For forty – five years, the band plays in a roomful of Blues fans. Opening up for or backing guys like B.B. King, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Eric Clapton.
In a Canadian connection, the band is most known as being Colin James’ ‘Little Big Band’. A pretty good resume for a band that does not need to be part of anything. On their own – one of the best Blues and Swing Bands in the music market.
Please listen below as Chris talks about all the above and his own experience and thoughts as a guitar player.
A guy whose name circulates like a breeze entering a screen door in the green humid pastures of Canada’s vast farmland. Omni – present, appreciated, yet seldom heard over the dales of the County lines.
Please listen below as Rob speaks of his latest project and his beginnings in singing. A five year old pitch – perfect Freddie Mercury is a long way away from Country, Folk and Blues …
Mood Rings, Pet Rocks, Disco, CB Radios – it was a definable decade of different dimensions.
Leisure suits, shag carpeting and waterbeds. Trends which were all the rage while listening to The Carpenters, Heart, The Eagles, Peter Frampton and hundreds of bands and solo artists who made their mark in that ten year period.
It was also a strange decade for commercials. Whether it was Barbara Streisand ( yes – Barbara Streisand) doing politically incorrect TV spots or little kids singing about Bologna, the 1970’s were – at the very least, entertaining.
Please listen below to some tunes and some clips from the ‘decadently’ delicious decade known for ‘Glam’ and ‘Punk’ Rock and everything in between.
In Montreal, it’s called ‘l’eau’ for your soul and that is exactly what Joss Stone provided at Metropolis on Sunday evening as the 36th Edition of The Montreal International Jazz Festival drew to a close.
What a way to go out …
Joss Stone, complete with a ‘Superheavy’ resume constituting of collaborations with the likes of Mick Jagger, Dave Stewart and Damian Marley, arrived in town as a precursor to the release of her upcoming 7th studio album; ‘Water for Your Soul.’
Stone bears all on stage. Not the ‘ mind in the gutter’ type baring, more like ‘shed-inhibitions-and-display-the-soul’ type undressing. Complete with shoe-less feet ( a Stone trademark), Joss neither attempts nor delivers any preconceived corporate shows. She is a hippy chick – through and through.
The song ‘Spoiled’ introduced Stone’s tremendous ‘live’ voice to a very receptive Montreal crowd. Singers such as Stone and her predecessors in the Soul / Rock / Blues category (women such as Aretha Frankin and Janis Joplin) are more times than not much better in person than their vinyl / digital representations. In other words – Memorex does not do Joss Stone justice.
Her arsenal on Sunday consisting of ‘L.O.V.E’ and ‘Baby Baby Baby’ are nothing new in the annals of popular music. The wheel has not been reinvented by Stone nor her band. In 2015 – it is difficult for any artist to truly come up with anything truly original especially in the style which Stone has etched herself. Voices are original. Vocal styles are not.
‘Super Duper Love’, from the 2004 album ‘Mind Body and Soul’ is the closest Stone has to an identifying tombstone in the graveyard of music. Catchy, bouncy with a body of soul – Super Duper is a song that comes around once -in-a-Brittany Spears. Take away Spears’ voice and add some depth – Joss Stone is front and center with a hit of her own minus the Illuminati drama.
At twenty-eight years young, Stone carries herself with extreme class combined with a touch of innocent flirtatious behavior. Why not? An entertainer utilizes whatever they must to get people to enjoy the show. In Stone’s case – her charm is much more inherited than acted. Some are born to be special and Stone compete with vocals, looks and character – is one of the ‘lucky’ ones.
One surprise last evening was Stone’s version of A White Stripes Song.
‘Fell in love with a Girl ‘ is the Stripes ‘ version and Stone (making a statement on her sexual preference perhaps), altered the lyrics to “Fell in Love with a Boy’. Either way, a perfect rendition of a well chosen song to display Joss’ versatility and her willingness to take risks.
