Treasa Levasseur & The Daily Special

“Me and my big fat mouth,” Treasa Levasseur sighs, laughingly reminding herself that it’s gotten her into trouble all her life, and through the most exhilarating experiences she’s ever had.

That phrase is the first of many lines people will remember from her second CD, Low Fidelity, and it’ll be among the words you’ll remember when you hear her in concert.

Me and my big fat mouth
Sometimes I wonder where I’d be without
Me and my big fat mouth
Those of you that got one too know what I’m talking about

Like everything about Treasa Levasseur — and the songs she writes — it’s as true as a carpenter’s rule; it not only has the ring of truth, it is true. There are plenty of singers who plumb the depths of personal experience — but very few of them have her sense of humour or the sharpness of her eye for detail.

The passion and fire of her first CD, Not a Straight Line, has been applied to even better songs. And the two years that have passed since that record was released gave her a greater sense of her own potential and a greater understanding of the role that her producer, David Baxter, brings to the studio.

Though what I say may seem uncouth
Argue away I’ve got the proof
I only pray you’ll see the truth
And that the truth will set you free

Born in Winnipeg, raised in North Bay, and long-time resident in Toronto, Levasseur’s roots spread far and dig deep. She goes “home” several times a year, and when she played in Toronto’s famed Massey Hall as part of the Women’s Blues Revue last year, her mother came to see her perform — for the first time.

It was, of course, a memorable, emotional event, and one both mother or daughter will always hold precious. It was a proud moment for both of them. After all, Treasa could not have been an “easy” child to raise.

I love to argue and I love to fight
But most of all I think I simply love to be right
I was a self made star in a one woman show, it was a lonely way to grow

Levasseur plays piano, accordion, guitar, mandolin, and anything else she can get her hands on. In May of 2008, she won CBC Radio’s ‘Ultimate Sideman Showdown’ with her trusty accordion and charming presence. Heavily influenced by such soul artists as Mavis Staples, Carole King and Annie Lennox, she remains musically versatile and has played everything from heavy metal to hiphop, country, sugary pop, and thoughtful folk music.

Since first visiting the South in 2006, she has begun to draw more and more of her inspiration from the rich motherlode of classic old-school soul.

So we left the Mississippi and we crossed the trolley tracks
Took a bus uptown all the way to Stax
And a man standing there said
“Hurry on in because today’s proceedings are about to begin”
Well when I walked through the door my jaw dropped to the floor
There was the Thomas Family & the MG’s and so many more
Mr. Porter, Mr. Cropper, Mr. Isaac Hayes
And they was all telling stories of the glory days

Above all, Levasseur has a passion for making music. She simply wants to PLAY — and, in addition to her own career, she cheerfully makes the time to play with at least three other bands on a regular basis; in the summer of 2008, just prior to the release of Low Fidelity, she played festivals across the country almost every single weekend as a member of her friend Claire Jenkins’ band.

You can find her, most Thursdays, playing with singer songwriter Corin Raymond at the Cameron House. And she’ll pop up at tiny bars in Toronto’s Parkdale, singing backup or squeezing the accordion for whoever’s on stage.

Life can be hard when you running all lonely
I had plenty of friends. I just needed some family
There’s no going back now that I’ve had this chance to
Hear the music that I want to dance to
I’m so close that I can hear the river, somebody help me over
Help me over to the other side

The fact is that she has now created a new family in the big city— a wide-ranging group of musicians and music fans who have learned to love her passionate commitment, unerring harmony singing and instrumental prowess.

She has, as a result, found a unique place in Toronto’s busy independent music scene; she’s also been a warmly-welcomed player at recording sessions for more than a dozen other distinctive musicians, including Raymond, The Undesirables, Evalyn Parry, Justin Rutledge, Madison Violet, David Baxter and many others. One of her biggest thrills this year: Playing accordion tracks on a session with Garth Hudson, the famed keyboard player (and accordionist) with The Band.

Low Fidelity may well be a collection of personal songs and stories, but it is never mawkish or sentimental. And her descriptions of romantic entanglements and love (sometimes lust) lost and found resonate with everyone. Everyone, after all, has been there, done that, and lived to identify with the way Levasseur tells the tale.

I’ve gotten so lost I thought that I would not be found
But it’s always sweet melody picking me up off the ground

Levasseur is making her plans for 2009 and the years further ahead; she’s determined to make a major contribution to festivals in Canada, and equally determined to take her music to the UK and Europe.

As always, she has plenty to say, and she will continue to say it with sincerity and sass and a powerful voice that cannot be ignored or denied.

The key to the rhythm and the secret to the soul

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