Misstress Barbara – Concert Review

Techno – pulsating, dance – rave type of music is an acquired taste.

Especially if ‘Disco Duck‘ was considered dance music when a listener was thirteen going on thirty.

Photos courtesy of Kid Mercury Entertainment

Misstress Barbara;  former DJ – turned – songwriter / producer / singer, comandeered her computer to Club Soda on Friday night to instill her techno music to anyone who was in attendance. This was her first Montreal show under the title of her new disc – Many Shades of Grey. Her first album – ‘I’m No Human’ was released in 2008 following the advice of friends to try her hand at singing.

Barbara knows something about the techno circuit. She has traveled around the world as one of the top DJ’s for sixteen years before settling down to croon. Judging by the crowd and reaction, the same amount of folks would have filled the place if a Panda Bear was on stage. This is not a knock on Misstress Barbara’s singing or songwriting ability. That part – she has down. What Barbara needs to learn is how to entertain.

A show such as this did not include drug-induced ravers swinging out of their minds to fast paced beats. The attendees, stood in one place and danced. Well .. swayed is a better word. Their eyes never leaving Misstress Barbara’s perch on stage. How did she return the favor? By being dull …

Boring in banter and boring in creativity.

The one story she attempted to parlay to an equally mixed French / English crowd – thwarted by her own guitar player. Drowned out by the six stringed dude with his attempt at distortion. Hello …? Practice was at six …! Did you not get the memo Mr. Madonna – guitarist wannabe …?! When she got down to telling her tale of slipping a note to a beautiful woman at a bar to invite her to a show for free – an ending worthy of a bad sitcom finale stole the show.

“There are many beautiful people in Quebec.” Declared Barbara from her stance. “I could get them all at my shows for free. But … that would not be good for sales.”

Barbara stood behind her computer doing what Barbaras – turned – DJs – turned -singers do. Once in a while – a tambourine appeared as she slapped it on her hand or hip. Then – for extreme excitement, a drum stick clashed mightily on a symbol to the right of her office ( computer ) at the desired peak of a tune. Keith Moon she ain’t …

‘The Right Time’ and ‘I’m No Human’ battling for the title of song of the night – according to the rush which swamped the crowd at the appearance of both. The show was two hours long. Who knew one song could be that long? A non-techno type of music fan would have deciphered the show as such.

There were no peaks and valleys. Just one continuous beat with a packed Club Soda staring at Misstress Barbara, her computer, and some dude on guitar who was late for sound check.

Hey …!

Rick Dees never realized just how good he was …

David Usher – Moist for a Few …

David Usher performed at Club Soda on Thursday night. The former front man for Moist brought his solo act and a new album along for the ride.

‘Songs from the Last Day on Earth‘ is Usher’s eighth solo album since his former band left the scene in 1997. There is not a big difference between the sounds now and then except for Usher’s softness shining through a bit more.

Thursday night, he performed favorites such as “Silver” and “Push‘ from his Moist days yet it was the mostly female audience who may have gotten wet. Especially those in the first few rows as Usher launched some water their way during his two hour set. Usher is a talented singer who just happens ro be a very good looking guy. Something he appears to not take too seriously during shows.

‘And so we Run’ was the best tune of the night and his loyal followers seemed to agree as they sang in unison to one of his trademark songs. ‘ The Music‘ was right up there and it – along with ‘And so we Run’ ‘ played in the first half hour. These songs hooked people into Usher’s world and he had the females eating out of his hand.

The bantering in between was an indication of his charm. It is easy to have confidence when a singer is aware of his sex appeal, which David clearly has.

Love will save the day‘ and “Lonely People‘ were played out with great musicianship from a backing band who appeared on great terms with their meal ticket. It is obvious Usher and his mates are close as Usher’s experience of being in Moist has eased the process.

All in all a great show, Usher’s tunes have a hint of Coldplay in them – either that or it is the sound which is the flavor of the month right now.

David Usher is not ‘Alone in the Universe’.

Sagapool – Not your Father’s Folk Music

‘The guy in the hat. Call the guy in the hat…!’

That’s all I knew about Sagapool previous to their show Wednesday night at L’ Astral on Ste.Catherine  Street in Montreal.

