Sounds of Sunday – yesterday’s MoSo FEST concert

Saskatoon always has something going on and, like usual, I’m the last to know about it. Via the Star Phoenix:

More than 50 international and local acts will take the stage at seven different venues across the city. The organizers hope to foster a growing event similar to Austin’s SXSW festival (which pairs a technology component with a music festival) or the awesome Sled Island Festival in Calgary, which features hundreds of bands at shows spread out across the city’s downtown core.

This festival will also feature plenty of your favourite local acts, giving Saskatoon (and Regina) artists a chance to play alongside exciting established acts.

As a listener of CFCR, I recognized a few of the bands listed, as they tend to feature a lot local music or highlight the music of bands in town for shows. Others, like two of the three last night, I’d never heard of before. (The third I only knew of because the Man used to know the artist fairly well and played me tracks from one of his albums. He’s toured Europe and Japan, so while his audience was small last night, it might not be the norm for him.)

The first musician last night never introduced himself and I didn’t get a chance to find out who it was until after the second set: Shuyler Jansen.

The short set he provided was quite good. I don’t have a clue what key he’d set his guitar in (he had one of those string clamp things) but I liked it. The chord progressions he used to move the songs along were unpredictable and odd to ears not used to his style already, but they certainly added a neat element. Listening to “The Next World” it’s actually putting me in mind of Joss Whedon’s work on Once More with Feeling.

The second player didn’t introduce himself either, but much of the seating at the Broadway Theatre filled up by the time it was his turn to play. He was clearly a favourite. I had to wait until after the whole concert to find out whose melodies and lyrics had made me bawl my eyes out. Turned out to be Damian Jurado. His solo acoustic choices for the evening put me in mind of Nick Drake, Rufus Wainright and Ron Sexsmith.

I was blown away by him. Truly blown away. Nothing more I can really say beyond that.

Well, okay. He was amusing near the end of his set as he got to chatting about the fact that he’d never been to Saskatoon before and admitted he’d never heard of the place before getting the invite. He made a few digs bout not understanding Canadians from the east and offered to sell us Washington and Oregon if we’d pay for them with our Kit Kat bars and a couple other things he apparently can’t get back home. A fan called out a song request around that time and he flat out refused to play it. He was hilarious as he explained why. Something like, “The only notes I play in that whole song is this series of notes,” which he demonstrated for about a minute. Since the rest of his usual players weren’t along to fill in the rest of it, he explained, there was no point in performing it. He also claimed he was using Saskatoon as the last concert where he’d play one of his songs. I think it was the one he called Ohio.

The place cleared out quite a bit once Damian was done but if soso was bummed about that once it was his turn, he didn’t show it.

The Man tells a nice story about him. Eleven or so years ago, soso was set to play at some club in Saskatoon, his home town. The Man, 17 years old and a stranger to the city (coming in just for that show), had no idea where the club was. He found soso’s number and called him up to ask for directions. soso obliged him. The two of them became friends after that, although they don’t see each other that often anymore. So it goes. I did encourage him to get up and say hello at least but he didn’t want to bother the guys setting up and, after the show, soso hurried off the stage and vanished into the back somewhere.

All in all, we had a fun filled musical evening.

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