Michael Johnston w/ Dave Clark - Jan 23rd, 2005

Michael Johnston is a recent transplant to Winnipeg but is not going to be spending much time there. After seeing him showcase at the Ontario Council of Folk Festivals conference in Guelph in October, we struck up a conversation about playing in Sudbury. Michael had been through The Townehouse a few times in the late 90's with a groove/ piano based group, Us And Wilbur. With a couple of shows lined up in the north, Michael set out on the coldest weekend of the year Sudbury. I think that it was -40 tonight and the crowd reflected it. A much nicer bunch turned out earlier for the house concert, but tonight we just couldn't get anybody to hang out here. Such a shame. MIchael, accompanied by Dave Clark (The Rheostatics, Dinner is Ruined) played two sets of songs of spirited songs that warmed the night. The two took turns on fronting the duo, Dave going between a small drum kit and percussion, Tuba and Guitar. Michael also switched from Piano to Accordian to Tuba. The players came out to the tables to entertain person to person... Michael with a personal toy bell piano. Michael's songs are the focus, telling tales of his curious heart. His voice follows the path driven by Ontario writers such as Martin Tielli and Danny Michel but the delivery seems to have an air of innocence that these writers have lost in their own tales of woe. I think that Michael still sees light at the end of dark twisted tunnels through the mind. The captivating part is the show. The dynamic between Dave and Michael was strong. They realize it as well, knowing that sharing stages with friends and colleagues can often lead to a sum greater than the parts. Case in point that came up in conversation was the Kate Maki, Ruth Minnikin, Dale Murray, Ryan Bishops, Nathan Lawr tour crossing Canada this winter. 5 friends, five singers, 5 writers, a van load of instruments. Michael and Dave have taken their first steps toward this captivating style of show. Watch for them at festivals this summer. Strong songs and funny on stage. It's workshop heaven.