Rick Keene Music Scene – Montreal Jazz Festival Review; Jann Arden Keeps Them Laughing

Variety shows once ruled television …

 

Music, comedy and drama – all inclusive in an hour long Sunday night program. A Jann Arden concert is a one woman variation on the above formula as all the aforementioned elements shine within.

From the get – go, Arden is a joker in a self depreciating kinda way. Whether it is her ‘poor choice of pants’, her broken top (fixed quickly by a nearby clamp) or her ‘shot’ at Shania Twain – Arden uses humor as quick as any Canadian can. Oh – and she can sing with the best of them also.

Where No One Knows Me, Wishing That,  At Seventeen, I Would Die For You , Not Your Little Girl .

Just a few of the starters served up between the comedic antidotes. Reminders that a long time ago (it seems), before the TV appearances on the Rick Mercer Report and all the humor Arden is associated with – there was ( and is) a truly talented songwriter. 

 

You Don’t Know Me, Anyone Who Had a Heart (Burt Bacharach cover), To Sir With Love, Could I Be Your Girl and  Little Bird – signified the sounds and vocals that are immediately Arden.

Like Murray, like Celine and like Sarah – Arden has a distinct style and persona in her voice and presence. Like all the above, a certain melancholia takes the reins and pushes the audience into a happy sadness.  A certain comfort in the sounds of Canada. In the sounds of refection.

If one song defines the image of Arden – Insensitive would be a non sensitive choice.

The punters on their feet with so much adoration in their hearts for Arden and the song Insensitve – a group hug was minutes away as the defining moment became just that. Add a backing band filled with so much integrity – it was difficult to not bask in the pure joy of music. Of Arden’s music.

If there was any danger of a show-gone-bad, it was Arden’s temporary explanation of her drinking problem. Something she says has stopped. Up to that point – a roll was upheld and gaining strength. Arden holding the recipe for success. In this day and age, sad stories are aplenty. Arden took what was an escape for the punters and dropped more reality into their problems. Connecting with some yet disconnecting from most who were out to have as good time.

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Rick Keene Music Scene – Montreal Jazz Festival Review; Cecile McLorin Salvant – The Voice of An Angel

A voice is an instrument.

Aside from Lisa Fischer ( Twenty Feet to Stardom, Rolling Stones back-up singer) – vocalists like Cecile MClorin Salvant come around as often as Haley’s comet.

With the same ease as most walk, Salvant traverses the scales, intonations and vocal range as elegantly as a debutante at a coming of age party. Salvant does so with as much effort as flicking a fly away from the dinner plate.

FogEverything I’ve Got Belongs to YouSpoonful and Stepsister’s Lament were just some of the main courses Salvant’s band served to the audience (and Salvant) with precision, texture and a lot of breathing room for Salvant to play. 

Tunes such as Spoonful – familiar yet somehow as fresh as the cool wind blowing in from the St. Lawrence river. Cecile, reaching to depths known only to her as the mask of Howlin’ Wolf’s classic song is removed and tossed aside to display the inner beauty of Salvant.

 

It could be a spoonful of coffee
It could be a spoonful of tea
But one little spoon of your precious love
Is good enough for me

 

Wives and LoversSi J’étais Blanche (Bobby Falk / Leo Lelièvre / Henri Varna), Omie WiseNever Will I Marry and The Ballad of the Shape of Things – a concert whose content made up for all the Divas in the world making millions through auto tune. Salvant enjoying the experience as if no one was in the room …

Darkies Never Dream and Sam Jones’ Blues stood apart with their opposite moods and lyrics. The former – as whimsical as a stroll through the park with cotton candy blowing in your face while the latter; a testament to all those with dreams dancing in their souls. Both songs somewhat biographical in a third person sense from Salvant. A storyteller conveying  fiction into a non fiction audience.

If Cecile Mclorin Salvant’s voice is an instrument – the world’s problems will be fixed with no labor or service charges added on.

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Rick Keene Music Scene – Montreal Jazz Festival Review; Charlotte Gainsbourg / Aliocha

An acoustic guitar and a great voice – sometimes is not enough.

Aliocha Schneider was BORN TO BE AN ARTIST …

All of his siblings are actors and so is he. Like most artisans – the craft can cast shadows on many different walls. Writing and performing songs – an extension of creative output for the twenty – four year old Montrealer.

Vocally – Aliocha, is unique. A gift has been bestowed upon him and in a world filled with ‘voices’ – Aliocha’s distinct delivery and tone immediately gain notice from the virgin punter. The original tunes come from the heart. Raw pain emerges and transports the messages into waiting wounds.

 Volodia Schneider (Aliocha’s  brother) on percussion, guitarist Christian Sean and bassist Tom Tartarin lend expert (albeit simplistic) accompaniment to Aliocha’s catalog. A stack of songs which require some peaks and arcs. Like most young artists today  – Aliocha’s sound contains melancholic undertones. The set-list ingredients are similar and contain nothing to lift and drop the audience. No roller coaster at this amusement park except for the ‘surprise’ visit by Charlotte Cardin in a ‘return the favor’ moment from last year’s festival when Cardin invited Aliocha on stage with her.   

Artists have something they want to say. To deliver their pain or profound wisdom to the masses. Aliocha does just that yet being an actor – he must learn to implement the same techniques as Alfred Hitchcock did if he wishes to achieve musical success.

Suspense, intrigue, drama and comedy. A show / career is a story – not one scene.

