Friday, March 23, 2012

Shotgun + Samson = success at CMF

Sackville, N.B. indie rock band Shotgun & Jaybird never did a lot for me, so I paid little attention to Jim "Shotgun Jimmie" Kilpatrick's solo albums until Transistor Sister made the Polaris Music Prize long list last year. I had a listen, really liked the record and, since nothing from my first ballot made the long list, I placed it first on my second Polaris ballot.

Joel Plaskett, who opened Canadian Music Fest with an electrifying performance way up in the CN Tower on Wednesday evening, told me last summer that Transistor Sister was one of his favourite records of 2011. And now Shotgun Jimmie is both opening for Weakerthans main man John K. Samson and playing guitar in his band on Samson's tour in support of his Provincial solo album.
Shotgun Jimmie

I can see why Plaskett and Samson are Shotgun Jimmie fans, as he's a fellow clever wordsmith and an eclectic artist with a knack for catchy pop/rock melodies. That was fully on display Thursday night at The Great Hall when Shotgun Jimmie played a 14-song, 40-minute solo set on electric guitar with occasional foot pedal percussion.

He's not the greatest guitarist, by any means, but his songs and friendly demeanour make me overlook that. And it obviously had no impact on the three young hosers standing at the base of the stage wearing homemade Shotgun Jimmie T-shirts.

I liked almost every number, but I'd call "Late Last Year," the new "Standing In A Line," "Too Many Flowers," "Stereo and the Stove" and "Bar's Closed" my favourites.

I stepped out for a bite to eat and missed the 10 p.m. band, but returned in time to listen to some fine tunes -- led by the Buzzcocks' "What Do I Get?" -- while Samson and company set up before starting in earnest at 11 p.m. when the set began the same way as Provincial does: with "Highway 1 East." Samson then switched from acoustic to electric guitar on another song about Winnipeg, "Cruise Night."
John K. Samson

That was followed by the excellent "When I Write My Master's Thesis" and the slow and sombre "Letter in Icelandic from the Ninette San" before we got our first Weakerthans song of the night, a solo version of "One Great City." Shotgun Jimmie and the bassist returned for the mellow "Bigfoot" and then Samson asked everyone to raise a toast to his favourite deceased goalie before reciting "Elegy for Gump Worsley."

An acoustic "Pamphleteer" was more than solid and Samson reached back to his youthful hockey memories again as the band returned for "www.ipetitions.com/petition/rivertonrifle/," the site of an online petition Samson is championing to get former Philadelphia Flyers sniper inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. About 1,350 people have signed since Samson got the ball rolling on June 19, 2010.

"Longitudinal Centre" rocked out as did a cover of Jawbreaker's "The Boat Dreams From The Hill." Things quieted down on the moving "The Last And," but that didn't last for long once "Highway 1 West" was cranked out. "Stop Error" provided a quiet conclusion to the set, but the obligatory encore brought three more songs.

Samson returned to the stage and asked the crowd for requests before playing The Weakerthans' "My Favourite Chords" and reaching further into his past with Propagandhi's "Gifts." Samson's bandmates departed again and he was left alone in the centre of the stage with his acoustic guitar as the audience hushed except for those who gently sang along to another Weakerthans song, Reunion Tour's "Virtute The Cat Explains Her Departure."

Just like the previous night when I'd seen two artists who left me satisfied enough to go home without hitting more clubs, I was pleased with how this evening unfolded and was home at a civilized 12:30 a.m.

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