Corby's Orbit

Corby's Orbit
Listening in All the High Places illustration by John Kricfalusi

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

The Orbit's Best Records Of 2019 ~ Amazical Zings And Celebratory Tune Perfumes


Lots of unique and moving music came wafting through the Orbit on the solar winds this year but here are a few that really caught me by the ear.

1) Instrumental Health

Darcy Wickham’Signal Hill: His humble logic and responsive touch on the guitar brings moody and resonant rewards chiming up on this spacious collection of mostly solo original gems, lightly burnished by an ear purification system that includes fine work by Drew Jurecka, Burke Carroll and George Koller. “Signal Hill” – Darcy Wickham
Graham Lindsey’Tradhead is a collaborative mandolin album of original tunes (a unique rendering of “Wild Mountain Thyme” being the only exception) in a variety of fashions and fabrics spaciously designed, painstakingly stitched and patterned and held aloft by the skillful finger-grips of one of Canadian folk music’s major musical clothespins. “Folk At Heart Set” – Graham Lindsey
 2) Montréaler Mutations
J.P. Mortier’s Nation Of Iron: A new double album of defiant working-class fight songs, featuring the best supporting talent in Québec (Sienna Dahlen, Beth  McKenna) allows J.P. to bring his muscular lyrical attitude and his stroboscopic acoustic guitar playing to bear on ultra-rock epics and ballads alike. “Who Decides” – J.P. Mortier
Aaron Dolman’s Nostalgia and Other Fantasies: With an improbably adept melding of acoustic string lyricism and jazz vectors, composer/drummer Aaron navigates the imagery of his personal memories using a viola for his narrative voice, paddling over tumultuous rapids and reflective halcyon confluences of guitar and acoustic bass all with a balanced bravado. “Gone For Awhile” – Aaron Dolman
Nomadic Massive’Times: Montréal’s multilingual collective brings their lyrical fire and rhythmic brimstone to empathetic investigations of homelessness, the decline of intimacy, and other apocalyptic apprehensions with a weave of three diverse free-style commentators and up-to-date production values. Caribbean-flavoured vocalist Waahli also released a very impressive solo album this year entitled Black Soap. “Times” – Nomadic Massive
 3) Song Distances
James Gordon’The Heritage Hall Sessions: Strappy politics and compassionate humanism elevate this offering of topical rallying songs, recorded live in a local Guelph hall with the spectacular talents of co-conspirators Tannis Slimmon, Ian Bell, Anne Lindsay, Katherine Wheatley and Jeff Bird – united to focus on the immediacy of our current crisis points, from homelessness to streaming piracy and the terminal consequences of economic growth, with the help of finely sketched underdog icons. The sound of the hall that frames the music reminds us of the clandestine meetings that built the original resistance movements of the 30s. “You Want To Feel Heard” · James Gordon
Charlotte Cornfield’s The Shape Of Your Name permits access to a new level of intimacy for the listener as whimsical inferences and artistic free association lift the casual flow of her musing romantic memoires to the equivalent urgency of a private text, straight from the heart. “Andrew” – Charlotte Cornfield
Shari Ulrich’s Back To Shore: Universal dimensions of emotion develop from her thoughtful personal observations on the cheerful pleasures and poignant perils of a life spent gathering hard-earned wisdom. Production and songcraft float to a new high water level. Again. “Rocky Shores” – Shari Ulrich
Sarah Jane Scouten’s Confessions presents her eloquent narrative sincerity and heart-worn punk elegance in a chromatic variety of formats, awash in boldly scintillated noir guitar and entwined with floating ribbons of steel.  “You Are The Medicine” –  Sarah Jane Scouten
 4) World Quakes
Alex Cuba’s Sublime allows the combined graces of his structuring, melody and especially his rhythmic imperatives, to achieve a hook factor that radiates beyond the restrictions of his native Cuban language and culture into a fractal new hybrid. “Yo No Sé” – Alex Cuba
Aviva Chernick’s La Serena: Somber or exultant, the breadth of the emotions on this collection of Sephardic songs is magnified by the vivid intimacy of the production values and the crystal assurance of Aviva’s vocal conviction.  “La Serena (live)” – Aviva Chernick
OKAN’s Sombras: Hatched from the exciting crucible of Jane Bunnett’s Maqueque crew, the magnificent talents of Magdelys and Elizabeth swirl out to spark a volcanic tropicality, with sleek songs and spectacular musicianship. “Sombras” – OKAN
 5) Music With Smiles In It
James Hill & Anne Janelle’s Many A Moon gives intimate testimony to the verve and affection that the string-wise cello/uke duo brings to performing their treasury of old-timey sounding but original tunes. Between those clever and poetic lyrics and their impulsive instrumental virtuosity, the sun will start to rise in your face with each new track. Excellent live room sound. Full of vitamins. “New Moon” – James Hill and Anne Janelle (live)
Rob McLaren’s llhis second album displays a self-effacing simplicity that brings to mind the casual song-crafting virtues of Roger Miller and John Hartford; whether elegiac, autobiographical or wry, he brings a warm-hearted focus and empathy to every character that he introduces us to. Available at Emma Julien’s CD Club http://www.cdclub2000.com
 6) 
EFM – Electronic Folk Music
T. Nile’s Beachfires Silla + Rise’s Galactic Gala – What’s that scarlet sawtooth wave echoing across the horizon? A fierce and expansive new category of music has given me more pleasure and peace than any other this year. There are no acoustic strings attached, but it still sings to the heart, swathed in orchestral synthetic layering and stark beats. T. Nile expresses strategic curvatures of melancholy and nostalgia with the grand harmonics of her electric guitar, while Silla + Rise fuse innovative throat singing techniques with joyful and insidious primal sonics that awaken patterns of consciousness reflective of the clashing modern mysteries and heroic robotics of the human/android synthesis now taking place on a laptop near you. Forward ever; backward never. Bring it on 2020. “Soft” – Silla and Rise  “So High” – T. Nile
Originally published at Roots Music Canada. Please consider supporting them at 

