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Martha and her half-sister Lucy have written and performed with most of their family. Kate and Anna McGarrigle, the Roches, Victor – the list is long and musical. For reasons which are comically dark, Lucy and Martha collaborated on their first project ‘ Songs in the Dark’ in 2015.
Fast forward to July 8th, 2016 au Theatre du Nouveau Monde at the 37th Edition of The Montreal Jazz Festival.
With Martha in cast and Lucy cast as the straight man ( woman) – the duo explained, carried on, told jokes and sang songs from their debut album. Lullabies from the Devil would be an apt ‘ulterior’ title for the evening’s setlist. A stomach for Hitchcock – another …
Themes of despair, death and disappointment thick with the lyrics of songs sung for kids. Harmonious lullabies written with Martha’s kids in mind.’Mother’s Little Yellow Pill’ kind of stuff.
‘Long Lankin‘- the murderous tale, all the way to Richard Thompson’s literal ‘End of the Rainbow’, performed tongue in cheek (hopefully) by The Wainright Women. In between – the self deprecating humor of poor Martha’s cast and crutches to Lucy’s brilliant deadpan delivery on everything – the pair were delightfully entertaining. Even with a ‘Baby Rockin’ Medley instructing the crowd how to dance a baby to sleep while planning his / her departure as ‘a gift’.
Not all songs were about ‘haunted lullabies’.
Two of the evening’s most charming moments, insights into the childhoods of Martha and Lucy. ‘Lullaby for a Doll’, sung beautifully and wistfully by Martha as she covered her Mother’s song about the games Martha played as a child. Acoustic guitar providing the car as Martha took the audience on a trip backwards. Lucy grabbed the wheel ( and acoustic) and issued her own tale of childhood. ‘Screaming Issue’, a cover of a handcrafted tune to a younger version of Lucy carried out originally by her Father – Loudon Wainwright III. It was a children’s party and easy to decipher where Martha and Lucy obtained their musical prowess.
Throughout the evening – Martha and Lucy raised eyebrows and smiles. The chemistry between them filled with love, admiration and a wicked sense of humor. An impeccable sense of timing. Abbott and Costello would be proud …
‘Songs in the Dark’, the name of the album and tour – not without logic. In the olden days with medicine and means not always available, more kids died. Lullabies were created and sung to stomp and sooth the negativities associated with death and disease.
Martha and Lucy, aka The Wainright Sisters, more or less did the same thing during a three night run au Theatre Du Nouveau Monde.
SCARING, SOOTHING AND ENLIGHTENING FOLKS ABOUT THE DARK SIDE OF PARENTHOOD.
The Jazz purists cringe at the ‘not Jazz’ genres at The Montreal International Jazz Festival. The artists who ply their crafts to be near the top of their specific genre, often shunned by the Jazz stuffy shirts.
In 2016, at the 37th edition – it was The Blues stage which, night after night, attracted the largest amount of knowledgeable music lovers. Take that Jazz !
One of those acts was The Justin Saladino Band with guest – Jamiah Rogers. An outfit and ‘duo’ young in years yet very long in talent. Justin from Montreal and Jamiah – straight from the home of The Blues; Chicago, Illinois.
Saladino and his troupe started things off with ‘Nobody’s Fault but Mine’. The Nina Simone cover which was filled with the Gospel element profound in Simone’s version. Justin proving in the first four minutes, he is not just another Blues guy from Montreal.
‘Blackhead Bone’ – the Albert Collins’ tune picked up where the first song left off. Elevating the groove and energy into heights normally reserved for guitars and bands of much later years. Saladino providing calm within sparkling solos. An experience beyond his years welcoming the masses in.
‘Purple Girl’ – an original track from Justin’s debut disc, shredding any pretense of a cover band on stage. The hook, the melody and chorus – straight from the late sixties / early seventies era when Blues, Funk and Rock merged in the West Coast. Purple Girl is one of those songs which should be on radio. Crossing into friendly territory as it tosses it’s Bluesy roots into shadows and struts it’s stuff. Another sad case of Montreal radio not taking care of their own.
‘Feelin’ Alright’ ended the Saladino’s band’s segment. An easy groove which magnetized the pull of the band. A sound which drew more and more spectators to the stage. Justin pouncing on the opportunity to raise his prowess on the five string instrument. Easy stuff for a guitar officiendo.
‘Jamiah Rogers’ – he of Chicago origins, he of Gary Clark Jr. studies upped the ante in the high stakes Blues poker game. The Ace in the sleeve. The ‘Heart’ of the Blues.
