First things first.

What is witnessed in this documentary/ concert film, is not for the faint – hearted. In other words; Justin Bieber fans stay away.

‘Make it Funky‘ tells the tale of New Orleans music. A combination of blues, jazz, rhythm and blues, gospel, soul and funk. Rock n roll? You bet …

According to one of the performers in the almost three hour concert which is featured in the DVD, New Orleans music has a sound of it’s own. Keith Richards knows a little about sound and about being different.
This docu- cert weaves a fine road through a thick tapestry of N’Orlean mud. The groundwork as astonishing as the music itself. The groundwork the architectural plans of modern day music.

Meet the Neville clan. There are quite a few of these home grown boys carrying the messages of music in their instrument cases. Aaron, in what may be the most compelling statement of the film, tells how his song ‘Tell It Like It Is ‘ grew into a global monster hit. Mr. Neville did not receive much money for it – in fact, next to nothing. Profoundly, Neville explains how this was a good thing. The riches he richly deserved, would have surely killed him.


Make it funky sheds light on the darkness called racism. Many of the founding fathers of modern day music discovered themselves banished from the clubs which showcased the very tunes they themselves made famous.

The origins of this movie commenced inside the head of Allen Toussaint. If James Brown is the godfather of soul, Toussaint may be the patriarch of the New Orleans sound. By no means did he invent it yet there are few who carry the torch so highly and publicly as Toussaint.

What the Rolling Stones have done and continue to do for the forefathers of blues, Allen is doing for the greats of New Orleans.


The late Earl Palmer, considered the grandfather of Rock n Roll drumming is featured and honoured by the likes of Bonnie Raitt, Kermit Ruffins, Irma Thomas and the human riff himself – Keith Richards. Palmer, who passed away in 2008 at the age of 84, provides the backbeat for the musical journey from the days of segregation through to the newest member of the Neville clan on guitar.


You got horns, you got funk on the piano and you got a whole lot of New Orleans ripping up the stage. This is soul- defining stuff which pretty much makes the majority of music since seem amateurish in comparison.

Toussaint knows; first things first …

Slaves on Dope; ROUND TWO

What would you think if you saw a dude in line at Starbucks. His arms are filled with tattoos and he has a shaved head.

Assume he is a skinhead – type guy with an attitude? Smile politely and keep a distance due to your ignorance?

Many would …

How bad would you feel once you discovered the individual was a DJ on CHOM? How discusted would you feel inside if you found the fellow in front of you was on a National news program once a week? Then, if that was not enough – a discovery was made the man in question was part of a band that was the first to be signed by Ozzy Osbourne‘ s record label?

Go to the corner now! Come out in five minutes after you feel shame …

Meet Jason Rockman. Co – founder of the Band; Slaves on Dope.


Along with Avrum Nadigel and Kevin Jardine, Slaves on Dope started in 1993 and won the CHOM L’espirit contest shortly thereafter. A victory which opened doors for music which was seeking a home …

Slaves on Dope were part of a new genre of music called NU Metal. A style which was not ‘in style’ in the city of Montreal at that time. Nu Metal is closely related to Rapcore – a genre of music which evolved from punk and not metal as most believe. Bands such as Korn and Limp Bizkit are considered to be leaders in the Nu Metal genre.

In 1995 – original drummer and bass player Patrick Francis and Lenny Vartanian left the band. New guys Frank Salvaggio (bass) and Robert Urbani (drums) joined Jason and Kevin in a heavier version of Slaves on Dope. A version which ended up in L.A.


Salvaggio and Urbani took off on a six day trek to get the band’s name out there. Says Rockman; ” Following almost a year of playing out there and showcasing our music, one day we get a call from Sharon Osbourne asking us if we could meet. We became the first band to sign with Ozzy’ s record label – Divine Productions in 2000.”

That year was busy for the band. A full length album titled ‘ Inches from the Mainline’ was released. It went on to sell 70,000 albums and being a part of Ozzfest was a big reason for that.


” My parents came to the show to watch us play.” Says Jason. ” Sharon Osbourne brought them into her private box to watch the show. Instead of being in the crowd, they were just off the right of the stage. It was pretty awesome!”

The next four years was filled with touring and craziness. Through all that – Rockman stayed sober. Something he is proud to say has been for twenty years now.

In 2004, shortly following the release of the band’s third album ‘Metafour and amid a three month tour of Europe -Rockman decided he had enough. He left the band he helped create to fulfill his family duties.

His girlfriend was three months pregnant at the time and Rockman’ s sense of duty took over.

” I just did not feel right being on the road. I wanted to be there – hands on!”

Jason returned to Montreal and worked for a transport company as well as the Sunglass Hut while his children grew. His relationship ended but his loyalty to his two children remained. The Montreal native who grew up listening to Zeppelin, the Stones and Jane’s Addiction – got a job working for CHOM, the very station which helped Slaves on Dope get discovered in the early nineties. He credits longtime DJ Tootall and his current wife for guiding him along.

Slaves on Dope returned to Jason’s itinerary in 2009 thanks to Patrick Charles.The Virgin announcer took Rockman’s demo and re- introduced Montreal to the band through a five song EP. Rockman and longtime partner -in- music Jardine were back along with new members; Sebastien Ducap ( Bass ) and Peter Tzaferis ( drums) .


Songwriting partner Jardine had been running his studio since Slaves on Dope disbanded. That five year gap proved to be a blessing in disguise. Being back together displayed a maturity that might have been missing in the past.

Says Rockman; ” I wrote the songs and in the past – if Kevin attempted to give advice or add something, I would have snapped his head off!” He laughs. ‘ Now – we write together.”

Slaves on Dope have just released their fourth album; ‘Over the Influence’ and are hitting the road for a mini – tour to promote their new seventeen songs along with an impressive back catalogue.

” My kids are more important than music. I’ll go on the road but not for long …!” Says Rockman as he and his mates prepare to hit the pavement for three weeks.


Apart from the album, Slaves on Dope have also recently released a digital – only ep titled ‘ Careless Coma’ and Rockman et al are looting through old concert footage to piece together a documentary.

Jason can be heard on Chom – FM every week MONDAY TO FRIDAY from 8pm til 12 am. He can also be seen every Friday at 3:20 pm on a CTV Toronto news program called ‘the blitz’ with Todd Van der Heyden. It is a pop culture panel discussion show.

Slaves on Dope can be seen and heard on their website along with MySpace and YouTube.

The next time you grab a coffee and see a guy with tatoos and a shaved head in line, you may want to ask for an autograph. After – all, how many guys do you know shook hands with Ozzy Osbourne?

Slaves on Dope – Discography

Studio Albums

One Good Turn Deserves Another (1998)
Inches from the Mainline (2000)
Metafour (2003)
Over the Influence (2012)


Sober (1994)
Klepto (1999)
Careless Coma (2011)

War Pigs , Black Sabbath Cover, appears on Japanese release of Nativity In Black II: A Tribute To Black Sabbath (2000)

Look What The Cat Dragged In , Poison Cover, appears on Show Me Your Hits: a Tribute to Poison (2000)

Go (Demo) (2002)

Drain Me (Demo) (2002)

All I Want For Christmas (Is My Two Front Teeth) (2011)


Top Ten Ways the Rolling Stones plan on Celebrating their Fiftieth Anniversary


The bad boys of Rock n Roll will be celebrating a half century of being bad boys.

When … is anybody’s guess!

Officially, the birthdate is 2013. That is when Charlie Watts joined the boys. After all – the Stones are not the Stones without Charlie …

What will they do? Have a party at the local IHOP? Place celebratory syrop upon mounds of pancakes? Something says no!

The boys from Britain are far too creative for such a Bohemian bash.

Here now are the top ten plans for the Rolling Stones’ anniversary.

10. Finally get around to doing something about that God – awful tongue!

9. Keith Richards’ accumulation of ‘ free blood transfusion coupons’ a plus for the upcoming tour.

8. An extra ‘ eighteen seat’ table to be ordered for Mick Jagger’s ex – girlfriends ( post 1981 ).

7. If Ron Wood invites his girlfriends, ensure bouncers are thorough in checking

6. Make sure invites go to all the band’s contemporaries ( wait – they are all dead!)

5. An extra ‘ eighteen seat’ table to be ordered for Mick Jagger’s ex – girlfriends ( circa 1964 – 1969 )

4. A souvenir album to be put together so Keith Richards can reminisce for the first time.

3. Call Bill Wym …ah never mind!

2. Ensure the moniker ‘ the greatest rock n roll band in the world’ is changed to ‘ the universe ‘.

And the number one plan to celebrate the


1. Call up Paul and Ringo, say ‘ in your face ‘ and hang up quickly!



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!

See Spot Sit … But Not For Long!

See Spot Run is the best possible name for guitarist Randy Bowen‘s music group.

Why? Does he have a pooch who nixes the idea of standing still? Does Randy spend his days observing the non – putrid pooch?

Not quite.

The Pointe Claire resident’s name should be Spot because Randy is always on the move and he would not have it any other way …

” My first cousins, my second cousins and what seemed like generations in my family were all musicians. I remember seeing a drum kit and amps for the first time – it was like ‘wow’, I gotta do this!”

‘Do this’ was exactly what Bowen did and judging by his success, the guitarist’s choice of playing music was the right one.

Channeling childhood idols such as Joe Perry from Aerosmith and Mick Ronson of David Bowie’s band, Randy – like a lot of teens, played in a couple of cover bands. It was at the age of twenty – one, playing in a band by the name Inner Germ, Bowen crossed paths with singer and bass player Chris Brodbeck.

“Chris’ band was falling apart and so was mine.” Says Bowen. ” I said to Chris why don’t we kinda merge and make a band …? Chris was more of a rock guy and I was into New Wave stuff. Somewhere in the middle – we realized a shared taste in music. I remember we played ‘Message in a Bottle’ by the Police. It was a song everybody in the band had played and we knew we were meant to be together.”

Along with Brodbeck ‘s brother Tom on drums and Paul Moore on guitar; the first incarnation of See Spot Run was born and it didn’t take long for the band to get some gigs.

” I believe our first show was at a high school, Father McDonald or something like that. We also played downtown Montreal in clubs such as Station 10. I still remember Chris and I hitchhiking to and from the city back to the West Island with our gear. It was very hot!”

See Spot Run’s first break came in the form of a two month tour opening up for a caucasian rhythm and blues singer by the name of Wayne Nicholson. The band had signed a contract with a new label; Loggerhead Records.

That cross – country jaunt was the band’s introduction to the music world. A realm which they were about to be part of – in a big way …

The Hits

The group’s second ‘coup d’etat was landing Gary Moffet as a producer. The former April Wine guitarist brought everything he had learned with April Wine to See Spot Run’s virgin songwriting. According to Bowen, Moffet saved the day if and when himself or any member of the band locked horns with Brodbeck over one of his songs.

“Chris writes everything and then he introduces what he has to the group. We then take it and play with it – add our own ideas. Sometimes we don’t agree and that was when Moffet stepped in. To arbitrate.”

Bowen continues …

“Chris and I never came close to screaming and yelling – we were never that far apart in our view. Moffet was a calming, trustworthy presence. He was just what the band needed to bring us to the next level. Moffet had already been to that ledge and he showed us how to climb.”

After a non – commercial, no hit album named Traces introduced the world to SSR, the globe suddenly became that much bigger with their second album; ‘Ten Stories High’. A record which introduced the group to the world of videos and the reality of the music business.

“We were doing a video for the song ‘Au Natural’. It was filmed in an old dance hall in Wasaga beach. A place which we returned to twice – once with the band Moist and the other time we were on tour with I Mother Earth. We would shoot some footage and wait for an hour. Shoot then wait, shoot and wait … All day we did this and it was sooooo cold! I asked myself this is fame …?” He laughs.

“TEN STORIES HIGH” may have garnered the band fame. Their third album and single ‘Weightless’, shot them to stardom …

Since those releases; See Spot Run has had 5 charting singles and 5 videos played on MuchMusic. They have crossed Canada with seven tours and appeared on multi Canadian and international television shows.

The album “Weightless” made Canadian recording history. The disc’s title track was certified by BDS as being “the highest charted independent song on the rock chart since the inception of BDS”.

   The single “Weightless” reached number nine on the rock chart, six on the Top 40 Chart and peaked at five on the all Canadian chart. The French translation of Weightless, Decoller – was number one on the Quebec charts. The follow-up single “Terrified/Terrifié” also climbed the Canadian CHR charts in both languages.

The Canadian Association of Broadcasters gave See Spot Run the “Breakout Single of The Year Award” and the band was awarded the “Concert of the Year Award” by Wired Magazine shortly thereafter.

” When Chris played the beginnings of Weightless to us, I thought it was a very good song. I never thought it was going to be a huge hit. I just thought it was a little better than the rest he ( Broadbent) had written. I had no inclination of what would happen next …!?”

What happened was the band started playing with some very big names in music. Opening up for the likes of Bon Jovi and Kim Mitchell to name a few.

Another brush with greatness in Bowen’s views came when SSR was playing in Winnipeg. The group was on stage, doing their thing in a small club before a couple of hundred of people. In walks Stevie Wonders’ drummer James Allan and Dennis Davis – one of Bowie’s drummers from the seventies.

Gary Moffet

The pair joined Randy and his mates on stage which blew Bowen away. Randy, however was more impressed with what happened later.

“Following the show, those two guys joined us in the basement for some coffee. We all just sat around drinking coffee as musicians. There was no pretense, no egos from anyone’s part. Just a bunch of guys with the same vibe drinkin’ coffee. It was very cool …!”

Around that time, Chris and the band members re-located to Toronto. A city where the band is based, a city where Bowen travels to and from every week from his hometown in Quebec.

” This is my home!” Says Bowen about Pte. Claire ” Ever since Chris moved there, I drive up to Toronto where I have a place. Sometimes I feel that’s all I do … Drive, park and drive some more …!” He laughs.

SEE SPOT RUN released their third CD “Gonna Getcha” on August 28, 2007. The album is on Rocket9 Music distributed by DEP/ Universal Music. It is the band’s first record without Moffet involved as a producer.

The first single and title track, “Gonna Getcha” was selected by “Degrassi: The Next Generation” to be a feature song in their 2008 season. Leaning towards the band’s rockier side, the album is a result of collaboration between See Spot Run and producer Ed Krautner (Sum 41). Featured on the disc is drummer Josh Trager of the Sam Roberts band.

