Malcolm Bruce took time to speak of his band and what a band it is. Bruce is the son of legendary bass player Jack Bruce (Cream) and together with Eric Clapton’s nephew (Will Johns) and Ginger Baker’s son Kobi – the trio are paying homage to Cream. But wait. it is not what you think. No cash grab here. In the words of Malcolm; ‘Most people know my Dad for Cream and that only lasted a couple of years. My job is to spread the generous legacy and body of work of my late dad.’
The Proclaimersstopped by Montreal and amazed everyone with their songwriting skills. I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles) is the song everyone loves but it is the Zombie-esque harmonies that set them apart and allow the twins to continue their musical path. One of a few bands that get stronger as the show goes on.
Colin James took time out to chat about his new disc. Miles To Go is a throwback of the old Blues tunes that enamored the young James in the first place. James is continuing the trend among older Rockers ( Myles Goodwyn, The Stones, Randy Bachman) to pay homage to the Blues greats and release a Blues cover CD.
Lindsay Beaver is a Nova Scotia native current;y absorbing her Blues / Country / Rockabilly chops in Nashville. Lindsay spoke of her first CD and subsequent American tour. A Canadian making waves as a songwriter, singer and drummer. Alligator record top man has personally embraced Lindsay which saying quite a bit.
Black Mountain Whiskey Rebellionreleased a song (Holy Smoke) which is an indication of what very cool stuff is coming. Rather than release an EP or album – the band will be showcasing their stuff one song at a time. Not to be greedy but to market themselves. Their sound is a purposeful Muscle Shoalsone and that live on the floor feeling knocks your socks off. Once you listen – all the ‘star’ bands in Montreal crumple with weakness.
Blues veteran Jack DeKeyzertook time to chat about his homage album to the Blues’ greats. Checkmateis the name of the disc and Jack is in fine form as he covers some of the greatest tunes in not only Blues history – Rock as well.
How many people do you know that sell out stadiums and are the King ( musically) of their Country and then throw it all away for integrity?
Senri Oeof Japan is that guy. He was the darling of K Pop in Japan and was the Country’s equivalent of Michael Jackson. Senri loves Jazz so he moved to America and went back to school to learn his Jazz chops. How cool is that ?
2018 continued in August where it left off in July.
George Thorogood was back in Quebec for the second time in three months. Trois Rivieres en Blues was the setting this time around and the swagger returned. Thorogood was ‘safe’ at Place des Arts in Montreal and in Trois Rivieres; he discarded the condoms. Rock n Roll is dangerous and Lonesome George delivered.
Global Bluestrotter Harry Manxreleased an album with Canada’s best harp player Steve Marriner on board and Harry took time to chat about it. Marriner – fresh off touring with Colin James, adding an ingredient to Manx’ genius which complimented Harry’s style without taking anything away. Manx never sounded better.
TV’s Survivorman Les Stroudchatted about his new disc. A surprisingly sound album complete with menacing riffs and acute songwriting. Stroud’s insight into the environment taking control of the lyrics and musically, a blend of Neil Young and Bruce Cockburn took place. A brilliant disc.
The lead singer of The Guess Who, Derek Sharp took time to discuss the first new Guess Who album in twenty years. Sharp (also the husband of Sass Jordan) co-wrote half of the tracks and co produced the album. A throwback Rock n Roll disc with swing. A relief in this day and age and proving once and for all – the ‘ old guys’ know how to do it …
Continuing The Guess Who trend – guitarist and producer Will Evankovich spoke of the new album and his role as principle songwriter. Will, a relative newcomer to the band, provided old school mentalities and astute precision to an album that was recorded on analog equipment. Will is hot considering he also co-wrote and produced Styx’ latest album The Mission.
Continuing the Canadian Blues legacy is one Spencer Mackenzie. The young lad from Ontario has already won New Artist of The Year at The Maple Blues Awards and his album’s musicianship is far above his age in quality. A must see prodigy live if there ever was one. Buy Spencer’s new disc Cold November and support Canadian artists.
The Montreal International Jazz Festival got underway and this year was a great mix for fans of all genres.
