The scene in Kensington Market at 5 p.m. on Fridays is much of what you’d imagine: packed fruit stalls, two men sharing a cigarette outside a patty shop, a woman in an khaki print dress sketching a chalk butterfly on the pavement, just because. And then, there’s the unexpected: a sharp, electric wail cutting through the cacophony to announce an onslaught of rock.
For nearly ten years, Chris Lord—the vocals behind the wailing guitar and the three-piece set Chris Lord Ideal—has entertained the Market’s after-work crowds with a spirited mix of heavy, blues-inflected rock, first indoors at local music haunts like Lola, then outside, filling the fresh air at the corner of St. Andrew and Kensington Avenue. “It’s way better outside.” says Lord. “You know, for the volume.”
Before assembling his crack team of rocksmiths—Johnny Bootz and Peter Currie on bass, Peter Richards on drums—Lord, an Ottawa native, cut his teeth travelling the country in Doors cover bands,50,s rock n roll,blues and country acts.Playing original music with groups aptly named The Shake. He started listening to The Beatles and The Rolling Stones later embracing the influences of Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton,Van Halen and B.B. King and leaning hard into the vocal stylings of Elvis and Muddy Waters. Lord switched from electric to acoustic to head up his band Box Full of Cash then back again to electric following a bout with cancer in 2015.
Lord explains that the “Ideal” part of his band’s moniker is actually a nod to Miles Davis. “ to do it like he did, bring in the best guys then let them shine to showcase their skills. I don’t tell anyone how to play!” The result is an unexpected neighbourhood symphony, drawing on Lord’s many influences and backed by nimble tunesmiths. “ Energy and a lot of improvisation.” he says. “That’s at the heart of this music.”