The Bass­ment un­veils lineup

Saskatoon StarPhoenix - - FRONT PAGE - CAM FULLER

Don Grif­fith has been busy in the kitchen, cook­ing and book­ing some 70 shows for the Bass­ment dur­ing the next six months.

“I re­ally feel like a chef and I’m mak­ing a buf­fet. And when the peo­ple eat, I say, well, we can keep it on next week’s buf­fet,” says the venue’s artis­tic director.

He’s an­tic­i­pat­ing sell-outs on sev­eral nights, such as Jack Sem­ple’s two-night stand Nov. 16 and 17 with a BB King trib­ute. Sem­ple sold out con­sec­u­tive nights last sea­son.

“Both those shows were fan­tas­tic. I played with him both those nights and I’ve never seen Jack so into it. He was at 100 per cent from the very first song.”

An­other can’t-miss is The Bar­rel­men — Berke­ley Buchko, Jody Gies­brecht, Tyler MacKen­zie, and Craig Wil­son — per­form­ing in the Acous­tic Roots se­ries Dec. 15. The venue’s ca­pac­ity is around 200: you can re­ally pack them in at a Bar­rel­men show be­cause no­body wants to sit.

Also in De­cem­ber is Sol­stice, which has a strong lo­cal fol­low­ing. The vo­cal jazz group fea­tur­ing Rod Bell, Michelle Clancy, Bob Cowan, Grant Cur­rie, Jean Cur­rie, Lori New­man, Pam Pan­der and Nancy Spar­ling has been do­ing its thing for 40 years. The show won’t be on the ac­tual sol­stice, which would be cool, but Dec. 16 is close enough.

Grif­fith must like seafood be­cause there’s a dis­tinct East Coast flavour to the sea­son. JP Cormier and Dave Gun­ning, both res­i­dents of Pic­tou County, N.S., have teamed up for their de­but al­bum fit­tingly called Two.

“JP is one of the best gui­tar play­ers I’ve ever seen. And Dave Gun­ning is a great singer and song­writer. I love all those East Coast guys,” says Grif­fith.

And noth­ing gets more East Coasty than a mem­ber of the Rankin Fam­ily. The Bass­ment wel­comes Mairi Rankin who, you might have guessed, plays fid­dle, sings and step-dances. She’ll be ac­com­pa­nied by Mac Morin, oft seen back­ing up Natalie MacMaster on pi­ano.

Need more salt wa­ter in your diet? Check out the New­found­land folk songs of Matthew Byrne (Sept. 15), or the roots music of Cape Bre­ton’s Pretty Archie (Oct. 13) or The Once (Nov. 22— an­other likely sell-out).

Duos are an­other big in­gre­di­ent this sea­son. One gooder for blues pi­ano fans is the tan­dem of Kenny (Blues Boss) Wayne and David Vest with Pianorama on Sept. 30. Each will play one of the club’s two grand pi­anos.

“Not many rooms have two grand pi­anos. They’re go­ing to be talk­ing about those pi­anos, I know,” says Grif­fith. “Those two are per­haps the most high-pro­file boo­gie woo­gie pi­ano player and blues singers in Canada.”

The list of pair­ings goes on and on: For­tu­nate Ones, The Ac­cor­dion Project, Elias James with Anna Klein, Twin Ban­dit, Ellestad Wiik Duo, Oliver the Crow, While Rome Burns and Belle Plaine and Blake Ber­g­land.

On the jazz side, Grif­fith ex­presses ad­mi­ra­tion for Juno-win­ner Diana Pan­ton (Oct. 1). Down­beat Mag­a­zine in­cluded her al­bum I Be­lieve in Lit­tle Things in its best-of 2016.

And of spe­cial note is the Dec. 2 ap­pear­ance of New York jazz singer and pi­anist Champian Ful­ton whose im­age graces the sea­son pro­gram.

“She’s the big­gest jazz artist com­ing,” says Grif­fith. “She’s sort of old-school. She’s re­ally charm­ing. She does ba­si­cally stan­dards and she’s a good pi­ano player. She’s sort of like a Diana Krall, but I would say it’s more ac­ces­si­ble than Diana Krall.”

For more in­for­ma­tion and dates not listed, go to www.the­bass­ment.ca

New York jazz singer and pi­anist Champian Ful­ton — called “the big­gest jazz artist com­ing” — is among the hot tick­ets on Dec. 2. at The Bass­ment.

Duos are a big in­gre­di­ent at the Bass­ment this sea­son, in­clud­ing Kenny (Blues Boss) Wayne, pic­tured, and David Vest with Pianorama on Sept. 30.

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