On what was one of the coldest winter nights, many sought refuge in the Dal Arts Centre. The frigid Friday evening was to play host to Jim Cuddy, who was making his return to the Rebecca Cohn auditorium stage. Cuddy was winding down his Countrywide tour in support of his latest album Countrywide Soul.
While his name may be on the marquee, a Jim Cuddy show is hardly a solo effort. Cuddy stands front and centre, but his band features two longtime members of Blue Rodeo (Colin Cripps and Basil Donovan) in addition to violinist Anne Lindsay, keyboardist Steve O’Connor, and drummer Joel Anderson. Much like the focus of this album, the live performance places the spotlight squarely on this talented group of bandmates Cuddy has fortunately surrounded himself with. Throughout the show, we are treated to searing guitar solos from Mr. Cripps, or Anne Lindsay showcasing her dazzling talents on vocals and violin; even Basil comes forth to take the lead during the encore.
This is an album that Cuddy’s illustrious career has afforded him. The band gathered at his farmhouse studio and Jim took this opportunity to pull a page from George Lucas’s book by revisiting and reimagining some of his earlier works, either from Blue Rodeo or from his growing solo catalogue. A handful of these revisits made the set-list in Halifax, such as “The Light that Guides You Home” and “Back Here Again”, in addition to some classic Cuddy cuts such as “Constellations” and “You Be The Leaver” (a personal favourite that stands tall alongside songs such as “Try” and “Five Days in May”). On this evening, there was one track in particular that made many an ear perk up, and that song was “Water’s Running High” from the 2011 release Skyscraper Soul. It was a great jazzy blues number that hummed with an immediate vigour and warmth that is present on most of Jim’s solo material.
However, as the packed venue will attest, the love for Jim Cuddy is every bit as strong and fervent as the love for Blue Rodeo in these parts. The set ran well over 90 minutes, and allowed the packed house in Halifax to be warmed by Jim’s rich, lush baritone sound. It was the ideal respite from the frosty Friday that awaited us outside. You can be assured that many of these very folks will be in attendance when Cuddy returns with (or without) Blue Rodeo. Until next time, Jim!