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Exploring the country side of Neil Young

Jay Carraro brings his tribute show to Maryhill’s Commercial Tavern this Sunday


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Steve Kannon
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A community newspaper journalist for more than two decades, Steve Kannon is the editor of the Observer.

Whether it’s a concert of original tunes, some classics at a neighbourhood pub or teaching guitar students a thing or two, Jay Carraro is a visible part of the local music scene. Though The Commercial Tavern isn’t part of the usual circuit, he’ll be making his way to Maryhill Sunday to channel Neil Young, a long-time favourite of his … and more than a few others.

“We’ll play all the Neil Young hits,” he said, noting the Maryhill show will focus on the folk/country material rather than the electric stuff, in keeping with the venue. There’s also a pragmatic side to that decision, as Young has such an extensive catalogue to draw on. “You just can’t do everything.”

Albums such as 1972’s seminal Harvest and the later Harvest Moon will figure prominently in the show, Jay Carraro Presents: A Tribute to Neil Young. Tunes such as Heart of Gold, Old Man, Harvest Moon and Southern Man will be on the menu.

Never one to be pigeonholed, Young has certainly covered a lot of musical ground in his decades-long career that has been nothing if not fruitful: the Canadian legend recently announced a forthcoming album with Crazy Horse, Pink Moon.

For Sunday’s show, Carraro says the first set is likely to include plenty of songs from the Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young era. He’ll be joined by musicians that have been part of a CSNY tribute, with whom Carraro doing his homage to Young for about three years now.

“He’s always kinda been there in my ear,” Carraro said of the music he grew up with and later incorporated into his own musical path. “Neil is a great guitarist and a great songwriter … and original, for sure. He is Neil – he has his own voice.”

It’s that voice Carraro looks to emulate, taking a note-for-note target seriously in recreating Young’s guitar work, for instance.

In doing a tribute, a musician is clearly showing a passion for the material. That’s the case here, he says, noting he’s very much a product of the music his parents listened to when he was a child, a list that includes the likes of Bob Dylan, the Rolling Stones, The Beatles, CCR and The Eagles.

“That’s the music that was playing. That’s what I grew up with.”

Even before he became a musician, Carraro says he was aware of the craftsmanship that went into the music. With CSNY, for instance, there’s a long list of little things that create the group’s signature sound, details that have to be recognized in performing a tribute.

Jay Carraro Presents: A Tribute to Neil Young is set for Sunday (June 9) at 4 p.m. Tickets are $20 available at the venue, 1303 Maryhill Rd., or by calling 519-648-3644. For more information, visit www.commercialtavern.ca.

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