Zachary Richard ; Zydeco comes Home

Are stories your thing …?

If so – a Zachary Richard concert is the place to be. Historically, musically and most importantly; emotionally.

Last night at L’Astral, as part of the Jazz All Year Long series, M. Richard of New Yorek, Louisiana – utilized numerous skills to pulverize a sold out crowd into submission. A happy submission …

‘Le Fou ‘ is Richard’s 20th studio album and on stage, surrounded by Nicolas Fiszman on bass, Eric Sauviant on guitar and Justin Allard on drums – the ‘ adopted’ Quebecer introduced his new disc to a welcoming, predominantly Francophone audience.

Wow!

Beginning with the first song of the night, ‘Laisse le Vent Souffle’ (Let the Storm Wind Blow) – Richard made sure the emotional gusts were captured by an audience obviously in love with the man.

The first set contained folksy songs which arrive from a profound place in the holder of three doctorate degrees’ heart.  Seldom do words flow from fountain of truths as is the case with M.Richard. The lyrics in songs such as ‘ La Chanson des Migrateurs’ ( The Migrant’s Song) and ‘Original ou Caribou’ ( Moose or Caribou ) transcend the plains of consciencness.

There are messages in each song and this singer (who just happens to be a published poet as well) – delivers notes of resistance and mankind’s craziness in such a manner, acceptance is not just a fact – it evolves into a way of life …

Musically, Richard strums the guitar, plays the harp and accordion. Musically, Zachary Richard and his backing band fly above most artists occupying the high levels of charted music. The Black Keys would be a great opening act for a foursome this divine.

And … M. Richard is funny to boot!

Following the first song and sweeping the band introductions out of the way, Richard explained that a lot of tunes the audience would be hearing – ‘they would not know’! ‘ Its okay …’ Continued Richard. ‘ We don’t know them either!’

With such ‘Socratic’ gems tossed into a salad bar containing pure Louisiana – based Zydeco fruits of love, Richard had the audience ‘alive and jumping’ in the second set.

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The songs ‘Sweet Sweet’,’ Clif’s Zydeco ‘ and ‘ Dancing at Double D’s’ – kicked even the most dormant moose into a mood reserved for an anxious child on Christmas morning. The ‘ slightly above middle – aged ‘ crowd stood , clapped and slapped in anticipation of every note arriving from a stage equipped with talent.

‘ You don’t know how this song ends ‘ Quipped the sixty – two year old songwriter right in the middle of a song. ‘ It’s okay – neither do we ..’

Just another element of humour which – along with the music, brought numerous smiles to the enthusiastic crowd. Numerous smiles and numerous standing ovations.

‘Most people think I am Quebecoise’ Stated one of the patriarchs of the Cajun sound from center stage. ‘ I am from Louisiana and was the only white boy growing up in my neighborhood. I remember cleaning the glass with my hand and looking through a window at all the Zydeco musicians playing Cajun music …’

As mentioned … Zachary Richard is a storyteller …

Watch Zachary Richard video here!

S.U.N ( SOMETHING UNTO NOTHING )

S.U.N. (SOMETHING UNTO NOTHING) have signed a deal with record company Robo Records (a division of Waterfront Ent. Group), distributed through Fontana / Universal Music Distribution and home to such illustrious artists as John Waite, The Bangles, Brian Ray, Orianthi and Mickey Dolenz. 

S.U.N.’s first single “I’m The One” is impacting radio throughout October, 2012…with the full CD release later in the Fall. 

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Legendary multi-platinum selling Canadian vocalist and multiple Juno Award winner Sass Jordan, has teamed up with songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Brian Tichy. Tichy is known for his tours of duty with Billy Idol, Foreigner, Ozzy and currently Whitesnake. They are recording an album of anthemic rock songs, under the band name S.U.N. 

Previously working together is what united Jordan and Tichy to collaborate on the new music.

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“I had played drums on Sass’s ‘RATS’ record” explains Tichy. “I knew she was one of the best rock singers out there. So after many years, we reconnected and tried a bit of writing together”.

Both felt that in order to write the best, trend-free music they could, they needed to get away. “We didn’t realize where we were going when we started out”, says Jordan. “As we continued the songwriting path from quintessential rock tunes entitled ‘Burned’ to ‘Mobile Again’ to ‘Nomad’ and on … The whole thing started to take shape in the form of a 70’s odyssey, a time travel trajectory.” 

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Completing the band that drives this music home is Michael Devin (Whitesnake, Jason Bonham’s Led Zep Exp., Kenny Wayne Shepherd ) on bass and Tommy Stewart on drums (Godsmack, Lo Pro, Everclear, Fuel). “We are completely thrilled and ready to rock” says Rob Christie (President of Robo Records.

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Please stay tuned for part two of Sass Jordan …

Check out S.U.N here !

Sass Jordan; Transplanted Montreal Girl Does Good – Part One

Remember the band – The Pinups?

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A Montreal group which did the nightclub circuit in the late seventies – early eighties? Clubs such as the Maples, the Moustache and the Pioneer evolving into the band members’ second homes.

In that band was a female bass player who went on to become a Juno award winner and a multi- platinum selling artist. Her name is Sass Jordan and unlike many of her contemporaries, Jordan is still rockin’ at the top of her game …

The current forty- nine year old former resident of Westmount ,Qc and native of England – is embarking on a new journey with a bunch of guys. Men who aren’t exactly the type of musicians normally associated with Jordan. Then again, nothing has been ordinary in this raspy, sultry – voiced singer’s life.

