I was invited by Julian Fauth, to his new three-nights-a-week gig at the Cigar Lounge, a separate room off the main shakin' 'n dancin' Easy and the Fifth dance club, 225 Richmond W. at Duncan St. (entrance on Duncan, west side, upstairs, s.w. corner; $10 cover). It's only a 2-minute walk from RD's BBQ and Blues, at 14 Duncan -- another fine blues establishment in Toronto's downtown dance district. There's a nice mixture of music in this mega entertainment complex known as Easy and the Fifth. One room's a dance place, with everything that moves 'n shakes - '70's disco, to late '90's techno/trance etc. The other -- a '20's to '40's/'50's blues emporium called the Cigar Lounge. I saw more 'lounging' than 'smoking' there, even though some fine Cuban cigars are offered for sale at the beautiful, stained wood bar. (I'm a non-smoker, so am impartial.)
The Cigar Lounge looks like a '20's speakeasy, complete with 'fun-only' gaming table, two beautiful pool tables (with carved claw-feet legs), and plenty of beautiful women (with 'real' legs.) There are comfortable couches to hang out at, and get away to with a date etc. This place definitely ozzes a beautiful, romantic atmosphere, congenial to good times.
Julian plays his boogie-woogie, Robert Johnson-style blues on a grand piano that has an enchanting wrap-around bar attached to it -- (beautiful stained wood, with colorful inlays in the wood.) I saw Amanda Martinez, (Latin/jazz singer - great voice), sitting close to the piano, with her friend, Betty, hangin' off Julian's vocals and piano. Too bad David Rotundo wasn't there with his blues harp. A solo night for Julian, but NOT a jam. (Fauth's well known for those too - along with his friendly, congenial nature towards jammers/musicians, while hosting these popular jams in the Toronto area.) He's definitely a fixture on the Toronto blues scene.
Sometimes, there was some up-tempo boogie-woogie piano stylings offered up by Julian, with sincere Otis Spann jubilation. Other times some spirited up-tempo blues like "Sweet Home Chicago"; a perennial favorite, in the true Muddy Waters' tradition. Many times throughout this thoroughly enjoyable evening, some slow, lamenting blues wailed right out of Julian's mouth, as if from the southern U.S. cotton fields of a century ago. Only Julian can wail Robert Johnson laments like the iconic blues guy himself - and have the same 'tortured' look on his face, while doing so.
A real good experience too! Great atmosphere .. upscale .. dress code .. nice for a change!!! With Julian it's always the south side of Chicago, or Alabama/Mississippi anyway, no matter where it is he's playing. The Cigar Lounge with Julian, happens every Thursday, Friday and Saturday evening.
Congratulations, Julian! You deserve the recognition; and this fine, downtown establishment to showcase your impeccable, blues-drenched talent in! Wail on!!!!
** Julian Fauth has a new CD out, entitled The World You Live In, featuring mostly original tunes, written entirely by him.
The Cigar Lounge at Easy On the Fifth
225 Richmond St. West
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