Rick Keene Music Scene – A Very Scary Hallowe’en Special

Boo!

There are so many scary things happening in the world today – Hallowe’en seems timid in comparison.

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One thing is for sure, there is no shortage of Hallowe’en masks of different world leaders and spokespeople to scare the candy out of any Hallowe’en bag !

Photo by Joy Marino on Pexels.com

Please listen below to some scary tunes and …?

The Empire Theater Livestream Link Here

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Rick Keene Music Scene – Who You Gonna Call On October 29th? Gowan !

Spirits from another world and Gowan go hand in hand.

Has there ever been a Canadian musician deeply connected with the souls of the world more than Lawrence Gowan?

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Musically, lyrically and entertainment -wise, Gowan grabs the heart and secures the pulse. Always on the go. Learning and growing; Gowan is the type of person the world needs right now.

Buy Tickets Here

Please listen below to my chat with Gowan and get an update and details of his October 29th show. Hear Gowan’s thoughts about two musicians the world lost recently.

The Empire Theater Livestream Link Here

Visit Styx Here

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Rick Keene Music Scene – Now That I Have Your Attention …

Songs,songs and more songs…

As I take a small break from interviews, I give you tunes that may be essential to your well being. One song, one note can mean the difference between enjoying your day or screaming at your kids.

Music is that important.

Have a listen below to some great tunes and some insight into ?

Smoke Meat Pete Here !

Rick Keene Music Scene – StringKatz; Putting The ‘Classic’ Back In Classic Rock

Many Rock n Roll musicians are classically trained …

Lawrence Gowan of Styx immediately comes to mind which is ironic since StringKatz, a quartet of stringed instruments, just recorded Gowan’s A Criminal Mind on their new CD.

Music imitating music or music imitating music?

StringKatz are on to something. Rock music is historically ripe in beautiful harmonies and chords. Even Andrew Loog Oldham, the Rolling Stones’ first manager stated famously the Stones’ music can easily be put to orchestral arrangements. How many times have you heard The Beatles’ tunes in elevator music mode?

Please listen below to my chat with Helga Dathe and Marie – Claude Martel. They are the two violinists in StringKatz. Hear some great tunes as well !

Helga? Marie – Claude? What’s up?

Visit StringKatz here !

Rick Keene Music Scene – Gowan’s Love Affair with Quebec Grows

It all comes down to passion …

French Canadians love the Montreal Canadiens. If you pay attention – they especially love the players that love the Canadiens as much as they do .

Enter Lawrence Gowan aka Gowan.

Photos Emily Eelkema

What does a Scottish-born, Canadian -raised, classically trained pianist have to do with hockey? Passion. Quebec and Francophones love the passion Gowan has for music. It is that simple …

That exuberance shone through once more in Drummondville on Tuesday evening for the first Quebec stop on Gowan’s (too few) solo tour. (His second Quebec show on the 24th of February in Ste Eustache is sold out.)

Quebec was monumental in getting Gowan’s career started upon the release of A Criminal Mind and Strange Animal. Quebec was also the place ( Montreal) where Tommy Shaw of Styx first witnessed Gowan’s passion as an opening act. That observation led Shaw to asking Gowan to replace Dennis DeYoung a few years later. Heck – even Tommy Shaw recognized the passion and he isn’t even French.

It is because Lawrence Gowan is part of Styx (since 1999) that his solo albums and tours are few and far between. Styx annually plays over 100 shows making them the hardest working band in the US.

Thankfully Lawrence, Larry or Gowan (depending on who you get) had some time to visit Canada without Styx and what a show it was. The spinning keyboard was there, the kilt was there and the passion was there within Gowan’s vast solo catalog.

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Desperate
Awake the Giant

Those three songs opened the show with a jolt. Gowan and the band with as much energy as most bands peak at. Gowan, especially vital with the voice of a twenty year old. His love for Quebec shining through with mostly French bantering. Okay – sometimes Franglais but you get the point.

