Despite many years portraying Eric Clapton as means to meet the ends, Stevens’ is on his way to ‘bucking’ the label.
‘Grass Wont Grow’ – Stevens’ new album, is an accumulation of years of practice and years of being on the road. Easy going riffs compliment easier going melodies as Cliff reaches into his soul to evoke feelings which most musicians can relate to.
Please listen below to my chat with Cliff Stevenson the eve of his album launch at Bistro a Jo JoJune 8th.
Dr. Trevor Payne is a Montreal institution. He may only be realizing it now.
Dr. Payne and his Montreal Jubilation Gospel Choir have soared to heights not imagined by anyone. Considered to be one of the top choirsin the world, Trevor Payne is ending his tenure as their leader. Something which is causing great angst inside him.
Please listen below to my extensive interview with Dr. Payne as he opens up on many subjects.
The Montreal Jubilation Gospel Choir is performing on July 2nd as part of The Montreal International Jazz Festival
Following forays into Rockabilly, Rock n Roll, Country and Gospel music – Mrs. Jackson is still going strong into her sixth decade. Her latest endeavor? Working with Jack White and Justin Townes Earle.
As my interview with Jerry Mercer goes on – the legendary drummer discusses the rudiments of drumming, his battle with cancer and how it brought him together with an old friend. His musical education continues as he educates us …
Please stay tuned as this interview will be in five parts ….
“Prostate cancer kills more men every year than any other form of cancer. It will afflict one in eight men in their lifetimes, striking approximately 22,300 men this year alone. I am ever so thankful to the MUHC, Dr. Armen Aprikian and his team and to Cedars CanSupport for getting me through the difficult diagnosis of prostate cancer. I am giving back in gratefulness and partnering with Cedars to make sure other men get the care they need too.” Trevor W. Payne, C.M.
Cedars’ Trevor W. Payne Fund for Men’s Cancer has been created as a means for Payne to give back to the medical team and MUHC where he was successfully treated for prostate cancer in 2009. As spokesperson for the newly-conceived initiative, Payne will help Cedars create awareness in the community of the risk factors, signs, symptoms and treatment of prostate cancer with a focus on the benefits of early detection as well as the psychosocial aspects of coping with the disease. Another goal of hte initiative is to speak out abour men’s cancers in general and make wute men get the care they need – whatever form of cancer they have.
Jeff Shamie, Director General of The Cedars Cancer Institure proudly reports “The Cedars Cancer Institute has secured the acquisition of a most important cutting-edge medical tool in prostate cancers for the MUHC – the da Vinci surgical robot – a $2.9 million gift to the hospital’s Cancer Care Mission.”
“We are ecstatic that Trevor, through his compassion for cancer patients and his notoriety will help Cedars champion the cause of men with cancer and promote awareness among men of all ages.”
Dressed in angelic white gowns garnished with red, the singers entered from the rear and marched enthusiastically down the aisles and towards the stage. Clapping, singing and dancing to ‘Highway to Heaven.’
The song could not be confused with Led Zeppelin’s ‘Stairway to Heaven’ for two reasons. One – this path was in the fast lane compared to the slower stair route and two – Payne arranged the song and gave full credit to the Rev. Alex Bradford. Unlike Page and Plant pilfering their song. By the time the choir arrived on stage, the snow outside – a mere memory in the audience’s mind …
The traditional chant arranged by William S Dawson; ‘ Ezekiel Saw the Wheel‘ – featured soloist Victor Craig. A moving biblical soul – grabbing tune which had the backing choir in full tilt. Gospel has a way of making the most ardent sinner’s monkey disappear from a back heavy with guilt. Payne’s Gospel Choir eased the pain. If only for an evening …
“It is Well with my Soul’, a traditional chant arranged by Payne – continued the journey of hope and faith. A fundraiser was taking place with numerous cancer survivors in attendance including Payne and former April Wine drummer Jerry Mercer. Mercer was on stage, to the right, playing the conga throughout the evening. Mercer was sitting as he has done throughout his musical career. The only time he did not, was shortly following his surgery to deal with prostate cancer when he was still banging the skins with April Wine.