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” I love life …!” Says Sass from her home in Hamilton, Ont., Canada. A place she has called home since 1997. A comfortable place where she lives with her fifteen year old daughter and her husband of sixteen years – Derek Sharp. Sharp is one of the most respected Canadian musicians on the circuit, having played with Alannah Myles, Pat Travers, Red Rider and the late Jeff Healey.

“It’s amazing how fast time goes …?!” Jordan asks almost in awe. ” When I was a judge on Canadian Idol, my daughter was five. Now, when the staff I worked with back then see her – they can’t believe it! I mean – hello? It’s 2012 …!”

Jordan was on that show for six years beginning in 2003. It was the second time she had been asked to judge a singing contest and if the money was not right – there was no way she would have done it.

“I received a call from my agent one year prior to the start of Idol. It was a similar show and they wanted to pay me something like $9,000.00 for months and months of work. The last thing I was interested in was judging a singing contest and to not really make money doing it was absurd.”

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Jordan says the music business is lucrative but not as lucrative as one thinks. With this in mind – Sass practically jumped out of her skin when the people from Idol came calling.

“Even though it was not my thing, I could not turn down the amount of money they offered me. It was a daunting task to sit there and watch so many singers sing a capella every day.. If not for the cast and crew – I would have gone insane”.

Jordan says the entire show is about making a television show and not necessarily about the singers. She does not condemn it and believes it is a great idea to bring people together.

” The whole thing was like ‘summer camp goes to the circus’ for my fellow judges, the crew and I. What is amazing about it is it galvanizes people. Young and old, black or white – everyone suddenly comes together to support a particular artist. It’s a social experiment which succeeds brilliantly.”

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Ironically for Jordan, an element of the show brought her back to her younger days on Burton Ave. in Westmount and an encounter at that time with a ‘brilliant’ young man.

” Some friends and I were at a club and we met this eighteen year old kid from England. He was down on his luck and he had no place to stay.” Sass says. “So we say – you can crash on the couch in my basement. Everytime he came into town he stayed in my basement.” Laughs Jordan.

That eighteen year old kid turned out to be Simon Fuller – the producer of Canadian Idol and the originator of the ‘Idol’ franchises including the extremely popular American Idol. Fuller also manages the Spice Girls, David and Victoria Beckham, Steven Tyler and Carrie Underwood to name a few. His company manages the Elvis Presley estate, Muhammad Ali’s business affairs and many other ventures including a partnership with Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony.

Sass received the job as a judge on Canadian Idol without either Fuller’s knowledge or Sass’. The pair were equally and pleasantly surprised to discover one another.

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Says Jordan.

“He is a very successful man and the funny thing is – even when he had nowhere to sleep, he would always tell us that one day he is going to be a prominent producer or manager. His journey is an amazing one!”

Sass herself knows something about incredible journeys having been on one since the age of eighteen. A ‘solo’ trip which started with the album ‘ Tell Someone’ in 1988.

“It was my only release on vinyl and casette” Laughs Jordan. ” It was all CDs after that!”

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A Juno award came next in 1989 for most promising female vocalist and a move to the U.S. followed in 1990. The daughter of an English actress and French professor then recorded Racine in 1992. That album sold 450,000 copies – 50,000 short of gold record status and it is something Sass does not think would have happened if she had not packed up and headed to the States.

” As a smart Canadian, moving South of the Border was the only choice if you wanted success. Especially in 1990. If you wanted a career it was the only thing to do.” She continues. ” We ( musicians) used to have a joke back then. We would say Canadian audiences would clap ‘north of the applause line’. It’s not like that anymore. Canadian audiences are much more enthusiastic than they once were. Not as polite …” Adds Sass with a laugh.

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Sucess started to come in bunches for the young woman who once sang back- up for the popular Quebec group ‘The Box.’ In 1992, the blonde – haired beauty recorded a duet with Joe Cocker for the film The Bodyguard starring Whitney Houston and Kevin Costner. The song – ‘Trust in Me’, has sold more than 27million copies world wide.

Jordan has also played with or opened for the likes of Van Halen, Cheap Trick, Aerosmith and Alice Cooper.

So far, it has been a long journey since Sass played with her first band in High School. A group named Sweet Thunder. A trip which is taking a new direction with the band S.U.N ( Something Unto Nothing).

This new band’s destination is anyone’s guess. Especially since the guitarist in the band is better known as the drummer for the band Whitesnake and Foreigner.

Hey! Who says Sass Jordan is boring?

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Please stay tuned for part two.

The Darling DeMaes.

Once upon a time …

There was a girl living in Oregon. Eugene,Oregon to be precise.

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It was a town filled with hippies. A real – peace and love kind of town. This young lady adored music. She played piano growing up for her Dad. A man who loved the Beatles and at the same time, was very proud of her daughter’s singing and keyboard playing. According to Tasha Cyr, so much so – her Father would inadvertently embarrass her by playing her songs to visiting guests …

At the age of seventeen, she moved back to Montreal with a new skill. A guitar playing skill. An acoustic guitar playing skill. This young lady brought her love of the Dave Mathews Band and John Mayer to university where she also became involved in theatre. Places such as Brutopia Pub and Grumpys – her new found Montreal venues where she was able to showcase her musical skills.

