A bunch of great acts played a pretty good show at the Garrison Tuesday night, all in support of the Daily Bread food bank.
Hosting the show was Phil Guerrero, who I realized later is the same Phil who used to host shows on YTV that I used to watch as a kid. It was a weird experience to see him so many years later (and barely looking a day older, I might add, in case he ever reads this review).
The first act of the night was Robyn Dell’Unto, a singer-songwriter from Mississauga. She was accompanied by a fiddler and after a song or two her sister, who provided some great vocals for parts of songs. Though Dell’Unto’s stage banter seemed a tad forced, her material made up for it. What was refreshing about the set was the genuine and honest lyrics to the songs. As far as Christmas songs go, Dell’Unto played a cool version of “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch” and ended her set with a holiday medley.
Following her was Graydon James & the Young Novelists. The group started off the set with three Christmas songs and featuring only half the band–three people. They started with “We Three Kings,” then “Silent Night” and finally “The Little St. Nick.” The latter made an absolutely stellar use of the band’s killer three-part harmonies. The other three band members joined in afterward and the stage looked like it could barely hold them all. They played a lively set, with their song “Alyson, Everything I Know is Wrong” getting a few audience members dancing.
The surprise act of the night was a pleasant surprise indeed- The Elwins. The trio was just as I remembered them last- cheerful and wholesome. Each and every song the band played seemed to delight the crowd as they played tracks like “Sitting Pretty” and “Time to Kill Time.” The bass player got particular attention for his awesome mustache.
Ending off the night was Rebecca Higgs and the Cassettes. It’s a shame that the Garrison cleared out as much as it did before this act took the stage because it shows that Higgs can basically do anything she sets her mind to when it comes to music. Where I thought six band members was pushing it previously, the Cassettes in their entirety was nine people- Higgs, two backup singers and six instrumentalists; each and every person was dressed sharply. The act played a bunch of great Motown covers of songs like The Angels’ “My Boyfriend’s Back” and the Ronettes’ “Be My Baby” along with a few original songs.
Higgs is an absurdly talented musician. Whether doing the electronica thing in Ruby Jean and the Thoughtful Bees, experimenting with her own solo music or doing Motown covers with a full band, there’s no doubt that Higgs should be way more famous than she is currently.
Despite the somewhat modest crowd, the show was definitely a success for the Daily Bread food bank who will see all of the proceeds helping them out. And for those who did come and see the talent the Garrison had to offer they definitely got some Christmas cheer.