Friday, March 29, 2013

Blackie Jackett Jr., Scott Kempner and Glen Matlock bring Canadian Music Festival to successful conclusion

The 2013 Canadian Music Festival concluded on a high note for me at the Rivoli with a set from some young veterans and two from veteran veterans.
Blackie Jackett Jr.

Blackie Jackett Jr. is a traditionally influenced country-rock outfit formed by Finger Eleven rhythm guitarist Rick Jackett and lead guitarist/backing vocalist James Black that released its Whiskey and Tears debut album in 2009. I’ve interviewed the duo (which has filled out to become a full band) a couple of times and liked the 14-song album a lot, but it had been two years since the last time I saw it perform so I was looking forward to its CMF set.

“It’s time to get inebriated,” Black sang in the opening number, which set the tone for a show full of songs celebrating drinking and getting drunk and high. (I was sober, so there was no way that I'm mistaken that a guy with a ventriloquist’s dummy sat down beside me and started talking.) Sandra Dee offered a nice vocal counterpoint to Black with her contributions, and there were also more women in front of the stage than I generally see for a band of this genre.

The set included Whiskey and Tears’ title track as well as staples “Dorothy,” “Stuck in Rewind,” “Married to the Highway” and “Burned (Fuck Me),” as well as new single “I Got Stoned and I Missed It.” Hopefully it won’t be too long before I hear a new album and see more shows, since a night out with Blackie Jackett Jr. is a good time.

Scott Kempner

Scott “Top Ten” Kempner is a founding member of The Dictators and The Del-Lords and has been playing with Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member Dion DiMucci for years, so the man has a rich pedigree and wide-ranging musical knowledge. He looked every inch the pompadoured rockabilly dude when he sat on a stool by himself with his acoustic guitar and opened an impressive set with The Del-Lords’ “Livin’ On Love” from its criminally overlooked 1984 debut album, Frontier Days, which showed how well rock-and-roll could mesh with country, pop, blues and folk influences.

Kempner’s voice and guitar tone sounded great as he continued with Del-Lords favourites “Burnin’ in the Flame of Love,” “Cheyenne” and “Heaven,” the Latino rockabilly-flavoured “Listening to Elvis,” “Stolen Kisses,” a wonderful cover of The Reflections’ 1964 hit “(Just Like) Romeo and Juliet” and ending with The Dictators’ “Stay With Me,” which was dedicated to the ailing Tommy Ramone, who Kempner replaced on this tour with former Sex Pistol and Rich Kid Glen Matlock.

The Del-Lords have reunited and have a new album called Elvis Club coming out on May 14, so Kempner introduced “Flying” and “Damaged” from it. I’m happy to say that they sounded as good as anything from the band’s ‘80s glory days.

Kempner offered a few amusing anecdotes between songs and, after noticing that I was the only person standing in front of the stage and that I expressed more appreciation than anyone else during his set, he gave me his song list and we had a great conversation for half-an-hour at the end of the night. He’s a genuinely good guy with lots of interesting stories to tell since he’s seen and done so much over a music career that now dates back almost 40 years. I wish I had my recorder with me. Kempner said he’d be back to Toronto with The Del-Lords, and that will be a show that you shouldn’t miss.

Glen Matlock

Glen Matlock was the Sex Pistols' original bassist and co-wrote 10 of the songs on Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s The Sex Pistols, but he’s largely a forgotten man since most people think of Sid Vicious playing bass (or at least sometimes trying to) with the Pistols. I’ve seen Matlock with the Pistols during two of their reunion shows, but tonight was a chance to see him on his own with an acoustic guitar playing songs from throughout his career.

After a number of angry and confused senior citizens looking for Andy Griffith were asked to leave the premises, Matlock opened with “Somewhere Somehow” that prompted the still relatively modest audience to move forward to the stage. That was followed by “A Different World” and then The Rich Kids’ “Burning Sounds,” which was inspired by Matlock’s favourite ‘60s bands. Matlock asked the audience to clap out a rhythm for the Pistols’ “God Save The Queen.” The crowd sang along and, while I enjoyed Matlock’s acoustic take, it obviously didn’t have anywhere near the impact of the original.

The audience was asked to sing along to the chorus of “Hard Work” and Matlock performed “Ambition” (which he co-wrote and performed on for Iggy Pop’s underrated 1980 album Soldier) in a blues style. The Rich Kids signature song, “Ghosts of Princes in Towers,” was next and provided a small thrill.

Matlock’s cover of The Kinks’ “Dead End Street” was okay, but paled in comparison to Ray Davies’ rendition. The covers continued with Scott Walker’s “Montague Terrace (In Blue)” and the best of them, “(I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone” (which has been done by Paul Revere & The Raiders, The Monkees, the Sex Pistols, The Farm and many others).

“Yeah Right” may have been my favourite from Matlock’s solo catalogue, but he also performed “On Something” and “Born Running” before ending with the Pistols’ “Pretty Vacant’ that left me feeling pretty much the same way as his “God Save The Queen” did. 

Glen Matlock and Scott Kempner

Matlock elected to do an encore and called Kempner up to join him on a cover of The Faces’ “All or Nothing,” which ended things on a high and continued my Faces kick that began a week earlier at the South by Southwest Music Festival by hearing The Split Squad cover “Sorry, She’s Mine” and then Ian McLagan doing “You’re So Rude.”


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