Richard Laviolette's compass always points home. Across the songwriter's work, it's a returning theme and a radiant, emotional centre from which he builds out realizations of the world around him. His songs are personal, affecting gestures deeply situated in the familiar, and the formula has resonated in fan bases across Canada, but perhaps most measurably infectious in his resident Guelph.
Backed by a seven-piece classic country band, he closed out the first night of Kazoo! Fest with a local drop party for last month's You've Changed Records release, Taking the Long Way Home, and took a packed crowd of dedicated local fans late into the night, setting the pace for a week of local love. Over the hour-and-a-half set the crowd thinned out, but that it left a concentrated throng of dedicated admirers at the front of the room, arms reaching across shoulders in swaying lines as wide as the stage making the homecoming all the sweeter.
If that didn't verify the songwriter's status as an ambassador for the city and a local legend, then the well lubricated crowd demanding an encore (despite protests that "we don't know any more songs") and Laviolette eventually responding with stripped-down renditions of deeper selections like All of Your Raw Materials' "Airtight; No Sunlight" (featuring a guest appearance from Oil Spills bandmate Jenny Mitchell on bass) and a solo rendition of A Little Less Like a Rock, A Little More Like Home's "Qq" certainly did, cranking the love-in up to 11.