Steve Goldberger and The Fringe Locals ( )Niagara-On-The-Lake Rhythm Project
Shed ( )
Ever hear of historical tourism? It's springing up all over rural Ontario towns offering up their quaintness and look-of-rural lifestyle for daytrippers and people who want a tangible version of the nostalgic "how it used to be". Sometimes the shops will sell gifts, sometimes fudge or homeade jams, often the towns will have specific drawing factors (in the case of Niagara-On-The-Lake its grapes and the Shaw Theatre). The Niagara-On-The-Lake Rhythm Project offers an image of that rurality. The shells making noise on the beach. Lilac gardens and afternoon breezes. Less new age than new rage. (And the irony of the new rage being the old age...).
This is the kind of CD they play in the shops of Niagara-On-The-Lake, offering up the "local scene" as complementing the image of the town theyre trying to sell. Think a sunny day on a Canadian made-for-tv movie. There are hints of similarity to Baka Beyond's Journey Between (in the lighter moments, although Baka Beyond is more Delirium-like), but the more I listen to this, the more I wonder to what degree it was a money making project. And the only reason why I speculate is because to see some of these musicians live Penner McKay for example, (whose solo drumming CD, Rhythm Dust, is one of the most powerful, fluid, make-you-get-up-and-dance CDs I've heard), or the band he plays with Matinee Slim & The Ultra Light Orchestra, is the promise of an awesome night the kind of funked up, rhythmic jazz which keeps the room out of their seats and the glasses full.
The fact that The Niagara-On-The-Lake Rhythm Project doesn't come close to tapping into that energy is disappointing. However, I don't think it was meant to. My guess is that it was intended to be played in the background of the local clothing and gift shops; a disc that people buy as part of the experience of having visited "The Prettiest Town in Canada". This CD goes to show that there is more depth to the N-O-T-L music scene than what is offered on the surface but isn't that the way it always is?
RECOMMENED TRACKS: "Big Noise From NOTL (Part 1)", "More Noise from NOTL", "Dog and Drum"
By Shannon Doyle
May 3, 2002