“Josh actually played with us in 2004 for less than a year before he left us to join Sam Roberts. In that time, we didn’t gig very much (one small tour) so we never had time to really gel as a band. He was already established with Sam Roberts when we asked him to come back and play on the Gonna Getcha record.” Bowen continues.” He played on seven of the twelve tracks on Gonna Getcha. Davide Direnzo played on the other five. Josh gave us as much time as he could but obviously had large commitments with Sam. It was during the recording of Gonna Getcha that Fudge and Aaron came on board. Josh played with us before Sam Roberts and came back to help us following the success of his band.

According to Bowen, that C.D; Gonna Getcha may be the last one.

“The music industry crashed right out. Nobody buys C.D’s anymore, it’s about buying a song at a time on ITunes. We won’t say for sure but one single at a time seems the way of the future!”

The group’s latest single; ‘Let it Go’ was released it 2009 and joins 2007’s ‘My IPod killed my girlfriend’ as the latest ability of the band to stay near the top of catchy alternative rock songs.

Since the days of meeting Chris in a basement, See Spot Run’s line – up has changed. Chris and Randy remain the two constants. The band’s current formation consists of Fudge on drums and Aaron Little on guitar since 2007.

Paul Moore and Tom Broadbent played on the first album Traces. They were followed by Reg Bennett on guitar and Bruce McQueen on drums for the albums Ten Stories High and Weightless. Mark Homer and Bryan Duffy then played on an album which was never released.

All the members left on their own terms for various reasons and all members, past and present – get along very well according to Bowen.

The group is also in discussion of possibly having a documentary made of their career. Talks are ongoing and a decision should be made shortly.

One of the nicest stories ever heard, will be a huge part of the documentary; as told by Mr. Brodbeck …

“We did a command performance for a young girl who’s last wish it was to see See Spot Run in concert. The young girl was from East Angus Quebec and had terminal cancer. The Child Wish Foundation contacted us in the spring while we were on tour out west and told us she only had a few months. So they sent a film crew from a local TV station to shoot us live and send it to the young girl in Quebec.
We were scheduled to return to Montreal from out west late summer so they asked if they could book a date in East Angus in the unlikely event that she might still be with us. We agreed and as the story goes she lived 4 months longer just to see her favourite band and then passed away shortly after. The entire town came to the show and their family has never forgotten. We still play East Angus once every year!”

You never know what can come from a basement meeting …

Watch My IPod killed my Girlfriend Here!

Red: My Uncensored Life in Rock by Sammy Hagar

The following is an excerpt from Sammy Hagar’s book;

When I was growing up, Fontana, California, was all orange groves, grape vineyards, and chicken ranches. I could eat oranges, grapefruits, and tangerines all fucking day if I wanted. I had to walk through an orange grove just to go to my next-door neighbor’s house.

There really was no neighborhood.

It was long before tract homes. At the corner of each of the long country blocks, there were these big, ten-foot-tall cement tanks with open roofs on them, called water weirs, which fed water to the houses from clean, clear Lytle Creek in the foothills.

The water weirs had a float on them, and when the water got too low, the float would kick on and they’d fill back up like a toilet. Each one had a ladder going up so guys could ser vice them, and kids would drown in them all the time. We always heard a rumor that some kid got polio from one of them. But it was our drinking water and it was ice-cold. In the summer, we used to jump in and swim. Not swim, but dunk down, get cooled off, and climb out.

I don’t want to say we’d piss in them, but we did. My dad moved to Fontana because he heard the steel mill was hiring. When I was born in Monterey County Hospital in Salinas, California, Dad and Mom had been picking lettuce in the fields and living in a camp where everyone else was Mexican. The Kaiser Steel Mill—the first steel mill west of the Mississippi— pretty much made Fontana.

Growing up, every kid in Fontana was just trying to get through high school to get a job at Kaiser Steel. We thought it paid great. Originally, you didn’t even need a high school diploma, but, as Kaiser Steel built up, and other plants opened up, making pipes or big beams, you needed a high school diploma. Unless, of course, they got a big order and needed the people. Then they’d hire anybody, and lay you off when they got the job done. But everybody was happy to go there and make whatever they were paying.

It was a brutal job though, working at a steel mill in a 160- degree heat, pieces of hot metal flying out at you. My dad worked in the open hearth, the hottest, hardest work in the plant, where they pour the ingots into big troughs and make steel. Molten fucking steel. He came home with his clothes drenched from sweat, and he used to take salt tablets every day before he went to work.

He had probably the lowest job on the totem pole, and they moved his schedule almost every week. He would go from swing shift to graveyard shift to day shift. Sometimes he’d come home at mid- night and go to work again at six in the morning. He got burned real bad one time—the side of his face was completely taken off.

Just from the heat. It wasn’t steel hitting him. It was that he got too close or there was a flare-up or something and it just fucking ripped the skin off his face.

My dad’s parents had been migrant farm workers who came out from Kentucky on a covered wagon. They’d picked cotton all the way through Texas, and my dad was born in Texas. Two kids were—that’s how long they were in Texas. They had thirteen kids.

He had a younger sister, but he was the youngest boy. My dad was handsome and athletic, but he was a bad little fucker. He would beat the shit out of his big brothers. My uncle told me my dad chased his big brother, my uncle Charlie, up a tree. My dad sat there, smoking a cigarette, waiting for him to come down to beat his butt. Charlie slept in the tree rather than take an ass-kicking from my dad.

My mom, Gladys, was born in Los Angeles. Her dad came over from Italy when he was eleven years old and never learned to speak, read, or write English. He and my grandma—she was Italian, too— never owned a house. They lived in a trailer and were always on the move. He was a chef and he went where the work was. He cooked in Yosemite and went up to Klamath when the salmon were running.

He would hunt and fish and work only when he had to. During the winter season, he would cook in Palm Springs, make these huge buffets at the lodge where President Eisenhower stayed. But when the season was over, he’d pack up, take all his money, steal every- thing he could out of the restaurant, and take off in the middle of the night. The guy was a complete thief—a real crook, my grandpa, and a prick, too. Once in a while he was nice. I’m named after the fucker, Sam Roy. They raised my mom and her sister that way. She grew up in a tent and didn’t finish seventh grade.

Mom and Dad got married when she was fifteen. Mom always said all the girls liked him in high school. My dad had dreams. He wanted to be a big-shot kind of guy. He liked hanging around big shots. Bob Hope used to let him caddy on weekends, when he was growing up in Palm Springs. She was sixteen years old when she had my oldest sister, Bobbi. Practically the day she had the baby, as soon as she came home from the hospital, she got pregnant again with my other sister. My sisters Velma and Bobbi are nine months apart.

My father could beat up anybody. I was so proud of that, growing He was such a bad-ass. When he was younger, Bobby Hagar fought bantamweight. He won his first eight fights by knockouts.

He was a little guy, five foot eight, same size as me, but that son of a bitch could hit—he could have been something. But he got drafted during World War II, shortly after he’d gotten my mother pregnant again with my brother, Robert.

My father shipped out as a paratrooper.

He’d never even been in an airplane and suddenly he’s jumping out of them. On his first jump, over a battlefield in France, his parachute went way off course. He tangled in trees and smashed his face into a tree trunk. He had a Tommy gun and, as he was coming down, he was scared, so he sprayed the ground with bullets. He banged into the tree and broke his jaw. He cut himself down. He dug a hole, and stayed in a foxhole for a few days. His jaw was killing him. He was disoriented, obviously all banged up from hitting this tree, but he had his gun. Nearby was a German soldier, also separated from his unit, and they played a fox-and- mouse game until my dad killed him in a shootout. I think it really screwed up his head. Killing someone one-on-one isn’t like shooting people you don’t know. My dad lived with this guy for a couple of days, sneaking around, not sleeping at night, really not wanting to mess with each other, but every now and then, taking a potshot.

When he returned to his company, he was crazy. He was freaked out that he shot the guy. Plus he was a bad-ass anyway. He emptied his magazine in the ground in front of his commanding officer.

Told him to dance. That earned him a dishonorable discharge, to say the least, and by the time he came back to California, he was a complete alcoholic and madman. The war had really fucked him up. My mom said when he got home from the war, he used to jump up from bed in the middle of the night and shout, “Where’s my Tommy gun? Where’s my Tommy gun?”

I was born a few years later, on October 13, 1947, and by that point we were bone fucking poor. But even as I got older, I never knew just how bad off we were. My mom was a great cook and she could make do with things, so we always ate good. I went around hungry a lot because I never had any money. If I wanted to eat, I had to go home and either wait for Mom or cook something myself. I was cooking for myself when I was eight years old. I saw what my mom did. I could boil spaghetti and take canned tomatoes- or fresh tomatoes out of our garden. I could make tomato sauce. It didn’t seem poor to me. My mom was clean as a pin.

Our house was spotless. Our clothes were always laundered. She ironed them, stayed up until four in the morning doing ironing for other people and then ironed our clothes.

My mom always had a chicken coop and we always kept chickens.
Whenever we moved (which was a lot), we took the chickens.

We never owned a house, and we were always leaving my dad be- cause he was a terrible alcoholic who beat up my mom. When my dad would come home drunk, we’d sneak out of the house in the middle of the night and go sleep in the orange groves. Mom hid blankets wrapped in plastic bags, a flashlight, and little stashes of water and food out in back, ready for the times we had to jump out of the window in the middle of the night.

It was always on payday. He got paid on Thursdays, and when he wouldn’t come home directly after work, Mom would begin making plans. He’d come home drunk, start yelling and screaming.

He never beat us kids, but he’d thump my mom around. Everybody in the family hated my dad, but they were all scared of him. My sister Velma hit him over the head with a baseball bat one time, because he had my mom on the ground. She came up behind him—she was about twelve years old—and bashed him in the head and bloodied up the place bad. My mom got up and we ran. We got out of there.

So we’d leave my dad, and once he was left alone, he would lose the house. He’d stay there, wouldn’t go to work, and wouldn’t pay the rent, until he’d get kicked out of the house by the cops.
He usually got thrown in jail. That was the standard end result of his binge. Sometimes he’d get in the car and get thrown in jail for drunk driving. We’d have to go find a new house every time and move, or my mom would borrow a trailer that her father owned.

But somehow we’d always end up with my dad again. Right before I was born, my mom had a miscarriage. She didn’t want to get pregnant. She hated my dad by then. She knew he was crazy and didn’t want another kid. She just wanted to raise the kids she already had and get the hell out of the marriage. She had known that for a long time. She had a miscarriage and immediately got pregnant again. She was bumming. She didn’t like to tell me that, but later on in life she pretty much told me. “You’re lucky to be alive, boy,” she said. “If I’d have had that other baby, if it wouldn’t have been a miscarriage, I never would have had you.” I loved my dad, but he was crazy.

For some reason, my dad was tough on my older brother, Robert. Dad would call him “flea-brain” and my brother would start crying, which only caused Dad to make more fun of him. “Wahhhhh,” he would say. “You sound like a damn siren, you little shit.”

He hated my sisters, too. When they turned into teenagers and started seeing boys, that was when the whole thing blew out. He got so drunk he beat up one of my sister’s boyfriends. That was the end of the deal for him and my mom.

I was his favorite. I was the king. I was “muscle-brain.” He called me Champ, like I was the next champion of the world. He would introduce me to his buddies. “Hey, here’s Champ,” he would say.
“He’s got a left hand on him.” He was going to make a boxer out of me. Every day, I’d come home from school, and if my dad was there, he’d make me train. He’d make himself a BLT—he was a big BLT man—and sit there in his work clothes, ready to go to work.

“Put on the gloves,” he’d say. It wouldn’t matter if I’d brought a friend home; my dad would say, “Put on the boxing gloves with your buddy here.” He’d make my brother get on his knees to box me. He made me box every day. He’d put on the gloves with me, and teach me. He would take me to gyms and make me hit the heavy bags. “Step into it and twist your body,” he would tell me.

My dad was left-handed, so he could pop you totally unexpected, like southpaws can. Even if you know how to fight a little bit, lefties come backward at you. Plus, he was a hard puncher.

Some boxers have that gift. There are just guys who can punch. There is something to the magic of timing, how you put your weight, and all these things. Being a southpaw and knowing how to punch, he just knocked people out. He was a one-punch wonder.

Because my dad hit so hard, I learned how not to get hit. By the time I was eight years old, I was getting really fast. I would stand on the outside and move in. He’d try to hit me once in a while and
I’d weave. He loved that. He used to really brag it up about me. My brother was bigger than me. He could hit harder. I didn’t want to get hit by him, either, so I just kept becoming faster. In and out, in and out. I had a great left jab for a little kid. I used to beat up my neighbors, my buddies. I’d give them bloody noses and my dad would give me a quarter.

Sammy Hagars’s book is available at most book stores …

Carolyn Fe – Blues Collective; Collectively Yours …

Sometimes – it is not about the money.

Such is this case with a bunch of blues musicians who have come together from different areas of the globe.

According to bassist Oisin Little of London, England; no matter how much he loves the blues – it would not be the same if he did not also love his bandmates.

“They are truly great people …!” Says the transplanted Brit. ” We can all count on evolving our music because we are all on the same page.”

Little was originally into punk rock back in England when a concert- going experience changed his views.

Punk – Not for Little

Blues was my first love and I started to lean towards punk. I was at a show and some guy – out of nowhere, just wound up and sucker punched some guy in the head. I thought this was not they type of thing I wanted in my music or personal life.”

Although drummer Dan Legault never dealt with the same experience, a different background is something he can relate to. The forty – one year old Pointe Claire,Qc.resident grew up a fan of heavy metal. Zeppelin, Ronnie James Dio, Black Sabbath and Iron Maiden were more his speed. This eventually led to a gig in a band named Ecclestone. A job which had Legault’s former band open for Nazareth.

Since those days, Legault plays in two other cover bands which make money and that is the reason for it. In Carolyn Fe – Blues Collective, it is about the love of the blues and a little more;

” One of the reasons we ( Carolyn ) and I hooked up nine years ago was because we both wanted the same thing; blues with an edge.”

