Rick Keene Music Scene – Abuse To Addiction To Shantyman; Sean McCann Shines on New Record

Co-founder of Great Big Sea Sean McCann had a lot of fun. Too much fun which led to an awakening.

Please listen below to my chat with Sean about abuse, addiction, recovery and the new album; Shantyman.

©David Howells 2020 http://www.davehowellsphoto.com

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Rick Keene Music Scene – Upstairs Jazz Bar and Grill; Keeping Jazz Alive and ‘Live’ in Montreal

Jazz is one of the cornerstones of all popular music. Montreal – at one point in time; a hub for live Jazz in Montreal.

Upstairs Bar and Grill remains.

Please listen below to some Jazz masterpieces and standards. Also find out who is playing at Upstairs Jazz Bar and Grill and when …

Thank You.

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Rick Keene Music Scene – Tom Jackson ‘Eases The Pain’ In The Song; Lost Souls

Indigenous children attended residential schools and were murdered.

Genocide took place.

Please listen below to my chat with actor, singer / songwriter, activist and a member of the Order of Canada; Tom Jackson

Thank You.

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Rick Keene Music Scene – If Bob Geldof Wasn’t Born, Would Mondays Be Cool?

“Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”– Thomas A. Edison

Please listen below to new tunes, old tunes and news you need to know.

Tom Jackson – Up Next

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Rick Keene Music Scene – What Radio Used To Sound Like

 ‘The mental state between reality and fantasy, or the lowest level of the ocean that light can penetrate.’ That describes – commercial radio.

Please listen below to what radio used to sound like when DJs played their discoveries and the best new music.

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Rick Keene Music Scene – New Tunes Including Chris de Burgh

Just sit right back and hear some tunes …

Please listen below to news and new tunes.

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Rick Keene Music Scene – Album Of The Week

Sometimes things are just cool.

Please listen below to the


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Rick Keene Music Scene – New Tunes and Music News

Build on the past.

If you live in the past and listen only to the past – the future will not require sunglasses. The future will not be very bright.

Scroll down and listen to some great new tunes !

More details on montrealjazzfest.com

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Starting tomorrow, the Festival International de Jazz de Montréal presented by TD Bank Group in collaboration with Rio Tinto will fill the air of Quartier des spectacles! From September 15 to 19more than thirty renowned artists will shine on the TD Stage (Place des Festivals) and on the Rio Tinto Stage (Parterre symphonique) to offer us a series of exceptional and free concerts

This 41st edition will give festival-goers the occasion to finally discover live versions of the new material of a great number of artists such as Basia BulatPlants and AnimalsMISC,Charlotte Day WilsonTeke::Teke and Daniel Lanois.

As for BEYRIES, she will be on stage to present her first Montreal show with her band since the release of the second album Encounter. Under the musical direction of Alex Mc Mahon, she will be surrounded by musicians Marc Chartrain, André Papanicolaou and Amélie Mandeville as well as backing singers Kim Richardson, Franck Julian, Sarah Bourdon, Marie-Christine Depestre and Coral Egan. Pierre Lapointe will be responsible for the staging and artistic direction of this exceptional concert.

There will also be some special projects such as Modibo Keita‘s creation which celebrates the 50th anniversary of Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On album, Guy Bélanger’s Blues Summit or Steve Hill & The Devil Horns’ new project, not to mention the special guests that will be added to Patrick Watson and Elisapie’s concerts.

his year, festival-goers must reserve their tickets online free of charge in order to have access to the outdoor stages as well as to the late nights series Les Nocturnes presented by Loto-Québec at L’Astral and Club Soda. This new measure will allow us to keep a register of participants and ensure the safe running of the events, in accordance with the health regulations currently in effect.
A few tickets are still available, get yours right now at montrealjazzfest.com

Please note that a box office on site will allow fans to reserve last minute tickets!

If you’re one of the lucky ones who were able to get tickets, please come out and give your artists a warm welcome and support them in person!

For the very first time, the Festival’s outdoor shows will be webcast live from the Place des Festivals and the Parterre symphonique. Spectators who can’t make it on site will also be able to experience these exclusive performances thanks to a real-time broadcast that will not be rebroadcast. It’s a date the same evening in your living room or even on your terrace to experience Jazz at home!
Watch on the Festival’s YouTube channel at youtube.com/montjazzfest

Free digital extras, available upon request as of September 15 will also be offered on the Festival’s website to satisfy the curiosity of true music fans.

More details on montrealjazzfest.com


At Dièse Onze, don’t miss:  Emile Farley / Taurey Butler Trio / Marc Copeland Trio / Kim Richardson Quintet
For the show schedule and to buy your tickets:  www.dieseonze.com/

Upstairs Jazz will present:  Laura Anglade Quartet /Fuel Junkie Blues Band / Ron Di Lauro Sextet: Kind of Blue / Nomad / Simon Denizart + Eli Miller Maboungou / Peter Berstein / Larry Goldings / Bill Stewart Trio
For the show schedule and to buy your tickets:  www.upstairsjazz.com/


Concerts at the Festival will be presented in compliance with the health measures currently in effect for outdoor events. Please note that the vaccination passport will be required for access to the shows. 

In order to expedite the admission process to the shows, we encourage festival goers to arrive on site early and check in at one of our two vaccine passport validation tents. Once their passport has been validated, they will be able to proceed to the stage area entrance.

Of course, we will follow the evolution of the health situation closely to ensure the safety of the public, artists and employees.

For more details, please visit: montrealjazzfest.com/en-CA/Infos

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Rick Keene Music Scene – Colin James ‘Returns’ Home

Ya think you know somebody …

For many of the audience attending Colin James’ show at the Montreal Jazz Festival – the fact that Colin once lived in Montreal for a year and a half, came as a surprise.

