David Usher – Moist for a Few …

David Usher performed at Club Soda on Thursday night. The former front man for Moist brought his solo act and a new album along for the ride.

‘Songs from the Last Day on Earth‘ is Usher’s eighth solo album since his former band left the scene in 1997. There is not a big difference between the sounds now and then except for Usher’s softness shining through a bit more.

Thursday night, he performed favorites such as “Silver” and “Push‘ from his Moist days yet it was the mostly female audience who may have gotten wet. Especially those in the first few rows as Usher launched some water their way during his two hour set. Usher is a talented singer who just happens ro be a very good looking guy. Something he appears to not take too seriously during shows.

‘And so we Run’ was the best tune of the night and his loyal followers seemed to agree as they sang in unison to one of his trademark songs. ‘ The Music‘ was right up there and it – along with ‘And so we Run’ ‘ played in the first half hour. These songs hooked people into Usher’s world and he had the females eating out of his hand.

The bantering in between was an indication of his charm. It is easy to have confidence when a singer is aware of his sex appeal, which David clearly has.

Love will save the day‘ and “Lonely People‘ were played out with great musicianship from a backing band who appeared on great terms with their meal ticket. It is obvious Usher and his mates are close as Usher’s experience of being in Moist has eased the process.

All in all a great show, Usher’s tunes have a hint of Coldplay in them – either that or it is the sound which is the flavor of the month right now.

David Usher is not ‘Alone in the Universe’.


The Hi – Fins; Everyone’s Cup of Tea

A record collection contains many gems.

The Dave Clarke Five, the Kinks, the Monkees, the Who, the Stones and the Beatles. Six groups which make up a good contigent of the British Invasion. Now – if it were possible to sit and listen to all these bands plus a few more in one night – LIVE, would a music fan sit at home? Of course not  …

Montreal group the Hi-Fins, provides exactly that. A taste of the British Invasion right in the neighborhood. An evening without the kids or the headaches of daily life. Paul McCrowe, the bass player, explains how the band achieved it’s name;

“Spy ( the guitarist ) and I have known each other since we were twelve. Spy was heavily into crosswords and we were trying to come up with a name. So there was a word that he came across “hyphen”. We both liked the word and came up with “Hi-Fins”, which – if you read between the lines, the symbol hyphen is there plus Hi-Fi.” He continues.” Hi -Fi is 60’s technology for  noise solution. All in all the name is a play on words. We thought we would be clever enough for someone to maybe figure it out when they see it! Some have …!” He laughs.

One thing which is simple to figure out is the band is blessed to have Mitchell Field on board as the drummer. Field grew up in England and was one of the fortunate few to have watched the Beatles play at the Marquee Club in London. Long before the band gained cult status.

“I was nine.” Says the fifty- seven year old Mitchell. ” I saw them all back then. The Kinks, the Who – it was a lesson which made me passionate about music and right then I decided to be a lifetime musician.” Mitchell left school and started to live his dream and played drums for Johnny Lee Hooker at one time. He then went on to play  with a band called Hellfield in the late seventies in Toronto. That band obtained moderate  success and opened up for bands such as Foreigner, the Cars and Kim Mitchell.

“Ya – we are very fortunate to have Mitchell in the band.” Says Paul. ” It is a funny story of how he joined.” He laughs. ” We put an ad on Craigslist and he answered it. When he came for the audition, he said ‘ Okay boys – show me what you got …!’ Spy and I looked at each other for a second and said ‘um…why don’t you show us what you got! We are auditioning you …!”

From the get -go, these three guys hit it off and following the second song in ‘the audition’ – a certain chemistry existed. They did not have to work too hard at achieving their very own ‘wall of sound’. ” People come up to us all the time and ask whether we have taped music playing in the background.” Says Spy. ” Or – they ask if we have a guitarist hidden somewhere. The sound is all in the way Paul plays bass. It becomes like a second guitar and the band’s sound is fuller.”

