Thrill Me Up; Dawn Tyler Watson and Paul Deslauriers both Nominated for A Maple Blues Award!

Last year, there was a duel at L’Astral Theater on Ste. Catherine St. East. A venue on the cusp of downtown Montreal.

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In the right corner, wearing a brown top and jeans – Dawn Tyler Watson. A woman who posesses the voice of an angel. Vocal chords blessed from deep within …

On the left, bearded and loaded with guitar fingers talented beyond comprehension – Paul Deslauriers. A man who should be writing the score for spaghetti westerns 2013.

The duo had just recently completed an album and they appeared on stage to promote it. ‘What a debut’ if the response of the audience that evening was any indication …

The show commenced with trepidation, musically and the amount of love being tossed around the L’Astral. Well – that did not last long.

‘Thrill Me Up’ broke the ice and the energy kept filling the glasses. The song is one of the new ones on the pair’s  album. A song which has caught on in the Ottawa region and has become a staple on the airwaves. An upbeat kind of song with Paul and Dawn’s voices matching intermittently. A tune which keeps great company by blues standards with a chorus to die for.

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The audience began to tune in and another new song; Small Ceremonies, was the backbreaker. A beautifully sung ballad. Watson’s inner child playing nonchalantly with Deslaurier’s tender riffs. A bedtime tale meant to be serenaded to a bride or groom to be…

Watson’s fiance was on hand back then among the patrons, amorous banter took center stage as ‘Miss’ Dawn urged the audience to appreciate the one special person in their lives. All the while –  while encouraging the single people to retain hope. A beautiful message from a beautiful songstress and person.

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The Beatles’ song ‘ Can’t buy Me Love‘ is on the new album and was just one of three eye – catching covers carried out by the duo. ‘The Rain Song‘ and ‘ Going to California‘, originally penned by Mssrs Page and Plant of Led Zeppelin fame, brought the house down. Renditions very worthy of calls from Zep themselves.

The jaw – dropping moment came halfway through the second set. Jacques Brel‘s song; ‘Ne me Quitte Pas‘, made famous by none other than Edith Piaf – may have brought tears to some people’s eyes. A fact which was pointed out by a standing ovation upon completion.

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Paul Deslauriers and Dawn Tyler Watson go together as two songbirds should. Deslauriers, along with Steve Hill – is the best guitarist in the province of Quebec and maybe in Canada. Watson has few equals in the voice department.

Sometimes duels are friendly …

Maple Blues Nominees – 2013

Tune into K103.7fm Friday at 5:15pm to hear me discuss the music scene in Montreal.

Some photos courtesy of Kid Mercury Entertainment.

Visit Dawn’s Site Here!

Visit Dawn and Paul’s Site Here!

May as well Visit Paul’s …lol

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Cd Review – Colin James; Fifteen

Colin James is … Colin James.

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Older, maybe a bit wiser. He remains – a great blues guitarist. He remains – Canada’s great blues guitarist.

His latest album is a pleasure to listen to.

There are some discs ( face it – most discs) which contain great tracks along with annoying ones thrown Into the mix. Not James’ latest title; Fifteen.

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The entire project is non threatening. Commencing with the first track – ‘ Sweets Gone Sour’. It’s a love song hidden in a tune about bees. Apparently – James heard a story of cell phone signals messing up bees’ signals and the bees are dying because of it. The music is standard blues fare a la James and it is the second collaboration with Gordie Johnson of Big Sugar and Wide Mouth Mason fame. The song introduces the listener to James and what is to come.

‘I’m Diggin’ rocks. James’ guitar has a definate edge on this track. Its as if the B.C native is using the power and experience of his note playing to ‘dig for not only a woman’s love but the listeners as well. Colin is so talented, it is easy to forget how talented he is. A genuine rocker which should be a mainstay on rock stations everywhere.

‘Fool for You’ is the CDs first ballad. Its a throwback to a late eighties – early nineties sound. A slow blues riff maintains a voice which has aged gracefully. Colin is Canada’s musical answer to MicheaI J Fox – the two remain youthful in appearance. On this track James remains youthful vocally with a slight raspy annotation. Play it again Sam er … I mean Colin. A nice little Samba shuffle makes it easier to do so.

