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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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.
Genesis’ landmark record was in fruition before it was in fruition. Several of the songs were thoughts in the heads of Peter Gabriel,Tony Banks, Phil Collins, Mike Rutherford and Steve Hackett.
It was guitarist Hackett who came up with the idea for perhaps what was the deciding song in Genesis’ soon-to-be upcoming superstar status. It was also an album where Steve Hackett made his mark as a guitar player.
Please listen below to Part Twoof my chat with Steve about Selling England By The Pound.