Discover more from Airplane on the Highway
Fierce Grace and TIFF, too
Alabaster dePlume + Toronto live music listings
This week’s freelance writing gig has been writing an encyclopedia entry about the Tragically Hip. I know a thing or two about that band. Been listening to Yer Favourites as a refresher — honestly, the first time I’ve spent any time listening to the Hip since overdosing during The Never-Ending Present five years ago. Good band! But this week’s record has nothing to do with that:
Alabaster dePlume – Come With Fierce Grace
This is an amazing album title. It’s what I’ll tell all my lovers from now on.
But seriously, folks, Alabaster dePlume is the nom de plume of Angus Fairbairn, a London saxophonist who flutters and dances over sparse percussion on his latest album, recorded with a series of young players at the Total Refreshment Centre — a UK hub for new jazz talent. There’s at least one ringer in the mix: drummer Tom Skinner (Sons of Kemet, The Smile), who appears on this track:
I first encountered dePlume on this compilation of his instrumental work, which, to my knowledge, was his first record released in the U.S., on Chicago’s fascinating International Anthem label. It came out in February 2020: perfect timing, as the gentle, healing music on it came in very handy, very quickly. dePlume is a professional healer: he worked as a mental health support worker (maybe he still does? do people make money playing ambient jazz?) before his music attracted more attention.
The follow-up, 2022’s Gold, was more upbeat and had too much spoken word for my liking. But the same sessions for that album resulted in this really strong new record, which was sculpted from improvisations. It’s mostly saxophone and percussion, although there are some lovely songs on it, like this one sung by Momoko Gill:
dePlume’s saxophone tone is interesting: it’s breathier than most, and with a vibrato, like eastern European or Ethiopian players, achieved through an embrochure technique utilizing a quavering lower jaw. (I am a sax player, but I don’t know what this method is called: anyone help me out here?) It’s a far cry from the more macho approaches of Shabaka Hutchings or Kamasi Washington. It’s fragile and playful, birdlike. Lovely.
Alabaster dePlume plays the Rivoli in Toronto this Sunday, Sept 17, with local opener Luka Kuplowsky (Holy Oak Family Singers), at 7 p.m. Here’s what dePlume gets up to live, filmed at Amsterdam’s Le Guess Who festival last year:
All news, no snooze
TIFF takes over Toronto arts coverage every September. I’ve rarely attended anything at the festival, which always comes as a shock to out-of-town writers and filmmakers. For me, the fest is an excuse to see old friends in town—not movies! The big news for music nerds this year was that the Talking Heads all appeared on stage together, for a Q&A with Spike Lee, to mark a 40th anniversary IMAX restoration of Stop Making Sense. Any fan knows that there’s a lot of historical bad blood between David Byrne and the rest of the band, so this was a big deal. Apparently everyone was all smiles on stage. Contrary to some stupid headlines I read, there is zero talk of any kind of reunion tour. Karen Bliss reports that scalped tickets for this event were going for $500—really? For a 25-minute on-stage conversation and a movie we’ve all seen before, which will be in theatres in a couple of weeks anyway? Sure, I was slightly tempted to go, but starfuckery is weird. This is why TIFF mystifies me.
Hearts On Fire readers: I learned from veteran American writerthat there is a new CBC series called Black Life: Untold Stories, which he co-produced (with Miranda de Pencier, of The Grizzlies—I highly recommend that film). Two episodes screened at TIFF, including one I’m very keen to see: “Northern Beats, directed by Will Prosper, about the history of Canadian hip hop pre-Drake.” George writes about it here:
Have Not Been the Same readers: Not part of TIFF, but the Lowest of the Low documentary screens next week at the Rivoli. One screening sold out, just a few tickets left for the second.
I wrote about the Elephant 6 movie last week, and just stumbled across this Aquarium Drunkard interview with producer Lance Bangs.
