For the Western Canadian band The Sheepdogs – that is precisely what they are doing. And – doing it well.
When Rolling Stone magazine proclaims you as the band to watch out for, that is a lot of pressure. Judging from their performance at MTelus on a double bill with Montreal’s own The Damn Truth, the pressure appears to be in their favor. The crowd, the ultimate judges of success, was numerous and safe to say; satisfied customers on Saturday morning.
Following a powerful set from The Damn Truth, The Sheepdogs took the stage with pomp. The ceremony came after as the fans adjusted to the much different sound of the two bands on display. The Sheepdogs – much more grounded in Country and Pop to go with their Southern Rock n Roll. While The Damn Truth are in your face (take it or leave it), The Sheepdogs cater to the masses.
Who?, I’ve Got a Hole Where My Heart Should Be and Saturday Night started the twine rolling and from there on in – a simple matter of being strung along with good musicianship and catchy songwriting took precedent.
Ewan and Shamus Currie, Ryan Gullen and Sam Corbett are the men whose collaborations are grounded deeply in ‘roots’ music. Feel good tunes which are rich in traditional sounds. Bluegrass, Country, Folk and Blues. Easy going type stuff with an ingredient which is sorely missing these days in music. Storytelling. The Allman Brothers had it, CCR had it and so do The Sheepdogs. The knack for touching souls musically and lyrically. The knack of (figuratively) touching real people.
The set list is ripe with tales that add a connection to the fans (aka everybody). Human relations via words via truthful emotions. Relating to ‘stars’ on stages (and magazine covers) bridges the gap and increases bonds. Through songs such as Southern Dreaming, Kiss the Brass Ring, Up in Canada right until their mega hit encores – The Sheepdogs provide reliability. Meaningful thoughts build throughout and explode in a joyous singalong with the encore I Don’t Know. Good bands play – great bands let their fans ride a roller coaster live.
The Montreal International Jazz Festival got underway and this year was a great mix for fans of all genres.
Gary Petersen– the original drummer for The Guess Who (and a man who started drumming before Rock n Roll’s heyday) took some time out to chat about his career and the future of The Guess Who. Petersen has never stopped playing for the band (he owns the name) and along with his mates; the first brand new Guess Who album in twenty years hit the shelves in September. An educational chat for sure.
Lonesome George Thorogood took time to chat following the release of his first ever solo album (Party Of One) and previous to his show at The Montreal Jazz Festival and Trois Rivieres en Blues.
The word legend is tossed about too easily these days but not in George’s case. He started his career busking and within three years opened for Muddy Waters and The Rolling Stones.
Not too shabby.
Sometimes the apple does not fall far from the tree.
Mary -Lynn Doroschuk just happens to be the daughter of Stefan Doroschuk (Men Without Hats). Mary-Lynn has a new band called Wave 21. A Country -Alt unit filled with catchy tunes and classy riffs. A Montreal group to keep your ears on. A Montreal band that will only get bigger.
Joan Jett graced Place Bell along with Tesla and Styx.
Jett as powerful as ever with Punky licks and attitude while Tesla catered to the more Heavy minded fans in attendance. Styx – making their fourth appearance in Quebec in the past seven years commanded even more respect than before. They were hot and the night lasted longer than any Grand Illusion.
If Beth Hart stayed home and sang lullabies to her kids, the world would be a much sadder place.
Hart and her trio were in Montreal for The Jazz Festival and Beth stole the hearts of everyone. Telling stories of her very dysfunctional upbringing between soaring vocals and soft balladry – Place des Arts was on the verge of a collective hanky giveaway.
On this planet – no female singer can reach into their souls so deep and raise the roof so high within a song. Multiply that by fifteen tunes and see how tired you are from a Beth Hart show.
Boz was here as part of The Jazz Festival and what a surprise musician he turned out to be. Unless you were / are a huge fan or came from a certain decade, Boz (to the general music world) was a two hit wonder. Like many musicians from the 70s and even the 80s, the limelight and success don’t go hand in hand. Boz has more talent playing, singing and producing/ arranging than about 75% of those with hits before or since. Put that in your hat and smoke it.
Jordan Officeropened up for George Thorogood at Place des Arts as part of The Jazz Festival and blew the roof off the joint. Officer has turned the corner in his Blues comeback and had George’s Destroyers shaking in their boots. Trois Rivieres is Jordan’s latest record and it will be considered the turning point in a soon too be mammoth career.
Easily the concert of the year in Montreal.
Lee’s husband / musical mentor Richard passed away the morning of her Jazz Festival show and for most artists – the plug would have been pulled. Not only did Ranee perform, she outperformed any of the numerous award winning shows she had done before. Emotions were high (the crowd knew of the circumstances) yet Ranee used the emotion to grow stronger with each song. The concert will go down as one of the greatest in Montreal music history.
