Jerry Leger: Live “Acoustic Duo” Show At Mills Hardware

Jerry Leger

A solid veteran musician of the Canadian music scene, Toronto-based singer-songwriter Jerry Leger has earned a loyal following since 2005, with numerous folk-rock albums and accolades under his belt.  Yet, around the time when 2019 transitioned into 2020, Jerry’s name remained unfamiliar to me (a crime, I tell you, but one since rectified), until a good friend of GDW dropped his name and strongly recommended giving his latest (at that time) “Time Out For Tomorrow” album a whirl.  The artist and the album were duly noted.

During a visit to Ontario in February 2020 (and not knowing at the time that this would be our last Canadian crossing for the next 27 months – thanks to the pandemic that soon followed), a chance encounter and casual conversation with a musician friend of ours led to Jerry’s name being dropped again as an artist we really should check out.  Funnily enough, we had just discovered and shared Jerry’s video for his single “Read Between The Lines,” yet still, here was another solid recommendation in the space of about seven weeks, and enough to definitely pique my interest to learn more.  The rest, as they say, is history – with Jerry being a featured artist on several occasions since, and one who we really wanted to see live in concert if the opportunity arose.

Just before the world as we know it had to hit a mandatory pause button, we had secured tickets to see Jerry Leger perform at Mills Hardware in Hamilton, ON later in 2020.  Of course, those plans quickly fell apart as the pandemic ran rampant, as borders were shut down, and many of us faced uncertainty by living in isolation. With no immediate end in sight, the show was naturally cancelled, and the short-lived opportunity to catch up with Jerry disappeared too.  Fast forward to early 2022, however, and with the gradual return to normalcy came Jerry’s announcement of a rescheduled date in Hamilton in mid June.  To quote one of Jerry’s own recent compositions, we made sure to have “Ticket(s) Bought.”

Ben Somer provided a stellar opening set, warming up the audience for Jerry’s appearance with a showcase of his excellent songwriting. (Stay tuned for Team GDW’s recap of Ben’s set in a few days.)

Jerry Leger Acoustic Duo

Returning to Ontario following a successful full-band (The Situation) European spring tour, Jerry opted to rediscover his stripped-down, acoustic-duo show for this first batch of Canadian dates.  Accompanied by good friend and bandmate Dan Mock (upright bass/vocals), the duo graced the Mills Hardware stage last Saturday evening and performed a solid 15-track, 70-minute set of music. “It’s great to be back at it. We missed being on the stage and playing, and there’s been some silver linings the last couple of years or so,” Jerry stated, following their first track. “There’s also been a bunch of not-so-great things happening, so we just feel very fortunate and we thank you for being here.”

With the release of his latest album, “Nothing Pressing,” this past March, Jerry and Dan were naturally keen to share several of the new tracks on this given night.  It was great to hear firsthand the recent single, “Kill It With Kindness,” along with other cuts such as “Sinking In,” “Underground Blues,” and the outstanding “Recluse Revisions” – where the slow, somber pace and bursts of harmonica are very reminiscent of a timeless Neil Young style and sound.  Exploring his back catalog, Jerry pulled a couple of tunes from the 2020 album that introduced me to his music, opting to go with “Corner Light” and a stunning rendition of “I Would,” in which Dan’s deep bass tones not only added so much depth, but fostered a stronger connection between Jerry’s vocals and his audience.  And for those that had followed Jerry for much longer than us, nobody was disappointed as Jerry and Dan delivered stellar acoustic versions of earlier classics such as “Factory Made,” “Old Soldier,” and “I Need To Know If It’s True.”

Jerry Leger

We featured Jerry’s early 2021 single, “Jumped In The Humber,” on our pages, and were delighted to witness a performance of this song at Mills Hardware. “I’ve never watched so much true crime in my life, I was never drawn to it,” Jerry shared prior to the song. “My girlfriend Laura loves true crime, and so in the pandemic, at nights, we weren’t going anywhere. During the day, I’d stay busy by writing and doing all kinds of stuff, it was all so therapeutic to keep my mind off a bunch of things. And at night, we’d end up watching stuff together, and I got into some of it, but when it was too intense, I’d start having weird dreams and nightmares, and I have a very big fear of home invasions, so to have these weird dreams where the back of the building would blow off, well! This song, ‘Jumped in the Humber,’ is a bit of a murder-mystery, if you want to help me solve it.”  “Moved his body, said a prayer / Took his wallet before the cops got there / The air is full of whispers, the world’s filled with crime / It’s you or me or what’s his name, gotta hang on the line.”  As the song closed and the audience applause died down, Jerry would return to the conversation thread once more: “I like these intimate shows, because I’m already talking about my fears and dislikes, and it’s kind of nice.”

Our first live concert experience with Jerry Leger was not only more than we had anticipated, but left us yearning for much, MUCH more. Here we found an artist that has fine-tuned his on-stage persona (looks the part, dresses the part, and most importantly, sounds the part) with frequent touring over the years, and the hard-work is paying solid dividends.  Jerry Leger, along with Dan Mock, had the full respect from an intimate room last Saturday night, and invited us all to slip into their own little universe for a while with great songs, stellar musicianship, and quite simply some fantastic entertainment. Thank you, Jerry, for taking the time to chat both before and after the show – we plan to see much more of you in our continued concert-going adventures, I can guarantee that.

Set List:

  1. Nothing Pressing
  2. Recluse Revisions
  3. I Would
  4. Cashing In
  5. Underground Blues
  6. Corner Light
  7. Jumped In The Humber
  8. Sinking In
  9. I Need To Know If It’s True
  10. Old Soldier
  11. Ticket Bought
  12. Kill It With Kindness
  13. It Don’t Make The Wrong Go Away
  14. Wait A Little Longer
  15. Factory Made

Tour Poster Credit: Sam Harris (permission granted by Jerry Leger)

The British guy that crossed the ocean and crash landed in central Pennsylvania (to quote Greg Keelor, “And I wonder what am I doing here?”). As the youngest of four siblings, exposure to music from a very early age nurtured my passion and appreciation for many musical genres. Continuing to discover some amazingly diverse and talented musicians based in Canada, I gravitate to live music experiences and remain devoted to spreading the word about such a vibrant music scene.

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