6 musical memories from Toronto's Idee Fixe Records

by Nivedita Iyer

February 25, 2016






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Idee Fixe celebrate five years with stories of Bry Webb, Jennifer Castle, and The Highest Order.

Photo: The Highest Order

For five years now, Canadiana has burrowed a home in Toronto-based label Idée Fixe Records.

Founders Alex Durlak and Jeff McMurrich have taken great care in fashioning quality releases from the indie-folk of Bry Webb and Jennifer Castle to the psychedelic country of The Highest Order to the prog-pop of Bart (the label’s next release). All are wound together with a penchant for musicians willing to lay their hearts bare upon a set of guitar strings.

The Idée Fixe 5th Anniversary celebration will take place over two nights in Toronto: Thursday, Feb. 25 at the Horseshoe Tavern (featuring Jennifer Castle, Fiver, Alex Lukashevsky, and Bry Webb) and Friday, Feb. 26 at The Garrison (featuring The Highest Order, Bart, Doc Dunn & Co., and Mauno).

In order to commemorate the label’s anniversary, Durlak and McMurrich have turned their gaze fondly towards memories of Idée Fixe past and have come up with a list of some of their favourite moments. From garage shows to Polaris galas, here are six of IF’s very best (and here’s hoping for the future to hold more).

Deloro at SappyFest (Aug. 3-5, 2012)

It could have gone either way. Dallas (Wherle) had arrived from the wilds of B.C. Saturday night. Paul (Mortimer) was at Sappy to play with Fiver. In true Sappy style they watched the sun come up. There were consequences. Sunday came.

Jennifer (Castle) and Dave (Clarke) were driving from a NYC gig with Tony (Romano) who was sent as a chaperone to make sure they got to Sackville. They arrived in blazing heat not having played together for some months with a few hours to spare. Paul Henderson, who had bravely booked Deloro on the main stage, set up a spot where they could rehearse. An hour later they hit the stage — loose, open emotion in all its ragged glory.

After a weekend of late nights we were raw. This is what we needed – a rare visitation from the spirits of rock and roll. Immediately after the show all the Deloro records in the tent were gone.

Alex Lukashevsky at The Music Gallery (Sept. 27, 2012)

The Music Gallery will always be a special place; perhaps that’s the architectural intent of churches, as a space where voices are meant to fill the room, to imbue a spiritual meaning behind the words spoken and sung.

That night was no different. The songs from Too Late Blues couldn’t come from a more human place: three voices and a nylon-string guitar. The masterful command of harmony and timing they displayed and the transcendental beauty of their singing converted many a lost soul that night.

The Highest Order’s first gig (circa Fall 2012)

The details are foggy. I believe it was early fall 2012. It was word of mouth. We were told there was going to be a show and that The Highest Order were going to play.

We ended up in an alley somewhere in the west end. I remember it ran east to west. The night had just fallen. It felt like it was going to rain. I remember Sandy Miranda arrived on her bike and we shot the shit. Then the garage door opened and The Highest Order were there. The garage looked like a cottage, like you could live in there. I had been recording the record and I wondered how long before the cops would arrive.

Then the band proceeded to play at the perfect dynamic. No cops were coming. We could just chill and drink a few beers in the alley listening to some real magical shit. So downtown. This was the Highest Order’s first gig.

Bart’s first gig at the Holy Oak (May 16, 2014)

We had heard their music. We had met them for beers. We had talked about McDonald & Giles. They had invited us over for tacos. We were all getting smitten with one another.

But we had never heard Bart play. No one had. It was their first show. It was like that moment when you’ve just started dating a self-described artist and they invite you over to their place and you know you’re going to see their paintings for the first time. So, immediately there was this relief like “Yes! They’re good!” Then really quickly it turned into a full tilt shit-eating grin “Yes! They slay!”

Bry Webb & The Providers at Massey Hall (May 31, 2014)

We had made Free Will in the fall of 2013. It was released 11 days before the Massey show. For all intents and purposes the Toronto record release show was at Massey Hall, the last time all these very fine musicians were going to be in one place at one time for awhile.

Bry Webb, Rich Burnett, Aaron Goldstein, Thom Hammerton, Anna Ruddick, and Nathan Lawr killed it that night. There is video you should watch. There is an album that is almost sold out you should buy. The next time they all got together was at The Great Hall in the summer of 2015 and we wish there was a record of that gig too.

Jennifer Castle at the Polaris Prize Gala (Sept. 21, 2015)

Award shows inherently have a false dichotomy: One person wins, all the others lose. This outcome has the potential to overshadow all of the accomplishments that the nominees have made prior to the tearing of that envelope.

But that never happened that night at the Polaris. Something washed away all the bad vibes and left behind only joy and bliss. Perhaps it was the power of seeing Jennifer with a full band for the first time. Or perhaps it was, dream among dreams, having a full string section propel her in front of a large crowd in a way that was only previously confined to the studio.

That said it would’ve been sweet to see her hold a novelty cheque!

Tags: Music, Lists, alex lukachevsky, bart, Bry Webb, deloro, idee fixe records, Jennifer Castle, The highest Order






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