Half way through the year – the music kept coming.
The folks at The Montreal International Jazz Festival announced their line up and the stage was set ( so to speak).
Jann Arden was in town and at this point in her musical career – she is the Elton John of Canadian women.
The hits and the magic within new tunes are gone and she is relying on her past glories to fill joints around the Country. Thankfully, she is a very funny woman and the banter alone is worth half the price of admission. Add the hits from twenty years ago – you get fully what you paid for.
East of Sunday – Carvin Jones
Blues guitarist extraordinaire Carvin Jones made his first appearance in Montreal and local band East of Sunday opened up.
Jones is a monster on guitar and his showmanship – second to none. Think Buddy Guy without the powerful voice. East of Sunday are poised to take the Montreal Rock throne away from The Damn Truth. Look out this coming summer as both Carvin and East of Sunday will hit the road with heat.
Paul Young / Midge Ure
Paul Young was one of the biggest stars of the 1980’s video wave and Ure co-wrote Do They Know It’s Christmas for Band Aid. Ure was also the leader of Ultravox and a member of Thin Lizzy among other things.
Ure and Young held a double bill at Club Soda and only one showed up.
Ure was fine as he gained strength with his tunes – hits and all. Young, on the other hand was, well … old. Paul stumbled through a set continually struggling to hit notes and stay in key. When he did get in sync – his voice was weak. A sign of the end or an off night? Things that make you go hmmm …
Dr. Lonnie Smith
The good doctor ( the most sought after Hammond B3 player in all genres) put on a clinic at Le Gesu. Fifty years in the spotlight and recording with the who is who of music has enabled Smith to assume command over the audience, his band-mates and his instrument. Anyone who witnesses a Smith performance – is blessed.
Conductor Demirjian sat down and spoke of his upcoming Montreal gig with Dreamworks Animation. The gig is a full orchestra playing the soundtrack live of DreamWorks classics such as Shrek and How To Train Your Dragon.
In the beginning of cinema, live orchestras were the only form of sound for a viewing audience. To witness and hear the experience in 2018 is a welcome change to digital dust.
Cecile Mclorant- Salvant
The second best female singer walking the planet ( Lisa Fischer would be first) put on a lesson in vocals. Adding all the great ingredients from all the great Jazz ladies ( Holiday, James, Fitzgerald) and her own unique voice, Salvant is the driver. Complete command of everything and she is’ just starting out’. A must see concert if you must see.
If there ever was a female artist who did all for ‘art’s sake’- it is Gainsbourg. The actress / composer / songwriter / singer / writer / painter and poet lays all her emotions on her sleeve.
Her show at MTelus was not for the non intellects. Combining electronica and common place rythym with her piano sensibility is mesmerizing to the punters. Her fan base is devoted, loyal and safe to say; artistic.
Twelve months have come and gone quicker than a man / woman looking for a one night stand. That’s what happens when music is in the air and in your soul.
Let’s take a look back shall we? Let us revisit the musical past of 2018.
Big Wreck celebrated twenty years as a band with a bang on show at The Corona. The loyal fans were not disappointed by the raw Rock / Alternative. /Grunge tunes spun by lead singer and principal songwriter Ian Thornley.
Canadian Country Star Tim Hickswas in town with a new album and injecting some much needed exposure of Country music to Quebec. The Country scene in this province is kinda underground yet Hicks brought the fans from behind their barns and into the spotlight.
Former Genesis guitar man Steve Hackett was in town in what appears as almost an annual event. The love affair between Hackett / Genesis and this province has never been more amorous as Hackett et al performed the Genesis catalog along with his solo stuff.
Kim Churchill, aka the man from Down Under, has more talent in his finger than the majority of ‘your top forty’ radio stars. Kim was in town promoting his new album and it was the second time in three years Kim was touring Quebec. The provincial love affair is nearing Steve Hackett territory.
Devon Cuddy(son of Jim) and his Devon Cuddy Band were in Montreal promoting their new EP. Devin is a chip of the old ‘Rodeo’ and just may surpass Dad in success due to his songwriting and piano playing (without the help of Greg Keelor).
Pianist Mike Jones released a magical album with a magician. Jones – happens to be the piano player for Las Vegas act Penn and Teller. Jones convinced Penn to record an album. Jones took four hours of his time to speak of the album, his favorite piano players (of all time) and Jazz in general. One of the most informative chats I have been privy to.
Montrealer Sule Heitnerreleased an album and took some time to chat about it. Sule is one of the most talented guitar players playing in Montreal and his smooth voice and songwriting are a tip of the hat to old school R & B.