That must be the case. In a recent show at Le Pionnier, the room was packed with all ages. The kids in their early adulthood seemed to really dig the music that their parents grew up on. They were boppin’ and dancing all night long. Right along with their parents to ‘A Hard Day’s Night ,’ Satisfaction’, ‘You Really Got Me’ and ‘My Generation’.

A concert with the Hi – Fins contains many gems…

Listen to the Hi -Fins here

Please stay tuned for a more in-depth interview with Mitchell Field and the boys ….

Carolyn Fe Blues Collective – Original Sin; C.D Review

If Angels could sing like Carolyn Fe; they would …

This may seem like a cliche, it is and it is not. Depends whether or not you have listened to the c.d. Original Sin.

The same – titled first track commences with crickets as the bass line. An acoustic guitar soon joins the chorus. Sitting on a porch with an apple in hand maybe? Just like Eve did maybe …? The innocence of the situation soon turns to sin with a fierce electric guitar taking away your virginity. The album has begun.

‘Broken String’, the second song is blues. Bass player Little providing a grounding for menacing riffs and solos on the electric guitar. This is standard blues stuff. The band seems to declare; ‘ya we can do this but just wait …!’

Wait for what you ask?

How about a song which may have very well be done by the Stray Cats. It has a genuine ‘rockabilly’ feel. Fast cars and chicks providing lyrical fodder for Carolyn Fe’s vocals. An instrument which is vast in talent. Little and drummer Dan Legault as tight as a rhythm section can be on ‘Baby Bye Bye’.

The jewels of the album take the next two spaces on an Original Sin. Pearls inside an oyster of blues artists. Diamonds on the sea of music. ‘Devil’s Fool’ provides three surprises;

– A Samba beat
– A true introduction to Fe’s voice
– Rap

The song is catchy from the start. A foot starts to tap with Legault’s own. When Fe starts to sing – a power commences it’s journey to the pit of a music lover’s soul. Goosebumps get primed and ready. Primed for the best track on the album …

Adja Wali’ is a ballad beyond beautiful. A sunrise for the darkest of hearts. Carolyn’s voice is a creation from the seventh day. The listener is carried to the heavens on the shoulders of angels. Tim Alleyne’s keyboards providing background curtains lined with gold. There are many female vocalists drowning the airwaves with fantastic voices. Carolyn Fe, on this song and in general – is not one of them. She is above that!

You and Me and the Blues grabs the listener and places them back on earth – just above the Devil. It is a blues track and if a blues fan is listening; a love affair has begun in strength.

By the time track seven, ‘ Dont be so sad’ pierces the ears, a comfortable setting has taken place. The listener knows they like the band and whatever lays in store; will be great. Aside from the tightness, Carolyn’s ad- libbing a la female Mick Jagger is another surprising charm to the album. It has everything.

‘Rant’ is a rant. Well – duh …

It is a statement. Even though Carolyn is the sole singer, the song feels as if one hundred people are backing her up. Add a wah – wah guitar to the solo; an angry anthem to provide spark to something which causes unrest in anyone’s personal life. Go get em’ indeed!

As if to say relax; ‘Manual Overdrive’ is sexy.

The type of song to sit in a lazy boy chair with a Jack Daniels in hand. The type of tune which evokes images of a woman removing her stockings – slowly and surely. Garters come next along with the sultry tease. Fe is saying; “Now you love me eh? Well – you can’t have me but you can still try!”

If one wonders what a feeling it is to soar above and beyond the clouds; ‘Let’s Soar’ does precisely that and a little more.

Probably the third best song on the album and another one which places Fe above the majority of singers. An imaginary trip is where a mind can wander while listening to this ballad- wannabe. Fe’s dreamy voice causing traffic jams on the way home as a listening experience turns to a pleasant distraction.

Back to the Stray Cats …

‘Bow Wow’ once more a song bordering on rockabilly. Not quite yet if Brian Setzer had a little sister, Fe would be her and Blues Collective may well be the older protective brothers. Nothing outstanding from the tune only because the style has been played by many. Fe and her partners in crime do it better than most and less than a few.