Monday, January 20, 2020

Crossing The Bar ~ Farewell To Some Dear Canadian Musical Friends in 2019



Passing glances at those whom we lost in 2019.


Music: Crossing The Bar from "Confessions", the new album by Sarah Jane Scouten, courtesy of Light Organ Records. Lyrics by Alfred, Lord Tennyson and Music by Bertie Higgins.
Arranged by Sarah Jane Scouten.

Corby's Orbit claims no ownership of any of the photos or clips used in this tribute.

Video composition by Paul Corby.

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Corby's Orbit with Laurel MacDonald, Sonia Johnson and Lunar Bloom Jan 17 2020

Commissioner of Selection: Paul Corby 

( Brought to you by  TerrificTraffic, Fanatical Phonetics and Scenic Science )

5-7 p.m. Fridays online http://www.radioregent.com/ and at tunein.com .  

Guests: Laurel MacDonald of Darbazi , Sonia Johnson and Kelly McNamee, Brittany Robinson & Jocelyn Regina of Lunar Bloom


Click On Pictures To Enlarge 

Canadians in Asterisk’d RED. 

5:00  High Tidings


* William Prince ~ The Spark ~ Reliever (Six Shooter Records 2020)  NEW DISK

Bob Dylan ~ Things We Said Today ~ The Art Of McCartney ~ Here Today The Music of Paul McCartney @ The Linsmore tonight

* Stuart Laughton FEAT. Rebecca Campbell ~ Way Past Midnight ~ LOOK UP! CELEBRATES THE MUSIC OF PAUL QUARRINGTON @HUGH’S ROOM LIVE, TUESDAY, JANUARY 21

Van Morrison ~ The Burning Ground ~ The Healing Game ~ The Music of Van Morrison @ Hugh's Room Live tonight

Tinsley Ellis ~ Foolin' Yourself ~ Ice Cream In Hell (Alligator 2020) NEW DISK

* Courage My Love ~ Barricade ~ For Now ~ @ The Rivoli Sunday for Navigate The Sky CD Launch 

5:20 Georgian On My Mind

* Darbazi ~ Kviria / Interview with Laurel MacDonald / The Cuckoo (live) ~ Vakhtanguri ~ @ Speak Music Be Kind Festival @ The Tranzac Saturday 7 p.m. 

5:45 World Wind

* Alex Cuba ~ Esta Situacion ~ Sublime ~ @ Mod Club Tuesday 21 January




* Sonia Johnson ~ Hidden Places / Interview ~ Chrysalis NEW DISK ~ @ Hugh's Room Live Sunday 2 February

* Oktopus ~ Tati Un Mama Tants ~ Hapax ~ @ Alliance Francaise with Beyond The Pale Friday 24 January

Touré Kunda ~ Téria ~ Sili Béto (Trafic 1992)

Freddie McGregor ~ Smile ~ Massive Reggae Hits vol. 2

Laurie Anderson ~ Walk The Dog ~ Single ~ @ Koerner Hall Saturday for 21C Festival

6:20 Floral Satellites

* Lunar Bloom ~ Cold, Cold / Interview / Sweater (live) / Look At You (live) ~ Lunar Bloom EP NEW DISK ~ @ Speak Music Be Kind Festival @ The Tranzac Saturday 4 p.m. & 12 a.m.