Eastern town-shipper and Blues veteran Mike Goudreau released an album of alternative takes. Songs that were there (but not really) all rolled into a pure Blues (and fun album). Goudreau also spoke of his success selling music to Hollywood.
Model / actress/ songwriter / singer Carla Bruni was at L’Olympia sporting her new album. Mick Jagger’s former squeeze and former first lady of France put on a bilingual show complete with a cover of Jagger / Richards’ Miss You. Serenity ruled with often humorous banter from this talented lady.
The most talented and adventurous student of The Blues in Quebec – Jordan Officer released an album entitled Three Rivers. Adding fiddle to his arsenal – Officer’s foray into his first love (The Blues) continues it’s assent to the highest peaks.
Inspired by the #MeToo movement – Rosie and The Riveters released an album to empower women and to also tell some sordid stories of their own. This Western Canadian – based trio make toes tap and hearts sing with pure music. A lot of tongue-in- cheek humor gets the message across also.
Montreal writer and author Kristian Gravenor has unearthed quite a few tales of the Montreal music scene in his book; Montreal 375 Tales of Eating, Drinking, Living and Loving.
On any given evening, a music lover could walk downtown Montreal and visit numerous clubs. All of them hosting bands and / or DJs. You wanted Jazz? No problem. Rock n Roll? Check out Kristian’s labor of love.
Canadian legend Kim Mitchellwas in Quebec city because he is Kim Mitchell. Kim took some time to chat before his show and what a show it was. Timeless tunes and Canadian wit ruled the night with a soda in hand …
Bluesman Jack Broadbent was in town at L’Astral strutting his acoustic stuff. Very few men or woman take the time to understand and learn to play The Blues with conviction and place the likes of Robert Johnson in their pockets. Broadbent is the next generation of Blues-men who do it for the right reasons.
Canadian Music Hall of Fame member and front-man for April Wine Myles Goodwyn, released a solo album filled with the Blues and special guests. Myles proved that his first love in music will give him ‘miles’ to go in his career after (if) April Wine calls it a day. A two part chat revealed much about the man who remains an enigma to many.
Former Bostonian-turned-Montrealer-turned-New York-er Emma Frank released an album which may be one of the best of 2018. Ocean Av is the name and songwriting is Emma’s game. The album helped return Emma to Montreal as part of The Montreal International Jazz Festival.
Stay tuned for Part Two of 2018 In Review !
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Retired Montreal DJ, promoter and all round music guru Sheldon Kaganhas written a book detailing all his memories from a musical life unmatched. Whether it is an unsavory meeting with Miles Davis or an ‘almost superstar concert’ quashed by an unexpected death – Sheldon delivers a life story which every music lover must read.
Music does not need to be a ticketed item. A musician does not need to be a global star to warrant accolades. Montrealer Steve Creepis the hardest working musician in Montreal. His acoustics and band sets take place seven nights a week in places such as Brutopia and various McKibbons outlets (among others). Very few musicians have such a vast knowledge and repertoire of all genres. Steve is so good – former Montreal Canadien Tomas Plekanec sought Steve out following many Canadiens’ home games. Buy a beer or two, have a meal and support Mr. Creep.
On January 26th for seven days you will cruise through locations including Nassau, The Bahamas, Cozumel and Costa Maya, Mexico, and Key West, Florida.
The line-up on this cruise is a joint effort of Blue Note president Don Was and Blue Note Jazz Clubs president Steven Bensusan. Joining Kosins on the bill is Marcus Miller, Robert Glasper, David Sanborn, Cécile McLorin Salvant, Logan Richardson, Luques Curtis, Wynton Marsalis, Kurt Elling, José James, Christian Scott, Terence Blanchard, Jason Moran, Kandace Springs, Wycliffe Gordon, Eric Marienthal, Ben Williams, Taylor McFerrin, Terrace Martin, Derrick Hodge, Geoffrey Keezer, and many more! There will be various venues of different size, with main shows played twice nightly in the ship’s largest venue.
Grammy-winning Southern rockers The Kentucky Headhunters are back on Alligator with Live At The Ramblin’ Man Fair, a raucous live album recorded in front of 25,000 screaming fans at the UK’s famed rock festival. In addition to the full live set, the album features three bonus studio tracks from the legendary Meet Me In Bluesland sessions featuring the late Johnnie Johnson, known for his seminal piano work on Chuck Berry’s most influential and famous songs.
Live At The Ramblin’ Man Fair features an adrenaline-fueled set list with the Headhunters at the top of their game at their first-ever UK performance. Mixing six high-energy originals, searing blues rockers and a thunderous take on The Beatles’ Don’t Let Me Down, the Headhunters have never sounded more intense and fun.
