For the Western Canadian band The Sheepdogs – that is precisely what they are doing. And – doing it well.
When Rolling Stone magazine proclaims you as the band to watch out for, that is a lot of pressure. Judging from their performance at MTelus on a double bill with Montreal’s own The Damn Truth, the pressure appears to be in their favor. The crowd, the ultimate judges of success, was numerous and safe to say; satisfied customers on Saturday morning.
Following a powerful set from The Damn Truth, The Sheepdogs took the stage with pomp. The ceremony came after as the fans adjusted to the much different sound of the two bands on display. The Sheepdogs – much more grounded in Country and Pop to go with their Southern Rock n Roll. While The Damn Truth are in your face (take it or leave it), The Sheepdogs cater to the masses.
Who?, I’ve Got a Hole Where My Heart Should Be and Saturday Night started the twine rolling and from there on in – a simple matter of being strung along with good musicianship and catchy songwriting took precedent.
Ewan and Shamus Currie, Ryan Gullen and Sam Corbett are the men whose collaborations are grounded deeply in ‘roots’ music. Feel good tunes which are rich in traditional sounds. Bluegrass, Country, Folk and Blues. Easy going type stuff with an ingredient which is sorely missing these days in music. Storytelling. The Allman Brothers had it, CCR had it and so do The Sheepdogs. The knack for touching souls musically and lyrically. The knack of (figuratively) touching real people.
The set list is ripe with tales that add a connection to the fans (aka everybody). Human relations via words via truthful emotions. Relating to ‘stars’ on stages (and magazine covers) bridges the gap and increases bonds. Through songs such as Southern Dreaming, Kiss the Brass Ring, Up in Canada right until their mega hit encores – The Sheepdogs provide reliability. Meaningful thoughts build throughout and explode in a joyous singalong with the encore I Don’t Know. Good bands play – great bands let their fans ride a roller coaster live.
For the fans of Rock n Roll in Montreal – watching The Damn Truth emerge from seedlings in the garden of Montreal music has been – thus far, satisfactory. Yet in the immortal words of one of Rock music’s founding fathers; “I can’t get no …”
Obtaining ‘satisfaction’ as a Rock outfit is beyond reach if you take your craft seriously. Perfection is striven for yet always just out of a finger’s touch. That is the ingredient which separates bands with success and those without. Constantly working hard.
Montreal’s The Damn Truth have had more success in the Montreal Rock n Roll scene than anyone in the past five years. Touring with ZZ Top and opening for Styx – just two achievements reached. Working with top level producers and engineers; a couple more pats on the back. The latest notch in their guitar straps? Touring Quebec with the critically acclaimed band The Sheepdogs.
In 2012, the CD Dear in The Headlights was released. It was the beginning of numerous radio appearances and live shows which introduced the band to Montreal and eventually; the world. It was the beginning of introducing Lee -La Baum’s infectious energy and chameleon-like vocals. It was the start of showcasing Tom Shemerr’s raw piercing guitar riffs and groundbreaking solos. Drummer Dave Traina’s hard driving beats and unique rhythms a la Bonham. Newcomer PY Letellier on bass – grounds it all in slightly sloppy, groovy vehicule. All in all, the city of Montreal was introduced to a talented Rock outfit with an endless amount of work ethic and hunger.
Fast forward to MTeluson a cold January evening 2019 – nothing has changed onstage. The Damn Truth still perform as if it was their very first show and their musical life ( career) depended on the outcome. Success has not reached the ears of the band. If it has, then their love and passion for what they do – easily dismisses the accolades as a monkey dismisses a fly.
Whether pounding out tunes such as I Want You (He’s a Lightweight)or Kinda Awkward from their rookie CD to new tracks off their 2016 album Devlish Folk– one thing remains the same; the fans’ reaction.
There is something in the air when The Damn Truth play their hometown. It is beyond hometown support and /or love. It is beyond great tunes. It is superior to a Rock show. What The Damn Truth bring to the stage (aside from energy) is honesty. Integrity oozes through their sweat and into the first row. From there, like an epidemic – it is passed throughout the venue. The most jaded of music fans cannot dodge the bite of the band’s vicious and truthful fangs.