Photo courtesy

Following an initial hook- up through music message boards, Carolyn and Dan together wrote and produced the bands first EP titled; 100 Percent. A six song disc which included the songs; Curse, Indigo Heat and Trumpet Man Blues. A trio which placed Carolyn Fe on the blues map with long runs on Chom – fm and Planete Jazz.

Original Sin, the band’s first full length c.d. was a smashing success upon it’s release in 2011. Not only was it nominated in the following categories; Best Female Artist (Canada), 2012 Nominee for Quebec’s Lys Bleus Best Blues Album (Canada), 2011 Nominee for Best International Release by Blues(USA)- the album displays the versatility in the band.

Legault’s Levon Helm influence, Little’s absolute worship of Peter Green ( founding member of Fleetwood Mac ), Carolyn’s love of Big Mama Thornton, keyboardist Tim Alleyne’s Booker T influence and the newest member; guitarist extraordinaire – Rami Cassab’s love of Jazz fusionist Scott Henderson.

All of these mixes combine to make Original Sin a blues album with a definate edge.

Cassab, originally of Egypt – loves playing jazz and funk. Something which is remarkable considering he did not have the opportunity to listen to any of these styles growing up. Once he arrived in Canada – Elvis, Deep Purple and Gentle Giant became his musical education.

A schooling which blends nicely with keyboardist Tim Alleyne. A Montrealer who started playing acoustic guitar and saxophone but stopped because it interfered with his keyboard playing. Alleyne’s education began at the age of eight with a Montreal teacher who had gained notoriety in the late sixties. A man by the name of Trevor Payne.

Collectively, these guys and a woman – bring a lot of experience from a lot of different backgrounds.

Carolyn is a multi – talented artist. Originally from the Phillipines – as a professional actor, Carolyn has been gracing the stage and camera in various theatre productions, TV and movie spots.   Altera Vitae Productions is her own theatre production company, a non-profit organization where each theatrical presentation is partnered with a community organization whose mandate is similar to the theme of the play. Altera Vitae Productions aims to assist the community organization with its public awareness program.

As a singer, Carolyn co-founded the band DD Swank where – under the pseudonym of Mama B, she sang in French, English and Spanish.

If the new CD is an Original Sin, it is a good thing that seven more deadly ones will follow …

Carolyn Fe Blues Collective is playing June 8 at the House of Jazz. ( please see upcoming shows on the main menu for details ).

Visit Carolyn – for more information on this fabulous lady and her talented band.

Stay tuned for a review of the cd and show


This Day in Music History …

1959, Bob Zimmerman graduated from high school in Hibbing, Minnesota. Zimmerman was known as a greaser to classmates in the remote rural community, because of his long sideburns and leather jacket.

1964, The Rolling Stones played their first-ever live date in the U.S. when they appeared at the Swing Auditorium, San Bernardino, California.

1968, The Jimi Hendrix Experience appeared on the Dusty Springfield TV show filmed on ATV, in London, England.

1971, Grand Funk Railroad smashed the record held by The Beatles when they sold out New York’s Shea Stadium in 72 hours.

1976, The Who, The Sensational Alex Harvey Band, Little Feat, Outlaws and Streetwalkers appeared at Celtic Football Club, Glasgow, Scotland. Tickets cost £4 ($7).

1977, Alice Cooper’s boa constrictor, a co-star of his live act suffered a fatal bite from a rat it was being fed for breakfast. Cooper held auditions for a replacement and a snake named “Angel” got the gig.

1979, blues legend Muddy Waters (aged 64), married Marva Jean Brooks on her 25th birthday.

1983, during a 48-date North American tour U2 played at Red Rocks Amphitheater near Denver. The show was recorded and released as U2 Live At Red Rocks: Under A Blood Red Sky.

1990, American punk rock singer Stiv Bators of the Dead Boys and The Lords of the New Church died after being hit by a taxi in Paris, France. For more on this, see This Day in Music Spotlight.

1993, Country singer Conway Twitty died from an abdominal aortic aneurysm. He had the 1958 U.S. & U.K. #1 single “It’s Only Make Believe.” Until 2000, he held the record for the most #1 singles of any country act, with 45. He lived in Hendersonville, Tennessee, just north of Nashville, where he built a country music entertainment complex called Twitty City.

1993, Mariah Carey married the President of Sony Music, Tommy Mottola in Manhattan, guest’s included Billy Joel, Bruce Springsteen, Barbra Streisand and Ozzy Osbourne. (The couple separated in 1997).

2007, Sir Paul McCartney released his 21st solo album, Memory Almost Full on the new Hear Music Starbucks label. It was later announced that all copies sold through U.K. Starbucks would not be eligible for the U.K. charts as the 533 stores were not registered with the Official Chart Company. The album was being played non-stop in more than 10,000 Starbucks outlets across 29 countries.

Born on this day:

1946, Freddie Stone, guitar, Sly and The Family Stone
1947, Tom Evans, bass, vocals, Badfinger
1956, Richard Butler, vocals, Psychedelic Furs
1971, Mark Wahlberg, Marky Mark, New Kids On The Block

Charlie’s Good T’ night … What about Ronnie?

Rolling Stones guitarist Ron Wood celebrates his 65th birthday on June 1.

‘The new Stone’ made his official debut as a member of the Stones with 1976’s ‘Black and Blue’ album, having already established himself as a formidable presence through his work with the Jeff Beck Group and the Faces.

Since then, Wood has contributed an impressively varied tapestry of guitar work to the band’s records but his legacy will remain as the joker in the band. The guitarist with a sense of humor that saved the Stones from exctinction.

Rod Stewart and Ron Wood

Wood was the go – between for Richards and Jagger. In one of the craziest relationships between two musicians; Ron Wood managed to keep things light. Eric Clapton recently attempted a good – humored stab at Wood, citing the fact he was asked first to join the Stones in 1975 and he was a better guitar player than Ron. Clapton stated the music would have been better. Wood’s response is typical of his nature;

” Yes Eric … But you wouldn’t have survived a week with these guys.!”

Ronnie Wood is an accomplished artist. His work consisting of his bandmates, musicians and film stars from every decade. He also has an impressive resume when it comes to painting the animal kingdom. Wood caused headlines in recent years when he left his wife for a seventeen year old Russian girl. A relationship which ended with domestic abuse charges against the Stone. Charges which were dismissed.

Wood is in and out of rehab with his drinking problems and purportedly has been broke more than once during his time with the Stones. All reports recently speak of a clean and sober Wood as the Stones prepare for their fiftieth anniversary tour and album.

Rick Keene with Ron Wood’s Guitar

Rolling Stones’ drummer Charlie Watts, turns 72 on June 2.

The last of the original Rolling Stones members to join the band, Watts’ entry signaled the beginning of the band’s ascension into rock stardom. Though many are crediting 2012 as being the band’s 50th year, Ron Wood recently stated that technically it would be 2013 if you take into effect Watts’ start date. The group has reportedly been discussing doing something next year to mark the occasion.

With the Rolling Stones on a break this year, Watts is spending this year with his jazzy side project the A, B, C and D of Boogie Woogie. They have late June and early July dates in New York.

Charlie Watts along with Bill Wyman were always known as the ‘quiet Stones’. Of the pair,Watts was the winner hands down! Wyman may have been low-keyed on stage and as far as drug go, yet it is the Stones’ former bass player who lays the claim to most sexual adventures.

Watts, on the flip side of the rock coin; has been married to his wife Shirkey for over fifty years.

Charlie’s claim to fame is keeping the Stones’ sometime erratic playing grounded with a solid beat. Keith Richards wanders very frequently in front of Watts’ drum kit to pick up the drummer’s unequaled tempo among other things;

“Charlie Watts is my absolute favourite. He has all of the qualities that I like in people. Great sense of humor, a lovely streak of eccentricity, a real talent, very modest.”

The Stones’ drummer breeds horses and is an avid civil war gun enthusiast. These two loves don’t quite touch his love for Jazz.

Originally a Jazz drummer, Watts has always turned to this passion when not pounding out a Rock n’ Roll beat for Mick and Keith. He has had moderate success over the years with his own bands – most notably; the Charlie Watts Quartet. A foursome which included Stones’ backup singer Bernard Fowler.

Charlie’s sole drug problems arrived a little late …

“I was lucky that I never got that hooked, but I went through a period of taking heroin. I fell asleep on the floor during [the recording of] ‘Some Girls’ and Keith woke me up and said: ‘You should do this when you’re older’. Keith telling me this! But it stuck and I just stopped along with everything else”.

Just prior to the release of A Bigger Bang in 2006; Charlie Watts was diagnosed with throat cancer. The Stones were entering the studio to record the album when they received a phone call from Watts. A message which made Mick and Keith think …

“Suddenly we were faced with the prospect of losing Charlie. What do we do? We asked each other?” Keith continues. “Mick played drums for the new songs and got quite good at it. When Charlie came back – he came back stronger than before. Death alters everyone’s thinking.”

According to Richards; “Charlie Watts is the Stones … !”



Top Ten Reasons why Van Halen are Tired

An enigma. Not an Enema

Although both are a pain in the ass …

This is what Van Halen have become. A bunch of rock stars who cannot seem to play together for any period of time.

The band – a term loosely used to describe the foursome – recently cancelled thirty shows due to ‘fatigue’. What could possibly have caused these men to be so tired?

Here are those reasons;

10. All the squinting to see the babes in the front row? Physically draining …

9. It’s not easy ‘ Running with the Devil’ all these years.

8. Eddie Van Halen’s son and bass player Wolfgang keeps everyone awake past ten with his ‘rock star’ shenanigans!

7. Ever since David Lee Roth cut his hair … Getting chicks requires more effort than he thought.

6. Eddie Van Halen? Ditto …

5. Roadies quit! Forcing the boys to carry their own Metamucil!

4. Roth’s swinging of his arms on stage? An exhaustive maneuver to say the least.

3. All the hot teachers from the past …? Vastly overweight yet just as insatiable!

2. Ever sit on a plane for two hours twice a week?

And the number one reason Van Halen is tired?

1. Due to cutbacks; each band member had to remove their own brown M&Ms … !

Happy Birthday to …

1938, Peter Yarrow, guitar, vocals, Peter, Paul and Mary
1948, John Bonham, drums, Led Zeppelin
1952, Karl Bartos, electronic percussion, Kraftwerk
1964, Scotti Hill, guitar, Skid Row
1964, Darryl McDaniels, rapper, Run-D.M.C.
1965, Steve White, drums, The Style Council
1980, Andy Hurley, drums, Fall Out Boy

When The Road Bends; Tales of a Gypsy Caravan

You cannot walk straight when the road bends 

roman proverb

When Johnny Depp gives a testimonial for a film, a musician or a toaster oven; people listen. In the documentary: When the road bends; Tales of a Gypsy Caravan, people are there to listen and listen some more…

The film follows an eighteen show American tour with Gypsies from four countries. It is fitting the show opens up with th e line; “Don’t worry, she’ll follow the lights! They don’t call her the Queen of the Gypsies for nothing!”

Fitting because the darkened walk towards the lights is symbolic. The general public watching this film are led toward costumes and music most have never listened to – or seen.

The Queen of the Gypsies begins to sing. Aside from the language – she could be an older Celine Dion with an added few pounds. An older Celine Dion without the fake emotions. The Queen sings with profound conviction. What arrives from her diaphragm is lived. Picture your grandmother who gave birth to eight kids and raised them alone. This is the depth of experience which sets the tone for the film.

A tone you do not catch at the corner bar. Not in America anyways.

The film’s and the organizer’s intent is to bring people together though music. It must be through music as many of the performers don’t speak the same language.


Romanian is one of those languages spoken and it is by the founders of the tour. A group of stringed musicians who support their village with the funds raised by their music. They are called Farat and are responsible for actor Depp’s involvement.

Mr. Depp met these guys during the filming of the movie: The Man who Cried. It seems Depp shared a small trailer with these men for two months. A time spent playing music for hours with wine exchanging hands. The music was the means of communication – along with eyeballs and hand gestures …

Depp’s mission is obvious.

He pleads for the public to re – learn their ignorance of the myth of the Gypsy. A stigma attached over the years through the very medium which made him famous – film.

In Depp’s words; the Nazis perpetrated a genocide on the Romanian people. The murder of thousands of woman and children. Killings which left the inhabitants to roam. Also in the actor’s words; the Gypsies will not steal your socks or whatever. The sad thing? A weight these people, these beautiful people – carry with them everyday.

The real star of the film is the positive vibe in the music and the characters. A script could not be written to portray these people accurately.

Beginning with the Queen of the Gypsies to the old man who funds school fees to young musicians in his village, this documentary provides hope to the downtrodden. Music keeps the spirit alive.

In each song from another of the touring acts from India, the group Maharaja tells stories. Something the leader can do through his own personal experiences.


His mother died from cancer when he was a boy and his father soon followed; death by drinking his pain away. The young man was left to care for his younger siblings. Something he does though music and dance.

Director Jasmine Dellal continues her quest to tell the tale of Gypies through Flamenco – another of the movie’s many influential sounds. Dancing, vibrant colours and equally vibrant characters. A great mix for the open – minded music fan.

Four musical acts – four types of Gypsies.

The road keeps bending. It’s up to the viewer to make things straight the next time they think of the word Gypsy.

* This film is available on DVD at Pointe Claire Video.

The Gary Hornbeck Story

Once upon a time …

Lee Hazzard was put together in order to bring that distinct sound of classic rock music to fans of this music genre. Lee Hazzard consists of Gary Hornbeck on guitar and lead vocals, Mike Dalamore on bass and lead vocals and Scott Dalamore on drums and vocals.

The band was formed in Surrey, British Columbia, Canada and was working on a new CD when something horrible happened. Something to the founding member; Gary Hornbeck.

Hornbeck originally started his music career in the central Ontario region of Canada …In the town of Peterborough.

Learning a few chords at the tender age of eleven, Gary did not have thoughts of rock and roll stardom or even playing music for a living. At the age of nineteen Hornbeck was taught a pentatonic blues scale and was fascinated. Thus began an incredible love for the guitar and music.

A Musical Journey

After playing in several rock bands around Ontario, Hornbeck moved to Orlando, Florida and teamed up with Riff West,[Molly Hatchet, Foghat] to form the band “Third Degree” The highlite of that band’s career?Playing onstage with Molley Hatchet in Altamont Springs Fla.

