Who the Fudge are The Walkervilles?

Growing up next to a firing range – may make it easier for someone to mature as a person who shoots guns … Well, the same can be said for a bunch of guys who grew up across from one of the greatest musical towns in the world. Say hello to the Walkervilles …

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The Walkervilles are openng up for the Tedeschi-Trucks band on Monday Nov.18th at Metropolis in Montreal.

Visit their site here!

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Amanda Martinez – A New ‘Dawn’

Toronto‘s Amanda Martinez is coming for a visit …

Something the singer admits does not happen often. Funny – since Montreal is one of her favorite cities to sing in. Hot off the heals of an album release – Amanda is donating her voice to the third edition of Montreal Mundial. She will be performing on November 21 as part of a Woman of the World evening.

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Listen below as Amanda explains the album, her role in the 2010 World Cup and her love for children. Both her own and and through an organization which she is an ambassador for …

Ladies and Gentlemen … Amanda!

Visit Amanda’s Site Here!

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Hanson; REAL or Imagined?

The kids … er … adults … are all right. Sorta …

hanson2The authors of the huge hit; MMMbop – are grown up ( fathers in their own right) and have elevated their game (and height) to a different level. What level? Is anyones guess.

For the large contingent of females in attendance who are in the same age bracket or a little younger than the trio – the boys are status quo. Forever embedded in that special place as pre – teen poster boys. A boy band with hair a la Beatles with a much lighter hue and a much lighter musical catalog.

For music ‘enthusiasts’ – a blend of potential combined with a dash of ‘cheese’ all mixed together with smoke and mirrors. Drummer Zac appears to be the most talented of the bunch. Singing, banging and even playing guitar and keyboards. Brother Taylor – a close second with the same talents but less sincere ( he comes across as calculated ) and less able on the skins.

Then there is Isaac. This is where the trickery appears. The mirror amongst the smoke …

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Poor Isaac.

The least talented of the bunch ( he does play piano – offstage). The runt ( weakest ) in this musical litter. The guitar player who wasn’t. The brother whose Mom may ask his siblings to bring him along so he will not cry.

How else does someone explain his lack of natural rhythm in the hand clapping segments of the show? The guitarist behind him on stage playing the same chords? Something is rotten in Denmark, Montreal and probably everywhere else the ‘big boys’ play … Nothing appears natural for Isaac – it all seems forced and for that reason, all eyes focus on Zac and Taylor.

Hanson is a Pop group who tinker with – and sometimes pull off, a more profound sound. Sometimes funky, sometimes Bluesy and sometimes interesting. ‘Get the Girl Back’ – their first single to chart on Billboard in nine years and possessing a Billy Squire-type intro, an example of doing something ‘not broke’. Hanson ( and probably the powers that be) do not want to fix the sound too much. A shame because the group appears to want to mature on songs such as ‘Give a Little‘. A funky number which escapes the Pop moniker and at the very least – delivers the band to a level which is more suitable to their age than Mmmbop (even Michael Jackson OUTGREW Ben).

On the Coldplay copycat; ”Lost Without Each Other‘ – the boys soak up the love emitting from the mostly female audience. People who were in the building for the fun and not as judges. No Simon Cowells to be seen dissecting musical theory,pitch and chord structures. The audience just a bunch of folks who like what they hear and Hanson  delivered it quite well …

The band also knows how to dip into a treasured past via covers. ‘Happy Together’ – that wonderfully innocent Turtles tune as well as The Bee GeesToo Much Heaven‘ – a pair of songs perfect for the setting and sung a capella. An additive of where the boys’ come from when they are not performing their own songs. Hanson do come from an education ripe in Motown as well as Classic Rock and R and B. A fact which appears sporadically in their new songs from their latest disc; Anthem.

‘Lost without You’ is a perfect example of what is good in Hanson. The boys are hugely popular worldwide and appear to do things for the right reasons. They have a squeaky clean image which borders on a seemingly ‘uncomfortable’ transition into adulthood ( see video below).

Hanson cannot be taken seriously in the grand theme of musical history. Hanson will never be spoken in the same breath as Jimi Hendrix, Bob Dylan or  Elton John. Hanson will be included in conversations related to all the boy bands who have come before and will arise in the future.They will be added into a category of able songwriters who can write catchy Pop tunes.

A bad thing?

Only if the ‘kids’ who idolize the band are not all right …

Or …

Hanson: Melding Rock and R&B Influences with Radio-friendly Pop

By Craig McKee

How many groups do you know that can go on tour and play EIGHT songs from their newest album without their fans minding a bit?