Gary Petersen– the original drummer for The Guess Who (and a man who started drumming before Rock n Roll’s heyday) took some time out to chat about his career and the future of The Guess Who. Petersen has never stopped playing for the band (he owns the name) and along with his mates; the first brand new Guess Who album in twenty years hit the shelves in September. An educational chat for sure.
Lonesome George Thorogood took time to chat following the release of his first ever solo album (Party Of One) and previous to his show at The Montreal Jazz Festival and Trois Rivieres en Blues.
The word legend is tossed about too easily these days but not in George’s case. He started his career busking and within three years opened for Muddy Waters and The Rolling Stones.
Not too shabby.
Sometimes the apple does not fall far from the tree.
Mary -Lynn Doroschuk just happens to be the daughter of Stefan Doroschuk (Men Without Hats). Mary-Lynn has a new band called Wave 21. A Country -Alt unit filled with catchy tunes and classy riffs. A Montreal group to keep your ears on. A Montreal band that will only get bigger.
Joan Jett graced Place Bell along with Tesla and Styx.
Jett as powerful as ever with Punky licks and attitude while Tesla catered to the more Heavy minded fans in attendance. Styx – making their fourth appearance in Quebec in the past seven years commanded even more respect than before. They were hot and the night lasted longer than any Grand Illusion.
If Beth Hart stayed home and sang lullabies to her kids, the world would be a much sadder place.
Hart and her trio were in Montreal for The Jazz Festival and Beth stole the hearts of everyone. Telling stories of her very dysfunctional upbringing between soaring vocals and soft balladry – Place des Arts was on the verge of a collective hanky giveaway.
On this planet – no female singer can reach into their souls so deep and raise the roof so high within a song. Multiply that by fifteen tunes and see how tired you are from a Beth Hart show.
Boz was here as part of The Jazz Festival and what a surprise musician he turned out to be. Unless you were / are a huge fan or came from a certain decade, Boz (to the general music world) was a two hit wonder. Like many musicians from the 70s and even the 80s, the limelight and success don’t go hand in hand. Boz has more talent playing, singing and producing/ arranging than about 75% of those with hits before or since. Put that in your hat and smoke it.
Jordan Officeropened up for George Thorogood at Place des Arts as part of The Jazz Festival and blew the roof off the joint. Officer has turned the corner in his Blues comeback and had George’s Destroyers shaking in their boots. Trois Rivieres is Jordan’s latest record and it will be considered the turning point in a soon too be mammoth career.
Easily the concert of the year in Montreal.
Lee’s husband / musical mentor Richard passed away the morning of her Jazz Festival show and for most artists – the plug would have been pulled. Not only did Ranee perform, she outperformed any of the numerous award winning shows she had done before. Emotions were high (the crowd knew of the circumstances) yet Ranee used the emotion to grow stronger with each song. The concert will go down as one of the greatest in Montreal music history.
Half way through the year – the music kept coming.
The folks at The Montreal International Jazz Festival announced their line up and the stage was set ( so to speak).
Jann Arden was in town and at this point in her musical career – she is the Elton John of Canadian women.
The hits and the magic within new tunes are gone and she is relying on her past glories to fill joints around the Country. Thankfully, she is a very funny woman and the banter alone is worth half the price of admission. Add the hits from twenty years ago – you get fully what you paid for.
East of Sunday – Carvin Jones
Blues guitarist extraordinaire Carvin Jones made his first appearance in Montreal and local band East of Sunday opened up.
Jones is a monster on guitar and his showmanship – second to none. Think Buddy Guy without the powerful voice. East of Sunday are poised to take the Montreal Rock throne away from The Damn Truth. Look out this coming summer as both Carvin and East of Sunday will hit the road with heat.
Paul Young / Midge Ure
Paul Young was one of the biggest stars of the 1980’s video wave and Ure co-wrote Do They Know It’s Christmas for Band Aid. Ure was also the leader of Ultravox and a member of Thin Lizzy among other things.
Ure and Young held a double bill at Club Soda and only one showed up.
