[Gord Downie may be gone, but the other members of The Hip are still making music. Gord Sinclair recently staged an acoustic show at the Neat Coffee Shop in Burnstown, Ontario, near Ottawa. Ross McDonald was there and files this report and these pictures. – AC]
For many of us, 2020 is that year when everything has gone wrong. But for Gord Sinclair, it was in 2017 that he lost his bandmate, Gord Downie, to cancer. Downie and Sinclair were more than just a fellow musician in The Tragically Hip, they were co-writers of many of the Hip’s big hits, and close friends since growing up in Kingston. In Feb 2020 Gord Sinclair released his album Taxi Dancers; the first member of the Hip to embark on a solo career.
On Friday night (October 9) Gord brought along James McKenty, guitarist of the band The Spades, to Neat Coffee Shop in Burnstown, Ontario, for an acoustic performance. James and Gord have collaborated before with Gord producing The Spades studio albums and James engineered Taxi Drivers for Gord. The chemistry between Gord and James is evident, and seldom does acoustic music sound so full both musically and vocally. And Gord is the quintessential Canadian, graciously sharing the spotlight with James.
Several of the songs were tributes to Gord Downie, filled with heart and emotion, especially “Wonderful Way,” which Sinclair wrote for Downie when he was sick in the hospital. Gord’s song “Forward March Fight” was very powerful showcasing his songwriting and performing chops. The show ended with a couple of Hip songs which were big crowd pleasers (“Courage” and “Wheat Kings.)
The music and evening were beautiful, especially as we are all starved for live music; and the musicians and music venues are struggling during the pandemic. Neat Coffee Shop has a beautiful setup outdoors at their ‘shed’, safe and acoustically pleasing. It is well worth the visit.