6:45 Central Essentials

James Taylor feat. Paul McCartney ~ Rainy Day Man / Circle Round The Sun ~ James Taylor (Apple 1968) ~ 7th Annual Sweet Baby James: The Music of James Taylor @ Hugh's Room Live 

* University Of Toronto Jazz Orchestra ~ Over My Head ~ Embargo NEW DISK / Toronto Music Listinngs

* Bruce Cockburn ~ He Came From The Mountain ~ Sunwheel Dance (True North 1971)














Monday, January 13, 2020

New Blues Movements With Wide Mouth Mason



Deciduously speaking, when our cellular apprehensions fall into a preoccupation with the approach of winter, the inner sap of our collective spirit traditionally goes to ground. Seeking the comfort of the roots, we divest ourselves of our exterior colours and brace up as they fall away and fade to sere and dun.
Not being trees, however, we can reverse our natural reactions and retractions and escape.
Such motivations invest Wide Mouth Mason’s new album, I Wanna Go with You. True to the title, core members Shaun Verreault and Saf Javed, not unlike Canadians in general – both people and geese – endorse the migratory option. Lyrically, they choose flight over inertia every time.
“You’re livin’ or you’re dyin’ and there ain’t no in between,” they sing in the hook of the opening tune, “Bodies In Motion.” All of the songs in this new collection, their first in eight years, are animated by images of free movement, travel, and their many impediments.
We seem to be participating in a voyage back in time as well, listening through a plate of antique dark glass as the sonic texture of Ryan Dahle’s production embraces vintage instruments, slap back echo, shout choruses, multi-tracked guitar and an assiduous loyalty to the backbeat to recreate the feel of 30s and 40s folk/jump blues. The record also prominently features Verreault’s innovative “Tri-Slide” technique, using three slides on his fretting hand. In a country that has almost as many proponents of country blues as it has of the fiddle, what sets Wide Mouth Mason apart from Michael Jerome Browne, Steve Dawson or Cecile Doo Kingué is their rock-band heritage.
The occasional melodically-layered harmony vocal or folk/pop signal rectifiers such as “Anywhere” or the album’s anti-nostalgic closer “You Get Used To It” arise as buffers between the head-on high voltage chargers. They also play a startling wild card with an almost unrecognizable cover (spoiler alert) of Bowie’s “Modern Love.” In a recent showcase at Toronto’s Dakota Tavern, the band was also savvy enough to do an encore of classic Wide Mouth Mason repertoire, including “Smile” and “Why,” to spark the sing-along tinder of their abiding audience component of a certain 90’s vintage.


With Dahle having added his own bass tracks to “hold the place” for an eventual player to fill in, the band decided that his undercoating contribution was exactly what was needed and kept them in. On the forthcoming tour of the album, the band will be taking subterranean support from the incredibly concrete bass talents of Darren Parris. For live fidelity, the songs, as recorded, are all templated to a trio format, although harp-mongers Shawn Hall (minus his Axe Murderer partner) and Big Sugar alumnus Kelly Hoppe bring some hyperspace harmonica to bear on two tunes. Although there are no dates set as yet for a tour, once the record finds its legs, there will be plenty of map reading and hard road spreading out as Wide Mouth Mason navigates the blue lines of the world’s wide open spaces once again.
Further explorations are directed to I Wanna Go With You – Wide Mouth Mason
Originally published on Roots Music Canada.
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Saturday, January 11, 2020

Playlist For Corby's Orbit Show Of 10 January 2020 with Nate Smith of The Barrel Boys, Lynn Harrison & Vivienne Wilder


Commissioner of Selection: Paul Corby 

( Brought to you by Charsupials, Kangaruins & Holocaustralia)

5-7 p.m. Fridays online http://www.radioregent.com/ and at tunein.com .  

Guests: Nate Smith of The Barrel Boys, Lynn Harrison & Vivienne Wilder

Show Dedicated to Neil Peart


Click On Pictures To Enlarge 

Canadians in Asterisk’d RED. 