‘Something About You Girl , an original – ripped the joint up. Saladino and his band, already loose, providing the controlled sloppiness to Jamiah’s frantic energy. Rogers – once more, upping the ante and venturing to the front of the stage to sparkle in the Montreal lights. Sounds of Buddy Guy and Hendrix emerging from the amps. Rogers creating and increasing the energy with every note. Setting the stage for …
“It’s All Right to Cry’.
A slow Blues filled with passion and sorrow within happiness. Emotion reigned as Rogers’ vocals implanted another talent into the psyches of the crowd. Jamiah – a true student of The Blues and a guitar wonder. His solo reaching epic proportions as he attempted to and succeeded in reaching new heights.
“Irish Bordello’ and ‘No Worries’ saw Justin do his ‘thang’. Rogers departing and becoming the student offstage as Saladino played his hand. Combined with finesse and an intricate style of playing. Saladino laid a ‘straight’ onto the Blues table. At the end of the match – Saladino and Rogers came to a draw. The friendly competition completed and outlaws created.
“Everyday I Have the Blues’ – the B.B. King classic, a celebration of both men’s talents. Together, two future stars – enjoying and sparring in a genre that started Rock n Roll.
A genre that preceded Jazz and The 37th Edition of The Montreal International Jazz Festival.
Dawn Tyler Watson does not enjoy studio work. Preferring instead the spontaneity of live music. The feel. The energy of audience – singer interaction. Last night at L’Astral as part of The Montreal International Jazz Festival – Dawn displayed her true colors.
On the heels of her magnificent album ‘JawBreaker ‘, Tyler-Watson was in the form of a much younger singer. ‘Shine On’ ( Jawbreaker) set the table for an evening filled with delicious delicacies.
Backed by Ben Racine and his band (Dawn’s most recent collaborators ), ‘the night time was the right time’ for R&B, Soul and even a taste of Country. Tyler-Watson ( a veteran of the Montreal music scene) – vocally on fire. An energy cloathed her in a glittery robe. A vibrancy grasped the audience in it’s claws and held on to the final note was delivered.
‘ Jawbreaker’ is an excellent album and most of the tracks were played out last night. The very bluesy ‘Tootsie Roll Blues’ unearthing one of Dawn’s favorite genres and allowing horns to replace the studio harmonica live. Combined with Tyler -Watson’s soul searching sounds, it was the tune which appeared to turn the stage into oneness. Onwards – the band and Dawn ‘ hit their groove’.
The most poignant moment ( one of many ), Dawn’s very personal rendition of the ’70’s Country – themed Rock ballad’ ‘I Dont Live Here Anymore’. Tyler – Watson strumming the acoustic guitar and releasing a jarring vocal performance filled with conviction and emotion. One of those audience – singer moments which leaves no-one indifferent and the performer emotionally drained. Speechless retaliation from the punters framing the moment in time.
Last night, the magic on songs such as ‘Smoked Meat’, ‘It Ain’t Elvis’ and ‘Rotten’ was carried fruitfully by the band. ‘Little Frankie”Thiffault ( tenor sax) produced Jawbreaker. Rarely is a producer on stage playing along to his work. Combined with Racine on guitar, ‘Chemistry’ was the class this band and duo did not skip.
Something spiritual was in the air. Dawn filled with joy and love. Bob Dylan’s ‘Forever Young’ the vehicle for reaching inside and outside to touch the moment. Thiffault’s baby and wife were appropriately brought on stage. Tyler – Watson explaining her stay at the Thiffault’s home before the birth. Microphone firmly in hand and heart firmly on sleeve, a modern day lullaby connected singer Dawn and child. Grown men wiping away tears in the audience as music and vocals erased all the troubles in the world for a shimmering moment.
The beauty and innocence of music cradled the hearts of everyone at L’Astral.
Dawn -Tyler Watson dislikes studio work.Wonder why ?
The Montreal International Jazz Festival continues to the 9th of July.
To get an idea of what type of personality Andria Simone is – one does not have to look past the name of her band. ‘Those Guys’.
The guys are – Mark Wilson on Bass, Brian Dihari on Sax, George Nikolov on drums and Dave Kirby on guitar. ‘Those Guys’ and Simone delivered a monstrous set of Soul, R&B, Blues and Rock n Roll to The Blues stage at The Montreal International Jazz Festival.
Simone is a cross between Joplin, Nina Simone and Tina Turner. Toss in a group who at times carefully unpurposely copy the sweet sounds of Amy Winehouse’s band The Dap Kings – an entity on the verge of exploding is at hand, sound and sight.
