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Feels good: Lightfoot tribute satisfying

Chris Marchand

Chris Marchand served as editor of the Dryden Observer from August 2009 to April 2018.
The full cast of ‘The Way We Feel: A concert celebrating the songs of Gordon Lightfoot during the encore. From left are: Kevin Fox, Oh Susanna, Lori Cullen, Dave Woodhead, Jory Nash, Jason Fowler, Dave Mathesonand Peter Katz. Photo by Chris Marchand

By Chris Marchand

Lori Cullen’s soaring performance of Gordon Lightfoot’s ‘If You Could Read My Mind’ was one of those perfect zen moments for me, where you are not troubled by the past or the future, but where every sense is keenly tuned to the present and there is no place else you’d rather be.

Some people meditate for it, practice yoga, float in dark tanks of warm salty water to try to achieve a bodiless state where time doesn’t exist. Sometimes, if you’re open to it, it happens right in front of you on a lit stage.

Moments frozen in time. It’s an apt metaphor for the Lightwood songbook. Ghosts of love, longing, loss and regret, of tales offered for posterity across a sea of time.

I myself had a moment of regret. Why just earlier that day I was talking out my arse to my colleague Michael, with that false sense of authority that middle age often inspires.

‘You see, the thing about Gordon Lightfoot is, he’s only got one or two good songs, the rest are Jim Croce songs that people misattribute to him.’

I walked home from the show with a belly full of my own ignorant musings, properly chastised, set straight.

Maybe it was the care and attention with which one of the evening’s musicians, Jory Nash, had curated the traveling show from a long-running annual event at the former Toronto venue Hugh’s Room — gathering staples of the Toronto music scene to put their own stamp on Lightfoot tunes.

The house band, consisting of guitarist Jason Fowler, bassist Dave Woodhead and pianist Dave Matheson were wonderfully dynamic and tasteful in fleshing out the three-song sets of Peter Katz, Lori Cullen, Jory Nash, Kevin Fox and Oh Susanna.

I tended to gravitate towards some of the more novel interpretations of Lightfoot’s songs, like Cullen’s jazzed up version of ‘Rainy Day People’ and Cellist Kevin Fox’s plucky looped versions of ‘Carefree Highway’ and ‘The Circle Is Small’.

While I’m sure Nash and company get enough flack for omitting ‘The Wreck of The Edmund Fitzgerald’, I’m sure they have a hundred reasons I’d probably agree with for not disturbing that sacred ghost. After all, you gotta leave something for Gord.

A great kick-off to the Dryden Entertainment Series season that returns to the stage Oct. 18 for an evening of acoustic music with Canadian East Coast pop legends of the 1980s and 90s, Glass Tiger.

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