Outside on Saturday night in downtown Montreal it was cold. Inside at Club Soda on blvd. St.Laurent – it was hot! Don’t blame it on Rio – blame it on the band who were playing high energy rock n roll …It was a homecoming for the Montreal-based band after a successful tour in Europe. Lead singer Jonas was pumped from the beginning as he and his mates tore into the first two high octane tunes; ‘All the Pretty Things‘ and Addiction.
Jonas, with the help of his mates ( Corey Diabo on guitar, J.S. Baciu (Bass) and Martin Lavallee banging away on the drums ), danced, gyrated and introduced the crowd into his world. What a powerful world it is. The band is not called Massive Attraction for nothing …
‘What Type of Ride‘ and ‘Here She Comes’ continued the energy, pausing intermittently while Jonas explained a successful jaunt into places like Germany and shoving his happiness of being ‘home’ down the throats of the audience. A crowd which was hungry for such a rock n roll meal. A crowd filled with females who were hungry for Jonas.
Tomalty may be a good looking dude and that attracts a certain denomination yet if it were not for the talent the Massive Attraction totes along in their guitar, bass and drum bags – Tomalty would be a talented singer and a handsome fellow looking for a band.
‘Seize the Day’, one of a couple of hits from the group’s newest album; Big Slice – continued the musical rampage which took place after an awe-inspiring introduction from k103.7fm’s Java Jacobs. The radio station’s morning man and keeper of one of the most knowledgeable music minds – set the table with a band introduction filled with so much enthusiasm, there was no way the band could not have been pumped.
Corey Diabo, Jonas’ sidekick, is Canada’s best kept secret on guitar. Tomalty’s alter – ego trading riffs and solos which at times brought back the sounds of Frank Marino into the iconic Club Soda. His solos gyrating along with Jonas’ manic singing style to the likes of ‘Exit Wound’ and another of the band’s latest hits -‘ Burn Bright’.
‘Sweet Disaster’ set the tone for the best song of the night. ‘School Girl’ is one of the purest bluesy songs to travel the core of downtown Montreal in a while. Borderline pubescent sexual lyrics exchanged with sound just as menacing with a backdrop of innocence and flirtation. Jonas’ voice and Corey’s timing quite possibly the only duo to pull off such a combination of r and b, blues and rock. A teasing menagerie of animals caged and waiting to pounce at an audience which at that point were ripe for more.
What came next was a five song ending which appeared to never end. Normally at such a junction following a two hour set, the crowd and even the band have lost a bit of energy. Not on this scorching evening. Not on a final trip that commenced with ‘Burn the House Down’!
‘Big Slice’, ‘Daddy’ and ‘Edge of Seventeen‘ brought the packed bar off the ‘Deep End’. Tomalty never easing up on his powerful performance. Diabo gaining strength and Lavalee along with his battery partner Baicu – maintaining an anchor profound in a rock seabed.
Jonas and the Massive Attraction were hot. The crowd was boiling over.
Outside never seemed so cold when all was said and done …
‘And Harry doesn’t mind if he doesn’t make the scene
He’s got a daytime job he’s doing alright
He can play honky tonk just like anything
Saving it up for Friday night
With the Sultans with the Sultans of Swing‘
Harry is actually Chris.
Chris has a few daytime gigs – not just one. Chris does not play honky tonk with his violin and on Friday night – the best folk band to see are the Sultans of String. Aside from that, the above lyrics from Dire Straits are correct.
Speaking from his home in Toronto, Chris McKhool explains the way he felt upon learning of his band’s four nominations at the 2012 Canadian Folk Music Awards. The band was nominated for ; Instrumental Group of the Year, World Group of the Year and Pushing The Boundaries. McKhool also nominated for Producer of the Year.
“Honestly I thought, if we won one – we’d be lucky.” Says Chris. ” Each category was judged by a different jury so if we won one award, I was sure the other jurors would not give us anymore since we already won one.”
Chris’ band, the Sultans of String, earned the award of World Group of the Year. They did not win any more awards and the ‘jury’ is still out as to why – so to speak. This did not stop Chris, his wife and 19 month -old-baby girl from enjoying themselves in St. Johns, New Brunswick, for the award ceremonies.
