Rick Keene’s ‘Classic Rock’

Everyday we are bombarded by ‘Classic Rock’ …

A good thing, a bad thing …?

Depends on your point of view and whether or not your favorite radio station mis-uses the privilege. Please listen as I give a take on some of your favorite tunes.

May the good Lord shine a light on you …

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Lee Rocker

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You Can Call Me Ray … You Can Call Me Jay – Or you Can Call Me ‘Snooksta’; Part Two

Wednesday is the night to be downtown …

Why? That is the evening ‘Snooksta and the Gangstas’ take to the stage at The House of Jazz. They provide rhythm, Blues and Jazz.

Combined with a battery section of two old friends, a young and upcoming saxophone player and a beautiful pianist – the band leaves no one empty. Especially the house which George Durst built.

Leslie …? Wuz’ up …?

 

Visit Snooksta here!

 

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One Road; A Little Bit Country – A Little Bit Rock n Roll

La la la la … life goes on …

Or so it goes for the band One Road.

Tracy and Mike’s lifelong dream of making a living as musicians – is far from over. Despite a learning curve larger than Justin Bieber’s list of arrest warrants, the duo are re-adjusting their game plan. Not changing – tweaking. A little change never hurt anyone after all …

Listen below as Tracy explains his next course and why he thinks something other than Marois must be changed in Quebec.

Tracy …?

 

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Please visit One Road here!

 

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Wanda Jackson – A Legend; Pure and Simple. Part One

Elvis

Gladys and Vernon Presley‘s son had many monikers.  Movie star,  Elvis ‘the Pelvis’ and ‘The King of Rock n Roll’ – to name but three very important ones. ‘Wanda Jackson‘s boyfriend’ was also a name Elvis toted for a while. Few know it – everyone is impressed when it is discovered…

For Wanda Lavonne Jackson of Maud, Oklahoma –  it was a special time for both her personally and for the start of her musical career.

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Wanda and Elvis

“I worked with Elvis from the summer of ’55 to ’57.” Says Wanda. ” I did not do every tour with him but I did do some very long tours with him. Don’t forget – I was very excited at that time to start my own career. We dated and liked each other and all, we had a sweet friendship and cared for each other deeply. At that time there was Jerry Lee Lewis, myself, Johnny Cash, Elvis, Buddy Holly, Roy Orbinson – a bunch of guys, we all toured together. All of us became very close friends and cheered each other on as our records began to sell.”

Jackson continues …

“As the years went on, Elvis and I did not keep in touch but I followed his career like everyone else. He got so big – he was in a different world. Like everyone else, I was saddened by what happened to him at the end but I don’t think anyone could have saved him. It is funny – back in the beginning when Elvis starting getting popular and the girls were grabbing him and everything, my Father ( who was Wanda’s manager at the time) said he would have a miserable life. He said that Elvis won’t be able to go out and lead a normal life. My Dad was exactly right …”

Wanda and the rest of the people in question, the ‘men’ in her life, did not realize at the time they were starting something special. Little did they know, they were setting the groundwork for future generations of rockers. They were the pioneers of Rock n Roll …

“All of us were young and just doing our thing, just having fun.” Explains Jackson form her home in Oklahoma City.” At that time, nobody understood young people and they were trying to make it bad what we were doing. They made it devilish – which, of course, it was not. We had no idea what we were starting and I guess we were the pioneers. Myself, I have the distinction of being the first woman in Rockabilly. It is something that makes me proud.”

wanda5Wanda Jackson may be known as the first lady of Rockabilly yet funny enough – it was country music where she enjoyed most of her success starting in the early sixties. A genre of music which explains the roots of Wanda’s career.

“I pretty much gave up on Rock n Roll.” Explains the seventy-five year old Grandmother. ” I could not get any airplay. I did not get my first hit ( in Rock)  until 1960 ( Let’s Have a Party) and I started recording in 1956. I just thought -well, they are not going to play my records and if the fans cannot hear them – they won’t buy them. I switched to country to make some money. I would often make side A on my record a Country song and side B a Rockabilly song. That way I got the best of both worlds and Country music kept me afloat.”

