Derek Falls – Keepin’ the R and B Tradition Alive!

Tommy Falls – Derek’s father, loved rhythm and Blues. Little did he know, his son was listening to all his music. Otis Redding, Elvis Presley and all the great pioneers of soul, rock n roll and Blues.

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“One day, my Dad had a party and I asked him if I could play along with my guitar. My Dad asked where I got it. I told him  I wanted it so badly that I worked hard and saved all my money.”

Needless to say, the elder Falls, a guitar player himself – was pleased that his son wanted to carry on not only the great tradition of R and B, the family tradition as well …

“I guess I was about thirteen.” Explains Falls. “I would play alongside my Dad. Later, around sixteen – my friends and I started a band and we played all those great R and B tracks. It was the time of Corey Hart‘s popularity, so we started playing his songs as well. ‘Sunglasses at Night‘ , ‘Never Surrender‘ … those songs. I always played with my family band and me and my father and Brother starting playing at home and in shows ”

derek5Not immediately, yet a bit down the road, the father – son tandem evolved into The Mother Jones Band. It featured Derek on lead guitar and Father Tommy by his side playing a Blues rhythm guitar that would make John Lee Hooker himself – very proud. Following one album entitled ‘Father and Son‘ – Derek Falls decided to dip into his solo ‘pool’. He has released several videos, notably ‘Down at the Butcher Shop’ and has just finished recording his new cd; ‘The Better Side of Me’ …

‘I basically sat down, started strumming on the guitar and all these great songs came out. I decided to get a group of musicians together and record the album. I am especially happy Jim Zeller, Quebec‘s finest harmonica player is in the recording. His playing with my acoustic is just so real. It adds a whole dimension to the songs.”

The album, is a throwback to the old days.

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‘If I had a Minute”, a track which Derek played live on k103.7fm, is Derek and his guitar introducing a song – or, track two; ‘Corner Stop’.  The rest of the band kicks in with Luc Murphy leading the charge on flute. Derek’s riffs, reminiscent of Dylan’s ‘All Along the Watchtower‘, providing a backdrop for Murphy’s instrument flying like a bird gone wild. Some songs remain the same throughout. No need for ebbs and flows. Corner Stop  is one of those.

‘They say that I am Crazy’ is Derek’s rendition of Leonard Cohen. Lyrically and soulfully. Just when you think Derek may be too repetitive, too mundane –  suddenly the chorus picks up the song and delivers some funky riffs from a backseat derived through some devilish excursion into a Blues’ past riddled with guitar bullets.

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‘Down at the Butcher Shop’ and ‘Walk This Way‘ ( not to be confused with Aerosmith’s hit), rock out with a hard guitar and piercing solos by Falls. The great thing about Derek, is his non – shyness to add phrases introducing his directions while he goes. Hooker did it, Muddy Waters did it – now, add Falls to that list. Amid this ‘sound-a-like’ world which we live in, Falls’ tunes remain ‘old school’ yet at the same time – unique.

Like a Rolling Stone‘ and ‘Heading on Down the Road’ provide a slower Bluesy tracking device to the listener. Zeller’s harp and Emilie Desroches’ violin – providing an old – fashioned backdrop to Falls’ songwriting scriptures. Once more – a call goes out to the masters. Obvious that Tommy Falls’ inspiration added up in the plus column.

‘I’m a Strange Nor Ordinary Man‘ is the best song on the album. It’s a hit waiting in the wings. Zeller’s harp kicking off the sort of song heard in old western movies. Suddenly, Falls jumps in and it’s a 1970’s ‘woe is me’ feel good riff. Foot – tapping with an Allman Brothers – type chorus making an easy route to a smile more convenient. Falls’ solo near the end – magical!

‘The Better Side of Me’, the title track is haunting. Side by side with Radiohead’s ‘Creep’. Can ‘Creep’ be explained? You cannot explain ‘The Better side of Me’ either. Just listen and enjoy …

‘Angel Devine’ brings Luc Murphy and his flute back to the front of the line. A happy-go-lucky tune with a hint of The J. Geils Band‘s ‘Angel in Blue‘. Faintly. A great song to listen to while writing, thinking or driving in the night. Non – threatening in a threatening way.

‘King and Queen’ is the weordest song this side of a combination of Tiny Tim and Weird Al. Weird in such a great way. A fantastic song with Sergiu Popa on the accordion. Adding a ‘French ‘ feel straight from the boulevards of Gay Paris. Combined with Falls’ R and B influence and catchy lyrics – ‘King and Queen’; the second best song on the album.

‘Been a Long Time’, ‘derekCherry Love’, ‘I’ll Be There’ and ‘Who Do You Know’ finish the album in Derek Falls’ style. Four ballads which instill passion, romance and possibly the greatest blending of an electric guitar in slow tunes ever. Falls retains the uniqueness to write love songs which others would simply overdo and overdub. Falls simply strums from his heart and that noise is captured by the hearts within earshot.

