Friday, June 10, 2011

Dog Is Blue & Anna Atkinson (live review)

Thursday was a special night at Tranzac, and not just because it was my birthday.  No, local folk duo Dog Is Blue teamed up with another local musician, multi-instrumentalist Anna Atkinson, for a double CD release party.

Dog Is Blue were up first, playing a set almost exclusively pulled from their new album Tortoise (review).  What sets the duo apart from the plethora of other folk-based indie acts is their knack for writing not just clever songs, but catchy ones as well.  Melodic and whimsical live renditions of "Southern Ontario", "People", and "She Said" only serve to reinforce that fact.

The standout for me may very well have been when Laura Heaney stepped up to the mic to sing, what else, "Laura's Song".  The song, which begins 'I like to read/I like to bake', reminds me of my wife (because those are things she likes to do) every time I hear it.

I hate a show in which the band simply perform and don't acknowledge the audience.  There was no risk of that as Paul Watson bantered and quipped between nearly every song.  It really helped the audience connect with the band and set a fantastic light atmosphere in the room.

Anna Atkinson had a more complex set-up.  Surrounded by a drummer, cellist, double-bassist, backing singer, and I couldn't even tell what else, she settled in nicely after some initial nerves.  On top of the band, Atkinson herself repeatedly swapped instruments, playing each of viola, accordion, keyboard, and guitar at various points.

Only having heard her album, Mooniture, once or twice before the evening, I came away quite impressed with Atkinson.  She sounds like Dar Williams singing Joanna Newsom songs topped with a whole lot of 'oh shucks' charmed.  It all adds up to something, and I use the word cautiously, adorable.

Overall the evening had a loose, comfortable feel.  It truly was more like a party with friends than a concert.  Not a bad option at all for a Thursday night.

Grayowl Point was at the show as well, and you may be interested in his take on things.

Dog Is Blue's website
Anna Atkinson's website

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