Jackson’s decision paid immediate dividends …

Her early sixties country songs such as “Right or Wrong” and “In The Middle of a Heartache”, both earned her spots in the top ten on the Country charts as well as stays in the Top Forty Pop charts.  Her new -found popularity, forcing Capitol Records to re-release her past Rockabilly / Rocks songs and allow Wanda the freedom to record one last disc for the company. ‘Two Sides of Wanda’ showcased Jackson’s genius as a duel Country and Rock performer. It was a mixture of both genres and has left a permanent mark in the history of music. In 1965, Jackson made the move to country music with an exclamation point. She had a string of Top 40 hits during the next ten years including “Tears Will Be the Chaser For Your Wine” and “The Box it Came In”. Just two examples of what would be many Top Forty hits.

wanda4Jackson was not finished there however.

Her soul somewhat incomplete until she commenced the next chapter in her life. A integration of Gospel music into her repertoire. A genre which is part of the foundation of popular music. ..

‘I became a Christian and was very enthused about that.” Explains Wanda. “The music industry continued to change and was in turmoil really since 1956 on through.  I never intended to divorce Country music – I just wanted to add Gospel.  Capitol did not want it and  they allowed me to  record only one album in Gospel so by my choice – I decided to walk away. I wanted to pursue a more Gospel – oriented career because that’s where my heart was at the time and still is …”

Jackson’s Mother was a devout Christian yet her Father did not ape his partner’s denomination. Her Dad was very encouraging and believed Christianity was the right thing to do although he did not practice it. Wanda also wanted to raise her children in that environment and believes that accepting the Lord in her life in 1971 – is the reason that good things have come her way every since. Things like working with one of Rock’s biggest names – Jack White.

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Please stay tuned for Part Two …

Serena Ryder – Feels Like Home

Serena Ryder,  hot off the heels of a MMVA for ‘Rock/ Alternative Video of the Year for her new song; ‘Stompa‘- considers the success of her new album; ‘Harmony’,  somewhat home -based.

0fd1a128d78f11e2892d22000a1fb82c_7“The entire album was recorded in L.A.”‘ Says Ryder.'”After almost ridding myself of sixty songs which were penned for the sessions, I decided to simplify everything. ‘Stompa’ took just three hours to record and the entire album was completed in a few weeks.”

Much of the disc’s feel was concocted with an idea of simplicity as the thought process. Ryder wanting to ‘have fun’ and evoke feelings of happiness to whoever hears the songs. Forget their bad days and move into an upbeat state of mind.

‘I had written a lot of songs in Ashbury, my place near Toronto.” Explains Serena.” We have converted a two car garage into a studio and it is covered in raw cedar. The whole thing is like a sauna. We call it the cottage.  It is also decorated by all these old antiques we discovered in and around my neighborhood. Religious statues and that type of thing. It makes me feel comfortable when I am there and it allows me to feel like I am having fun while I am writing and recording.”

For Serena, that feeling delivers her to a growing up era in Peterborough, Ontario. A place where she educated herself musically surrounded by a community of musicians which were and continue to be  – a strong source of inspiration.

1d5c3280d47a11e29e7122000aaa0fd8_7‘Really – it was such a diversity of music growing up. All the musicians I grew up with had it in their blood. One day it was alternative you heard and the next – more popular – type music. There was always something different and it was always a lot of fun.”

Enjoying the process of recording her new album and what is turning out to be her hit song (Stompa) – was first and foremost in Serena’s thoughts. The Juno award winning singer wanted to relax and dive into a session where not too much thinking was going on. Something which happened somewhat accidentally for the 30 year old singer – songwriter.