Hornbeck moved back to Ontario where he co founded the band Sleight of Hand with good friend and song writing partner; D. J. Bingham. Dave Bingham had a taste of fame as the lead singer from The Ugly Ducklings in the late to early seventies. Bingham penned the #1 hit in Canada called “Gaslight”

Sleight of Hand received plenty of attention in the central Ontario region and were winners of several homegrown c.d. compilations including Q-107 in Toronto, CKPT in Peterborough and CKLY in Lindsay.

After losing band members, Hornbeck was offered a position as lead guitar with the legendary Ronnie Hawkins. With Bingham’s blessing, Hornbeck jumped at the opportunity.

First class, prime rib and cognac was truly the rock and roll life style, but the gigs were coming few and far between so Hornbeck ended his tenure with The Hawk which culminated in shooting the video “Days Gone By” at Levon Helm‘s studio in Woodstock N.Y.

“That was a great time hanging with Levon!” Says Hornbeck in a slow voice. “Ricky Danko and Garth Hudson from The Band and John Sebastian all dropped by to say hello and offer their services.”

The video can be seen at the end of a full length concert DVD ‘Let it Rock’. It was in celebration of The Hawks 60th Birthday shot at Massey Hall in Toronto with guests The Band, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins and Jeff Healy to name a few.

Hornbeck says “The Hawk was so much fun to play with, he truly is a witty, silver – tongued devil”.

Following his stint with Hawkins – Hornbeck landed a gig with “The Heroes” out of Austin Texas, featuring Sam Sheeler and Doug Robb ( a camera man at Austin City Limits].

“Great band, mostly Black Tie affairs. It was a tribute to all the Rock and Roll greats, Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry, The Stones, The Beatles”.

With his Visa expired, Hornbeck returned to Ontario and put together the Gary Hornbeck Band. Along with Greg ( Goddo ) Goddovitch, Hornbeck was asked to help judge a Jack Daniels’ sponsored guitar wars competition in Peterborough.

The winner was a young Bass player by the name of Shaun Williams who was quickly recruited by Hornbeck. Gary then enlisted the services of J. L. Avis. A young fiery drummer who just happened to be Levon Helm’s godson. After recording the first c.d. “Love and Hate” they received airplay on radio stations in central Ontario and were the opening act for such notables as The Band, Paul Rogers, Nazareth and Edgar Winter.

The Hornbeck Band was quick to support many charities including Five counties Children’s Center in Peterborough, Hospital For Sick Children in Toronto and The Ride For Sight where they shared the stage with Goddo and helped raise $500,000 for the R.P. Foundation.

One of their favorite places to play was the Horseshoe Tavern in Toronto where Hornbeck received best guitar player of the year award by the central Ontario magazine “The Wire”. Gary Hornbeck then took a hiatus to help produce other artists and raise his young children.

The guitar player returned with a new band called Lee Hazzard and was promoting his new C.D. entitled Lee Hazzard. Three songs from their first cd were used in a movie called Savage Island starring Don Davis from Stargate SG-1. The movie is currently being viewed in over thirty five countries around the world through Blockbuster USA and has won several first place finishes at major film festivals.

Hornbeck says “If we can make just one person forget about their troubles by listening to our music then we feel that we have accomplished something!”

Wrong Ending

One night, Gary Hornbeck fell off his balcony. Some say he was pushed. The guitarist plunged six floors to the lawn below. He was found three or four hours later at six in the morning by a person on the way to work.

He was airlifted to a Vancouver hospital. He was comatose …

The doctors called his brother and sister to say goodbye. The end? Inevitable …

Gary and ‘Em

Following a month with his family at his side, his eyes opened. According to his sister; he smiled. Day by day – he became himself without speech or the ability to walk. His sister brought him to Peterborough to recuperate with love and familiar surroundings.

Slowly, with the help of a physiotherapist, Gary learned to walk and talk slowly. He started to eat on his own once more.

A benefit was held to raise money for medical bills. Many musicians he had known over the years played in his home town to show their support. During the show – Hornbeck surprised everyone and took the stage. He was handed a guitar. He strapped it on and began to play some blues chords.

“He smiled” Says his sister …

This Day in Music History

Some of your relatives may be celebrating a birthday today. Maybe you are … ?

You are not alone:

1917, Papa John Creech, violinist, Jefferson Airplane
1944, Gladys Knight, singer
1945, John Fogerty, guitar, vocals, Creedence Clearwater Revival
1949, Wendy O. Williams, singer, The Plasmatics

Also on this day;

1964, The BBC received over 8,000 postal applications for tickets for The Rolling Stones appearance on Juke Box Jury.

1966, Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass went to #1 on the U.S. album chart with What Now My Love, setting a new American record with four albums in the U.S. Top 10

1966, Love appeared at the Whisky a Go Go in West Hollywood, California, supported by The Doors.

1973, Bassist Ronnie Lane left The Faces and went on to form Slim Chance.

1977, Sting, Stewart Copeland and Andy Summers played together for the first time when they performed as part of Mike Howlett’s band, Strontium 90, at the Circus Hippodrome, Paris.

1983, Actress and singer Irene Cara started a six-week run at #1 on the U.S. singles chart with “Flashdance… What a Feeling,” taken from the film Flashdance, and a #2 hit in the U.K.

1983, The four-day US Festival ’83 took place in California, featuring The Clash, U2, David Bowie, The Pretenders, Van Halen, Stray Cats, Men at Work, Judas Priest, Stevie Nicks, Willie Nelson, INXS, Joe Walsh, Motley Crue and Ozzy Osbourne. Over 750,000 fans attended the festival. For more on this story, see today’s This Day in Music Spotlight.

1995, Hootie and the Blowfish started a four-week run at #1 on the U.S. album charts with Cracked Rear View. The album went on to sell over 15 million copies.

2007, The Police kicked off their 152-show reunion tour at General Motors Place in Vancouver, Canada in front of 22,000 fans.

2009, Depeche Mode singer Dave Gahan had surgery to remove a cancerous tumor in his bladder. The band, who were currently on a world tour, cancelled several shows because of the 47-year-old’s health problems.

Keith Richards Quotes

The human riff.

Keith Richards is to many – rock n’ roll!

The world’s most elegantly wasted human being has a reputation which is legendary. Aside from cockroaches, the only other living entity who will survive a nuclear war. In the words of Richards himself;

“I feel sorry for those fuckin’ cockroaches …!”

Aside from the perception of the man, as attested in his biography titled ‘Life’;  Richards is a very wise man. Fifty years as the poster boy for decadence will do that. A survivor of addiction, drug busts and falling off of a bush to a near fatal brain injury – Richards legacy remains intact.

Here are a few ‘words of wisdom’ from the man who classical guitarist Liona Boyd was referred to as; the greatest guitarist of all time …

Everyone talks about rock these days; the problem is they forget about the roll.

Good music comes out of people playing together, knowing what they want to do and going for it. You have to sweat over it and bug it to death. You can’t do it by pushing buttons and watching a TV screen.

Hey, we just enjoy it. I think we think we’re getting the hang of this thing, you know?

I have no idea what the audience makes of me.

I look for ambiguity when I’m writing because life is ambiguous.

I never thought I was wasted, but I probably was.

I only get ill when I give up drugs.

I’ve always been suspicious of TV, I’ve always found music and video to be an unhappy marriage.

I’ve never had a problem with drugs. I’ve had problems with the police.

If you don’t know the blues… there’s no point in picking up the guitar and playing rock and roll or any other form of popular music.

If you’re going to kick authority in the teeth, you might as well use two feet.

It’s an addiction… and addiction is something I should know something about.

It’s great to be here. It’s great to be anywhere.

Let me be clear about this. I don’t have a drug problem. I have a police problem.

Rock and Roll: Music for the neck downwards.

The only things Mick and I disagree about is the band, the music and what we do.

The Stones in a club is still the ultimate rush.

There’s no substitute for live work to keep a band together.

To make a rock’n’roll record, technology is the least important thing.

What’s Your Favourite Double Album?

LAST year, Rolling Stone magazine put together a commemorative issue announcing its top 500 albums of all time. Listed among the selections was a flood of four-sided classics. Here are the top 10 double albums, according to Rolling Stone’s critics.

1. Exile on Main Street — Rolling Stones (1972)
2. London Calling — the Clash (1979)
3. Blonde on Blonde — Bob Dylan (1966)
4. The Beatles (The White Album) — the Beatles (1968)
5. At Fillmore East — Allman Brothers Band (1971)
6. Electric Ladyland — Jimi Hendrix Experience (1968)
7. Songs in the Key of Life — Stevie Wonder (1976)
8. Trout Mask Replica — Captain Beefheart and his Magic Band (1976)
9. Physical Graffiti — Led Zeppelin (1975)
10. The Wall — Pink Floyd (1979)

Is your favourite on the list? Are you peeved it is not! Please post your favorite double album of all time in comments. Tell your friends! Let’s get to the bottom of this … !

Rush – Beyond the Lighted Stage; A Review

Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson and Neil Peart play themselves; according to the credits of this documentary. That’s a good start for Rush enthusiasts …

The film opens with Neil Peart playing a small drum kit backstage. It is hard to imagine Peart playing a small drum kit anywhere. Known more for his mutlti – piece kit. Yet Rush started somewhere and as the three members of the band merge from their modern day selves to a flashback of their former selves – this is where the film begins.

In the past.

Lee and Lifeson, it turns out, were nerdy schoolmates. Geeky guys who loved music and thrust their part – time music at unsuspecting teenagers at school dances. Teens that expected to dance. Teens who were too afraid to approach the stage and the long haired freaks.

As the early band footage rolls on, one thing stands out. The singular reason why some people are put off of Rush. Geddy Lee’s voice…

The same voice that repels small animals to this day.

The film brings people back in time to a simpler era. If a forty – something music fan watches the documentary; just like that they are transported to high school. A place where divisions ruled. ‘Subdivisions’…

Every teenager from every generation witnessed the same thing. There were the jocks, the nerds, the cool people and the ‘weirdos’. Somewhere in that mix? Rush fans. People that were a mixture of what society had to offer. Testosterone – challenged, hormone – changing adolescents trying to find their ‘lockers’ in the hallways of the world.

Lee and Lifeson were those guys. Drummer Peart analyzed it all and the trio went about their ways doing things their way. This is the singular important message that shines through in the film.

Smaller crowds and pressure from record executives tried to alter their music in the seventies. Under contract for one more album; the Canadian trio decided to record it status quo – in other words, like the last album; Caress of Steel.

2112 shot the band on the road to superstardom and the band and documentary never looked back.

Unknown Commodoties

The movie struts along like a music fan through a long corridor. Each Rush album hung on the wall Is observed, commented on and passed by. A soundtrack of the songs playing in the background – some live, some studio. All reminders of just how good the band was and continues to be.

One by one – songs like ‘Fly by Night’, ‘The Trees’, ‘Tom Sawyer’ and ‘Subdivisions’ smack the observer with memories. Unlike the albums themselves, discs such as ‘Hemispheres’, ‘ Moving Pictures’ and ‘Vapor Trails’ are accompanied by tales from the creators of the songs themselves. Stories which place the band and it’s members ‘closer to your heart’.

The average person unaware of how Mr. Lee and Mr. Lifeson thought Peart was weird when he auditioned for the band. The average ‘Hey Joe’ rock fan oblivious to the fact Rush was the opening act for a group named Kiss. Gene Simmons et al living the sex, drugs and rock roll lifestyle while Lee and his mates remained watching t.v in their rooms.

Rush is behind the Beatles and the Rolling Stones with the number of gold and platinum albums. This places them ahead of everyone else. Therein lies the mystery of Rush. Nobody knows who they are or what they are about. This documentary attempts to divulge that information. This film does not.

Lee, Lifeson and Peart come across as three Canadian guys with Canadian humbleness and Canadian humor. The film dishes no dirt, no scandals and no sordid tales. They are three guys who won the lottery and are comfortable around each other’s shoes.

Ironically, it’s the death of Peart’s daughter and wife that almost ended the band. It is what brought the members closer than ever and put them back on track. It is also the turning point for any fan watching the film.

If a music fan was on the fence, the direction which they landed when they fell is facing the fact Rush are one of the Greatest rock bands ever.

As themselves …

Black Canyon – Quebec Country Music; American Style

According to Black Canyon’s bass player; the band would be much more popular if they lived in any other province than Quebec.

“This is the hardest place to make a living playing country music.” Says forty-one year old Sylvain.” The market that exists pressures us to play in French. Our love is American country and it is English. We don’t get as many gigs but we are singing what we love.”

Sylvain is a French Canadian currently residing in Rawdon,Qc. Sylvain has been playing country music since his mid- teens. He lied to join his first band.

“I played keyboards and piano. A band I knew and had heard was looking for a bass player. They knew me and that I loved country music and asked me to join. I did not know how to play bass and I was not nineteen. I lied about two things so I could join a country band.”

Sylvain’s quick study earned him a place and in the time it takes to get your dog back – the Rawdon resident was on his way. A long and winding route which led to his meeting with the members of Black Canyon. All except one.

The drummer Danny, was not born yet.

The man with his foot on the peddle of Canyon’s beat is the son of the lead guitarist; Rick.

” He ( Danny ) started playing with us for fun when he was ten. He ‘officially’ joined when he was twenty. That means he has played with us for fifteen years! Where does the time go …?” Wonders Danny’s Dad.

Lead vocalist and guitar player Ray doesn’t see it that way. Ray doesn’t see too many things … he is legally blind.

” I had glaucoma since I was a five. I’ve had a prosthetic eye since I was eight and my right eye only has five percent vision.” Says Ray between sets. ” I see light and I use a cane to walk about.”

Ray’s lack of vision is atoned for in his voice. A profound tool that takes hold of the crowd from the moment the band walks on stage.

Black Canyon plays all the classic and contemporary country tunes. George Strait is a favorite of Sylvains’, Ray loves Allan Jackson, Rick enjoys Merle Haggard and Danny’s idol is Gavin Garrison of the band Porcupine Tree. Say what?

” I love the way the guy plays! He is my role model along with Mike Portney from Dream Theatre. I love those guys’ styles.”

Dad Ricky is just happy his son loves playing with his band and Danny’s love of rock music growing up – brought no frowns from the family patriarch.

” There is so much talent in rock. How, as a lead guitarist and a music lover, could I possibly tell my son to not listen to anyone?”