‘Do What I Want’ started the night on the right foot and ‘Proud Mary’ ended it up on the left foot. In between, Simone basked in the rays of Stevie Wonder’s ‘Superstition’ and Etta James’ ‘Id Rather Go Blind’. The former – something familiar within an arrangement of epic, strange proportions and the latter; true to Etta-esque form.
Simone and ‘Those Guys’ are a force. Winners of many awards and events in Toronto, the band has played in Festivals around the globe on the same bill as Robert Plant and George Benson. “Beautiful Life’, ‘What Would I Do’, ‘You Know I’m No Good’ and ‘For Your Love’ explained why.
Imagine Janis Joplin on speed. Subtract above mentioned speed – adjust the rear view mirrors and lookout for “Those Guys’ carrying Billie Holiday on their backs. Such is the gamet in a varied setlist. Hard on Rock to seductive softness. Edgy Soul to Raspy Blues. Simone and Those Guys protect, nurture and nourish the legacy of the pureness of music. Saxophonist Brian Dihari, the link between space and timeless pleasure. Softening the guitars and Simone’s ravenous vocals. The piece of the puzzle completing the non-puzzling scene.
A taste of the band’s pleasure bolts through in ‘Burn Me’ and ‘ Revealed’.
A twin section of the mesmerizing genres aped and created. The students performing the chops of the masters within original compositions. Tightness prevails in a band which has been around for six years.
Let ‘s get one thing straight. Kool and The Gang put on a tremendous show at Place des Arts as part of The Montreal Jazz Festival. Tremendous – if you are Caucasian.
Once upon a time, in a Disco Ball far, far away – Kool and The Gang were filled with soul. As were most of the Funk ( then Disco ) bands of the late 60’s, 70’s and early 80’s. Entire high schools grew up with ‘Celebration’ as an anthem. In 2016, Kool and ‘His Gang’ – milking the white graduates from those High Schools for all their worth. Nostalgia 101.
The audience at Place des Arts was practically void of African Americans. A tell tale signal a group or act has signed a pact with ‘ the devil (s).’ Brothers and Sisters know their soul. They know their Funk and they know their Disco / dance band. What Kool and his friends delivered was a greatest hits package a la Gap Band. Great beats, great show and great singing. K-Tel will be calling for ‘Sound Explosion 2016’.
‘Fresh’, ‘Ladies Night’ and ‘Jungle Boogie’. Three songs which Caucasians wrongly believe are part of the Ten ‘Funk’ Commandments and the entire evening became a giant Rumba class. Kool was Moses and the horn section – two of each entertaining the suits as the purists in attendance drowned. The horns, a solid part to the Gang equation. The horns along with drums, saving the night from disaster.
Sly and The Family Stone, Parliament and Kool and The Gang? One of these don’t belong. Call it old age, call it ‘paying the bills’, call it Rick Dees’ Dance Party – just dont call it for what it actually was …
An excuse for White people to tell friends at the Water cooler; ‘I’m cool ‘.
Shame on Kool or Good on Kool ? At this point in their careers, who cares ? Unless you are Caucasian.
Highlight – Cherish, Ladies Night
*Opening act The Brooks with Montrealer Alan Prater delivered real soul within their funky set.
The Jazz Festival of Montreal is now an opera house. Well, not really. Rufus Wainright’s house may be operatic and he has moved out to annoy / please the neighbors.Not once – twice. Both nights at Salle Wilfred Pelletier at Place des Arts.
Wainwright – he of McGarrigle genetics, delivered his rookie opera Prima Donna straight down the middle of home plate. Critics ( aka umpires) had no choice but call it a strike. No curveballs, no sliders and no Knuckeballs.Considering Wainright has not ‘ pitched’ before, any aberrant tosses, foreign at best.
The ‘show’ – a one-hour version of the French-opera. A take on Opera singer Regine Saint Laurent’s agonizing thoughts on staging a comeback. Wainright’s music deep with pain, anxiety, anger and sadness. All the elements of the human condition.Rufus Wainright and his clan – well aware of the human condition.
Soprano Lyne Fortin, a Quebecer, played the ‘singer with a dilemma’ while American Kathryn Guthrie (alto) harbored the weight as Saint Laurent’s maid. Tenor Antonio Figueroa ( a Montrealer) was a journalist, an ear to Saint Laurent’s troubles. The vocal section was backed up by an orchestra with no name. Conducted by Jayce Ogren, Wainright later joked the Orchestra should be called The Prima Donna Orchestra. A fact not argued with or by the audience during the second inning ( half) aka Wainright’s hits and personal favorites.