James recanted the tales of living in Lachine and Verdun and busking in the Metros. He also told stories of many gigs in this city. Places such as Bourbon Street North and West along with The Club Sodas (among others). If the audience were not already in love with Colin – they were now. In a weird way, the prodigal son returned home at Place des Arts.

James is on tour right now following his recent win for Blues Album of the Year at this year’s Junos. Miles To Go is the name of the disc and if Colin wants to achieve longevity – The Blues may be the road to travel. Sadly – even though James has put out record after record of solid Rock / Pop albums, classic Rock stations (or any radio station for that matter), refuse to play new music by classic Rock / Pop guys. Colin and his mates rolled out all of his genres last night. Take that Classic Rock radio !

Joined by Canada’s best harmonica player Steve Marriner (Monkey Junk, Harry Manx) both on disc and live – Colin and his band parlayed a vast catalog along with some new / old covers into a solid set. A wall of sound engulfed Place des Arts with piercing guitars and piercing horns. The combination of the two; a two punch bordering on a Rock show.

Five Long Years and Why’d You Lie reminded the older folks of a different time in music. A time when Blues joined Pop. Eighties music in all it’s glory. It Takes Time, One More Mile and Soul of a Man reminded folks of what most of them missed before they were born. The set-list was a perfect combination of the blending of different styles of Blues and how essential the sound is to success in any era.

James’ return to the Jazz Festival came full circle as the Jazz Festival was one of Colin’s first gigs thirty years.

James appears to be in transition mode as he decides which route to travel in his career. Colin has always been some sort of a chameleon that way. Stopping at the Rock door, the Blues door and the Big band door. What we witnessed last night was a vagrant James with no welcome mat at any door. The show had all the earmarks of a show yet somehow, there was a feeling that James can do better. Somehow – Colin will reemerge shortly with a new found love of a different sound.

Perhaps a move to Montreal, the most vibrant place for music in Canada would help? Why not? Colin’s twenty one year old son is going to Concordia. A trip by Colin via Metro to visit him (with guitar in hand) may do the trick for Colin.

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Rick Keene Music Scene – Damn Right ! Buddy Guy Was at The Jazz Festival !

Some people walk the talk. Some people talk the walk. Very few people walk and walk and walk and keep on walking.

Buddy Guy graced the Montreal Jazz Festival with his presence Saturday night. In a festival that has witnessed the likes of Ella Fitzgerald, Ray Charles and Stevie Wonder – Buddy’s appearance and subsequent reception of the B.B. King Award for outstanding contribution to The Blues was icing on a fortieth anniversary cake.

Buddy Guy was in a field pickin’ cotton when he was fifteen years old. During Obama’s regime as President of The Unites States of America, Buddy performed at the White House. For Guy – the largest indication of how far he has come in this world. For the music world and specifically The Blues world; Buddy had already reached the musical White House.

With the recent passings of B. B. King and James Cotton (along with many Blues artists), Buddy Guy is the last Blues man standing. Buddy is a survivor and a witness to Blues history. Buddy has played with every Blues guy who is talked about in the same breath as Jesus. Buddy Guy is now in that category and giving Jesus a run for his money.

With the utmost respect to opening act Colin James and his band members, the difference between their show and Buddy’s was immense. James was presented on stage and Guy was ‘a presence’ on stage. The voice, the power of his guitar and the showmanship was as legendary as Guy himself. Some people have that certain ‘je ne sais quoi’ and are born to lead the pack. Elvis, Sinatra, Jagger, Mercury and Prince all had or have it and in The Blues world; Guy is currently the King. When Buddy joins The Stones for a song or two live – he steals the show. How many people dwarf The Stones on stage?

At Place des Arts last night, Guy was in fine eighty – two year old form. At Place des Arts last night, Buddy and his band put on a clinic in sound, in theatrics and old fashioned get what you pay for showmanship. You cannot teach and old dog new tricks and in this day and age, when the new dogs cater to the short span of today’s music, the old dog was comforting as he lay at the punter’s feet.

The’ old hound’ brought along some friends as well. The Damn Right Blues Band backed up Buddy as a full blown 1960’s Blues club band. In the days of Blues haunts in Chicago such as Theresa’s and Muddy Waters’ Checkerboard Lounge, The Damn Right Blues band was the norm. Every player in all The Blues clubs was an elite performer. They were the forefathers of music today. The Damn Right Blues Band – relaying their ancestors messages loudly, purely and honestly. After all, real Blues music is as honest as you get.

 Johnnie Taylor’s “Who’s Making Love” added a sing along portion to the show. One of Guy’s strong points is audience interaction and Guy furthered the bond with his rendition of John Hiatt’s Looks Like Rain.The audience was tutored by Guy into singing the chorus and it was angelic. Men were singing along yet eerily – it was only the female voices which rose to the heavens. Guy himself seem to pick up on that vibe and he sincerely gave his grading asking three or four times for them to do it again. It was a special moment.

Ric “Jazz’ Hall, Buddy’s gunslinger in crime on guitar was (next to Buddy) the best guitar player in Montreal last night. A headliner on his own, Ric displayed more than once how a guitar should sound while playing not only The Blues but Rock n Roll. Spacing and tone are far more important than technique and flash. Ric will be, one day – held in the same esteem that Mr. Guy is now.

Marty Sammon knows the feel of music. Marty Sammon well aware of how and what is needed in a Blues band. On keys, Sammon pushes and pulls the rhythm to lows and highs with power and solitude. Allowing Guy time to breathe physically and musically. The chemistry between the two as beautiful as Peanut Butter and Jelly. As tight as jeans on a runway model. As smooth as a baby’s bottom.

