Rick Keene Music Scene – Gino Vannelli Shines Brightly on New Album

Sometimes – it is worth the wait.

Gino Vannelli ( Montreal’s wayward son) made a rule when he was younger. ‘Never put out music without a purpose …’

That is the reason why it has been over ten years since music fans heard something new from Vannelli. Wilderness Road is the name of the new record and it is a mark of beauty. It is a different sounding Gino yet it still sounds like Gino …

” Well … I can’t sound different …” Laughs Vannelli. ” I am who I am and my style and voice remain the same.”

Wilderness Road is a Bluesy / Americana – themed album and it is exactly the type of recording Gino wanted to do.

” I did not want to do a Jazz or Classical album or anything I had done before. I wanted to explore the rootsy side of things with the focus on storytelling. I had about forty songs written and the ones on the album are the best stories. All the songs were written in the last five years.”

The disc may be ‘ rootsy’ with elements of Blues and Jazz but Gino’s keen ear for perfection and production are what make Wilderness Road a typical Vannelli recording. That unique talent is what made Herb Alpert ( co- founder of A&M Records) sign Gino in the first place. A signature sound which eventually led to twenty million records sold worldwide.

” It is not so much as audio perfection.” Says Gino. ” It is getting an authentic sound. A real sound which comes from the soul. That is what I try to do in the studio.” He laughs. ” My brother Joe has something to do with it also … “

The album is part reflection. Part of an older man looking back but it is also a collection of personal stories and tales which have affected Vannelli in different ways.

The Woman Upstairs is about an abused lady who lived above my wife and I when we lived in Ahunstic. I couldn’t come up with a name for the song when it was done so I asked my wife. She said why not ‘ The Woman Upstairs …?”

Another tale is about the story of a five year old boy whose body was discovered headless. The killer was thought to be found but he was killed in an accident before he could stand trial.

The album is truly about the human condition.

” I saw this woman taking care of her husband, pushing him in a wheelchair. He had Parkinson’s disease or had a stroke.” Says Vannelli of the song Yet Something Beautiful. “I thought of all the unsung heroes in this world like this woman. The love and patience she had. We don’t hear enough stories like this”

Wilderness Road contains many ‘wistful’ ballads containing a Blues’ backdrop. A canvas which tends to arrive when Gino writes songs on guitar.

” When I am writing on my acoustic, the tendency is towards Blues and Folk. Rootsy / Americana sounding songs. Black Cars for example, was written that way but we turned it into an eighties’ sound to fit the times. The original ‘Black Cars’ could easily be on Wilderness Road – it would fit right in …”

Gino’s new album (his 20th) was not made because of a recent trend of older musicians making Blues’ records. (The Stones, Myles Goodwyn (April Wine) and Randy Bachman ( Bravebelt, The Guess Who, BTO) all have recently returned to their roots).

” I don’t know why they made these albums …” Admits Gino.

” If I had to guess I think it is because they want to ensure storytelling and their own expertise in storytelling does not fade away. I think in this day and age – the art of telling stories in songs has been lost. Some artists want to remind people before it is lost forever.”

Vannelli is in his fifth decade as a recording artist and he is not interested in ‘ fitting in’ with the trends or sounds of today.

” I just do what I feel is right. I don’t pretend or aspire to being anything different. After all these years people know who I am. I know who I am and that’s okay for me.”

Vannelli lives in Portland, Oregon and spends time jogging in the mountains to stay in shape. Once a year he gives Master Classes and it was during one of those classes he met a girl from Quebec who travelled to work with Gino. A voice which ended up on Wilderness Road …

Gino will be in Montreal April 26th and 27th.

Listen to The Long Arm of Justice Below

Get Tickets Here !

Visit Gino Here

Watch Elvis Leave the Building !

Presented for the first time in Montreal!

Premiere on June 15  8 p.m.

 Place des Arts


evenko presents for the first time in Montreal, RETURN TO GRACE from June 15 to June 19, at Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier.

A  glorious, heartfelt tribute to Elvis Presley’ s music featuring Steve Michaels,  and over 30 singers, dancers and musicians on stage, RETURN TO GRACE flawlessly delivers some the greatest musical moments of a generation with song favorites that include Heartbreak Hotel, Suspicious Minds, Love Me Tender, and more!



From the King’s beginnings in Memphis, to the amazing ’68 Comeback Special, to the historic Aloha from Hawaii concert, audiences experiencing RETURN TO GRACE re-live the music that changed rock and roll forever.

Enjoy the BEAUTY of the voice, the GRACE of the spirit and the JOY of the memory when you …

The concert of a lifetime

Wednesday, June 15
Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier, Place des Arts
8 p.m.Curtain


Click Here to Buy Tickets !

Please help to encourage musicians everywhere.

Click here to support the growth of Rick Keene Music Scene. 

Thank You.


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Buy Tickets for Strangers in the Night 12 Here !

Montreal International Jazz Festival Preview 2014; Susie Arioli

It was a voice she never knew she had. Far more talented than imagined.

Susie Arioli took that voice and traveled far. For the most part – Jordan Officer accompanied her on a musical voyage filled with wonder, excitement and satisfaction.

Whether it be playing at Place des Arts or on stage in Paris, France – Susie is having a blast as a working, travelling ( struggling?) singer.