Opera fans were introduced to Pop standards and popular music fans were introduced to Opera. What could go wrong? Popular music fans are not about to join Operas worldwide. Given the one hour time frame, an authentic opera it was not. A tease. A tickle. A disaster?
See the entire opera before judging if Wainright is pulling an April Fool’s joke on you.
Speaking of which, April Fools off his debut record, set the tone for the evening. Wainrights vocals crisp and a perfect reflection of the orchestra behind him. A perfect fit for Wainright’s sometime over-the-top deliveries.
Even at the keys, the piano – Wainright can be flamboyant. ‘Vibrate’, not one of those times. Nor was ‘A Woman’s Face’ from his newest offering ‘ Take All My Loves; 9 Shakespeare Sonets.’. The Bard would love the effort as well as Wainright’s sequined costume.
“Little Sister’from the album ‘Want Two’, an invite for sis Martha to join him on stage. The McGarrigle magic present and accounted for as it was during Leonard Cohen’s ( KD Langs?) Hallelujah. Lily and Sylvan Lankin creating and completing the family circle.
‘Going to a Town’ and ‘Cigarettes and Chocolate Milk’ were the guilty pleasures. Seemingly for both the audience and Wainright. Standing ovations awakening the non opera fans.
Wainright, quizzingly – created a talked about concert with an orchestra, an art film and singers singing words hardly anyone understood.
All this at an Opera House?
From her humble beginnings jammin’ with The Stephen Barry Band to her meteoric rise with Jordan Officer, Susie has earned her place in Montrealers hearts.
Susie took her ‘ new ‘ act to the stage of Club Soda Friday evening as part of The Montreal International Jazz Festival. New meaning – sans Officer et avec Jim Bland. Arioli, along with her band, performing many songs from her new album entitled ‘ Spring’.
From the start with songs such as ‘ Mean to Me’, ‘Caring Kind‘ and ‘Loverboy’, Susie’s fanbase were aware – Arioli still has those ‘golden chops’. They were also aware – Arioli still has the quit wit and realness which many artists lack at this stage of their careers. The non-fans, the newbies – getting a taste of that unique contrast Arioli possesses. Street-wise woman and elegance. A refreshing persona ‘live’ and a voice alive with the sounds of music from yesteryear.
‘Time After Time’, ‘Me Myself and I’ and the pair of French songs ‘Je Bois’ and ‘Un Jour La Difference’ – distancing Susie from the Beyonces and Rhiannas of the world.
In a music world filled with Pop songs, Rock songs and Country stars, Arioli sings and writes the songs that can make the whole world cry. Songs such as ‘ Husbands and Wives‘ can also make the Jazz Festival world laugh. Arioli asking the crowd before the start; ‘ Who here has fantasized about cheating?’ Guitarist Jim Bland – ‘cheatin on Susie’ with guitar work so sensual, so easy – suddenly the entire room was fantasizing about cheating on someone. Arioli’s voice providing enough softness and juice to upend the atmosphere with sentimentality. Susie seems to choose these themes and classic melodies to deliver her passion for seduction then, as quick as a Dean Martin drink, Arioli injects a ‘Spring’ into the steps of the night. The title track from Arioli’s latest offering and an original composition, a profound signal that Susie will be on the list, very soon – as one of this Country’s top songwriters as well.
Al Mclean on Saxophone, without taking anything away from the band, perhaps the most important cog in the wheel within Arioli’s setlist. King – soothing and ear-popping. Adding and removing with an ease associated with hours of practice. Hours of feel. A delight and compliment to the equally adept handwork of Bland on Guitar. Arioli’s go to guys …
‘Dearest Darling’, the Bo Diddley cover from the album ‘Spring’ – giving life to the homestretch. A reserved beat provided by drummer Greg Ritchie. Restrained chaos allowing Arioli playfulness and fodder for the fans while Ritchie pushed and pulled them into a mesmerizing groove.
The entire set list – filled with glowing gems such as ‘Travelin’ Light‘, ‘Blue Skies’ and ‘Beyond the Sea’, donating range from Susie’s catalogue of originals and covers. Andy King on Trumpet combined with Paul Shrofel’s slick and tender fingers on keys, providing the canvas to one of Montreal’s greatest Jazz singers.
On this tour and at Club Soda, Arioli placing, for the first time – original compositions on the table. Blending deliciously with the standards Susie has become known for.
