Oh Canada

Carolyn Mark is funny. I first saw her a few years ago at a Canadian showcase at SXSW, where she was hanging out with her fellow Corn Sister, Neko Case. Playing without her band, but totally at ease on stage, unflappable, sharp as a razor, she breezes through one-liners (“sing along, bartenders, I bet you’re in a band too!”) into the kind of humorous songs that a less dour Lucinda Williams could write. She stands astride in her sensible print dress and black boots, and details the life of musicians on the road, the life of “another other woman“, and men who drink white wine (she’s against). In honor of the Alphabet Lounge’s location at Avenue C and 7th, she offered us a snappy little number in C7th and recounted meeting earlier, at Zum Schneider across the avenue, a stock broker who used to play the guitar and the piano. “Used to play? Like there’s an on/off switch and you can stop?”

Langhorne Slim is a funny-looking guy. With his small hat, Buster Keaton face, and nasal whine of a singing voice that rises to a grating, wobbly shout (and is totally unlike his perfectly normal speaking voice), he’s not the most accessible performer! He’s a very good blues-based guitarist, and he writes excellent songs, but that voice… It’s definitely interesting, and maybe it does grow on you after a while, but I can’t help thinking that he’s trying to imitate the sonic quality of bad recordings of Robert Johnson!

And so CMJ 2003 fades into the night. Back to our regular schedule. Oh, and don’t mind the weird-looking quotation marks. I did not write the scripts, and there are odd things going on that I haven’t had time to figure out yet. Why resort to Unicode tadpoles when the double quote is a perfectly sensible ASCII character completely escapes me.

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