In this day and age of auto-tune, loops and programmed music, The Damn Truth are throwbacks to an era when music mattered more than the money. The days like the Fillmore West when the East Coast Blues, Funk and Country guys met and blended with the California music scene. The days (and nights) when those musicians talked about creativity and making great music. The days when bands played for the fans from the heart.
An audience cannot be fooled. An audience knows when a performer is real or calling it in. An audience knows authenticity. The Damn Truth are the real deal and that is why the audiences grow larger and larger at The Damn Truth shows.
I Want To Know What Love Is, Cold As Ice,Juke Box Heroand so many hits embedded into the souls of music fans of all genres.
The legendary rock band have a tour which is coming to Montreal on
March 12th !
Foreigner’s 18-city tour launches in Vancouver on February 22nd and rocks across Canada as the band – Mick Jones (lead guitar), Kelly Hansen (lead vocals), Tom Gimbel(rhythm guitar, sax, vocals), Jeff Pilson(bass, vocals), Michael Bluestein (keyboards), Bruce Watson (guitar) and Chris Frazier (drums) – bring Foreigner’s arsenal of hits to Canada.
Please listen below to my chat with multi-instrumentalist Tom Gimbel.Aside from his current job – Tom once toured with Van Halen as their sax player. Who knew?
William Burton – Le Réveil
Regroupement artistique francophone de l’Alberta (RAFA) – Nouveau Monde
Le R Premier – Planète Urbaine
Buzz Fortin – Session Buzz Fortin
Étienne Fletcher – Chérie, Chéri (réalisation : little jack films et brandon white)
Jacobus – Ma vie c’est un movie (réalisation : STEREO Films)
Marie-Clo – Taudis (réalisation : Groupe Média TFO)
Rayannah – En attendant demain (réalisation : Rayannah)
Shawn Jobin – Éléphant (réalisation : Xavier MC / Vandales)
23. Présence web
Les Rats d’Swompe
24. Conception visuelle
Aya Gano et Jeff Homère pour LeFLOFRANCO – Retranscrire
Christian Pelletier pour Mclean – Une dernière fois
Christian Pelletier et Marc Étienne Mongrain pour Damien Robitaille – Univers Parallèles
Élodie Evanno et Gabrielle Dubois pour Moonfruits – Ste-Quequepart
Gaëtan Vëno Joachim pour YAO – Lapsus
25. Réalisation et arrangements
Loig Morin pour Loig Morin – La Rivière
Mario Lepage pour Shawn Jobin – Éléphant
Mark Howard pour Cindy Doire – Panorama
Olivier Fairfield pour Marie-Clo – Faune
Olivier Fairfield et Simon Jutras pour Mclean – Une dernière fois
26. Prise de son et mixage
Don Benedictson pour Ariane Mahrÿke Lemire – Je deviens le loup
Don Benedictson pour Suzanne Kennelly – Suzanne Kennelly Jazz
Frédéric Levac et Marc-Antoine Joly pour Céleste Lévis – Donne-moi le temps
Loig Morin pour Loig Morin – La Rivière
Sébastien Perry et Stéphane Rancourt pour Mclean – Une dernière fois
27. Émission musicale télé ou web
Balade – Machine Gum Productions
Balade à Toronto IV – Machine Gum Productions
FrancoMusique – Roch et Catherine Archambault
Session Buzz Fortin – Buzz Fortin
Suivez-moi – Sabine Daniel Productions
36 Mille – Mathilde Hountchégnon
Intello-Productions inc. – Yaovi Hoyi
JKB Communications – José Bertrand
LaFab Musique – Michel Bénac– Nathalie Kleinschmit
Centre Culturel Frontenac
Festival du Bois – Centre francophone de Maillardville
Festival Edmonton chante
Le Centre culturel francophone de Vancouver
Enzo Carniel House of Echo / Florian Pellissier Quintet invite Roger Raspail / Bibi Tanga & The Selenites
L’Astral (Maison du Festival)
JAZZ ALL-YEAR ROUND
January 10th Taurey Butler Trio at 7pm.
People often comment on Taurey Butler’s resemblance to the young Oscar Peterson, in appearance as well as his winning combination of hard swing and melodic invention. Gratifying as it may be, he backs away from the compliment. There’s only one Oscar, he says. But there is no question that the one Oscar Peterson had a profound effect on Taurey’s life and his music.