That’s what fans of the pop/rock trio Hanson heard at Sunday night’s show at the Corona Theatre in Montreal. Taylor, Isaac, and Zac treated their fans to 23 songs from their catalog of pop gems, including eight from their new album, Anthem.

They performed hits from their early years, including Mmmbop (the song that launched them – written and first recorded when the average age of the band members was 11), Where’s the Love, A Minute Without You, With You in Your Dreams, This Time Around, Crazy Beautiful, Lost Without Each Other, and Penny and Me. Their encore included a rocking version of the 2000 album cut In the City that is even better live than on record.

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But what really shows the development of the band is their more recent output, 2010’s Shout It Out (which has a distinctly Motown feel to it) and 2013’s Anthem, which incorporates their classic-rock-influenced style into a very current sound. Whether they exhibit the influences of Ray Charles or The White Stripes, they seem equally at home.

Hanson’s more than two-hour set also included a terrific a cappella version of the Bee Gee’s Too Much Heaven along with a rousing version of So Happy Together. It worked. All three members sing lead on different songs, and all three are comfortable changing places and instruments on stage, going from drums to piano or vice versa.

What is very clear about Hanson is that they are in it for the long haul. Each album this hard-working band releases shows another side of their talent and a growing maturity. They are celebrating 21 years as a band, even though the youngest member (drummer Zac) is just 28 (guitarist Isaac will turn 33 next week while piano/keyboard player and lead singer Taylor is 30).

Unfortunately, those most lacking in imagination will cling to the success of Mmmbop as an indication that these brothers aren’t to be taken seriously. But that’s their problem. With each new release, Hanson keeps proving themselves with quality material and passionate, crowd-pleasing performances.

The thing that comes across most as you watch Hanson is that these three really love music and respect those who have paved the way for them. It shows.

–Craig McKee is a Montreal journalist who has covered news and entertainment for more than 25 years. He is the creator of the  political blog Truth and Shadows

Angel Forrest; Reborn and Lovin’ It!

Angel Forrest has been singing around Montreal and abroad for many years. Days and nights spent on the road – honing a voice which balances between Jazz, Blues and almost anything else …

She has just recently released an album which, surprisingly – is her first Blues one with all original material in English.  It has been a long time coming and for once – Angel is being appreciated  outside the Province of Quebec and across Canada.

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Listen to a pair of Angel’s songs and hear the good news! Just like her singing – Angel’s reason for smiling will knock your socks off …

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Top Ten Signs Gino Vannelli Rocked!

Former Montrealer Gino Vannelli came home on the weekend. Too bad is was not for good …

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Performing two sold – out shows at The Rialto was a shame. A man with a voice like his, should be atop Mont Royal – a town cryer if you will. Letting locals and tourists alike know; he is one of ours.

Gino started his musical career as a drummer. Ironic because all these years later – the beat goes on. In his soul and the spirits of the many who turned up to witness the author of so many ‘full tunes’.

Seldom does a singer, so meticulously involved in the production of sound, deliver music the way Vannelli does. Complete with orchestra moves normally associated with a bandleader – the current resident of Oregon echoes perfection to the ears.

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A treat given to the ‘hounds of music’. A delightful dish of something seldom heard anymore.

Here are the Top Ten Signs Gino Rocked!

10. Black cars nowhere to be seen during daylight hours.

9. ‘People’moving. Period!

8. Pre – Hallowe’en sales of dark curly wigs unusually high.

7. ‘When I think about those nights in Montreal …’ Enough said!

6. Men disregarding cold and beer bellies to display taped on chest hair – alarmingly high!

5. ‘Lollapalooza’ replacing ‘Bazooka’ as the number one chewing gum on the bedpost overnight!

4. New Ben and Jerry ice cream flavor? Gino Vanilla …

3. John Travolta replaced by Vannelli in Saturday Night Fever; The Sequel!

2. First thirty rows of The Rialto? Women over forty …

and the number one sign Gino Vannelli rocked …!?

1. Just watch! Nine months from now … ? An increase of baby boys named Gino!

A Conversation with Chloe Charles …

Ontario – born singer, song-writer and poet Chloe Charles is related to Julian Lennon.

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Her Father, John Charles, married Cynthia Lennon ( Julian’s Mom) when Chloe was fifteen years of age. Julian – who was good friends with Chloe’s Dad, introduced his Mom to the elder Charles. Chloe was pleasantly surprised when the couple announced their marriage plans. A ceremony which took place in Toronto.