The final track leaves the listener wanting some more and it was probably placed at the end for the same reasons.

‘Some More’ provides and edge with all the members singing background vocals. Vocals with attitude asking if we want some more. An upbeat bluesy rocker which makes one wonder why it is not played on the radio everday. Upon reflection of a minute or two – the answer to the question – ‘want more’ is;” Sure but wait a minute …!”

“I want to listen to this one a few more times first!”

Find out more about Carolyn Fe Blues Collective here!

This Day in Music History

Some of your relatives may be celebrating a birthday today. Maybe you are … ?

You are not alone:

1917, Papa John Creech, violinist, Jefferson Airplane
1944, Gladys Knight, singer
1945, John Fogerty, guitar, vocals, Creedence Clearwater Revival
1949, Wendy O. Williams, singer, The Plasmatics

Also on this day;

1964, The BBC received over 8,000 postal applications for tickets for The Rolling Stones appearance on Juke Box Jury.

1966, Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass went to #1 on the U.S. album chart with What Now My Love, setting a new American record with four albums in the U.S. Top 10

1966, Love appeared at the Whisky a Go Go in West Hollywood, California, supported by The Doors.

1973, Bassist Ronnie Lane left The Faces and went on to form Slim Chance.

1977, Sting, Stewart Copeland and Andy Summers played together for the first time when they performed as part of Mike Howlett’s band, Strontium 90, at the Circus Hippodrome, Paris.

1983, Actress and singer Irene Cara started a six-week run at #1 on the U.S. singles chart with “Flashdance… What a Feeling,” taken from the film Flashdance, and a #2 hit in the U.K.

1983, The four-day US Festival ’83 took place in California, featuring The Clash, U2, David Bowie, The Pretenders, Van Halen, Stray Cats, Men at Work, Judas Priest, Stevie Nicks, Willie Nelson, INXS, Joe Walsh, Motley Crue and Ozzy Osbourne. Over 750,000 fans attended the festival. For more on this story, see today’s This Day in Music Spotlight.

1995, Hootie and the Blowfish started a four-week run at #1 on the U.S. album charts with Cracked Rear View. The album went on to sell over 15 million copies.

2007, The Police kicked off their 152-show reunion tour at General Motors Place in Vancouver, Canada in front of 22,000 fans.

2009, Depeche Mode singer Dave Gahan had surgery to remove a cancerous tumor in his bladder. The band, who were currently on a world tour, cancelled several shows because of the 47-year-old’s health problems.

The Mother Jones Band! Greatest R and B Band in Montreal …!

Father and Son; Album Review

They say to play the blues well, one must go through hard times.

Tommy Falls and his son Derek, live with the memory of someone dear who lived and died through very hard times. Is it any wonder their inaugural album is so good …?

Tommy Falls

Father and Son could be considered a throwback to a different time. An era that was simple.

Guitar, drums, bass and sax. The cornerstones of rhythm and blues. The cornerstones of all music. The cornerstones of the Mother Jones Band.

‘Hold on to your Love’, the opening track – opens the door and invites you in. A welcoming groove provided by the African coast’s Manu Pele. One of the most talented bass players currently playing in Montreal. Manu’s bass combined with drummer Dannick Tardif’s backing beat; the perfect grounding to Derek Falls’ guitar and vocals.

Father Tommy Falls, at the age of sixty – five – providing experienced licks to his son’s lead. The elder Falls providing musical and vocal assurance to ground his offspring in the past.

A past which is evident on all the tracks written by his son.

‘Runway’ and ‘Do me right’, the second and third songs are immediately catchy. Derek’s guitars both smooth and menacing. His voice; part Lenny Kravitz, part Prince and part almost every male who has sung under the Motown label – providing romantic lyrics.

The Mother Jones Band

Joey Bolusi, aka Joey the Saxman – plays alto and tenor sax like they should be played on a blues record. Not in your face. More like a flick on the chin when you need it most.