Snooky was born in Norfolk, Virginia and raised in a small city called Woonsocket in Rhode Island. At the early age of 6, he began humming and singing songs to his mother while keeping the drumming beat going with his mouth. Even then, at that young age, music was in his bones. So, his journey began into the wonderful world of drumming. Upon arrival in Montreal, Quebec, he met an extremely talented and well known performer by the name of Freddy James. He later became his drummer and back-up vocalist in his dance R&B band, known as Fusion 3. For the next 6 to 7 years, they toured Japan, Africa, USA and Canada.
When the Freddy James era was over, he continued to successfully perform in night clubs, gospel choirs, and worked with other great musicians in studios. By the spring of 2010 he stayed in Montreal to work and finish writing another CD. He started playing regularly at the House of Jazz with Geraldine Hunt: His quartet,Snooksta and The Gangstas – became one of the headliners at the House of Jazz.
Dweezil Zappa, son of Frank – stopped by to chat about his upcoming Montreal show and the legacy of his Father. Given the notoriety of Frank Zappa’s humor in music and lyrics, it was interesting to hear Dweezil’s take on everything not funny. The genius of Frank as a guitar player, a writer, a producer and an engineer taking forefront of the chat. Zappa’s tune Bobby Brown was the summation of all parts for Dweezil noting that song was a Top Ten hit in Europe while North America banned it from radio play. Says Dweezil; ‘It was the most requested song on Valentine’s Day and at College and high school dances.’
Maybe it is time North America relaxed?
Local nurse Chantal Guimondreleased her dreams.
A Blues and Rock fan her entire life, Chantal put out a CD with covers of her favorite tunes as well as a couple of originals. Combined with a great backing band and a fantastic vocal range – Chantal ( who is retiring soon) has a nice career in front of her. Judging by the reaction of her first live appearance – sick people may have a different location to go and get healed.
Angela Harris took time to chat about her new album; A Woman Like Me.It is one of the purest ‘rootsy’ albums released in the past ten years in Canada. Combining Country, Folk and Rock with a powerful voice – Angela may be the most talented singer and songwriter in Canada. And – she has only really just begun.
Speaking of talented singer and songwriters – Barbra Lica is up to her tricks again. This time – Lica made a wrong turn and ended up putting out a superb Country disc. She went to a songwriter’s convention without knowing the folks who were putting it on were from Nashville. Well, as they say – the rest is history and Barbra released one of the best albums of her career thus far.
Joe Louis Walker ( friends with Hendrix and roommates with the late Mike Bloomfield) sat down to chat about his latest disc. Joe is always informative in his chats and not only educates with words, his new songs are always pushing the limits in terms of Gospel and R&B. A great album if you want to know where people like Beyonce really come from.
Ontario youngster Max Parker took time to chat about his new songs and subsequent upcoming studio album. Max – although acknowledging the Justin Bieber connection via age and location – quick to point out he is his own man. Catchy riffs and a more Bluesy feel than Bieber – Max will not be repeating Bieber’s mistakes if he gets that big. The internet can be a good thing sometimes …
Rock /Pop legend Alan Parsonstook time to chat (albeit briefly) about his first album in twenty years. The engineer, producer, writer and performer also discussed his DVD that has been implemented in Universities as a must have learning tool for studio recording. He also spoke of his friend and mentor – the late Geoff Emerich ( Beatles) and what Geoff meant to him. A great chat with a man who worked on Abbey Road, Let It Be and Pink Foyd’s Dark Side of the Moon.
John Muirheadknows how to become friends with musicians. Just release an album about playing gigs in different cities and sleeping wherever you end up. John’s disc is a the beginning of a career that will bring him to the highest places. Songwriting is new to him and now that he has discovered to sing about the truth and what he knows – the musical sky is the limit for John …
Reuben( Reuben and The Dark) stopped by just before hitting the road and coming to Montreal from BC. The chat revolved around his unique style and observations as a songwriter. Balancing the ebbs and flows of human emotion. The dark and the lights within and without. The band crashed their van outside Calgary on the way here and luckily none were seriously injured but some equipment was destroyed. Opening act ( in Montreal) John Jacob Magistery – saved the day and loaned Reuben and his mates what they needed. The show went on and it was a lesson in the rides of life – literally and figuratively.
