Rick Keene Music Scene – Molly Johnson Talks Juno Nomination and A Much Needed Black History Website

History comes in many forms. Molly Johnson herself – is Canadian music history.

Molly is a pioneer. Musical theater, Theater, Disco, Funk, Rock / Pop and Jazz. Molly has not only done it all, she has excelled in all.

A Member of the Order of Canda

In 2019, Johnson has been nominated for a Juno Award in the Best Adult Contemporary Category. She has already won a Juno for Jazz Recording and this recent album places her in the company of some of her favorite artists.

This year is also fertile ground for a website she is starting up. A Black History informational tool which she hopes will be a go to place for teachers in all Canadian institutions.

Please LISTEN below to my chat with Molly. Hear some great tunes and find out why history is so IMPORTANT to all Canadian’s futures.





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The Wainright Sisters; Laughing All the Way to The Jazz Festival !

Martha and Lucy Wainright Roche are a lot of fun …

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 Martha and her half-sister Lucy have written and performed with most of their family. Kate and Anna McGarrigle, the Roches, Victor – the list is long and musical.  For reasons which are comically dark, Lucy and Martha collaborated on their first project ‘ Songs in the Dark’ in 2015.

Fast forward to July 8th, 2016 au Theatre du Nouveau Monde at the 37th Edition of The Montreal Jazz Festival. 

FIJM-d10-328With Martha in cast and Lucy cast as the straight man ( woman) – the duo explained, carried on, told jokes and sang songs from their debut album. Lullabies from the Devil would be an apt ‘ulterior’ title for the evening’s setlist. A stomach for Hitchcockanother …

Themes of despair, death and disappointment thick with the lyrics of songs sung for kids. Harmonious lullabies written with Martha’s kids in mind.’Mother’s Little Yellow Pill’  kind of stuff.

 ‘Long Lankin‘- the murderous tale, all the way to Richard Thompson’s literal  ‘End of the Rainbow’, performed tongue in cheek (hopefully) by The Wainright Women. In between – the self deprecating humor of poor Martha’s cast and crutches to Lucy’s brilliant deadpan delivery on everything – the pair were delightfully entertaining.  Even with a  Baby Rockin’ Medley instructing the crowd how to dance a baby to sleep while planning his / her departure as ‘a gift’.

Not all songs were about ‘haunted lullabies’.

 FIJM-d10-330Two of the evening’s most charming moments, insights into the childhoods of Martha and Lucy. ‘Lullaby for a Doll’, sung beautifully and wistfully by Martha as she covered her Mother’s song about the games Martha played as a child. Acoustic guitar providing the car as Martha took the audience on a trip backwards. Lucy grabbed the wheel ( and acoustic)  and issued her own tale of childhood.  ‘Screaming Issue’, a cover of a handcrafted tune to a younger version of Lucy carried out originally by her Father –  Loudon Wainwright III.  It was a children’s party and easy to decipher where Martha and Lucy obtained their musical prowess.

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Throughout the evening – Martha and Lucy raised eyebrows and smiles. The chemistry between them filled with love, admiration and a wicked sense of humor. An impeccable sense of timing. Abbott and Costello would be proud …

‘Songs in the Dark’, the name of the album and tour – not without logic. In the olden days with medicine and means not always available, more kids died. Lullabies were created and sung to stomp and sooth the negativities associated with death and disease.

Martha and Lucy, aka The Wainright Sisters, more or less did the same thing  during a three night run au Theatre Du Nouveau Monde.  

SCARING, SOOTHING AND ENLIGHTENING FOLKS ABOUT THE DARK SIDE OF PARENTHOOD.

In short …

Martha and Lucy Wainright Roche were a lot of  fun !

Visit Martha Wainright Here !

 

Buy The Album Here !
Buy The Album Here !

Andria Simone and Those Guys – Raising It Up a Notch. Jazz Festival Review

To get an idea of what type of personality Andria Simone is – one does not have to look past the name of her band. ‘Those Guys’.

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The guys are – Mark Wilson on Bass, Brian Dihari on Sax, George Nikolov on drums and Dave Kirby on guitar. ‘Those Guys’ and Simone delivered a monstrous set of Soul, R&B, Blues and Rock n Roll to The Blues stage at The Montreal International Jazz Festival.

Simone is a cross between Joplin, Nina Simone and Tina Turner. Toss in a group who at times carefully unpurposely copy the sweet sounds of Amy Winehouse’s band The Dap Kings – an entity on the verge of exploding is at hand, sound and sight.

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‘Do What I Want’ started the night on the right foot and ‘Proud Mary’ ended it up on the left foot. In between, Simone basked in the rays of Stevie Wonder’s ‘Superstition’ and Etta James’ ‘Id Rather Go Blind’.  The former – something familiar within an arrangement  of epic, strange proportions and the latter; true to Etta-esque form. 