Final movie note: friend and colleague Chandler Levack’s amazing feature debut, I Like Movies, is now streaming on Netflix, or, with your library card, Hoopla.
I’m not the type of person who can afford all-inclusive musical vacations, but, uh, check out the lineup for Brandi Carlile’s “Girls Just Wanna” weekend next January in Mexico: Carlile, Janelle Monae, Sarah McLachlan, Lucius, Allison Russell, Wendy & Lisa, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Brandy Clark and Kim Richey. Holy Lilith! Details here, if you’re in the market. Wilco also does this at the same location: this December’s lineup includes Lucinda Williams, Sylvan Esso, Waxahatchee, Makaya McCraven, Cate Le Bon, more. Some day, after winning the lottery, I’ll see you at one or both of these.
SHOWS IN THE TOWN OF T.O. ABOUT WHICH ALL OF YOU SHOULD KNOW
An entirely subjective and by no means comprehensive look at Toronto’s concert calendar, tailored to musically curious people who are probably (but not necessarily) over 40. My strong recommendations in bold.
Suggestions welcome. So are advertisers!
Don’t live in Toronto? Most of these artists are on tour, so check your local listings. Just kidding! There are no local listings anymore. Check the artists’ websites.
JUST ANNOUNCED (mark your calendars):
Jay Douglas, Nana McLean, Ammoye, more Toronto reggae all-stars: Nov 4 at Allied Music Centre (inside Massey Hall)
Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Sasami: Nov 11 at History
Lewsburg, Sahara, Cots: Nov 17 at Tranzac. Presented by Wavelength.
Romy (of the XX): Dec 6 at Axis (formerly Mod Club)
Snotty Nose Rez Kids: Dec 8 at Axis (formerly Mod Club)
William Prince: Feb 7 at Massey Hall
Sam Roberts Band: Feb 9 at History. #HeartsOnFire
Aerosmith, Black Crowes: Feb 21 at Raptors/Leafs Arena. Rescheduled show from Sept 12.
Cold War Kids: Feb 27 at Phoenix
Horse Lords, Ka Baird, Luge: March 15 at Baby G
Tegan and Sara: March 22 at Rose Theatre, Brampton. Many other dates in the GTA and southwestern Ontario between March 20 and April 7, details here. #HeartsOnFire
Olivia Rodrigo: March 29 at Raptors/Leafs Arena
Keane: Sept 20, 2024 at Queen Elizabeth Theatre
Tonight and every night!:
The Tranzac and Drom Taberna, the two venues closest to my heart, boast several acts a night and have the most eclectic lineups — just go! Check the Cameron House for mostly folkie vibes or the Rex Hotel for jazz. Jazzintoronto.ca’s Instagram page has daily jazz listings at various venues. For the best in Toronto’s Latin and Caribbean scene, check Lula Lounge.
Coming this week:
Speedy Oritz: Sept 14 at Rivoli
Zeus, Chloe Doucet: Sept 14 at Lee’s. Album release party.
Black Country, New Road: Sept 15 at the
Opera House Concert Hall
Sandro Perri & Friends: Sept 15 at the Tranzac 7.30 p.m.
Freeman Dre & Kitchen Party: Sept 15 at Cameron House, 10 p.m.
The Front Bottoms: Sept 16 at History
Youth Lagoon: Sept 16 at Horseshoe
Mike Sharp & Local Honey (from Guelph), Johnny MacLeod & Harri Palm (of the G-Rays): Sept 16 at C’est What
Alabaster dePlume: Sept 17 at Rivoli. See above.
Rebecca Hennessy’s Makeshift Island: Sept 17 at Tranzac 7.30 p.m.
The Chicks, Maren Morris: Sept 18 at Raptors/Leafs Arena
Death Grips: Sept 18 at Danforth
Jalen Ngonda: Sept 18 at Horseshoe. New Daptone signee, very Motown-ish.
Tom Waits Appreciation Society: Sept 18 at Linsmore Tavern 8 p.m.