It would not be complete on Rick Keene Music Scene without an annual chat with Steve Hackett of Genesis fame. This time – Steve spoke of Genesis’ landmark album Selling England by the Pound. Steve will be performing the album in it’s entirety in September 2019 in Montreal. The history of recording that album is a must hear for Genesis fans as things aren’t always what they seem.
Andy Kim took time out to chat about his induction onto Canada’s Walk of Fame. Combined with a resurgence of late with a critically acclaimed album; Andy’s fame is on the rise for the second time in his life. One of Canada’s greatest songwriters bares his soul and honesty for being ‘lucky’ in his life. A very humble and decent man .
Montreal’s own Justin Saladinowon the Quebec to Memphis Blues Challenge this year. Following in the footsteps of Steve Hill, Dawn Tyler Watson / Ben Racine Band and The Paul Deslauriers Band – Justin should take Memphis by storm. Hot on the heels of his most complete album to date (A Fool’s Heart), Saladino should be Quebec’s next global Blues / Rock star along with Jordan Officer.
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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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.
Big Wreck celebrated twenty years as a band with a bang on show at The Corona. The loyal fans were not disappointed by the raw Rock / Alternative. /Grunge tunes spun by lead singer and principal songwriter Ian Thornley.
Canadian Country Star Tim Hickswas in town with a new album and injecting some much needed exposure of Country music to Quebec. The Country scene in this province is kinda underground yet Hicks brought the fans from behind their barns and into the spotlight.
Former Genesis guitar man Steve Hackett was in town in what appears as almost an annual event. The love affair between Hackett / Genesis and this province has never been more amorous as Hackett et al performed the Genesis catalog along with his solo stuff.
Kim Churchill, aka the man from Down Under, has more talent in his finger than the majority of ‘your top forty’ radio stars. Kim was in town promoting his new album and it was the second time in three years Kim was touring Quebec. The provincial love affair is nearing Steve Hackett territory.
Devon Cuddy(son of Jim) and his Devon Cuddy Band were in Montreal promoting their new EP. Devin is a chip of the old ‘Rodeo’ and just may surpass Dad in success due to his songwriting and piano playing (without the help of Greg Keelor).
Pianist Mike Jones released a magical album with a magician. Jones – happens to be the piano player for Las Vegas act Penn and Teller. Jones convinced Penn to record an album. Jones took four hours of his time to speak of the album, his favorite piano players (of all time) and Jazz in general. One of the most informative chats I have been privy to.
Montrealer Sule Heitnerreleased an album and took some time to chat about it. Sule is one of the most talented guitar players playing in Montreal and his smooth voice and songwriting are a tip of the hat to old school R & B.
Eastern town-shipper and Blues veteran Mike Goudreau released an album of alternative takes. Songs that were there (but not really) all rolled into a pure Blues (and fun album). Goudreau also spoke of his success selling music to Hollywood.
Model / actress/ songwriter / singer Carla Bruni was at L’Olympia sporting her new album. Mick Jagger’s former squeeze and former first lady of France put on a bilingual show complete with a cover of Jagger / Richards’ Miss You. Serenity ruled with often humorous banter from this talented lady.
The most talented and adventurous student of The Blues in Quebec – Jordan Officer released an album entitled Three Rivers. Adding fiddle to his arsenal – Officer’s foray into his first love (The Blues) continues it’s assent to the highest peaks.
Inspired by the #MeToo movement – Rosie and The Riveters released an album to empower women and to also tell some sordid stories of their own. This Western Canadian – based trio make toes tap and hearts sing with pure music. A lot of tongue-in- cheek humor gets the message across also.
Montreal writer and author Kristian Gravenor has unearthed quite a few tales of the Montreal music scene in his book; Montreal 375 Tales of Eating, Drinking, Living and Loving.
On any given evening, a music lover could walk downtown Montreal and visit numerous clubs. All of them hosting bands and / or DJs. You wanted Jazz? No problem. Rock n Roll? Check out Kristian’s labor of love.
Canadian legend Kim Mitchellwas in Quebec city because he is Kim Mitchell. Kim took some time to chat before his show and what a show it was. Timeless tunes and Canadian wit ruled the night with a soda in hand …
Bluesman Jack Broadbent was in town at L’Astral strutting his acoustic stuff. Very few men or woman take the time to understand and learn to play The Blues with conviction and place the likes of Robert Johnson in their pockets. Broadbent is the next generation of Blues-men who do it for the right reasons.
