Gino Vannelli ( Montreal’s wayward son) made a rule when he was younger. ‘Never put out music without a purpose …’
That is the reason why it has been over ten years since music fans heard something new from Vannelli. Wilderness Road is the name of the new record and it is a mark of beauty. It is a different sounding Gino yet it still sounds like Gino …
” Well … I can’t sound different …” Laughs Vannelli. ” I am who I am and my style and voice remain the same.”
Wilderness Road is a Bluesy / Americana – themed album and it is exactly the type of recording Gino wanted to do.
” I did not want to do a Jazz or Classical album or anything I had done before. I wanted to explore the rootsy side of things with the focus on storytelling. I had about forty songs written and the ones on the album are the best stories. All the songs were written in the last five years.”
The disc may be ‘ rootsy’ with elements of Blues and Jazz but Gino’s keen ear for perfection and production are what make Wilderness Road a typical Vannelli recording. That unique talent is what made Herb Alpert ( co- founder of A&M Records) sign Gino in the first place. A signature sound which eventually led to twenty million records sold worldwide.
” It is not so much as audio perfection.” Says Gino. ” It is getting an authentic sound. A real sound which comes from the soul. That is what I try to do in the studio.” He laughs. ” My brother Joe has something to do with it also … “
The album is part reflection. Part of an older man looking back but it is also a collection of personal stories and tales which have affected Vannelli in different ways.
” The Woman Upstairs is about an abused lady who lived above my wife and I when we lived in Ahunstic. I couldn’t come up with a name for the song when it was done so I asked my wife. She said why not ‘ The Woman Upstairs …?”
Another tale is about the story of a five year old boy whose body was discovered headless. The killer was thought to be found but he was killed in an accident before he could stand trial.
The album is truly about the human condition.
” I saw this woman taking care of her husband, pushing him in a wheelchair. He had Parkinson’s disease or had a stroke.” Says Vannelli of the song Yet Something Beautiful. “I thought of all the unsung heroes in this world like this woman. The love and patience she had. We don’t hear enough stories like this”
Wilderness Road contains many ‘wistful’ ballads containing a Blues’ backdrop. A canvas which tends to arrive when Gino writes songs on guitar.
” When I am writing on my acoustic, the tendency is towards Blues and Folk. Rootsy / Americana sounding songs. Black Cars for example, was written that way but we turned it into an eighties’ sound to fit the times. The original ‘Black Cars’ could easily be on Wilderness Road – it would fit right in …”
Gino’s new album (his 20th) was not made because of a recent trend of older musicians making Blues’ records. (The Stones, Myles Goodwyn (April Wine) and Randy Bachman ( Bravebelt, The Guess Who, BTO) all have recently returned to their roots).
” I don’t know why they made these albums …” Admits Gino.
” If I had to guess I think it is because they want to ensure storytelling and their own expertise in storytelling does not fade away. I think in this day and age – the art of telling stories in songs has been lost. Some artists want to remind people before it is lost forever.”
Vannelli is in his fifth decade as a recording artist and he is not interested in ‘ fitting in’ with the trends or sounds of today.
” I just do what I feel is right. I don’t pretend or aspire to being anything different. After all these years people know who I am. I know who I am and that’s okay for me.”
Vannelli lives in Portland, Oregon and spends time jogging in the mountains to stay in shape. Once a year he gives Master Classes and it was during one of those classes he met a girl from Quebec who travelled to work with Gino. A voice which ended up on Wilderness Road …
Imagine standing in front of John Lennon, dressed like … John Lennon?
Just one of the tales spun last night at Theatre Maisonneuve as David Crosby and his ‘friends’ put on a surprise ( not surprising ) show.
On the heels of an excellent album; Sky Trails, Crosby and his pals are knee deep into a tour of the same name. Montreal ( Canada) could become Crosby’s new home as David pointed out his displeasure with Trump ( the States) on numerous occasions. ” Can you change the weather?’ Crosby asked.