Two things happen at every Buddy Guy show. One – the master leaves his desk and ventures into the audience and two; the hairs on the back of people’s necks stand on end when Buddy opens his mouth and sings. Both occurred last night yet the softness in which Guy also sang was equally as outstanding. His control and the feel of The Blues was impressive. At eighty- two years of age, Guy’s stamina may be the inspiration behind Mick Jagger’s strength.

Buddy Guy. Walking and walking and walking and walking and …

Photos Benoit Rousseau

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Rick Keene Music Scene – Frampton Comes Alive in Montreal

All that was missing was acid, black light posters and hair …

Has there been anyone in the history of music that is identified with one album and a live one at that? Every artist who falls under the legend umbrella has at the very least, three albums and ten hit songs. Sure there are one hit wonders but Peter Frampton doesn’t even fall into that category.

Yes, yes – serious Rock guys will say that Frampton was part of Humble Pie and they were a great band and Frampton’s guitar playing was a huge part of it. Yet, ask the same Rock guys what is your favorite memory of Frampton and they will say; Do You Feel Like We Do from the album Frampton Comes Alive. Baseball, Apple Pie and Frampton Comes Alive. Staples of North American culture.

Frampton is on a ‘Farewell Tour’ due to his diagnosis of Degenerative Muscle Disease and he performed as part of The Montreal International Jazz Festival on Friday evening. For the most part – the audience consisted of people who have not been to a show since Frampton Comes Alive was released. Peter Frampton is from the past and these type of artists tend to draw their own kin. Call it a musical ‘sleep with your cousin’ kinda thing.

As the show commenced, none aside from Peter Frampton’s family and band knew what to expect. Was the music going to be like the live record? Can Peter play guitar as well as he used to? Will Place des Arts suit the Rock n Roll Frampton and his band play? The answers came quick. Yes, yes and mais oui !

Baby (Somethin’s Happening) started the show and it was akin to a blind date. The first two minutes are crucial (three songs?) to obtaining enough knowledge to decide whether it will be a late night or a sudden fake phone call will equate to a quick exit. By the time the night entered into song two ( Signed, Sealed, Delivered – Stevie Wonder), a feeling of ‘maybe I will get to third base’ enveloped the crowd. Lines On my Face then proved that Frampton’s guitar skills remain intact and from that point, the stage was set for song number one from Frampton Comes Alive.

Seventy-five percent of the audience jolted upright as if someone placed an electric wire under their seats. Show Me the Way returned everyone to the days of Pop Rocks and North Star running shoes. Frampton and the band eerily reproduced the song as it was recorded on the famous disc. Peter’s vocals that of a young man with no sign of rust. It was as if Frampton’s vocal chords still had hair. Just like that – the night was signed, sealed and delivered to the hearts of the mostly aged punters. Anything following the song Show Me the Way, destined to be accepted as gold.

photos Victor Diaz Lamich

Following a couple of covers ( Hogey Carmichael’s Georgia and Freddie King’s Me and My Guitar), Frampton derricked the past once again with two Blues’ covers from his new album “All Blues’. Peter Frampton loves playing guitar and music. These passions glared at the audience from the time Peter started playing leads on the Blues’ tunes. His passion grew as the night went on and remained that way via his autobiographical chatter and his vibrancy on stage.

The energy, reached the stratosphere when Frampton paid homage to one of his pals; the late Chris Cornell of Soundgarden. Black Hole Sun allowed not only Frampton but the entire band to shed whatever inhibitions remained within and they started jammin’ as if they were in sound-check. In other words – they danced as if none were watching.

(I’ll Give You) Money and Baby (Somethin’s Happening) set the table for the night’s most anticipated meal.

Do You Feel Like We Do relieved the audience of it’s pain. Most – coming to Place des Arts and forking out big dough to hear Frampton’s most famous export ‘come alive’. The music was the same, the vocals were the same but Mr. Frampton had some fun with the voice box segment of the song. Altering the record words and intertwining them with the real live album lyrics. Laughing at times along with the audience, the iconic singer and song in 2019 have both become a festive Monet live. A celebration of not only Frampton’s legacy but the legacy of the 1970s. Arguably the best decade for arena Rock n Roll. Not arguably, the best decade for Peter Frampton.

On July 5th 2019 at Place des Arts during the Montreal Jazz Festival, three things were missing. Guitar playing, vocals and happiness were not any of them.

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Rick Keene Music Scene – Peter Frampton Press Conference at Montreal Jazz Festival

Songs and albums bring you back to a special time in your life and they become etched in stone.

Even if you were not a fan, in the late seventies, Peter Frampton was all over the radio. Do You Feel Like We Do was an anthem for Rock n Rollers. One of those tunes that musically and lyrically summed up the vibe during a concert, a party or the aftermath of both.

For eighteen months, Peter Frampton was the face of Rock and was atop the Pop star ladder. Posters of him adorned almost every teen girl’s bedroom wall and every teenage boy needed to be Peter Frampton.

Join Peter as part of The Montreal Jazz Festival July 5th and celebrate his Farewell Tour. Not often one has the chance to witness music history.

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Rick Keene Music Scene – George Benson Changes the Jazz Festival Into Broadway

Some guys are just born with talent.

George Benson was here in Montreal Monday evening as part of The Montreal International jazz Festival. Those in attendance witnessed a special evening. Special tunes, special talent and a backing band filled with rhythm.

Breezin’ started the night with an indication of Benson’s superb guitar work. Instrumentals are very much part of who Benson has always been and they remain entwined deeply within a Benson show. His style – in the vein of B.B. King and King’s mastery of holding notes with tenderness.

Turn Your Love Around Nothing’s Gonna Change My Love for You, Give Me the Night and The Masquerade showcased the power in Benson’s voice and his ability to seek out and destroy the human emotion which is so vital to having a hit record. Benson – over the years, is one of few artists who not only add all genres into his music but are also not shy to do other folk’s songs.