Safe to say – the elusive Juno Awards Susie has been nominated for are closer to her mantelpiece than before. Knowing Susie, once in her possession – those Junos will be part of the act, front and center as the butt of a joke.
Could it be any other way ?
The daughter of Nina Simone, the legendary singer, quickly made everyone forget who her Mom was. Place des Arts was buzzing with excitement as Lisa’s Montreal Jazz Festival two show debut came to an end on Thursday evening. Lisa’s world was introduced with power !
‘My World’ – Lisa’s latest album, filled the room with tenderness, Soul and Rhythm and Blues. The songs, as beautiful as the legacy. Fresher than the genes and genetically fresh.
Commencing with the song ‘ All Is Well’, a blend of Lisa’s voice and the introduction of the band musically. What a band it was. Hervé Samb ( guitars, piano, backing vocals), Reggie Washington ( bass, double bass, backing vocals) and Sonny Troupé (drums, percussions). A blend of chemistry as lethal as it is safe in the confines of a lab. R&B opened the doors wide for an audience who – for the most part, hearing and seeing Simone for the first time. Without the energy exchange between stage and punters, it was up to the band to deliver and win the hearts over.
‘Child In Me’ , ‘Autumn
Leaves’, Ain’t Got No’ and ‘I Got Life’ was all that was needed for the audience to start the gas stove up and Lisa to turn up the velocity. These four tunes introducing everyone to Lisa’s range. Gospel, R&B, Blues, Soul and Nina Simone. Comparisons cannot be made to Lisa’s legendary Mom yet they are inevitable. Distinctive notes and passion – true apples from the proverbial tree. Lisa proudly is Nina’s daughter
The surprise of the evening (only to the non educated music fans in attendance) was the play of Hervé Samb on guitars. The man is a machine and obviously schooled in all genres. Fierce solos combined with feathery riffs throughout the night. A feel as beautiful as a woman’s touch. A perfect match to Lisa’s own hardness / softness. Robinson, on Bass. Taupe on drums. A trio of players so unique, providing stability for Simone’s energy. Lisa, leaving the stage and ‘touring’ Place des Arts. Lisa – dancing physically and vocally all night long. Combined with a Joie de Vivre and feistnessiness inherited from her Mom, a sure-to-return staple of Montreal Jazz Festivals to come. Next time as a headliner …
Highlight of Night – ‘My World’ off the album ‘My World’
The Festival gets underway on June 29th with Sharon Jones and The Dap Kings doing a free blow-out show to open the Festival. Jones, one of the best performers on the scene today –promises to deliver a opening showstopper for the ages.
Susie Arioli performs on July 2nd at Club Soda. On the heels of a tour to support her first album without Jordan Officer on guitar, ‘ Spring’ is a year long thing now. The show and tunes will be Susie’s coming of age …
Lisa Simone, the daughter of Nina Simone, will be performing two shows as an opening act for Melody Gardot on June 29th and 30th at Salle Wilfrid Pelletier. Lisa, like her famous Mom – blessed with amazing vocals and a way with words. Just may be the hidden gem of the Festival !
The stages will be busy this year ! Most of Montreal and Quebec’s top players will be on hand to ‘sing the Blues’ to anyone who will listen ! From The Paul DesLauriers Band at Metropolis to Dawn Tyler Watson at L’Astral – there is something for everyone both indoors and outdoors ! Free and Paid !
One of this city’s brightest diamonds has shone bright for a few decades. In her latest offering; ‘Jawbreaker’, Dawn exudes passion with experience.
They say practice makes perfect yet musicians are all aware, perfection is as unattainable as The Holy Grail. Perfection is the hunger which, more times than not – sustains a career.
On the first track, ‘Can’t Nobody’, the beacon to the shore of a grounded habited island, guitar great Paul DesLauriers lends a pick. The Rock tune heavily infused with Bluesy- soul, opens the senses and dictates this will not be ‘ just another Blues record’.
DesLauriers, the seasoned veteran – lays the juice on and off. A perfect combination – a perfect fit to Tyler’s schizophrenic ability to power through or seduce with her voice. Montrealer Patrick Lehman lends his voice for the first time on the disc and yes, JawBreaker is about to be something juicy to bite into.
Patrick Lehman, the Juno nominated ‘Soul brother from another mother’, makes another appearance on ‘Shine On’. Whatever energy DesLauriers brought in the opener, Lehman and Watson counter with a Gospel -inspired influence. Lehman and Watson dueling in an R&B cage. Grounding the sound and creating diversity. Another Jawbreaker straight from the church. The cornerstone of Soul.
