Oh Donna

25 07 2010

As soon as I got back to Chicago, it was hard not think that our 5 day trip to the Dawson City Music Festival was all just a dream.  We didn’t have to work, just play music.  Didn’t have to get up in the morning, the sun never set, food was tasty and plentiful, drinks were free, and everyone knew who we were and wanted to be our friend.  No one had a TV, “Twilight” and the Gulf oil spill were far from our minds, I was able to walk everywhere, and our kick-ass hostess Rachel played me more new indie music in 2 days than I’d heard in Chicago in 2 years (turns out the new She & Him record is quite good).  Everyone was pretty cool, but there wasn’t that insane small town vibe where strangers on the street are creepy-friendly.

Was turned on to a lot of amazing musicians while we were up there, and one of the brightest stars was Donna Grantis from Toronto, who was playing guitar with Shakura S’aida.  Billy talked to her a lot more than I did, sounds like she grew up on solid classic rock fundamentals (Slash, Jimi, Jimmy Page) but dug further back into those dudes’ influences and ended up a smoking blues player.  Donna had serious style too, with a gold sparkle guitar, one side of her head shaved, and a line of jewelry for sale at the merch booth.

The first time I saw her play was during the Neil Young workshop on Saturday afternoon, where the all-star group (featuring members of Constantines, Elliott BROOD, and Burning Hell) tore through a 40-minute version of “Cortez the Killer” (hopefully a recording of that will show up), and then she started popping up at every workshop and jam through out the weekend: the Gospel Workshop with JC Brooks & Fred Penner, the Electric Blues Workshop, the Soul Sunday after-show at the Midnight Sun, where she and Shakura went toe-to-toe with JC and Billy, with Donna pulling out all the stops, including dropping to her knees and playing behind her head.

During the big Sunday night of finale of “Fight For Your Right to Party”, I was at the back of the stage pounding a floor tom, but someone caught this shit-hot video:

I hope we get to see and hear more of her.

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