Rachelle Harrisson; She’s ‘An Adult Now …’

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Who was Lou Reed?

Inevitably – age catches up to everyone. Rock n’ Rollers are no exception.

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Lou Reed is the latest victim of a combination of age / sickness. Who is next? McCartney? Ringo? Jagger? Richards? ( never mind the latter – the Stones’ guitarist’s shelf life has long since passed and his existence is questionable  …)

The common denominator within the names above is simple…

Legendary.

What is that? Reed legendary on the same level as The Beatles and The Stones? Did Reed ( who passed away at the age of seventy-one) pen tunes along the lines of Hey Jude or Brown Sugar? Over and over? Are his songs implanted into the gums of music history – never to be removed or destroyed in fire?

Around the world, in the past few days, young rockers ( or just plain youthful musicians) have prodded their parents with pesky questions pertaining to Mr. Reed. Truthfully and sadly –one response to the rockin’ requests was undoubtedly delivered. Answered with a glint in the eye and a  jump to the past …

Take a walk on the wild side …” The PARENTS may have said, thinking back to a simpler time. ” … Plucked her eyebrows on the way, shaved her legs and then he was a she.’ ….’And the colored girls say dododo dodo dododo do dodo dodo dododo do dodo dodo dododo do dodo dodo dododo …’

‘Yeah …’ Came the responses from unresponsive teens. ” I know that tune! Great song …!” With that – the young ones would continue listening to Muse or The Sheepdogs in their interior worlds known as iPods. The horror!

Lou Reed – who passed away on the weekend, was known more for than just one song. His work with The Velvet Underground and specifically Nico – produced one of the greatest albums of all time. ‘Femme  Fatale’. ‘Venus in Furs’,’There She Goes Again‘, ‘I’ll be Your Mirror’ and ‘I’m Waiting for the Man‘ – songs to be sung forever …

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What made that album legendary – is something most artists cannot claim. The melodies, the harmonies, the musicianship, the songwriting and the chemistry between Cale,Reed, Nico, Morrison and Tucker – impeccable. Many artists can claim that on discs such as  ‘Pet Sounds’, ‘Revolver’ and ‘Exile on Main Street‘ yet the songs Reed wrote or co -wrote did not make Reed a legend. What made Reed a legend was his courage or ‘defiance’ to talk or sing about all things taboo. The music was the vehicle.

Heroin, Transsexuals, open sexuality ( the pre-cursor to f*ck friend) and general decadence. Things that existed. Things that lived and breathed in the pores of society long before Lou entered the dangerous picture. Reed made these subjects fashionable. The Rolling Stones may have opened the door – Reed and his ‘underground’ took it to another level. The Stones had their ‘Mother’s Little Helper‘ – Reed and his cronies raped her and  stole her pills. Publicly!

Lyrically, Reed opened up to everything he saw. No candy-coating on what was happening in New York from 1966- 1973. No sugar in his coffee as he stared down the core of  the rotting Big Apple. The world contains a lot of blackness and Reed drank it and spat it out. Darker than ever. Prettier than ever. Right up to his recent passing.

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Some musicians are poets. Some poets are musicians. Some – talented in one way more than another. Reed was equal in his talents. Raw, undressed and ready to go. A guitar riff as raunchy as his scowling words. You could not dress him up or take him out. Not on terms that disagreed with him. Not on terms deemed ‘politically correct’ …

Mr. Reed invented political incorrectness. A child of his environment – Reed saw the United States for what it was. Hypocritical, seedy, uncouth, unworthy of his worthiness. The peace and love generation wanted to ‘fix’ things – Reed basked in the horrors. Somehow aware things would never change and if they did – they would stay the same.

Rock stars, Jazz stars, Pop stars, Country stars and Disco stars can all be labelled. Even if their personas flop between identities. Bowie was a spaceman, weird but understandable. Michael Jackson? A weirdo from space? Unidentifiable yet classifiable. Johnny Cash – a man tormented by demons yet agonizingly shelved with so many artists. On and on except for Lou Reed …

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A rebel …? Sorta. A junkie in the form of Keith Richards …um …no. An alcoholic a la Moon? Nope. Not even close. A genius in the form of Dylan? Bite our collective tongues …

Reed was a man unlike any other. Lost in translation yet translated as lost. A man in the mirror. An introspective soul unafraid to discover himself. A guitar player whose chords were tuned to his world while staying out of tune with the world’s. Above Dylan yet darker? Tortured like Cash yet tamed through words. ‘Out there’ like a Bowie /  Jackson tandem yet with feet planted firmly on Earth.