Mercer at one point in his life, was despondent and spiritually drained. He recorded a couple of Gospel albums with his good friend Bevin and has been a very spiritual man his entire life. Payne and Mercer go way back. The latter playing drums in Payne’s ‘Triangle’ in the late sixties. Having Mercer on stage – a rightful blessing in disguise.
What ensued is something which etched itself in a mind for an eternity.
Twelve year old pianist; Daniel Clarke Bouchard, took the stage and completed an awe inspiring Sonata No.47 in B Minor. A tune composed by Franz Josef Haydn.
Never mind the kid is only twelve. Never mind the kid is a talent beyond belief. What happened during his time in front of a crowd which included another cancer survivor – former Quebec Premiere Lucien Bouchard, was enough to lay dormant an omnipresent political disruption. Music transcends everything and it is a proven fact – children raised around music cultivate into more successful adults on so many levels. Daniel Bouchard not only the proof – the reason as well …
Then – the Devil entered the room.
Rock n Roll – at one time,considered the Devil’s music. Cadillac Music took the stage and delivered some ‘old time’ rock with their renditions of ‘ Mustang Sally'( Rice) , Runaway’ ( Shannon, Cook ) and ‘Twist and Shout’ (Medley, Russell). Four of the band’ s members ( friends since High School), are also cancer survivors. You would never know it. Not the hardest songs to play nor were these guys the Beatles. If courage and passion counted – Cadillac Music were the Beatles …
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. It arrives in different places and is seen through different eyes in different ways. Ekspresyon Dance Troupe are beautiful to the blind. A magnificently – choreographed act which leap across the stage in costumes bright with energy. “Yanvalou’ was performed. ‘Yanvalou’ – is a dance performed in honor of the Rada division of the Vodou pantheon in Haiti. Utilizing an undulating spine in evocative of the serpent-god, Dambala. The dance has several variations. Yanvalou debut (upright), Yanvalou dos bas (crouching), Yanvalou z’epaules (a “shoulder dance”).
Ekspresyon carried out all three and the crowd was at a loss for words. Opting instead for a standing ovation upon completion. Ovations which delivered the same message which pianist Bouchard graciously donated from under his Christmas tree.
Old – time rockers; John McGale, Breen Leboeuf ( Offenbach) and Jerry Mercer( April Wine) – had huge footprints to follow.
The trio, aptly named The Buzz Band – took the stage and if the audience had their way, would have kept it and brought it home. With almost 120 years experience between them musically, the ‘trois amigos’ delivered a three song set which arrived with trepidation and departed with the strongest ovation of the evening.
“Hell on High Heels’ ( a McGale composition), ‘Mes Blues’ ( a Leboeuf, Boulet, Huet song) and ‘ Jammin’ at the Juke Joint ( McGale) proved that old dogs do not need to be taught new tricks. Mercer (playing Conga in the middle) – flanked by LeBoeuf ( Bass ) on his left and McGale ( Acoustic) on his right. There was so much substance in the songs. So much heart – felt passion for music, the message hit hard and the audience truly understood. LeBoeuf’s vocals on the moving “Mes Blues’ was mesmerizing and McGale’s guitar playing unequaled in Quebec. The only negative was Mercer did not sing ‘Georgia’ and McGale’s flute stayed in his pocket. No problem – there is always next year …!
Payne and his Gospel Choir reclaimed their stage to end the evening.
‘Yes God is Real’ ( Kenneth Morris), featured soloist Dayhana Maria Santos. ‘ I Said I Wasn’t Gonna Tell Nobody’ ( Rev. Alez Bradford) featured Santos and Gordon. The two songs energized a crowd who were not willing to leave the theatre. By the time Payne’s arrangement of ‘Babethandaza’ was being carried out and everyone who had performed took the stage for a curtain call – a love-in was taking place. On stage and off stage. Smiles were contagious and that was something good. Joy spread from performer to performer like a happy baton in a relay race of life.
Races end. Payne’s fundraiser cannot.
Too many folks need help in fighting the terrible disease known as cancer.
On an evening in the Oscar Peterson Hall at Concordia University, sometime in 2014 , a fundraiser will be held to help Trevor Payne’s Men’s Cancer foundation. See you there !