Ure was fine as he gained strength with his tunes – hits and all. Young, on the other hand was, well … old. Paul stumbled through a set continually struggling to hit notes and stay in key. When he did get in sync – his voice was weak. A sign of the end or an off night? Things that make you go hmmm …
Dr. Lonnie Smith
The good doctor ( the most sought after Hammond B3 player in all genres) put on a clinic at Le Gesu. Fifty years in the spotlight and recording with the who is who of music has enabled Smith to assume command over the audience, his band-mates and his instrument. Anyone who witnesses a Smith performance – is blessed.
Conductor Demirjian sat down and spoke of his upcoming Montreal gig with Dreamworks Animation. The gig is a full orchestra playing the soundtrack live of DreamWorks classics such as Shrek and How To Train Your Dragon.
In the beginning of cinema, live orchestras were the only form of sound for a viewing audience. To witness and hear the experience in 2018 is a welcome change to digital dust.
Cecile Mclorant- Salvant
The second best female singer walking the planet ( Lisa Fischer would be first) put on a lesson in vocals. Adding all the great ingredients from all the great Jazz ladies ( Holiday, James, Fitzgerald) and her own unique voice, Salvant is the driver. Complete command of everything and she is’ just starting out’. A must see concert if you must see.
If there ever was a female artist who did all for ‘art’s sake’- it is Gainsbourg. The actress / composer / songwriter / singer / writer / painter and poet lays all her emotions on her sleeve.
Her show at MTelus was not for the non intellects. Combining electronica and common place rythym with her piano sensibility is mesmerizing to the punters. Her fan base is devoted, loyal and safe to say; artistic.
Twelve months have come and gone quicker than a man / woman looking for a one night stand. That’s what happens when music is in the air and in your soul.
Let’s take a look back shall we? Let us revisit the musical past of 2018.
Steve Hill finally released a live album after nine studio albums. He wanted to make sure it was done right and being the perfectionist Steve is – the delay came as no surprise. Check out the album; The One-Man Blues Rock Band, it’s a must have for Steve Hill fans.
The Box, one of the most successful bands to come from Quebec, returned with a brand new EP titled Take Me Home. Jean Marc Pisapia, the singer and songwriter for The Box,gave a three part interview about his career and the new EP. Very insightful if you are a fan of the eighties and Canadian music history.
Jim Cuddy of Blue Rodeo fame was in town with his side project The Jim Cuddy Band. Their performance at the Corona which included Jim’s two sons and Barney Bentall – blew some Canadian wind into the joint. Cuddy’s down to earth charm combined with an elite backing band was just what the music scene needed. Blue Rodeo ain’t got nothing on these guys and girls.
One of the co – founders of April Wine, Jim Henman, has been affected by the senseless shootings south of the border. He was so profoundly moved by the acts of violence – he wrote a song.
The song ‘Some of These Children’is a poignant and stirring take on events that have affected everyone. Parents, teachers, relatives and the entire world.
Jim Henman is donating fifty percent of all sales from the song to The Boys And Girls Club of Greater Halifax.This is a start to not only help the kids in Nova Scotia – to also send a message globally that us humans have had enough.
The Brooks resume includes opening up for The Doobie Brothers and Kool and The Gang. Two huge blowouts at the Montreal International Jazz Festival are also easy on the ears on a rhythmic C.V.
In May – the band (and what seemed like the entire city of Montreal), raised the roof at L’Astral and cemented their position as this city’s soon-to-be next Arcade Fire on the global scene.
April Wine’s Brian Greenway sat down and spoke of his career with April Wine and what came before. Bands such as The Wackersand The Dudes along with tales of playing at the historic Maples Inn before Myles Goodwyn grabbed him for super-stardom. Brian also spoke of his side project The Blues Bus with former Wine guitarist Gary Moffett.
Up and coming guitar player Paolo Stantereleased his third album; At It Again. The most complete recording of his career and cementing his position as one of the top ten guitar players in Quebec and Montreal.
In a music galaxy far, far away – a Canadian band altered the airwaves and sent Canada into an entirely different universe.
Crack of Dawn were the first black band to be signed to a major label (CBS) in Canada. Otis Redding’s producer discovered them and the band sold more albums than Earth, Wind and Fire in Canada. They were headed for stardom yet they disappeared.
