A&E » Arts

Dark and moody Hoskins at MY Place

Has some big-name back-up



Who: Gregory Hoskins

When: Wednesday, Feb. 22

Where: MY Millennium Place

Tickets: $20/$18

Sure, Gregory Hoskins has opened for acts including the likes of Celine Dion, Sarah McLauchlan, The Barenaked Ladies, The Neville Brothers and The Indigo Girls, but how many musicians ever get to add a real live Saint to their credit?

Just breaking into the music industry, the then 17-year-old, afro-headed stick of a boy opened for none other than Mother Theresa at Toronto’s varsity Stadium, packed with 17,000 fans.

"It was the first time I was ever in front of a crowd that large," Hoskins recounted. "I was really taken by the colours of looking out. It was like an impressionistic painting."

Meeting a Saint paled in comparison to getting to be that backstage-pass guy.

Many years later, after touring as the frontman for The Stickpeople in the 1990s, the Toronto-based musician has come into his own religion where the god of music reigns supreme.

The dark and moody sensibility of Hoskins is coming Wednesday, Feb. 22 at 8 p.m. to MY Millennium Place.

Two of Canada’s finest musicians will join the singer/songwriter. Drummer Gary Craig, who played with Anne Murray, Blackie and the Rodeo Kings and Bruce Cockburn will be there, along with bassist George Koller, who has played with Holly Cole, Peter Gabriel and Loreena McKennitt.

Hoskins doesn’t throw the term singer/songwriter around lightly.

"For some people, it is a negative term like a psychotherapist," he said. "You don’t have to have a licence (to be a psychotherapist): you can just put a sign out on the door. You don’t have to be a good one. There is a lot of mediocrity with singer/songwriters. I can say that because I’ve been around for a while. The term often works against us."

Throw the seasoned music vet of 20 years and his trio in front of music industry officials and watch that perception turn around as Hoskins leads the audience on a journey, bringing both listener and musician down a less-traveled road.

"My job, if I have one when I play in concerts, is to actually travel somewhere, metaphysically speaking," he explained. "To go somewhere and bring people along... I am entertaining as hell while I am doing it.

"I am not a dance band. I am not a church choir. The only thing I have to offer is that – that opportunity to create this other place and go there with people and look around and check out the little dark corners and stare straight into the sun."

Stuart McLean of the Vinyl Café best sums up the commanding presence of the Leonard Cohen lyricist meets a subdued Ben Harper musician.

"Then this man took to the stage and blew us away," the CBC radio veteran praised.

Hoskins described his music on two levels: the outside packaging and meaty-morsel centre.

"It’s provocative," he says of the centre. "It’s sexy. It’s disarming, but if you describe the packaging: it’s roots-based singer/songwriter stuff that is funkified by the people I play with."

The poetics of Hoskins’ sincere, exposed lyrics are recorded on his most recent album, The King of Good Intentions. Hoskins will return to the recording studio once again in March to produce his new album My Reluctant Muse.

Tickets are $20 for adults and $18 for students and seniors. Group rates are available.

For tickets, call 604-935-8410 or visit http://www.ticketmaster.ca

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