Connelly Knows True Twang

James Reaney, Columnist
The London Free Press

The secret is out -- Toronto twang master Brian Connelly knows London roots music.

Connelly brings his new project, the instrumental trio Ancient Chinese Secret, to the London Music Club tonight. The guitarist is perhaps best known for Having an Average Weekend -- which is better known as the TV theme from Kids in the Hall.

The 47-second CanCon classic by his 1980s band, Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet, was a MuchMusic and campus radio hit.

But Connelly is happiest to talk up the London nouveau purist country outfit sharing the bill. That would be the Rizdales. Or as Connelly, who knows the true twang, says: "Everything they do is classic. They're kind of a black dress and a single strand of pearls . . . all it took was 30 seconds and I was completely hooked on these guys."

The Rizdales are attracting a lot of classy admirers these days. They'll back rockabilly queen Wanda Jackson in dates at Toronto (May 27) and Hamilton (May 28). Ancient Chinese Secret plays those dates, too.

His own cool Rizdale fixation aside, Connelly brings plenty to tonight's bill. Atomic 7, another Toronto outfit he plays with, is on hiatus as he prepares material for its next album.

So Connelly has teamed with drummer Mark Duff and bassist Rob Clarke in Ancient Chinese Secret. The trio started playing country covers, but has added such unusual hits as jazzman Dave Brubeck's Unsquare Dance and what Connelly terms "the classic Lulu" -- which apparently includes To Sir With Love.

The Rizdales take their name from London singer-songwriter Frank Ridsdale. Connelly says the Toronto trio lightly considered calling themselves " 'the Jack Whitesides' just to see if anybody noticed." Whiteside, another fine guitarist, is a longtime musical ally of Ridsdale's in such London bands as Uranus. "If one person gets it, I'm happy," Connelly says.

Here's one who does.