Derek Falls will be playing most of his new tracks on the terrace at Annies sur La Lac on Friday the 10th of May. He will also be playing covers from the R and B greats.

Manu Pele – one of the best bass players from the Ivory Coast of Africa will be joining him along with a drummer to be named later.

Eat, drink and listen to Derek fill the air with sounds of happiness – old school style …

http://www.annies.ca/

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Derek-Falls/127299527355165?ref=ts&fref=ts

http://www.reverbnation.com/derekfalls

http://www.derekdartist.com/

http://music.cbc.ca/#/artists/Derek-Falls

 

Andrea England; Hope and Other Sins – Album Review

Andrea England  has just released her second album. Seven years after her first and fourteen years following a car accident which almost killed her …

The story is a Hollywood one. Andrea England Hope and other sins

England was delivering her first ep to a record store in Ottawa. The accident brought her career to a full stop and she carried on with a fresh outlook. Andrea determined to turn her lemons into lemonade – and she has … thank you very much.

‘Lemonade’ is the title of her  award-winning debut in 2005.  Indeed ” it’s all about lemonade …”

The accident and later heart-related illness further cemented England’s resolve to hone her craft. A songwriter with 140 compositions and counting, her collaborations with an international who’s who of songwriting professionals include Dan Hill, Bruce Brody (Rickie Lee Jones, Patty Smith), Bryan Allen (Heart), Jeremy Ruzumna (Macy Gray), Liz Rodrigues (Eminem), and many others.

England has returned to a solo project with Hopes and Other Sins. A project, judging by the first track – ‘The Thought of You’, which should  rank very high among the angels which were so close to being Andrea’s roommates over a decade ago.

‘The Thought of You’ reminds a listener immediately of a woman by the name of  Sheryl Crow. Or – is it Shania Twain.  Bonnie Raitt maybe …?

Therein lies the beauty of the first track. A summation of  everything beautiful in music. Ingredients which compliment a voice that  sends music gracefully into the airwaves. England is one of few who sing without effort. Singing is her ‘calling’ and with the first song, a feeling is born between the listener and singer. A pact is completed and signed when guitarist Colin Linden’s slide enters the picture. A perfect combination of balladry and an edge to compliment the ‘other sins’. Did I mention John Whynot’s  organ playing at the beginning of the song …?

Andrea_England‘Lonely’ starts off with guitars complete with attitude. England jumps into the mix with her best impersonation of a sixteen year old girl sitting on a chain-link fence while the band trades licks and other things on the porch behind. Great music includes country and blues. The forefathers of Madonna’s limousines. Thank the lord, England is deep with her memories and even more profound with her band selection. ‘ Lonely’ is a feel good bottle of beer mixed with ginger ale. A ‘Shanty’ of great taste.

Real blues is meant to be listened on vinyl. Scratched and abused by the million times it has been listened to. ‘Hothouse Flower” is exactly the type of song which can accompany so many moods and feelings. Dumped? Put in on. In love …? Put in on. Cooking breakfast following an evening with your new found love? Put this acoustic / organ foot -tapping number on and enjoy the moment again and again … It’s a delightful way to poke the Devil in the eyes with your white satin fork and innocence of days gone by …

‘Fool’s Gold’ will be the favorite of any fan of Rickie Lee Jones.

If England spent any time with Jones it must have been like long lost twins meeting for the first time in years. ‘Fool’s Gold’ starts off showcasing Bruce Brody’s artful piano playing. A twinge of romance and feelings of a pre sex-ting era. England’s pronunciation of ‘hanging on to nothing’ and the chorus – a reminder of Lee Jones’ classic ‘Last Chance Texaco’. Brody has worked with Rickie Lee Jones. A coincidence that Brody and England are together …?

“When I was a young girl I did not know what Mama meant …”.

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Fitting lyrics within a fitting coming of age story in the song ‘Laundry’. A tale of life lessons sung so beautifully by England – every Mother should make their teenage daughters listen carefully.  “I took my ring off for a minute and put it on a shelf ..” The best song on the album!

‘Drive’ continues the angelic ways of England’s voice. A continuing saga in life’s tales. A tale of getting in the car and attempting to chase memories of a love affair gone bad. Anyone who thinks clearly while driving for long distances can relate to this tune. Andrea has been places with her soul and as the album progresses, the obvious is never more obvious. Colin Linden accentuates the feeling with divine intervention. A marriage for the ages.

Wistfulness comes to mind describing the album Hope and Other Sins. Wistfulness and melancholia. The world requires England’s messages. The world filled with so many mixed messages, it requires self – effectiveness more than ever.

‘I’m Not Ready Yet’, ‘Picture of You’ and ‘Trying’ are a trilogy of gazing at the moon a la Tom Waits. Minus the gruffness. Seldom do a group of musicians become so entwined on the same song sheet that the song sheet itself  – tossed into the wind. The songs follow suite like butterflies engaging on a journey filled with hopes, dreams and reality. Dan Dugmore, who has played with Linda Ronstadt and James Taylor, becomes the real star on these tunes. His pedal steel guitar  playing become the tears of a lost contagion of planet earth denizens looking for answers in an asylum seeking a keeper. Andrea is asking why. A listener can give the answers from within themselves if they try hard enough.

