Tony Scherr at the Living Room, Manhattan; Monday November 7, 2011

Tony Scherr just owns my heart. This is my fourth time seeing the guy, and with each time he keeps getting better. I’ve gotta give it to Scherr, he’s one talented musician. He’s got an off-beat voice with a beautiful, distinct guitar sound that really sets him apart from everyone else. Rather than chords, Scherr noodles and follows his voice with his guitar. It’s a really lovely, distinct sound.

Every Monday night, he has a residency at the venue. With the exception of next Monday November 14, he made sure to make sure everyone knew that by the end of the set. But the Living Room is really his home and people adore him for that. I’m not really familiar with all of Tony’s music, but I was happy to hear two songs I knew very well. One was a Jason Collett tune called “Parry Sound,” a nice Canadian homage and the second one was called “You, the Queen,” a tune actually penned by Jesse Harris for Scherr.

So two covers, that have a very near place in my heart.

Scherr is really an honourary Canadian. He made his connections through I believe, Kate Fenner, who he played with years ago, now in the group Chris Brown and Kate Fenner. Fenner is a Toronto native that made her way to New York, which I can only assume is where she met Scherr. Scherr in turn made his way into the Toronto scene, finding him nice company with Jason Collett and Feist. The firs

t time I saw him, he opened for Collett at the Dakota, a very last minute show I heard about from an Eye Weekly magazine the night of the gig. Less than sold out, Scherr hopped on the stage and declared how lucky everyone in the room was to be Canadian. He made it very clear that he was not happy to be an American that night, it was in 2007, Bush time.

His connection to Canadian, Leslie Feist trails back all the way to her 2004 album Let it Die. Her tune “Lonely, Lonely” is actually a carbon copy of the music used in Scherr’s tune “Sacramento.” Such a delicate tune, that is very obviously Scherr’s creation, but works very nicely as a Feist tune.

Finally, his last connection worth mentioning is with Jesse Harris. Scherr spent heaps of time working as a session artist, with brilliant artists

like Bill Frisell and Norah Jones. The New York scene is a very distinct one that features artists like Jesse Harris, Bill Frisell and Norah Jones. All these artists were connected on the soundtrack of the movie version of Ethan Hawke’s book The Hottest State. Hawke, also a Manhattan dweller, starred and directed the film as well. The soundtrack was put together by the wonderful Jesse Harris, who wrote all the songs for the soundtrack and asked a plethora of artists to perform his songs.

Beyond the tight New York City circle, he also got the Black Keys, Willie Nelson, M. Ward, Feist and Bright Eyes to perform his music for the film. I spent ages trying to find this soundtrack with countless attempts of people thinking I said “the Hot Estate.” Finally, I found it at Soundscapes, one of my favourite record stores in Toronto.

Sadly, the movie really doesn’t live up to the soundtrack, but features Michelle Williams and the lovely Laura Linney.

With all this said, it’s the lineage and history behind Tony Scherr’s talents that have kept me a big fan of his throughout the years. It’s really inviting to hear a not quite accessible artist be so well-respected by so  many artists you adore.

If you’re ever in Manhattan, go see Scherr, he plays Mondays at the Living Room at 9pm. For free!

Around the venue was artwork by the musician Joesph Arthur. Before I even found that out, I felt like it was his work. I saw play at the Dakota in Toronto in the summer, where had a two night residency. Throughout the set of both shows he painted on two huge canvases, really odd looking people and animals. Looking around the Living Room, I told my friend Cait that it completely looks like Joseph Arthur’s artwork here. She replied, he apparently had a ten night stand at the Living Room in the summer. I then asked the bartender whose paintings these were, he replied it was Arthur’s.


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