Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Old Ceremonies, New Towns

A quick note:

A well-kept secret is sneaking into Toronto this Thursday, March 5, a class act you’d be ill-advised to miss. The Old Ceremony are five dapper dudes, all well into their 30s, from Chapel Hill, North Carolina—three qualities right there that appeal to me (my in-laws are Carolinian, and Chapel Hill in particular holds fond memories).

Singer/songwriter Django Haskins knows the back alleys of Tin Pan Alley and probably has more than a few later Nick Cave records in his collection—although his own songwriting is harder to pin down, at moments downcast folk songs, at others it's Squeeze-able pop songs, and more often than not it involves the bottom of a bottle at 3 a.m. in a lonely hotel piano bar.

Haskins grew up in Gainesville, Florida, started playing in bands when he was 13, went to Yale, and learned how to write a melody that spoke for itself while living and performing in China. His bandmates are classy gentlemen that include violin and vibraphone capabilities among their many talents. This is not a band that leaves any blood on the floor; they prefer to drape their darker tendencies in the shadows and moods of the impeccable arrangements.

The O.C. have three albums to their credit; their last one, Our One Mistake, features their best pop songs, but the new one, Walk On Thin Air, is more consistently engaging as Haskins continues to find his own voice.

I first saw them at NXNE a couple of years ago, on a hunch from Ms. Helen Spitzer (she of the Carolinian tendencies), and they were the most pleasant surprise of the whole festival. Find out why when they play the Dakota Tavern in Toronto on Thursday, March 6, or read more here. Either there on on the MySpace page, start with "Plate Tectonics," "Walk on Thin Air" and "Papers in Order."

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