When I heard about Montreal’s One-(Wo)Man-Band festival, scenes from Mary Poppins came to mind: Dick Van Dyke marching down a main street with a kick drum on his back and cymbals on his knees.
But in reality, many musicians touring today could be considered a one-man show. From DJs to singer songwriters, more artists are relying on themselves to create performances on par with four-piece bands.
“With a single person on stage, there is an element of vulnerability,” said Jon Cohen, founder of the one-(wo)man-band festival. “If you’re in a band you can hide behind other musicians, but alone all eyes are on you. It is incredible the output only one person can make.”
For Cohen, solo performers become one-man-bands when they approach music in a unique way. Whether incorporating technology such as loop stations and drum machines into a set or using traditional techniques like foot percussion, the one-man-band brings creativity and personality to the stage.
“When I started the festival I asked myself: How am I going to differentiate between a singer-songwriter and a one-man band?” Cohen said.
“It comes down to the quality of the music and quality of the artist. For example, Michael Blind is just a guy with a guitar, but the beauty of him is he can make his guitar sound like three instruments.”
Thursday night Cohen brings his own approach to solo performance to APK Live as Jon Cohen Experimental.
No stranger to live performance, Cohen was a member of The Dears.
“I played as a band for many years, releasing records and touring across the country,” Cohen said. “But it’s very difficult logistically and money-wise to tour.”
“So I reinvented my sound and was thrust into this world of touring. I was able to tour across North America, Europe, and Scandinavia because I was more independent.”
Cohen will be joined by fellow one-man-bands on Thursday: Jean-Paul De Roover, of Thunder Bay and London’s Farmer’s Market, a project by Woody Allen’s bassist Michael Middleton.
“You’re going to be completely surprised by the quality of the music,” said Cohen. “Expect to be very engaged.”
This show is part of APK Live’s Craft Thursday series. The concert is pay what you can, doors open at 7 p.m. for music trivia on the patio. First 20 to arrive to receive a Jon Cohen Experimental album.
• Polaris Prize short-lister and Edmonton rapper Cadence Weapon plays the Out Back Shack Friday at Fanshawe College. Joined by Grand Analog, tickets are $7 at the door, music starts at 9:30 p.m.
• If you’re on Western’s campus between classes, stop by the McIntosh Gallery to see Liza Eurich’s exhibition, The Work of It. The show is a mix of sculpture and drawings by Eurich, a Master of Fine Art student at the university. The gallery is open weekdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and noon to 4 p.m. on Saturday.