Closing out the album are three recently discovered tracks featuring Rock &’ Roll Hall of Famer Johnnie Johnson on piano with the band, boldly underscoring the Kentucky Headhunters’ deep blues chops and Johnnie’s mastery of rockin’ piano.
Not only is Jess Canadian, she is also the heir to Shania Twain’s Country throne. Jess has won most Country awards lately and she treks into Christmas territory with an album filled with her favorites growing up. As roots as a Christmas album will get.
Not only is David Myles one of the best vocalists and songwriters in Canada – he also owns one of the largest hearts. Every year David puts on Christmas shows in malls in Nova Scotia and raises money for the less fortunate. Backed by his excellent album; It’s Christmas, a must see show and a must buy album.
If everyone took steps for change – change would come.
Westmount native Annabel Gutherzhopes that people will follow her lead in making changes to the way people think. Inspired by the senseless school shootings in the States, Annabel wrote a song to make a difference.
All proceeds of the sales of the song will go to an organization called WE.
Please listen below to my chat with Annabel and find out all you need to know. Hear her fantastic song Legends as well.
Christmas should be celebrated by candlelight. The Lyric Theater Singers understand that and then some.
Every year in December, musical director Bob Bachelor painlessly determines the content of a show that is based in spirituality. Combining his own arrangements with those of others – Bachelor somehow embraces the Yuletide moment like very few.
Last night at Loyola Chapel, the first evening of A Candlelight Christmas’ weekend run, Bob and The lyric theater singers had special guests. The EMSB Chorale Youth Choir joined the party in act two. The group, made up of students grades 6 through secondary 5 – instilled a sense of hope to the crowd in a world where teenagers sometimes get a raw deal. Angels are alive in schools and not necessary on their smart phones.
Following act one where the musicianship and heavenly sounds from The Lyric Theater Singers embraced and welcomed their guests with versions of A Carol Fantasy (John Alexander), Songs of Angels (Trad. French Carol, Charles Wesley, George Whitefield, arr. Mark Hayes) and The Chanukah Song (Steve Young, Stephen Schwartz,.arr. Mac Huff) – the EMSB Chorale Youth Choir injected their own versions of heaven.
Hodie, nobis de caelo (First Book of Motets,1610) Alexandro Grandi, The Lord Bless You and Keep You(John Rutter) and Winter (Allan Gordon Bell) provided a yin to the Lyric Theater Singer’s yan. Led by the award winning conductor Patricia Abbott, the EMSB Chorale Group proved without doubt why they are one of the most in demand youth choirs not only in Montreal but in Canada and globally.
If choirs and angelic voices were not enough – the Candlelight Christmas’ backdrop is provided by astute musicality. Chad Linsley(piano) maintains the grounding of the sound. Instilling a ‘metronome’ tempo to keep everyone on track while adding delicious morsels of colorful notes that not only entice – lure the surrounding souls into the evening. Chris Barillaro multi-tasks on keys and percussion providing intricate sounds and rhythms when they are the most essential.
Robin Best(harp)is the bringer of ‘light’. Perhaps the most important ingredient to the Christmas and Chanukah substance as her notes reflect the season with immaculate precision.Sheila Hannigan (cello), Tim Malloch (Flute) and Carloyn Peters( Violin) not only are important factors – safe to say; A Candlelight Christmas incomplete without them.
In a world that has everyone’s head spinning, A Candlelight Christmas and Bob Bachelor’s unwavering devotion is a must – see for this Holiday season. Harmonies, solos and delightful arrangement of classics with an interjection of unfamiliar gems makes the entire evening a Christmas present for all.
A Candlelight Christmasruns through this weekend at Loyola Chapel at Concordia University.
That may be the case many times yet when music is involved – talk is an education.
In the past year, discussions took place with eighty musicians. Add multiple chats with engineers, producers or people in the music business; the list is long and informative.
All these moments above are meant to be a platform to educate anyone who listens or reads. A chance for up and coming musicians to learn and established artists to teach.
Of all the interviews in the past year – the top ten have been chosen for different reasons. All of the interviews gave value yet below are the unique ones.
Please enjoy and check archives to listen.
Top Ten Interviews 2018
10. Colin James
The veteran Canadian Blues guitarist is always down to earth and honest. Entering into his fifties, James has a different outlook on life including the need to not ‘disguise’ anything anymore. His knowledge of The Blues’ history is vast and his energy to share is immense. A new album and a new tour are the tools James uses to carry on …
9. Dweezil Zappa
It is not often one has an opportunity to speak with Rock n Roll royalty. The offspring of Frank Zappa is just that. Listening to Dweezil speak of his late father is a privilege. Only a son can relate the musicianship and thinking process behind a legend with direct knowledge. Dweezil’s own music is also related through the lens of his Dad. Frank – the ultimate muse.