In 2018 – they released a new album and started touring again. Proving once and for all – you can teach an old dog new tricks as long as the tricks are old.
April Wine co founder Jim Henmanwas in the news yet again. He recorded an album with his family. Something he wanted to do for a long while and finally finished it before it ‘is too late’.The Henman Family Albumis a delightful listen with all ten kids doing their musical thing.
Lawrence Gowan of Styx took time out to chat once again. Speaking with Larry, Lawrence or Gowan is always a history lesson and a lot of fun. The interview was a precursor to Styx’ appearance with Joan Jettand Tesla at Place Bell in Laval.
The League of Rockenlisted some local rock stars including Brian Greenway ( April Wine) and Corey Diabo( Jonas and The Massive Attraction) to coach musicians who normally just play in their basements. It is an event which showcases talent and at the same time, gives an opportunity for the players to hit a stage in front of a live audience for maybe the first and last time in their lives.
Local songwriter and guitar player Justin Saladinoreleased his album A Fool’s Heart. It was a coming of age for the young West Islander and music teacher. His vocals – a weak point before, came into fruition and the album cemented Justin’s place among the best in Montreal.
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In the big scheme of things, very few people saw Genesis live in their orginal formation.
Before fans knew it – Peter Gabriel was gone and shortly after, Steve Hackett followed. Fans of the original material who missed out on the theatrics and brilliant musicianship of the original line -up live were out of luck.
Out of luck until the Quebec – formed Musical Boxtook matters into their own hands and recreated the early years with precision. The Musical Box are the only Genesis Tribute band to be supported by the members of Genesis themselves.
They are that good.
Following twenty five years as the top Genesis tribute act – the members have decided to change things up a bit. An extravaganza is on the way …
Please listen below to my chat with the musical director and the ‘Mike Rutherford’ of The Musical Box, Sebastien Lamothe.
Canadian Walk of Fame and Canadian Music Hall of Fame member Andy Kim has many friends in the music business. Many of whom hold Andy in such high esteem – they will follow him anywhere.
Saturday night at The Corona Theater, some of those friends arrived in Montreal to participate in the fifth annual Andy Kim Christmas. A musical event which raises money for The Starlight Children’s Foundation. Broken Social Scene, La Force and Ron Sexsmith made the train trip from Toronto and joined some very talented Quebecers.
Marie – Mai, Coeur de Pirate, Hanorah, Brad Barr and Jake Clemons (the nephew of Clarence Clemons and a current resident of Montreal) welcomed Andy et al with Christmas bells on their toes. The scene was set for a night of giving.
Toronto comic Sean Cullen led the way with brilliant comedy aimed at Montreal from a Torontarian-point-of-view. Cullen, disregarding the MeToo movement (and pretty much all taboo subjects) exchanging barbs and wit with local emcee – CJAD’s Aaron Rand. The pauses between tunes; as unique as the tunes themselves.
In between Andy Kim singing his songs Rainbow Ride, Rock Me Gently and Sugar Sugar – the ‘stars’ of the show donated Folk, Country, Pop, Blues and Rock n Roll. There was something for everyone from the toe-tapping in-your-face Clemons’ Saxophone to La Force’s balladry. From Barr’s profound lyrical social conscience to Marie-Mai’s soulful Blues.
Concerts and music shows usually draw an audience of critics. Scribes ready at the drop of a hat to praise or destroy a performance. The Andy Kim Christmas Show somehow manages to remove all pens and all harshness. The spirit of the season and the generosity of the artists transcend reality. Music is performed and accepted the way it should be.
The Andy Kim Christmas show in Montreal even managed to draw Elvis to the building. The presence of the non-intentional (and vocal) look-a-like in the audience, adding magic to an already magical night. Cullen and Rand – taking the opportunity to include Elvis in their jabs every chance they had.
Canadian music is alive and well. Only a few of them were on a stage Saturday night that in the past has drawn artists such as Pagliaro, Roch Voisine and Sam Roberts. The Andy Kim Christmas Show is growing every year and attracting an array of diverse musical talent.
Who will be here next year? Andy Kim and whoever else decides to join him and pay it forward.