A trio of songs which stood out like a giraffe in a herd of antelope represented different stages in Stones’ career. ‘You Had Me’ and ‘Right to be Wrong’ are part of the ‘here’s Josh Stone’ period while ‘ While You Are Out Looking for Sugar ‘ is the ‘ where’s Joss going next’ phase of her ( so far) 14 million album-selling career. All three representing brassiness, vocal perfection and a seasoned vocabulary.
A couple of songs from the ‘Water for the Soul’ album were strutted out while with the song “The Answer ‘ blending nicely from studio to live. Any songs from her work in the group Superheavy was sadly vacant. ‘Miracle Worker’ from Superheavy is another tombstone for Stone and it was a precursor for the upcoming Reggae-inspired ‘Water for Your Soul’.
Oh well, at least Stone is not as perfect as she sounds or looks …
If anyone has a grumpy outlook on life, or – more to the point, a realistic outlook on life, it is Justin Townes Earle.
At Place des Arts, Townes Earle ( son of Steve Earle), was the first act in a triple bill featuring The Mavericks and Lucinda Williams.
Justin vented and bared all. His thoughts, his (bad) habits, his love for his Mom and – most poignantly, his hatred for Brooklyn; undressed and ready to go.
First – Justin likes to talk between songs. Whether he has a huge ego, needs to vent or his nerves get the better of him, Justin likes to talk. If the genetic pool runs deep, then Justin’s banter a spin – off of his father’s mentality to get messages circulating like a Walmart flyer ( unless the Walmart is burned down first).
The song ‘One More Night in Brooklyn’ is beautifully sung by Townes Earle as are every song he sings. His acoustic guitar playing is in the top echelon of guitar players and his songwriting – second to none. Listening to Justin sing and talk, opposite sides of the personality scale. Singing – he is Kermit the Frog. Speaking, Miss Piggy and all her ugliness surfaces.
Lyrically, songs such as ‘One More Night in Brooklyn’ , ‘Mamas Eyes’ and ‘Single Mothers’ are truthful and Justin does a great job disguising his wounds with heartfelt vocals and melodies. Some singers sing from the soul. Townes Earle is one of those singers.
Fresh off their acclaimed free show at La Place des Festivals on Thursday evening, The Mavericks gave Montreal a second chance to discover what the city has missed.
Except for the diehard fans, who knew that singer Raul Malo could sing better than 90% of the world’s population? On songs such as ‘ All You Ever Do is Bring Me Down’ ( the group’s biggest North American hit) and ‘Dance the Night Away’ ( eighteen weeks as number one on the UK charts), Malo donated an effortless, beautiful vocal painting to the patrons of Place des Arts.
The Mavericks ( winners of three Country Music Awards and one Grammy) broke up in 2004 and reunited in 2012. The group formed in 1989 and have two original members ( Malo, Deakin ). Along with guitarist Eddie Perez ( ’03 ) and Keyboardist Jerry Dale McFadden ( 95) – the guys next song should be ‘ How Can You Miss Me If I Don’t Go Away? ‘ The band and the audience (both nights) had more fun than what should be allowed at a Festival.
‘Born to Be Blue’ showcased Malo’s vocals in a ballad a la George Jones. If Malo was a kid ( and contestant ) at the time shows such as American Idol and The Voice were all the rage, hands-down he would have won. Thankfully he wasn’t or we may not have him today as the corporate machine would have spat him out by now.
‘Someone Should Tell Her’ and ‘I’ve Got This Feeling’ continued the party. With a ‘Tex-Mex’ sound part Country, part Rock and part Big Band, The Mavericks introduced a Jazz festival audience to an unfamiliar sound. Just like Australia’s The Cat Empire did in 2014, these bunch of Floridians, these ‘mavericks’ – left an entire city buzzing.
The Barr Brothers should take note. The Mavericks know how to throw a party !
It’s all about the band, about the band, about the band …
So it appeared on Saturday night at Salle Wilfred Pelletier. At least for the beginning of Lucinda Williams show.
Drummer Butch Norton, bassist David Sutton and guitar player extraordinaire Stuart Mathis came close to making the band Cream seem irrelevant. All night, this trio terrorized any indication that Williams’ reputation as a Country -Folk singer was such. Lucinda could have easily arrived on stage and did a tribute to Janis Joplin. Her band – as good a Blues / Rock outfit as there has ever been.