8. George Thorogood
Speaking to a man who is now a Rock n Roll legend is as advertised. Chatting with a man who learned his chops playing with the likes of Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, John Lee Hooker and Keith Richards is like earning an honorary degree. Blunt, to the point and honest – Lonesome George should not be his moniker. Long passed the days of not paying rent, Thorogood still conjures a devil-may-care attitude without the worry of going ‘out the door’. Everybody is funny and George is very funny too.
7. Kim Mitchell
The legendary musician and songwriter ( and former DJ) is a pleasure. Witty, well informed and a teenager at heart – the former front-man of Max Webster is the quintessential Canadian artist. Engaging and curious, Kim interviews back as he weaves his tales of lore. An insight into his near fatal heart attack – profound.
6. Malcolm Bruce
The son of legendary Cream bassist Jack Bruce is a chip off the bass block. Acknowledging his Father’s legacy and passing it on is first on a creative and musical list. Growing up in Rock royalty has enabled Malcolm the inside education to relive Cream’s music and add to his own. World matters? Do not get the English gentleman going. Like his Father- a lot of smarts are going on above the Bass.
5. Jean -Marc Pisapia
The front-man for The Box is animated, intelligent and appreciative of all that came his way. A unique chat which places not only The Box in perspective; the music business as well. Interesting anecdotes regarding youth, age and Fatherhood. Rarely does a man whose career hit the pinnacle faster than a speeding pick accept the equally quick demise with such happiness and distinguished responses. Part of the reason The Box has resurfaced lately with talent and songwriting that cannot be denied.
4. Andy Kim
On December 1st 2018 – Andy Kim was inducted onto Canada’s Walk of Fame. This follows his already life size presence in Canada’s Music Hall of Fame. Kim is one of few Canadians that have had nine singles in the Top Forty chart and whose music has been covered by every artist imaginable. John Lennon himself was a huge fan. Say no more …
3. Gary Petersen
The original and current drummer of The Guess Who has been drumming since the beginning of Rock n Roll in the fifties. A survivor and a man whose (of late) physical impediments do not slow him down. His band – The Guess Who rivaled The Stones and The Beatles in the late sixties and early seventies. A man who knows that ‘if it ain’t got that swing’ – it don’t mean a damn thing.
2. Myles Goodwyn
How many people do you know who front their band for over four decades? How many songwriters in Canada have carved such a unique place in music. How many people do you know who wrote a song which was the first Canadian video to be played on MTV? The multiple Juno award winner and a member of Canada’s Music Hall of Fame recently released a book and a new album which uncovers his first love The Blues.
The Beatles started it all and Alan Parsons was there. Along with Geoff Emerick and George Martin – Parsons worked on the albums Let It Be and Abbey Road. If that weren’t enough – Alan also worked on The Dark Side of The Moon by Pink Floyd. Mr. Parsons then went on to write, produce and engineer one of the top bands of the eighties – The Alan Parsons Project. One of the most sought after technicians in the music business and a man with an astute ear for music.
Attending all live music in Montreal is impossible.
Practically every crook and nook contains rhythms and vibes. World music, Blues, Rock – you name it, music is alive and well in the city .
Not all live music is performed by local musicians. Regularly – like pirates from a distant land; musicians arrive. They rape and pillage the souls of Montrealers and then they are gone. Gold pieces filling their guitar cases.
Arriving with a Top Ten Concerts List is not possible if integrity is involved. The simple fact that many live shows were missed adds to the incomplete puzzle. The most beautiful woman in the world, after all – is a choice ripe in location.
Please dissect the Top Ten Concerts of 2018 below with the knowledge they have been chosen from a well of sixty. Deep enough to siphon an amount comparable to the elite.
Top Ten Concerts of 2018
10. Steve Hackett
The former guitar player from Genesis loves playing in Montreal and Montreal loves having him. There are few guitar players in the world that play better than their glory years. Age is not kind to many. Hackett’s playing filled with an ever – growing knowledge and his touring band; second to none. Within the realm of Place des Arts, perfection is continually aimed for and forever obtained. A must see every time Steve is here.
9. Kim Churchill
The multi-talented singer/ songwriter from Down Under is ( for the most part) under the radar. Such is the sad state of mass media when artists that possess more talent than Boy George, scrape and claw to make a living. Kim’s live show is filled with musical and physical energy as Churchill trades keys, guitars, beat boxes and dancing with himself. The tunes are filled with Kim’s vocals emerging from his soul. Ballads mirror the journey of an artist in search of knowledge as he travels the globe.
