J. Mann at the Free Times Cafe
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J. Mann at the Free Times Cafe

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.