‘Shed a little light’ is as sweet as song anyone can find on the airwaves in this day and age. A sweet song with piercing guitar notes. It is a tune written by Foy Vance – an Irishman who spent some time living in the states before returning to his country. Filled with gospel – induced sounds, James’voice punctuates a melody which any music professor would be proud of …

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The next song is the first collaboration with Gordie Johnson. Its a shame these guys have not gotten together before. A hard edge rockin’ tune which delivers a constant ‘slap in the face’ riff throughout the song. It brings it back to a time when rock, blues and r and b were the only game in town.

‘Love for life’ is a ballad, a country-ish ballad. The type of song which makes James’ truly appear like a teenager. Close your eyes, sit back and an eighteen year old kid who chummed with the likes of Stevie Ray Vaughn and Keith Richards appears serenading the listener to oblivion.

The following two tunes are covers. A pair of tunes written by two very different people. Alain Toussaint and John Lennon.

James was a big fan of Robert Palmer’s first few discs and this song; ‘Sneaking’ Sally Through the Alley’ was on one. It is a song most people have heard but do not know the title. Deep rooted in funky New Orleans’ style, James adds his distinctive trademark guitar to a song written on the walls of history.

Lennon’s ‘Jealous Guy’ – is in hommage to the former member of the Beatles and the leader of the Plastic Ono Band. The track remains true to the original with …that’s right. James’ guitar jumping in the drivers seat. Somewhere, Yoko is smiling …

‘I Finally Wrote a Song for You’ is frightening. Not because it is bad. It is scary because it is a time warp. A mid- eighties song with a beautiful chorus. The idea came to James when he was riding his bike. Did it have a banana seat Colin and if so – where can I get one? A nice ride …

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‘No time to get there’ was recorded the same time as ‘Fool for You’. It’s obvious. The same feel grooves into the veins and dispels any rumours we are in the year 2012. The weakest track on the album – yet the best track on any up and coming blues artists’ disc.

One must wonder if The Black Crowes and the Rolling Stones were present during the recording of ‘Stone Faith’. The Crowes borrowed the Stones’ sound, the Stones borrowed Chuck Berry’s style among others and now, Mr. James borrows from them all on this track. The Stones have outlasted everyone and by channeling the iconic group – James may do the same. In Canada.

The best track on the album. ‘Oh Well’ transports all of James experience and adds a modern rock feel. Just a fantastic song to dance around the living room in underwear. No Risky business on this tune. Colin’s guitar is at it’s best and most provocative here.

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‘Shoulder to Cry On’ ends the record wistfully. Inspired by Ron Sexmith , the albums’ prominent collaborator, the ballad takes the listener to a nice land where acoustic and classical guitars rule the meadow. Romantic and pure – a song which inspires a quick kiss by a garden gate …

Not a bad way for James to leave the audience.

Tune in to Rick Keene on K103.7 fm

Friday the 28th of September will be my debut on air at k103.7fm at 5 :15 pm. This will be a regular feature every Friday on the station. 

Sean Mckeogh, the afternoon host and I –  will discuss the people I have interviewed, the cd’s I have reviewed and the upcoming shows in Montreal. It will also give an opportunity for the station and I to play and promote a song from a new artist and album.

Please contact me if you would like me to listen and review a cd. This could be the opportunity of a lifetime to have your music introduced to the listening public …

Thank you for your support, thanks to k103.7fm for providing an opportunity for me to do this but most of all – thanks to all the musicians who keep the world sane.

Tune in … won’t ya?

Sincerely,

Rick Keene

Rickkeene2@gmail.com

Brie Neilson – A Happy Song at the ‘Picture Show’

‘Sweet hot chocolate and one hand in my pocket …’

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These are some of the lyrics included in Brie Nielson’s ‘ Happy Song’, a tune which is a small part of a bigger ‘ Picture  Show’. An album which will be officially launched on October 4 at Sala Rossa – 4848 blvd St. Laurent in Montreal.

