(Toronto, ON Canada)
November 15, 2006
Gig Review - Sebastian Cook - Live Music Report
“As good as it gets,” is how Gary Topp introduced the quintessential Toronto bluesman Michael Pickett to open the second show of a spectacular doubleheader with U.K. soul sensation James Hunter; in front of two packed and hugely enthusiastic crowds at Lula Lounge. That said it all, both in terms of the individual artists and musical pairing. The delta blues and soul/R&B double was a journey right through the heart of American roots music, from their early days to their modern meaning.
I was struck immediately by Pickett’s uncanny resemblance to Democratic political strategist James Carville. Tonight he was cast perfectly in the role of the sage, right down to his road-worn and incredibly resonant hollow-body guitar. Sure enough, he took notice of my presence with a notebook at the table in front and said “We have a member of the press here,” which in front of such a busy room was cause for crimson turning. “Write that down,” he continued in his thunderous and gravelly voice. “The great thing about the press is that they’ll print whatever you say.” Or in this case, play.It was the perfect thematic and metaphoric segue into his first song which rang out, “The President’s up in the White House / bombs dropping down like showers / CNN’s got that covered / no matter what I do, that image burnin’ in my mind.” Nothing captures the outrage of these wag-the-dog times like slow burning Delta blues.
© 2006 Michael Pickett