We had the good fortune of catching J. Mann at the Free Times Cafe last night. It was his first Toronto gig since last year’s NXNE showcase. Live appearances are rare — the Canadian singer-songwriter now resides much of the year in Barcelona, Spain.
Though he may not be local, J. Mann is still very supportive of the Canadian scene. In far-off Spain, he runs a small record label, Middle of the Road Records, populated mostly by Canadian talent. And his own recordings are available exclusively on Zunior, Canada’s first pay-for-download site for independent artists.
He’s been making music for over a decade now, originally emerging from the uber-hip London, Ontario music scene of the mid-’90’s under the name Man with a Van. (Back when name-dropping Popaphile or Prozac Blue was a clear indicator of cool.)
Last night’s live show was a stripped-down affair. J. Mann played acoustic guitar while singing through an old telephone microphone. For one song, he employed a looping pedal and his mouth to lay down a hip-hop backbeat. His supporting band fleshed out the sound with bass and brushed drums played on an old suitcase.
The night closed out with a cover of Pixies classic “Where is My Mind?” sung in alternating english and spanish. We sang along as best we could.
J. Mann’s latest release, Too Much Theatre has a warm pop style that evokes both The Eels and The Doves. Download “This City is a Movie Set.” You won’t be disappointed.