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A warm welcome to the impressive Joel Plaskett

Let’s give a hearty welcome-back shout-out to Joel Plaskett. The Halifax native is playing the Regent Theatre tonight, Oct. 12, but this is far from his first time playing here. He has toured through several times over the course of his two-decade career and has left an indelible mark on our local scene.

Oshawa native Dave Ritter of The Strumbellas says, “Thrush Hermit was a major influence on me as a kid. I feel like it was on all of us who used to hang out at the Moon Room and play shows at the Dungeon. Around that time, obviously I’m generalizing, but I just remember Clayton Park being everyone’s favourite record and everyone forming riff-heavy, poppy bands. My first band, formed around that time, was basically the Thrush Hermit of “North Dakota” or “From The Back Of The Film” with wannabe Beach Boys harmonies. As I remember it, he was huge for me and the whole scene back then.”

The Juno-winning Plaskett is touring his new album, Scrappy Happiness, and will perform with his band The Emergency. He has played in past years at The Dungeon, the Eclipse and Catch 22.

Ajax-raised Brendan Canning (Broken Social Scene, Cookie Duster, hHead) says that a Thrush Hermit performance was notable for him and for Barenaked Ladies lead Ed Robertson.

“Thrush Hermit opening for hHead at the Pink Flamingo in Halifax in 1993 was pretty memorable,” says Canning when contacted. “He definitely stood out as the ringleader of that circus — at least, that’s how it appeared on stage. Ed Robertson from BNL was there as they were playing in town that night and I know he was quite impressed with Joel and crew.”

Joel Plaskett opened for Bare Naked Ladies when they played the General Motors Centre recently.

Another one-time Ajax resident, Shotgun Jimmie, was also impressed by Plaskett when he first saw him live. The two collaborated on a split 7″ on Plaskett’s label, New Scotland Records.

“Joel is one of the most talented, hard-working musicians I know and a true road warrior. I’m not surprised that he is playing in Oshawa. It’s where I first met him back in the day when Thrush Hermit played at the Polish Hall. We chatted for a couple minutes after the show. I remember being severely star struck, and also surprised with how down to earth and kind he was. Years later we’ve become friends and even worked together. I’m still taken aback by his relentless kindness and generosity.”

Having places where young basement bands can enjoy more experienced acts is of great import to their growth as artists. The Dungeon, for all its faults, provided a space where musicians could play off each other and learn their trade. An all-ages venue is much-needed here for those reasons, but it will happen when it happens.

So let’s welcome Joel Plaskett back to Oshawa. He is an inspiration to many of our local musicians, from Cuff The Duke to Evening Hymns, as well as to those quoted here, plus many more.

The last word goes to another respected Canadian artist, Chris Brown (Open Heart Society, Bourbon Tabernacle Choir).

“Joel is a consummate performer and super-dedicated musician. The bond his audience has with him is a direct result of his sincerity and real work. It’s good to see someone with so much passion infect so many with love of music.”

by William McGuirk, Writer,