Update[Sept 30/09 12:43 am]: review now posted below!
It's funny that it took an American artist, that is the Boston, Massachusetts-born Joe Pernice (although currently living in Toronto with his wife Laura Stein - yes that Laura Stein ex of Jale) to finally get me to the Dakota Tavern in Toronto. It's not surprising that he chose the Dakota Tavern to play his first show in four years considering that it's apparently steps away from where he lives. I found the Dakota Tavern to be a quaint little country-western bar, and with the stage back-lit illuminated with white Christmas lights it conjured a nice vibe for the artists playing the stage that night.
Opening the show was local folkie Kate Boothman. While her soothing rootsy-folk tunes backed with acoustic guitar and her subtle vocals were decent, up against the fleshed-out melodicism of Mr. Pernice they were really no match. When another Toronto folkie singer-songwriter Julie Fader joined Kate it fare a little better with the dual acoustic guitars and subtle vocal harmonies. Perhaps another time I'd have enjoyed it more, especially if the crowd hadn't been so chatty.
The occasion to bring Mr. Pernice out of his reclusiveness was the release of his debut novel entitled "It Feels So Good When I Stop" for which he'd also recorded an album's worth of covers. His current tour has him reading excerpts from the book as well as performing tracks from its soundtrack and perhaps a few old Pernice favourites. From reading excerpts of his novel to his between song banter, Joe's acerbic wit was mightily on display. Although I haven't picked up his novel, the segments he read were exhaustingly clever and humourous to the point that I wondered if the whole book was like that I'd imagine my cheeks would hurt by the end of it. Joe complained about a problem with his joints[if I recall correctly, I think it was his finger] several times throughout the evening, which somehow led to him praising the free health-care we have in Canada. Acid-tongued as he may have seemed at times, I got the feeling that he's probably a real nice guy most of the time.
Joe alternated between reading excerpts from the book than playing some tunes, with the musical portion including selections from his soundtrack. Admitting to a his admiration for Dick Van Dyke, Joe performed a plaintive cover of the "Mary Poppins" classic "Chim Chim Cheree" initially drawing a few chuckles but with everyone soon realizing how deadly serious Joe was and how quite lovely a tune it was. Later Joe read an excerpt from the novel that if I recall correctly involved a character going to a Sebadoh concert with Joe's musical response being a splendid cover of Sebadoh's "Soul and Fire". At the conclusion of the literary portion of the evening, it was all Pernice as Joe performed a lengthy set of Pernice-penned tunes that stretched to his Chappaquiddick Skyline and solo('Big Tobacco') output and stirringly concluded with a brief selection from his Scud Mountain Boys days. He shone a humourous light on himself mentioning how he's released like ten albums in his various configurations and how his sister points out that still no one knows who he is. That's not entirely true of course as his diehard fans would argue, but relatively speaking it is criminal that he's not reached a wider audience. Will it take selling the movie rights to his novel? Hey, if Nick Hornby can do it.
Chromewaves has a review and photos from the show also. Update: Bob from It's Not The Band I Hate, It's Their Fans now has his review and photos up.
Zoilus has some interview outtakes with Mr. Pernice.
Photos: Joe Pernice, Kate Boothman @ Dakota Tavern in Toronto (September 28, 2009)
MySpace: Kate Boothman
MySpace: Joe Pernice