By Sweet Sound of Sunrise
Thursday nights are a good time to be at the Orbit Room – specifically, the last Thursday of every month. Live music regularly draws a crowd to this upstairs bar, which would almost be hidden from passersby if it weren’t for the sign out on the sidewalk. In fact, I almost walked past it two nights ago when I went to see what has easily been my favourite musical discovery of the year.
Meet Pretzel Logic, a collection of career musicians – all of them impressive in their own right – who come together every few weeks to play some Steely Dan songs in what their website calls their “labour of love.” And the audience, mostly (and inevitably) comprised of the middle-aged, loves every minute of it.
I dragged along two friends – including Tiana – with me who had never seen them before, and although we got there just as they were starting up, any chance of finding a seat or a place to put our coats was long gone by then. People poured in through the night, leaving one wondering just how many this deceptively sized bar can fit.
This was my third time seeing them, and for the first time I spoke with one of the band members between their two sets. Lead vocalist Mike Shotton, a really cool guy who’s as nice as he is talented, was pleased that people in their 20s (like myself) were not only appreciating the Steely Dan discography, but were regularly coming out to see them play. Not all the regular musicians were there – they had some subs – but the sound was tight and they were, as always, amazing. They do a fantastic rendition of “Deacon Blues,” which is possibly my favourite Steely Dan tune.
Tiana and I met a couple of friendly people in the audience who were themselves musicians, and by the end of the night we were all right in front of the stage, singing and dancing to the music together with some other strangers. That’s the kind of crowd Pretzel Logic draws out. You get a mix of regulars and newcomers, friends of the band and disciples of the Dan, experienced musicians and casual fans looking for a watering hole – and the place overflows with good music and good vibes.
So if you’re hanging around downtown Toronto on the last Thursday of the month (or any day, really – there’s live music every night at the Orbit Room) and you’re looking for just the right mix of jazz, rock, rhythm and blues, you know where to go. Come early, and bring $10 cash for cover.
And I dare you to try not to dance to the music.
You can check out some clips on their website.