8. Dr. Lonnie Smith
How many artists have mastered their craft for fifty years as a live performer? How many have mastered their instrument and continue to gain praise and achievements into their golden age? Dr. Lonnie Smith is the most sought after Hammond B3 player on the planet. Mostly due to not only hard work, Smith maintains an ability to grow by reaching into multiple genres and artists. Dr. Smith put on a Jazz clinic at Le Gesu as part of The Montreal International Jazz Festival. Every great commercial keyboard player on a Rock n Roll / Pop / Blues list will be erased following a performance by Dr. Lonnie Smith.
7. Jack Broadbent
Broadbent contains no bells nor whistles. A man, a chair, a guitar and a beer. Witnessing a live show by Broadbent conjures images of the old Delta Blues guys who laid down the framework for all music today. Bottleneck slide, a raspy voice and tunes dark like the night and crisp like a cold grey dawn. Songwriting combined with acute covers to remind everyone where Jack came from and at the same time – evolving into the future based on the past.
6. Jim Cuddy Band
Canadian music is filled with roots. Country, Folk and Blues intertwined with the vast landscape of Canada looming in the background like a canvas painted by the Group of Seven. Add Jim Cuddy, Barney Bentall and Jim’s two up and coming sons – the evening was as pure as pure could be. Every artist on stage taking turns in the spotlight showcasing their ability to headline on their own. Jim Cuddy has assembled a dream band to distract from his Blue Rodeo job. Not a bad side gig.
5. Jordan Officer
Quebec’s own Jordan Officer has made the leap. Opening up for one of his boyhood idols, Officer more than held his own as the opener for George Thorogood. Those in attendance unfamiliar with the most talented guitar player in Quebec and student of the Blues left with a deer-in-the-headlights look on their faces.The trio combined with Officer’s ability to play guitar unlike all Blues players in the province ( fiddle as well), elevated music to an entire different level. Rarely does an opening act place immense pressure on the headliner. Thorogood and his Destroyers must have been shaking in their boots.
4. Steven Wilson
Cut from the Prog Rock cloth – Wilson (known mainly for his band Porcupine Tree) is a man who makes Dave Grohl appear talent-less. Mainstream gravitates towards the flavor of the moment and those willing to sell their souls. Wilson is a true artist along the lines of Brian Wilson (albeit in a different genre). An Engineer, a producer, a multi instrumentalist and a premiere songwriter who avoids the fame. His band – oozing musical integrity like a bleeding Van Gogh. Balladry interrupting perfectly crafted instrumental based high caliber Rock with a toe inside the Prog. A must see for all music fans.
3. Cecile Mclorin Salvant
If Cecile had arrived on the scene forty or fifty years ago, she would be revered like Etta James, Billie Holiday and Etta James (to name a few). Blessed with the voice of several angels – Salvant’s range is second to none. A no frills performer who sings for the right reasons. Combining the sweetness of honey and the strength of a whiskey straight up,Cecile’s performance as part of the Jazz Festival was an evening for purists. Salvant did not disappoint.
2. Beth Hart
Honesty is the best policy. Beth Hart is the most down to Earth raw female performer on the planet. Then she takes that integrity and sings with the same convictions. Listening to Hart is almost like witnessing an accident on the side of the road that never happens. Akin to Keith Richards’ about to fall down walk – Hart invites concern. Once she stops running and drops the scissors – the most natural voice in the universe becomes the star. Blues, Rock and Jazz-inspired tunes fill the night with wonderment. Talent oozes down the aisles as Hart follows the notes into the audience with love and appreciation. An interactive experience with Hart’s vulnerabilities as the headliner.
Montreal’s Queen of Jazz put on the most memorable performance this city has maybe ever seen. The day before her appearance at the Montreal international Jazz Festival – Ranee lost her musical muse and husband. A devastating moment for anyone and a life altering moment.
Under extreme emotional circumstances – Ranee decided the show must go on as her husband Richard would have wanted.
Any show completed would have gained a standing ovation due to the circumstances. Heartbreak on the sleeves and a hole in the heart can be the wind that pushes the tightrope walker off the thin line. A musical death would have been accepted without critique.
Ranee reached deep. Ranee reached long. Ranee reached hard. As if Richard was seated next to her – Lee put on the performance of a lifetime. Holiday, James, Washington – the ladies of Lee’s youth appeared live through Ranee’s vocals. The strength and the power increasing as the night went on. Lee’s passion for the history and the music growing stronger as the mountain of grief lay before her. The stamina not giving in to the tiredness she felt. The glow of her husband leading the way like the star of a musical Bethlehem guiding Ranee’s soul through the dark.