Please listen to part one of my interview as Susie talks about her humble beginnings as well as her friend and former guitarist Jordan Officer.

Susie? What’s shaking …?


See Susie at The Jazz Festival


Buy tickets for Strangers in the Night Here!








Edwin Brownell – ‘Classical’ Rock; Part Three

In the conclusion (for now) of my talk with Edwin – the pianist discusses his upcoming album launch at Place des Arts as well as working with Jerry Mercer of April Wine fame.

His new album is titled; Forever Laughter. A concept not too far removed from Edwin’s personality.

Take it away Mr. Brownell …


Visit Edwin Here

Here Too!





Edwin Brownell – ‘Classical’ Rock Part One

Edwin Orion Brownell is no ordinary pianist …

Classically-raised, classically -trained and a connoisseur of music. The guy exudes passion and love for music done right. Whether he is performing at Place des Arts or before a dozen seniors – Edwin is a pure entertainer.

Please listen to part one of my interview as Edwin explains the beginnings of a musical adventure far from complete. A trip where the next stop is May 4th at Salle Claude – Leveille.



Please visit Edwin Here!





Devin Cuddy – His Own man …

Devin Cuddy is the son of Jim Cuddy. Same last name, same love of music. That is where the connection stops. Sorta …

Devin Cuddy is on his own. Being the elder son in the Cuddy family, his independence is not new in the family scheme of things.

“All older sons are fiercely independent …” Says Jim Cuddy; father of both Devin and Blue Rodeo. “Anyone with an older son gets that …”

The Devin Cuddy Band is opening up for Blue Rodeo at Place des Arts on March 2nd. Please listen as Devin explains everything.

Devin …?

Visit Devin here …

Top Ten Concerts of 2012

It is unfair to list top ten shows since every artist or artists give their all each time they play. Sometimes they are good, sometimes they are bad on any given night.

Here are the top ten shows which I enjoyed the most in 2012 …

10. Lee Mellor

Lee’s show was high energy and joined a love of country and old-fashioned rock n roll. Lyrically profound and an eye opener …


9. Sagapool

Sagapool’s folk music a la Arcade Fire was outstanding! A great two hours filled with upbeat highs and  ‘ brought to tears’ ballads. A great group of musicians playing at  their peak ..


8. Martha Wainwright

Wainwright’s music combined with an ‘ Am I on stage for real and this is not a rehearsal?’ attitude was both pleasing and a relief. No diva here even if she comes from music royalty …


7. Colin James / Steve Hill

Colin may be stuck in the 80’s but he can still play guitar with the best of them. Opening act Steve Hill set the bar very high and James almost reached it. Combined – the two artists provided a great evening for the blues …


6. Cecile Doo – Kingue

Cecile’s show is filled with integrity and great guitar playing . A true player whose  talent remains unscathed by pretentiousness. Her rythym section is nothing to sneeze at either …


5.  Gilberto Gil

The seventy year old man provided an evening filled with warmth. Warmth through his music and his attitude. An incredible backing band had everyone standing up and dancing for most part of the show …

Photo courtesy of Anne Achan

4. Susie Arioli

Susie’s show of Jazz standards was  impeccable and fun. A great sing a long if you did not want to interrupt one of the true great Montreal vocalists. Combined with Jordan Officer – the long-standing musical relationship came to an end on a high note at Place des Arts


3. Steve Hill ( Club Soda)

Mr. Hill wowed the sold out crowd with his one man show. This man can do things with a guitar that Keith Richards can only dream off …


2. Jonas and the Massive Attraction

Club Soda probably has not recovered from the energetic set that Jonas and his mates provided. It started upbeat and never stopped – not even for one minute. Enjoy the music or not – a truly professional band who deserve all they get …


1. Zachary Richard

M. Richard has done this for a very long time. His environmental conscience  shone through in his new songs and when he dove into his Cajun/ Zydeco roots – nobody at the show could have remained seated. A great story-teller, a funny guy and a true musician sending the right message…


***Honorable mentions

David Usher

The Hi – Fins

Jesse Cook

Brie Nielson

Carolyn Fe

Related articles

Top Ten Interviews of 2012

Starting yesterday – I began to count off my top ten interviews in the past year. I continue with the next two …

So far …

10. Lee Mellor

9. Jason Rockman

8. Susie Arioli


I spoke to Susie over the phone the night before her performance at Place des Arts. Having never spoken to her or listened to her music regularly – I had no idea what to expect. Judging by her photos, I assumed she would be a bit of a prude. Boy was I surprised …

Miss Arioli was the polar opposite. Down to earth, witty,clever,unassuming with a few swear words tossed into the mix. Arioli is eager to learn and to philosophize over anything. My interview ended so far away from Susie’s band and music, it’s a wonder I wrote anything at all on the subject. Susie is what I always imagined what talking to Janis Joplin would be like.


7. Cecile Doo Kingue


I met Cecile downtown on the terrace of Grumpys Pub. She was getting set to debut her cd the next night at Le Petit Campus. She spoke from her heart about her life. Her struggles with alcohol, her sexuality,  her demons and where they came from. She and me both almost coming to tears on occasion. The following evening she went on stage and performed such an emotionally charged show. An amazing woman and a great listener as well.