Last Friday I made my way to the Water Tower Inn to watch a band. I had been told by Greig Nori that it was a group of local musicians who get together about once a year, no practices, no live rehearsal, and they play Neil Young covers. The event sounded like a good way for this recent GTA transplant to start getting up to speed with the Sault live music scene.
I got to the Water Tower early. There was the usual bustling of musicians setting up, chatting with the patrons, a nice, loose vibe. As the pub filled, it was fun to watch how different people settled in for the show. A young couple dressed up for a night out, a little self-conscious being so nicely attired in an otherwise casual crowd. Some guys standing at the bar, on or two in suits, others in ball caps and plaid, a time for some beers and some laughs. A table of pals doing shooters. Two sports masochists were next to me, watching the Blue Jays staggering to yet another loss, a much ballyhooed rebuilding plan where the fans still pay championship contender ticket prices. The whole thing was so cool, and unpretentious as the lights went down.
And unpretentious might be the very best descriptor for the band and the terrific music that followed. Treble Charger guitarist Bill Priddle hosted the night, with an understated manner that gave his playing and singing additional force …. and some nice harmonica
flourishes, that plaintive sound giving songs like Harvest Moon a wistfulness, and real beauty. Jay Case, Mister Tahti, Trevor Tchir, and Nori each took the lead on different Young tracks, working in and out of this lineup with ease. Chris Johns anchored the rhythms with great drumming that complemented Frank Deresti’s fluid bass lines and harmonies.
These veteran musicians did not cover the iconic Young works on offer, so much as they seemed to embrace, and then rework them with skill, and a little panache as they drove the music forward. Could there have been less time between sets? Sure, but this is small beer compared to the music that was on offer last Friday night – for free.
It was a little gem of a night out for me. This transplant hopes that Bill and his mates might find ways to get together more often than just once a year. With Adrian Vilaca soon to launch his ambitious Sault-centred Borderline Radio across the Internet, it is not hard to imagine a live streamed gig that showcases these fine players.