Alannis Morisette had one hand in her pocket while the other was giving high fives. Brie Neilson, of Vancouver, B.C – carries sweet hot chocolate in the hand which is not embedded in her pocket.
A poignant difference which should give Brie ‘ the upper hand ‘. After all – not everyone likes high fives. Practically everyone loves ‘sweet hot chocolate’!

Music swirling around like a warm breeze on a damp early morning . This is what Brie donates to the listener. A potpourri of incense burning brightly and softly in the background of a cozy den. A rustic blend of acoustic guitars, a horn section worthy of more than a footnote and the knee jerking tight – knit beats of a rhythm section gone mad …

Comfortabilty is what Neilson and her band of ‘Othermen’ add to a world which walks ankle deep in troubles. Real and imagined. Brie Nielson’s songs are real and so is her conviction – filled voice.

This is her second ep since moving to Montreal and aside from being part of a spectacular band named ‘ The Unsettlers’, Brie is determined to make believers of her music.

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The title track – ‘ Picture Show’ is a tune that gets your toes a tappin’. It starts off with guitar and Brie’s soothing voice. When Tim van de Ven ( drums) and Ram Krishnan’s ( bass) rhythm section joins the fray … a road trip to partyville starts its journey. Declan O’Donovan’s slick piano work just makes everything that much more ‘giddy.’ By the time the horns kick in – the listener should be dancing in the backseat …

‘Now I Know’ is a song that showcases Brie’s vocals and O’Donovan’s deft touch on the piano. Acoustic strummin’ gathers thoughts as the tune is a perfect vehicule to perhaps gaze out the window on the trip. Reflective, profound and real. A gem. A diamond.

Ever listen to the Monty Python song; ‘Always look on the bright side of life’? Neilson’s tune – ‘Happy Song’ is reminiscent although on a slower pace.The energy behind the message is just waiting to bust free like a caged lion.Short and sweet, the song is as advertised; happy!

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Neilson - No Secret Here

‘Secrets’ opens up with slick guitar work and kicks into a groove – a non threatening groove. Neislon’s voice like a newly arrived angel on a planet filled with impish toads. Close your eyes – safety is what sets Brie apart from the normal blend of feminine choruses circling the globe.

Alex Gutjar plays trumpet on the album and arranges fellow horn players Franco Proietti (baritone sax) and Kyla Campbell (trombone) and Brie herself
(trumpet). Alex is a genius on the track ‘Green’. He grabs the steering wheel and lifts a spirit tired by life’s troubles into a world where cabarets, cotton candy and Ferris wheels provide the background. O’Donovan’s snappy piano once more spitting in the same direction of this breezy composition.

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When a tune is fifty percent better than most of the songs heard on tired radio stations and at the same time is the bridge between a more modern sound and the refreshing sounds of yesteryear – well, Brie and her othermen are doing something right.

‘Big Guy’ does just that.

A commotIon takes place. A perfect blend of the disc’s ‘folky’ rythyms and the sounds of today. Halfway through ‘The Picture Show’, the projectionist alters the reel. Oak trees replace the maples on this auditory scenic journey. A voyage which is pleasantly urged along thanks to the backing vocals of David Simard. A voice heard throughout the record.

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‘Dress me up’ is Brie’s jazzy demand for a date. Cocky and assertive with a blues feel footed in the rhythms of life – logically and ethically. Sounds heard before yet new and intriguing. Take her advice, offer a hand – you may get a kiss on the cheek.

Following a journey of folk, blues, jazz, cabaret-ish sing alongs and leg moving rolls, the following two songs appear to involve a getting to know process. ‘Oh my Darling’ and ‘I Can Do It Alone’ provide a stripped down Neilson. Lyrically and musically. Both are ballads worthy of a child’s bedtime. Brie allows someone in with honesty while her band takes backseat. Two songs which showcase two sides of a woman. A pair of soft spoken syllables …

In the sixties, Nancy Sinatra sang a little ditty called ‘These Boots are Made for Walking’. Brie’s song ‘Be Alone’ is a modern day version …

An underlying groove reminds of Sinatra’s statement but provides more elements. A sure -to- be favourite live tune which compels a standing ovation upon completion. Just one of those songs which could represent an entire generation. A statement of a person with a big heart who just needs a little time on their own.