Now – much is known…

Guilliaume Bourque ( the guy with the hat), clarinet player and co-founder – explains the feeling  when the band discovered they had won the Felix award for best instrumental group in the province of Quebec.

“It was such a nice feeling. We felt we won not just for ourselves but for our families, the former members and anyone who has helped us out over the years. Fourteen years is a long time and we could not have done it alone.”

Wednesday night, judging by the amount of people in attendance ( including a few babies), it was obvious the band‘s first show to promote the new album was a success. Each song concluded with ovations that could have deafened an otherwise perfect eardrum.

What Sagapool offers is a blend of  folk, jazz, funk, punk and just about everything in between. Think Arcade Fire without lyrics and a few less members. Says Guilliaume;

“There are three of us left from the original line-up. Myself, Zoe Dumais (on fiddle) and Luzio Altobelli on the accordion. We were originally called Mamouche but we changed the name because the style of music had changed that we were playing. The name Sagapool came to be because a lot had changed in our lives. We had kids, got married and bought houses. All this altered the way we approached writing and the band now contained a story – hence the word Saga.” He continues. ” Pool – funny enough,  is like a ‘hockey pool’ – meaning we are a pool of musicians. That’s how we got our new name – Sagapool!”

Guillaume was pleased with the way the show went. The group wanted to portray a more energetic  performance than what comes across on the new disc. The CD reflects a ‘wintery’ feeling – according to Guillaume, and it is not accurate on the sort of band they are;

” It’s hard to write music without the feelings you have sometime. As I said earlier, our lives changed and we were in a cozy, comfortable place. That is how the album comes across …”

The show at L”astral – was exciting in other ways as well. It was the first time the group used advanced lighting techniques for a backdrop on stage. The work was done by Mathieu Denomcourt – a fellow whose talent appears endless.One effect which was simply mesmerizing, were red ‘leaves’ flowing from the ceiling to floor in an endless loop. The theater was black while pianist Alexis Dumais ( the brother of Zoe) played a beautiful song on piano. The song; Coeur D’Aiguille was magical and the ‘make believe’ leaves – like petals on a flowing river …

Dany Nicolas ( guitars, mandolin and banjo ) along with Marton Maderspach ( drums, percussion), are the remaining members of a group who are departing on a tour in February. Ontario then out west.   Places they have been before with the exception of Perth, Ont. They were supposed to play the Montreal Jazz Festival last summer but things fell through. Instead, their Wednesday  show was part of the Jazz All Year Long series.

” Arcade Fire really put Montreal on the map.” Explains Guillaume. ” When we were playing in Vermont and Maine, people thought it was cool we were from the same place as them ( Arcade Fire ). Even though at that time our English was not that great …”‘ He laughs.

Sagapool does have a couple of songs with words. On the albums under the name Mamouche. There may be some more in the future …

“All the members are so into writing music, we don’t want to write words! We have friends who have written stuff – maybe we will use them!” Says Guilliaume. ” Right now we are going to enjoy the holidays then hit the road. We will do more shows in Quebec in the future, after all – except for Marton, were are all Quebecers.”

Sagapool or rather – the members, all met at school. A music conservatory. A place where dreams became a reality for Guilliaume. There remains one question …

Will he continue to wear his hat during interviews?

Listen to one of the new songs here!

The Hi – Fins; Everyone’s Cup of Tea

A record collection contains many gems.


The Dave Clarke Five, the Kinks, the Monkees, the Who, the Stones and the Beatles. Six groups which make up a good contigent of the British Invasion. Now – if it were possible to sit and listen to all these bands plus a few more in one night – LIVE, would a music fan sit at home? Of course not  …

Montreal group the Hi-Fins, provides exactly that. A taste of the British Invasion right in the neighborhood. An evening without the kids or the headaches of daily life. Paul McCrowe, the bass player, explains how the band achieved it’s name;

“Spy ( the guitarist ) and I have known each other since we were twelve. Spy was heavily into crosswords and we were trying to come up with a name. So there was a word that he came across “hyphen”. We both liked the word and came up with “Hi-Fins”, which – if you read between the lines, the symbol hyphen is there plus Hi-Fi.” He continues.” Hi -Fi is 60’s technology for  noise solution. All in all the name is a play on words. We thought we would be clever enough for someone to maybe figure it out when they see it! Some have …!” He laughs.