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Moonchild’s Psychedelic Holiday/Tomorrow Never Knows and Criminal Mind finished the ‘first half’ of the show. There is nothing that can give you goosebumps in this world more than listening to Gowan’s vocals during A Criminal Mind. Not only is the tune a show-stopper; it is in the top ten of best Canadian songs ever written. Gowan’s soul is exercised and launches with all it’s honesty to the crowd. Tears can flow …

Between songs all night – Gowan had the audience in stitches. Gowan is the male version of Jann Arden. Once his singing career is done, stand-up comedy would be his next best bet. 

Soul’s Road, Dancing on My Own Ground, All the Lovers in the World and Khedive continued the show with tenderness and a hard driving beat. Gowan’s band not quite Pop, not quite Rock and not quite Prog -Rock. The music is a combination of all genres including classical. Gowan – on the piano / synth; a master as showcased in the Styx tune Khedive. 

Guerilla Soldier, Strange Animal and Moonlight Desires concluded the evening with love and passion. Emotions traded from stage to audience. The punters who remember Gowan from the eighties ( their youth) reminded affectionately of the songs. The new fans introduced to the tunes for the first time. Most importantly; all ages were shown passion. 

Something Quebecers and Gowan know so well.

Visit Gowan Here !

 

Rick Keene Music Scene – The Damn Truth Deliver The Damn Truth !

It is a lot of fun watching a seed grow

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 …”

Lee-La Baum

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.

Tom Shemerr

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.

Shemerr, Baum

Fast forward to MTelus on 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.

Lee-La Baum

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.

Dave Traina

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.

The audiences cannot get satisfaction.

Visit The Damn Truth Here !

Photos courtesy of Ron Roxtar

Stay Tuned for my Sheepdogs Review !

Visit Smoke Meat Pete Here!

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Rick Keene Music Scene – Lawrence Gowan is Poised To Conquer Quebec. Again !

Quebec loves their Prog Rock guys and the Prog Rock guys love Quebec.

Gowan

It is hard to say exactly when Quebec’s love affair with Gowan began. It is not hard to say however why it started in the first place.

Quebec audiences historically love the oddballs. The creative spirits who demonstrate something that Quebecers (especially Francophones) love to see.

Passion. 

Artistically, men like Chris de Burgh and Peter Gabriel conquered Quebec  passionately with their art. Gowan is no different. 

Please listen below to my chat with Gowan as he is on the verge of ‘attacking’ Quebec once more. It won’t be the last time as relationships this profound – tend to last eternally.

Gowan? What’s up?

 

Visit Gowan Here!

 

 

 

 

Visit Smoke Meat Pete Here!

 

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Meet Lawrence Gowan and His Alter Ego; Gowan. Part One and Two

Lawrence Gowan has an alter ego.

Or – perhaps, Gowan has an alter ego. Either way, this pair of artists are blessed with talent.

Blessed with talent and a love for life.

 

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The front-man for Styx since 1999 and one of the most successful solo artists in Canadian history, is all set for another chapter in both Styx’ history and his own solo career.

Please listen below as Lawrence Gowan and Gowan explain …

Stay tuned for Part Two very shortly.

Thanks for listening !

 

 

 

Visit Styxworld Here

Visit Gowan Here

 

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What’s Happening on Rick Keene Music Scene

Lots coming up …

 

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Have a listen to some of the artists I will be interviewing as well as some shows coming to Montreal

Talk soon …

 

*Apologies Styx is touring with Def Leppard not Journey. My mistake.

 

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Rick Keene Music Scene Presents; Styx, Foreigner and Don Felder – ‘Soundtrack of Summer’ Special. Featuring a New Version of Hotel California with Mick Jones!

It’s gonna be fun …!

Lawrence Gowan
Lawrence Gowan and Rick Keene

Seldom do bands hook up that are headliners on their own.  Imagine. Styx, Foreigner and Don Felder – together on tour!

Crystal Ball, JukeBox Hero and Hotel California in one night!That’s just three songs! A night to remember. A night to attend …

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Listen as Tommy Shaw, Kelly Hansen and Don Felder talk about the tour, the songs and each other. Also included in this special exclusive show – a brand new version of Hotel California with Tommy Shaw, Kelly Hansen, Don Felder and Mick Jones. Re-worked for an instant classic of another time.

