Jason Collett leads The Bonfire Ball

Toronto musicians celebrate their history and friendship with cross-country tour

Matt Barnes


LONDON (CUP) – When folky, singer-songwriter Jason Collett plays in Winnipeg early next month, it will be anything but a typical show.

Hailed as “The Bonfire Ball,” Collett has put his current tour together with another collection of musicians: Afie Jurvanen, better known as Bahamas, and Toronto quartet Zeus.

“We’re not playing as three bands, three separate sets. We’re all playing together in one set [and] there will be a short intermission, so it’s raising the bar to a whole other level,” Collett explained by phone from his home in Toronto.

“We’ve been rehearsing it trying to figure out how to do this. Don’t expect it to be Afie Jurvanen starting the show – it’ll more than likely be myself, [and] we’ll be batting it back and forth from song to song. It’s going to be something special, I think.”

Collett has been calling this tour a celebration of the history that the three bands share. Over a year ago, Collett became Zeus’s manager, and in return, they became his backing band as he promoted his last album, Here’s To Being Here.

As he was making that album, Paso Mino, his band at the time, “was beginning to fracture. Not in a bad way, but fracturing nevertheless. Afie Jurvanen had an offer he couldn’t turn down to go play with Feist, so he was beginning that trajectory and he [was just] doing that for a few years.”

From there, Collett’s backing band was slowly replaced by Zeus, with whom he has enjoyed a symbiotic relationship.

“I lean on them in a big way to be my band and they’ve leaned on me to get their foot in the door.”

But ties have run even deeper, as Carlin Nicholson and Mike O’Brien of Zeus took over production duties for Collett’s latest album, Rat A Tat Tat.

“There’s a deepness to how this record was made because as we got further along playing together it became pretty obvious that this was a good direction for me to go in, using [Nicholson and O’Brien] as a production team. It became a great adventure for us eventually and resulted in my strongest work yet.”

And though they now all share in each other’s spoils from recording, managing, producing and playing with each other, Collett insists they’re more friends than business partners.

“I don’t think of it in terms of a professional relationship. That’s more of a monetary thing, and that’s not really part of what our relationship is. We have a working relationship, but that’s just where all the various dynamics of recording and touring are at play.”

Published in Volume 64, Number 23 of The Uniter (March 18, 2010)

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