‘A Little Bit More’ makes us comfortable. Watson – the singer we all know, appears with a ballad. Sultry, no nonsense. Dawn’s true self reflects off of Ben Racine’s shadow. The entire soul searching experience framed nicely by ‘Little Frankie Thiffault’s saxophone. The tune will make your heart melt.
“Son of a Gun’ jolts the wispiness away. DesLauriers returns and duels with Racine in a Rock n’ Roll Boogie Woogie high calibre fashion. Combing Berry- type riffs with Watson’s easy vocals. No rocket science here but ‘a rocket ‘ to balance JawBreaker. A missile to the good old days of Bill Haley and The Comets.
‘Tootsie Roll Blues’ is a return to the roots. Upright bass, harmonica and a smoke-filled Jazz club in a basement. Guy Belanger (Harp) and Morgan Moore (Bass) creating an atmosphere to forget troubled times. A tune to dismiss blues while wading firmly through the Blues. Dawn-Tyler is in her element and her ease within the melancholy structure holds a lantern to the underlying darkness within.
‘I Don’t Live Here Anymore’ is the gem. Montreal legend Rob MacDonald adds acoustic and Dimitri Lebel-Alexandre instills pedal steel on a heart-breaking delivery. The opening riff, reminiscent of the 1970 – inspired Country balladry.
A ‘Desperado’ type song which enters into Blues -y despair in a fashion which only Tyler could deliver. Watson’s haunting vocals as fresh as a teenager trying to make her break. Watson inspires on this inspirational tune while MacDonald and Alexandre ply their craft brilliantly. Wow!
‘Rotten’ is Watson and the band. It is important to mention ‘ the band’ especially the nimble-fingered John Sadowy on piano and organ. Often, the piano player – the ‘filler’ on stage, is forgotten by the audience and sometimes the singer. Sadowy, throughout JawBreaker is the saving grace. Providing Boogie Woogie, grace and ‘the meat’ to the potato salad of guests. Nicky Estor holds the beat throughout and is a solid metronome providing rolls and fills at the most important moments. Francois Dube, Estor’s better half on Bass, grounding the songwriting and allowing the ‘cats to play’. Mathieu ‘Moose’ Mousseau on Baritone Sax – balancing Little Frankie on Tenor. Both players, part of The Ben Racine Band. Racine himself, integral to the complete sound on JawBreaker.
As cheesy as the title track may suggest, ‘Smoke Meat’ is the hidden gem on the album.
Starting off as ‘ just another song’, suddenly – following the first verse, substance rears it’s beautiful head. Estor and Sadowy setting the Jazzy tone. An intro to a Funky jam which allows all the players to shine. Watson paying homage to Montreal’s number one food delicacy and ironically – a staple of Montreal musicians’ diets. A red-hot song to go with red hot meat!
‘Greenbacks’ and ‘I See’ are R&B and funk fan’s guilty pleasures. Once more the sax is prominent as in any good funk/ R&B tune. The horns on the album providing a feel good mentality and transporting the listener to the days before record companies ruined everything. Foot-tapping type stuff yet compared to most tracks on JawBreaker – more generic and not quite up to Watson’s creative standard.
‘Forever Young’ – the Bob Dylan tune returns the album and Watson to glory. The vocals alone, worthy of several awards. Think KD Lang singing Hallelujah. At times, Watson hitting the spine tingling moments associated with Lang. Just one of those special moments which cannot be defined. Certainly to become a fan favorite on disc and off.
‘It Ain’t Elvis’ returns JawBreaker to generic territory. The album contains thirteen tracks and would have been more suited to ten. Adding similar sounding tracks diminishes the brilliance of the album. Watson is well know and everyone is aware of what she can do. All musicians are solid throughout yet generic can border on boredom within a complete album listening structure. Each generic track great within a playlist including different acts.
JawBreaker concludes with ‘Shine On / Rise’. A bookend for the album’s second track ‘Shine On’. Once more – Lehman lends his backing vocals and the song is a tribal chant. An interesting way to end the disc. A statement sung with conviction by Watson and Lehman. A tease which starts to rise and disappears leaving the listener thirsty for more.
All in all – JawBreaker is a must buy album. A return of sorts by Dawn – Tyler Watson to the throne of Quebec female singers.
Every year, as sure as Grandma serves pie, The Montreal International Jazz Festival rears it’s musical head.
For some purists, cringes replace enthusiasm. Huey Lewis isn’t exactly ‘Jazz news'( as was the case last year) and The Barr Brothers ain”t even close to The Smothers Brothers.