Thanks to Lawrence Gowan and Terry Gibson.

Boys? Tell us about this amazing tour!

 

 

This special is also possible because of Strangers in the Night 10.

strangers

Starlight Children’s Foundation Quebec is pleased to announce the
return of their 10th annual Strangers In The Night Charity Gourmet Gala on Saturday June 14th, 2014 at the Fairview Centre, Pointe-Claire (Parking Area #32).

The evening, presented by Delmar International, will be a fusion of food and entertainment – headlined by three-time Grammy Award winning musical group

The Pointer Sisters.

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The evening will begin at 5:00 p.m., with 75 of Montreal’s top food vendors dishing out their signature plates, giving the 5000+ guests a chance to tantalize their palates before dancing under the stars to musical performances by: The Pointer SistersBoogiewonderband, BacktraxxPersuasionMeg SmithSammie LibmanDJ Whitey, and special appearance by DJ TB1.

 

“Our tenth anniversary promises to be the best edition of Strangers In The Night yet. With our allstar lineup of celebrity performers and guests, Montrealers will have a chance to take part in a truly memorable, rewarding and inspirational evening,”

Larry DayFounder of Strangers In The Night.

 

Starlight Children’s Foundation Canada is part of Starlight’s global network, serving kids and families through partnerships with more than 130 healthcare facilities.

starlight

 

Over the past 30 yearsStarlight has become a leading global charity that partners with experts to improve the life and health of kids and families around the world. Collaborating with innovators in pediatric healthcare, entertainment and technology, Starlight provides a unique blend of family-centered programs and services from hospital to home. Starlight partners with more than 1,750 healthcare facilities and pediatric hospitals in AustraliaCanadaIsraelNew Zealand and the United Kingdom and the United States, serving millions of children every year.

 

 

 Please visit Starlight Children’s Foundation Here!

Visit their Facebook Page Here!

Check out This Youtube Video!

 

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Official Supplier of Strangers in the Night Wait Staff!

 

 

 

Top Ten Reasons Why I – Lawrence Gowan, Joined Styx!

‘We’re gonna party like it’s 1999 …’

Prince may have been referring to a monumental decision on the part of two musical parties. Gowan and Styx. It was in that very same year – the two powerhouses combined to form a lethal unit. One of Canada’s most successful solo artists filling a void within a group who lost one of their members.

Dennis DeYoung out – Lawrence Gowan in …

A transition eased by  Lawrence’s DeYoung-like vocals and his talent as an entertainer. A true match made in heaven. A true pairing of musical talents.

Please listen as Lawrence initiates what will be a reoccurring Top Ten List feature while at the same time – explaining his Top Ten Reasons for Joining Styx! Lawrence also explains an upcoming tour this summer. A jaunt across America featuring two other legendary acts.

Lawrence …?

Visit Styx Here!

 

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Great Canadian Rock Show Part Three

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Lennex, Santers, Mainline, Bravebelt, Klaatu …

Heard of these guys? Probably. You just do not know it.

Five Canadian bands who paved the way for guys like Bryan Adams and (sigh) Justin Bieber. Commercially – anyways. Bands who did not get their fair due airplay -wise and monetarily. Some did – most had a cup of coffee in the show but in those days, record companies led the corrupt way for most.

In part three, Ritchie Henman ( co-founder of April Wine), speaks about The Wackers from a front ( back?) seat view and Mitchell Field talks about Hellfield. A band who opened for The Cars at Maple Leaf Gardens.

Ready Ritchie? Mitchell? Alright fellas …let’s go ….!

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Rick Keene Music Scene – Top Ten Concerts of 2013

Obviously – I cannot be everywhere. If that were the case, my shoe bill would be sky high!

Seriously folks  –  it is difficult enough to choose ten shows as the best in Montreal during the course of a year. If I could be everywhere, the list would consist of the top one hundred. I would be deaf and broke. Thankfully, I am not deaf. Realistically – I am broke. One out of two ain’t bad ( What’s that? Sorry you have to speak up).

