Curve Music is reviving some 90s Queen Street nostalgia with Scott B. Sympathy reissues
If you spent any time in Toronto in the 80s and 90s, I don’t need to tell you that Queen Street West was the place to be for live music – well, one of the places to be.
The scene produced some highly successful acts like Blue Rodeo and Cowboy Junkies, but many more artists contributed to the free-spirited, anti-commercial zeitgeist without ever becoming household names. Many of them are, nonetheless, known to us as cult heroes, as session players on our favourite albums or as members of the bands we’re currently fans of.
You can count Scott Bradshaw, a.k.a. Scott B. Sympathy, in at least two of those categories. He’s most recently known for his work with the duo Massy-Harris, but he is also a cult hero of the post-punk early 90s Queen Street scene, a guy who essentially started making Americana before it had a name.
A transplant from Brantford, he settled in Toronto in the late 80s at the age of 20 and began drawing a crowd with his Neil Young-inspired material, first as a solo artist and later with a band that added a touch of Crazy Horse to the proceedings.
His 1990 debut album was geniusly titled Neil Yonge Street, and it was nominated for a CFNY Casby Award. He released three follow-ups to it, including Drinking with the Poet, his sophomore release, before moving onto other projects.
Now Curve Music, which is headed by Brian Hetherman, who back in the day was the A&R rep for MCA Records (now Universal Music), so he would’ve spent a lot of time on Queen Street, is reissuing those first two albums in remastered form.
“To me, Scott B. Sympathy’s Neil Yonge Street is the birth of Americana/roots music in Canada,” he said in a statement, “the same way that Uncle Tupelo was in the U.S. … Before Scott B. Sympathy, there was lots of incredible folk music in Canada, but they ushered in Americana/roots here.”
The two albums will be available May 21. If you’re a collector of milestone albums in Canadian music, these are for you. Have a listen to the title track from Drinking with the Poet.