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 !
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.
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.
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.
Lost Brotherhood 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.
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 …”
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.
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.
Fast forward to MTeluson 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.
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.
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.
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 …
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.
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.
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 Sisters, Boogiewonderband,Backtraxx, Persuasion, Meg Smith, Sammie Libman, DJ 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 Day, Founder 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.
Over the past 30 years, Starlight 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 Australia, Canada, Israel, New Zealand and the United Kingdom and the United States, serving millions of children every year.