Experiencing  shows in Montreal is an experience unlike anywhere else. Every musician I speak to – from Jerry Mercer of April Wine to Holly Cole does admit; there are no crowds in the world like Montreal. Savvy, emotional and passionate. Three adjectives ripe in truth. For these reasons – artists are quickly reminded if and when, their shows are good, great or soaring into other atmospheres.

Montreal – the perfect odometer for the racing pulse of visiting and local musicians.

The Jazz Festival. The best in the world, brought some fantastic acts this past summer season. Xavier Rudd, Holly Cole, Mo Kenney, Lyle Lovett and Chris Isaak, Molly Ringwald and Dr. John to name very few. A pure delight for the music fan – rain or shine ( please visit the archive section for a recap of the Jazz Festival).

Without further ramblings ( or shoes) – here is my Top Ten List of the 2013 concerts of which I attended. Agree to disagree or agree. One thing is certain, every musician deserves to be on the list …

10. Micheal Kaeshammer 

One of the most talented pianists this country boasts. German – born, Canadian-raised ( half his life), Kaeshammer delivered an old school lesson in Boogie Woogie, Jazz and Zydecho-based Blues and Rock n Roll. Kaeshammer was in Montreal on November 1st at L’Astral promoting his latest disc; ‘Tell You How I Feel’ ( a homage to Alain Toussaint). Michael awed the crowd with his non-stop banter, piano playing and (mostly) hard driving tunes. The type of show, no one wanted to end. In fact – Kaeshammer played beyond his time limit and came back again and again.

9. Steve Earle

The one man who can give Keith Richards a run for his millions in the bad boy category. A survivor of drug addiction, alcoholism and jail time – Earle brought his act to Montreal at the Corona Theater on August 9th.

He was in town promoting his 15th studio album; ‘ The Low Highway’. Steve Earle & the Dukes (& Duchesses), the best band Earle ever had ( according to Earle), brought a high caliber – all music show to Montreal.

Most artists, young and old get caught up in self-importance and either banter too much or indulge in the ‘greatness’ of their music. Not Earle. His show is strictly business. Not show business. A treat to hear songs such as ‘Guitar Town’ and ‘ Copperhead Road’ live. A treat to hear the man along with  husband and wife multi-instrumentalists Chris Masterson and Eleanor Whitmore and the rhythm section of  Kelley Looney and Will Rigby, tear the venue apart with truisms both lyrically and musically.

8. Lee Rocker

The former ( current?) Stray Cat double Bass player was here on Aug.29th to open up the 9th annual Red Hot and Blue Rockabilly Festival at The Rialto Theater.

Rocker performed songs from his new disc; Night Train to Memphis along with classic Stray Cat tunes and classic tunes period. The hardest working double bass player in North America delivered ‘Rumble in Brighton Tonight’, ‘Stray Cat Strut’, ‘Night Train to Memphis’ and ‘Rockabilly Boogie’ the way Carl Perkins and Scotty Moore would have.

Combining Country, Rock and the hard driving sounds of guitarist Buzz Campbell, guitarist/slide player Brophy Dale and  drummer Jimmy Sage, Rocker delivered an excellent blend of showmanship and a hard-earned, natural talent for his instrument. Once the show started – everyone danced. And danced … and danced…

7. The Damn Truth

Montreal’s own band-on-the-rise, played a few times in the city. The throwback sound of the glory days of Rock from the early seventies – along with the incredible vocals of Lee La Baum, set and continues to set Montreal on fire.

Songs such as ‘ Montreal’, ‘Kinda Awkward’ and ‘ I Want You ( He’s a Lightweight) – showcasing Tom Shemmer’s ‘ guitar work, Dave Traina’s primal drums and David Masse’s complimentary bass. In concert – Lee La, Tom and Masse never stand still enough to get a good picture.

Combine Led Zeppelin, The Kinks and Janis Joplin – the sum of all parts equals The Damn Truth. The Damn Future of Rock in Montreal …! Arcade who …?

6. Heart

Ann and Nancy Wilson – arrived in Montreal on the 25th of March at Le Centre Bell. Two of the pioneers of women in rock …

Given the fact the ladies have not really had a hit for decades – plus the fact they are closing in on collecting pensions, it was easy to enter the arena poised with cynicism. Well – nobody told the Wilson sisters!

