Oshawa alt-country darlings Cuff the Duke’s lone Halifax show in August was so successful they will be doing double duty this time around. The pair of performances on November 18 and 19 at Stage Nine will also be purposefully dissimilar, which frontman Wayne Petti says will make it worth forking out the $15 to attend both.
“We’re going to mix it up a little bit and try to make it interesting,” he says, shying away from specifics. “Different songs, maybe a collaboration, we’re saving a couple things for the second night…make it a reason to come back, we’re going to have some tricks up our sleeves.”
After next week, Cuff will take time off from supporting their self-titled sophomore effort, released earlier this year. “This is it for us for awhile, we’re going to take a bit of a break until the new year,” says Petti. “We want to go out with a bang.”
In its earlier stages, the concept for Jann Arden’s sixth studio album was to not be a Jann Arden record at all. She and longtime collaborator Russell Broom began writing the self-titled record as an anonymous project which, in the end, resulted in another Jann Arden album.
“Russell and I were just jackassing around and writing kind of some really dysenteric, textural stuff, and we just thought hey this would be really cool to shop in Europe because it doesn’t really sound like what we ordinarily do,” says Arden, on a break between her fourth and fifth consecutive shows at Toronto’s Massey Hall. (She plays the Metro Centre on November 17.) “But after we wrote two or three songs after that, we sort of just found our way back into the kind of music I have been doing for the past 20 years. So that was a short-lived idea.”
Her new record is not without the emotional songs she is known for, but some have a surprisingly more upbeat tempo. “I’m criticized constantly for sounding like myself, which I think is ironic to say the least,” she says. “Every time I do a record my critics will say, ‘Well it just sounds like Jann Arden record.’ And I am just not sure who else I am supposed to sound like.”
Arden has found comfort in what she does best.
“It would be really interesting to take on an anonymous project, release it in Asia, and really think outside yourself,” she says. “But I don’t know if I am capable of doing that yet. I think it would just come back around to writing about things in my life, you know.”
Since her breakthrough record Living Under June, Arden has forged a reputation for heavy-hearted ballads and her paradoxically wacky sense of humour. The Calgarian has become somewhat of a Canadian icon, and attributes her longetivity — backed up by sold-out shows across the country — to staying true to writing songs that personally engage her. She credits non-format radio stations for causing her songs to resurface.
“You recall a song like ‘Good Mother’ from 1995 or whenever it was, that’s great for me because I am recurrent now,” Arden says. “Some of my stuff is considered in antiquity so I am getting play listed on some of those stations, which is hysterical.”
She wouldn’t change a thing. “I’ve never claimed to be Moby, or Nirvana, or Fatboy Slim — I do what I do and I have a good time doing it,” she says. “I have a very specific audience and I am happy with that.”
Really big shows
Forty-three-year-old Tommy Lee’s college-town tour continues, we hear, on March 2 at the Halifax Metro Centre when Motley Crue is rumoured to be sweating white make-up all over the stage. We can confirm, however, that the new year will kick off right with an appearance by indie darling Feist at The Marquee Club on January 14.
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