Danielle St. Laurent Broken Social Scene will reunite later this year as…
- Posted on Dec 9th 2010 12:30PM by Jessica Lewis
Now celebrating its fourth year, the series -- which features a hodgepodge of Canadian musicians, storytellers and poets each Tuesday during December -- kicked off this week a little differently than years past. Setting aside his usual closing slot, Collett opted to open the show with his own songs, including new ditty 'Cassandra.' And according to the sometimes Broken Social Scene-ster and 'Artist of the Year' nominee for XM The Verge Music Awards, there are other changes afoot.
"I've been trying to do less and less of [my own performing] and just let the series be its own thing, and not be associated with it," Collett tells Spinner. "I'm still the host. But this year is the first year it's not called 'Jason Collett's Basement Revue' -- I think it's got its own legs now."
Ironically, Collett's most valued venture with the series has become its poetry and storytelling component. This was apparent opening night when he invited poet and bartender Dave O'Meara, author and storyteller Pasha Malla and poet Ken Babstock to perform. Collett admits that he has past guest Rich Terfry, aka Buck 65, to thank for peaking his interest.
"It's become a little more equal over the years," he says. "To be honest, I don't think I'd be doing it, if it was just music. The reason I'm doing this is because I'm really interested in mixing it up with the other disciplines."
The highlight of the non-musical portion on Tuesday occurred towards the end of the night when O'Meara read his poetry while singer-songwriter Peter Elkas and his band improvised behind him.
"Essentially, it's more and more become an exploration of some of the space that exists between the disciplines: the literary world and the music world, and just exploring some of that ground in between," says Collett. "So the musicians are communicating -- you're witnessing that -- but then they're all sort of trying to find a groove together, and that spontaneity is where the real magic happens."
As a rule, the performers taking part in the 'Basement Revue' are kept a secret, with musicians, such as BSS founders Kevin Drew and Brendan Canning, Metric's James Shaw and K-OS, only being unveiled night of. Dec. 7 saw Jessy Bell Smith, Julie Fader, Jim Bryson and Peter Elkas offering up heartwarming sets, which showcased new songs, fresh collaborations and even some rattled nerves. The show ended with a resounding bang when Elkas and his band launched into a lengthy set featuring tunes off his upcoming album, 'Repeat Offender.'
The 'Basement Revue' was created with the intention of highlighting the Dakota Tavern, says Collett, a big supporter of his neighborhood hang-out. It was also his intention to establish a platform for his friends to showcase their incredible voices and talents. The idea came out of another local residency he organized dubbed 'Radio Mondays,' a scene-strengthening songwriters night that helped fuel Toronto's Broken Social Scene-led indie explosion in the early 2000s.
"It's been a nice sort of tradition," enthuses Collett.
And one that's caught the eye of award-winning director Peter Lynch, who has on hand to film festivities in 2009. And though Collett doesn't plan on following in his labelmates' footsteps (with BBS' 'This Movie is Broken' and Feist's 'Look at What the Light Did Now'), the documenting signals the revue's success. So, too, does the fact that Collett has been toying with the idea of leaving the Dakota in order to accommodate larger crowds. Clearly a natural at producing events, Collett is currently looking at throwing an event as part of Toronto's Luminato light festival next year, or possibly throwing his very own festival.
"It's been a really rewarding thing to do.".