Simone and ‘Those Guys’ are a force. Winners of many awards and events in Toronto, the band has played in Festivals around the globe on the same bill as Robert Plant and George Benson. “Beautiful Life’, ‘What Would I Do’, ‘You Know I’m No Good’ and ‘For Your Love’ explained why.

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Imagine Janis Joplin on speed. Subtract above mentioned speed – adjust the rear view mirrors and lookout for “Those Guys’ carrying Billie Holiday on their backs. Such is the gamet in a varied setlist. Hard on Rock to seductive softness. Edgy Soul to Raspy Blues. Simone and Those Guys protect, nurture and nourish the legacy of the pureness of music. Saxophonist Brian Dihari, the link between space and timeless pleasure. Softening the guitars and Simone’s ravenous vocals. The piece of the puzzle completing the non-puzzling scene.

A taste of the band’s pleasure bolts through in ‘Burn Me’ and ‘ Revealed’.

A twin section of the mesmerizing genres aped and created. The students performing the chops of the masters within original compositions. Tightness prevails in a band which has been around for six years.

A lot of gigs with ‘Those Guys’ !

Buy The Album Here !
Buy The Album Here !

Susie Arioli; Montreal’s ‘Dearest Darlin’. Jazz Festival Review

Susie Arioli ain’t new to these parts …

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From her humble beginnings jammin’ with The Stephen Barry Band to her meteoric rise with Jordan Officer, Susie has earned her place in Montrealers hearts.

Susie took her ‘ new ‘ act to the stage of Club Soda Friday evening as part of The Montreal International Jazz Festival. New meaning – sans Officer et avec Jim Bland. Arioli, along with her band, performing many songs from her new album entitled ‘ Spring’.

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From the start with songs such as ‘ Mean to Me’,Caring Kind‘ and ‘Loverboy’, Susie’s fanbase were aware – Arioli still has those ‘golden chops’. They were also aware – Arioli still has the quit wit and realness which many artists lack at this stage of their careers. The non-fans, the newbies – getting a taste of that unique contrast Arioli possesses. Street-wise woman and elegance. A  refreshing persona ‘live’  and a voice alive with the sounds of music from yesteryear.

‘Time After Time’, ‘Me Myself and I’ and the pair of French songs ‘Je Bois’ and ‘Un Jour La Difference’ – distancing Susie from the Beyonces and Rhiannas of the world. FIJM-d3--081

In a music world filled with Pop songs, Rock songs and Country stars, Arioli sings and writes the songs that can make the whole world cry. Songs such as ‘ Husbands and Wives‘ can also make the Jazz Festival world laugh. Arioli asking the crowd before the start; ‘ Who here has fantasized about cheating?’ Guitarist Jim Bland – ‘cheatin on Susie’ with guitar work so  sensual, so easy – suddenly the entire room was fantasizing about cheating on someone. Arioli’s voice providing enough softness and juice to upend the atmosphere with sentimentality. Susie seems to choose these themes and classic melodies to deliver her passion for seduction then,  as quick as a Dean Martin drink, Arioli injects a ‘Spring’ into the steps of the night. The title track from Arioli’s latest offering and an original composition, a profound signal that Susie will be on the list, very soon – as one of this Country’s top songwriters as well.

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Al Mclean on Saxophone, without taking anything away from the band, perhaps the most important cog in the wheel within Arioli’s setlist. King – soothing and ear-popping. Adding and removing with an ease associated with hours of practice. Hours of feel. A delight and compliment to the equally adept handwork of Bland on Guitar. Arioli’s go to guys …

FIJM-d3--032‘Dearest Darling’, the Bo Diddley cover from the album ‘Spring’ – giving life to the homestretch. A reserved beat provided by drummer Greg Ritchie. Restrained chaos allowing Arioli playfulness and fodder for the fans while Ritchie pushed and pulled them into a mesmerizing groove.

The entire set list – filled with glowing gems such as ‘Travelin’ Light‘, ‘Blue Skies’ and ‘Beyond the Sea’, donating range from Susie’s catalogue of originals and covers. Andy King on Trumpet combined with Paul Shrofel’s slick and tender fingers on keys, providing the canvas to one of Montreal’s greatest Jazz singers.

On this tour and at Club Soda, Arioli placing, for the first time – original compositions on the table. Blending deliciously with the standards Susie has become known for.

Safe to say – the elusive Juno Awards Susie has been nominated for are closer to her mantelpiece than before. Knowing Susie, once in her possession – those Junos will be part of the act, front and center as the butt of a joke.

Could it be any other way ?