One evening when the realities of life could not be avoided changed The Montreal International Jazz Festival into a mystical place. One woman who took on the realities of life with courage transformed The Montreal International Jazz festival into Magic.
Genesis’ landmark record was in fruition before it was in fruition. Several of the songs were thoughts in the heads of Peter Gabriel,Tony Banks, Phil Collins, Mike Rutherford and Steve Hackett.
It was guitarist Hackett who came up with the idea for perhaps what was the deciding song in Genesis’ soon-to-be upcoming superstar status. It was also an album where Steve Hackett made his mark as a guitar player.
Please listen below to Part Twoof my chat with Steve about Selling England By The Pound.
Many people don’t know who Steven Wilson is. Generally and within musical ‘popularity’, Wilson lives in an obscure place. For the punters of the world a very bad thing. For Wilson – a very good thing.
The creator of the band Porcupine Tree and his band-mates set up shop at Place des Arts in Montreal on Friday night. Combining Porcupine Tree material and material from Wilson’s various solo and band projects – the tunes were for the faint of soul …
Wilson is an innovator. He is also a man filled with musical conviction both from a songwriting perspective and a technical point of view. His attention to detail and exploration within all musical forms is an attribute to his Father’s teachings. Wilson is also no fool when combining the arts. The marriage of visual and audio conceptions are ‘making love on their honeymoon’ during a Wilson show. Perhaps the only time when unannounced voyeurism should not be condemned.
Think of Wilson as a leader of a cult. From the beginning of the night through to the end – his ‘followers’ are pumped and poised to drink his poison. The pent up energy within the anticipation ready to explode as a premature ejaculation. Only the commanders of their very own pirate ships possess this type of passion for perfection and rebelliousness. Only perfection parlays unique language to the passionate through words and music.
Thinking and retroactive responses fill the spaces left by the pauses in musical creativity. The roller coasters, the emotions of life envelop the band and the crowd. The synergy, allowing connections to arrive at mutual understandings. Bonds -unmistakable gluing of concrete agreements.
Progressive Rock (with hints of early day Genesis and King Crimson) pokes it’s head in between Heavy Metal and Pop / Rock. Ghostly appearances from Gabriel to McCartney float nearby without interrupting the moment of now. The polite ‘intrusions’ – mere knocks on the door of Wilson’s songwriting bedroom.
To sum up a show of Wilson’s (and the bands) genius – a crime against humanity. A war crime to make Cheney and Bush appear angelic.
Years and years of recording. Years and years of ‘schooling’. An insatiable thirst for creativity and a natural habit for mining the salt of the earth allow Steven Wilson a hiding place.
For the sake of humanity and musicianship – the flashlights should remain in their respective drawers.
Genesis’ landmark record was in fruition before it was in fruition. Several of the songs were thoughts in the heads of Peter Gabriel,Tony Banks, Phil Collins, Mike Rutherford and Steve Hackett.
It was guitarist Hackett who came up with the idea for perhaps what was the deciding song in Genesis’ soon-to-be upcoming superstar status. It was also an album where Steve Hackett made his mark as a guitar player.
Please listen below to Part One of my chat with Steve about Selling England By The Pound.
Easy. A blend of Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock, Genesis, Yes, Rush, The Ramones, The Kinks, the Beatles and every artist between 1920 until present day.
Frank Zappa’s brilliance as a writer, producer, arranger, guitar player and every other position within an intellectual realm artistically and socially was put on display via Dweezil Zappa in Laval last night. Epic could be the best way to describe the evening.
The Purple Lagoon, Andy and Don’t You Want a Man Like Me opened things up along with the punter’s minds who were not far behind in realizing music exists beyond corporate radio. The name of this tour is Choice Cuts.An insight into the non commercial world of Frank Zappa. Given Frank’s songs were mostly non radio friendly, choosing ‘choice’ tracks should be easy.
Think again …
Firstly – Dweezil’s Muthas are not your Father’s band. When each player within a band could headline on their own – something special is on the way. Dweezil himself – one of the finest guitar players ‘off the beaten path’ and an astute songwriter to boot. Detach the Zappa moniker and all it’s expectations – Dweezil could very well be in the same breath as Vai, Satriano et al. in the mainstream conscientiousness. Frank probably would want it this way and ensure the Zappa legacy maintains musical integrity.
As the show moved along – perhaps the ladies initially stole the show. Vocalist Cian Coey and multi – instrumentalist Scheila Gonzalez were on fire. Frank Zappa’s tunes contained whimsical female voices along with serious style. Both Scheila and Cian added their parts with conviction. Cian alone – stealing the spotlight throughout the evening with power, finesse and grace. An indication the ‘top forty’ radio female vocalists are nowhere near the best. Scheila no slouch either as her vocals more than impressed and her Sax playing otherworldly. Frank would be proud.