Duran Duran, Nile Rodgers & Chic: Sept 19 at Raptors/Leafs Arena
Polaris Music Prize gala: Sept 19 at Massey Hall. 7/10 shortlisters will be performing: everyone but Alvvays, Daniel Caesar and Feist. So: Aysanabee, Debby Friday, Dan Mangan, Gayance, the Sadies (!!!), Begonia and Snotty Nose Rez Kids.
Digable Planets, Kassa Overall: Sept 19 at Danforth Music Hall. Get there early for the opener; saw him and his band earlier this year at Allied Music Centre. The sax/vocal/percussion player in particular is great, and you’ll know why when you learn his lineage. Meanwhile, I’ve never seen this video for a song featuring one of my favourite beats of all time:
Bully, Wombo: Sept 19 at Lee’s Palace. Wombo, a band from Louisville, comes highly recommended by reader James McNally.
Joe Keithley (DOA) solo: Sept 19 at Bovine Sex Club #HaveNotBeentheSame
Subversives: The History of Lowest of the Low documentary film screening: Sept 20 at the Rivoli
Lauren Mayberry (of Chvrches): Sept 20 at Horseshoe
Shuffle Demons: Sept 20-21 at Jazz Bistro
Tuns (Matt Murphy, Mike O’Neill, Chris Murphy), Absolute Losers: Sept 21 at the Cameron
Alex Lukashevsky & Jonathan Adjemian: Sept 21 at the Tranzac 9.30 p.m.
Janelle Monae: Sept 21-22 at Massey Hall
Coming sooner than later
The Big Sound (Motown tribute featuring local all-stars): Sept 22 at the Great Hall
Jyonson Tsu of Acid Mothers Temple: Sept 22 at Bar Orwell (Dundas W. at Brock, not the now-shuttered Etobicoke pub)
Nightmares on Wax (DJ set): Sept 22 at Velvet Underground
Nathan Lawr (Minotaurs, Royal City): Sept 22 at Tranzac
U.S. Girls: Sept 22 at Collective Arts Brewing (Hamilton)
Ivan Julian (Voidoids): Sept 22-23 at Sellers and Newel 8 p.m.
Cultivate Festival: Sept 22-24 at Haute Goat (Newtonville, north of Port Hope) feat. Sarah Harmer, Good Lovelies, Moskitto Bar, Okan, Bio Ritmo, Charlotte Cornfield, Melissa Payne and more. Info here.
Slowdive: Sept 23 at Queen Elizabeth Theatre
Jungle: Sept 23 at Echo Beach
Eugene Ripper: Sept 23 at Imperial Pub
Ray Lamontagne, Tomberlin: Sept 24 at Massey Hall
Igorrr, Melt Banana, Otto von Schirach: Sept 24 at the Phoenix
Mick Flannery: Sept 24 at the Horseshoe
Castle Frank, L Con: Sept 24 at Baby G
Colleen, Joni Void: Sept 25 at the Tranzac. I know a couple who met on a blind date at Colleen’s last Toronto show. They’re now married with two kids. Magical things happen!
Swans: Sept 26 at Phoenix
Durand Jones: Sept 26 at Axis Club
Clannad (farewell tour): Sept 27 at Danforth
Islands, Fat Tony: Sept 28 at Horseshoe #HeartsOnFire
Joy Oladokun: Sept 28 at the Phoenix
Shabazz Palaces: Sept 28 at Longboat Hall. Just nine days after Ishmael Butler is in town reviving his first band, Digable Planets.
Canada Walk of Fame gala: Sept 28 at Massey Hall. Featuring, all on one stage, all on one night: April Wine, Chilliwack, Glass Tiger, Lee Aaron, Lighthouse, Loverboy, Max Webster, Michel Pagliaro, Prism, Platinum Blonde, Rough Trade, Trooper. I’m already exhausted!