In My Dreams opened things up and with a slight frog in the throat, Crosby dispatched (along with the frog) any queries of his ability to sing / perform at the age of seventy- six. At times – hitting notes on cue and with the force of a much younger guitar player. Once he and his mates ( James Raymond on keys, Mai Agan on bass, Steve DiStanislao on drums, Jeff Pevar on guitar , Michelle Willis keyboards/vocals) kicked into second gear, it was obvious there would be no stopping to pee anytime soon on this musical road trip.
Crosby is so much part of history, there should be an entire chapter about him in the music dictionary. The Byrds, Crosby, Stills and Nash, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young and CPR. In fact, Crosby is in the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame not once – twice. Heck, they don’t just let any Johnny B Goode in do they?
At Place des Arts last night, the song choices were a mixture of all his endeavors ( No Mr. Tambourine Man or Woodstock).
Morrison ( about Jim of the Doors) opened many punters eyes as the CPR tune showcased the talent within the band on just the second song of the night. Crosby’s CPR pal – Jeff Pevar, a beast on lead guitar. All night, his solos echoed with eerie precision the vibe of Crosby’s soul. Part Gilmour, part Clapton and all Pevar. The ‘best in the world’ according to Crosby and that’s saying quite a bit.
What brought life to the show was the rhythm section. Mai Agan (above) on bass and Steve DiStanislao on drums. The Pop in Agan’s grooves complimenting the human metronome in DiStanislao. Ebbing when asked and flowing with power when needed. Crosby’s ‘friends’ one of those ‘once – in – a – lifetime’ things. A chemistry that works and enhances each other in every nook and cranny. Crosby himself? The maestro. The magician conducting the notes. The legend.
Tracks in the Dust, She’s Got to Be Somewhere, At The Edge, Laughing and right up to the title track of the new disc ( Sky Trails), the band increased the energy. Even the ballad Breathless ( a song penned by Crosby to his wife of forty years) seemed on the edge of pouncing into the audience and devouring a diverse meal. Crosby the one (only?) lion tamer in the house. Nothing like a nod and wink to keep things in check. A very experienced nod and wink …
Michelle Willis ( from Toronto) provided the backing vocals all evening as did the entire band as Crosby and Friends channeled the luscious harmonies of The Beach Boys and The Bee Gees. Musically, the album Sky Trails is very jazz oriented and last night ( more than once) – the band sounded like a great Steely Dan jam. Showcasing guitar and drums while Crosby’s son ( James ) created harmonic and classic tinkles on the keys. Touches of the late Manzarek sprinkling the dust onto the night lights .
Aside from the delicious array of music, it was Crosby’s tales in between the main course which were more than appetizers. Jackson Browne forcing Crosby to finish a song during Crosby’s self professed Junkie phase. Crosby’s friendship with Beatle Harrison. Tales from the grave in the case of Harrison and yarns which could be very well be from Crosby.s own grave as the man has more lives than Keith Richards.
Imagine standing in front of John Lennon, dressed like … John Lennon?
Aside from making ‘America Great Again’ – Delfeayo Marsalis is on a roll …
‘An Evening with Delfeayo Marsalis; Kalamazoo’is Delfeayo’s newest offering and it combines Jazz standards with a few originals. All recorded in a live setting in the midst of a ten city tour.
Marsalis of the world famous and critically acclaimed Marsalis clan, is joined onstage by his Father. The family patriarch, Ellis, adds to the spontaneity and fun which makes any Delfeayo performance special.
Have a listen belowto some of the tracks wont ya? Find out more about this outstanding musician and even more outstanding being.
A frightening thing takes place. Something so terrifying, the little hair you have left on the top of your head turns white. Things go bump in the night. Chains rattle. Noises make you sit up in fright …
Turn out the lights, turn up your computer and listen below to the scariest half hour in Montreal !
Guilty by association. No one knows that better than Alec McElcheran . Himself, also an associate.
Combining Blues and Rock – Alec ( Bass), Dan Legault (drums) and Alan Springer (guitar) form The Associates. A hard driving machine equipped with the tools required to make a stand in the Montreal music scene.
Please listen below to my chat with Alec as he discusses opening up for one of the most legendary bands in history and his thoughts on The Associates Volume One.