Canadian Music Hall of Fame member and front-man for April Wine Myles Goodwyn, released a solo album filled with the Blues and special guests. Myles proved that his first love in music will give him ‘miles’ to go in his career after (if) April Wine calls it a day. A two part chat revealed much about the man who remains an enigma to many.
Former Bostonian-turned-Montrealer-turned-New York-er Emma Frank released an album which may be one of the best of 2018. Ocean Av is the name and songwriting is Emma’s game. The album helped return Emma to Montreal as part of The Montreal International Jazz Festival.
Stay tuned for Part Two of 2018 In Review !
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Retired Montreal DJ, promoter and all round music guru Sheldon Kaganhas written a book detailing all his memories from a musical life unmatched. Whether it is an unsavory meeting with Miles Davis or an ‘almost superstar concert’ quashed by an unexpected death – Sheldon delivers a life story which every music lover must read.
Music does not need to be a ticketed item. A musician does not need to be a global star to warrant accolades. Montrealer Steve Creepis the hardest working musician in Montreal. His acoustics and band sets take place seven nights a week in places such as Brutopia and various McKibbons outlets (among others). Very few musicians have such a vast knowledge and repertoire of all genres. Steve is so good – former Montreal Canadien Tomas Plekanec sought Steve out following many Canadiens’ home games. Buy a beer or two, have a meal and support Mr. Creep.
On January 26th for seven days you will cruise through locations including Nassau, The Bahamas, Cozumel and Costa Maya, Mexico, and Key West, Florida.
The line-up on this cruise is a joint effort of Blue Note president Don Was and Blue Note Jazz Clubs president Steven Bensusan. Joining Kosins on the bill is Marcus Miller, Robert Glasper, David Sanborn, Cécile McLorin Salvant, Logan Richardson, Luques Curtis, Wynton Marsalis, Kurt Elling, José James, Christian Scott, Terence Blanchard, Jason Moran, Kandace Springs, Wycliffe Gordon, Eric Marienthal, Ben Williams, Taylor McFerrin, Terrace Martin, Derrick Hodge, Geoffrey Keezer, and many more! There will be various venues of different size, with main shows played twice nightly in the ship’s largest venue.
Grammy-winning Southern rockers The Kentucky Headhunters are back on Alligator with Live At The Ramblin’ Man Fair, a raucous live album recorded in front of 25,000 screaming fans at the UK’s famed rock festival. In addition to the full live set, the album features three bonus studio tracks from the legendary Meet Me In Bluesland sessions featuring the late Johnnie Johnson, known for his seminal piano work on Chuck Berry’s most influential and famous songs.
Live At The Ramblin’ Man Fair features an adrenaline-fueled set list with the Headhunters at the top of their game at their first-ever UK performance. Mixing six high-energy originals, searing blues rockers and a thunderous take on The Beatles’ Don’t Let Me Down, the Headhunters have never sounded more intense and fun.
Closing out the album are three recently discovered tracks featuring Rock &’ Roll Hall of Famer Johnnie Johnson on piano with the band, boldly underscoring the Kentucky Headhunters’ deep blues chops and Johnnie’s mastery of rockin’ piano.
Not only is Jess Canadian, she is also the heir to Shania Twain’s Country throne. Jess has won most Country awards lately and she treks into Christmas territory with an album filled with her favorites growing up. As roots as a Christmas album will get.
Not only is David Myles one of the best vocalists and songwriters in Canada – he also owns one of the largest hearts. Every year David puts on Christmas shows in malls in Nova Scotia and raises money for the less fortunate. Backed by his excellent album; It’s Christmas, a must see show and a must buy album.
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.
If everyone took steps for change – change would come.
Westmount native Annabel Gutherzhopes that people will follow her lead in making changes to the way people think. Inspired by the senseless school shootings in the States, Annabel wrote a song to make a difference.
All proceeds of the sales of the song will go to an organization called WE.
Please listen below to my chat with Annabel and find out all you need to know. Hear her fantastic song Legends as well.
Christmas should be celebrated by candlelight. The Lyric Theater Singers understand that and then some.
Every year in December, musical director Bob Bachelor painlessly determines the content of a show that is based in spirituality. Combining his own arrangements with those of others – Bachelor somehow embraces the Yuletide moment like very few.
