One-Man-Band-FestEverybody seems to make such a big deal about two man (or the more politically correctly “two person”) bands these days. Remember when White Stripes came out? You had a friend who would not shut up about how “it’s only two people making this music.” Similarly with Death From Above 1979, or more recently there’s that Twenty One Pilots band that some people seem to be really excited about. However all of these bands would not be invited to one particular Montreal based music festival this weekend for a simple reason: they would be too big to participate.

Montreal’s 3rd annual One Man Band Festival kicks off this Thursday, May 15th at venues all over the Plateau/Mile End and will be a celebration of musical acts that don’t need any backup. I’m not going to lie, when I first heard about the festival the first thing that popped into my head was the image of an old-timey musician with a bass drum strapped to his back and cockamamie contraptions allowing him to manipulate a collection of cymbals, harmonicas, string instruments and maybe an accordion tossed in for good measure. Don’t get me wrong, there is some of that at the festival, but there’s also a ton of other musical genres that will be explored by a lone performer.

Looking over the lineup I was hyper pleased to see that the festival managed to book a few my own personal favorite (Canadian no less) one-man bands. Although seeing them all might be somewhat of a trick; the organizers crammed over 60 performers (and each performer in this case being a band unto themselves) into 4 nights of music. So who are my picks? Glad you asked.

Bloodshot Bill:bloodshot-bill

Bloodshot Bill is a man from another time. As soon as you see him set up on stage, you realize that in an alternate reality this man would be tearing the roof off of small town music clubs all across the country, breaking the hearts of farmer’s daughters and most likely travelling by box car to the next town before sun rise. He still tears the roof off of small town music clubs, but I’m less sure of the farmer’s daughter and box car thing. His one man rockabilly sound is performed with passion and energy just pours out him for every second. The man is a legend in the making and if you have any sort of nostalgic love for the edgier side of Elvis, Johnny Cash or Carl Perkins you owe it to yourself to see him get up there and do his thing.

Bloodshot Bill is headlining for the Festival’s Rockabilly One Man Band Show on Thursday, featuring Marisa Anderson and Shake it Like a Cave Man at Case Del Popolo, $12.00.

tony-ezzyTony Ezzy:

I remember the first time I saw Tony Ezzy was at a small venue on Crescent street (that venue is now Crobar, but back then I think it was just 1221 Crescent). A guy got up on stage that looked a little bit like those weird uncles you only see at funerals who never quite got out of the 70s. He was accompanied by a ninja. I’m not shitting you. What happened next was he jammed down some funky beats, looped them. Played some funky synths, then looped those (on top of the beats). He continued this way until a few minutes later, thanks to layers of funky loops , he was pumping out some of the funkiest grooves in the city. I was amazed and have been a fan ever since. He’s a little on the weird side, but if you haven’t seen him, this weekend is a perfect chance to remedy that situation.

Tony Ezzy is opening up for the Festival’s Outsider Music Monobands show on Friday, also featuring Jenny Omnichord, Smoota and Wax Mannequin, Divan Orange, $10.00.

rich-aucoin-newRich Aucoin:

What can I say to make sure you go see Rich Aucoin? Listen, if you like fun: go see Rich. Rich Aucoin is basically the best thing to ever come out of Nova Scotia. I’m not going to do any research to make sure that there aren’t any doctors or humanitarians that came out of Nova Scotia because even if there were I would stand by my statement. Rich Aucoin shows often feature dancing underneath a giant multicolored parachute (like when you were a kid), hilarious Youtube clips between songs and small interludes where Rich makes sure everyone in the audience knows the lyrics to the next song so even first timers will be able to sing along. His full length album “We’re All Dying to Live” is still a go-to for me and the fact that he kicks the energy level up a notch in his live performance seal the deal for him as one of Canada’s best live acts. If you’re looking for a dance party, just find Rich Aucoin.

Rich Aucoin is headlining the One Man/Woman Dance Party on Friday at Sala Rossa, also featuring Xania and Digit: Missile Command. $16.00 in advance, $18.00 at the door.

These three are just the tip of the iceberg and the festival has a whole lot more in store. The organizers have thoughtfully grouped performers together into similar genres so you can get a whole set of likeminded musicians with their unique one person spins on a particular style. Some of the shows that caught my eye for Saturday night:

  • Swampy Primitive Garage One Man Bands, Saturday at The Barfly, $10.00
  • Solo Electro Dance Beat Masters, Saturday at Club Lambi, $10.00

Finally, if you are completely unsure of what to see (or are you’re maybe just completely broke this week) the Festival closes down with a Free Show on Sunday at Terrace McAuslan starting at 1:00 pm.

One Man Band Festival runs Thursday May 15th to Sunday May 18th, Various Venues. Official site hereAll images from One Man Band Festival Official site.