studio, where seating had been slightly re-configured from the just-closed New Ideas Festival to include pub-like tables. There was drinking, don’t ya know. Frontman Adam Orr encouraged the audience to cross in front of the playing area to get to the bar (at stage left) or the bathroom (through the curtains, stage right) if necessary. And I guess we needed the encouragement, because right after he said that, PJ suddenly got a lot of customers at the bar!
After opening with Paul McCartney’s “Dance Tonight,” Adam announced that there would be no more danceable songs. “So if you didn’t get up for that one, it’s too late now!” It may not have been dance music, but the tunes the band played made for excellent listening, not to mention audience participation – more on that later. They covered stuff ranging from the Black Crowes’ “She Talks To Angels,” to James Taylor’s lovely lullaby “Sweet Baby James” to a funny mash-up of Hall & Oates’ “Maneater” (Angus and Toby doing a great job on the “Whoa here she comes” chorus!) with Stevie Wonder’s “Part-Time Lover.” It was all very casual – Adam razzed Angus: “You forgot the intro,” and Angus responded, “Oh, OK,” and played it! For a version of Steve Winwood’s “Back In The High Life,” Angus rocked out onstage, then strode through the audience while picking his mandolin.
Introducing the Jim Cuddy songs “Everybody Cries” and “Pull Me Through,” Adam mentioned that Ian Orr (father of Adam and Toby) had taught the Blue Rodeo guy during his high school years at Deer Park Collegiate!
They wrapped up the first set (“we cut down our set list, believe it or not”) with Toby Orr – who sounds uncannily like former Barenaked Ladies’ Steven Page at times – taking lead vocals on a gentle country-flavoured version of Plain White T’s “Hey There Delilah.”
The second set was even looser and more playful – both the band and audience had had a few beers by then. Toby, with a gleam in his eye and a wicked grin, set the tone with the hilarious “First of May,” whose lyrics include “outdoor fuckin’ starts today / Bring your favorite lady or at least your favorite lay.” This ditty was written and originally performed by Jonathan Coulton – I’d never heard of him, but he’s obviously a band fave – they did several of his songs. Angus followed up with a wry version of John Mayer’s “Who Says I Can’t Get Stoned,” and the band rocked out to Huey Lewis’ “I Want A New Drug” – dedicated to a friend in the audience who’s a big Huey Lewis fan. Toby also took lead vocals on Don McLean’s gorgeous “Vincent (Starry Starry Night),” with only his own ukulele and Angus’ guitar as accompaniment. That audience participation component came into play with a rendition of Jonathan Coulton’s zombie song “Re: Your Brains” – we were encouraged to sing along with the refrain “All we wanna do is eat your brains” (which is followed, in case you’re interested, by “We’re not unreasonable, I mean, no one’s gonna eat your eyes”!!). One of the final songs was the delightful “The Last Saskatchewan Pirate” by Kingston band The Arrogant Worms. Who could fail to be roused by a chorus of “It’s a ho-hey, hi-hey farmers bar yer doors /When you see the Jolly Roger on Regina’s might shores”?
Lighting design (and operation) for the evening was by Chris Humphrey, and the sound board was manned by Arizona Dixon. As Adam mentioned several times during the evening, the final show of Alumnae Theatre’s season is the world premiere of Catherine Frid’s dark comedy GuineaPigging, running April 15-30 on the Main Stage. The bartender PJ Hammond is co-producing (with Tabitha Keast) and Angus Barlow is the sound designer. Don’t miss it!
Thanks Tina. Sorry I missed this – but, alas, I was previously engaged last night.