Beach musician Michael Theodore is having a special evening at Hugh’s Room, Oct. 24, at 8:30 p.m., to celebrate the launch of his latest recording project called Leaving Familiar. The CD is produced by JUNO nominee Johnny Max, and features the stellar musicianship of Rob Gusevs, piano, organ and keyboards; Gary Taylor, drums and percussion; Tom Griffiths, bass; and Wayne DeAdder, guitar and vocals.
Leaving Familiar is a great collection of songs ranging from the driving acoustic opener In Stride, with its pounding drums a la Susan Aglukark’s O Siem, to the raucous mix of Dixieland and Barrelhouse on Tell Me That You Love Me (a personal favourite of mine with its electronically enhanced edgy vocals and party-like atmosphere). Along the way Theodore gets soulful – on Diggin’ and Soul Surfing – his voice bearing an uncanny resemblance to David Clayton Thomas in its range and dynamic power.
The title track Leaving Familiar is a cleverly-worded tune about the writer’s realization that he has to break with tradition, and leave his lazy, comfortable ways behind. (“Then we got lazy/The future got hazy/The whole world was passing me by/Here I am/Leaving familiar behind”).
Theodore attempts what few singers have since k d lang recorded her definitive version of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah – and succeeds admirably, again thanks in large part to his incredibly strong vocal performance, as well as the soulful trumpet solo by Kevin Turcotte.
Theodore’s song In Stride won top honours at The Indie International Songwriting Competition, and was chosen as the theme song for the 2013 KPMG’s Niagara Falls Ride For Cancer. This is a fitting tribute to a song which is dedicated to Theodore’s mother Jacqueline Audette, who lost her own battle with cancer just last year. Leaving Familiar wraps up with Audette’s a capella performance of La Vie en Rose – stunningly beautiful. One can readily see where a young Michael would have learned his love of music and singing. For more information, or to order a copy of Leaving Familiar, visit michaeltheodore.com.
Tickets to the CD launch are $25 at the door. For more information call Hugh’s Room at 416-531-6604 or visit hughsroom.com.