Rough Trade: Sept 29 at the Phoenix
Fefe Dobson: Sept 29 at El Mocambo
Stop Making Sense: Sept 29 at Hot Docs Cinema 3.45 p.m., 9.15 p.m. Other screenings here.
Mitski: Sept 29 at Trinity St Paul’s
Kensingston Market Jazz Festival: Sept 29 - Oct 1 at various venues in the market
Pagliaro: Sept 30 at the Phoenix
Steven Page, Tom Wilson: Sept 30 at Koerner Hall
Daniel Bélanger: Sept 30 at Paradise Theatre
Sianspheric, Psychic Weapons: Sept 30 at Bovine Sex Club
Röyksopp: Sept 30 at History
Ratboys: Sept 30 at the Monarch
Wu-Tang Clan, Nas: Oct 1 at Raptors/Leafs Arena
Steve Mason (Beta Band): Oct 1 at Horseshoe
VNV Nation: Oct 2 at the Danforth
Cowboy Junkies: Oct 3 at Danforth Music Hall. #HaveNotBeentheSame
Tangerine Dream: Oct 3 at Opera House
St. Paul & the Broken Bones: Oct 3 at Queen Elizabeth Theatre
Andy Summers (the Police): Oct 3 at the Royal Cinema
SZA: Oct 4 at Raptors/Leafs Arena
Mother Tongues: Oct 5 at the Garrsion
The Dirty Nil: Oct 5 at Danforth Music Hall
Men I Trust, Twin Shadow: Oct 5-6 at History
Drake: Oct 5 & 7 at Raptors/Leafs Arena.
Lowest of the Low, By Divine Right: Oct 6 at the Danforth #HaveNotBeentheSame
Devendra Banhart, Le Ren: Oct 6 at the Phoenix
Rae Spoon: Oct 6 at Awesome Mom (in Hamilton)
Harry Manx: Oct 6 at Hugh’s Room
Little Simz: October 8 at History
Queen w/ Adam Lambert: October 8 at Raptors/Leafs Arena. Perhaps they will rock you?
The Handsome Family: Oct 10 at the Horseshoe
Violent Femmes: Oct 11 at Queen Elizabeth Theatre. Celebrating 40th anniversary of debut album, played in its entirety.
Jessy Lanza: Oct 11 at El Mocambo
Yukon Blonde: Oct 11 at Lee’s Palace
The Walkmen, Kiwi Jr.: Oct 11 at History
Avant X Festival: Oct 11-15 at the Music Gallery. Details TBA.
Young Fathers: Oct 12 at the Phoenix
James Blake: Oct 12 at Rebel
Kevin Quain: Oct 12 at Sellers and Newel
Lyle Lovett and John Hiatt: Oct 12 at Massey Hall
Danko Jones: Oct 13 at Axis (former Mod Club) #HeartsOnFire
Daniel Caesar, Charlotte Day Wilson w/ BadBadNotGood, Moses Sumney: Oct 13 at Raptors/Leafs Arena
Blue Hawaii: Oct 13 at Velvet Underground
Stephen Stanley and Chris Bennett: Oct 13 at Sellers and Newel
Nick Cave w/ Jonny Greenwood: Oct 14 at Massey Hall
Metric: Oct 14 at Concert Hall (888 Yonge) #HeartsOnFire
Makaya McCraven: Oct 14 at Allied Music Hall (inside Massey Hall)
Anoushka Shankar: Oct 14 at Koerner Hall
Fucked Up: Oct 14 at the Horseshoe
Beverly Glenn-Copeland: Oct 15 at Eastminster United Church (Danforth at Chester station)
Gwar: Oct 16 at the Phoenix
My Morning Jacket: Oct 17 at Massey Hall
Soft Machine (?!): Oct 17 at the Garrsion. No, Robert Wyatt and Kevin Ayers are not involved, nor are any other pre-1975 founding members of this British psychedelic band.