Garrison – Unlikely Hero

Although Danny’s influences come from the extreme, a totally different realm than country, it is the diversity within country music that he loves. Swing, shuffle and straight hard hitting beats allow him to mix up his assaults on the ears. It allows a passion to shine through.

Jimmy Buffet’s Margueritaville , Merle Haggard’s ‘Ramblin Fever’ and Strait’s ‘All my Exes Live in Texas’ are some of the songs that helped the band earn the title of Best Country Act in 2000.

‘Up to no Good’ is an original tune that, on this night anyways – removed people from their seats and on to the dance floor. Black Canyon is enjoying their limited role as a predominant country band in Quebec.

George Jones, Farmer’s Daughter and Allan Jackson are a few of the big names that have recognized this. The band considers itself ‘privileged’ to have opened for the big names in country.

“We were supposed to open for Jones on his recent tour in Khanawake … unfortunately Mr.Jones took ill and the show was cancelled. As long as he is okay, that’s all that matters.” Says the band’s singer – Ray.

Rick, the group’s practical joker – agrees.

“We’ll just keep ‘walking’ around … Looking for the next gig. As Ray’s unofficial guide – I’ll take him by the arm and lead him to success!”

“Like the time he grabbed me to sit in the restaurant?” Answers Ray. ” He walked me around in circles through the hotel for an hour …!”

” No thanks …” He laughs.

At least it was in another province. Nobody recognized Quebec’s number one country band.

Not yet …!


Black Canyon will be the house act every second Tuesday at Le Pionnier. They are also the main draw at Spurs Country Bar on St.Jacques in NDG.

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!

September 6, 1980 – Ted Nugent at the Montreal Forum

My birthday is September 7 … Do the math!

A birthday present to myself. Red section at the historic Montreal Forum to witness Ted Nugent. A Ted Nugent who was known as a rock star – not a gun activist.

My best friend and I – both fifteen, dragged a Russian with us. His name was Ivan.He was like a stiff board. Seldom displaying emotion, rarely displaying passion.

The three of us arrived in the afternoon at Atwater park, a patch of green across the street from the house ‘the Rocket’ built. Minutes from Ken Dryden’s old stompin’ crease …

Armed with tickets, a few bucks and an equal amount of beer – we sat in the park amongst pigeons and party people. The difference? Our feathered friends not allowed to see ‘the Nuge’!

As the cool Fall weather attempted to chill our enthusiasm, the beer and excitement quashed the negativity in the air. Mr. Nugent was at the height of his popularity.

‘Catch Scratch Fever’,’Wang Dang Sweet Poontang’ and ‘Stranglehold’ were some of the tracks that placed him there. At the moment, ‘Wango Tango’, a full throttle manic rock song – kept him there. His music was not for the faint hearted, making it all the more surprising that our Russian comrade enjoyed it.

As the beer flowed elegantly into our systems, others of the same rock mentality came and went. Marijuana cigarettes passed in friendship. ‘Joints’ dispersed like candy.

Sometime around six o’clock, a dude happened by. The type of guy who was at Woodstock and never left. His hair – long enough to trip himself and several small children passing by at the wrong moment.

Along with iron- on patches, symbols of bands such as Led Zeppelin, Rush and Black Sabbath; the dude carried mind- altering substances in his worn- out Lee Jean jacket.

L.S.D – acid.

The thirtiesh- looking man was a born salesman, at least – in his halucegenic mind he was. He spoke of the pleasures, ‘the utopian heights’ we would reach witnessing Nugent under the described conditions. Not only that …the drug was cheap!

Three- four- ten bucks or something similar…

Upon much reflection and trepidation, Ivan, ‘Frank’ and I decided what the heck. If you were going on a roller coaster anyways – may as well get on the biggest one possible!

We sat. We drank some more. All the while fingering this ‘fantastic drug’ in our adolescent hands.

“We need a plan!” Declared Ivan in his usual, although slurred stoic manner.

“Ya man … A plan …!” Agreed Frank through slanted eyes. His long black hair interrupting his non – vision.

” We got an hour before the show!” I said. Proud to be the bearer of good news.” I heard it takes one hour for this stuff to kick in …!”

“Perfect!” Said Ivan with as much enthusiasm as a man about to have a tooth pulled.” We do now!”

With those words, Ivan of Russian descent, unwrapped the tiny pill and deposited it into his system. Frank and I – no chance to say otherwise.

Frank gazed into my slits.

“What are you doing?” He inquired. “You taking it now …?”

“Dunno …?” I answered, not sure what I was responding to..

“If it takes an hour …” Frank started speaking fast. ” If we wait til 9pm, it will kick in for the encore! That way, we’ll be flying for Catch Scratch Fever and Wango Tango!” Frank was proud with his plan.

“Sounds good.” I replied, gazing at Ivan who was playing with a Dandelion. “Good idea …!”

The three of us made our way across the street and into the Forum. A carnival- like atmosphere taking place before our very beings. The red, white and blue of the colored seats adding a comfortable backdrop. Frisbees flew through the thick air. Air created by the hundreds of joints lit at once.

“Who cleans the Stanley Cup banners?” I wondered silently.

We sat in our seats and in the next twenty minutes – smoked what was probably too many ‘funny cigarettes’ for our weight divisions. Ivan was practically non- responsive at this point and Frank’s eyes; shadows of their former selves …

Mr.Nugent and his band took the stage amid screaming fans and fading lights.

The noise of the crowd deafened by his electric guitar. Songs, some familiar – others not so much exploded from the speakers into our virgin eardrums. The ‘event’, my birthday present was underway. I poked Ivan to ensure he was awake to witness it.

Tunes by the name of ‘Sweet Sally’ and ‘Live it up’ played although doubt circles my memory like vultures from an era gone by. Frank was up and down with the music while Ivan sat. He was breathing – aside from his chest heaving in and out, no signs of life emerged from his Russian form.

I glanced at my brand new ‘state of the art’ L.E.D. watch.

The numbers ‘8 5 5’ awakening my dormant irises. I nudged Frank who stood to my left, almost knocking him off his weakened stance.

“Man! It’s 9 o’clock …!” I said. ” Get out your acid!”

Frank smiled. His grin reaching the corners of his closed eye-lids. Without a word between us, we reached into our Jean jacket pockets. Frank discovered his tin foil first; unwrapping the minuscule tablet of chemicals.

“Ready?” He asked – the pill close to his dried- out tongue.

After pillaging all my pockets and coming up empty, I assumed my package had fallen to the floor. I took out my Rolling Stones- tongued lighter and started a search on the floor. Following several moments, the people sitting in front asked what I was doing. I explained my drug dilemma and became fodder for the foursome of teens before me.

” That’s not how you drop acid!” One of them yelled. ” Look guys – this guy dropped acid …right on the floor!”

As fast as it takes to cook eggs in a microwave, I became the entertainment for the second row in the red section. By now, several others had turned to get into the ‘fun’. One of the girls in front felt bad and removed her lighter to aid in my search.

Even Ivan started to chuckle …

Moments passed. My ‘halucegenic helper’ was gone.

Frank had enough and popped his pill into an already inebriated palate. The time? Approximately 9:30 pm.

The show ended around ten. Thundering applause exited Nugent from the stage. Moments later – the applause returned him. Everyone was standing except for Ivan. Not asleep, not quite awake. A suspended state is where he was at this point.

Frank was acting funny. The drug starting to take him to other concerts in his head. He was more energetic than I had seen him in the five years since we met. Ivan …? As silent as a mouse on Christmas eve …

Nugent returned. Swinging on a vine. Or maybe that was earlier …

The opening rifts of Wango Tango waking the tenants who lived down the street from the Forum. Lights slapping our faces from every direction.

“This is Rock n Roll!” I recall thinking.

The initial reaction subsided, some – taking to their seats to enjoy Nugents’ extra- curricular tunes. Most – enjoying an experience unlike others. The people in front and almost everywhere around us were sitting. It was quiet as the people took in the show. Frank was looking at the ceiling and whatever images appeared in his mind.

Out of the blue, it happened. An event so unlikely – a replay was needed and YouTube was missed.

Ivan, the tormented figure of emotional emptiness – stood. At the peak of his vocal powers a sound emitted like bats released from a cave.

” Woohoo!” He shouted. ” Wango …Fuckin the Tango!” His arms straight in the air like a football referee signaling a field goal.” Fuckin’ right man!”

With that- he sat.

I never heard or saw the boy move like that ever again. He did come close. A week later, with Ivan sitting on my bed, I discovered the crumpled tin foil hiding my acid.

“Woohoo!” Ivan said quietly. Hands by his side …

Mick Jagger on Saturday Night Live – A Review

After all these years – Mick Jagger hosted Saturday Night Live.

Was it good? Was it bad? Any glimpses of grey in the Rolling Stones frontman’s hair? Pressing questions for a rock fan …

Keith Richards was once asked;” What’s Mick Jagger really like?”

The Stones’ guitarist and decadently wasted human being responded …

” He’s a wonderful bunch of guys …!”

Last night – Mr.Jagger proved it. Again.

It has always been said that the Stones’ frontman wasted his acting talent. From his first appearance in the lead role as Australia’s version of Robin Hood; Ned Kelly, to his most recent role as a male prostitute in The Man from Elysian Fields – Jagger has teased the world with his acting chops. Heck, he even has his own film production company; Jagged Films …

Think about it. A rock n roll frontman is a type of character is he / she not?

Jagger’s stint on the season finale of SNL displayed the former London School of Economic student’s poise and experience. Most singers or non – actors will fumble at least one line on a vaudevillian stage. They will drop the ‘scripted ball’ due to the sheer uncomfortable nature of the situation.

Not Mick Jagger.

The opening monologue demonstrated his ease. Partly due to his ego and partly due to his charm. An ability the sixty – nine year old has possessed from the age of eight when he met his guitarist Richards. The funniest line of the opening segment was Sir Mick Jagger responding to the most frequently asked questions.

Ned Kelly

‘Mick …?’ An invisible reporter asks Jagger through Jagger himself. ‘Have you got satisfaction?’

As Jagger responds …” If I say yes, I can’t sing the song anymore!”

Satisfaction, the 1965 song that propelled the Stones on par with the Beatles, is something the anti- Aerosmith fans watching obtained. In a skit entitled ‘ So you think you can dance at an outdoor festival’ – Jagger portrays Stephen Tyler, a man who has been referred to as the American Mick.

Jagger, as ‘judge’ Tyler – does a Burger King promo, an obvious referral to the real life Tyler ads for the food chain. A shot at the Aerosmith singer? Unless something happened between the pair of rockers ‘off the record’ – the gest was in jest for Tyler has always praised the aged Stone for giving him inspiration.

The on- going praise continues for Jagger and the Rolling Stones in recent years. The youth of today’s rock – jumping at every occasion to play along with the original bad boys of rock n’ roll. Last night, it was Arcade Fire and the Foo Fighters turn.

Mick Jagger has always seemed silly performing without the Rolling Stones. The exception? When he is singng the blues. Last evening – it was no different.

Montreal’s own Arcade Fire ‘backed up’ Jagger for a Stones’ classic;The Last Time.

Sir Mick coming across as a caricature of himself as he normally does without Charlie Watts and the boys behind him. Last Year’s album of the year winners at the Grammy’s would fit nicely with Jagger’s antics. Their stage show is normally as manic as Mick. Too bad they were not themselves – they could be the one backing band that makes Mick appear normal.

The Foo Fighters provided the musical background to a pair of Stones songs. A split segment that included 19th Nervous Breakdown and It’s Only Rock n Roll …

The Rolling Stones do not do the former song well live – how could David Grohl and his fighters? The guitars too powerful for the song and Mick’s voice. Thankfully, the song switched to the latter. A more in synch version of the 1975 song from the album of the same name. A more comfortable tune to listen to.

Jagger finally hit his element with fellow countryman and blues legend; Jeff Beck. The pair powered off a song which Jagger wrote about the upcoming presidential race in the U.S. A tongue-in-cheek view of Mitt Romney and why not? Starting with Street Fighting Man in the sixties though Undercover of the Night in the eighties and most recently – Sweet Neo Con from 2006’s A Bigger Bang album – Jagger has never been shy to voice his political views.

The skits which Jagger appeared in hit and missed. One – in which he played an insurance agent at a karaoke bar, Jagger’s character sat through two of his new found ‘friend’s’ versions of Mick Jagger impersonations. The final one falling asleep; leaning on the microphone on stage.

A girl at Jagger’s table exclaims; ‘Look – he’s acting just like the real Mick!”

Sorry Miss …

The real Jagger has never slept on stage and has never put anyone to sleep. Not even at 12 am on a Sunday morning.

Just Between Jerry Mercer and Me – Part Three

The saga of April Wine commenced with great songwriting.

Something that sets Myles Goodwyn apart from most of his Canadian contemporaries except for The Guess Who, Neil Young and Rush.

Early songs such as `You Won`t Dance with Me` and `Bad Side of the Moon` led to bigger hits such as `Roller`,  Ì Like to Rock` and `Just Between You and Me`.  A legacy of linguistic and musical prowess to be left behind for generations to come.

According to Mercer, although Myles wrote the songs and the majority of lyrics – it was a group effort yet Myles always had the final word. Sometimes, it was not pretty …

” We were in the studio recording Nature of the Beast. We decided to cover the song `Sign of the Gypsy Queen`. I played the beat the way I thought it should go and Myles`vision was completely different. Usually we could come to a halfway point yet not this time. It was the only occasion I can recall when we almost came to blows! I was passionate and so was Myles! We ending up with a little of my idea and a lot of his!”

All the ideas led to a breakout album and suddenly the band was famous in Canada and the United States. They were `true`rock stars and that led to the inevitable `sex, drugs and rock n`roll` lifestyle.

Mercer was married and had two young children at home – a son and a daughter. His wife was supportive of his music yet the lifestyle was tough on the relationship. Jerry stayed true to his wife and stayed away from the groupies – the drugs did catch up to him and almost ruined him.

” I started experimenting with cocaine. A little at first and like most people that get addicted – it started to take over my life.” He shakes his head. ” The reason I stopped cocaine was because it was interfering with my abilty to play the drums. Drumming was always my passion and love – when it ( cocaine ) started to destroy that; it was time to stop!”

