Other highlights included: Elevation Music which wasnt far behind for sheer guitar godliness; Wall of Glass, which reminded me of Paco De Lucia/Al DiMeola/John McLaughlins immortal Friday Night in San Francisco live album; Dracula & Friends Part 1, Ross homage to Motown and Miles Davis; the Rosshead favourite Zarzuela which was enhanced by pedal and electronic effects that redefined my perspective on their use in acoustic performance; an Appalachian-rootsy cover of David Essigs gem Berkeley Spring that reminded me of Ross friend Dan Crary; and the much-requested Michael, Michael, Michael which until about the three-minute mark sounded exactly like it does on the CD Passion Session.
Let us now turn to the Friends or Fiends as Ross repeatedly referred to them, making light of a promotional typo.
Outside of the jazz sphere, Jordan OConnors performance on upright bass ranks right at the top amongst my relatively limited range of reference. He was on fire throughout, matching Ross incredibly intricate and dynamic tempos and harmonic construction stride for stride, especially in his sublime work on Zarzuela and Blue Bear.
Ross wife of about a year and a half, PEI-native songstress Brooke Miller, offered two stellar original songs: Country from The Dome Car which was about playing a festival on a train and frankly got a bit drowned out by Ross accompaniment; and You Can See Everything, a brilliant number that evoked comparisons to Annie Lennox with better guitar chops. Dons influence on her guitar work was clearly evident, and with her vocal and lyrical strength Miller must surely have a bright future ahead. And Im sure I wasnt the only one musing about the musical possibilities for their children.
Lastly, the towering Del Vezeau (also Ross booking agent) played two of his tunes. His folk/flamenco/blues compositions are top-notch, but what impressed me even more is his stream-of-consciousness stage charisma. And he certainly piqued my interest in the 2007 edition of his Canadian Guitar Festival.
Wrapping up this final report of 06, Ill opine categorically that no discussion of the greatest in Canadian music is complete without Don Ross. Pick up 3 Hands (no kidding), Bearing Straight, This Dragon Doesnt Sleep, Passion Session, Live in Your Head, Robot Monster (one of the funkiest acoustic guitar albums youll ever hear) Music for Vacuuming (his newest) or other recordings in his catalogue. Sometime this fall, look for the date of the 2007 Don Ross and Friends show at Hughs Room, between Christmas and New Years, and get your tickets. Dont just bring your friends, bring your fiends.