Other Jazz lovers embrace the exposure for it’s ability to turn people on to Jazz who previously may have thought the genre died with Miles Davis.
Whatever the belief – citizens of Montreal and elsewhere scurry about to prepare for ten days of sun, tunes and merriment. The Festival, if anything – an excuse to party !
Here now – The Top Ten Signs The Montreal Jazz Festival is around the corner …
10. No room on city buses with all the upright basses taking up seats !
9. Suddenly … IT IS ….. ‘a Wonderful World” …
8. With every Big Mac … get a free beret !
7. Sales of Kerouac’s ‘On the Road’ skyrocketing !
6. Dr. Oliver Jones saw his shadow!
5. Number one rental in the adult section of the video store? All That Jizz!
4. STCUM slogan changed to ‘Take the A Train au Centre Ville!
3. Montreal Pool Room now known as ‘The Be-Bop Emporium’.
2. Doesn’t matter what language is spoken, the response is in ‘scat’.
and The Number One Sign The Montreal Jazz Festival is Around the Corner?
1. Mayor Denis Coderre is on the phone ordering more granite stumps !
For those who grew up adoring the number one Rock duo of all time (sales) and have not seen them for a while, the show last night at The Bell Center must have been shocking.
Daryl Hall is a replica of David Soul merged with The Dude from The Big Lebowski. Oates has lost the big moustache and the Afro-ish hair. A flattened Paul Michael Glaser if you will. The good news? Appearances may have changed but the music is the same old song and dance.
Hall And Oates, arose from the soulful side of Philadelphia, Pa. in the 1970’s. Fusing Pop, Rock, R&B and Soul into one distinct sound. A noise instantly recognizable as was the case in Montreal last night as the tune ‘Maneater’ started things off. The bass as distinctive as a red barn in a field of wheat.
The patrons of the Bell Center aged fifty and up were immersed in nostalgia. It was hard to avoid ManEater or any other Hall and Oates’ songs in the 1980’s. The duo were embraced by the video age as the New Wave / Soulful / Pop – street boys. More than any other duo in history, Hall and Oates rode the cash grab decade and ran with it.
“Out of Touch’ came next and the lightbulbs containing memory filaments circulated like firecrackers at a stag party gone wrong. The only crinkle at first appeared through Hall’s wavery voice. Seemingly not as strong as the eighties and / or on disc. Oates – au contraire, sounding vocally healthy and a slightly older version of himself was strictly physical.
‘Did It in a Minute’, the pair’s Top Ten single from 1981’s Private Eyes LP, lasted about a minute too long. Live in 2016, the song was a shadow of it’s former self and whatever momentum was gained in the evening’s first two songs, petered out faster than a casanova filled with one drink too many. The only good denominator and a foreshadow of things to come – the artful and soulful Sax emerging from Charles DeChant. Solidifying and grounding the sound all night.
An evening filled with so much promise started to feel mailed in. Partly because of the similarities within the duo’s songwriting and partly because … well, the eighties were that way. For a fleeting moment, Hall and Oates were covering Hall and Oates.
‘Say it ain’t So’ was prophetic and a long evening appeared imminent until the great Barry Mann song ‘ You Lost That Lovin’ Feeling’ grabbed the senses. Women were hooked and the men cringed. Le Centre Bell fell victim to soul.
‘This next song took us out of Philly and to places like Montreal ‘. Hall’s words an introduction to the tune which got everything back on track. A groove was hit and the band settled in for the rest of the evening within the 1974 song ‘ Grounds for Separation’. The soul of South Philly never more apparent as Hall and Oates mesmerized the crowd. A perfect lead-in to probably their most soulful ‘Hit’; Sarah Smile’. The latter two songs pre-1980 over production values and an insight into the true songwriting skills of the dynamic duo. If the show last night was a work week, the latter two songs; Wednesday night with Popcorn on the couch.
‘Do What You Want To’ and Sarah Smile showcased beautiful guitar solos by Shane Therriot. Hall and Oates songs are not solo friendly. Therriot made an argument they should be. Along with DeChant on Sax – a double dose of guilty pleasures and a welcome break in the sometimes similar sound of the main act.
Whatever worries on Hall’s vocals were left behind. Hitting his Marvin Gaye / Ray Charles stride, Hall’s initial weak voice an aberration.
‘I Won’t Go for That’ and the encore ‘Rich Girl’ reminded the room of the elephant. Or – in this case; elephants !