That said …
Lucinda Williams is no slouch either. In fact – ‘singing’ slouches must be far removed from this woman’s genealogy. Combining strength, emotions and wistfulness, Williams had the crowd stunned for an entire evening once she opened her mouth and commenced singing. In modern day female singers, there are three who can do that. Bonnie Raitt, Emmylou Harris and ..
” Something Wicked This Way Comes’ and ‘Bus to Baton Rouge’ got things going when suddenly, the set’s road trip veered slightly off course. During the song ‘ Car Wheels on a Gravel Road’ – Williams’ microphone cut out faster than a girl on a bad date. Not knowing – Williams kept singing while guitarist Mathis signaled the tech to rectify the situation. With true professionalism – Mathis, Norton and Sutton kept Williams’ vehicle on pavement throughout the slight mishap.
Lucinda Williams has an innate ability to be human. Where artists such as Madonna, Gaga and others of different genres sail into ‘plastic’ territory, Lucinda manages to be real. Innocence and child-like curiosity shine through in her vocals as well as her lyrics.
‘Crescent City’ carried Williams to showcase her innocence both musically and lyrically in the song ‘When I Look at the World’. The audience, Lucinda and her voice – alone in retrospection. The song ‘Drunken Angel’ magnified ( and allowed ) Williams’ personal tragedies into public domain. The tale of her friend, ‘dying an early death’ made the audience reach for their Country hankies.
Then – that band who rival Cream? In the forefront once again with the tune ‘Are You Down’.
Mathis’ guitar playing otherworldly. Sutton’s bass? Deep, sharp, funky and grounding. Drummer Norton drove the message of Blues and Rock into the audience with subtle hardness. It is about the spaces in any genre. It’s all about the feeling and rarely does a chemistry exist as it does in Williams’ trio.
‘Lake Charles’ was written about an ex-boyfriend, another ‘troublemaker’ or ‘lost soul ‘ in Lucinda’s life. Given the glimpse into Williams’ own soul last night , collecting troubled people, poignant for their lyrical properties.
‘Get Right With God’ introduced Country music and GOSPEL to a crowd UNAWARE THE PAIR HAVE BEEN MATCHED FOR DECADES. Williams’ vocals teetering on a crucial musical seesaw as they did all night. The crowd witnessing a blessed evening of music and appreciating the education and moments of bliss.
‘ Rockin’ in the Free World’ – the encore, poignant as a stalker for ‘Get right with God’.
Neil Young’s anthem no better a follow up with it’s anti-corporate and non demonic messages. Williams seemed charged by both the energy of her band and Young’s lyrics. At evening’s end – the sixty-two year old Southern Belle pumped a fist into the air and told anyone ( everybody ) within earshot; ‘People Have the Power!’
Given the fact she was born in Alaska and the show ‘Northern Exposure ‘ is about Alaska (although not filmed there) , things have come full circle as Halie prepares for her first gig as part of The Montreal International Jazz Festival.
A quintet quintessentially quizzing patrons on their knowledge of Jazz. Through Jazz …
Between certain years, Hard Bop Jazzwas primarily dominating the Jazz circles in places such as New York. Somewhat of a forgotten art as the Jazz genre continually wrestles the talk between purists and the ‘avante garde’ crowd – Montreal Hard Bop Five ( MTL HB5 ) are attempting to end all discussions in their own way.
Please listen below as Frederic Grenier talks about his band and their upcoming performance on the 28th of June on Scene TD as part of The Montreal International Jazz Festival.
The Kentucky HeadHunters are living proof – Country Music and Blues make up Rock n’ Roll …
Starting in 1968 as The Itchy Brothers – the band came oh-so-close to stardom. An untimely death ultimately killed their chances of becoming ‘America’s Greatest Rock n Roll band’ yet, like Rock n Roll itself – they came back with a vengeance …
Please listen to Part One and Part Two of my interview with Richard Young. Richard talks about working with Chuck Berry’s pianist (and friend) Johnnie Johnston. The greatest sideman in the history of Rock n Roll.