The disc concludes with instructions for the future.

‘Learn to Dance’ a last message from a group of professionals to keep hope and try. Instructions to never give up with a back-beat of positive musical notes. A perfect book end to the disc’s opening track. A second pop – oriented track which includes the profound lyrics – “Life is like a river flowing ..”

Listen to England’s disc. You will buy it.

You will “Learn to Dance’ and be singing choruses all day long …

Visit her site; http://www.andreaengland.com/

MUSICIANS:

Andrea England: Vocals, Harmony Vocals, Acoustic Guitar
Colin Linden: Acoustic Guitars, Electric Guitars, Mandolin, Dobro, Harmony Vocals
John Whynot: Piano And Organ
Gary Craig: Drums And Percussion
John Dymond: Bass

GUEST MUSICIANS:

Bruce Brody: Piano on “Fool’s Gold”
Damhnait Doyle: Harmony Vocals on “The Thought of You”
Liz Rodrigues: Harmony Vocals on “Learn To Dance” and “Lonely”
Carolyn Dawn Johnson: Harmony Vocals on “Trying,” and “Hothouse Flower”
Dan Dugmore: Pedal Steel on “Picture Of You,” “Trying,” and “I’m Not Ready Yet”
Gordie Sampson: Acoustic Guitar on “The Thought Of You,” Lyric Guitar on “Drive,” Mandolin on “Picture Of You”

Steve Hill; Back Where he Started

When Steve Hill was a lad, he discovered the blues much the same way many people do.

Through the music and words of others…

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“Everytime I would hear guys like Jimmy Page talk about music, they would always be talking about people like Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf and Robert Johnson. This is how I learned the blues, by listening to my heroes’ heroes.”

For Steve Hill – that was eighteen years ago and a lot has happened in between. A lot has happened yet Steve finds himself back where he started with his new cd – Steve Hill Solo Recordings Volume One.

Sorta, kinda …

“I had written some songs years ago that were acoustic – stripped down stuff. I was meeting a record guy in Toronto to sign a deal with that type of music. Well … the deal did not go through and the songs stayed hidden.”

Hill explains further.

“It was not the right time anyways for me. I was into electric guitar and hard rocking music. Now – I feel after all these years, I deserve and have earned to do what I want. In this case, a solo show.”

This is a big change for Steve after recently playing a recent Montreal Jazz Festival gig at Place des Arts with another guitarist, Paul Deslauriers. It was billed as a ‘ Guitar Duel ‘ and Hill enjoyed the experience immensely.

” I actually replaced Paul years ago in a band. He was one of the guys I looked up to  growing up in the business. It was cool to play with him and the fans loved it.They kept coming back for more.”

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Guitar duels are not heard on Steve’s new project. It is a one man show which features mostly original tunes with a couple of covers tossed into the mix – most notably ‘ Honey Bee’ by Muddy Waters. Hill explains how the album came to be.

” I was visiting a buddy and he had an old Gibson lying around. Its the type of guitar that is made for the old time blues music. He was trying to sell it and although I could not afford it at the time, it gave me the idea to do an album with just me.”

Hill’s ‘Solo Recordings’ are exactly that. It’ s a good thing the album is not called Steve Hill and One Thousand Maniacs – there is simply no room in the studio nor in Steve’s mind.

“There are two songs which I wrote on the record which I like a tiny bit more than the others (which I love)! Laughs Hill”.

‘Ever Changing World’ and ‘About Phase’ are the pair of tunes which stand out in Steve’s mind. About Phase is a definite standout, as nice a ballad you will find with a very sweet sounding riff carrying the tune …

“Musically and lyrically I am proud of the way these songs turned out. As a songwriter, if I do not think of writing and a song comes natural – the song is usually good. I have an antennae and the songs come to me through the air …”

The album, Solo Recordings Volume 1, has been online and in stores as of May. In its first week of sales, the release reached No. 10 on the Quebec SoundScan Anglophone charts.

Steve Hill is used to success. In his career spanning almost two decades, the Trois Rivieres artist has shared the stage with legends of blues and rock.

Ray Charles, B.B. King, Jimmie Vaughan, Buddy Guy, Santana, ZZ Top, Jeff Beck and Metallica. Not bad for a French Canadian boy …

This “Guitar Hero” as appointed by Voir Magazine and “Montreal blues-rock guitar god” by the Gazette, was floored when he performed with Hubert Sumlin – one of the greats of the ‘old blues guys’..

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“I learned so much from him. It was funny though, I helped him to adjust his amps and stuff. He had no idea how to do it ….” Chuckles Steve.

Closer to home, Hill has accompanied some legendary Quebec artists as well. Nanette Workman, Zachary Richard, Michel Pagliaro, Éric Lapointe and Jeanm Leloup have all benefited from Hill’s lightning fast fingers and a tremendous understanding of the blues.