William Parker @ various locations: Thursday & Friday

Oh, that I could understand the mysteries of free jazz.

I don't pretend to be an expert in all genres of music by any stretch of the imagination. But, what I do know is that William Parker is hoping to do that: stretch one's imagination. Jazz bassist William Parker is proficient in various flutes and other wind instruments, and has been called "a weather vane that points listeners and musicians to the new directions of jazz” by allaboutjazz.com.

William is a kid from the Bronx who was never formally trained, but still managed to glean knowledge from the top double bassists 15 to 20 years his senior. These men played regularly with John Coltrane and Thelonius Monk, so you know we're talking about the crème de la crème.

Thanks to Carleton music prof and local percussionist Jesse Stewart, William Parker is doing a weekend residency here in Ottawa that includes a couple of free events.

William Parker, jazz bassist

William Parker. (WilliamParker.net)

You can have a conversation with him and his wife, dancer Patricia Nicholson Parker, at Carleton University on Thursday at 3:00 p.m. at the Loeb Building, Room A720. It's free and open to the public.

This talk precedes a show on Thursday called Incantations, featuring William playing strings, brass and flutes while Jesse Stewart lends percussion.

This again takes place at Carleton University, in the Art Gallery at the north end of the campus in the St. Patrick's building. It's at 8 p.m. and tickets are $20. There are two shows Friday night at Gigspace7p.m. & 9p.m., $20 per show and reservations are recommended. Call 613-729-0693.

Sneezy Waters @ NAC Fourth Stage: Friday & Saturday

For something Friday night, I might suggest another legend, but this time of the local variety. Sneezy Waters came to worldwide attention back in the 70s singing the songs of Hank Williams Sr.

Sneezy took his play called Hank Williams: The Show He Never Gave, all the way from its November 1977 premiere at the Beacon Arms Hotel here in Ottawa to its 1980 screen version, which was shown at a film festival for musicals in France in 1984. That festival awarded Sneezy Best Actor for his role as Hank Williams.

Well before he travelled the globe playing Hank, he busked the streets of Ottawa-Gatineau and played in the band, “The Children”, with Bruce Cockburn. That lasted about a year.

Sneezy Waters music

Sneezy Waters. (SneezyWaters.com)

As careers go, Sneezy wasn't penning protest songs at the rate of Bruce. In fact since his debut in 1978, Sneezy Waters has only released three albums, one of which is all Hank Williams songs. In between albums he's still been steeped in music.

He plays pretty regularly but these days prefers the listening audiences as opposed to the bar crowds he started playing for back in the 1970sHe says caring for his ailing parents got him into playing for the rapt audiences in seniors' homes — speaking of good listeners. He has also been busy taking in operas and ballets as a technical man at various venues including the NAC.

Sneezy's latest record, out in 2012, contains only one piece of his own writing. The rest of the record includes interpretations of his favourite varied influences. He does a spot-on Fred Eaglesmith, performs Duke Ellington's Solitude in a very soul-baring way and tackles Tom Waits with aplomb. You have two chances to see this local legend with his Very Fine Band, which truly fits the name, Friday and Saturday at the NAC’s Fourth Stage, $25, 7:30.

Brea Lawrenson @ Bassline Station, Friday

Fear not folks, I have country AND western picks to cover the Ottawa Valley this weekend! Brea Lawrenson is a gal from Carleton Place who was tired of shovelling snow and is spending more and more time in Nashville. It's obvious why, when you hear her sexy twang. Her latest single is called "With You Whiskey." She laments the demise of a relationship but is thankful to come home, grab a glass, drink the first one down real fast, and be with you … whiskey.

It's a sultry country number you might think would inspire an intervention on her family's part. If Brea Lawrenson weren't seeking her fame and fortune in Nashville right now, I'd be calling her family in Carleton Place myself.

However, singing about boots, booze and broken hearts has been a meal ticket for generations of country music makers before Brea and it will be as long as there are bars to play it in. I have a feeling Brea likes to sing about the whiskey more than she actually likes to consume it. She's released three CDs to date but that tune "With You Whiskey" is a sneak-peek from her first Nashville record. She's found a sound suited to her voice and her writing style and that song is charting on country radio across North America.

Brea Lawrenson plays Bassline Station at 2557 Baseline Rd. on Friday night. Doors open at 8 p.m. $5 advance and $8 door, or a dinner package for $15. She'll be back to play Carleton Place and Perth in April so watch for her then.

Brea Lawrenson, country music

Brea Lawrenson. (BreaLawrenson.com)

Harea Band + more @ Mavericks, Saturday

Moving on to indie rock, there's a unique event at Maverick's, which the bands are calling "Mystery Basket." Four bands, Harea Band, Monday I Retire, Hungry Animals and Aukland are deciding the order of their sets based on pulling names out of the basket before the end of the set prior.

I find it really charming that these hipster indie rockers went with a mystery basket instead of a hat. A nod to Easter, perhaps? This tact is a great way to ensure not only the bands themselves, but all the individual bands' fans stick around all night.

Harea Band slipped me a brand-new single this week called "Smile." It's a tight bit of subversive song writing, a peppy little number with rather sardonic lyrics. Listen for it in the show!

All the pre-sale tickets sold out within hours but they promise there will be plenty at the door, you just have to pay $10 for them. One drawback to Mavericks is the lack of seating, but those four bands will have folks swaying with their $4 Pabsts

The Split (CD Release) @ The Blacksheep Inn, Saturday

Saturday the NAC (with comfy chairs) is alive with the sound of country music. In addition to Sneezy Waters at the Fourth Stage, rootsy Blue Rodeo protégé, of sorts, Cuff the Duke grace the Studio. Souljazz Orchestra is at Babylon, bluesman Matt Andersen is at the Canadian Museum of History (formerly known as the Museum of Civilization) and local soul brothers, The Split, release their new EP at the Blacksheep Inn.

