A few nights ago I crossed something off my bucket list. I walked through the infamous red doors of The Grand Old Lady Of Shuter Street, aka Massey Hall.
You would have thought it might have happened earlier in my 45 years of existence. Especially considering I have lived most of my life within a two-hour drive of Toronto, took up residence there for a few years in my university days, and now have a daughter living in the city who I visit frequently.
I have walked past the building I don’t know how many times. I have often eaten at Fran’s right across the street from the venue, gazing out of the windows and daydreaming about the day those doors would open for me. Many a time I would hear of a loved artist or band playing there but for whatever reason, couldn’t go. Date was bad timing, funds weren’t in the budget, or more often than not, tickets were already sold out. The hall is set up for very intimate performances and has less than 3,000 seats so tickets can sell out very quickly.
Then a few weeks ago, the stars were all aligned just right for me and everything changed.
I was listening to SiriusXM online, tuned to my favourite channel, The Loft. They play an eclectic mix of music that satisfies my craving for a little bit of this and a little bit of that. They also feature new music and new artists and I have added many songs to my own playlists because of first hearing them on The Loft. My kids will probably deny this but I have even tipped them off to new music that’s right up their alley.
One of the new artists I heard a couple of months ago is Amy Helm and her band, The Handsome Strangers. On that fateful day a few weeks back, The Loft had just played Rescue Me, the first track off her debut album, Didn’t It Rain. After the song ended, they mentioned some upcoming dates on her tour. And yep, one of them was to be in Toronto. I hopped right over to her website to find the details: Thursday, September 17, 2015 at 8 pm. And at Massey Hall no less. But wait, there’s more …
The performance would be an opener for Emmylou Harris & Rodney Crowell.
Harris & Crowell released their second duets album earlier this year titled The Traveling Kind. Take a read of this great Rolling Stone article on their new masterpiece, and don’t miss out on taking a listen to the title track within the article.
Wow. That’s all I could keep saying over and over when I bought the tickets for my son and I to go, and wow is still all I can say and still over and over again. Wow. Wow. Wow.
- Going to see a singer/band I had only heard of a few months earlier who also just so happens to be the only child of the legendary Levon Helm.
- Seeing one of the queens of the Grand Ole Opry and her writing/performing partner of over 40 years, Rodney Crowell.
- Walking through the doors of a National Historic Site.
- Enjoying yet another concert with my son, the real music aficionado in the family.
Could life be any more grand? Nope.
Here are a few picks I’d like to share to tickle your musical tastebuds. Something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue. No, I’m not getting married [again]. That phrase just came to mind for some random reason.
1. OLD: Save The Last Dance For Me, Emmylou Harris
2. NEW: Deep Water, Amy Helm & The Handsome Strangers
[my favourite track so far]
3. BORROWED: The Weight
Check out the all-star lineup in this cover of The Band’s classic hit from the Love For Levon: A Benefit To Save The Bar back in 2013. Amy’s one of them.
4. BLUE: Blue Kentucky Girl, Emmylou Harris
Here’s to inspiring music & inspired listening.
“Music is like food, sustenance. You certainly don’t do it for the spotlight. You do it for the amazing exhilaration of singing, the feeling of the music going through you.”
Image source: me. Not the best quality sorry.