Published Jul 12, 2010After a week of heat in Vancouver, during which many pined for an opportunity to get out of the city, Evening Hymns got their audience as close to a lush, rural setting as possible without taking a road trip. Evening Hymns, the appropriately titled vehicle for longtime Ontario folkster Jonas Bonnetta, didn't exactly bring the Railway Club to its knees in a sonic flurry. Still, it was a memorable night of calming simplicity as Bonnetta showcased his melodic and expansive campfire tunes.
Backed by another guitarist and a bassist, Bonnetta regaled the crowd with tales of epic drives to get to Vancouver for this show. With an honest stage demeanour and an ear for gradual yet limitless builds within his songs, it's easy to imagine him as a modern-day Hayden. His stories bordered on awkward, but his appreciation for a tiny Sunday night crowd was immensely genuine. What's more, his ability to strip down tunes like the loose, rumbling "Dead Deer" allowed the strength of his songwriting to shine through.
Bonnetta seemed intent on bringing the crowd into his benign headspace. He had the stage lights lowered, giving the band a haunting, shadowy presence. But if anything, it gave the crowd a sense of who Bonnetta is, what makes him comfortable and where Evening Hymns tracks were born. Those tracks managed to grow in scope as he took to sampling with keys and vocal loops to give a sense of scope to the evening's closer, "Mountain Song."
Evening Hymns short but poignant set managed to be a microcosm of great Canadian campfire music as a whole: small, but with limitless possibilities.