Brothers Matthew and Curtis Chaffey, and brothers from a different mother, Dan and Michael Grewal, team up with stellar drummer Matt Aston to produce some of the finest Ottawa soul since, hmm, well, in a long time. The Split has produced an equally fine EP and it's being released in a party at the Blacksheep Saturday night.

The Split has entered itself into the CBC Searchlight competition this year. That's the hunt for Canada's next big thing, musically-speaking. The deadline for bands to enter is March 23, and that's when voting begins to start narrowing down the giant list.

I'll have more details on Bandwidth Saturday and I'll have an interview with North Bay contender Cole Fournier. In honour of Monday, March 17, I sent our green machine Dave Brown out to find out how Celtic bands American Rogues and The Sheridan Band feel about the Feast and Famine effect of St. Patrick's Day.

LISTINGS

Thursday

  • A Conversation with Patricia Nicholson Parker & William Parker @ Loeb Building, Room A720, Carleton University, 3 p.m.-4:30 p.m., FREE and open to the public
  • INCANTATIONS for dancer and two musicians: Patricia Nicholson (dance), William Parker (strings, brass, and flutes), Jesse Stewart (percussion) @ Carleton University Art Gallery, 8 p.m., $20,  Note: CUAG is located at the north end of the Carleton campus, in the St. Patrick's building.
  • Radioactive: KC Roberts & the Live Revolution + The Hated Sons @ Mercury Lounge, 9pm, $10 adv/ $12 door
  • The Mojo Stars (Vancouver) @ The Rainbow, 10 p.m., $7
  • [CANCELLED] Cheap Trick + MonkeyJunk @ Southam Hall National Arts Centre, 8pm, $47.50, $57.50, $67.50 [CANCELLED]​
  • Carsten on Sax & The Toons @ The Blacksheep Inn, Wakefield, 8 p.m., $10
  • Inlet Sound + The Musettes + Craig Mainprize @ Zaphod's, 8:30 p.m., $5 [Hot Deal!]

Friday

  • Sneezy Waters and his Very Fine Band @ National Arts Centre's Fourth Stage, 7:30 p.m., $25 (Two shows)
  • Jack de Keyzer (JUNO winner) @ The Rainbow, 9:30 p.m., $15
  • The Mahones @ Zaphod's, 8:30 p.m., $12 
  • Inlet Sound @ House Concert: contact Carole@EvansTeamOttawa.com or 613-271-8120, 7:30 p.m., $20
  • Amanda Bon and the Outskirts + Charlie Sohmer's Shirt Tearin Boys @ Irene's, 9:30 p.m., $12
  • Improvisation masterclass with William Parker @ Kailash Mital Theatre, Carleton University, 2:30 p.m. - 5:30 p.m., FREE and open to the public
  • William Parker, David Mott, Jesse Stewart @ Gigspace: 953 Gladstone Ave (at Loretta), 7 p.m. & 9 p.m. (2 shows) $20 per show (reservations recommended: 613.729.0693) 
  • Brea Lawrenson @ Bassline Station, 2557 Baseline Rd. 8 p.m., $5 adv/ $8 door / dinner package $15
  • The Flats @ Kaffe 1870, 715 chemin Riverside, Wakefield
  • The Doggers St. Paddy's Day Craic @ The Blacksheep Inn, Wakefield, 8:30 p.m., $10

Saturday

  • Souljazz Orchestra @ Babylon, 10 p.m., $12 door
  • The Dan Deslauriers Band @ Atomic Rooster, 4-8 p.m., Free
  • Cuff the Duke @ NAC Studio, 8 p.m., $25
  • Daniel Bélanger - Chic de ville (music, French) @  Shenkman Arts Centre, Orleans, 8 p.m., $45
  • Bond Girls + Heavy Bedroom + Will ASsaad @ Zaphod's, 8:30 p.m., $5
  • Sneezy Waters and his Very Fine Band @ National Arts Centre's Fourth Stage, 7:30 p.m., $25 (Two shows)
  • Slo Tom and the Handsome Devils + Chops and the Holics @ Irene's, 9:30 p.m. $8
  • Kris & Dee @ Raw Sugar, 8:30 p.m., $tbd
  • Paul Deslaurier (CD Release) + Steve Marriner (of MonkeyJunk) @ The Rainbow, 9:30, $10 
  • Mystery Basket Night with Harea Band + Monday I Retire + + Hungry Animals + Aukland @ Mavericks, 9 p.m., $10
  • Gabriella Hook @ Grange de la Gatineau, 8pm, $16.50-$20
  • Matt Andersen + Kim Churchill + Steve Hill @ Museum of Civilization / Cdn History Museum, Gatineau, 8pm, $35-$40
  • The Split @ The Blacksheep Inn, Wakefield, 8:30 p.m., $10

Sunday

  • The Lemon Squeeze @ Irene's 8:30 p.m., Free
  • Sunday Blues with Zydeco Loco  @ Atomic Rooster, 6-9 p.m., Free
  • Fabien @ Atomic Rooster, 10 p.m., Free
  • I Caramba and Karolinka @ The Rainbow, 8:30 p.m., $5
  • JP Cormier in Concert @ The Blacksheep Inn, Wakefield, 4 p.m., $15

Tuesday, March 18

  • Matryria @ The Rainbow, 8:30 p.m. $5

Wednesday, March 19

  • League of Rock @ The Rainbow, 6:30-9:30 p.m., then 9:30 (Free) - Phil K