Benson’s latest album is an homage to Chuck Berry and Fats Domino. At Place des Arts, Benson showcased the tunes of the legendary performers with his own special twist. Havana Moon with it’s ever – present guitar riff elevated the mood of the both the band and the audience. Berry’s genius was always within the fun of his lyrics and music. Benson et al captured the spirit perfectly with Havana Moon.

Walking to New Orleans ( Domino) transported the audience to a simpler time in music. Nobody captured the simplicity in music than Fats Domino with his piano keys and vocals. Benson’s voice last night on Domino’s classic – just as poignant in 2019 and it was the vehicle driven to give Fats the credit he is due.

Benson and his band gave the audience Soul, Blues, Pop and Jazz. All the ingredients that are cemented into the Montreal Jazz Festival. All the tools required to educate up and coming musicians about music.

All the tunes needed to play On Broadway.

Visit George Benson Here

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Rick Keene Music Scene – Alan Parsons Has a ‘Secret’ and It Is a Good One …

The word legendary gets tossed around like a flea bit peanut monkey.

In the case of Alan Parsons, he is a monkey on all music fan’s backs.

Alan has released his first solo album in fifteen years. It is no ‘secret’ that fans have been waiting for this anxiously. The album ‘The Secret’ does not disappoint.

Please listen below to my chat with Alan Parsons about his new album. Alan will be here on July 4th as part of The Montreal International Jazz Festival.

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Rick Keene Music Scene – Kevin Breit; One of Canada’s Premiere Guitar Players Shares All. Part Two.

Imagine having a guitar made especially for an album.

That is precisely what Kevin Breit did for his new release – Stella Bella Strada.

Please listen below to Part Two of my chat with Kevin and hear some great tunes and tales from the new album.

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Rick Keene Music Scene – Kevin Breit; One of Canada’s Premiere Guitar Players Shares All. Part One

Come out and join the circus won’t ya?

The title above could very well be the name of Kevin Breit’s latest album. Instead – Stella Bella Strada is the name of the disc and it translates roughly into ‘Star of the Road’. A fitting title both professionally and personally for the Ontario-born much sought after session man.

Please listen below to Part One of my chat with Kevin and hear some great tunes and stories about working with Holly Cole and Norah Jones.

Stay tuned for Part Two !

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Rick Keene Music Scene – Gino Vannelli Is Still Here and Better Than Ever …

Soul Train, the television show which featured Gino Vannelli as it’s first ‘white’ performer is long gone. Gino, on the other hand, is improving with age.

The sixty-six year old native Montrealer returned home this past weekend on the heels of his first album of new material in over a decade. Wilderness Road is the name of Gino’s twentieth album and it may rank as one of his best.

On Friday and Saturday night at Place des Arts, Montrealers got a taste of the new album along with Vannelli’s greatest hits. They also received a profound example of what made Gino famous in the first place.

Sure Gino had the looks for the seventies. The sex appeal of John Travolta long before Travolta exited his T.V Barbarino character and emerged as Danny in Grease and Tony in Saturday Night Fever. Travolta should be thanking Gino with a regular paycheck.

Aside from the image, what separated Gino from the pack of both Italians and non Italians, was his attention to detail and his inner belief system. Those two elements (and persistence) made Herb Alpert of A&M Records pay attention. Much the same way the crowd at Place des Arts did on Saturday night. Rarely does an artist gather such focus between songs. Five hundred pins dropping would not be heard as each ear hung onto every word Gino spoke.

The reasons for the attention span is simple. Gino’s voice and his band’s precision. Aside from a couple of songs in Vannelli’s arsenal ( I Just Wanna Stop, Living Inside Myself, Wild Horses), Gino’s songwriting has not been easy to classify. His songs are diverse, complex and simple. His arrangements are unique and lean towards perfection. The audiences at a Gino show are given musical gifts before he opens his mouth.

People I Belong To, Nightwalker, Feel like Flying, Apaloosa, Black Cars, NightDrive (along with the songs mentioned above) contain vocals by Gino which are that of a much younger man. Some people are blessed with a singing ability and then there are ‘those’ blessed to hear it.

Two of the songs from the new disc showcased both Vannelli’s vocals and his songwriting brilliance. Yet Something Beautiful and Older N’ Wiser.

Both songs inspired on two fronts. Musically, Older N’Wiser displays Vannelli’s Jazzy versatility while Yet Something Beautiful is pure Dicken-esque in it’s brilliant storytelling. Gino’s vocals on the latter reaching depths not heard from anyone half his age. The vocals alone leaving the audience speechless in awe.

Like most ‘classic’ artists – the unfortunate part of Gino Vannelli 2019 is commercial radio’s unwillingness to play the new tunes and a hunger for the old tunes from those only wanting to live in the past. Fortunately for Gino, his band is not a ‘cover’ band and are talented enough to play the new album in it’s entirety if the demand is there. Fortunately for Gino, his band can also play the complex rhythms and arrangements of the past.

In short – Gino and his mates are ready for Soul Train 2.0

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Rick Keene Music Scene; Jazz Festival Review – Dr. Lonnie Smith; Doin’ Only What He Can Do

The word legendary. Tossed around like a flea – bit peanut monkey sometimes.

In the case of Dr. Lonnie Smith – it is he who is tossing the primate around …

Commencing his career in the late fifties alongside George Benson – Smith used his knowledge as a multi-instrumentalist and student of Jazz, Blues, Gospel and R&B to rise to the top of the Jazz world as master of the Hammond B3 organ.

Dr. Lonnie Smith has been the most sought after player in the Jazz world for over four decades and at Le Gesu as part of The Jazz festival, the good doctor and his trio showed why.