‘Stompa’ started off as this easy guitar riff. It was just so simple and happy. It 6b97c570d6a211e2933022000aa8032d_7had a primal feel and that kind of worked and set the tone for the rest of the album.We added some hand claps which went wonderfully with the toned down (instrument-wise) feel. It puts a smile on my face and I hope it is infectious …”

‘Harmony’ is Ryder’s sixth studio album and so far – a listener is able to grasp  many different genres from the singer who was once labeled a ‘teenage Aretha Franklin‘. That moniker due to Ryder’s immense vocal range. She is considered a mezzo-soprano, able to hit perfect pitches and sustain a controlled vibrato. A three octave singer and someone to make Canadians proud.

‘It has been quite the trip in the past few years.”Admits Serena” Now I have this celebrity – music styled life and it is quite a difference for me. I do not forget my roots and I am the same person I always was. This is evident in my new album. I owe everything to the wonderful people in Peterborough who taught me everything I know.”

Serena Ryder remains home -based;  through and through…

Ryder is coming to Montreal as part of the Montreal International Jazz Festival. She will be performing on the 2nd of July at Club Soda. She is looking forward to coming and seeing some old friends. People like Xavier Rudd and Daniel Langlois. The last time she performed as part of the Festival – she shared the stage with Adam Cohen. It was a tribute concert to his Father Leonard. Not bad company – eh?

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The Beatles in Montreal

Three hundred and sixty – five days before Mick Jagger first opened his mouth and cried;” I Can’t Get No Satisfaction …” , the Fab Four touched down at what was formerly known as the Dorval Airport in the western suburbs of Montreal.

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Forty – eight years later, the Beatles are back in town and the songwriters of ‘Satisfaction’ are embarking on a tour.

The more things change – the more things do not change.

The Beatles have returned to La Ville de Montreal as a group for the first time since the ‘magical mystery’ of who the boys from Liverpool was first solved. An estimated 20,000 screaming Quebecers who attended the Beatles two shows on September 8 1964, found out and how!

Amid Ringo death threats (really? Ringo?), because of the drummer strangely identified as being a Jewish lad from Liverpool? The boys were whisked in and out of Montreal quicker than the time it takes to eat ‘Pasta’.

One show at 4pm – another at 8:30pm. That’s it – that’s all! Ob-La-Di – Ob-La-Da … life goes on …

Not really.

Did anyone think on that date, that the ‘original boy band’ would become the biggest selling and most enduring pop band of all time? Did anyone who touched them, shook their hands or were in the same room realize they had just imprinted their souls into history …? Probably not.

As Lennon’s ( and The Beatles) Rolls Royce welcomes a visitor into ‘The Beatles in Montreal ‘ exhibit at Pointe-a-Calliere Montreal Archaeology and History Complex – a realization takes place. Reality sets in …

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So long has passed since the
authors of ‘She Loves You’, ‘Michelle, ‘Get Back’ and too many other songs to list on a mountainside – it is easy to file the group and their legacy in the same cabinet drawer as Elvis, Charlie Parker and Hank Williams. ‘Phantoms’ of another era that exist through recordings solely.

Upon seeing John’s car, eying the various ‘Beatlemania’ souvenirs and hearing Ringo’s voice in it’s youthful playfulness via visual and audio representations … the Beatles become ‘real’ once more. Living, breathing monuments. Modern day Chopins or Bachs.

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Alone, the group ‘set the stage’ for everyone to attempt to imitate. The Rolling Stones, The Kinks, The Beach Boys all the way to Oasis and recently Coldplay. Thousands of bands since and thousands to come (whether a new band realizes it or not).

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The display, carefully orchestrated by men who were there at the time the Beatles first conquered North America, is a reflection of an era. An image of a simple time in music. No uploads, no downloads and no digital  piracy.

A couple of guitars, a bass and drums. All that was needed for a quartet of former Quarrymen to dominate a world through innocence.

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Naive love songs comprised of feelings so small in the big picture yet so big in the small picture. Human feelings which made the world seem closer in an age far removed from the internet.

This is the legacy which lay before a visitor to the museum’s eyes. An immersion takes place if allowed. A sinking feeling of both sadness and elation fills the soul.

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Kind of like The Beatles’ song book …

The Beatles in Montreal exhibition runs until March 30 2014. Please visit here for all the details.