NXNE 2011: Day 3, part 2-- from a Silver Dollar to $100

There was blood. There was excessive alcohol consumption. There was loitering in the back alley. Above all, there was music, friends and CBC Radio 3. The names have been redacted to protect the innocent and the not-so-innocent, but that pretty much sums up our last night at NXNE 2011.

After catching part of their set opening for Elliott BROOD on New Year's Eve, it didn't take a coin toss for us to decide to start the evening off with catl at the Silver Dollar Room. This trio from Toronto-- catl (Jamie Fleming), Sarah Kirkpatrick and Johnny LaRue (who looks like a lost member of ZZ Top)-- channel the heart and soul of blues straight out of the Mississippi delta. Whether wringing it from the depths of despair or bringing it with all stops out, working blue is what they do. They have a new album out soon, their first recorded with Kirkpatrick. There's no release date yet ("Once we get the vinyl pressed we'll have a better idea! Stay tuned!" via Facebook) but based on what we've heard, it will make catl proud.

The grand finale: the CBC Radio 3 Showcase at the Legendary Horseshoe Tavern. We were able to devote serious attention to three of the bands in the lineup, all of whom made this year's Polaris long list, beginning with Hooded Fang (Toronto). They do an admirable job of interpreting retro-style pop; close your eyes and it takes you back to the kind of music you'd hear coming over the car radio of a '63 Rambler on a summer night. Their NXNE set, which includes songs from their debut full-length, Album, as well as several from their sophomore album, Tosta Mista, released in July, is available as a podcast here.

Jenn Grant's in love (fiance Daniel Ledwell was at the keyboards) and it's written all over her latest album. Fans are usually hanging on the moment when an artist delivers an older hit, but in this case, it's her new material-- "Parliament of Owls," "Getcha Good," "How I Met You"-- that packs a Honeymoon Punch. The bonus: Buck 65 joined Grant on stage for "Paper Airplanes." Grant's Showcase set is now available as a podcast here.

One Hundred Dollars does for country what D-Sisive et al do for hip-hop-- makes us believe again in a genre largely brought down to the lowest common denominator on commercial radio in the U.S. Lead singer Simone Schmidt's wonderfully textured voice and the rest of the very talented band are reason enough to listen; then put your ears on her poetic, narrative songwriting from their latest release, Songs of Man; they put the simplistic lyrics of what passes for country today to shame. They just announced fall tour dates that include shows opening for Elliott BROOD across Canada, but unfortunately, no U.S. dates. The closest they'll be to Detroit is Call the Office in London on Sat., Oct. 15.

It was about 3:30 Sunday morning when we finally left the Shoe and yawned and limped our way down Queen through the inebriated crowds and around overflowing trash containers back towards the Grange Hotel. It was quiet on Augusta, roses and other summer flowers blooming beneath the streetlights in front of the row of houses. Then, from a front porch, music: a guitar, and a woman singing in a foreign language. We paused, listening to this sweet and simple coda, the genesis of everything we'd heard at NXNE.

Photos: Russ Gordon/N2D Images