Ann’s voice on ‘Alone’ – alone, made the entire night special.

Singing like the year was 1977 – Ann delivered the Heart songbook impeccably. Combined with Nancy’s vocals and experienced guitar playing; hits like ‘Magic Man’, ‘Dreamboat Annie’, ‘Barracuda’ and ‘Crazy on You’ brought several standing ovations to the crowd. With lead guitarist Craig Bartock,  keyboard player Debbie Shair, bassist Kristian Attard, and drummer Ben Smith along for the ride – the Wilson’s delivered at times, a rock n roll show circa 1978. Including covers of Led Zeppelin and The Who’s ‘ Love Reign O’er Me ( with Pete Townshend’s brother Simon), no doubt the world has not heard the end of Heart’s heart …

5.The Specials

Performing as part of The Montreal International Jazz Festival – the English band made everyone stand up and take notice at Metropolis. They were special …

The British ska legends, formed in 1977 – performed for the first time in Montreal following a thirty year absence. That abyss made the heart grow fonder for fans and the Festival walk-ins. Staples such as  ‘Do the Dog’,  ‘A Message To You, Rudy’, ‘Little Bitch, ‘Ghost Town’, ‘Concrete Jungle,’ ‘Rat Race’ and ‘Too Much Too Young’ – amazed the senses.

A glance around the club was truly an inspiring sight. Fever-pitched dancing was addictive. Partly because of the music and partly because of the band members themselves. Rarely does an entire band dance around the stage and rarely do men their age have that type of energy. The group made everyone realize what music is about.

Smiling and dancing. Two ingredients that made at least one evening at The Jazz festival – very special …

4. The Rolling Stones

The bad boys of Rock n Roll played in Montreal at The Bell Center on June 9th. They rolled into town as part of their Fifty and Counting Tour.The question on everyone’s mind? Do Mick, Keef, Charlie and Ronnie ( Darryl Jones) still have it?

A conundrum this greatest Rock n Roll band in the world. Judged against past tours, past hits, past bad behavior and (for the first time in their history) over-the-top ticket prices. Somewhere – among all this, is a band performing on stage. Four guys who have written the book on ‘How to Be  Rockstars’.

Ask someone who is not over fifty, question the early twenties contingent who have just seen a Stones’ show for the very first time; ‘How was the show?’ This is where the only real answer arrives to get a take on The Stones circa 2013. A non judgmental musicologist who just wants to party, move their feet and listen to tunes while under the influence of God-knows-what …

Ironically like the over sixty crowd did when they saw the band in the sixties. Or – the over fifty people who saw them in the seventies. The plus forty group who saw them in the eighties. Get my point?

The Stones were never technically sound even at their peak. One night in 1962 – 69, ’72, ’75, ’78, ’81’, ’89’, ’94, ’97, 2002 and ’06 – they were the worst sounding band heard this side of Tiny Tim. On the same tours – the greatest ever heard on a selected and presumably sober ( non sober) night. That is the beauty of Rock n Roll. That is the beauty of The Rolling Stones.

On June 9th, ‘Jumpin’ Jack Flash’, ‘Sympathy for the Devil’, ‘You Can’t Always Get What You Want’, ‘Satisfaction’ and twenty-odd more classic songs were performed by men who are the royalty of Rock. Was it the best show they have put on? No. Was it the worst performance of their ‘long and winding’ careers? No.  It was Rock n Roll delivered by legends. Pirates. Pioneers. Saints and sinners. Men who have forgotten more than David Grohl will ever learn. Richards may be having difficulty playing with his arthritic – laced fingers ( knobs), yet Mick, Ronnie and Charlie amaze with their ability to play and perform like the young Rock n Roll rebels they once were. Former guitarist Mick Taylor appeared on Midnight Rambler to remind everyone of possibly the greatest Blues-based Rock n Roll song the world will ever know.

and we like it, like it … yes we do …!