Tommy’s Dad was a boxer and MP in the army when he went into a bar to have a drink. One thing led to another, and the African American was arrested by officers of La Surete de Quebec. Mr. Falls was found dead soon after of a ‘suicide’. A death caused by ‘ self – inflicted’ damage to his lungs after a self imposed ‘ beating ‘ at the hands of the police.

“My father was the nicest, gentlest man.” Says Tommy.” He didn’t start anything like they said he did …he wouldn’t hurt a fly outside of the ring!”

The Father and son’s pain is none more apparent than on the slow ballad ‘Hey Little Mary’. Derek’s voice achingly begging for love, his guitar doing everything in it’s power to help.Somehow,the younger Falls makes his Fender cry like a wounded heart. A dark room with dim lights – the perfect backdrop to this seduction of the senses.

His guitar sounding often like the late Roy Buchanan, another victim of a so – called suicide in his jail cell.

Manu Pele

‘Give it to You’,’Hold On’ and ’20 Below’ are also lovemaking tools. Candles the only thing missing to Derek’s quest for love. Lenny Kravitz’ voice perfectly channeled by Falls especially on 20 Below. A song reminiscent of ‘Winter’ by the Rolling Stones.

A warm feeling is what you get listening to the album. A perfect contrast to the coldness the father and son duo feel inside when they think of their Father and grandfather.

The one shortcoming of the band is the sometimes inability to take it to the next level. Derek Falls’ lack of experience at times, leaves an empty feeling. The listener’s crying for more. It’s not a bad thing and with time, an ingredient Falls will learn.

In a way, all three generations appear on the C.D.

Tommy, with his years of experience as a blues guitarist, Derek and his more modern heroes shining through – and the Grandfather; his pain reminding everyone why the blues were written.

For tough times …

The Mother Jones Band is playing at Calistoga Grill in Pointe Claire this Friday Night – do yourself a favour, check.them out!

Just Between Jerry Mercer and Me – Part Two

Pierre Senecal, Brian Edwards and Rayburn Blake first met in 1960 in Montreal. Their drummer did not show up one night for a gig, so Jerry Mercer was brought in and ended up joining the band. Brian Edwards quit the band and they continued playing under the names; the Phantoms, Ray Blake’s Combo and the Dominoes.

By 1965 they were calling themselves The Triangle. R&B singer Trevor Payne was the singer and they played for an additional four years until being discovered by record producer Bob Hahn. Edwards rejoined the band and they changed their name to Mashmakhan, after a variety of hashish sold by a local dealer.

‘ As the years go by’ was the band’s biggest hit and Jerry remembers getting off the plane in Japan to thousands of screaming fans.

” It was like we were the Beatles or something …! At home – we were playing before two or three hundred people. We sold 400,000 copies of the song in Japan. There were 10,000 Japanese people waiting for us!” Mercer laughs.

Mashmakhan was lucky enough to be part of The Festival Express. A gig that toured across Canada with some of the biggest names in rock music. The Grateful Dead, the Band and Janis Joplin all travelled with Mercer and his mates on a train.

” I think we were in Winnipeg. It was pouring rain and the train was leaving.” Says Mercer. “Janis was still wearing her stage clothes and was standing in the rain, leaning against a chain link fence. Being Janis, she was pretty drunk with a bottle of Jack Daniels in her hand. We all tried to convince her to get on the train. She said she would not leave until her manager came. Well, the manager never came and the train ( including us ) left the station without her. A small plane picked her up and flew her to the next town.” Mercer frowns. ” It was sad to see such a big star like that …”

During that tour, Jerry marvels at the memory of what went on.

“All the bands did not stay within their groups. I would hang out with Levon Helm for a couple of hours and next thing – I am with Mickey Hart of the Dead. I was lucky to pick up stuff from those guys. It was a once- in- a -lifetime  event!”