The final track is Beatle- esque. Shades of ‘Oh Darling’ front a love song straight from the fifties. Roller skates, poodle skirts and milk shakes outside a drive-in theatre. A feel good hommage to a simpler time.

Hats off to Brie and her Othermen. This is the type of record which should he sold and dispersed onto an unsuspecting public.

The type of record which is … happy!

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Please support this brilliant artist and re- learn the way music is supposed to be played …

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Brie Neilson: Vocals, guitar and trumpet Ram Krishnan: Vocals, bass, tambourine Tim van de Ven: Drums Declan O’Donovan: Vocals, piano, organ David Simard: Vocals, guitar Alex Gutjahr: Trumpet, horn arrangements Franco Proietti: Baritone sax Kyla Campbell: Trombone


Brieneilson.com

Carolyn Fe Blues Collective – Original Sin; C.D Review

If Angels could sing like Carolyn Fe; they would …

This may seem like a cliche, it is and it is not. Depends whether or not you have listened to the c.d. Original Sin.

The same – titled first track commences with crickets as the bass line. An acoustic guitar soon joins the chorus. Sitting on a porch with an apple in hand maybe? Just like Eve did maybe …? The innocence of the situation soon turns to sin with a fierce electric guitar taking away your virginity. The album has begun.

‘Broken String’, the second song is blues. Bass player Little providing a grounding for menacing riffs and solos on the electric guitar. This is standard blues stuff. The band seems to declare; ‘ya we can do this but just wait …!’

Wait for what you ask?

How about a song which may have very well be done by the Stray Cats. It has a genuine ‘rockabilly’ feel. Fast cars and chicks providing lyrical fodder for Carolyn Fe’s vocals. An instrument which is vast in talent. Little and drummer Dan Legault as tight as a rhythm section can be on ‘Baby Bye Bye’.

The jewels of the album take the next two spaces on an Original Sin. Pearls inside an oyster of blues artists. Diamonds on the sea of music. ‘Devil’s Fool’ provides three surprises;

– A Samba beat
– A true introduction to Fe’s voice
– Rap

The song is catchy from the start. A foot starts to tap with Legault’s own. When Fe starts to sing – a power commences it’s journey to the pit of a music lover’s soul. Goosebumps get primed and ready. Primed for the best track on the album …

Adja Wali’ is a ballad beyond beautiful. A sunrise for the darkest of hearts. Carolyn’s voice is a creation from the seventh day. The listener is carried to the heavens on the shoulders of angels. Tim Alleyne’s keyboards providing background curtains lined with gold. There are many female vocalists drowning the airwaves with fantastic voices. Carolyn Fe, on this song and in general – is not one of them. She is above that!

You and Me and the Blues grabs the listener and places them back on earth – just above the Devil. It is a blues track and if a blues fan is listening; a love affair has begun in strength.

By the time track seven, ‘ Dont be so sad’ pierces the ears, a comfortable setting has taken place. The listener knows they like the band and whatever lays in store; will be great. Aside from the tightness, Carolyn’s ad- libbing a la female Mick Jagger is another surprising charm to the album. It has everything.

‘Rant’ is a rant. Well – duh …

It is a statement. Even though Carolyn is the sole singer, the song feels as if one hundred people are backing her up. Add a wah – wah guitar to the solo; an angry anthem to provide spark to something which causes unrest in anyone’s personal life. Go get em’ indeed!

As if to say relax; ‘Manual Overdrive’ is sexy.

The type of song to sit in a lazy boy chair with a Jack Daniels in hand. The type of tune which evokes images of a woman removing her stockings – slowly and surely. Garters come next along with the sultry tease. Fe is saying; “Now you love me eh? Well – you can’t have me but you can still try!”

If one wonders what a feeling it is to soar above and beyond the clouds; ‘Let’s Soar’ does precisely that and a little more.

Probably the third best song on the album and another one which places Fe above the majority of singers. An imaginary trip is where a mind can wander while listening to this ballad- wannabe. Fe’s dreamy voice causing traffic jams on the way home as a listening experience turns to a pleasant distraction.

