Dog Is Blue and Anna Atkinson charm the Tranzac

Dog is Blue (photo by Karol Orzechowski)

by Michael

It was a big night for Toronto bar the Tranzac, as there was a double CD release party happening. Dog Is Blue were promoting their latest album Tortoise while multi-instrumentalist Anna Atkinson was promoting her debut album, Mooniture (the story behind that name is coming up later in the article).

Dog Is Blue went up first and kept the crowd (and it was quite a gathering for the Tranzac) going with a great set of tunes and witty stage banter as well as very charming chemistry between the band’s two members Paul Watson and Laura Heaney.

The duo played a set consisting of entirely (except for one) songs from Tortoise. They started off their set with “Slow Boat to China.” That song, according to Watson, is a song the two never played while on tour because they apparently kept messing it up.

The set did have at least one instance of mic feedback and a few messups, but Dog is Blue made up for it. Watson talked quite a bit between songs, often recounting funny stories while touring. He also told the audience that himself and Heaney had recently gotten engaged.

Watson and Heaney have a fantastic chemistry on stage. This was felt most in two places. One was the song “People.” The song has a keyboard riff midway through the song and it was amusing watching Watson look accusingly in Heaney’s direction so she could start the solo. The other moment the chemistry was apparent was when they played the one non-Tortoise song “Raise Your Dead” where the two pulled out neon lights that they put on their fingers. Watson joked that it wouldn’t fit over Heaney’s engagement ring.

Closing off the night was Anna Atkinson. Before that night I knew nothing about her, and I have learned that she is very, very talented. Over the course of the night she played a violin, banjo, accordion, keyboard and guitar (I may have forgotten one). Atkinson was also quite charming with her on-stage banter. In between songs she joked about how she’s not used to dressing up, particularly because for her day job in Stratford she has to dress like a “butch cowboy.”

Atkinson also had help from a mini-orchestra of drums, double bass and cello, among others. It added punch to some of her songs like “Old Man” which Atkinson wrote after hearing a man’s life story in Victoria.

The one fault in her performance was when a technical malfunction forced Atkinson to pass some time somewhat awkwardly. However, once that got out of the way the rest of the set was really great. Atkinson is very, very humble and thanked her band something like three times over the course of the set.

Her album name Mooniture has an interesting story behind it (the word comes from moon furniture). In a nutshell, she had just been dumped and found that being dumped is like the moon exploding. It can seem traumatic, but everything will still end up being okay.

The crowd was very appreciative of both acts and deservedly so. Apparently Dog Is Blue and Anna Atkinson supported each other a lot during their respective recording sessions so it was only fitting that the two have a dual release party.

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