Jonathan Kreisberg and Jonathan Blake are both powerhouses in their own right. Trading unique craftsmanship with each other with Smith holding back to let them shine. If not for Smith’s ‘ jolt you from the seats’ playing – Kresiberg and Blake almost legendary themselves. Blake especially on the drums, combining fierceness and finesse – power and purring to go with a genius’ work.

Some Jazz leaders are perfectionists by birth. Not allowing others to breathe within a song as their visions are superior to others in their own advanced minds. Dr. Lonnie Smith is a genius as he paints with his ‘paint box’ in front of him yet he allows his trio to paint with him. He is the teacher yet his lessons are by participation and not by dissociation. Guiding – yes. Ruling with a steel hand – indefinably no.

What some have done for their instruments ( Hendrix on guitar) in the public eye – Smith has done for the Hammond B3 organ in not only the Jazz world, the music world period.

They don’t give the NEC Jazz Award to just anyone after all.

Visit Dr. Lonnie Smith here !



Rick Keene Music Scene – Dr. Jarrett Lobley Discusses Addiction and Music. PART 3

‘East is east and west is west – and an elephant never forgets. Boulder’s rules …’

Dr. Jarrett Lobley didn’t forget what he saw as he travelled the world. The things we in Canada take for granted were not part of the equation yet people were happier in places. 

Returning years later to the same locals and villages , Lobley noticed a difference in people’s behavior. Happiness was replaced with want and need. 

What caused it ? What made people turn to drugs and alcohol to mark their pain? Their malcontent ?

Please listen below to part three of my chat with the good doctor to find out !

Visit Jarrett Lobley Project Here !


Rick Keene Music Scene – The Strumbellas; A Chat About the Pureness of Music

Canada’s up and coming band are here !

In a few short years the band has gone from playing acoustic  folk inspired melodies to playing acoustic folk inspired melodies. The crowds just got bigger !

Please listen below to my chat with Darryl James about the new album, the fans and what to expect in the future.




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Blues Festival Here!






Montreal Jazz Festival Review – Joss Stone and Melissa Etheridge

On paper – Joss Stone and Melissa Etheridge look great as a double bill. In reality – they are greater than the sum of two parts …

When Joss Stone was in her Mother’s tummy, she attended one of her Mom’s favorite artists in concert. When Joss was seventeen – she sang as part of a duet with one of her Mom’s favorite artists. Last night at Places des Arts – Joss , once again, performed with one of her Mom’s favorite artists.

Melissa Etheridge remains constant in Joss Stone’s life.

Stone arrived on stage softly and that was about right for what was to transpire throughout most of the evening.

‘The Look of Love’, ‘Landlord’, ‘Stuck on You’ and ‘Victim of A Foolish Heart’ allowed Stone’s voice to shine through. In  past performances at the Jazz festival – too much ‘screaming’ took place which took away from the sheer talent of Joss’ vocals. There is a time and place for everything and sometimes at a Joss Stone show – the lines are blurred.

Not last night at Salle Wilfred Pelletier.

The band maybe were caught by surprise as well.

Joss swerving from set-list and improvising like a bird on a wire. Reading the crowd and judging reactions, just one part of Joss’ seemingly arrival at professionalism.

Comfortable in her skin and comfortable with charming banter. Her British humor and accent disarming critics, the audience and her band. The latter injected life into what can be ( at times) a monotonous trip while the former – a very good idea.

‘Put A Spell on You’ and ‘Son of A Preacher Man’ ended things on a high note. Joss and her mates raising the energy and injecting history into the night. Passing the baton to …


Melissa Etheridge

If Melissa Etheridge was loved before last night’s show in Montreal, this morning – the city must be erecting a statue of her atop Mont Royal.

What’s with all these artists pre – dating 1995? Was water different in the old days or has political correctness taken all the creativity and passion out of life ?

Etheridge arrived in town on the heels of her new album; Memphis Rock and Soul. Its an album paying homage to Stax Records and all the great tunes which inspired generations of musicians and fans. Horn heavy with R&B and Country music as the ground wiring. In short – the elements which were the beginnings of Rock n Roll.

Etheridge is one of  ‘those’ artists. A woman who has climbed, conquered, descended and now sits revered at the music clubhouse. Take away the battle with breast cancer and the same adulation and love is thrown her way for her music and activism on behalf of the ‘small folks’ in this world.

She doesn’t have to give a damn on stage yet she does – more than ever. 

Melissa’s new (old) songs from the new disc were solid. ‘Memphis Train’, ‘Respect Yourself’ and ‘Rock You Baby’. Three tunes which enveloped the show in a torn up stained envelope. Countless cigarette burns, whiskey stains and sweat were duplicated admirably by Etheridge and her posse. After all – growing up listening to Soul, Country and Rock n Roll in Kansas will leave a definitive impression.

Melissa’s energy was alarming. Anyone under the age of fifty who huffs and puffs while eating Mae Wests at their desk should be ashamed.

Non – stop talking between songs, non – stop guitar playing, non-stop walking from side to side. Toss in some impressive harmonica work and a mini drum solo near show’s end – everyone in attendance needed a nap from watching . Just the power vocally in classics such as ‘Somebody Bring Me Some Water’, ‘I’m the Only One’, ‘Like the Way I Do’ and ‘Come to my Window’ enough to light up the Jacques Cartier Bridge’s pretty blue lights.

 In 2005 – Joss Stone and Melissa Ethgeridge paid tribute to Janis Joplin at the Grammy Awards. Fast forward to Place des Arts last evening and the pair did it once again. The first time the talented duo have performed together since that emotional evening twelve years ago.

