I found myself reviewing a lot of musicals this past year but felt like an imposter. I’m sorta tone deaf — chords, keys, sharps and flats lost to me. Yet Beethoven went deaf and produced great music. So why not B. Toben churning great reviews?
The recent high energy Jammin’ The Blues at the Rialto got me to thinking about the many musicians who were blind. A high percentage of those were blues singers. Many came up from the Missippi Delta to Chicago where they slowly changed from acoustical to electrical.
But in the company of Blind Lemon Jefferson, Blind Willie Johnson, Blind Boy Fuller and the like, I gotta get me an impaired monicker. So, Def Boy Byron it is.
The amazing power of Carolyn Fe’s booming delivery, backed by her talented Blues Collective (Rami Cassab and Oisin Little on guitars, Dan Legault on drums and Tim Alleyne on keyboard) had the place jumping. Her lead off song “Original Sin,” also the title of her latest CD, set the stage for faves like “Bow-wow” and “Don’t Be Sad.”
For those who grew up with the more gospel influenced blues, this was mos def not that type. Rock Blues this, with lotsa jumping around and strobe light. Ms Fe, who I had known as a fine actor and director (Death and The Maiden at MainlineTheatre) proved a veritable energizer bunny.
She later brought special invitee Angel Forrest on stage. This award winning Quebec songstress also delivered more of the high voltage type blues.
All this Rialto action in the wake of the wonderful “Rhythm Lives” tap dancing show back in July, organized by Tanya Rivard and honouring Montreal tap guru Ethel Bruneau and icon Arthur Duncan.
The earlier Chubby Checker show — the man still twists like 27 at 72 — prove that finger poppin music and clever staging draws appreciative crowds.