Meanwhile …

There was a young man, originally from Vancouver who was living in Asia teaching English. The young man spent a lot of his down time, writing songs with his acoustic guitar. His influences as a young man; Nirvana, BoyzIIMen,New Kids on the Block,Pearl Jam and the Beatles.

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Following his departure from South Korea, the man in question decided to broaden his horizons and instead of returning to his western roots – the aspiring writer and musician chose Quebec because of it’s flourishing artistic scene.

Frequenting places where music was played, places such as Brutopia and Grumpys, Erik Virtanen met other artists and formed a band.The Darling DeMaes.

The lady singer in the band at that time, one day received a gift. A pregnancy. A condition which eased the pain of the band letting her go. A mutual parting of ways during the recording of the group’s first cd ; A Users Guide to Raising the Dead ( Songs of Spring ).

The young lady who was embarrassed by her father so many years ago – met the young man who had written forty plus songs while living abroad. Tasha Cyr fell in love with Erik Virtanen because of his songwriting. Tasha also joined the current roster Trevor Lashmore, Marc Andre Mongrain, Stephan Jovanovich and Erik in the Darling DeMaes as a singer/ piano/ keyboard/ guitar player..

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Tasha and Erik are engaged to be married. Tasha, Erik and the rest of the group are finishing up the recording of their second cd.

It is titled; ‘Celebration’.

Not – once upon a time …

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Stay tuned for a review of the bands first album …

Martha Wainwright – Come Home to Mama

Martha Wainwright’s latest offering, Come Home To Mama will be released October 16, 2012 through MapleMusic Recordings.

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Produced with Yuka Honda of Cibo Matto, the album is a collection of 10 reflective songs that see Martha taking stock of her life.

With Come Home To Mama’s release just around the corner, Martha will be on the road to visit select cities in Canada. Martha will also be the musical guest on Late Night Jimmy Fallon, slated for December 14th!

Martha gives us her bravest album of all in Come Home to Mama. Deeply emotional and absolutely riveting, it contains Martha’s outpouring of responses to two of life’s utmost extremes: the loss of her mother, Kate, to cancer in January 2010, and the birth of her son, Arcangelo, just two-and-a-half months earlier in London, England.

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“His coming into life was at a very emotional time,” shares Martha; “I went into labour while onstage. He was born very premature, but because of his prematurity, he was able to meet my mother. His due date was actually the day that she died.”

The album includes one powerful cover of her mother’s work, Proserpina. The last song that Kate penned, she had performed it in a handful of settings, including The McGarrigle-Wainwright Christmas show, A Not So Silent Night held in December of 2009 at London’s Royal Albert Hall.

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Written with the tradition of McGarrigle family Christmas concerts expressly in mind, Martha’s version is sparse, haunting, and startlingly beautiful.

Martha’s Come Home To Mama is an engaging album. Enjoy the album, see Martha on tour!

5 November 2012 Montréal • Théâtre Corona

6 November 2012 Québec • Théâtre Petit Champlain

7 November 2012 Burnstown • Neat Coffee Shop

8 November  2012 Toronto • The Great Hall

A Conversation with Brie Nielson

“I guess I write simple songs …”

It is no wonder. Brie Nielson, originally from Vancouver and a current Montrealer – comes from a simple place.

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“I grew up singing in church, loved musicals, acted and sang in them then started listening to old jazz singers in my teens.” Says Brie as she prepares for her Thursday night album launch at La Salla Rossa.” I didn’t grow up listening to “old” music, so I found it on my own – which was a big inspiration.”

Her album, the first in what should be a long and promising career – is entitled ‘Picture Show’. A title which earns a simple explanation from the sometime member of the Montreal- based band; The Unsettlers.

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“I wanted a throw back feel, and it really is a collection of snap shots- so Picture Show summed it up. Plus I’d already written the title track.”

The disc is, according to Nielson – a collection of her own personal stories along with the tales from those around her. People like her Mom and Dad. Brie still owns her Dad’s old 1940’s Gibson guitar and recalls how her parents used to have so much fun playing together.

“My mom has such a lovely voice ….” Says Nielson with pride.

The proverbial apple did not fall to far from the ‘singing tree’. Nielson’s voice carries A Picture Show onto another level, a level which was not reached in two weeks, according to this star in the making. The disc was recorded in about a year and Nielson explains the thought process behind her songwriting style.

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“I wrote all the songs on the cd except ‘Dress Me Up’ ( which was written by my good friend Steve Brockley).Songwriting is very random for me- I’m a busy person so I’m not very good at sitting down and writing songs on demand.”

Nielson continues.

“I usually wait until something pops into my head. A thought which turns into a tune while out walking. Then,  I will finally sit down and work on it. I wish I was more prolific but maybe someday I’ll slow down and actually make more time to write!”

Time is something which has altered Brie’s writing over the years. Wisdom will do that type of thing …

“Naturally with time and experience, you have more to write about and more maturity with which to write about.  I’ve been surrounded by awesome musicians for the last 5 yrs, so I have learned a lot from playing with and listening to them.”

Neilson’s long – term goal is to be able to live off of her art and have it received by appreciative people. ‘Art’  includes not only her music but painting as well. Meantime, her and bandmate David Simard – are hitting the road in November to support the album. A tour which will include Neilson’s hometown of Vancouver.

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“I would really like to one day record a kids album …” Concludes Brie as she thinks about being a kid once upon a time in Vancouver …

A simple time …

Come and listen to Brie as she launches her first full length cd on Thursday the 4th October at La Salla Rossa. Doors open at 8pm.

