The Junction City Music Hall conjures up images of a massive venue on the west side of Toronto’s Dundas Street. I wondered, how could I have missed it? In reality the hall is a long basement venue with dimly lit booths along the left hand side, and a bar boasting a decent collection of whiskey and bourbon to the right. The stage is set at the far end of the space. Record jackets of everything from Barry White to the Beatles are plastered over the walls. Pulling the entire atmosphere together, the music supplied by DJ Misty was a top notch assortment of roots rock and rockabilly tunes. The eight dollar beer and Jameson deal seemed like a good way to start things off, so we settled into a booth and jammed until the bands went up.
Buzz Deluxe has always delivered an amazing show. A lot of that is due to the fantastic musicianship of the band as a whole. Kerry Dale’s drumming is precise with that soft jazzy touch, and is still able to sing well while playing. The newest addition to the lineup breaks away from rockabilly tradition with a Fender Precision bass rather than a double, but Michelle Cooney looks as if she belongs there and plays awesome. It’s Jesse Dale’s guitar work and vocals that really brings the band together as he rasps about the dark side of love while wailing on his Gretsch. It’s no secret that Jesse is the driving force behind Buzz Deluxe’s career, which spans over a decade and has brought them as far as Australia. The lineup has obviously changed over the years, as has their sound- not an easy task within the rockabilly/psychobilly scene. Yet Buzz Deluxe has matured beautifully without alienating themselves from the sound that defined their early work.
They played songs from their 2009 Release Songs for the Hanged Man like “Us Against You” and “100 Percent Something.” Jesse has always had a certain flair with lyrics, and every time I hear “100% Something” I think about the lyrics towards the end of the tune, “I got forty-five minutes to make you sick / It might not feel good but it’s hundred percent / something.” I love the way Jesse leaves a little mystery within the lyrics. His dark playfulness with words adds to the band’s popularity for sure. The convergence of themes is seen best in the song “5000 Coffins” from 2013’s Miss and Tropic, where he sings: “Five thousand coffins under my feet / five thousand bodies each one of them sweet.” Another good example of lyrics that intrigue me and push me to find the meaning of the song. I was also glad to hear newer tunes like “Old Brown Shoe” and my new favorite head bopper, “Stabbin’ Party.”
After a short break, Jesse and Kerry put on their Hangover hats and backed up Christian D. and the Hangovers. The Hangovers boasted a double bass, coiffed hair, and rolled up sleeves – true greaser psychobillies. Christian D’s tunes picked the pace up and rocked so hard that Christian had trouble keeping the strings on his guitar. They rocked an awesome cover of Johnny Cash’s “Folsom Prison Blues,” and “Tear It Up” by the Cramps. DJ Misty closed the night with some more stellar rock and roll. In summation, check out Buzz Deluxe and Christian D and if you are on the west side don’t forget about the Junction City Music Hall.
Written by Jarod Semple
Photography by Sarah Semple