Davis Hall & The Green Lanterns
Canboro Canborough is the second album from Toronto-based drummer/multi-instrumentalist Jim Casson and his band, The Green Lanterns. Admittedly, this writer is perplexed at how “Davis Hall” fits into this, except to guess that the character, like the song titles, relates to where Casson grew up on the Niagara Peninsula in Ontario, Canada. Specifically, the titles reference the names of historical villages that Casson found on a 1907 military topographical map that hangs in his office. The album title, for example, refers to the street that Casson grew up on. Consider this a musical adventure of sorts. What’s even more interesting is the instrumentation of the unit. Casson, the 2022 Maple Blues Award Drummer of the Year (with Downchild a prime piece of his resume), plays drums, keys, xylophone, gamelan strips, handpan, loops, samples, and vocals. N. Jay Burr (tuba, trombone), Wayne DeAdder (guitar, ukelele), and Mike Branton (slide guitar) round out the unit with guest Mark Lalama (piano, keys, accordion) joining on three tracks.
The music is an odd concoction of blues, jazz, funk, and spoken word, with no easily identifiable reference points. It will get your body parts moving and makes for a great car ride. Casson has his own process in building these eleven tunes, beginning with drum improvisations, adding bass lines (in this case mostly played on a tuba), then chord structures. Once the structure is complete the soloists and melody players (in this case, the remaining three to four musicians) improvise around the framework. A weird aspect to the recording are the audio clips from local disc jockey Bob Bowland on CHOW 1470AM in Welland, and some other amusing clips. For example, the opener “Carrottown” has the repetitive refrains of “Good Morning” and “Have a good day.”
The funky “Homer” rides on insistent beats, the tuba bass line, and interweaving guitars and keys. It’s not just funky; it’s of the filthy variety. The title track plays off the familiar “Spoonful” blues riff and features impressive slide from Branton. “Daincity” is choogling rhythmic exercise that just seems to dare one to try dancing to it. (Good luck). As the title suggests, the ballad “The Comfort In The North” gives us a breather with DeAdder stating the charming melody on his reverb-soaked guitar.
The rousing “Lowbanks” begins with audible hilarity before the band unleashes a funky vamp with some voices and samples mixed in, with Branton’s slide and clavinet-sounding keys delivering the punch. The guitar driven “Winger” rocks hard, rockabilly style while Burr’s opening tuba bursts signal the return of funk in “Silverdale” followed by the syncopated and funky “Humberstone,” the latter with Casson giving his xylophone a workout. “Sugarloaf” is a feature for the two guitarists, propelled by Casson’s churning rhythms and the brief “White Toyota,” obviously not the name of village, has the only fully blown vocal (‘’gonna get to my smiling quota with you”) in the set, with Casson’s low baritone cast perfectly against Burr’s tuba.
Canboro Canborough will put some pep in your step. Keep this one handy for when you’re in need of a spirit boost. It might be the only remedy you need.
- Jim Hynes
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