Every once in a while a CD comes by that is a pleasant surprise and such was the case with Chris Staig and The Marquee Players album “Shack by The Tracks”. This latest of five solo recordings released by Chris is chock full of great tunes and grooves. You’ll hear a little of The Band, Little Feat, some Beatles, Blue Rodeo and even a little eearly Flying Burrito Brothers. Chris Staig’s current band, The Marquee Players, consists of Stephen O'Toole on bass, Shelley Coopersmith on violin and mandolin, and Ian Mackay on the drums. They have monthly residency at Toronto’s famed Hole in the Wall, and are a real honest to goodness working band.

The opening track of the album “Tap Your Toe” sets the tone with its toe-tapping tempo and clever lyrics. “Martha” is a bluesy lament complete with horns and strings. Well done. “Blue About You” is followed by “Tulane”, a song reminiscent of The Band in its influence with some Little Feat thrown in; one of my favourite tracks. “How Do You Love Again” is followed by “Blue Denim”, a soft, sincere ballad, delivered with emotion and conviction. “Drinking Her Name Away” is that old down home 4/4 country tune you need in any good Chris Staig set. Good fun. “Bunch of Drunks” has a pseudo reggae feel to a lyrical ode to high school drinking. “Ridge Road” more classic Staig songwriting and delivery while “Can’t Get Past It” with its haunting fiddle solo and introspective content sits nicely in the set. “Only You and Me” is little like Blue Rodeo another solid song while the set ends with “ Devil of a Day” an ode to the late Bobby Charles who wrote “ See You Later Alligator”and performed on the Band’s Last Waltz concert. The tune lets you know that a song can get you through a devil of a day. So if you want to feel like you’re in L.A. at the old Palomino or in a bar on the West Coast or in the heartland listening to music that makes you think and move to the beat then grab yourself a copy of Shack By The Tracks and if you can, go catch Chris Staig and The Marquee Players if they’re playing anywhere near you. You’ll be glad you did. ” - Don Graham


Chris Staig : Davenport Disc of the Day Having just (re)touted Warren Zanes' Memory Girls, it's kind of fitting that I've selected Chris Staig's Davenport as today's featured disc. Staig, from Toronto, has a very similar sound to Zanes, both vocally and stylistically. Davenport features a winning combination of power pop, roots rock and singer/songwriter pop. There are also hints of Neil Young and John Lennon as well as Grandaddy's Jason Lytle. Things start off in fine fashion with Staig pleading for a "Rock'n'Roll Holiday", as it's "time to blow up my television/can't make shopping my new religion"; in the next track Staig sings of how he "Fell Off The Wagon", an ode to getting plastered. "All I Need Is You" is a catchy rocker in the vein of the Ike Reilly disc I raved about yesterday, and "Another Year" almost heads into the Rockpile territory mined so well by Terry Anderson (he of the Olympic Ass-Kickin' Team). He has three tracks from Davenport streaming at his myspace page, and others can be sampled at cd baby, which is of course the best place to pick it up.” - Steve


The CD cover is the Davenport sign here in Toronto, and being a Toronto girl this has a comforting appeal. Josh Hicks, in 1998, rented a house at the corner of Ossington and Davenport. The house became a place for musicians to hang out and Chris found himself there rehearsing often, which led to him moving in there and the house becoming home. A place to write music, share ideas and finally start recording this CD. Chris Staig first gained notice in the Toronto music scene as the guitarist for Taxi Chain. His three year tenure with the bagpipe funksters was marked by incessant touring from Quebec to Texas. The 1996 release of BAGPIPE JUKEJOINT (Distribution Fusion III) gave many people their first taste of Staig’s gritty guitar playing. Staig’s next major project was the pop-rock combo Rockboy. Their EP TURNTABLE scaled the charts of campus radio stations in the spring of ‘98. Chris was singled out especially for his “extremely well delivered imagery” (Annex Gleaner) and his “throat wrenching vocals” (Spill Magazine). Stymied by his Rockboy collaborators’ indifference to additional live work and mystified by their growing interest in well paying day jobs and stable personal relationships, Staig hoisted the solo sail in 1999. Chris has an interesting sound, a sort of Neil Young mixed with a young Steve Forbert, and the lyrics to all the songs are remarkable and real. That is the appeal of this CD, it is as real as it gets, with the musician friends connecting on many levels here. The first track “rock ‘n’ roll holiday” is a catchy story, and a great start to this CD. Track four “all I need is you” is great and the title speaks for itself. My favorite track is “another year.” Track nine shows a softer side with ‘Keys.” All the tracks are original and enjoyable to listen to, Chris clearly having a gift for story telling. I don’t think Chris needs to worry about being different; this CD is a breath of fresh air. For a list of upcoming shows check out his website http://www.chrisstaig.com/index.htm” - vicki ackland


Chris Staig Deeper We'll Dream **** “The former guitarist with Toronto bar-room eccentrics Taxi-Chain, Chris Staig is a power-house in a lean package. Like some songwriting Charles Atlas, he pits muscle- against-muscle for greater strength - though in this case its achy love songs offset with jaunty melodies. But by interrupting the album's crackling flow with an unabashedly sincere - and timeless - ballad such as Honest Love, he only adds to the depth of his work. Dang purty.” (Recommended for fans of: Blue Rodeo, The Pernice Brothers, Neil Young circa Tonight's The Night, 13 Engines/John Critchley.)” - Kieran Grant

— Toronto Sun

Staig and Billings infuse their take on country rock with a subtle assurance and wistful bonhomie so refreshing you’ll want to replay these tunes again and again. ” - Roy Moller

— Scottish Poet and Songwriter