Three different varieties of “Americana” were the highlight of this blustery October night.

Brian Cooper, who performs with sundry other country-style bands in Ottawa (he plays guitar in the Black Boot Trio, to name but one), has his own musical outlet: South of 78 was a two-piece on this occasion, with a hirsute drummer providing the beat for Cooper’s meaty roots-rock. It was an enjoyable taster for the evening ahead.

Casey Comeau and the Half Milers were ostensibly playing their album release party, despite the fact their album has been available for about two months. Unlike previous shows since 'Dancing Like Bones'saw the light of day (or at least the murky gloom of local record stores), the group managed to rope in album producer Dave Draves — Ottawa’s answer to Liam Watson, his Little Bullhorn studio has birthed a legion of local bands’ first professionally recorded work — to play the keyboard parts he performed on the album. Pedal steel guitarist Tom Thompson was also on hand to add extra atmosphere to the band’s high lonesome country rock. Comeau was in particularly fine voice. Their set concluded with 'In My Hour of Darkness.'

It’s fortunate that Massachusetts-based muso Rev. Glasseye, is a (relatively) short trip away as international journeys go, since he appears to make frequent visits to the area: He was in Ottawa, with his Wooden Legs in tow, for the 2003 Bluesfest, came back for an Oct. 1 performance with Slim Cessna’s Auto Club , for which he plays keyboards, and was back once more with his prosthetic assistants only a few weeks later.

With its Eastern European and Spanish influences, one-two beat, and his own carnival-barker vocals, the Reverend’s musical output must invariably be compared to that of Tom Waits, but it’s sufficiently idiosyncratic to stay clear of imitation. Like Waits, the Reverend provides amusing banter between, and occasionally during, songs. Though he joshed about his own guitar playing (“I don’t actual play ... there’s a guy in the basement with a guitar right now ...”) the Wooden Legs-Drums, keyboards, upright bass, trumpet and an energetic saxophonist- provided both fancy duds (the saxophonist's black dress jacket with the cross embroidered on the sleeve and grey felt homburg was particularly swanky) and expert playing (and occasional yodelling) for a lengthy set that occasionally stumbled but never flagged.

A really fun show.

The photographs that accompany this article were taken by Andrew Carver
















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