The only sour note for Mercer is years later, in 2004, a documentary was released about the tour. Mercer and Mashmakhan were mentioned briefly. A point which Jerry does not believe is right as he put a lot of effort to get the film made.

“Mashmakhan was just as much a part of that as anyone!” Says Mercer. ” To feature the ‘ big names ‘ and not us is a shame for everyone involved.”

Realizing the domestic success was not happening, Mashmakhan broke up shortly after the tour which led to Mercer becoming a session guy for a while. Jerry played drums with Roy Buchanan – a man who Eric Clapton was once referred to as ‘ the greatest blues guitarist ever’ and a band by the name of the Whackers.

It was then, along with Steve Lang, Brian Greenway and Garry Moffat – Mercer auditioned and got the job as a drummer for the band April Wine. The foursome along with founding members Myles Goodwin and Jimmy Clench – went on to international fame …

To be continued …

Jerry Mercer will be playing Friday night, May 18 2012 at Calistoga Grill in Pointe Claire.

He will be joining John McGale and Breen LeBoeuf of Offenbach fame. A band which played together in the late eighties as The Buzz Band !

Album Review – Roger Walls; Midnight Ride

Get in your car!

No – wait!

Run back to the house and grab Roger Wall’s new CD – Midnight Ride! For a long drive, there is nothing better for a Jazz fan to keep the toes a tappin’…

Kansas – born Roger Walls brings fifty years of experience to the disc, a half century of knowledge accumulated partly by working with some of the greats in the music industry.

Tony Bennett, Dee Dee Bridgewater and Duke Ellington are some of the people that have employed Roger at some point. Trumpet, alto and tenor sax along with anything that blows – Mr. Walls brings all this knowledge to Midnight Ride.

As Roger said recently from the stage at the House of Jazz; “What’s the point of staying in your room? It’s cabaret time!”

If Roger had stayed in his room, playing at Carnegie Hall for Ella Fitzgerald‘s 75th Birthday party – would have been a dream. Instead, with Max Roach on drums – Roger played for the legendary singer to the song; Tiscut a Tasket with the Duke Ellington Orchestra.


Although the new CD adds an assortment of various styles, it tells a personal tale for Roger. A story told through music …

The first track – Soon come young blues; opens the first leg of ‘the drive’ with an upbeat tempo. Drummer Eloi Bertholet, a fellow ‘farm boy’ from Saskatchawan, instills the proper speed limit to get the listener’s engine revvin’. The song says; ‘ this is Jazz’ ! No more -no less and keeps a curious ear for the next track. A song inspired by a dream …

‘I said you’d be back’ is what a warden of a prison told Roger in one of his many dreams. The storyline consists of Roger escaping and the warden informing him of their soon- to- be – encounter. This instrumental track delivers a manic feel. Trumpets sounding like police cars as the underlying keyboards give chase to a criminal drum beat. Following this song; your speed limit is a little higher as it attempts to keep up with your heart rate.

The third song on the disc is a shock! By far – the catchiest tune on an over- all catchy collection of a dozen songs.

‘Slow walk ‘ combines Rap, Jazz and Funk. An unlikely trio that conjures up phrases such as ‘wtf’? If Roger’s conscience spoke to him – it surley said; ‘ what are you thinkin’ dude’? Yet it works and it works extremely well. The type of tune which places your fingers on the replay button – over and over.

The song settles into a groove quickly. A rhythm of making love to a sultry woman. Not fast – not slow, just right.

Therein lies the beauty of the song. The routine of the same rhythm is disrupted by not one – two rappers. A ‘ take your turn’ adventure in a hip hop dueling session. A female’s voice gives pleasure while the man’s presence – a perfect balance to a funk- riddled tightrope excursion.

A high wire act is something Walls has learned over the years.

Following a move to Quebec with his new wife, Roger discovered Montreal was a great place to be and discovered  a niche playing with French Stars.

“The studio scene was great – I could do 3 beer jingles (there used to be about 30 studio’s in town ), a tv show and a jazz gig in the same day .” Walls continues. ” I was the only one in town that had high chops because of my rock experience and good teachers.”