Lou Reed was an exception. In life and death.

I don’t know just where I’m going
But I’m gonna try for the kingdom, if I can
‘Cause it makes me feel like I’m a man
When I put a spike into my vein

Michael Kaeshammer; Honoring his Roots

Micheal Kaeshammer knows where he came from …

Because of this – his latest album is a tribute to someone whose influence is a cornerstone to Kaeshammer’s foundation. A concrete reason for Micheal’s love of the New Orleans‘ sound.

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Listen below as Micheal explains his love, his roots, his new album, his joy in performing  and what the future holds for this thirty-six year old student of everything wonderful about music.

Enjoy …

Please visit Micheal’s site here !

Lawrence Gowan; ‘ I Would Have Been an Astronaut …’

Lawrence Gowan aka Gowan – is a ‘Scot‘ at heart ….

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Born in Scotland and transplanted to Ontario ( Scarborough) as a child, the writer of one of the best Canadian ballads of all time ( Criminal Mind), is a man well-traveled.

Whether mixing his first album in England at the very same place Lennon recorded Imagine or jamming’ with the likes of Jerry Lee Lewis and The Band for Ronnie Hawkins‘ birthday bash – this classically trained pianist is at a happy place right now. Being part of one of the top grossing touring acts in the past ten years – does that to a man …

Since ‘officially’ joining Styx in 1999 – Gowan is enjoying a combination of high-octane rock n roll via the band’s catalog along with his signature songs. A perfect fit for a man whose stage presence fills a void . A hole placed in Styx when Dennis DeYoung departed. A band-aid which became a permanent ‘scar’ ….

Gowan explains his experience, Styx’s ‘double fantasy’ and the group’s upcoming show in

Montreal on November 17 at L’Olympia Theater.

Please visit Gowan’s site here !

Visit Styx here!

L’Olympia

Florence K ; A New Album – A ‘Fuller’ Sound

Florence K has just released a new album and is straight off her successful album launch at Club Soda.

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Florence and I had an opportunity to talk about the new album, her influences and where she is heading next. Florence K is the real deal and potentially – Canada and Quebec‘s next female superstar.

‘I’m Leaving You’ is a must buy CD which contains everything good about music including the voice of an angel.

Please visit Florence K’s site here !

Top Ten Thanksgiving Songs ( or How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love the Bird!)

Thanksgiving.

A day to be thankful …51515_funny_turkey

A twenty-four hour period in which we rejoice for all that we have.

Family, love and friends.

Three primary reasons aside from good health which enable us to smile as we plunge through the many injustices called life.

Sadly – there is one creature whose fate is not as fortunate. A feathery-friend caught rightly or wrongly on the bad side of things.

The Turkey. That strange looking reptilian with a lump in it’s throat. A lump brought on by the scent of fear. A nervousness acquired following too many deaths of his ‘closest’ friends over the years.

Funny Bird
The turkey is a funny bird
Its head goes bobble-bobble;
And all he knows is just one word…
And that is
GOBBLE-GOBBLE!
(Author Unknown)

For many Turkeys – sadly, Thanksgiving means the end. No more classrooms, no more books and certainly no more Rooster looks

In ode to these fine-feathered fowls, here flies a list of The Top Ten Songs about birds / flying or anything related to birds. A compilation filled with beats,lyrics and rhythms catered toward our longtime ( and in certain cases – long-suffering ) friends.

10. Night Bird Flying – Jimi Hendrix

9. Rockin’ Robin‘ – Bobby Day

8. Blackbird – The Beatles

7. Three Little BirdsBob Marley

6. Bird on a WireLeonard Cohen

5. Surfin’ BirdThe Trashmen

4. FreeBird – Lynyrd Skynrd

3.  Disco Duck – Rick Dees and his Cast of Idiots – 

2. Snowbird – Anne Murray

1.. Little Eva – Turkey Trot

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Emelie – Claire Barlow; The Juno, the Duck, the Mouse and ‘Bunny’

For Emelie – Claire Barlow, the fifth time is a charm.

Following four previous Juno nominations, Barlow finally won a 2013 award for Vocal Jazz Album of the Year. The album is called ‘Seule ce  Soir’ . A disc which was recorded in 2012 and was initially intended as a compilation of all her French songs she has done over the years.

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‘Most of my records have one or two songs in French and we played most of them live. I just thought it was time to  re – record  them because over the years they have evolved. So the project took on a life of its own. Half the record is newly recorded versions of old songs and the other half are new songs. ”

Barlow, combining new and old – did not discover that a huge gap existed between the compositions. According to the native of Toronto, the blending of material was smooth.