One thing which is simple to figure out is the band is blessed to have Mitchell Field on board as the drummer. Field grew up in England and was one of the fortunate few to have watched the Beatles play at the Marquee Club in London. Long before the band gained cult status.

“I was nine.” Says the fifty- seven year old Mitchell. ” I saw them all back then. The Kinks, the Who – it was a lesson which made me passionate about music and right then I decided to be a lifetime musician.” Mitchell left school and started to live his dream and played drums for Johnny Lee Hooker at one time. He then went on to play  with a band called Hellfield in the late seventies in Toronto. That band obtained moderate  success and opened up for bands such as Foreigner, the Cars and Kim Mitchell.

“Ya – we are very fortunate to have Mitchell in the band.” Says Paul. ” It is a funny story of how he joined.” He laughs. ” We put an ad on Craigslist and he answered it. When he came for the audition, he said ‘ Okay boys – show me what you got …!’ Spy and I looked at each other for a second and said ‘um…why don’t you show us what you got! We are auditioning you …!”

From the get -go, these three guys hit it off and following the second song in ‘the audition’ – a certain chemistry existed. They did not have to work too hard at achieving their very own ‘wall of sound’. ” People come up to us all the time and ask whether we have taped music playing in the background.” Says Spy. ” Or – they ask if we have a guitarist hidden somewhere. The sound is all in the way Paul plays bass. It becomes like a second guitar and the band’s sound is fuller.”

That must be the case. In a recent show at Le Pionnier, the room was packed with all ages. The kids in their early adulthood seemed to really dig the music that their parents grew up on. They were boppin’ and dancing all night long. Right along with their parents to ‘A Hard Day’s Night ,’ Satisfaction’, ‘You Really Got Me’ and ‘My Generation’.

A concert with the Hi – Fins contains many gems…

Listen to the Hi -Fins here

Please stay tuned for a more in-depth interview with Mitchell Field and the boys ….

Rick’s Rockin’ Hallowe’en Bash (or How I Met Mick Jagger )

The scene …? Brutopia.img_3026

The place …? Downtown Montreal.

The feeling in the air …? General malaise and spookiness.

The reason …? Hallowe’en!

A shiek on drums, a nun on bass, a conehead on guitar, a giant – sized man of Haitian  descent on vocals and a straight – unabashed Mexican on the congas …

The name of the band? Kebeko …

The type of music? Caribbean – led, in your face, rap/ r and b / rock dance type stuff. The assorted ‘ghouls ‘ and boys boppin’ til three am. At one point, a gay pirate / Keith Richards leading a harmonica – charged finale worthy of an encore laden with power.

Enjoy through the eyes of Captain Jack Sparrow

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Please stay tuned for part two of my interview with Sass Jordan

Air Supply; Making ‘Money’ Out of Nothing at All …

Not sure what happened last night …

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Air Supply played before an almost sold out crowd at Metropolis and it wasn’t pretty. Sure, some of the mostly forty ( + ) year old women in attendance were pretty. Sure some of the mostly twenty (+) year old barmaids were pretty – heck, even one bouncer was kinda cute .. Following that – pure ugliness; musically.

That’s not to say it was a bad show. It was a very tight and talented unit who backed up singers Graham Russell and Russell Hitchcock. The ugliness came in the lack of anything bordering on  ‘out on a limb’, cutting edge music. Every guitar solo sounded the same in every song, a monkey could have played the simple drums beats and …  get the picture … ?

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Therein lies the beauty of Air Supply. There are no risks – therefore no losses. Status quo for the boys from down under and the women love it. The men? Let’sjust say it was go with the wife to Air Supply or eat frozen donkeys for a month.

Watching Air Supply is amazing however.Amazing how many songs they have written and performed with the word ‘love’ in the title …

‘All out of Love’, ‘Making Love out of Nothing at All’, ‘Lost in Love, ‘The One you Love’ … If love is not in the title, then the rest of their catalogue is about losing a woman, getting her back or how lovely she was to begin with. Hundreds of men went home last night and were smacked just because they were not a member of Air Supply. This pair know women more than a gynecologist with six sisters.