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Brie Neilson – A Happy Song at the ‘Picture Show’

‘Sweet hot chocolate and one hand in my pocket …’

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These are some of the lyrics included in Brie Nielson’s ‘ Happy Song’, a tune which is a small part of a bigger ‘ Picture  Show’. An album which will be officially launched on October 4 at Sala Rossa – 4848 blvd St. Laurent in Montreal.

Alannis Morisette had one hand in her pocket while the other was giving high fives. Brie Neilson, of Vancouver, B.C – carries sweet hot chocolate in the hand which is not embedded in her pocket.
A poignant difference which should give Brie ‘ the upper hand ‘. After all – not everyone likes high fives. Practically everyone loves ‘sweet hot chocolate’!

Music swirling around like a warm breeze on a damp early morning . This is what Brie donates to the listener. A potpourri of incense burning brightly and softly in the background of a cozy den. A rustic blend of acoustic guitars, a horn section worthy of more than a footnote and the knee jerking tight – knit beats of a rhythm section gone mad …

Comfortabilty is what Neilson and her band of ‘Othermen’ add to a world which walks ankle deep in troubles. Real and imagined. Brie Nielson’s songs are real and so is her conviction – filled voice.

This is her second ep since moving to Montreal and aside from being part of a spectacular band named ‘ The Unsettlers’, Brie is determined to make believers of her music.

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The title track – ‘ Picture Show’ is a tune that gets your toes a tappin’. It starts off with guitar and Brie’s soothing voice. When Tim van de Ven ( drums) and Ram Krishnan’s ( bass) rhythm section joins the fray … a road trip to partyville starts its journey. Declan O’Donovan’s slick piano work just makes everything that much more ‘giddy.’ By the time the horns kick in – the listener should be dancing in the backseat …

‘Now I Know’ is a song that showcases Brie’s vocals and O’Donovan’s deft touch on the piano. Acoustic strummin’ gathers thoughts as the tune is a perfect vehicule to perhaps gaze out the window on the trip. Reflective, profound and real. A gem. A diamond.

Ever listen to the Monty Python song; ‘Always look on the bright side of life’? Neilson’s tune – ‘Happy Song’ is reminiscent although on a slower pace.The energy behind the message is just waiting to bust free like a caged lion.Short and sweet, the song is as advertised; happy!

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Neilson - No Secret Here

‘Secrets’ opens up with slick guitar work and kicks into a groove – a non threatening groove. Neislon’s voice like a newly arrived angel on a planet filled with impish toads. Close your eyes – safety is what sets Brie apart from the normal blend of feminine choruses circling the globe.

Alex Gutjar plays trumpet on the album and arranges fellow horn players Franco Proietti (baritone sax) and Kyla Campbell (trombone) and Brie herself
(trumpet). Alex is a genius on the track ‘Green’. He grabs the steering wheel and lifts a spirit tired by life’s troubles into a world where cabarets, cotton candy and Ferris wheels provide the background. O’Donovan’s snappy piano once more spitting in the same direction of this breezy composition.

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When a tune is fifty percent better than most of the songs heard on tired radio stations and at the same time is the bridge between a more modern sound and the refreshing sounds of yesteryear – well, Brie and her othermen are doing something right.

‘Big Guy’ does just that.

A commotIon takes place. A perfect blend of the disc’s ‘folky’ rythyms and the sounds of today. Halfway through ‘The Picture Show’, the projectionist alters the reel. Oak trees replace the maples on this auditory scenic journey. A voyage which is pleasantly urged along thanks to the backing vocals of David Simard. A voice heard throughout the record.

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‘Dress me up’ is Brie’s jazzy demand for a date. Cocky and assertive with a blues feel footed in the rhythms of life – logically and ethically. Sounds heard before yet new and intriguing. Take her advice, offer a hand – you may get a kiss on the cheek.

Following a journey of folk, blues, jazz, cabaret-ish sing alongs and leg moving rolls, the following two songs appear to involve a getting to know process. ‘Oh my Darling’ and ‘I Can Do It Alone’ provide a stripped down Neilson. Lyrically and musically. Both are ballads worthy of a child’s bedtime. Brie allows someone in with honesty while her band takes backseat. Two songs which showcase two sides of a woman. A pair of soft spoken syllables …

In the sixties, Nancy Sinatra sang a little ditty called ‘These Boots are Made for Walking’. Brie’s song ‘Be Alone’ is a modern day version …

An underlying groove reminds of Sinatra’s statement but provides more elements. A sure -to- be favourite live tune which compels a standing ovation upon completion. Just one of those songs which could represent an entire generation. A statement of a person with a big heart who just needs a little time on their own.

The final track is Beatle- esque. Shades of ‘Oh Darling’ front a love song straight from the fifties. Roller skates, poodle skirts and milk shakes outside a drive-in theatre. A feel good hommage to a simpler time.

Hats off to Brie and her Othermen. This is the type of record which should he sold and dispersed onto an unsuspecting public.

The type of record which is … happy!