“I found the album worked in a very cohesive way. For me, my creative process is taking a song and changing the arrangement completely and making them my own style. An example would be Croissants de Soleil. Ginette Reno is very pop oriented and we took her song, stripped it down and made it a lush romantic Bossa Nova. Because I have a band that has played with me for several years, there is a consistency in the record between the older and newer songs. They all sound as if they come from the same place.”

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Barlow makes no bones about the fact that she is in control of the arrangements and the writing process. She chooses the repertoire and the album name. Although, over the years she has mellowed and given up more of her ‘ perfectionist’  habits, she has learned  to ‘trust’ more people. Changing arrangements, especially on stage,  used to stress her out. Now – she realizes that sometimes, the most  interesting things come from the need of adapting it. Having musicians who are world class helps that process quite a bit.

Emelie – Claire explains …

” I sit at the piano and come up with the ideas and write out the charts for the bands. They are very generous musicians who bring their own ideas and styles and then – things evolve. Especially after playing the songs live.  Getting older and trusting everyone more leaves me more freedom to improvise on stage. Don’t forget, we are also traveling with a different amount of musicians sometimes. We may not have a piano player one show. My voice will compensate for that missing sound and my voice becomes the piano. If the horns are the instrument that is missing, same thing – my voice fills in that gap.”

emilie488152-000009_LREmelie – Claire’s voice is very ‘instrumental’ in her career.

Starting at the age of nine, Barlow has used her voice in television commercials singing jingles which appears to have launched an ensuing  career which started about fifteen years ago. Barlow plays or ‘acts’  characters in animated television series ( see link below).

Singing Jazz or doing voices are equally comfortable for the late thirties Barlowe and she is currently the voice behind an animated character in the television series; Almost Naked Animals. It is in the third season and Emelie plays ‘Bunny‘, a rabbit aptly named and ( as it turns out ), aptly placed as well …

“I moved into a new place about six months ago and I actually have a mantle. I took my Juno award – which is quite heavy ( I may use it to work on my biceps), and surrounded it with a stuffed animal of ‘Bunny’ along with a glass duck and a mouse. They are all looking at my Juno – it is pretty funny.”

The Juno, the Duck, the Mouse and 'Bunny'.
The Juno, the Duck, the Mouse and ‘Bunny’.

Something that is not very humorous, is when Emelie discovered that she had won the Juno award. She was on tour and could not attend the ceremonies. She came off stage following a one-of-kind performance and was informed by her trumpet player she had won. According to Barlow – shock was the first emotion that invaded her body.

” I was in total shock, it took a while to sink in and when it did – it was such a great feeling. It is hard to describe. I was also a lot happier than I thought I would be.” She laughs. “It was a little disappointing not being there to accept it but then I realized that I was surrounded by the people that made it happen and that I had  just finished doing what I loved.The ensuing ‘craziness’ that took place celebrating was memorable and will always be that. A great memory.”

Emelie – Claire was also overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and affection from her family and friends. According to Barlow – it was the most moving part of receiving the award. A feeling which was overwhelming in a good way and fills her with happiness and pride. Her parents, both professional musicians ( Dad’s an award winning  Jazz percussionist and Mom’s a singer), were so thrilled and excited for her. All this means a lot to Emelie yet this place in her life was not so much envisioned as it just came about naturally…

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“I really don’t know what I imagined.” Admits Barlow.” I think it’s just a path I followed from the beginning without even questioning it. My parents were very busy session musicians and I spent a lot of time in studios. It all feels normal to me and even now, when I am in a little studio, locked away from the craziness of the world around me – I feel safe and cozy. I am in my little cocoon and that’s perfect for me.”

Emelie admits the music business is very tough and when an award happens like this – it is a sign indicative of how people feel. It validates what she does and although she would still make music regardless – she cannot help but feel all her hard work is worthwhile. The end justifies the means.

Emelie- Claire Barlow is playing July 5th at Theatre Maissoneuve as part of the Montreal International Jazz Festival. A theater which – according to Emelie, is a beautiful place to play. She will be performing a lot of her new songs – both young and old, and bringing a full band along for the ride. That way – her music will be heard as recorded. She also has a couple of special guests joining her on stage yet she is not at the liberty to say who they are at the moment.

“I cannot remember exactly …” Says Emelie.” I think this will be my fifth appearance at the Jazz Festival and I love it. Montreal audiences are so passionate and they make you perform so much better …”

The fifth time is a charm after all …

Visit Emelie’s site here !

Voice and animation work

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