Call Any Vegetable, Tell Me You Love Me and T’Mershi Duween. Three more tunes which only the die hard Frank fans know aside from the band.
Drummer Ryan Brown, bassist Kurt Morgan, Chris Norton on keys and guitarist / vocalist Adam Minkoff were on the same bus. Travelling the Zappa songbook at light-speed. Shining alone when called upon and perfectly in sync with grooves as sweet as the most perfect five hour Funk jam. The completeness allowing Dweezil to do his thang.
Steve Vai was one of Dweezil’s teachers back in the day. Frank Zappa was one of Dweezil’s muses. Dweezil has worked with every guitar player worth their weight in gold. Nothing could go wrong within a solo and Dweezil’s own curiosity to grow as an artist – adds to the special moments when Dweezil takes the spotlight.
Suzy Creamcheese, Valley Girl, Zoot Allures, Don’t Eat the Yellow Snow and Joe’s Garage – the show and the intensity continued.
Serious musicians playing serious licks. Only the students of music can understand and appreciate Dweezil’s (The Muthas) take on his Father’s songs. Only serious students of music can appreciate Frank Zappa and his genius.
Some bands fall through the cracks as far as recognition goes. Stiff Little Fingers are one of those bands.
Born at the height of Punk music’s global popularity, the band emerged from a Country that was not known for Rock music.
‘I have no doubt there were many talented musicians and songwriters in Ireland …” Says original and current member and songwriter Jake Burns. ” Due to the fear factor of losing jobs (that were few and far between) and the non acceptance of Northern Ireland musicians due to the political unrest in Ireland, sadly many chose or were forced to stay put.”
Stiff Little Fingers, a group of schoolboy friends formed in 1977. A time when groups such as The Ramones and The Sex Pistols were gaining momentum. It was another band however which many comparisons were made.
“Everyone kept telling us we sounded like The Clash and we were asked if they were a huge influence.” Says Burns on the eve of their November 10th show in Montreal. “We never really spoke with the guys from The Clash and wondered if they took us as a threat or admired us.”
Four albums in three years starting in 1979 saw the band emerge as a voice of unrest for not only the people of Ireland – the entire world. Punk music and Stiff Little Fingers were affecting fans and non fans alike.
“When I started writing songs, I had a little difficulty coming up with ideas and they were forced’ Says Burns. ” I spoke with someone and once I realized it is important to write what you know – that is when things changed for me as a songwriter and the band.
Stiff Little Fingers then suffered the same fate as many bands. Knowing each other for so long and being on the road and always together, the fighting started.
” All these years later, in hindsight – all we needed to do was to take a step back and we would have been fine …” Admits Jake. ” It was not about dislike, it was about the stress of the business and a lot of pressure to maintain a band.”
In 1987, following a hiatus and Jake partaking in a solo effort and collaborations, Stiff Little Fingers reunited and despite the words of the music business; The Fingers embarked on what would become a very successful tour in Germany to sold out crowds. Burns and the band have never looked back.
Since their reformation, Stiff Little Fingers have released six albums with the last being the critically acclaimed 2014’s ‘No Going Back’.
Jake Burns still follows the recipe of writing what he knows for success.
” I went through some major life changes such as a divorce and relocation to a different continent and I did not think anyone would want to listen to a middle age guy sing about a mid-life crisis and divorce. Luckily I was wrong …”
Stiff Little Fingers are in Montreal Saturday night November 10th at Foufounes Electriques.
Frank Zappa’s son Dweezil, is a chip off the old block even though it is not sought out. Call it instinct, call it learned behavior or call it genetic – the artistic blood does circulate and will eventually come out in layered colors.
Please listen below to Part One of my chat with Dweezil Zappa. Topics include his Dad, his guitar playing and many other interesting tidbits. Stay tuned for Part Two.
The Blues are steeped in tradition of making deals with the Devil at the crossroads. Bad in the Blues is a good thing.
Justin Saladino and his band were the baddest thing on stage Tuesday night as they competed and won The Quebec to Memphis Blues Challenge. The next step? Conquering the biggest Blues stage in the world.
Please listen belowto my chat with Justin about the win and his steadfast work ethic to be better all the time.
Five bands have been chosen as the finalists in 2018. Five different sounds all within the confines of the Blues formula. Different but with the very familiar sound which propelled the legends of Rock n Roll to super-stardom.
Have a listen below to five songs from five artists. Can you choose a winner?