Last night at Loyola Chapel, the first evening of A Candlelight Christmas’ weekend run, Bob and The lyric theater singers had special guests. The EMSB Chorale Youth Choir joined the party in act two. The group, made up of students grades 6 through secondary 5 – instilled a sense of hope to the crowd in a world where teenagers sometimes get a raw deal. Angels are alive in schools and not necessary on their smart phones.
Following act one where the musicianship and heavenly sounds from The Lyric Theater Singers embraced and welcomed their guests with versions of A Carol Fantasy (John Alexander), Songs of Angels (Trad. French Carol, Charles Wesley, George Whitefield, arr. Mark Hayes) and The Chanukah Song (Steve Young, Stephen Schwartz,.arr. Mac Huff) – the EMSB Chorale Youth Choir injected their own versions of heaven.
Hodie, nobis de caelo (First Book of Motets,1610) Alexandro Grandi, The Lord Bless You and Keep You(John Rutter) and Winter (Allan Gordon Bell) provided a yin to the Lyric Theater Singer’s yan. Led by the award winning conductor Patricia Abbott, the EMSB Chorale Group proved without doubt why they are one of the most in demand youth choirs not only in Montreal but in Canada and globally.
If choirs and angelic voices were not enough – the Candlelight Christmas’ backdrop is provided by astute musicality. Chad Linsley(piano) maintains the grounding of the sound. Instilling a ‘metronome’ tempo to keep everyone on track while adding delicious morsels of colorful notes that not only entice – lure the surrounding souls into the evening. Chris Barillaro multi-tasks on keys and percussion providing intricate sounds and rhythms when they are the most essential.
Robin Best(harp)is the bringer of ‘light’. Perhaps the most important ingredient to the Christmas and Chanukah substance as her notes reflect the season with immaculate precision.Sheila Hannigan (cello), Tim Malloch (Flute) and Carloyn Peters( Violin) not only are important factors – safe to say; A Candlelight Christmas incomplete without them.
In a world that has everyone’s head spinning, A Candlelight Christmas and Bob Bachelor’s unwavering devotion is a must – see for this Holiday season. Harmonies, solos and delightful arrangement of classics with an interjection of unfamiliar gems makes the entire evening a Christmas present for all.
A Candlelight Christmasruns through this weekend at Loyola Chapel at Concordia University.
That may be the case many times yet when music is involved – talk is an education.
In the past year, discussions took place with eighty musicians. Add multiple chats with engineers, producers or people in the music business; the list is long and informative.
All these moments above are meant to be a platform to educate anyone who listens or reads. A chance for up and coming musicians to learn and established artists to teach.
Of all the interviews in the past year – the top ten have been chosen for different reasons. All of the interviews gave value yet below are the unique ones.
Please enjoy and check archives to listen.
Top Ten Interviews 2018
10. Colin James
The veteran Canadian Blues guitarist is always down to earth and honest. Entering into his fifties, James has a different outlook on life including the need to not ‘disguise’ anything anymore. His knowledge of The Blues’ history is vast and his energy to share is immense. A new album and a new tour are the tools James uses to carry on …
9. Dweezil Zappa
It is not often one has an opportunity to speak with Rock n Roll royalty. The offspring of Frank Zappa is just that. Listening to Dweezil speak of his late father is a privilege. Only a son can relate the musicianship and thinking process behind a legend with direct knowledge. Dweezil’s own music is also related through the lens of his Dad. Frank – the ultimate muse.
8. George Thorogood
Speaking to a man who is now a Rock n Roll legend is as advertised. Chatting with a man who learned his chops playing with the likes of Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, John Lee Hooker and Keith Richards is like earning an honorary degree. Blunt, to the point and honest – Lonesome George should not be his moniker. Long passed the days of not paying rent, Thorogood still conjures a devil-may-care attitude without the worry of going ‘out the door’. Everybody is funny and George is very funny too.
7. Kim Mitchell
The legendary musician and songwriter ( and former DJ) is a pleasure. Witty, well informed and a teenager at heart – the former front-man of Max Webster is the quintessential Canadian artist. Engaging and curious, Kim interviews back as he weaves his tales of lore. An insight into his near fatal heart attack – profound.
