December 2006

December 2, 2006Trane StudioToronto
Zoé and the Magic Guitar
by Tony Shivpershad with photo by John Leeson
Trane Studio was quaint, and nicely decorated. It was the opening night of Witness to Live Performance a photography exhibit by Roger Humbert, that is going on until the end of December. I have marvelled at Mr. Humbert’s photography for a long time. Music is about emotion, and emotion is what Mr. Humbert’s photographs capture so well.

I quickly grabbed a seat at a table with some Live Music Report writers, Joyce Corbett, David Fujino and Paul J. Youngman. Joyce told me that Zoé was just about to start.

I turned to look. The stage was low, and Zoé was sitting very low on it. It was just Zoé and her guitar on the stage. She started to play. She began with an instrumental improv called “Fretones”. She likes to play this at the start of her sets. It sounded funky. Zoé’s guitar was doing things I didn’t even know guitars could do. It sounded like there were two or three instruments being played simultaneously. I strained to see if she was playing along with a recorded track, but I could see no evidence of that. I searched the stage to see if she was running through effect pedals, but there were none of those either.

The amazing thing about Zoé’s style of guitar playing is its percussiveness. The only time I ever heard anything similar was on Isaac Hayes’ “Theme from Shaft”. At the end of the song she explained that her songs really have a fuller sound, but she was playing solo, and it was hard to duplicate that studio sound by herself on stage. I was willing to forgive her. I has happy to hear just her and her magic guitar, that was able to produce so many different sounds.

“Tr’ee Dreads” with its infectious melody was her next song. She explained that she always wanted to have a theme song, and this is hers. She told the story of walking down the street and being stopped and asked, “What’s that?” She would explain, “Oh, that, that’s just my theme song.” Zoé’s soulful voice filled the room and her guitar kept on making those funky, funky sounds. Zoé closed the set with a song called “H.E.” Her music is described as Soul-rock-psychedelic Roots Music, which really begs to be heard to be understood.

We welcome your comments and feedback
Tony Shivpershad
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John Leeson
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The Live Music Report

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