Chloe Charles, because of the Lennon connection, is asked all the time about being the stepsister to Julian – son of ex-Beatle John.

“It really doesn’t bother me.” says Chloe from a restaurant on Queen street in downtown Toronto. ” I don’t tell people myself because I do not want people to feel I am not my own person. I am doing what I do on my own and my way.”

In Chloe’s case, her own way is very similar to her Mother. Chloe’s Mom is also a poet and a guitar player. Chloe grew up listening to her Mom and her Aunt singing and playing great tunes in the family living room.

chloe4” I was very shy as a child.” Admits Chloe. ” But you think I was shy? My Mom was ten times worse!” She laughs. ” My Mother is a fantastic singer  and poet. She has never been able to get over her shyness to be able to stand and play in front of people except family and close friends. She has written a few books also that – one day,  I will make sure are published.”

Chloe herself always knew what she wanted to do.  Music was in her mind from an early age. Before any ties were joined with the Lennon legacy.

“I always have written poetry and playing guitar was my sanctuary. It was kind of like Yoga …” She laughs. ” It was always a place to go mentally and spiritually to get away from things. It’s something I have always loved doing.”

Chloe’s parents divorced when she was just over a year old. Chloe and her Mom at one point lived with Chloe’s maternal Grandfather. A man by the name of John Richmond. Through this man ( who sadly passed away recently),  it is obvious from what side of the family Chloe’s artistic genes are strongest. Richmond, among other things, is the man responsible for the huge murals on both Maple Leaf Gardens and The Air Canada Center in Toronto.

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” My Grandfather was such an independent spirit. He published books and magazines and traveled all over the world following his intuition. He (previous to his death) was in Mexico learning and practicing the art of that country. He was a huge inspiration and I miss him dearly. Life is short. We must appreciate every moment …”

Following a short stint in school studying Psychology, Chloe returned to music and realized it is what she’s supposed to be doing. Chloe’s Father was very supportive and gave her the opportunity to reflect on things following her exodus from school.

” I was introduced to and pushed ( in a  nice way) into the black genre of music. I was singing R and B, Soul – that type of thing. It bothered me to sing other people’s music so I decided while in Germany to set a goal for myself. I was not returning to Canada without twelve songs written!”

That was in 2005-06. Chloe did write those twelve songs yet none  are on her debut album. A disc which will be released on the 13th of February in North America. An album titled; Break the Balance.

“It has been released in Europe and I am returning to Germany to continue touring shortly after the CD launch party in Toronto.” Says Chloe. ” Right now, there are no dates set in Canada yet I believe I will be playing in Quebec and Ontario somewhere around June.”

‘Break the Balance’ is an album which carries the messages of Chloe’s psyche. Songs on the album  which deal with things that – according to Chloe; most people cannot deal with …

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” People are afraid to deal with certain truths. They cannot handle looking inside for fear of what they may find. This album deals with things from the past few years of my life. There are very dark and depressing songs on this album and a year from now – I will understand them better. I will be able to look back and see clearly what was going on in my conscience at the time …”

‘Break the Balance’ was put together in under a year although the whole process of producing and the business end – put the launch date further back. It has been released in Europe and Chloe is so happy with her ‘guys’ overseas.

chloe71-450x278” I have toured Germany for almost two years non – stop. I love it there and it shows the difference between North American and European mindsets. Over there, if the crowd likes a song or an artist – they just like it! Here, people will listen and turn to their friends and ask ” Do you like it? I like it – do you like?” Society here is so much about acceptance. In Europe they are more free.”

Chloe loves Canada and North America. She also loves all her friends – most of whom either play on the album or contributed with arrangements. Chloe’s favorite song on the disc is ‘My Child’. It is a song written with her Mother in mind. The type of song which instills the feeling of her Mom singing a Lullaby to a young Chloe.

” I was touring in Milan, Italy …” Explains Charles. ” I was having a rough time and called my Mom. I spoke to her for what was probably way too long yet she comforted me. “My Child’ came from that conversation.”

Another tune which ( if she had to choose another favorite song from the cd) is fond to her is ‘ Refrain from Fire’. A song about ‘wanting something you should not’. A lyrical and musical odyssey of ‘trying to keep away from dangerous places’.

Julian and Cynthia Lennon
Julian and Cynthia Lennon

“If I had to say what message I am sending out with this album through my words and music – it is simple. To be different …! Not try to be someone who you are not! ”

Even if your Step-mom is Cynthia Lennon. A very kind, wise and loving big sister …

Even if every once in a while you get together with Julian Lennon and NOT talk about anything to do with music

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