3. The Eagles

Do you know the History of The Eagles? Sit down and have a listen …

That is what happened on the 4th of November at Le Centre Bell. People sat and they listened to the soundtrack of the seventies – Country / Rock style.

As with Heart – when a group or solo artist disappears from the top one hundred, it is easy to dismiss their legacies and skills with reminders of their not-so-good stuff which appeared to be the reason they left; exit stage left. Out of nowhere, they return and as was the case of The Eagles – the songs and the talent astound the masses and create new fans.

With former member Bernie Leadon  joining Don Henley and Glenn Frey in an acoustic trio to start and Joe Walsh completing ‘the circle’ later on – the 14,400 Bell Center show really did go ‘full circle’.  First the songs. ‘Desperado’, ‘Hotel California’, ‘One of These Nights’, ‘The Long Run’ …etc etc. Performed with the vinyl perfection of the records which made women croon and men get in touch with their feminine sides they never knew they had.

Wistfulness embraced the Bell Center in November. A sing-a-long to end all sing-a-longs. As each song was introduced; lights went on in people’s eyes. Beams of remembrance. Beacons of times gone by and moments lost. The Eagles’ story contains many ballads and just when that legacy risked placing the crowd into ‘Bedtime for Bonzo’ mode – Joe Walsh saved the day.

‘Life’s Been Good’ for Walsh and he injected much needed life into the second half. ‘Rocky Mountain Way’ – played by Walsh by Walsh circa 1977.  The man is a Rock n Roll guitarist and will always be that rebel. A treat to witness him, Frey, Henley et al.

A treat to re- read The History of the Eagles …

2. Styx

What is with these bands everyone thought were dead? In the case of Styx – arguably, dead in the water until Gowan joined in 1999.

There is a reason why Styx are one of the most consistent and money – making acts on tour in North America for the past three decades. The show. It’s all about the show combined with a catalog unmatched by many. ‘Grand Illusion’, ‘Lady’, ‘Come Sail Away’, ‘Sweet Madame Blue’. Three tunes which provide so much energy. A trio of songs when added to Gowan’s own ‘Criminal Mind’ and ‘Strange Animal’; a five-some of classic rock done by pioneers of prog rock – North America style.

The Olympia show on the 17th November was not about the songs or Tommy Shaw and James Young. It was about the atmosphere and anticipation felt in the sold-out show. It was the type of feeling that once upon a time engulfed this city before a show at The  Montreal Forum, Le Moustache or the old Maples Inn. An electricity filled the air. Enough wattage to power Young and Shaw’s guitars.

Gowan, the ever -theatrical Gowan, more than replacing Dennis DeYoung in the band with his contagious energy. Enveloping the crowd with his own personal stamp of approval. Sure the band no longer writes any hits. Sure the band delivers straight, hard-edged rock and synthesizer sounds straight from the hair days of the eighties. Sure the band delivers tunes as sickening ( for Rock purists) as ‘Too Much Time on My Hands’. For the money – Styx put on a ‘Rock Show’ that McCartney and Wings would be proud of …

Styx continue to be ‘Renegades’ …

1. Bonnie Raitt

Raitt appeared at Theatre St. Denis on the 14th of November. Everyone in attendance will remember that date as if it were the 14th of February. A love -affair …

Performing classics such as ‘I Can’t Make You Love Me’, ‘Something to Talk About’, ‘Angel from Montgomery’ and ‘Love Sneakin’ Up on You’ – Ms. Raitt demonstrated the classiness, the sexiness and the rawness of Blues the way Blues should be played. In town – on the heals of her 2012 album ‘Slipstream’, a disc which won Best Americana Album – Raitt along with guitarist George Marinelli and organ and keyboard player Mike Finnegan, set the tone for a a show. 

Keyboardist Mike Finnigan got the spotlight for a blues vocal on “I Got News for You’ and may possibly be the best in the business at doing what he does. Jaw-dropping as was opening act Marc Cohn’s duet with Raitt in the encore. The pair delivering Van Morrison’s soulful ‘Crazy Love’. Cohn set the mood ( and the bar ) high as the opener. In his set, Mr. Cohn exchanged pianos and guitars  as he sang  Dylan’s ‘Perfect Love’,  Ray Charles’ ’29 Ways’ and paid homage to the late great Band singer Levon Helm on the moving “Listening to Levon.”

