Art Bergmann Sneaky Dees, Toronto ON, February 13

Art Bergmann Sneaky Dees, Toronto ON, February 13
Photo: Atsuko Kobasigawa
Easily the odd man out on the Wavelength bill, long-running Canadian musician Art Bergmann never played the weekly showcase. But it's a good bet that more than a handful of the bands that did were directly or indirectly influenced by him.
Bergmann's been more or less MIA for Wavelength's 15-year lifetime, so it was no surprise that many in the audience had no clue about his successful solo career, or his time with legendary Vancouver punks the K-Tels/Young Canadians. On the flip side of the dichotomy were the Bergmann die-hards. Though physically broken — he looked like a cross between Paul Westerberg and Hard Core Logo's Bucky Haight — he catered to neither side as he oozed attitude and sneered at the crowd and encouraged them to insult him.
Backed by a coterie of (weewerk) sidemen, Bergmann stuck mostly to tracks from his prolific solo career, mixings songs like "American Wife" and "Crawl with Me" with selections from last year's Songs for the Underclass. As brilliant a songwriter as Bergmann is, he lacked the spark needed to really sell his work to a new generation of fans, and the set dragged badly near the end. While its great to see a talented legend making his way back to the spotlight, it seems as if Bergmann still hasn't figured out where he best fits into today's musical landscape.