6. Malcolm Bruce
The son of legendary Cream bassist Jack Bruce is a chip off the bass block. Acknowledging his Father’s legacy and passing it on is first on a creative and musical list. Growing up in Rock royalty has enabled Malcolm the inside education to relive Cream’s music and add to his own. World matters? Do not get the English gentleman going. Like his Father- a lot of smarts are going on above the Bass.
5. Jean -Marc Pisapia
The front-man for The Box is animated, intelligent and appreciative of all that came his way. A unique chat which places not only The Box in perspective; the music business as well. Interesting anecdotes regarding youth, age and Fatherhood. Rarely does a man whose career hit the pinnacle faster than a speeding pick accept the equally quick demise with such happiness and distinguished responses. Part of the reason The Box has resurfaced lately with talent and songwriting that cannot be denied.
4. Andy Kim
On December 1st 2018 – Andy Kim was inducted onto Canada’s Walk of Fame. This follows his already life size presence in Canada’s Music Hall of Fame. Kim is one of few Canadians that have had nine singles in the Top Forty chart and whose music has been covered by every artist imaginable. John Lennon himself was a huge fan. Say no more …
3. Gary Petersen
The original and current drummer of The Guess Who has been drumming since the beginning of Rock n Roll in the fifties. A survivor and a man whose (of late) physical impediments do not slow him down. His band – The Guess Who rivaled The Stones and The Beatles in the late sixties and early seventies. A man who knows that ‘if it ain’t got that swing’ – it don’t mean a damn thing.
2. Myles Goodwyn
How many people do you know who front their band for over four decades? How many songwriters in Canada have carved such a unique place in music. How many people do you know who wrote a song which was the first Canadian video to be played on MTV? The multiple Juno award winner and a member of Canada’s Music Hall of Fame recently released a book and a new album which uncovers his first love The Blues.
The Beatles started it all and Alan Parsons was there. Along with Geoff Emerick and George Martin – Parsons worked on the albums Let It Be and Abbey Road. If that weren’t enough – Alan also worked on The Dark Side of The Moon by Pink Floyd. Mr. Parsons then went on to write, produce and engineer one of the top bands of the eighties – The Alan Parsons Project. One of the most sought after technicians in the music business and a man with an astute ear for music.
Attending all live music in Montreal is impossible.
Practically every crook and nook contains rhythms and vibes. World music, Blues, Rock – you name it, music is alive and well in the city .
Not all live music is performed by local musicians. Regularly – like pirates from a distant land; musicians arrive. They rape and pillage the souls of Montrealers and then they are gone. Gold pieces filling their guitar cases.
Arriving with a Top Ten Concerts List is not possible if integrity is involved. The simple fact that many live shows were missed adds to the incomplete puzzle. The most beautiful woman in the world, after all – is a choice ripe in location.
Please dissect the Top Ten Concerts of 2018 below with the knowledge they have been chosen from a well of sixty. Deep enough to siphon an amount comparable to the elite.
Top Ten Concerts of 2018
10. Steve Hackett
The former guitar player from Genesis loves playing in Montreal and Montreal loves having him. There are few guitar players in the world that play better than their glory years. Age is not kind to many. Hackett’s playing filled with an ever – growing knowledge and his touring band; second to none. Within the realm of Place des Arts, perfection is continually aimed for and forever obtained. A must see every time Steve is here.
9. Kim Churchill
The multi-talented singer/ songwriter from Down Under is ( for the most part) under the radar. Such is the sad state of mass media when artists that possess more talent than Boy George, scrape and claw to make a living. Kim’s live show is filled with musical and physical energy as Churchill trades keys, guitars, beat boxes and dancing with himself. The tunes are filled with Kim’s vocals emerging from his soul. Ballads mirror the journey of an artist in search of knowledge as he travels the globe.
8. Dr. Lonnie Smith
How many artists have mastered their craft for fifty years as a live performer? How many have mastered their instrument and continue to gain praise and achievements into their golden age? Dr. Lonnie Smith is the most sought after Hammond B3 player on the planet. Mostly due to not only hard work, Smith maintains an ability to grow by reaching into multiple genres and artists. Dr. Smith put on a Jazz clinic at Le Gesu as part of The Montreal International Jazz Festival. Every great commercial keyboard player on a Rock n Roll / Pop / Blues list will be erased following a performance by Dr. Lonnie Smith.