Raiit is at the point in her life ( sixty – four) where she does not need to impress anyone. This comes across in her behavior. No nervousness. No pretentiousness. Just a gal singing and playing at the top of her game to songs such as ‘Thing Called Love’, ‘Million Miles’ and ‘Dimming of the Day’. Nobody plays slide guitar like Raitt or as effortlessly.

For Raitt, a survivor and pioneer among women Blues singers – it’s all about the jam. She has played with everyone who was and is everyone in the Blues scene. Hooker, Buddy Guy, Taj Mahal, Clapton, the Stones. Following a career going on forty -two years, it is easy to see Raitt is a student intent on giving to the fans what some legendary artists have given to her …

Honorable mentions

 Tedeschi Trucks Band

Rod Stewart

Buddy Guy

John Scofield Trio

Jill Barber

The Cat Empire

Lyle Lovett / Chris Isaak

Gino Vannelli

Grace Potter and The Nocturnals

Joe Louis Walker

April Wine

Bettye Lavette

Terez Montcalm

Thanks to all the musicians both local and afar.

Styx; Making It Look Easy …

Remember the days when a Rock n Roll show was a Rock n Roll show?

In Montreal, ‘back in the day’, the anticipation could be felt hours before the show in Atwater Park. A green-space dotted with empty beer bottles, tossed – away ‘clips’ of joints and concert goers in various stages of sobriety.The only thing ‘straight’? The white line dividing East and West bound traffic on Atwater street itself …

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The festivities would easily carry over to The Montreal Forum once the doors of the fabled hockey shrine opened and invited people in. The atmosphere inside – a gathering of people wanting to have a good time. Frisbees, Beach Balls and a cloud of smoke shadowed the crowd on the floor while the folks in their seats – enjoyed  the entire scene with a grain of salt ( or a line of coke).

It was all about anticipation. Awaiting the band to come on. It was magical. No previews via Youtube of what the group looked like or sounded like the night before in ( insert name here),U.S.A. No Facebook pages with status updates from Jimmy Page or Humble Pie. No tweets from Tiny Tim. No nothing. That is what made a concert so exciting. ‘Live music’ from ‘live musicians’. The pinnacle of the music world performing the pinnacle of songs and the only place to witness it was live …

Last night, at The Olympia on Ste Catherine St. East – that anticipation was felt inside the venue. An excitement loomed overhead like the fog of marijuana smoke once did at the storied Forum.

There were two reasons for this. Most important,  Styx was ‘in the house’. Montreal audiences have a love affair with the band dating back to the days of ‘Sweet Madame Blue’. That song became a huge hit in Montreal before anywhere else in the world. That – combined with Montreal’s affection for prog-Rock bands such as Genesis, Yes and Marillion, gave the audience a ‘buzz’.

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The other principle reason for everyone getting their ‘undies in a bunch’ – is the city’s and the Province’s love affair with Lawrence Gowan. Starting with his appearances at Le Moustache (a club across the street from The Forum) and ending with his monstrous hits; ‘Strange Animal‘ and ‘Criminal Mind’ – Larry, Lawrence or Gowan is a household name in Montreal. Two acts – one heart. One love affair. Placing  Styx and him together? A combination worthy of anticipation. Peanut Butter and Jam. The ‘munchies’ for a crowd ‘stoned’ in nostalgia.

The excitement evolved into bliss with Gowan’s best Dennis DeYoung impersonation on the evening’s second song; Grand Illusion. The opening keyboards as obvious as Liberace’s penchant for all things non-female. The audience was hooked. Receiving what they came for and enjoying everything that came after.

“Fooling Yourself’ was no joke. Another tune from The Grand Illusion disc delivered with almost the same uniqueness of the studio version. Following a brief introduction of original guitarist – turned bassist; Chuck Panozzo, Gowan sent shivers down the spines of everyone with the opening words to ‘Lady’. The group’s hit from 1975. Many in attendance realizing it was that song which gave the opportunity for a slow dance back in high school. A song which has not only stood the test of time, a song  relevant more than ever in an era of disrespect towards …um …everyone.

