Local acts not just gathering dust

By Darby Sawchuk

Many Calgarian music lovers have forgotten the myth that Cowtown could be the next Seattle. In fact, for the last couple of years, a certain dissatisfaction has permeated the consciousness of more than a few local music addicts. It’s become a rare occasion for fans to find an exciting show featuring all local talent. With more crowd support, however, Calgary may again host talented musicians and songwriters capable of evolving and staying fresh.

Last Saturday’s show at the Night Gallery featuring National Dust, The Colorfield, and Shrinking Violet is a source for that optimism.

The headliners, National Dust, took the stage in front of a tragically-tiny crowd. The venue wasn’t bustling that night, and with the wee hours approaching, the supply of spectators waned further.

Despite the lacklustre turnout, local music veteran Lorrie Matheson and his gang delivered a rousing set. During their more upbeat moments, National Dust recalled the Replacements’ rock songs off Tim. When more subdued, their low-key folk/country brought Bill Janovitz’s solo effort to mind, and occasionally even old, brooding Blue Rodeo songs. All the while, Matheson’s
infectious melodies splendidly captured a striking emotional intensity.

National Dust has what it takes to get themselves noticed. Little imagination is required to envision their songs carried to thousands over the airwaves. Superb, emotional songwriting make National Dust a must-see for any fan of folk-rock.

The Colorfield, a relatively new band in the scene, made an impression with their polished performance. The blues-rocking trio adeptly ambled through quick-tempoed numbers and confidently delivered their wares to the crowd.

Their songwriting, however, could use a little sharpening. After a while, the lack of memorable musical moments felt repetitious. With a little more passion injected into the melodies, The Colorfield could have fared better. This aspect of the performance, however, was not enough to give them a thumbs down and will certainly be rectified as the band continues to gel.

Shrinking Violet, the opening band of the evening, was a pleasant surprise. Another relative newcomer, this foursome began their set with a slightly heavier number that did not immediately inspire confidence, but quickly turned things around.

Their pop-rock songs, occasionally veering into punk tempos and fronted by a female vocalist, were sometimes rough around the edges, but never distractingly so. Individually, the members of Shrinking Violet have admirable talents, and with a little time, the group will harmonize and tighten.

Another dimension that will improve with experience is Shrinking Violet’s stage presence. At their best when having fun musically, the band should let that spirit shine through in their demeanour. With a few minor tweaks, Shrinking Violet will undoubtedly find their way into the ears of many Calgarians.

But, all these bands need your help. Without an audience, a band cannot flourish. The disappointingly low turnout indicates an undeserved, weak support for the local scene. Reward local bands with your presence and they will reward you with their talent and skill.

Leave a comment