Testing for Echoes

Canteen Knockout The Russell Leon Band
Victory Caf»
October 14, 2004
Ten years and thousands of reams into its lifetime, one of Toronto's pre-eminent community newspapers, the Annex Echo, decided to celebrate a decade in the biz with an evening of song. Emitting from the friendly confines above the Victory Caf», the rootsy local music was the perfect compliment to an evening of good cheer.

Local rockers Canteen Knockout were up first and put in what can only be described as the most stripped down set in the history of live music; it was merely affable frontman Andre Skinner and his acoustic guitar, running through some new material and old favourites. Hearing tracks like "Bent Out of Shape" and "Chords Ring" stripped to the gills was a treat and it really allowed Skinner's prowess as a songwriter to shine through. And the newer material was likewise engaging, showing a maturing tunesmith nearing his destination. A Springsteen cover was thrown in for good measure.

Russell Leon followed and this versatile Annex mainstay did not disappoint. While the Russell Leon Band maintains a rotating cast of instruments and instrumentalists, the line-up for this evening was a basic four-man unit: Leon on guitar, core members Jeff Haas on bass and Larry Kline on drums, plus Ansgar Schroer on harmonica. Pickin' and a-grinnin' through a one-hour set, the music of the RLB ran the gauntlet from Celtic-inspired rave-ups to bluesy twirls and quirky vaguely-new wave chuckers. All the while, Leon proved his mettle with solid guitar playing and vocals. His back-up players were likewise on the ball, with Schroer especially fun to watch as he wailed away on his harmonica for a number of tunes. By the time the RLB wrapped up an hour in, the assembled Annex Echo supporters were certainly appeased÷ and no doubt anticipating for the next ten years.

Writer: Cameron Gordon

Photo:Cameron Gordon

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