“Cry Baby’ and ‘ Piece of my Heart’ were meant for these two ladies of song. Stone’s range picking up the tenderness and the toughness while Etheridge’s emotion and vocals as raw as the spirit behind Joplin’s original impact. Rarely does a moment take place at The Festival these days that leave people talking for a few weeks or months. Ella Fitzgerald did it near the end of her life as she battled diabetes and last night, the combination of Etheridge’s survival status and Stone’s tutelage to one day be the grand lady of Soul – a perfect marriage on the alter of The Montreal International Jazz Festival’s legacy.

A piece of everyone’s heart was left at Place des Arts.


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Blues Festival Here!






Tremblant Blues Festival – No ‘Ghost Town’ for This Blues Band

Out of nothing comes something !

Every band goes through it. Sweating and grooving to empty chairs and a barmaid who just wants to go home …

The learning curve and the classroom for many a band as they climb their way to The Montreal Jazz Festival and Tremblant Blues Festival.

Not only did The Ghost Town Blues Band accomplish the above – they also got a name from it !

Please listen below to my chat with Matt Ibsell as he talks about his band who are not spooky at all.

Don’t be afraid of no ghost !



Visit The Ghost Town Blues Band Here !

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Blues Festival Here!


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Jazz Festival Review- The Triumphant Return of ‘The Hat-less People’. 

You can decipher the title if you want to but if your friends can’t decipher the title – they are no friends of mine …

Men without Hats energized Club Soda on July 2nd as part of Le Festival International de Jazz even though the beginning was short circuited.

As the familiar sounds and moves of the 1982 smash hit ‘Safety Dance‘ grabbed anyone within earshot of Blvd St Laurent by the tuque, the technological gremlins stopped the show around the letter ‘F’ or … maybe it was ‘E’?

Sometimes mistakes, human or not- can be a blessing in disguise. As if the great ‘promoter’ in the sky ventured down Sunday night ‘ a la friendly giant’ and rearranged the furniture. The stoppage created magic.

Acoustic guitar on stage with brother Colin – ‘Close to the Sun’ bonded performer and audience sooner than later. Given that some in attendance not born when the group were all the rage, an introduction of sorts was called for and delivered. Once-in-a-decade kinda stuff with both band and punter responding professionally to the unkind fickle hand of fate.

Electrifying is the opposite of powerless. If it wasn’t before  – it is now. That adjective precisely explains what Men without Hats did last night to the folks with or without head ware. Led by singer Ivan Doroschuk who , along with the likes of Jagger and Tyler; seems to have found the fountain of youth. The sixty year old front man writhed , danced and writhed some more as he prodded duplicate responses from a more than enthusiastic fan base and crowd.

Pulsating and pounding through the MWH catalog – the band only increasing the energy at Club Soda. Start to finish as the band served tunes such as ‘ I Got the Message ‘, ‘Antarctica’ and ‘ Head Above Water ‘ to the hungry tables, the MWH ‘Cafe Canadienne’ was ‘ in the juice ‘. Ivan – the head waiter , as much a contrast in color as a black and white television in a corporate – named stadium.

Political views ( for most of the tunes), in the forefront with a profound Punk attitude. Rebellious. Anti – establishment codes. Enigmas deciphered by true fans of a movement with a fist in the air. Enigmas defined by the song Safety Dance. Ivan himself- almost a caricature. A Cheshire Cat grinning in true cartoon form.

‘Living in China’ and ‘Pop Goes the World ‘ saved the show from becoming one long song. Perfect choices to break up the dangers of monotony. The ailments which have inflicted every original act since ‘that’ caveman hit ‘that’ rock with another rock. MWH have managed to sustain freshness in their lunchboxes even though it’s been in the trunk for thirty odd years.

Along with Safety Dance , the other bookend which held all the ‘ books ‘ together was ‘ Where the Boys Go’. 

That tune live , from the album Folk of the 80’s ( Part lll ) released in 1984, as powerful as any Clash or Ramones’ tune. Anthem – kinda ingredients. Dangerous rallying chords and calls to action. The men in attendance – thrashing their heads, hands and hearts violently in every direction. Lou Dawson ( keys, vocals), Rachel Ashmore  (keys, vocals ), Sho Murray ( guitar ) and Colin Doroschuk soaking it in and ejecting higher frequencies boomerang style. Club Soda was set afire. 

MWH are smart. 

Their biggest hit ( Safety Dance ) was played as the first song to presumably attract the crowd and to also force the crowd to pay attention to everything after. Their biggest hit was also played last to ‘end the story ‘.  For those who arrived late and came for that tune; bliss ! Planned or not – a brilliant move by the band. 

Following the inevitable outburst for a return to the stage, MWH returned the favor with ‘No Security ‘ and the pleasant ‘ On Tuesday ‘. The latter, a duet performed with Ivan’s niece Sahara Sloan. A delightful dessert to a fulfilling meal at ‘MWH’s Cafe Canadienne’. 

At the end of the shift, the head waiter Ivan, standing with satisfaction.  A hefty tip in hand, a smile on his face and not a hat on his head …


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2016 Montreal International Jazz Festival Preview; Royal Wood

Royal Wood has one of the coolest names in music. He also has one of the coolest back catalogues.

The ‘real’ Royal is emerging. You ain’t heard nothin’ yet !


Ghost Like is the name of the new album. It is a return to basics. A ‘ for the love of music ‘ CD which evolved ‘by accident’. A superb blend of catchy Pop, nurturing ballads and folk-ish lore. A CD which should be included in every Canadian’s collection.


Please listen below to my chat with Royal and hear some great tracks off the new disc. Royal Wood will be at Savoy Metropolis on June 29th and 30th as part of The Montreal International Jazz Festival.


Royal? What’s Up?



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Jazz Festival Reviews – Colin James June 25th Theatre du Nouveau Monde

June 25th – Theatre du Nouveau Monde

Colin James – Acoustic Sessions


Colin James seems like a kid …

Following a quarter century ( yes – a quarter century) as a professional musician, James is no longer a kid. He is on his way to becoming a seasoned Blues-man.