Visit Susie Here !

Visit Jazz Festival Here !

 

Buy The Album Here !
Buy The Album Here !

Lisa Simone – Just Like Mom ! ( Sorta) Montreal International Jazz Festival Review

Lisa Simone is as famous as her last song. 

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The daughter of Nina Simone, the legendary singer, quickly made everyone forget who her Mom was. Place des Arts was buzzing with excitement as Lisa’s Montreal Jazz Festival two show debut came to an end on Thursday evening.  Lisa’s world was introduced with power !

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‘My World’ – Lisa’s latest album, filled the room with tenderness, Soul and Rhythm and Blues. The songs, as beautiful as the legacy. Fresher than the genes and genetically fresh.

Commencing with the song ‘ All Is Well’, a blend of Lisa’s voice and the introduction of the band musically. What a band it was. Hervé Samb  ( guitars, piano, backing vocals), Reggie Washington ( bass, double bass, backing vocals) and Sonny Troupé (drums, percussions). A blend of chemistry as lethal as it is safe in the confines of a lab. R&B opened the doors wide for an audience who – for the most part, hearing and seeing Simone for the first time.  Without the energy exchange between stage and punters, it was up to the band to deliver and win the hearts over.

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Leaves’,  Ain’t Got No’  and ‘I Got Life’ was all that was needed for the audience to start the gas stove up and Lisa to turn up the velocity.  These four tunes introducing everyone to Lisa’s range. Gospel, R&B, Blues, Soul and Nina Simone. Comparisons cannot be made to Lisa’s legendary Mom yet they are inevitable. Distinctive notes and passion – true apples from the proverbial tree. Lisa proudly is Nina’s daughter

 The surprise of the evening (only to the non educated music fans in attendance) was the play of Hervé Samb on guitars. The man is a machine and obviously schooled in all genres. Fierce solos combined with feathery riffs throughout the night. A feel as beautiful as a woman’s touch. A perfect match to Lisa’s own hardness / softness.  Robinson, on Bass. Taupe on drums. A trio of players so unique, providing stability for Simone’s energy. Lisa, leaving the stage and ‘touring’ Place des Arts. Lisa – dancing physically and vocally all night long. Combined with a Joie de Vivre and feistnessiness inherited from her Mom, a sure-to-return staple of Montreal Jazz Festivals to come. Next time as a headliner …

Highlight of Night – ‘My World’ off the album ‘My World’

Visit Jazz Festival Here !

Visit Lisa Here !

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Rick Keene Music Scene – You Want a Jazz Festival Preview?

There is a lot of talent coming to the Montreal International Jazz Festival in 2016 …

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The Festival gets underway on June 29th with Sharon Jones and The Dap Kings doing a free blow-out show to open the Festival. Jones, one of the best performers on the scene today –promises to deliver a opening showstopper for the ages.

Susie Arioli performs on July 2nd at Club Soda. On the heels of a tour to support her first album without Jordan Officer on guitar, ‘ Spring’  is a year long thing now. The show and tunes will be Susie’s coming of age …

Please enjoy my interview with Susie !

 

Lisa Simone, the daughter of Nina Simone, will be performing two shows as an opening act for Melody Gardot on June 29th and 30th at Salle Wilfrid Pelletier. Lisa, like her famous Mom – blessed with amazing vocals and a way with words. Just may be the hidden gem of the Festival !

Enjoy my interview with Lisa !

 

The stages will be busy this year ! Most of Montreal and Quebec’s top players will be on hand to ‘sing the Blues’ to anyone who will listen ! From The Paul DesLauriers Band at Metropolis to Dawn Tyler Watson at L’Astral – there is something for everyone both indoors and outdoors ! Free and Paid !

Here are some of the performers ….

Pat Loiselle

Dawn Tyler Watson

Paul DesLauriers

Adam Karch 

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Please keep coming back for all the news, reviews and interviews as part of The 37th Edition of

The Montreal International Jazz Festival !

Visit the Festival Here to Buy Tickets and Check Out The Schedule !

 

Visit The House of Jazz here !

 

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Dawn Tyler Watson – A ‘Jawbreaking’ Interview !

Montrealers know Dawn Tyler Watson. Or – do they … ? 

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Dawn Tyler – Watson has been entertaining Montrealers and Canadians for what seems like an eternity. In a good way …

Hard to believe her latest release ‘JawBreaker’ is only Dawn’s fourth solo album. Her small-ish output is not for lack of talent or opportunity, it is based on …

Please  listen below and Dawn will explain the reasons! Hear some tracks from ‘JawBreaker’ as well.

Dawn? What’s Up?

 

 

Visit Dawn Right Here !

 

 

Working Man Blues CD Cover