The Secret Life Of Them (And Us)

Local musician and twangster Brian Connelly, formerly a shadowy man from Shadowy Men On A Shadowy Planet (you know, the theme from The Kids in the Hall), has a newish band, called Atomic 7. But the side project TOist loves best is his instrumental trio Ancient Chinese Secret, covering old country songs by Connie Smith, Lefty Frizzell and Charlie Rich. It's where mellow surf guitar (a Gretsch, actually) meets mournful hillbilly twang --but not in an irritating, Chris Isaak way.

Every Thursday this month, Ancient Chinese Secret is secretly playing at The Gem, a cozy watering hole tucked on a secret corner in the secret midtown neighborhood of Oz. If you can find it, it's where the ceilings are green, a charming "Ladies and Escorts" sign leads to the washroom, the juke box is perpetually on the fritz, and guys in shiny pompadours chow down on the best nachos in town. The trio plays in a cramped back corner, under strings of blinking Chinese lantern lights and near a watchful Elvis bust. This TOist caught the show last week and recommends arriving early to snag one of the very few tables before the first set begins at nine. Expect to play name that tune with Yakety Sax from The Benny Hill Show (played at double-speed), a chillin' Fulsom Prison Blues, and a killer cover of The Third Man theme, minus the zither. But sssh … it's a secret.

Posted by Nathalie in Music