April Wine continued it`s rock ways but were never able to dupilcate the sucess of 1983`s Nature of the Beast album. By 1987 – the band was finished and the members went their seperate ways.

Mercer hooked up with former Offenbach members  John McGale and Breen LeBoeuf. The Buzz Band played in small local clubs in Montreal and gave fans an opportunity to witness Mercer`s drum solo close up. A drum solo which not only rests in people`s memories – a watermark moment for Mercer in the future.

Now What ?

One day, Jerry Mercer found himself above  Decarie Blvd. in Montreal. He was spiritually drained. He had an empty feeling inside and felt void. His marriage was ending, April Wine was not close to re-grouping and the Buzz Band was no longer playing very often.

” I was thinking of jumping!” States Mercer as if someone else was saying the words. ” I had all these questions in my head and there was no one with any answers for me. I really, sincerely, was just lost!”

It was then Mercer heard a voice in his head. The voice told the drummer to go and see an old friend named Bevin. An ally that Mercer had not spoken to in many years.

” I just started walking toward the last address I had for him. I did not think he would be there but the voice kept telling me to go!” 

Mercer found the house and knocked on the door. Bevin opened it up and knew right away something was wrong. He took Jerry in and after renewing acquaintances – the two spoke of life and death. Bevin convinced Jerry to join him in his Bible classes and the pair started to take  courses together.

Bevin and Mercer became closer than ever as the pair commenced recording a gospel C.D.  Bevin travelling from the city to Mercer`s home and the studio that lay in the bowels of April Wine`s ex-drummer`s home. Then, `like a shot through the soul` – Bevin was killed one day in a traffic crash on the way to Mercer`s.

” If it were not for the lessons that Bevin taught me and the ones we learned together, I would not have been able to handle his death. It was an ironic twist of fate. He saved my life and then his was taken away coming to visit me.  I do not know why – there is a reason that happened.”

Perhaps that reason was instilling strength in Mercer. Not long following Bevin`s untimely death, Mercer discoverd he had prostate cancer. A killer of many men around his age at that time. Jerry went for chemotherapy treatments and was drumming once more with the newly  re – formed April Wine.

This time it was Jimmy Clench back on bass, along with Myles and Brian. Mercer only missed one show due to his cancer.

” I played a few gigs standing up but because of the chemo, I was too tired. It was the only time in thirty years I did not play with Wine.”

When I`m Sixty – Four … ?

At sixty  years of age, Mercer and his bandmates started a new chapter in their lives. A chapter that was not filled with arena tours nor gold records. It was a section of their lives that gave the fans a chance to show their appreciation for a Canadian institution. The band – touring non-stop across Canada playing in small clubs …

An appreciation witnessed first hand on a couple of occasions …

To be Continued … 

Jerry Mercer and the Buzz Band will be playing May 18th at Calistoga Grill in Pointe Claire. Don`t miss it …!

Just Between Jerry Mercer and Me – Part Two

Pierre Senecal, Brian Edwards and Rayburn Blake first met in 1960 in Montreal. Their drummer did not show up one night for a gig, so Jerry Mercer was brought in and ended up joining the band. Brian Edwards quit the band and they continued playing under the names; the Phantoms, Ray Blake’s Combo and the Dominoes.

By 1965 they were calling themselves The Triangle. R&B singer Trevor Payne was the singer and they played for an additional four years until being discovered by record producer Bob Hahn. Edwards rejoined the band and they changed their name to Mashmakhan, after a variety of hashish sold by a local dealer.

‘ As the years go by’ was the band’s biggest hit and Jerry remembers getting off the plane in Japan to thousands of screaming fans.

” It was like we were the Beatles or something …! At home – we were playing before two or three hundred people. We sold 400,000 copies of the song in Japan. There were 10,000 Japanese people waiting for us!” Mercer laughs.

Mashmakhan was lucky enough to be part of The Festival Express. A gig that toured across Canada with some of the biggest names in rock music. The Grateful Dead, the Band and Janis Joplin all travelled with Mercer and his mates on a train.

” I think we were in Winnipeg. It was pouring rain and the train was leaving.” Says Mercer. “Janis was still wearing her stage clothes and was standing in the rain, leaning against a chain link fence. Being Janis, she was pretty drunk with a bottle of Jack Daniels in her hand. We all tried to convince her to get on the train. She said she would not leave until her manager came. Well, the manager never came and the train ( including us ) left the station without her. A small plane picked her up and flew her to the next town.” Mercer frowns. ” It was sad to see such a big star like that …”

During that tour, Jerry marvels at the memory of what went on.

“All the bands did not stay within their groups. I would hang out with Levon Helm for a couple of hours and next thing – I am with Mickey Hart of the Dead. I was lucky to pick up stuff from those guys. It was a once- in- a -lifetime  event!”

The only sour note for Mercer is years later, in 2004, a documentary was released about the tour. Mercer and Mashmakhan were mentioned briefly. A point which Jerry does not believe is right as he put a lot of effort to get the film made.

“Mashmakhan was just as much a part of that as anyone!” Says Mercer. ” To feature the ‘ big names ‘ and not us is a shame for everyone involved.”

Realizing the domestic success was not happening, Mashmakhan broke up shortly after the tour which led to Mercer becoming a session guy for a while. Jerry played drums with Roy Buchanan – a man who Eric Clapton was once referred to as ‘ the greatest blues guitarist ever’ and a band by the name of the Whackers.

It was then, along with Steve Lang, Brian Greenway and Garry Moffat – Mercer auditioned and got the job as a drummer for the band April Wine. The foursome along with founding members Myles Goodwin and Jimmy Clench – went on to international fame …

To be continued …

Jerry Mercer will be playing Friday night, May 18 2012 at Calistoga Grill in Pointe Claire.

He will be joining John McGale and Breen LeBoeuf of Offenbach fame. A band which played together in the late eighties as The Buzz Band !

Just Between Jerry Mercer and Me

It may have been a Tuesday, Wednesday or Saturday. Do the days of the week matter when the phone rings and a Canadian rock legend is waiting on the other end of the call? The bruises linger from the self – inflicted pinching that took place on my right arm as I took the receiver from my ex and spoke to April Wine’s drummer.

I arrived at Mr. Mercer’s home the following day. A greeting ensued at the front door of a beautiful house located a hop, skip and drum roll from the Cajun Blues restaurant. Jerry introduced me to his current wife and his son Sean. His daughter (the server), was also hanging around and her and I laughed quietly with the irony of the circumstances that joined us together in this ‘after hours’ club.

Once the formalities were completed and I was cultured to the fact that Jerry`s daughter was studying piano and the son – a drummer just like Dad , Jerry and I moved from the kitchen and carved a path to the den. The scenario became a video in my mind, a picturesque view of the waterfront took center stage through the bay windows.


 “I have an office… Gold records on the wall … Just leave a message – maybe I’ll call …”

Whether or not Mr. Mercer has, “accountants pay for it all …” (more of the songs’ lyrics ),  is something I do not know. It was of no interest to me and frankly – none of my business . What I do know – Mr. Mercer did call me back. I stood there. 

The hair on the back of my neck and on top of my

head along with all the tiny ones that guarded my scrotum –  were standing on guard. Shivers traveled the length of my body. Overcome with nostalgia and the sheer magnitude of what lay before me, my knees developed a mind of their own and searched the floor.

Life ‘s been good so far …

Glints of sunlight recoiled off the yellow discs that adorned the walls. I was the victim. I lay dying on the desert floor in a Clint Eastwood Spaghetti Western as the golden vultures with the names ‘I like to Rock’, ‘Just Between You and   Me’ and ‘Roller’ encircled me.

    “If nervousness and anxiety were to be the ailments that killed me – a death on Jerry Mercer’s floor was not necessarily a bad thing ” I thought silently.

Jerry motioned towards the sofa and we sat.

The ( then ) sixty – one year old could sense the three-year-old schoolchild that currently invaded his couch and he immediately put my senses at ease. He asked about my children. As any parent is aware – there is not a disaster in the world that the idea of offspring dancing through your mind, like angels on a cloud – cannot heal.

“So where do we start?” Jerry asked in a kind way once my tales of tots were completed.

“I thought you would know … “I responded with a nervous laugh. I was not convinced this was the proper time to inform Mercer that this was indeed – my inaugural biographical interview.

Where does one start? At his birth? In his parents’ bedroom …? Should we get them on the phone? Who knew?

“Why don’t we start with how you became a drummer?”The words escaped my mouth and the resonance eased my novice-batting stance. I was ready to step to the plate. The pine tar tossed aside.

 The only interview I had done to this point was never published. I was not over – whelmed during that one and the fact that the majority of my questions were about the Rolling Stones – had everything to do with it.

Annie Liebowitz, the famed photographer, was in town with a collection of her photos. They (the photos), were on display at the Montréal Museum of Fine Arts and my journalistic mentor was kind enough to donate his press pass. He was well aware of my obsession with the ‘World’s Greatest Rock n Roll Band’ and Ms. Leibowitz had been the band’s official photographer for their historic 1972 and 1975   tour.

It is one thing to know a great deal about a subject and a completely different one when you are learning as you go. Not only that – with all due respect to Ms. Leibowitz,  she never ‘rocked my world’ with a ten minute drum solo’!

In the beginning …

Mercer began his tale as Yannique brought us refreshments. My borrowed tape recorder on full alert as the’ rocker’ informed me of his tribal beginnings in the art of percussion.

He started playing in a marching band when he was fourteen as an extracurricular activity. Once he completed school at Verdun high school, he commenced working at IBM and was set to indulge in a career with a growing company.Then, one afternoon, he heard something that altered his life and in the process – startled his parents.

  “I was listening to AM radio. My hit parade was the hip radio show back then . All of a sudden the Ray Charles’ song ‘What’d I Say ‘came on. I had never heard anything like it. I thought to myself ‘that cat has swing!’ I knew right then and there – I wanted to become a drummer!”

Mercer informed his parents of his decision and promptly quit his job to pursue music. His dad told him that it was like ‘jumping off a diving board into an empty pool ‘.Yet, in Jerry’s words; they were very supportive. ”They were Christian and very religious people. I could never have asked for a more loving environment to grow up in.”

Jerry then began his pursuit of all things music. He began studying all of the great drummers; Buddy Rich, Gene Krupa and Max Roach.

He would sneak into the Maurice Richard arena and crawl up on the catwalk to get a bird’s eye view of his idols as they came to town. High above – he would watch with precision as Krupa introduced his talents to Montreal. Buddy Rich would arrive the following week and make everyone’s (including Mercer) jaw drop to the concrete floor. The rafters were also the place that Mercer witnessed an up and coming talent ply his trade as an opening act for the Isley Brothers. It was a young Jimi Hendrix with Mitch Mitchell banging away on drums. Mitchell fast became another hero to the young Mercer.

“Music was much easier to get into back then.” Mercer continues.” You had four choices – Jazz, Pop, Rock or Country. These days there are so many different genres with each one having a sub – genre. I do not envy kids today. Even with all the advancements and the ability to self- record, it is such a difficult environment. “He goes on to say with a laugh.” Even the drugs today make it much scarier than my day.”

Mercer bought a small kit for fifty dollars that consisted of a snare, a high hat, a bass drum and one tom. He would play along to the songs he heard on the radio and whichever records he managed to purchase or get his hands on. He never learned to read music. He learned to play with the feel of the song and this prepared him for his first gigs. He met up and played with Trevor Payne and the Triangle.


Thus began a long winding journey into the world of rock n roll that almost ended in suicide…

To be continued …

Just Between You and Me – Part Three and a Bit …

So there I was…

As I stood in front of a mahogany bar that was painted ever so slightly by the morning sunlight,  a smile appeared on my face. I had met some of my childhood idols, enjoyed a lustful evening of rock n roll and was pumped to enjoy a day of waitering. A few dollars in my pocket followed by an evening of blues … what was there not to be happy about !

One of the waitresses was behind the bar and preparing her station for the forthcoming events. Suddenly, the door which led from the bar to the adjacent terrace opened . With the sun and the maple boards as a backdrop – there stood a figure that was at once recognizable. A silhouette that graced hundreds of stages around the world. For the second time in less than twenty – four hours,  I was in the company of Mr. Jerry Mercer.

A Coincidental Coincidence

I had worked with this waitress for two months. I never knew her father was the drummer for April Wine. It was probably a good thing. If I had known – the poor girl would have had to endure many hours of questioning. Once I was done – the Spanish inquisition would have come across as a segment on a poor talk show.

Like a teenage boy receiving a glimpse of a girl’s underwear under a short skir,  I said hello to the icon with a huge smile on my face. Mercer recognized me from the previous evening and appeared equally amused to see me. He introduced me to his daughter (formally) and the pair let it be known that Jerry was dropping something off  the younger Mercer had forgotten. I told Jerry that I had thoroughly enjoyed the show and it was an immense pleasure to make his acquaitance for the second time. He thanked me,  kissed his daughter goodbye and was just about to make his exit – stage left , when a thought occurred to me.

I asked him if he would be interested in doing an interview.

Mr. Mercer replied in the same fashion as did Brian Greenway the night before.  ” Been there – done that ” was the sentiment the members of the band ( Myles excluded ) seemed to be riding –  full steam.

” Has anyone ever done a story about you ? ” I inquired with an inquiring mind.

” You know …” I continued. ” An interview about what makes Jerry tick outside of April Wine ? Your likes , dislikes etc…”

I was aware that I had the man ‘s curiosity by the neck. He stopped and stood for a moment. Save the smoke emitting from his ears – it was easy to tell the man was thinking….  Hard!

After a few minutes of trepidation – Jerry replied almost surprised. After all the years of playing with bands such as the Triangle, Mashmakhan, April Wine and the Buzz Band. All these seasons of playing with or around the likes of Trevor Payn ,  Roy Buchanan,  Janis Joplin, the Band,  the Grateful Dead and many more … Mr. Mercer realized that no one had ever sat down and spoke to him about his life experiences and his viewpoints.

I was to be the first and we made arrangements to meet the following week. 

To be continued …

Album Review – Roger Walls; Midnight Ride

Get in your car!

No – wait!

Run back to the house and grab Roger Wall’s new CD – Midnight Ride! For a long drive, there is nothing better for a Jazz fan to keep the toes a tappin’…

Kansas – born Roger Walls brings fifty years of experience to the disc, a half century of knowledge accumulated partly by working with some of the greats in the music industry.