Friday night, James and his touring band proved it. Aside from a couple of reminders ( Why’d You Lie, Freedom ) of why Colin made it as a songwriter and guitarist in the first place – James showcased a more mature stripped – down version of his continuing Blues education.

Canada’s Michael J Fox of music – has indeed traveled ‘Back to the Future’.


‘ Just A Little Love’,Heart’s On Fire’ , ‘Heartbreak Road’ ( Bill Withers’ cover) all from James’ latest album Hearts on Fire proved James’ is on a musical adventure.

Displaying the new ( old ) songs live is not an easy task for any artist yet with James’ seemingly easy transitions from crisp acoustic to  turned -up electric, the new and old blended as simple as a chameleon in a tree. As simple and as complex as the Blues. As simple and as complex as Colin James.

James’ banter between songs, short – sweet and minimal. 

Aside from tales of  busking in the Metro and winning fifty dollars (twice) for playing music at Concordia while living in Montreal, insights into James’ psyche non existent. A great musical tale was told of a young James being offered some tracks as a young man and in being ‘full of Vinegar’ – he passed them on. ‘Clapton did them … ‘ Was Colin’s funny take on it …


Maturity appears to be leaking  into James’ boat although only within the music as the waves of  James’ enthusiasm for playing music remain like a giddy teenager about to lose his / her virginity. When Colin speaks about music, his age ( fifty) arrives at the forefront and that is not a bad thing.

A melancholy theme stays with his latest songs on ‘Hearts on Fire’, a wistful looking back amid tales of loneliness and heartache. These tales remain throughout the evening in a Colin James show. Along with the proper injection of upbeat rhythms every now and then – Acoustic Sessions becomes a treat. Sadness  in life is good occasionally and James’ set-list is not only good – it borders on great with effects of excellence riding the crash like a drummer’s blissful groove.



 Two Guitars and vocals. The Hammond keys. A Bass and Drums.

Just A Little Love‘, ‘Honey Bee’ and ‘Keep On Lovin’ Me Baby’ were the highlights in a show that contained no low-lights. A cover of Dylan’s ‘Watching the River Flow’ was a beacon for that colossal ‘cover’ ship that loomed in the distance. A vessel with U.S.S Van Morrison scrolled on the side. With drums placed back and every member on  stage in the right moment – Colin James brought Le Theatre du Nouveau Monde …

Into the Mystic

Colin James plays his last show on the 27th of June 

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9th Edition of The Blues Camp

9th edition of the Free Blues Camp

The Blues Camp presented by TDlaunches a new website for its 9th edition! And here’s the perfect reason to head there right away: it’s time for all young Québec musicians aged 13-17 to register for auditions for the chance to participate in our renownedfree once-in-a-lifetime week-long musical project!

The day camp,presented as part of the Festival international de Jazz de Montréal, once again welcomes about fifty teens who will have the opportunity to revel in and refine their passion for music, in the company of recognized professionals from the music world.

To register, please visitcampdeblues.com before 5 p.m. on Thursday, April 24, 2014. Auditions will follow on Saturday, April 26, starting at 9:30 a.m. at École Marguerite‑De Lajemmerais in Montréal.

Bluesmen and blueswomen of all stripes are welcome

We often associate blues music with the guitar, but it’s important to know that the camp is not dedicated to this instrument alone. Vocalists, saxophonists, trombone players, trumpet players, bass players, pianists, harmonica players and guitarists can all try their luck at being chosen for this unique experience, which, if we may say so ourselves, is also pretty hot! And for those young people wanting to prepare for the audition by doing a few extra warm-up exercises, be sure to check out the “how to prepare” section of the campsdeblues.com website.

How to participate

Simply register before 5 p.m. on April 24, 2014 on the Blues Camp website atcampdeblues.com. Fifty lucky young people will be selected at the auditions. The Blues Camp will be held from June 29 to July 5.

Important dates to remember

Registration period: from now until 5 p.m. on Thursday, April 24, 2014

Auditions: April 26, at École Marguerite‑De Lajemmerais (5555 Sherbrooke St. East, corner of De L’Assomption)

Blues Camp: June 29 to July 5

Show at the Festival International de Jazz de Montréal: July 5 at 6 p.m. on the TD stage

A 100%-free music day camp!

In tune with The Festival International de Jazz de Montréal’s mission of promoting music making, the Blues Camp presented by TD offers some 50 young people a unique lifetime opportunity to live their musical passion for seven straight days and learn the ropes, all with the help of professionals from the world of music who will accompany them at the final show on the TD stage before a live audience, at the wind-up to the Festival International de Jazz de Montréal!

The Blues Camp offers its warmest thanks to TD, whose continued proud sponsorship and presentation hit just the right note, making this musical dream camp possible.

Buddy Guy and Rick Keene
Buddy Guy and Rick Keene


Please stayed tuned for my interview with NEema!

Bonnie Raitt Coming to Montreal – Jazz All Year Long Series

Jazz All-Year Round welcomes
Bonnie Raitt, -M-, Joe Louis Walker, Quartango, Jean-Michel Pilc in a duo with Kenny Werner, Michael Kaeshammer,
Jorge Drexler and Rokia Traoré


Montreal, Wednesday, May 8, 2013 — The Festival International de Jazz de Montréal is happy to announce a first slate of concerts in the Jazz All-Year Round series presented by TD—a series renowned for its eclectic panorama of styles. You’ll find jazz on the marquee, of course, but also blues, boogie-woogie, world music and even an icon of French pop… and above all, sheer musical pleasure all year ‘round! Tickets for these new concerts go on sale Saturday, May 11 at noon.