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Please support this brilliant artist and re- learn the way music is supposed to be played …

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Brie Neilson: Vocals, guitar and trumpet Ram Krishnan: Vocals, bass, tambourine Tim van de Ven: Drums Declan O’Donovan: Vocals, piano, organ David Simard: Vocals, guitar Alex Gutjahr: Trumpet, horn arrangements Franco Proietti: Baritone sax Kyla Campbell: Trombone


Brieneilson.com

All the Young Dudes; Part Five

According to Wayne Cullen –  being a member of the Dudes was a very heady  experience to be involved with …

“I was the youngest in the group (Brian Greenway a year or two older, I think). One thing after another added to the giddiness we eluded. The amount of press we received, The Phonograph Record article that Gary Sperrazza wrote that producer Mark Spector read and generated his interest. The  showcase in Toronto where a slew of potential management teams showed up. Signing with Fred Heller, Nat Weiss, recording the album, touring with the Bee Gees, etc.”

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Once the album was finished, Cullen days it was he who was the first to declare the disc sounded like ‘ crap ‘.

“This was a few days after Spector had played the final mix for us at volume 11 in Le Studio’s control booth. Raffi would sound like The Beatles in those circumstances.” Says Wayne.

The band members all received cassette copies and after a couple of listens, according to Cullen, it sounded so thin and  lacking in energy.

“Our demos sounded far better. I did not believe the lack of dynamism could be explained by the performance of the band. I thought everything was sounding good until the mix (executed without any band involvement by Spector and his personal engineer, even excluding the house engineer.)”

He goes on …

“We agreed to being shut out from the mixing process reluctantly, to a degree, because we trusted Spector. Everything he had done to this point had matched our vision. There was no reason to believe this would suddenly stop.”

In retrospect, Cullen does recall expressing his displeasure with the song selection. He expressed his opinion to Spector and probably Bob and others that he was not keen on some of the song selection.  Deeper and Deeper, Got Me Where You Want Me and Saturday Night were songs which Cullen thought were weak.

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“I thought we should have included Teenage Love, Juvenile Delinquent and Meet Me After School or Sugar. These songs represented our live act much more than the three I mention above that were ultimately included.”

The band had never performed Saturday Night or Deeper and Deeper up to that point. In addition, Teenage Love and Juvenile Delinquent were the group’s signature showcase songs. The Dudes’ equivalent of Yes’ Roundabout or The Eagles’ Hotel California.

” In addition Teenage Love and Juvenile Delinquent had never been released by The Wackers. They had been recorded  for Wack n Roll which was never released. (In any case, The Dudes live versions actually surpassed The Wackers’ recorded versions, in my opinion.)”

Cullen continues his explanation of a disappointing product.

“Meet Me After School and Sugar were David Henman compositions that I loved. Our demo of Meet Me After School could have probably been included on the album without re-recording. It was phenomenal. My vision was a rock n roll album that reflected more who we were live.”

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Wayne says that Spector thought the newer Segarini black music-influenced songs would set them apart and create a breakthrough in the industry. Segarini, the band’s creative genius, was also keen on including his most recent compositions rather than the older ones.

“He was definitely in a different space, writing-wise. I felt we could branch out into the more varied repertoire after establishing ourselves as a potent rock band to begin with. We already had three different singers/songwriters, and the diversity is what was attractive. Some homogeneity would help – I thought.”

In a nutshell, Cullen says that at their primal selves, the Dudes ‘live’ were a rock n roll band. As the youngest and least experienced – being only one of two drummers, Cullen’s opinions didn’t gain the upper hand.

“We tried to persuade Spector to re-mix the album, then the higher-ups at Columbia. All in vain. They had spent a lot of money already and didn’t want to extend any further. I remember speaking to Spector by phone and telling him what I thought about the sound of the record. He said he had played it over and over and believed it compared favourably with state of the art recordings of the day (Fleetwood Mac and the Eagles’ Hotel California were two he mentionned).”

Cullen says nothing could be done. The abysmal album cover art was also finalized without any band input.

The album was released in Sept 1975 and sold 10,000 units. Cullen recalls 
most of the sales were American and the single -‘ Saturday Night’  received airplay in various pockets.

Columbia was down about $175,000.

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Please stay tuned for Cullen’s tale after the Dudes and what affect the entire ordeal had on the rest of his life.

All the Young Dudes; Part Four

Wayne Cullen – one of the drummers in the 70’s band; ‘The Dudes’ – continues the saga of the demise of a band.

A fate which should never have happened …

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Cullen - Now

Cullen’s band – Bacchus, reached it’s demise around the same time Wayne’s favourite group, The Wackers, played their final gig. Cullen approached Bacchus’ booking agent (who also booked the Wackers) and asked for Bob Segarini’s phone number. Wayne wished to find out if Segarini planned to start a new project.

Wayne explains how he received the number and became part of a band. Part of a legend …

“Armed with the number and steeled nerves, I dialed the number. I introduced myself to Bob and popped the question. Indeed a new Wackers aggregate had been gestating and they were currently auditioning drummers. Kharma? I’d have to say so.”

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Bob Segarini

He continues.

“When I arrived at the rehearsal space, there was another drummer being auditioned. He was really good but did not seem to fit musically. He was more jazz and soul oriented. Then it was my turn to sit in. With my knees wobbling and teeth chattering, we launched into a Wackers’ tune or two. For me, at the time, this was almost the equivalent of auditioning for The Beatles. In fact it was Bob, Kootch on lead guitar instead of bass, Leon Holt on piano and Norman Vosko on bass.”

One after another, the band asked Cullen if he knew such and such a song and Wayne responded affirmatively. He knew their repertoire almost cold.

“They seemed impressed and as Bob has often attested – he hates rehearsing. I was a very handy solution and I was asked to join my favourite band in the world!”

