Jim White : Toronto Horseshoe Tavern

Nu-country troubadour promotes his brilliant new 'No Such Place' album...

When not signing an autograph for the one fan who approaches him during the opening act, Jim White almost seems to blend in quite well on this free ‘New Music’ night. Although it’s a far cry from the opening slot supporting the Dave Matthews Band later this week, the new guru of “philosophical blues” is raring to go with a slew of dry one-liners and some damn depressing material. It’s beautifully depressing.

Dressed like a ‘Dukes Of Hazzard’ refugee, the singer has the attention of four dozen people in front, but hardly anyone in back. “You ready out there?” he says to nobody in particular before starting up. From the onset, the audience is split. Some embrace ‘A Perfect Day To Chase Tornadoes’ while others head for the door. The murky, seedy underbelly of each tune only underscores the fact that this is not Beck‘s bolero as some would suggest.

Jesus, Satan, revenge and redemption seem to be the themes surrounding each song. ‘Corvair’ comes off as a bit more uplifting, even if the title derives from a rustic vehicle. ‘Handcuffed To A Fence In Mississippi’ is easily the acme and gets a big reaction. As some stare on in a bit of a stupor, White only adds more gas to the flames: “I’m not going to do any killin’ tonight, don’t worry!”

Backed by a quartet all too familiar with White’s deadpan quips, the group begins to bring the set around the quarter pole. By now, almost everyone remaining is standing up front. White shows off to the crowd the American flag on his sleeve. “We’ve come to ruin your country! Do you still want us to play?” ‘Christmas Day’ precedes ‘The Wound That Never Heals’ and with that, the nondescript musician walks off. Somewhere in America tonight, Quentin Tarantino should be writing a script around White’s lyrics.

Jason MacNeil