This opened the ‘ trumpet case’  so to speak and Roger soon found himself among great – if not, legendary performers. Cab Calloway – Al Martino – Paul Anka – Tom Jones – Michel Legrand – Aretha Franklin – Donna Summers – Whitney Houston – George Burns – Petula Clark – Englebert Humperdink -Dean Martin- Diana Ross – Joan Rivers – Dionne Warwick to drop a few names.

Roger recalls when the orchestra he was playing in backed up the Godfather of Soul – James Brown.

” He ( Brown) arrived 15 minutes before we were supposed to go. Nobody in the band knew a set list containing the three songs he was supposed to play. I spoke with him and we narrowed his ‘hits’ to the three. In five minutes – I scribbled the sheet music, xeroxed it and handed it to fifty guys in the band. Talk about cutting it close?”

Close is what you may want to do when you play the next song on the disc; ‘Music to Wish for Girls By’.

A song inspired by one of Wall’s conga players’ favorite songs; Music to Watch Girls By…A popular song written by Herb Albert. Roger’s version turns the track into a Latin- based rhumba and adds spice to a scene that may otherwise be melancholi as the title suggest. Music can transform dreams into possibilities …

‘I Will Wait Forever’ continues the soft section of the CD without the groove of the previous track. It is a song for the special men who fall in love with a special lady and wait forever …

Forever seems a long time ago to Roger. Starting his career in Wichita, Kansas and gaining notoriety with the Central Standard Time band. The band toured all over the States and the east coast of Canada. They made such an impact – Roger and his ex – mates were recently inducted into the Kansas City music hall of fame. Something Roger could not fathom when the band broke up in St.Paul, Minnesota.

” I hopped in my ’59 Volvo and headed to L.A. I played several of the clubs , hooking up with musicians and making a name for myself. A friend could have got me a gig with Lawrence Welk – instead I ended up in Quebec.”

Rene Simard’s company hired Roger and he also was lead trumpet for one of  Quebec’s most popular artists; Garou.  Roger travelled all around Europe, Japan and France. His stay in Japan was the inspiration behind ‘ A Pink Japanese Moon’ – another track on a Midnight Ride.

The song fulfills what Walls wanted to do.  Capture the beauty of Japan! Within a minute, the listener is transported beyond the rice fields into the land of silky screens and geisha girls. A spiritual massage given by Wall’s eloquent use of his instrument amid the sweet sounds of his backing band.

Les Murs De Paris is another track on the album which captures Roger’s memories. In France, Walls played on a t.v show entitled “Apre Mo Lise”. Various people such as Gene Krupa and Sonny Rollins would appear on the show, adding more fuel to Walls’  ‘ Wall of Sound’.

” Don’t forget – in the 1970’s, people would drive from N.Y.to Montreal to listen to Jazz. I played at hot clubs such as The Rising Sun, Rockheads Paradise and Grand Cafe. I played with the Ink Spots, the Drifters and Frankie Hubbard. I even played for Jerry Lewis at the M.S. Telethon!”

These experiences are evident on the ‘train medley’.  Roger’s hommage to Chatanooga Choo Choo, Pennsylvania 65000 and Take the A Train. It commemorates all the years Walls played with the Duke Ellington Orchestra. For older and more traditional Jazz fans – a pleasant trip backwards.

The final cut on the album brings us back to the start. ‘A Midnight Ride’ – inspired by Roger’s love of cars and driving. An upbeat finish to a darkened ride with the moon as a guide.

This album is not the best Jazz album nor is it the worst. It lies somewhere high above a mark. An indentation which millions of players strive to reach each year. An indentation which Roger Walls reached and passed miles ago …

Get in you car!

Don’t wait …

Roger Walls new CD “Midnight Ride”
Available at  Archambault Music ( Jazz) 500, Sainte-Catherine Est
and Itunes!

Want publicity for your band or self? Contact me keenerick@hotmail.com