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‘Lights Out’ came next followed by ‘In the Wilderness‘, the latter also from The Grand Illusion. An album which the band has played in it’s entirety ( along with Pieces of Eight) on recent tours. ‘In the Wilderness’ should have stayed ‘In the Wilderness’. Following more known songs – ‘Wilderness’ set the tone back except for the die hard Styx fans. A nonsensical choice that every cover band can do in their sleep. Inappropriate unless the Grand Illusion album was played out fully (which it was not).

‘Sweet Madame Blue’ and ‘Crystal Ball’ continued the party with the entire audience singing along  to a pair of songs which (arguably) placed Styx on the Rock n Roll map. ‘Miss America’ returned the group to ‘Wilderness’ levels once more – somehow losing whatever melody it had on vinyl to outright distorted guitars in concert.

Gowan to the rescue …!

‘Criminal Mind’ elevated the band from it’s corny prison routine and introduced Gowan to the crowd as the solo artist they once knew. A haunting song which made it’s way around the room like a ghostly presence. A homecoming of sorts for the man who loved Montreal so much – he recorded an album in French.

‘Stephanie’, Gowan’s hit ‘en Francais’ – followed a respectful jaunt to the time when  Styx started to lose fans. ‘Too Much Time on Your Hands’ is great in concert and annoying anytime else. A crowd-  pleaser unless the crowd happens to contain prisoners with a penchant for Primus. A fluffy piece of music meant for …?

Once more – Gowan to the rescue…

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The funnest part of the evening had Gowan (alone) do a medley. A ‘montage’of great songs from the past starting with his own hit; Moonlight Desires‘. Roughly thirty seconds of the subsequent songs carried out – much to the joy of the crowd. ‘Sweet Dreams’ by The Eurythmics, ‘Changes’ by Bowie, ‘Tiny Dancer‘ by Elton John and’You Can’t Alway Get What You Want’ by the Rolling Stones. Each choice gaining sing-a-long status from the crowd with Gowan’s urging. The Stones’ ballad receiving the loudest and longest rendition. ‘Fat Bottom Girls‘ (Queen) and ‘Another Brick in the Wall ( Pink Floyd) led Gowan into the night’s biggest moment …

Come Sail Away.

The eruption, the sing-a-long, the joyous reaction and the memories- all in your face! An anthem delivered. A typical Styx ballad -turned rocker. The ORIGINAL Styx crowd pleaser done with so much heart – so much 70’s flavor – it was perfect as the final song of the show. Leaving the audience begging for an encore. ‘Renegade’ kept the fires burning long enough, hard enough for Styx to not be lumped in to the ‘nostalgia act’ category.

Oldie acts do not have the energy Styx generated last night.

Over- the – hill acts do not put on a Rock n Roll show …!

Highlight of the Night; No Mr. Roboto!

Lowlight; No Babe?

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Lawrence Gowan; ‘ I Would Have Been an Astronaut …’

Lawrence Gowan aka Gowan – is a ‘Scot‘ at heart ….

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Born in Scotland and transplanted to Ontario ( Scarborough) as a child, the writer of one of the best Canadian ballads of all time ( Criminal Mind), is a man well-traveled.

Whether mixing his first album in England at the very same place Lennon recorded Imagine or jamming’ with the likes of Jerry Lee Lewis and The Band for Ronnie Hawkins‘ birthday bash – this classically trained pianist is at a happy place right now. Being part of one of the top grossing touring acts in the past ten years – does that to a man …

Since ‘officially’ joining Styx in 1999 – Gowan is enjoying a combination of high-octane rock n roll via the band’s catalog along with his signature songs. A perfect fit for a man whose stage presence fills a void . A hole placed in Styx when Dennis DeYoung departed. A band-aid which became a permanent ‘scar’ ….

Gowan explains his experience, Styx’s ‘double fantasy’ and the group’s upcoming show in

Montreal on November 17 at L’Olympia Theater.

Please visit Gowan’s site here !

Visit Styx here!

L’Olympia