This is the Kit, Gruff Rhys (Super Furry Animals): Oct 17 at the Drake Underground
The Zombies: Oct 17 at Queen Elizabeth Theatre
Chilly Gonzales: Oct 18 at Massey Hall. #HeartsOnFire
Madison McFerrin: Oct 18 at Allied Music Centre (inside Massey Hall)
Tré Burt: Oct 18 at the Monarch Tavern
Model/Actriz: Oct 18 at Garrison
Lucinda Williams: Oct 18 at Queen Elizabeth Theatre
Cat Clyde: Oct 19 at Rivoli
Will Butler & Sister Squares: Oct 19 at Lee’s Palace. No, the other one. #HeartsOnFire
Chalk Circle: Oct 20 at the Horseshoe
Chromeo: Oct 20-21 at the Danforth
Dream Serenade, artists TBA: Oct 21 at Massey Hall
Jessie Ware: Oct 23 at Rebel
Christine and the Queens: Oct 25 at Massey Hall
Richard Inman, Zachary Lucky: Oct 25 at the Dakota
Dizzy: Oct 26 at Danforth Music Hall
Bob Dylan: Oct 26-27 at Massey Hall. Buyer beware!
Michael Peter Olsen: Oct 27 venue TBA, presented by Wavelength. CD release for Narrative of a Nervous System. #HeartsOnFire
Dan Mangan, Aysanabee: October 28 at Queen Elizabeth Theatre
Mavis Staples: Oct 28 at Koerner Hall
Hiss Golden Messenger: Oct 29 at the Phoenix
Nick Shoulders: Oct 29 at the Horseshoe
Bahamas, Georgia Harmer: Oct 29 at Massey Hall
Xiu Xiu: Oct 29 at the Great Hall
Tinashe, Shygirl: Oct 30 at Rebel
Spencer Krug (Wolf Parade, Sunset Rubdown, Moonface): Oct 30 at the Horseshoe #HeartsOnFire
Mary Lattimore: Oct 31 at Longboat Hall. This American harpist’s music helped get me through the anxiety of the pandemic. She was last here opening for Beach House at Massey Hall.
NoName: Oct 31 at Queen Elizabeth Theatre
The Beaches: Nov 1-2 at Massey Hall
Moneen: Nov 2 at History #HeartsOnFire
Art Bergmann, Luxury Bob: Nov 2 at the Horseshoe. Have you read Jason Schneider’s The Longest Suicide yet? You should do that. #HaveNotBeentheSame
Charlotte Cornfield: Nov 2 at the Great Hall
Kevin Quain: Nov 2 at Sellers and Newel
Pussy Riot: Nov 2 at Axis (formerly Mod Club)
Gowan: Nov 3 at Massey Hall
The Hives: Nov 3 at Lee’s Palace
Wide Mouth Mason: Nov 3 at Horseshoe
Hannah Georgas: Nov 3 at Allied Music Centre (inside Massey Hall)
Christian McBride: Nov 4 at Koerner Hall
Sampha: Nov 4 at Danforth Music Hall
Dave Howard: Nov 4 at Sellers and Newel
Legends of Motown: Nov 4 at Roy Thomson Hall
The Tea Party, I Mother Earth: Nov 4-5 at the Concert Hall (888 Yonge)
Depeche Mode: Nov 5 at Raptors/Leafs Arena
Kesha: Nov 6 at History
We Are Scientists: Nov 6 at the Horseshoe
S.G. Goodman: Nov 7 at Drake Underground
Mariel Buckley: Nov 8 at the Rivoli
Dexys (no longer Midnight Runners): Nov 8 at Queen Elizabeth Theatre
Screaming Females: Nov 9 at the Horseshoe
Slow Leaves: Nov 9 at the Dakota 7 p.m.
Hawksley Workman: Nov 9 at the Danforth. #HeartsOnFire
Teke Teke: Nov 9 at Longboat Hall
Nia Archives: Nov 10 at “Warehouse TBA.” Odd to see a show announced without a venue, but maybe not for an act so heavily influenced by late ’90s drum’n’bass?
