Juno Decades: Great Canadian Music From the '70s Horseshoe Tavern, Toronto ON December 4

Juno Decades: Great Canadian Music From the '70s Horseshoe Tavern, Toronto ON December 4
To celebrate the milestone of the Juno Awards turning 40 next spring, Juno organizers CARAS came up with the fun idea of hosting four nights of tributes to the music of the past four decades. The first show, a '70s-themed night, was curated by Six Shooter Records and Starfish Entertainment, who assembled a seriously star-studded cast list. The result was a three-set, four-hour show that was both highly entertaining and uplifting. The night presented a well-balanced mix of some of the original stars doing their classic hits, alongside leading artists of the current generation reinvigorating some favourites of the decade.

Serving as backing bands for the three sets were the Good Brothers (one of Canada's most popular country rock bands of the '70s) and younger local favourites the Beauties and Bidiniband. They all got to shine on a few songs of their own while providing more than able accompaniment for all the guests joining them onstage for one or two songs apiece.

The Good Bothers, going strong after more than 40 years, kicked things off with their own hit, "Fox on the Run," and a sweet cover of Ian Tyson's "Summer Wages." Oh Susanna shone with her tribute to Neil Young, and Matthew Barber's take on Pagliaro's great "What the Hell I Got" was another winner. The Goods also did real justice to their good friend Gordon Lightfoot's "Alberta Bound." By our unofficial count, Lightfoot had more songs of his covered on the night than anyone else (the lack of any Joni Mitchell songs was the night's most surprising omission).

Tim Vesely
joined his old Rheostatics comrade Dave Bidini and Bidiniband for "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald," while "Sundown" was turned into a powerful guitar-driven romp by Luke Doucet and the Beauties. Doucet was joined by wife Melissa McClelland for the Band's "Ophelia," while McClelland, Amelia Curran and Mia Sheard combined nicely for "Snowbird."

Strong female voices breathed vibrant new life into a clutch of classics originally sung by men. Sheard belted out Burton Cummings's "Stand Tall," Selina Martin achieved the rare feat of making a Rush song ("Spirit of Radio") sexy with her dynamism, while blues powerhouse Shakura S'Aida dazzled with her raunchy makeover of "Hot Child in the City." Representing the old guard with distinction was Andy Kim, with his hits "Be My Baby" and "Rock Me Gently," the latter boosted with female harmonies and the keyboards of Kevin Hearn, while a couple of members of Crowbar rocked out with the Beauties on their anthemic "Oh What a Feeling."

Backed by Bidiniband, Dan Hill served up Lightfoot's pretty "You're Beautiful Tonight," followed, inevitably, by his schmaltzy classic "Sometimes When We Touch," a tune that had the crowd singing along, with a surprising lack of irony. Hill also came up with the wittiest line of the night, noting that coming onstage after a fiery version of Teenage Head's "Top Down" meant "I feel like a rocker after all these years!"

Two of our best-voiced crooners, Justin Rutledge and Ron Sexsmith, naturally acquitted themselves well, via takes on, respectively, A Foot in Cold Water's "(Make Me Do) Anything You Want" and an April Wine tune. The evening was rounded out with a rousing massed version of "Taking Care of Business," with S'Aida's riveting voice again to the fore, followed by a spontaneous audience rendition of "O Canada." Given that the '70s, through Canadian content regulations, was such a crucial decade in the growth of homegrown music, this was a fitting show of patriotism.

You can see more photos of the night, here on Exclaim!'s Facebook.

  Future Juno Decades dates:

1/8 Songs of the '80s - Produced by Last Gang Entertainment
2/5 Songs of the '90s - Produced by Dine Alone Records and Bedlam Music Management
3/5 Songs of the '00s - Produced by Pheromone Recordings and MapleMusic Recordings