Cullen estimates this event took place in November 1973. Their first gig together was a two-week stint at The Mustache over Christmas and New Years’. Cullen believes it was February 1974 when he dropped out of university to play full time.

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Brian Greenway

“My first experience in a recording studio ensued and produced a high beyond anything I had experienced to that point in my life. We released a single – All I Wanna Do Is Love You b/w I’ve Got A Feeling (not the Black Peas horror, obviously). Somewhere along the way and all-in-all we lasted about six months. Bob and I drove to Toronto to try to drum up (pun intended) some label interest in The Wackers.”

It became obvious to Wayne that something exceeding the reputation of the previous Wackers would be required. On the drive back to Montreal, Bob and Cullen hatched the idea of “supergroup”. An incorporation of Kootch on bass, Leon on keys, David & Ritchie Henman (whom the duo had seen perform several times in Silver) and Brian Greenway – recently a member of Mashmakhan. The idea of two drummers intrigued Wayne and the drummer loved David Henman’s songs.

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Ritchie Henman and Kootch

“I was excited. Things got organized and we began recording the infamous demos before anyone fully committed to the project. It didn’t take long for everyone to see something special was happening and once the name was chosen -we were a band. The name could have been Seventh Heaven as far as I was concerned. There was some sadness about the final wind-up of The Wackers as an entity and losing bassist Norman Vosko.”

According to Wayne, The Dudes’ story is very long and complicated …

Stay tuned for part fI’ve…

All the Young Dudes; Part Three

Wayne Cullen, one of two – yes, two drummers in The Dudes, recounts how he came to be in the greatest band that never was …

The greatest live band out of Montreal in the 1970’s and how the record company which was supposed to help the band obtain stardom – did the polar opposite.

The Dudes’ story is a sad one as the band were so close to the pinnacle of the International rock music scene.

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Wayne was born in 1952 in the West Island of Montreal.

He started playing drums shortly after the Beatles appeared on Ed Sullivan in 1964. He started playing in a cover band with friends all through high school. His band; Bacchus – would change a few members around the end of high school yet the band continued to play the university and club circuit for several years.

“The influences and covers of the group included Traffic, Neil Young, Stones, Beatles, Byrds and Fleetwood Mac (Kiln House era).” Says Wayne from his home in Vancouver.

Wayne was a huge fan of The Wackers, a group he discovered through CHOM radio in Montreal.

He explains.

“Chom began playing a few of their tunes from their first two albums around the time they moved to Montreal. ‘Body Go Round’, ‘I Hardly Know Her Name’, ‘Oh My Love’ and others. This was very much in line with the music I liked at the time but was not hearing. Montreal had gone prog-rock and was also heavily influenced by Led Zeppelin’s music at that time.”

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For Wayne, The Wackers stood out because of melody, harmonies and short songs with jangly guitars.

“I never got to see them with Michael Stull.” Says Wayne. ” Instead, my first experience seeing them came as a foursome at FC Smith Auditorium. I was sitting in the middle of about the 10th row and was blown away. Their showmanship was far beyond anything else in Montreal at that time. Their clothes, stage gear, lights professionalism and utter talent. Bob ( Segarini ) and Randy were mesmerizing to watch.”

Cullen’s enthusiasm also arose from being a big David Bowie fan …

“They ( Bob and Randy) both wore make-up, which at the time was a very Bowie thing to do. They were much more of a rock ‘n’ roll band live than on their two records. My enthusiasm was immediate and complete. Their Beatle covers of songs such as ‘She Loves You’, ‘I’ll Be Back ‘and ‘Slow Down’ were exquisite… !”

Cullen would see the Wackers at every opportunity and was always immersed in a sublime musical experience. His band – Bacchus, started covering a couple of Wackers’ tunes – most notably; ‘Puttin Myself To Sleep’ and ‘Hey Lawdy Lawdy’, Its My Life’ and Wait and See’.

“My girlfriend and I drove to Ottawa to witness their final gig and wept as they ended with the song -‘Time Will Carry On (Even When We’re Gone, sniff, sniff). It was a medley from Hot Wacks. Afterwards, we wandered into the dressing room but had never met them and were not able to muster much in terms of words.”

Please stay tuned for part four…

Frank Marino; Anti -Establishment 101

He was once and still is referred to as the white Jimi Hendrix. Something which Frank Marino disperses as something he never attempted to be …

It is also something the Montreal – born drummer turned guitarist extraordinaire cannot figure out.

Even after all these years …

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” It all started with a journalist who wrote that I was visited by Hendrix’s spirit and he reincarnated himself through me.” Marino says. ” What’s funny is that Hendrix was still alive at the time. I mean … really!”

Although Frank Marino may not have been the second- coming of Mr. Hendrix physically, the now fifty- eight- year-old is a throwback to the love generation. An integrity of love and peace which has been his best companion through four decades.

“During my time ( seven albums ) with Columbia records, I was always arguing with ‘the corporation ‘ over things – petty things. Details such as album art, length of songs. It was an ongoing battle.” Laughs Frank.

A battle which started the very first day he signed his first contract with the company.

” We were all in a meeting. All the bigwigs, myself, friends, family and members of the band. All set to sign this huge contract” Marino explains.” All of a sudden, this guy points to my friend who had been acting as the band’s manager and says – he has to go! I was floored!”

Marino told the executive that if his friend goes – he goes too. The ‘suits’ would not budge so Marino walked out and went home. A record deal and all that money left sitting on the table.

” Did they think I was fucking joking?” Asks Marino. ” They soon found out I was not …!”

