By Ian Shalapata
(WINDSOR, ON) – In a whirlwind tour of Ontario, with 12 shows in 15 days, Geoff Smith, of Gunner and Smith, landed at Phog Lounge on May 21. The front man for the Saskatoon-based band is half way through his second solo tour of eastern Canada, but was visiting Windsor for the first time.
“I really enjoy being on tour and this is definitely a place I want to be playing more often,” Smith said. “Once you’re out here there are a lot of great places to play.”
With more plucking than strumming, Smith introduced the denizens of Phog to his brand of Canadianna meets Delta Blues melancholy. His gritty guitar licks and soulful lyrics remind you of a dusty hot day on the Prairie with no relief in sight; the half glass of water on stage with him more symbolic than functional.
“We don’t really go in with a plan to record something that is country,” Smith explained. “Americana, folk, roots, all mean different things to different people. There’s elements of each one involved in our music and the sound we really wanted to go with was more traditional folk Americana with a little bit more of the element of psychedelic in there.”
Smith’s set of a dozen songs, augmented by an obscure Bob Dylan tune and a cover of Oslo, from Toronto’s The Wooden Sky, took patrons on a lament that crisscrossed the continent, and included a shout out to Grayling, Michigan. The underdog takes centre stage in Smith’s music, but there is always hope with the coming of a new day.
The show was completed with a performance of Towns from Gunner and Smith’s first full-length release, He Once Was A Good Man. It was apropos as Smith has seen his share of towns across this county. He will be in Toronto tonight followed by dates in Ottawa and Montreal. On the 25th he’s playing the Dandelion Festival in Kemptville before his first day off. After a swing through northern Ontario, Smith will head home to perform at the 3rd Annual MoSoFest in Saskatoon.
“We play MoSoFest two weeks after I get back,” Smith described. “It’s one of those multi venue festivals with shows happening all over the Broadway area.”
If you didn’t catch the solo Gunner and Smith show last night, you’ll have another chance as the full band is part of North by Northeast (NXNE) in Toronto from June 18 to June 22.