Next week, Rheostatics, the inimitable Toronto-based alt-rock band that split up in 2007, reunites to perform its conceptual 1995 album Music Inspired by the Group of Seven. The three sold-out shows (Sept. 4 to 6, at the Art Gallery of Ontario) are preceded by an event on Thursday, in which musicians such as Sandro Perri and Mary Margaret O'Hara perform songs from the Rheos' songbook. Given all this, naturally we spoke to Rheostatic band-member and baseball-loving author Dave Bidini about, what else, the Toronto Blue Jays.
So, how about them Jays?
It's so thrilling. They find so many ways to win. You know, as the days get a little bit shorter and the air gets a little bit cooler, it locks in the experience even more. This time of year, it's two months of a roller-coaster of baseball that you feel in your stomach.
Meaningful baseball in September, that's all the fans have asked for, right?
Pennants are won in the fall. This time of year, with the kids going back to school, work is at hand. You have to chop wood. You have to lay it in for the winter – you have to prepare. The athletes know it. Now's the time.
The Thursday event of Rheostatic music is labelled "Nostalgia Canadiana." Looking back at the 1990s, can we apply that to both the Jays and the Rheostatics?
When I think about '92 and '93, I think about Whale Music and about how it all came together for us on that album, and all those great tours. And how it harmonized with that great Leaf playoff run and with the Jays World Series wins, with us riding on the tails of a fairly triumphant record. Now here we are 20 years later, and we're remounting another record [Music Inspired by the Group of Seven]. Something really special is happening with the baseball team, and there are echoes of the early nineties in what's happening right now.
In 2012, a Rheostatics reunion was planned, but fell through. How's it going this time around?
This one is altogether different, because it's music we've only played a handful of times. So, emotionally, it's very new. The issue with the other planned reunion, I think, was having to crawl inside the baggage of all the other music, which represented so much of our lives. Very heavy, as you can imagine. Also, this unit isn't just the four Rheos staring at each other in rehearsal. It's Kevin Hearn, Hugh Marsh and the filmmakers too. Much, much more relaxed.
And what about the Thursday show, where other artists will be performing Rheostatic music. Does it make you think about the band's legacy?
You know what's great? That it doesn't take a night like Thursday to remind me of it. Because of the travelling I do, I'll always run into someone who has a story about hearing one of our songs performed in some capacity somewhere, whether it's a house party or a tavern or a campfire. People tell you how they got turned onto the music. That's beautiful. That sense of legacy finds me all the time.
Music Inspired by Rheostatics, Sept. 3, 7 p.m. $12 to $25 (includes gallery admission). Art Gallery of Ontario, 317 Dundas St. W., 416-979-6648 or ago.net.
Rheostatics, Sept. 4 to 6. 9 p.m. $25 to $65. Art Gallery of Ontario, 877-435-9849 or ticketfly.com.