Six weeks went by and Columbia called back. Your friend stays they told him. Frank Marino -1, Corporation – 0.

“Thats the problem with life and the way it is in the music business. A marketer figured out if you take ten bands which sound alike, put them together and give the tour a name, some sorta theme – money can be made. What happened to the music?”Asks Frank.

Marino comes from the ‘hippie generation’, Woodstock and music were his classroom as Marino spent a grand total of sixty- nine days in high school.

“I come from a family with older siblings and the whole peace and love era. I started experimenting with LSD at a young age. Unfortunately, I took too much too often and was ‘ trapped’ in a different world. I was hospitalized for a long time at the age of thirteen and when I came out, music was my life.”

While in the hospital, Marino …, out of sheer boredom, learned to play the guitar. An instrument which was lying around for kids to play with.

“It was a small guitar and I thought, why not? It was after all, the instrument of the sixties !”

Following his release, Marino discovered himself, along with some musical buddies ( some of whom would become Mahogany Rush ), would soon pay $1.00 to jam in a room at 2424 Ste. Catherine St. in Montreal. A house which is currently an old folks home. Instruments were not provided yet it was a place to hang out with people who shared the same interests. Similar to kids of today bringing their Xbox to a place where others share their games. A place where Marino plied his craft and made friends who are still in his life today.

What a life it has been …

“Imagine, I was a seventeen year old kid who had signed a huge record contract at a time when kids- especially not Canadian kids, made it big in music and the United States. I was a pioneer who used distortion to the max. At one time, my guitar was hooked up to twenty- two pedals. Only Hendrix had done it before and that is probably where the Hendrix references commenced. Add all this to the fact I just came from a major acid trip – who else was I going play like? Pat Boone?”

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Marino also says the guys who followed him, guys like Robin Trower – never claimed the Hendrix influence even though it was so obvious.

“I always said I was influenced by Jimi. My first album was dedicated to him and the song ‘Buddy’ was about him. I think guys like Trower and Stevie Ray Vaughn did not pump the Hendrix influence because they saw what happened to me and all the negatives it had.”

Marino also never wanted to be a star. The only reason he agreed to his first record contract was for the access to equipment.

“Robert Nickford had a company named Ko tai Records and he says here! Make a record and you can use this amp and these peddles. What kid do you know would say no …?”

Nickford then made a deal to merge his company with a record company in Detroit. The company was named Nine Records. Marino then became part of Twentieth Century Fox until joining Colombia in 1974.

Even now, Frank does not understand how musicians are considered some sort of gods.

” I felt uncomfortable getting In limos …” Adds Frank. ” I would rent a car and drive to the next gig. To me – Jesus is the only God I know …!” He also does not understand when musicians say their lives are hard.

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” You get free food and free booze. If you are young you have girlfriends everywhere. If you think getting on a plane a few times a week is tough, try packing boxes for some asshole every morning at six. That’s tough!”

What amazed Frank and continues to amaze him, is how he was always left out of the Canadian music scene. A factor which the guitarist attributes to his fame in the U.S. and being a native Quebecer.

” Whenever there was a Canadian ‘We are the World’ or something like that, I was never called and asked to participate. One – people assumed I was American and two; the Quebec music scene was like a seperate entity.Especially in the seventies.”

Montreal was rocking during that decade with artists such as April Wine, The Dudes, Nannette Workman, Offenbach and many others lighting up the city’s nightlife. Marino is good friends with many of them including Myles Goodwyn – which led to Frank playing on the April Wine song; ‘So Bad’ off of the album ‘The Whole World is going Crazy.’

” When April Wine was hitting it big, their manager – Terry Flood, came and asked me how to penetrate the American border and make it big. Terry and other Canadian bands came to me because I was huge in the States. In fact, to this day, aside from Montreal, I have still not played very many gigs in my own country. I told them – don’t ask me! I just stumbled into this …!”

Bands like Supertramp, Genesis and The Police are great examples of the type of love affairs nestled between French- Quebecers and musicians’ pillows. An amorous connection which made these bands more popular in Quebec than anywhere else. Frank Marino is part of that list.

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“If not for the support of the French-Quebecers, I don’t think I would have gotten so big.” Says Marino.” To be able to sell out the Montreal Forum three times you have to be good and at the same time – have loyal followers.”

One of the reasons Francesco Marino did not gather a flock of English Quebec fans was the lack of support from the English media. Notably the radio stations …

“If I had a cover song, like Purple Haze for instance, places like Chom – fm would play it. Aside from one original song; Dragonfly, the English radio stations would not play my tunes. I think its because they wanted to be ‘safe ‘. Another reason was my music was not vocally pleasing. In a five minute song, I would sing for a minute.”

Marino had many loyal fans in the States and his popularity happened so fast, Marino admits his career went backwards.

“Most bands play bars and clubs when they start out. Work their way up. In my life, it wasn’t until a good thirteen years later that I saw the inside of a club. Up until that point, I had been doing arenas and open air festivals. I had a billboard on Sunset Strip before I was twenty…”

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It was backstage at these festivals where the reality of the music business set in. Marino encountered many musicians who would talk of money only. Marino’s visions of a Woodstock setting, a situation where music would be the topic of conversation, were shattered. It was at this point he realized be was not in Kansas anymore. According to Marino, it was more like ‘Oz’.

“I was and continue to be anti – establishment.” Says Frank. ” For me, there is no room for business in the music business.”