Back to the Stray Cats …

‘Bow Wow’ once more a song bordering on rockabilly. Not quite yet if Brian Setzer had a little sister, Fe would be her and Blues Collective may well be the older protective brothers. Nothing outstanding from the tune only because the style has been played by many. Fe and her partners in crime do it better than most and less than a few.

The final track leaves the listener wanting some more and it was probably placed at the end for the same reasons.

‘Some More’ provides and edge with all the members singing background vocals. Vocals with attitude asking if we want some more. An upbeat bluesy rocker which makes one wonder why it is not played on the radio everday. Upon reflection of a minute or two – the answer to the question – ‘want more’ is;” Sure but wait a minute …!”

“I want to listen to this one a few more times first!”


Find out more about Carolyn Fe Blues Collective here!

The Mother Jones Band! Greatest R and B Band in Montreal …!

Father and Son; Album Review

They say to play the blues well, one must go through hard times.

Tommy Falls and his son Derek, live with the memory of someone dear who lived and died through very hard times. Is it any wonder their inaugural album is so good …?

Tommy Falls

Father and Son could be considered a throwback to a different time. An era that was simple.

Guitar, drums, bass and sax. The cornerstones of rhythm and blues. The cornerstones of all music. The cornerstones of the Mother Jones Band.

‘Hold on to your Love’, the opening track – opens the door and invites you in. A welcoming groove provided by the African coast’s Manu Pele. One of the most talented bass players currently playing in Montreal. Manu’s bass combined with drummer Dannick Tardif’s backing beat; the perfect grounding to Derek Falls’ guitar and vocals.

Father Tommy Falls, at the age of sixty – five – providing experienced licks to his son’s lead. The elder Falls providing musical and vocal assurance to ground his offspring in the past.

A past which is evident on all the tracks written by his son.

‘Runway’ and ‘Do me right’, the second and third songs are immediately catchy. Derek’s guitars both smooth and menacing. His voice; part Lenny Kravitz, part Prince and part almost every male who has sung under the Motown label – providing romantic lyrics.

The Mother Jones Band

Joey Bolusi, aka Joey the Saxman – plays alto and tenor sax like they should be played on a blues record. Not in your face. More like a flick on the chin when you need it most.

Tommy’s Dad was a boxer and MP in the army when he went into a bar to have a drink. One thing led to another, and the African American was arrested by officers of La Surete de Quebec. Mr. Falls was found dead soon after of a ‘suicide’. A death caused by ‘ self – inflicted’ damage to his lungs after a self imposed ‘ beating ‘ at the hands of the police.

“My father was the nicest, gentlest man.” Says Tommy.” He didn’t start anything like they said he did …he wouldn’t hurt a fly outside of the ring!”

The Father and son’s pain is none more apparent than on the slow ballad ‘Hey Little Mary’. Derek’s voice achingly begging for love, his guitar doing everything in it’s power to help.Somehow,the younger Falls makes his Fender cry like a wounded heart. A dark room with dim lights – the perfect backdrop to this seduction of the senses.

His guitar sounding often like the late Roy Buchanan, another victim of a so – called suicide in his jail cell.

Manu Pele

‘Give it to You’,’Hold On’ and ’20 Below’ are also lovemaking tools. Candles the only thing missing to Derek’s quest for love. Lenny Kravitz’ voice perfectly channeled by Falls especially on 20 Below. A song reminiscent of ‘Winter’ by the Rolling Stones.

A warm feeling is what you get listening to the album. A perfect contrast to the coldness the father and son duo feel inside when they think of their Father and grandfather.

The one shortcoming of the band is the sometimes inability to take it to the next level. Derek Falls’ lack of experience at times, leaves an empty feeling. The listener’s crying for more. It’s not a bad thing and with time, an ingredient Falls will learn.

In a way, all three generations appear on the C.D.

Tommy, with his years of experience as a blues guitarist, Derek and his more modern heroes shining through – and the Grandfather; his pain reminding everyone why the blues were written.

For tough times …

The Mother Jones Band is playing at Calistoga Grill in Pointe Claire this Friday Night – do yourself a favour, check.them out!