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Monday, 20 May 2013

Steve Brockley at Divan Orange

Steve Brockley  |  Divan Orange

Late Night Steve  |  Josh Carey                      
                 Photo  |  Jodie Ponto
      Slider Photo  |  Ross Millar

Many of the same idioms and references appear throughout folk and country’s more shinning examples of songwriting.  Suns rising.  Train whistles blowing.  Booze and Tattoos.  It’s an artist’s solute to those who sang and played before them.  Steve Brockley knows the rules of old school country rock, and plays it up with his new collection of songs on his album “LeBoeuf”.  

Playing to an eager crowd at Divan Orange, Brockley quickly gave the audience what they were looking for, blazing through long, slow grooves in a Kimbrough chord stance, building up his songs with lazy guitar licks that could only be perfected by time and numerous performances.  Accompanied by his upright bassist and drummer, Brockley began his set with his tune “Socks and Shoes”, swiftly establishing that he and his cronies were groovier than most Sweet Home Alabama throw back bands (although it was revealed after the show that Mr. Brockley is actually prone to wearing boots).  His brand of acoustic guitar driven blues could trick the crowd into thinking that the following would be the same old song and dance, but then, Brockley and company would bring in awesome instrumentals from outta nowhere, expelling longings for a “home in the country where its dark when you turn out the lights”.  

In his song “Late Night Nancy”, Brockley touches on the seedier side of the city, singing about Jimmy Page and drunken girls looking to get stoned.  Brockley’s influences are becoming ever clearer.  Brockley told me later on that many of these pent up songs were about the country, yet could only come through him by living in the city.  It wasn’t long before the band got into their repertoire of sailor shanties and work songs, literally “working til the work was done”, causing the audience to stomp as Steve got into his repetitive stomping grooves bordering on an impromptu jam.  Brockley’s bassist couldn’t have been better, working his way up and down the board like a seasoned pro.  The song discussed the passion of working on something you love, and clearly these musicians were doing just that.  

Brockley and his crew seemed to enjoy playing the great musical build ups that they accomplished, which would eventually crumble back to the three-part harmony that started the song in the first place.  The set ended, and the crowd called for more as Steve took out a harmonica and warned that the following song had the most verses he had ever sung.  Needlessly to say, a Dylan song was imminent.  The choice though was surprising and clearly a song that inspires Brockley and his band, as they played through a faithful rendition of Bob’s “Isis”.  It was clear that Dylan’s classic album Desire, which the track is taken from, had a big impact on the young singer-songwriter.  He also revealed that he considered it his favorite Zimmerman album.  For the last song, Steve and his band came into the audience for an acoustic rendition of his song “Always Make It Out in Time”, with a sing-along ensuing.  Steve Brockley moved from BC to Montreal to follow his musical passion, and it indeed seemed that he has more than a few fans showing up at his show.  Brockley’s songs were well received and steeped in various musical traditions, justifying the band’s move.  One thing is certain, Brockley and his band have gotten into a groove that will most likely take them beyond Montreal, back to BC, and in between. 
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