Decipher Hall and Oates as much as you like. Hall is Lennon, Oates is McCartney. The Rock / Blues element combined with the ear-to-the ground sensibility that kept things fresh in yesteryear. Hall and Oates have sold more albums than any other duo in history.
Starsky and Hutch would be proud even though Private Eyes were not necessary but front and center in the end.
In it’s 12th year, the charity event has raised over three million dollars. On top of that, it has also attracted some pretty big names in music. April Wine, The Pointer Sisters, KC and The Sunshine Band and Blue Rodeo twice !
Bachman is one of the most historic figures in Canadian music history. Co -writer of The Guess Who’s immense catalogue and author of favorites from the arsenal of Bachman-Turner Overdrive. Randy is also host of Vinyl Tap, one of the most popular radio programs in Canada. Not too shabby eh?
Strangers in the Night started out as a small gathering to say thank you to founder Larry Day’s clients at a club known to West Islanders. The Firm. The Boogie Wonder Band ( closing the night this year) were the first band to make people dance and that trend has continued. All the while – raising funds for Starlight Children’s Foundation. Strangers in the Night, without a doubt – a ‘win-win’ situation for everyone involved.
This year, a theme for the evening has been added. ‘ A Night of Stars’ is the name and spirituality is the game.
‘A Night of Stars’ is an original composition written by local Hip-Hop artist Mr. Bolly and his songwriting partner, Sorin Pavelesko. Local singer Kaila was added with her angelic vocals and. as they say – the rest is history.
Something somewhat common takes place. Steve Michaels sings and sounds just like his alter ego; Elvis Presley. Songs heard a thousand times before pierce memories from far inside brains. Transporting people to the fifties, sixties and the seventies. Elvis, audibly and with eyes closed shut – never died.
Open your eyes.
Elvis is still dead.
‘Return to Grace’ is an attempt to bring Presley back to life and more importantly, introduce entire generations to a figure known to them as; ‘That Fat Guy’. Youtube and tales from parents and / or Grandparents cannot bring the legend back to life.
Live or dead …
The production team of Return to Grace do an outstanding job. The entire evening is periodically punctuated with a narrative. Explaining both historic events of Elvis’ lifetime and Elvis’ own historic events.
From Sun Records, an honorable Army appearance, his 68′ Comeback special and his very historic first- of- a- kind satellite broadcast from Hawaii. Elvis’ time capsule has been unearthed and thankfully, the movie version of Presley was not found.
A quarter of the way into the show, somewhere before or after ‘Return to Sender’, a magical thing happens. Michaels becomes Elvis. The crowd’s snobby ‘ No One is Elvis’ attitude disappears and Michaels himself gets into the role. In fairness, Michaels is in character from the get-go, the audience is not. A combination of the songs and theatrics ( dancers, back – up singers, choreography and costumes) kills the most ardent Ebenezer music fan. Michael’s mannerisms, voice and gestures, closer to the real Elvis than Priscilla was in the past few months of her marriage to Elvis.
If Robert Downey Jr. is Ironman – Steve Michaels is ‘The King’ …
Michaels’ is the star in a role which must be one pressure cooker. After all, Presley was one of the most unique characters not just in the past fifty years, a deity of the ages.
Michaels’ voice carries the tunes and his banter cracks the jokes. Uncanningly duplicating Elvis’ balancing act of confidence and shyness. Michaels nails the Devil and the Angel inside of Elvis. The good and evil. Any tribute to Elvis would be void without Presley’s personality. Presley’s persona as much part of his fame as his fame was to his persona. Michaels and his team, the perfect students in a Graceland classroom. Disciples of Elvis’ church.
All the hits were onboard. ‘Jailhouse Rock’, ‘In the Ghetto‘. Teddy Bear’, Suspicious Minds’, ‘Lonesome Tonight’ and ‘Love Me Tender’. Just some of the timeless songs which Elvis ( Michaels) bestowed upon his adoring public at Salle Wilfred Pelletier.
‘American Trilogy’ – done faithfully from Elvis; Aloha from Hawaii, stole the second part of the evening. A recreation both physically ( jumpsuit) and vocally. A powerful tune in the satellite special, more powerful in person. The words; ‘Glory Glory Hallelujah’ sending shivers through spines bent over in awe. The backing vocals, male and female, providing the ‘spirit’ of the Hawaii show spiritually, religiously and righteous.
If ‘The Steve Michaels’ Special’ does anything, it fulfills a legacy through music and performance. Reminding ‘the punters’ of a time when showmanship was backed up by musicianship.
Elvis Aaron Presley used to put on shows that made eyes and ears stay open. Steve Micheals duplicates it.