He continues.” If you think about it, the music business is the only business where people suceed because others fail. Musicians want other musicians to fail. This is the mentality. You can always pick out a musician at a concert. Everyone is dancing and boppin’ and having fun. Not the musicians. They are usually in the back row, arms crossed and thinking; lets see what you got Marino or whoever happens to be on stage.”

Marino’s battles with Columbia continued over artistic ideas. Culminating with the album Juggernaut. According to Marino, halfway through their deal, Columbia had chosen the album cover art for his record; ‘The Power Of Rock And Roll ‘ – which seemed to be straight out of Playboy. When they started to play games during the next one, Juggernaut, Marino decided that enough was enough. Frank ended their partnership after seven albums in an eight album deal. A stipulation in Marino’s contract allowing him to do so.

Frank Marino then began the happiest period of his life. After a brief sojourn into the music business in the mid- eighties, a period which brought the same b.s. , Frank finally said ‘screw it!’ Starting in 1993, he fathered three lovely ladies with his partner of thirty- three years. According to Marino – there has not been one day since, they have not made him smile.

“Go figure?!” Says Marino. “All three of them are musical!”

Frank’s eldest daughter (19) is a classically trained soprano vocalist and the two youngest ones – (16 and 13) both play acoustic guitar. It is no wonder as Frank brought the kids on every tour since the day they were born.

Marino, always a technological ‘geek’ – started to run a small business on the side helping people to program and fix their computers. Sometimes people would recognize him and freak out but for the most part, Marino was just another dude fixing computers.

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One day, Frank ventured onto the Web and came across a fansite for Mahogany Rush. He did not realize there were so many fans talking about him and his guitar playing. Marino soon joined ‘the chats’ as himself. It took a while for people to believe it was him and it made him want to play music again. For the music …

“Now – we go on the road for thirty gigs or less when we feel like it. When we are fed up – we go home. There is nobody telling me do this – do that. No record company telling me I have to make a record. It is freedom …”

Just like Woodstock …

All the Young Dudes; Part Two

‘All the Young Dudes’ are a perfect example of what can happen when art and business meet. The right and left sides of the brain are in those positions for a reason …

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Henman

Wayne Cullen, one of the two drummers in the band, reminisces on what a drag the whole ordeal became;

“There were enough completed, fully-produced tracks for a second album.” Explains Cullen.” Columbia decided not to release another lp rather than spend more money promoting the band any further. This was a shame because the band was very happy with the work we had done for the second album.”

The band had produced six of the tracks on their own and another five tracks had been produced by the well-known production team of Ron and Howie Albert. Two brothers who had been engineers at Criterion Studios in Miami under the tutelage of Tom Dowd and Karl Richardson.

The siblings had participated in the recording of the Derek and the Dominoes’ song Layla as well as recordings by Stephen Stills, the Allman Brothers and others.

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Segarini

“The brothers were asked by Columbia to supervise the production of some tracks for us after Columbia decided the six we had produced ourselves were inadequate.” Says Cullen. “When the Albert Brothers listened to the same six tracks they wondered aloud why they were asked to preside. They believed the self-produced tracks were excellent and they doubted they would be able to improve on what they had heard.”

Despite Columbia not knowing what was right, the ‘Dudes’ gave their all and have nothing but fond memories of the time spent together. According to David Henman, most of the funny memories took.place on stage …

“The band was quite spontaneous. In the middle of a set, Segarini would suddenly request that a table and six chairs be brought on stage so we could just sit, drink and goof around. Sometimes, when we used to perform downtown Montreal at the Moustache club, the next days’ newspaper would often arrive. Segarini would aks for it to be brought to the stage, whereupon he would put his own spin on the stories”. Laughs Henman.

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The Bee Gees

One tale which Segarini or anyone else do not have to conjur was meeting and hanging out with the Bee Gees. A memory which floats dearly in Henman’s conscience.

“I was very sick during the Bee Gees tour.” Says David. ” Somehow, I always ended up in Barry Gibb’s hotel suite after the show sitting between him and his wife and passing out on his shoulder. We were fans before the tour and by the end, we practically idolized them. Barry, especially – one of the most down to earth people I’ve ever met. The effect they had on audiences was pure magic.”

David did not stay in contact with all the Bee Gees. Barry did invite him to le Studio in Morin Heights when he was recording the album “Nights on Broadway”.

Says Henman. “I sat with him at the console while he chain-smoked Panama Red and conducted a string section. He then went into the studio and without any warm up – sang like an angel.”

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Ian Hunter

Henman and his fellow ‘dudes’ also met Ian Hunter. David became acquaintances with the singer and an opportunity to replace future Bowie guitarist Mick Ronson in Hunter’s band presented itself. Unfortunately, Henman was too shy to grab the opportunity.

Following the release of their first album, ‘the dudes’ thought about re – recording their first record.. A record which had and continued to have so much promise.

“Bob was on the phone constantly”.Says Henman. “Demanding that we be able to at least re-mix that album. If I am not mistaken, the guys at le Studio in Morin Heights offered to re-mix it for free.” He continues. “I think at least one other studio in Montreal made that offer as well but we were up against Columbia Records, a gigantic corporation at that time. We were told: “hey, Columbia Records insists that this album is going to be a huge hit and, well, they oughta know…” so, we backed down…”

Henman’s advice to young musicians and the lessons learned;

” If you are the artist, you should make the rules…”

Please stay tuned for more on ‘ the Dudes’..