7. Jack Broadbent
Broadbent contains no bells nor whistles. A man, a chair, a guitar and a beer. Witnessing a live show by Broadbent conjures images of the old Delta Blues guys who laid down the framework for all music today. Bottleneck slide, a raspy voice and tunes dark like the night and crisp like a cold grey dawn. Songwriting combined with acute covers to remind everyone where Jack came from and at the same time – evolving into the future based on the past.
6. Jim Cuddy Band
Canadian music is filled with roots. Country, Folk and Blues intertwined with the vast landscape of Canada looming in the background like a canvas painted by the Group of Seven. Add Jim Cuddy, Barney Bentall and Jim’s two up and coming sons – the evening was as pure as pure could be. Every artist on stage taking turns in the spotlight showcasing their ability to headline on their own. Jim Cuddy has assembled a dream band to distract from his Blue Rodeo job. Not a bad side gig.
5. Jordan Officer
Quebec’s own Jordan Officer has made the leap. Opening up for one of his boyhood idols, Officer more than held his own as the opener for George Thorogood. Those in attendance unfamiliar with the most talented guitar player in Quebec and student of the Blues left with a deer-in-the-headlights look on their faces.The trio combined with Officer’s ability to play guitar unlike all Blues players in the province ( fiddle as well), elevated music to an entire different level. Rarely does an opening act place immense pressure on the headliner. Thorogood and his Destroyers must have been shaking in their boots.
4. Steven Wilson
Cut from the Prog Rock cloth – Wilson (known mainly for his band Porcupine Tree) is a man who makes Dave Grohl appear talent-less. Mainstream gravitates towards the flavor of the moment and those willing to sell their souls. Wilson is a true artist along the lines of Brian Wilson (albeit in a different genre). An Engineer, a producer, a multi instrumentalist and a premiere songwriter who avoids the fame. His band – oozing musical integrity like a bleeding Van Gogh. Balladry interrupting perfectly crafted instrumental based high caliber Rock with a toe inside the Prog. A must see for all music fans.
3. Cecile Mclorin Salvant
If Cecile had arrived on the scene forty or fifty years ago, she would be revered like Etta James, Billie Holiday and Etta James (to name a few). Blessed with the voice of several angels – Salvant’s range is second to none. A no frills performer who sings for the right reasons. Combining the sweetness of honey and the strength of a whiskey straight up,Cecile’s performance as part of the Jazz Festival was an evening for purists. Salvant did not disappoint.
2. Beth Hart
Honesty is the best policy. Beth Hart is the most down to Earth raw female performer on the planet. Then she takes that integrity and sings with the same convictions. Listening to Hart is almost like witnessing an accident on the side of the road that never happens. Akin to Keith Richards’ about to fall down walk – Hart invites concern. Once she stops running and drops the scissors – the most natural voice in the universe becomes the star. Blues, Rock and Jazz-inspired tunes fill the night with wonderment. Talent oozes down the aisles as Hart follows the notes into the audience with love and appreciation. An interactive experience with Hart’s vulnerabilities as the headliner.
Montreal’s Queen of Jazz put on the most memorable performance this city has maybe ever seen. The day before her appearance at the Montreal international Jazz Festival – Ranee lost her musical muse and husband. A devastating moment for anyone and a life altering moment.
Under extreme emotional circumstances – Ranee decided the show must go on as her husband Richard would have wanted.
Any show completed would have gained a standing ovation due to the circumstances. Heartbreak on the sleeves and a hole in the heart can be the wind that pushes the tightrope walker off the thin line. A musical death would have been accepted without critique.
Ranee reached deep. Ranee reached long. Ranee reached hard. As if Richard was seated next to her – Lee put on the performance of a lifetime. Holiday, James, Washington – the ladies of Lee’s youth appeared live through Ranee’s vocals. The strength and the power increasing as the night went on. Lee’s passion for the history and the music growing stronger as the mountain of grief lay before her. The stamina not giving in to the tiredness she felt. The glow of her husband leading the way like the star of a musical Bethlehem guiding Ranee’s soul through the dark.
One evening when the realities of life could not be avoided changed The Montreal International Jazz Festival into a mystical place. One woman who took on the realities of life with courage transformed The Montreal International Jazz festival into Magic.