Charlotte Gainsbourg

Much like Carla Bruni – Gainsbourg is an actress turned singer and songwriter. Unlike Bruni, Charlotte creates unique songs and sounds. Combined with a beautiful voice and ( in this day and age) a flamboyant stage – Charlotte’s spectacle seemed appealing. Seemed …

Much like her opening act, song after song became one long song. If not for the stoppages – where one tune stopped and the other commenced; a conundrum took place for the uninitiated. Unless you are the most acute fan. Unless you are Charlotte Gainsbourg (or her band).

Combining Synth Pop and Rave like beats is unique and interesting. Melodic ballads are included with finesse and power. Art for art’s sake on display and perhaps Charlotte is to her audience what Buddy Guy is to the Blues. Given the nature of her success and providing tunes for TV shows and films – Gainsbourg’s music is not meant to be enjoyed live.

Gainsbourg is a talent on keys,  in vocals and songwriting. Her ability to grasp audiences with her ‘under the top’ style is refreshing when ‘Divas’ are overtly front and center as front-women. Charlotte and her band convey music for what is is. No drama from a woman known for her dramatic roles. An enjoyable experience if film studies with musical scores are of interest.

 

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Rick Keene Music Scene – Montreal Jazz Festival Preview; The Best of The Blues

Having the blues is a good thing …

 

The only type of music that collects down-to-earth people. The only real genre within music that connects all walks of life to it’s fan base. Arguably – the cornerstone of all music.

 

Beginning June 28th on the Hyundai / CBC/Radio-Canada Stage (Parterre symphonique, corner Clark and De Montigny) – The Blues will be alive everynight.

Check out these ‘Can’t Miss Shows !

June 28 / Endrick & The Sandwiches — Singer, guitarist and harmonica player Endrick and his triple-decker Sandwiches dig deeply into the joys of delta blues and boogie-woogie, with the occasional foray into ’60s Brit rock.

June 30 / Justin Saladino Band — Nominated this year as Best New Artist at the Maple Blues Awards in Toronto, Justin Saladino has everything it takes to be one of the greats: precision and melody.

July 1 / Mike Goudreau Band —the American guitarist returns to Canada, his father’s native land, with songs from Alternate Takes – Vol 1, an anthology of unreleased tracks recorded throughout his career.

July 3 / Rob Lutes Band — For over 20 years, Rob Lutes and his group have whipped out a workingman’s rock-blues worthy of Springsteen. A Festival regular, Lutes brings us an exclusive preview of Walk in the Dark, his 7th album due in September.

July 4 / Dwane Dixon — A true ambassador for the genuine blues-rock of the ’60s and ’70s, Dwane Dixon pours body and soul into the genre.

July 7 / Orb Mellon — Orb Mellon – nickname of dynamic Connecticut musician Mike Malone – describes his music as “the blues in all its primeval glory,” an epic fusion of acoustic and electric. An artist you can’t afford to miss!

 

Soirées blues Hyundai series, 9 p.m. and 11 p.m.

July 1 / Diunna Greenleaf Raised on gospel in her native Houston, Texas, this fiery blues diva boasts a complete mastery of the genre.

July 2 / They Call Me Rico — After two critically-acclaimed albums and a live record, one-man band Frédéric Pellerin, alias They Call Me Rico, returns stronger than ever this year with a 4th release, This Time.

July 3 / Lachy Doley Group — Hailed as the “Jimi Hendrix of the Hammond Organ”, the hyper Lachy Doley delivers an absolute psychedelic-rock knockout alongside renowned drummer Jackie Barnes and bassist Joel Burton.

July 5 / Christone Kingfish Ingram A blues guitarist right out of Mississippi, this artist remakes the standards of blues and rock, making them utterly his own and electrifying fans with his passion.

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Rick Keene Music Scene – Montreal’s Next Super-Group; East of Sunday

In sports, music and all forms of art and business – every ten years or so,  a new superstar emerges.

The band, East of Sunday, just happen to be from Montreal and they will ensure another Montreal group (The Damn Truth) won’t get lazy. If so – Montreal will have a new crowned champion in the Rock n Roll scene sooner rather than later .

East of Sunday will rock you !

Four guys who know how to combine sensibility, hard Rock, Country, melodies and craftsmanship into one tight package. All the ingredients necessary to make a career in a very tough music business.

Derek Wiltshire ( guitar,vocal and songwriter) leads the band with forcefulness. Projecting his voice with integrity and power. His guitar – equally powerful with acute riffs and stingy solos. Tunes such as Cold Heart Killer, Treat Me Right  and Anti Valentine instill a message that East of Sunday are real. Derek Wiltshire is real.

Brothers Michael (drums) and Ryan (Bass) Zinck hold the rhythm section down with enough swing to create a sound sadly missing in Rock n Roll these days. None of those monotone beats heard so much these days. The brothers know how to create energy while grounding the sound of East of Sunday with finesse. Ryan slapping the bass beyond normal and implementing funk into Rock.

Songs such as She Drive Me / Wandering Star , Comfort Creature, Nightmare, Struck a Chord, Stay and Play and Superstition – create valleys , peaks and abysses. Giving the audience a journey filled with incredible highs and primal lows. Much of that is due to guitarist Serge LeBlanc with his feel and touch. Knowing when to breathe and when to hold the notes inside. A perfect partner to Wiltshire as the pair trade riffs and solos. Different enough but similar to keep East of Sunday as a whole.

With their first taste of a big club show under their guitar straps, quality songwriting and musicianship beyond their years as a group  – East of Sunday are on the brink of leading Montreal Rock n Roll back to the future.

Once radio gets a hold of them – there’s only one way to go …

West of Sunday …

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