5:00 Potential Essentials

David Keenan ~ Unholy Ghosts ~ A Beginner's Guide To Bravery NEW DISK

* Silla + Rise feat. Kelly Fraser ~ Matriarchs ~ Galactic Gala 

* The Special Interest Group ~ People Have The Power ~ The Spark NEW DISK

* Sonia Johnson ~ We Need To Know ~ Chrysalis NEW DISK ~ @ Hugh's Room Live Sunday 2 February

* Kerri Ough ~ I Couldn't ~ One Day Soon NEW DISK

Simon & Garfunkel ~ Anji / Church On Fire ~ Old Friends ~ Homeward Bound: A Tribute To Simon & Garfunkel @ Hugh's Room Live  tonight

5:30 Imminent Barrels

* The Barrel Boys ~ Over The Waterfall / Interview with Nate Smith / Bacon In The Cornbread ( live ) / Cherokee Shuffle ( live ) / Jordan ~ Cold Spring / Gospel Hour ~ SPEAK Music Be Kind Festival 17-19 January @ The Tranzac 1 & 3 & 10  p.m. Sunday January 19 

* Sarah Jane Scouten ~ Pneumonia (To Love) ~ Confessions NEW DISK

* Minor Empire ~ Dunya ~ Uprooted @ Burdock Wednesday 15 January

* Malcolm Burn ~ Pardon My Heart ~ Borrowed Songs: A Tribute To Neil Young

6:00 Lynn Harrison's Love Horizons 


* Lynn Harrison ~ Something More / Interview / Home Away From Home / You Come To Me ~ Something More 
NEW DISK ~ @ The Tranzac for The Bridge 22 January & @ Hugh's Room Live 26 January for CD launch 

6:20 Standing Down At the End Of The World

Donald Fagen ( b. 10 January 1948 ) ~ Green Dolphin Street ~ The New York Rock & Soul Revue






Ry Cooder ~ Blue Suede Shoes ~ The Slide Area ~ The Cadillac Lounge's Birthday Tribute To Elvis @ Hugh's Room Live Saturday

* Vivienne Wilder ~ Where's Johnny? / Interview / Trash ( live ) ~ Waking Up The Dinosaurs ~ @ SPEAK Music Be Kind Festival Friday 17 January 10 p.m.

6:40 XLR8N Exhilarations

* Manteca ~ Kowabunga ~ Augmented Indifference NEW DISK

Colossus ~ One / Thrupenny Bits ~ West Oaktown (2002 OM HipHop) / Toronto Music Listings 

David Mead ~ Wherever You Are ~ Wherever You Are 












Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Christmas Caravan Comes To Church with the Sultans of String



Winter bit in a bit early this year, so it’s natural, in the northern order of things, to obey the nesting impulse, to align ourselves more intimately with the purr of the furnace and the Koenig and the glow of all those radiant screens. But under the adversarial grimace of Canada’s perennial seasonal foe, in the hyper-frost of a Sunday night, the grandeur of an itinerant Christmas caravan lured a large congregation of suburban Toronto music faithfuls out to the convivial refuge of a neighbourhood church for a carnival of cultural delights.
“We really have never known the capacity of Kingston Road United before,” said presenter Tim Dawson, as folding chairs were hauled out of the basement to accommodate the overflow and discounted seating in the choir section behind the altar was hastily bought up. “We thought it was about five hundred. Turns out it’s more.” As he introduced his headliners, Sultans of String, appearing in the church’s concert series for a third time, he added, “And we hope to see you all back here next Sunday.”
The prevailing incidence of worship centers taking the place of failed licensed venues as showcases for contemporary musicians is a trending phenomenon in both urban and outlying communities. This church relies upon sponsors to fund the production and takes the profits from the door. The Sultans also made use of the event to fund their upcoming album Refuge by distributing pre-order forms. Making music viable is a developing art form.

The initial welcoming-in was entrusted to Giluts’aaw musician and elder Shannon Thunderbird (“My name came before the car”), who centered the mood of the evening with a performance of the Huron Carol, featuring the original Indigenous lyrics. The Sultans then commenced dazzling the crowd with their virtuosic string-craft and song juggling from their vast Canadian / Balkan / Mideast / Christmas repertoire. The sense of pageantry was heightened by Ventanas’ frontwoman Tamar Ilana who snapped the chancel floorboards to reverberant life with her flamenco vigor and thrilled the sanctuary with cascading swirls of her skirt and two flame-coloured banners.


Over the course of the generous programme, affable guitarist Donné Roberts led a celebratory sing-a-long for Kwanzaa, Lynn Miles sang her stark and timely ballad “What If You Were a Refugee,” Shannon returned with an anthemic and rousing “Power Of The Land,” and the omnipresent and effervescent voice of Rebecca Campbell rose to spontaneously inhabit the architecture of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” with a new and glorious spirit. The crowd erupted with flurries of applause and vivid gusts of appreciation at the end. All in all it was a Christmas miracle of song, secular and sacred, joyful and triumphant, as all Christmas celebrations should be.
And thank heaven that the Fire Marshall didn’t show up. Amen.

Originally Published at Roots Music Canada. Please consider supporting them at RootsMusic.ca : Creating Roots Music Media