by Sam Mooney

L’Orchestre d’Hommes-Orchestres From the first bang of the suitcase to the last note of the encore L’Orchestre d’Hommes-Orchestres performing the Music of Tom Waits was fabulous.  They were in Toronto for two nights as part of the Free Fall Festival (presented by the Theatre Centre in partnership with Harbourfront Centre’s World Stage) at The Music Gallery.

It’s not easy to classify the evening.  It’s not a concert, and it’s not a play; it’s a performance of music. As my play partner John said, “It’s Rube Goldberg music”.  It’s music you have to watch because so much depends on the sight gags.

The music of Tom Waits is made and played on whatever is at hand.  A turkey-baster, a saw, teacups, dominoes, frying pans, a step-ladder, a banjo and spaghetti to make a snare drum, bottles as wind instruments, a suitcase as percussion, balloons, kazoos, a golf club…

Performing with them were Les New Cackle Sisters who yodel and trill in a most amazing way.  Both groups are from Quebec. There are quite a few videos on YouTube, but I think this one will give you the best idea: L’Orchestre d’Hommes-Orchestres avec Cackle Sisters.

The show was a bit heavy on Les New Cackle Sisters in the beginning.  As I watched the last part, I kept seeing other “instruments” I’d forgotten about.

If the lyrics were unintelligible at times, it didn’t matter. This isn’t your regular run-of-the-mill Tom Waits tribute; it’s a rollicking, sometimes raucous, ride with Tom Waits as the  connection between the performers and audience.

If you ever have the opportunity to see L’Orchestre d’Hommes-Orchestres don’t miss them.  It’s high on my must-see list.


-The Music Gallery (197 John St) has a full program of music that challenges. Check the calendar to see what’s on.

Free Fall ‘10 continues until March 28 at various venues

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