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The band put out a greatest hits album in 1983. The same year, the band apparently gained writer’s block and never wrote another hit song (they lost that ‘loving’ feeling ). Thank the Lord! If they had not misplaced their talent for writing love songs, the Olympic Stadium would have had to been rented and that’s costly. Besides – the Metropolis is the type of place for a ‘love’-in …

Graham and Russell are old pros. They perform their ‘love’ songs with ‘love’. Constantly touching their hearts after each song and saying the right words to the women who were crying out from their chairs with each passing hit. Russell ( not Russell ), creating the tender ( upload to YouTube) moment and serenading a blonde – haired beauty into submission or at the very least – his dressing room …

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One woman, who was (for all intensive purposes), negative three years of age when Air Supply was high on the charts and ‘love’ – practically threw her panties at the stage with every song. Jumping, shrieking and acting as if she were her Mom at a Beatles concert circa 1964.

Not sure what happened last night … Whatever it was, you gotta ‘love’ it!

Tune in to K103.7fm at 5:15pm and hear me discuss the Zachary Richard show, Air Supply and hear a song by … ?

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Zachary Richard ; Zydeco comes Home

Are stories your thing …?

If so – a Zachary Richard concert is the place to be. Historically, musically and most importantly; emotionally.

Last night at L’Astral, as part of the Jazz All Year Long series, M. Richard of New Yorek, Louisiana – utilized numerous skills to pulverize a sold out crowd into submission. A happy submission …

‘Le Fou ‘ is Richard’s 20th studio album and on stage, surrounded by Nicolas Fiszman on bass, Eric Sauviant on guitar and Justin Allard on drums – the ‘ adopted’ Quebecer introduced his new disc to a welcoming, predominantly Francophone audience.

Wow!

Beginning with the first song of the night, ‘Laisse le Vent Souffle’ (Let the Storm Wind Blow) – Richard made sure the emotional gusts were captured by an audience obviously in love with the man.

The first set contained folksy songs which arrive from a profound place in the holder of three doctorate degrees’ heart.  Seldom do words flow from fountain of truths as is the case with M.Richard. The lyrics in songs such as ‘ La Chanson des Migrateurs’ ( The Migrant’s Song) and ‘Original ou Caribou’ ( Moose or Caribou ) transcend the plains of consciencness.

There are messages in each song and this singer (who just happens to be a published poet as well) – delivers notes of resistance and mankind’s craziness in such a manner, acceptance is not just a fact – it evolves into a way of life …

Musically, Richard strums the guitar, plays the harp and accordion. Musically, Zachary Richard and his backing band fly above most artists occupying the high levels of charted music. The Black Keys would be a great opening act for a foursome this divine.

And … M. Richard is funny to boot!

Following the first song and sweeping the band introductions out of the way, Richard explained that a lot of tunes the audience would be hearing – ‘they would not know’! ‘ Its okay …’ Continued Richard. ‘ We don’t know them either!’

With such ‘Socratic’ gems tossed into a salad bar containing pure Louisiana – based Zydeco fruits of love, Richard had the audience ‘alive and jumping’ in the second set.

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The songs ‘Sweet Sweet’,’ Clif’s Zydeco ‘ and ‘ Dancing at Double D’s’ – kicked even the most dormant moose into a mood reserved for an anxious child on Christmas morning. The ‘ slightly above middle – aged ‘ crowd stood , clapped and slapped in anticipation of every note arriving from a stage equipped with talent.

‘ You don’t know how this song ends ‘ Quipped the sixty – two year old songwriter right in the middle of a song. ‘ It’s okay – neither do we ..’

Just another element of humour which – along with the music, brought numerous smiles to the enthusiastic crowd. Numerous smiles and numerous standing ovations.

‘Most people think I am Quebecoise’ Stated one of the patriarchs of the Cajun sound from center stage. ‘ I am from Louisiana and was the only white boy growing up in my neighborhood. I remember cleaning the glass with my hand and looking through a window at all the Zydeco musicians playing Cajun music …’

As mentioned … Zachary Richard is a storyteller …

Watch Zachary Richard video here!