Tony Bennett, Dee Dee Bridgewater and Duke Ellington are some of the people that have employed Roger at some point. Trumpet, alto and tenor sax along with anything that blows – Mr. Walls brings all this knowledge to Midnight Ride.

As Roger said recently from the stage at the House of Jazz; “What’s the point of staying in your room? It’s cabaret time!”

If Roger had stayed in his room, playing at Carnegie Hall for Ella Fitzgerald‘s 75th Birthday party – would have been a dream. Instead, with Max Roach on drums – Roger played for the legendary singer to the song; Tiscut a Tasket with the Duke Ellington Orchestra.


Although the new CD adds an assortment of various styles, it tells a personal tale for Roger. A story told through music …

The first track – Soon come young blues; opens the first leg of ‘the drive’ with an upbeat tempo. Drummer Eloi Bertholet, a fellow ‘farm boy’ from Saskatchawan, instills the proper speed limit to get the listener’s engine revvin’. The song says; ‘ this is Jazz’ ! No more -no less and keeps a curious ear for the next track. A song inspired by a dream …

‘I said you’d be back’ is what a warden of a prison told Roger in one of his many dreams. The storyline consists of Roger escaping and the warden informing him of their soon- to- be – encounter. This instrumental track delivers a manic feel. Trumpets sounding like police cars as the underlying keyboards give chase to a criminal drum beat. Following this song; your speed limit is a little higher as it attempts to keep up with your heart rate.

The third song on the disc is a shock! By far – the catchiest tune on an over- all catchy collection of a dozen songs.

‘Slow walk ‘ combines Rap, Jazz and Funk. An unlikely trio that conjures up phrases such as ‘wtf’? If Roger’s conscience spoke to him – it surley said; ‘ what are you thinkin’ dude’? Yet it works and it works extremely well. The type of tune which places your fingers on the replay button – over and over.

The song settles into a groove quickly. A rhythm of making love to a sultry woman. Not fast – not slow, just right.

Therein lies the beauty of the song. The routine of the same rhythm is disrupted by not one – two rappers. A ‘ take your turn’ adventure in a hip hop dueling session. A female’s voice gives pleasure while the man’s presence – a perfect balance to a funk- riddled tightrope excursion.

A high wire act is something Walls has learned over the years.

Following a move to Quebec with his new wife, Roger discovered Montreal was a great place to be and discovered  a niche playing with French Stars.

“The studio scene was great – I could do 3 beer jingles (there used to be about 30 studio’s in town ), a tv show and a jazz gig in the same day .” Walls continues. ” I was the only one in town that had high chops because of my rock experience and good teachers.”

This opened the ‘ trumpet case’  so to speak and Roger soon found himself among great – if not, legendary performers. Cab Calloway – Al Martino – Paul Anka – Tom Jones – Michel Legrand – Aretha Franklin – Donna Summers – Whitney Houston – George Burns – Petula Clark – Englebert Humperdink -Dean Martin- Diana Ross – Joan Rivers – Dionne Warwick to drop a few names.

Roger recalls when the orchestra he was playing in backed up the Godfather of Soul – James Brown.

” He ( Brown) arrived 15 minutes before we were supposed to go. Nobody in the band knew a set list containing the three songs he was supposed to play. I spoke with him and we narrowed his ‘hits’ to the three. In five minutes – I scribbled the sheet music, xeroxed it and handed it to fifty guys in the band. Talk about cutting it close?”

Close is what you may want to do when you play the next song on the disc; ‘Music to Wish for Girls By’.

A song inspired by one of Wall’s conga players’ favorite songs; Music to Watch Girls By…A popular song written by Herb Albert. Roger’s version turns the track into a Latin- based rhumba and adds spice to a scene that may otherwise be melancholi as the title suggest. Music can transform dreams into possibilities …

‘I Will Wait Forever’ continues the soft section of the CD without the groove of the previous track. It is a song for the special men who fall in love with a special lady and wait forever …

Forever seems a long time ago to Roger. Starting his career in Wichita, Kansas and gaining notoriety with the Central Standard Time band. The band toured all over the States and the east coast of Canada. They made such an impact – Roger and his ex – mates were recently inducted into the Kansas City music hall of fame. Something Roger could not fathom when the band broke up in St.Paul, Minnesota.

” I hopped in my ’59 Volvo and headed to L.A. I played several of the clubs , hooking up with musicians and making a name for myself. A friend could have got me a gig with Lawrence Welk – instead I ended up in Quebec.”

Rene Simard’s company hired Roger and he also was lead trumpet for one of  Quebec’s most popular artists; Garou.  Roger travelled all around Europe, Japan and France. His stay in Japan was the inspiration behind ‘ A Pink Japanese Moon’ – another track on a Midnight Ride.

The song fulfills what Walls wanted to do.  Capture the beauty of Japan! Within a minute, the listener is transported beyond the rice fields into the land of silky screens and geisha girls. A spiritual massage given by Wall’s eloquent use of his instrument amid the sweet sounds of his backing band.

Les Murs De Paris is another track on the album which captures Roger’s memories. In France, Walls played on a t.v show entitled “Apre Mo Lise”. Various people such as Gene Krupa and Sonny Rollins would appear on the show, adding more fuel to Walls’  ‘ Wall of Sound’.

” Don’t forget – in the 1970’s, people would drive from Montreal to listen to Jazz. I played at hot clubs such as The Rising Sun, Rockheads Paradise and Grand Cafe. I played with the Ink Spots, the Drifters and Frankie Hubbard. I even played for Jerry Lewis at the M.S. Telethon!”

These experiences are evident on the ‘train medley’.  Roger’s hommage to Chatanooga Choo Choo, Pennsylvania 65000 and Take the A Train. It commemorates all the years Walls played with the Duke Ellington Orchestra. For older and more traditional Jazz fans – a pleasant trip backwards.

The final cut on the album brings us back to the start. ‘A Midnight Ride’ – inspired by Roger’s love of cars and driving. An upbeat finish to a darkened ride with the moon as a guide.

This album is not the best Jazz album nor is it the worst. It lies somewhere high above a mark. An indentation which millions of players strive to reach each year. An indentation which Roger Walls reached and passed miles ago …

Get in you car!

Don’t wait …

Roger Walls new CD “Midnight Ride”
Available at  Archambault Music ( Jazz) 500, Sainte-Catherine Est
and Itunes!

Want publicity for your band or self? Contact me

Just Between You and Me – Part Two

‘Say Hello …’

This was not my first venture into the decadent world of groupies, hangers – on and various forms of life. I have been to a Toronto Maple Leaf game after all …

I have been fortunate to go backstage at a Jeff Healy, Luba, Offenbach and Michel Pagliaro concert prior to this. Although the above foursome are not exactly the Who , Led Zeppelin , Stones or the Guess Who and this was not the sixties –  backstage with musicians remains  – backstage with musicians!  Sex is sex, booze is booze and a few puffs from a marijuana cigarette will increase the urgency to rape and pillage small bags of potato chips.

Brian Greenway appeared to be holding center court as I entered the crowded room. The space was no larger than the den of a suburban bungalow and the ‘disciples’ surrounded Brian as he preached the ‘word of Rock ‘. I neared the aging guitarist to get a feel for the discussion and to open the opportunity of introducing myself to this man of wealth and taste. The gist of his conversation lay somewhere between the past and future as Greenway did his best to erect a bridge between the generations that stood before him.

I listened for a bit. He spun tales of debauchery – details of which, considered not for the faint or adventurous, omitted on cue. This was not the first time Mr.Greenway told stories of his youth and he was well prepared .

The ensuing minutes passed quickly for someone with an inquiring mind or a penchant for times far away. A diminutive chapter of a rock star’s life was being printed before my eyes. The words of which – firmly planted onto the pages of his fans’ memories. Words that will one day – truthful or not, be regurgitated from generation to generation with additional embellishment along the way.

Speaking with Greenway …  Sweet !

When my moment drew near– I approached Mr.Greenway and uttered the necessary introduction.” I am a big fan …nice to meet you …blah, blah, blah…”

Suddenly – without notice, recognition exchanged between the two of us.

Obviously  I had seen him many times yet I somehow doubted, in my incarnations as a fan and with my obvious good looks – Mr.Greenway’s ability to siphon my identity out of thousands of spectators in the Montreal Forum, Maple Leaf Gardens or the Civic Center in downtown Peterborough.

We departed the room together. Brian tossed variations of places and people my way in an attempt to discover his determination of our congregation. After concluding that a Rum and Coke was my beverage of choice and generously pouring two for the both of us – Mr. Greenway  and I concretely stumbled upon our common ground.

It is reasonable that Greenway should forgive me for letting our past reunion slip through the fingers of my mind. The pair of us narrowed the time of our rendez – vous between the years 1979 – 1982. That placed me directly into the era I now refer to as ‘the experimental one ‘. In 1979, I was fourteen and thus began my preparatory lessons into the world of ‘Drugs 101’.

Was I There …?

During that time , in a galaxy far removed from Twitter – there was a band by the name of Sweet

Ballroom Blitz is the name of their biggest hit and the moniker that most people are familiar with. That song continues to be a staple at parties around the globe and I am fortunate to have witnessed its formative years as the tune began its crawl through the corridors of rock history. Are you ready Steve …? Andy …?

For reasons known solely to man or the group’s manager, the band or several members of – were residing at a house in Kirkland, QC. It was my hometown and somehow (it was the experimental years), I managed to end up in the ‘house of the rising sun’ on an evening when the inhabitants were smack dab in the middle of ‘sex , drugs and rock n roll ‘. As I flipped through my past darkly – I did recall ‘taggin’ along with my niece’s boyfriend that evening. He was seven or eight years my senior and for a brief moment – a huge influence on me.

Pete‘ was a favorite of mine. An older brother I never had. He was in a band, he loved sports and most important on the list of Big Brother candidates – he dealt drugs. ‘Pete ‘gave meaning to the phrase ‘money for nothing and chicks for free ‘far before it became fashionable. Pete’s forte, among other weapons, was acid or L.S.D.for the uninitiated.

Mind – altering substances that – according to my Mom, would irrevocably have me behaving as a chicken and thus – launching myself out of windows. The result ? A slow painful death offered from the pavement below. My remains ? Scooped and placed in a bucket for the world of science to dissect and placed on an expedition. ‘A tour ‘ so all teenagers around the globe could witness the ill effects of drugs. (My Mom – if anything  , had a fantastic imagination. Bless her depression – era heart!).

Brian Greenwaywas not sure if he accompanied another member of April Wine to the party that night. I – on the other hand, cannot recall whether the acid was pink, purple or blue microdot. So – his recollection of a fourteen year old – strung – out –on – acid was a tad ‘sketchy’ and my memories of the evening remain a bad episode straight from the DVD collection of I Love Lucy . Yet – who was I to argue with a famous guitarist? If anything –Brian’s yarn gave me a new story to tell. After all – tales of moped rides in hockey rinks, runaway bananas and jeans dancing to a Pink Floyd tune on top of a guitar case will only get you so far…

Business is Business

As I attempted to detach myself from the masses (and TimothyLeary), I informed Mr.Greenwaythat I was not just ‘a pretty face on acid ‘and my current incarnation was that of a rookie journalist. I wondered aloud if an interview -comparable to the one my friend was carrying out as we spoke, could very well be on the horizon for the pair of us. He paused and in a way that made me feel unique – he informed me he was not interested. Apparently, the process had run its course in the life of Brian. It was nothing personal (he was quick to point out) and apologized for the timing of his decision. Nevertheless – I managed to spend a few interesting minutes alone with this man. I discovered – apart from the Sweet incident, backstage in the seventies were what most of us had heard and only a few could imagine.

I deposited my email into his hand in the off chance that one day – his mood would be of a different type. I shook the remaining one and thanked him for his generosity and time. I watched with a hint of jealousy as a blonde woman led him out of the room. Their arms wrapped around one another as they departed under an umbrella of laughter.

I had now crossed paths with two members of a group that had opened for one of the greatest rock bands of all time – the Rolling Stones. Two people that brushed shoulders with my idols and I said nothing!

“Oh well, two down – two to go…”  I reasoned as I downed my drink and poured another.

  “He Was Like a Marionette! “

Tommy Lee , the one – armed dude from Def Leppard  and the ten year old who bangs pots down the hall from me aside – most drummers seem approachable. Appearance –wise, JerryMercer of April Wine lies somewhere in the middle.

When Mr.Mercer is on stage, delivering one of the most recognizable drum solos in Rock n Roll, there is no one that makes a concert more fun and fan friendly. On the other hand – Mercer appears in the image of a biker gone bad.. A shaved head and biceps larger than a small country only lend credence to the type of man that may eat raw meat for breakfast. As a youngster – I recall my original reaction as I analyzed the photo that graced the back cover of Apri l Wine’s Nature of the Beast album.

All of the members – Myles, Brian, Steve Lang and Gary Moffat came across like your ordinary run – of – the –mill rock stars. Myles in a Habs’ jersey; Brian looking every bit the Canadian version of Peter Frampton and Gary and Steve posing in their … well… rock star poses.

Then there was Jerry…

Imposing was the polite way of referring to this mass of drumsticks. He was a cross between Charles Mansonand the wrestler Mad Dog Vachon. An experiment in cloning that included the genes of a Gorilla mixed mistakenly with a mountain man.

An Unexpected Expectation

As I completed my way through the backroom mazes  of Le Spectrum– it was therefore with great consternation that I approached one – half of the battery section in April Wine.

Surprisingly – Mercer is not very tall. I knew that television adds ten pounds to whoever is appearing on it yet it was a revelation to discover that any form of media seemed to inject a foot onto the drummer’s height. He remains intimidating on the first encounter – his torso and arms much the same delirious size as they materialize in photos. His chest seemed content. Ready to deliver murderous bear hugs to anyone that tests its strength.

Mr. Mercer was removing the sweat off a well-deserved performance as I happened by the area in which he dressed. Deer – like, I wedged my suddenly small head into his room and in a tone resembling Pee- Wee Herman – I said hello to the man at the rear of the hard driving sound of April Wine. He did not say good –bye.

