Girls Play Pedal Steel Too
It’s rare that I walk into a concert and know all the words to the first two songs I hear. Rare that I know the words to any song. But clearly Big Tobacco and the Pickers have been digging through my collection; “Silver Wings” and “Luckenbach Texas” were the first tunes I heard last Friday night at the Dakota. Country classics, yes: the band’s got a particular stylistic bent, mining a repertoire that never falls out of fashion.
This is the kind of show that the Dakota does best. With a crowd that’s ready and willing to party, all you need are some good two-stepping numbers and the night’s a runaway success. Too bad that nobody two-steps in Toronto, and that the Dakota veers toward hipster cool instead of dingy Texas roadside tavern. Or is that what’s hipster cool these days? In any case, the basement setting and room full of patrons who all knew the words made it feel like Luckenbach must have in the 70s.
Enough about the room. What about the band? Oddly, I didn’t hear any pedal steel until about four songs in. In fact, I was sitting in a spot where I couldn’t see the steel player at all, and as I peered around to find her – yes, her (Anne Werbitsky) – I realized that she was doing what so many of us women players do: hanging back and waiting for the right moments to make her magic. I know she’s learning from the best, as all of us steel players in Toronto are, because I think the only teacher we have in town is the super fabulous Burke Carroll. Next time, I want more!
All in all, I was glad I finally got around to seeing the band, who seem to know how to recreate the real country of Willie, Waylon, and the boys in the most challenging of settings: downtown Toronto.