Danielle St. Laurent Broken Social Scene will reunite later this year as…
- Posted on Dec 16th 2011 5:00PM by Lonny Knapp
"Does anyone else smell burning hair?" Clive jokes as he tops tiny cups of vanilla ice cream with the flambé and begins serving members of the salivating crowd.
The dish is Bananas Foster, a holiday classic usually prepared in fine dining establishments than on a stage where musicians spill equal parts beer and sweat. However, fans of Collett's annual Basement Revue have come to expect the unexpected.
Now in its fifth year, the variety show takes place each Tuesday in December at Toronto's Dakota Tavern, a cozy, urban cowboy-themed live music venue. The event is an eclectic mash-up of musical and literary performances.
On this night, sets from retro-rockers Zeus, Sloan's Chris Murphy and host Collett are punctuated by readings from Jenny Sampirisi and Montreal's David McGimpsey, whose prose somehow silenced the raucous rock'n'roll crowd.
"It's incredible to have someone stand up in a bar, tell a story, and have the audience be captivated by it," says Collett. "For it to work in this environment, it has to be really good."
Collett loves the Basement Revue format but after five successful years he hopes to relaunch the event next year as a full-on multi-disciplinary arts festival.
"If it was just music, I would have stopped doing this along time ago," says the singer-songwriter. "These nights help expose the rich literary talent we have in this country and I want it to take it to the next level."
His focus might be on the wordsmiths, but that doesn't mean the musical talent is an afterthought. Each year, Collett challenges his musical brethren to bring something new to the table. Past editions have seen members of Zeus, Broken Social Scene and Metric join forces to form one-off side projects.
"They aren't expected to do what they are known for," says Collett. "It's a bit of a tradition to have a Broken Social Scene thing mixed up and turned on its head."
Speaking of Broken Social Scene, earlier this year the beloved indie rock collective announced an indefinite hiatus. For Collett, however, it's business as usual.
"It doesn't change anything for me. I haven't been touring with the Social Scene for a number of years," he says.
Whether working on his forthcoming sixth studio album -- with Howie Beck acting as producer and members of Toronto's indie rock community backing him up -- or promoting literary works in a rock'n'roll arena, Collett does so with a spirit of collaboration.
He says playing nice with others is a lesson he learned while jamming regularly with Kevin Drew and co.
"With B.S.S, I learned to work with a community of artists in a community-based band with multiple facets, and that is really healthy," he said. "I want to continue to explore that by doing these types of projects."