Mike Doughty: Nov 10 at Longboat Hall
The Music Box performs Selling England By the Pound: Nov 10 at the Danforth
Planet Smashers: Nov 10-11 at the Horseshoe
Deer Tick: Nov 11 at the Opera House
Shakey Graves: Nov 11 at Massey Hall
Bruce Springsteen and E-Street Band: Nov 14 & 16 at the Horseshoe—no wait, just kidding, at the Raptors/Leafs Arena
Tribute to Paul Motian: Nov 14 at Sellers and Newel (store/venue’s 12th anniversary)
Great Lake Swimmers: Nov 15 at Allied Music Centre (inside Massey Hall) #HeartsOnFire
Helena Deland: Nov 16 at the Horseshoe
Boy Golden: Nov 17 at Lee’s Palace
The 1975: Nov 18 at Raptors/Leafs Arena
Beach Fossils, Turnover: Nov 18 at the Phoenix
The Watchmen, Gary Louris: November 18 at Danforth #HaveNotBeentheSame
Tool: Nov 20-21 at Raptors/Leafs Arena
Danny Michel, Steve Poltz: Nov 21 at Allied Music Centre (inside Massey Hall)
Okan: Nov 21 at Drake Underground
Hania Rani: November 22 at Allied Music Centre (inside Massey Hall). Presented by Wavelength
Half Moon Run: Nov 23 at History
Jeremie Albino: Nov 23-25 at Drake Underground
La Force: Nov 24 at Allied Music Centre (inside Massey Hall)
Jerry Leger, Katie Cruel: Nov 29 at Allied Music Centre (inside Massey Hall). Album release for Leger’s new album Donlands, produced by Mark Howard (Day For Night).
Jon Scofield Trio: Nov 30 at Meridian Hall
Terra Lightfoot: Dec 1 at the Horseshoe
Iskwé: Dec 2 at Allied Music Centre (inside Massey Hall)
Junkhouse: Dec 2 at the Horseshoe
Julian Taylor, Shakura S’Aida: Dec 6 at Allied Music Centre (inside Massey Hall)
Busty and the Bass: Dec 7 at 888 Yonge (Concert Hall)
Karkwa: Dec 7 at Garrison
Jeremy Dutcher: Dec 9 at Massey Hall
Loreena McKennitt: Dec 10 at Koerner Hall, 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.
Anjimile: Dec 10 at Drake Underground
The Weather Station: Dec 11-13 at the Great Hall. Playing her entire discography chronologically, two albums per night.
Digging Roots, Lacey Hill: Dec 14 at St. Lawrence Centre
Good Lovelies: Dec 21 at Massey Hall
Skydiggers: Dec 22 at Danforth Music Hall
Madonna: Jan 11-12 at Raptors/Leafs Arena (rescheduled dates)
Brad Mehldau (solo): Jan 27 at Koerner Hall
Cesária Évora Orchestra (tribute): Feb 3 at Koerner Hall
Charlotte Cardin: Feb 15 at Massey Hall
Amaarae: March 24 at Danforth Music Hall
Elisapie: March 28 at Allied Music Centre (inside Massey Hall)
Laurie Anderson: April 5 at Koerner Hall
Ladysmith Black Mambazo: April 6 at Koerner Hall
Oumou Sangaré: April 12 at Koerner Hall
Ty Seagall: May 3 at Danforth Music Hall
Kronos Quartet: May 9 at Koerner Hall. 50th anniversary farewell tour.
Dwayne Gretzky: Oct 26, 2024 at Massey Hall
Taylor Swift, Gracie Abrams: November 14-16, 21-23, 2024 at Skydome. Good luck! Death to Ticketmaster!
Be kind to each other.
If you value this work, please consider a paid subscription (monthly or annually), or drop something in the tip jar.