Instead of snapping my appendages like dry twigs – Mr. Mercer was as inviting as a Grandmother sitting on the porch on a hot summers ‘ day. The first thing out of his mouth was to warn me that he only had a few minutes to talk as his wife was waiting for him. He motioned for me to come and sit while he continued his post – concert procedures. Part of me was relieved while my other fraction was scared silly of this man. I wanted to have a word yet the fear of ‘pissing him off’ and the repercussions that would surely develop led me to a silent vigil as I sat on the wooden chair.

It’s Only Rock n Roll ( but I like it …)

He asked if I had enjoyed the show and inquired my name. Salutations removed – my nerves settled to the point where words commenced to flow in a more natural state. This time – my questions pertaining to the Stones were on the front burner and I was unwavering when it came time to receive the recipes regarding their success.

I informed him of my status as a huge Stones fan and asked him to decipher his experiences with them. April Wine opened for them in 1977 at the El Mocambo Club in Toronto. It was previous to the Stones releasing their soon – to – be number one selling album Some Girls and its release co – existed with Wine’s most successful album – Nature of the Beast.

Mercer was more than pleased to spin the tales of his brush with greatness. He informed me that he did not speak with Mick, Keith or Ronnie Wood. He did exchange words with the Stones’ drummer and bass player –Charlie   Watts and BillWyman. He went on to say that the pair came as advertised.

The duos were very gracious with Charlie and him exchanging the names of influences.Gene Krupa, Buddy Rich and Mitch Mitchell were a few names admired by both.

These men were heroes to Watts  and Mercer while Stones’ bassist Wyman chimed his agreement. Jerry explained that the Stones had a lot going on. There were people coming and going – the members of the legendary band whisked from room to room. In a way – Mercer gave the impression that being a Rolling Stone was not for him.

The sole time that Mercer and his band mates had any contact with Mick Jagger was before the Stones sound check. April Wine were sitting in their dressing room and preparing for the night’s show. There was a knock on the door. The Stones’ lead singer popped in and placed a basket filled with fruits on the small table placed elegantly in the middle of the room. He thanked the band for being the opening act and as swiftly as he appeared – he was gone. Still – Mercer seemed generally pleased that Mick Jagger found the time to do something nice like that.

As for Mr. Keith Richards– Mercer informed me th at various times throughout the day, the Stones’ guitarist could be seen wandering about. According to Mercer‘s first hand account; “Keith was like a marionette! Just when he looked like he was about to fall down – he would pick himself up again! “Mercer went on to say; “Keith certainly lived up to his reputation!”

Ronnie Wood also lived up to his status. Mercer says that Ronnie was constantly on the move – beer frequently in hand and smiling all the time. “He was very much the court jester and if you saw him andKeith together, you could not help but wonder if they were able to perform later on…?” 

It was later on when Jerry discovered a tremendous appreciation for the Rolling Stones.

“We (AprilWine) were sitting in the club and watching them (the Stones) get ready for their sound check. Everyone except Mick Jagger was on stage and it was just chaos! Missed chords, sloppy changes, you name it – it was bad! Then – Mick arrives!  He walked onto the stage and said something to his mates . To this day – I have yet to see a band come together so fast and tight! I have so much respect for them after witnessing that! Fun was fun but when it came time for business – the Stones outdo everyone. There is a reason why they have outlasted most of their contemporaries!”

Jimmy Clench

I gained so much in the few minutes that I spent with Mr. Mercer I felt as if I had made a friend.

Jerry has a way of doing that…” I was informed later on in the two brief minutes that I spoke with the band’s bass player Jim Clench.

Clench was on his way out when I met him in the hallway. At first – it was depressing knowing that I would not be able to get any more Stones quotes. Then I realized that Clench was not with the band at the El Mocambo gig. He had quit the band in the  seventies and after stints with Randy Bachman’s group BTO and an appearnce on Brian Adams’ debut album – Jim re – joined Wine in their newest incarnation. Little was I aware –  ten short years after meeting the man – Jim Clench would be dead from lung cancer at the age of sixty – one.

I found my friend sitting outside the club and we exchanged stories over a few drinks at another bar. By the time I got home- the kids were crying and not even Muddy could soothe their woes. It was six o’clock when my eyes shut and in three short hours – I would have to go to work.

Somehow – it all seemed worth it …

To be continued ….

Have a band or want publicity as a solo artist? Contact me at

Roger Walls Showcases his new CD! Midnight Ride

As the lead trumpet player for the Duke Ellington Orchestra to the same role with Garou‘s band; The Untouchables …

Roger Walls has seen and heard everything. 

All this experience is parlayed into Walls’ new C.D Midnight Ride. The album is a collection of eleven original recordings based on his fifty years on the road and in the studio.

According to Roger, the album was created by his experiences touring abroad. Japan, Brazil and all of Europe are ingredients to a flavorful stew of Jazz styles.

Want funky blues along the lines of Art Blakey and Freddie Hubbard? Soon come young blues, the centerpiece of the album – is the tune to light up your toes and ignite your soul. The song has been a staple on 91.9 Planete Jazz for six months and reached number one on the Planete Jazz and Reverbnation charts. It remained on top for a year on Reverbnation.

Roger and his six piece band are showcasing the CD on the 25th of May 2012 at Bar St. Denis.  For a great evening of Jazz – join Roger along with some of the best jazz musicians in Montreal.

Roger Walls and Tony Bennett

Stay tuned for a feature story about Roger’s life …

To get a taste of Roger’s music check him out with the Duke Ellington Orchestra!

Witness the recording of the new CD – Midnight Ride

Rogers’ life in pictures!

Roger Walls’ Mini Big Band

Have a band or want publicity as a solo artist? Contact me at

Just Between You and Me

 Le ‘Set – Up ‘

Toting a box of beer up a flight of stairs on a Saturday morning led to an encounter that would shape the rest of my life. Who knew?


Ste Anne de Bellevue – In the Summertime…

I was toiling as a waiter in a restaurant named Cajun Blues. The establishment was the ‘outcast ‘among the several bars and restaurants situated in the picturesque town of Ste. Anne de Bellevue, QC. The reason for the leper – like treatment? The business did not possess a terrace on the waterfront and that absence left a void in the town’s visitors as they arrived to eat.

Ste. Anne be Bellevue is a community that thrives on the promise of the summer sun. The view of the sun’s rays reflecting off waves rooted by the variations of ships and boats is an integral part of the town’s survival. The countless photo -ops are a welcome sight for the lunch and supper crowd that flock to the boardwalk. A ‘luxurious dock ‘ that lays nestled on the western – most tip of the Island of Montreal and remains an attractive location for families , lovers and loners. For some – a mixture of all three. If Mama Nature cooperates, the customers grin while money rains directly into the pocket books of the establishments’ owners. If the matriarch of green decides otherwise – the terraces are as vacant as the property owners’ gas tanks.

            Regardless of the Cajun Blues’lack of such a beautiful image, Saturday night at the eatery was jumping.  Aside from Cajun food staples such as

All Night Long …

Louisiana Mud Pie, Chicken Creole and Jambalaya – the singular item that enticed visitors to fill the clubs’ cozy atmosphere was an eclectic selection of live music.

As the stars and the moon danced high in the darkened sky – invited musicians orchestrated the pairs’ celestial moves with a catalogue of grooves both real and imagined.  Blues was on the dessert menu one evening while an additional soiree wound up crammed with the crisp sounds of a drummer – a ‘ cat ‘ as cool as a northern breeze keeping time among a trio of Jazz musicians as they delivered ‘ last  call ‘ to welcoming applause.

The subsequent week – Reggae was the ‘le soup du jour ‘. The clubs’ patrons would drain their ‘bowls ‘and in the process, fill up their palates with love and joy. Once the main course of unity was completed, the partiers made love to their drinks while the sweet sounds of Marley and Tosh provided a message of hope. The sort of memo that passed spontaneously throughout the crowd and a post – it note Mr.Marley would have permitted.

Rock – a – Bye – Muddy …

It was a unique three months for me as I spent evenings creating new friends and  mornings producing friendship with my two small children .Francesca Emerald Amanda and Owen David Randall remain the beneficiaries of a Father completed by his love for music. Not a day passed without their Dad cooing them to sleep. Lyrics penned by Muddy Waters, Willie Dixon and Louis Armstrong became our lullabies as the virgin eyes on their softened faces closed into dreams of innocence.

These are the memories that stay firmly planted as seeds in the lawn of my soul .Landscaping created for a new generation. Seeds that will spread from my kids – to their very own.

–  Le ‘Show ‘-

        As my head ached and my ears called for silence, I carried the bottles of beer from the basement and placed the crate upon the bar. Standing there, I recalled the previous evenings’ adventures with a smile. This made my head hurt even more …

I had attended a concert by the Canadian rock band AprilWine. A friend and fellow journalist had invited me to join him. ‘ Tagging ‘  along meant the opportunity to not only see the show – a backstage visit was part of the itinerary as my friend was concocting an interview with lead songwriter and singer  – Myles Goodwyn.

The group was one of my many favorites as the suburbs of Montreal nurtured me from adolescence to teen. You Won’t Dance with Me, Oowatanite , Roller , Rock n Roll is a Vicious Game and Just Between You and Me were staples of my teen years and just a few of the hits by the legendary rock band.

April Wine – Then …

I had seen them live a handful of times between the ages of fifteen and twenty and once – I was fortunate enough to enjoy their arena show three times in one-week Toronto on Saturday, Peterborough on Wednesday and Montreal once more on the following Saturday. It was a threesome of the non – sexual type yet sensually pleasing.

The trio of shows wrought envy from the mouths of all my male fellow rock n rollers in the late seventies and for a brief moment in time – I was the coolest person amongst my peers. The boys were jealous yet the ‘chicks ‘dug me. Rock N Roll may be a vicious game but sex is the ultimate trophy to the victors!

So here I was – all these years later, with an opportunity to sing along to the tunes of my youth in the small confines of Le Spectrum .It was an exit on the highway of music I would notbe missing.

An Intimate Engagement

Wine – circa 2001

Time had passed since the days of the band selling out the Montreal Forum. The group had actually broken up for a few years in the late eighties only to re-form in the nineties. They continue touring on a smaller level as they play their music to loyal fans in Canada and the United States. The hits are no longer written by the formerly – proficient Goodwyn yet an arsenal containing songs such as Say Hello , I Like to Rock , Sign of the Gypsy Queen and Weepin Widow were more than enough to carry these former teenagers into the twi –light of their lives and career.

The show and tunes that evening were what I had come to expect from the foursome. High-octane rock performed with conviction at decibels alarming to some. Hit after hit brought grown men and women to their feet. Powerful anthems punctuated by tearful ballads lay witness to a new generation as they writhed in appreciation of the band’s efforts. The line – up consisting of Myles on guitar and vocals , Brian Greenway  on guitar , the late Jim Clench on bass and the powerful Jerry Mercer on drums – did not disappoint the most cynical concert go – er. It was a wonderful summer evening under a cloud of nostalgia.

‘ A High Roller Baby …!’

The show ended with an exclamation point. The song Roller, arguably the band’s biggest hit, was the encore and it whipped the predominant forty – something crowd into frenzy. Everyone it seemed knew the song and there was not a quiet voice in the house as the band elongated the distance of their watermark tune.

The song finished and the group exited the stage to deafening applause. The words; ‘She’s a high roller baby ‘were sung in unison as the throng of people made their way past the exits and onto the streets of downtown Montréal. The lyrics’ High roller baby ‘continued as they echoed through vacant buildings and began eking out a new found existence in a city they once owned.

It was now the time for me to get excited.

A behind – the – curtains visit was not only exciting for the privilege of meeting rock icons, the rendez- vous was also an opportunity for me to discover a few words from the men that had met my idols – the Rolling Stones.

“Going back stage is exciting. Regardless of how many times it has happened. “Annie Liebowitz


The entrance alone is usually long and dark followed by a door or curtain guarded closely by a security guard or personnel. A flash of a pass, a nod of a head and suddenly you have elapsed into unknown territory. You are privileged. Depending on the star or stars, thousands and sometimes millions of people are separated from you .Physically and emotionally you have obtained a realm that some may only dream of reaching in their paramount fantasies.

Once, twice or a hundred times – the heart always beats a little faster when a crowd is left behind the curtain at a Rock n Roll show.  Terrence Mann may have had the same awareness as he approached the cornfields in the movie adaptation of the novel Shoeless Joe. Field of Dreams is the name of the film and is there a better way to identify the feelings of disappearing back – stage? Not quite …

Behind the Scenes …

On this evening – a curtain in lieu of a door was my gateway to knowledge and (if lucky) – a few beers. As my partner and I navigated the maze of rooms and people, we remained on the look – out for the subject of my colleague’s interrogation. We discovered Mr.Goodwynin a concrete room conspicuous with its absence of color. He was speaking to a couple of young women as he rested alongside a table outfitted with food. My friend introduced himself and promptly thanked Myles for the opportunity given to not only him – myself as well.

Just Between Myles and Me …

Myles Goodwyn

Myles was aloof and maintained a tone of aristocracy as I extended my hand to his. Habitually, I own the ability to garner good judgment of people. I did not like Myles in the first minute of our meeting and if my children and dog were by my side – I remain confident they would have had the very same feeling. Regardless if Mr.Goodwyn had shaken my hand – my feelings would not have changed.

Arrangements between my friend and Goodwyn to disappear into an atmosphere more fitting for a one – on – one discussion were completed. The lead vocalist informed me to help myself to whatever beverages and food I discovered. Since he made no mention of the women – I assumed they were also ‘up for grabs ‘!

I  asked him where I could unearth the remaining members of the band and he pointed down the hall, toward the loud noise. The ‘ noise ‘was the sound of the many ‘back stagers ‘who seemed to be enjoying themselves a lot more than I was. The fact that I was soon to be part of their ruckus –  made the departure from my friend much more tolerable.

The 1970’s – Comfortably Numb

As I watched the two disappear, I understood – from this point forward, the evening could possibly conclude in many variations. It depended on which choices I would make in the ensuing couple of hours and just how much I wanted to re – live the late seventies. Since I do not recall much of the late seventies, I walked down the hall with an ear toward a sinful evening.  The ‘good angel ‘and the ‘bad angel ‘had quite the ‘heated discussion’ as they sat opposite one another on each of my shoulders . I entered a room and approached the walls of people …

To be continued …