Bonnie Raitt — November 14, 8 p.m. — Théâtre St-Denis 1 — Veteran songwriter, inspired vocalist, respected guitarist and committed activist, Bonnie Raitt is an institution in American music―she was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2000.

Fired up by the characteristically brilliant and affecting singing and playing on her latest album, Slipstream, the multi-Grammy-winning artist makes the second visit of her career, seven years after her Festival debut. It’s a summit meeting with one of the truly great ladies of music, a standard-bearer of blues-rock, country and roots.

-M- — July 9, 8 p.m. — Métropolis — Man of letters Mathieu Chedid, alias -M-, authored some of the greatest moments in the history of the FrancoFolies de Montréal during the ’00s, and of MONTRÉAL EN LUMIÈRE, where he returned after an 8-year absence to deliver THE shows of the year this past winter, packing the venue two nights running! Oh, you missed it? Well, take heart: by popular demand, the charming singer-guitarist with the flair for eccentric costumes returns to enchant us anew with Îl, his most recent album. No doubt about it: the summer forecast is looking sunny and hot!

Jorge Drexler — October 4, 8 p.m. — Métropolis — Born in Uruguay, this charming singer-songwriter is a genuine star Spain, where he’s pursued his career since the mid-’90s. An Oscar winner for the song Al otro lado del río―heard in the film The Motorcycle Diaries (2004)―Jorge Drexler fuses pop and folk with a skill and gentility that recall Brazil’s Caetano Veloso. After a sold-out show in his last Montreal visit, he finally returns to unveil a highly-anticipated new album, N.

Rokia Traoré — November 28, 8 p.m. — Club Soda — Discovered in the late ’90s, Rokia Traoré has delivered a handful of albums celebrated for their perfect equilibrium of traditional music and modern sounds. Singing in her mother tongue as well as French and English, the Mali native has never been afraid to venture into unexplored musical terrain leagues away from the stereotypes often associated with African music in the West. Produced by John Parish, a close associate of PJ Harvey, the new album Beautiful Africa finds the singer-songwriter flirting with rock and Afro-funk. As LaPresse+ says, this is music of intelligence, sensuality and passion.

In L’Astral

Joe Louis Walker — September 27, 8 p.m. — Talk about a fascinating career trajectory—this San Francisco singer-guitarist has one: a friend of six-string legend Mike Bloomfield in the ’60s, he then set off on a gospel stint before reconnecting with his blues roots in the mid-’80s. Since then, the imposing Mister Walker has drawn the respect of his peers and the admiration of a considerable audience. In his first concert here in 24 years, he’ll roll through a vast repertoire enriched last year by Hellfire, his 1st album on Alligator.

Quartango — October 24, 8 p.m. — Since releasing their debut album Musica Viva in 1986, Quartango has made its name blending classical and nuevo tangos, classical music and contemporary jazz with flair and aplomb. Now enjoying an impressive international reputation, the Montreal combo has trod the boards of the most prestigious venues in Tokyo,Paris and New   York—in Carnegie Hall, accompanied by the New York Pops. Comprised of founder René Gosselin (double bass), Antoine Bareil (violin), Stéphane Hunt (piano) and Denis Plante (bandoneon), they’ll be here to offer us an eagerly-awaited new album.

Michael Kaeshammer — November 1, 8 p.m. — Boogie-Woogie pro Michael Kaeshammer―known as the Triple Menace for his piano virtuosity, vocal talent and charisma―is back to dance up L’Astral with a new album dedicated to the repertoire of the great grand Allen Toussaint. A Festival regular with a fervent fan base here, the irresistibly charming Canadian star will be back in November after his opening slot for Emilie-Claire Barlow this summer. And then, the spotlight will belong to him alone.

Jean-Michel Pilc and Kenny Werner Piano Duo — March 7, 8 p.m. — Stage right, Jean-Michel Pilc, winner of the 2000 Django Reinhardt award and incredible improviser who shone in a trio with bassist François Moutin and drummer Ari Hoenig during the 2011 edition of the Festival. Stage left, Kenny Werner, loyal accompanist of harmonica master Toots Thielemans and high-level soloist. The program? An erudite, playful and daring musical dialogue brilliantly delivered by two pianists at the zenith of their art.

Tickets go on sale this Saturday, May 11, at noon

Available from the venue box offices

Métropolis (59 Ste. Catherine St. E) and L’Astral (305 Ste. Catherine St. W), ticketmaster.ca and admission.com, 1 855 790-1245
Théâtre St-Denis 1 (1594 St. Denis St.), 514 790-1111 or 1 800 848-1594, http://www.ticketpro.ca
Club Soda (1225    St. Laurent Blvd.), clubsoda.ca, 514 286-1010)

For further information, call the Info-Jazz LaPresse+ Line at 514 871-1881, toll-free at 1 85JAZZFEST, or visit montrealjazzfest.com.

To get the jump on the crowd, sign up for the Spectra Newsletter and have the scoop on the Festival International de Jazz de Montréal emailed to your inbox.

Tickets remain available for these other concerts

(tickets already on sale, details at montrealjazzfest.com)

Térez Montcalm, May 16, 8 p.m., L’Astral / Willy Moon, June 9, 8 p.m., L’Astral

A non-profit organization, the Festival International de Jazz de Montréal is pursuing its mission of disseminating and developing jazz and its musical cousins for the 14th year in a row, by reinvesting its potential surpluses in the presentation of special concerts at its Jazz All-Year Round series. With support from public partners, specifically, the Société de développement des entreprises culturelles (SODEC) and Canadian Heritage, it can thus offer Montrealers and visitors to the city the chance to experience the rhythms of jazz all-year round! The Festival also highlights the support of the Maison du Festival Rio Tinto Alcan, official host of the Jazz All Year Round series, as well as the support of Bell and the Hyatt Regency Montréal, partner and official hotel of the series, respectively.