Rewind back to spring 2015, when singer/songwriter Joel Plaskett released his most recent (to date) studio album “The Park Avenue Sobriety Test” (P.A.S.T.). After hearing the debut single “On a Dime” (thanks to satellite radio here in the US), and occasional back-catalog tunes too, we developed an instant rapport with the candor found in Plaskett’s lyrics. With a little luck (and good timing on Joel’s part), the promotional tour for the album included a stop in Parry Sound, ON, where we happened to be vacationing at the time, and therefore we bought tickets in anticipation of this event.
Upon our arrival at Parry Sound, we took an instant liking for the charm of this small town that sits on the Georgian Bay. Being hockey fans, we knew the connection of the town with Bobby Orr, and were in awe that the venue was adjacent to a museum devoted to this Hall of Fame defenseman.
As we drove towards the venue, we spotted Joel Plaskett and his Emergency band members taking a casual walk into town. As we ourselves stopped to eat, we recognized that Mo Kenney (the opening act for the show) and her band happened to be seated at the other side of the restaurant. This really was small town Canada indeed.
Mo Kenney opened the show with her radio hit “Sucker,” and used her set to promote tracks from her latest “In My Dreams” CD. Whilst clearly still getting used to being in the spotlight, Kenney became more comfortable with her surroundings through each song, and one syllable responses to crowd appreciation slowly became dialogues about making pizzas in Nova Scotia before finally making it as a musician. Kenney would end her set, but returned to the stage as an additional rhythm guitarist with the Joel Plaskett Emergency for the remainder of the night.
Fresh off the heels of the P.A.S.T. album release, Joel Plaskett opened with his current single “On a Dime.” Not knowing what to expect next, as we were relatively unfamiliar with the bulk of his music, the remainder of the show proved to be a night of amazing live music from an artist that clearly defined his own rules.
As the evening progressed, we learned of the wonders that are “Down at the Khyber,” “Extraordinary” and “Nowhere with You.” We shared in the delights of ‘that night in Kelowna’ during “Love This Town.” We laughed and cried as Joel took us on his journey in the ‘Viking Ship’ (Joel’s reference to the stunning architecture of the Charles W. Stockey Centre). With his encore, Plaskett invited Mo Kenney and her band back on stage to perform an awesome rendition of the title track to the new album, before bidding the crowd a good night.
During a meet and greet that followed the show, we were able to learn that both Joel Plaskett and Mo Kenney (along with David Myles) would be performing at an annual “Rootstock” event at Jackson-Triggs Winery later that summer. By this time, we knew that we would not want to miss out on the opportunity to return for that show; and from there, our love of live Canadian music deepened exponentially. It seems like a long time ago now (we have seen Joel perform twice since this event), but if asked to retrace our steps to where the whole ‘live show’ experience started, that small charming town of Parry Sound, ON, will hold that honor.