Founded in 2005, The Canadian Folk Music Awards recognize Canada’s outstanding writers, producers and performers of folk music, and the artists who are expanding the genre in innovative and exciting ways.
Until their creation, there existed no awards to celebrate the breadth and depth of folk music in Canada. Awards such as the Junos, East Coast Music Awards or the Western Canada Music Awards have only a few categories that apply to folk and roots music whereas the CFMAs celebrate the magnificent diversity of Canada’s musical heritage – from the musical traditions of Aboriginal Canada to Celtic, Acadian and traditional Quebecois styles, singer-songwriter music, blues, bluegrass, and the myriad of world music traditions brought to Canada by each new wave of immigration.
For Sultans of String, the awards are timely. The group needed other worlds to conquer and awards to win. After – all, they have won most of what they were capable and eligible to win. In the past 2 years alone, they’ve acquired a JUNO nomination, 1st place in the International Songwriting Competition (out of 15,000 entries), won this year’s Festivals & Events Ontario – Entertainer of The Year, and now the 2012 CFMA’s! Amazing for a band that started out with the meeting of two individuals who started to write songs because they had time to kill.
‘I met Kevin( Laliberté – the guitarist ) about ten years ago.” Explains Chris. ” I was doing this Jazz gig in North York and he was playing guitar. We had a couple of hours to kill and as we were waiting around, Kevin was playing these great Rumba Flamenco guitar rhythms and they blew my mind. Amazingly enough – a lot of what was released on our first two discs, came out of that first meeting between us.”
Those two discs; ‘Luna’ and ‘Yalla Yalla!’ – immediately placed the ‘Sultans’ on the map. Both discs hitting # 1 on world/international music charts in Canada and ‘Yalla Yalla!’ earned a triple nomination at the CFMAs. The group won Instrumental Group of the Year in 2009.
“What I like about our new album -‘Move’, is that the whole band was included in the process. The first discs was myself and Kevin. This time it was great to see everyone so involved in the arrangement process.” Says McKhool. ” Chendy Leon is a genius when it comes to percussion. Our other guitarist, Eddie Paton, adds a whole other dimension to the sound and bass masters Drew Birston ( Chantal Kreviazuk) & David Woodhead (Stan Rogers, Loreena McKennitt) keep everything in focus. When Chendy is busy playing with Jesse Cook, Alberto Suarez steps in on percussion and Bassam Bishara is a master oud player from Palestine.”
Continues Chris …
“Chendy gives us such a diversified sound with which to work. He provides rhythm from all around the world. Arabic, Cuban and African to name a few. It is a group which sometimes operates as a quintet, quartet or trio and duo.” Explains Chris. ” It is always interesting.”
Chris also is one of the best kid entertainers in Canada. His newest cd – ‘Fiddlefire’ was nominated for a Juno award in 2009 and Chris has received numerous accreditations from parent groups around the country.
” If someone can put on earphones and listen to the Sultans’ music or mine and it can change their mood – then I’ll be happy.” Says Chris. ” That is why we create music – to make people smile. ”
And then the man he steps right up to the microphone
And says at last just as the time bell rings
‘Thank you goodnight now it’s time to go home’
And he makes it fast with one more thing
‘We are the Sultans of Swing String …’
Please stay tuned for part two of the interview as well as a review of the album ‘Move’ …
“I just got back from Las Vegas …” She says. ” I was helping out Jake. E. Lee on his new album. He is such a fantastic player who has massive legions of rabid fans! It was an honor to sing with him!”
Who is Jake E. Lee? Sass explains…
” Jake was in a band in the late eighties called Badlands and is probably most known for playing guitar on Ozzy Osbourne’s very successful ‘Bark at the Moon’ album. He replaced Randy Rhoads and was on two albums with Ozzy. I had such a good time working with him. Robin Zander from Cheap Trick is doing a song and the producers are Ron Mancuso and Kevin Churko . It will be a great album when it is finished as each song will designate a different singer.”
Sass is currently preparing to leave for L.A for the album launch of her latest project with S.U.N ( Something Unto Nothing). Whitesnake’s drummer and bassist Brian Tichy and Michael Devin join Sass along with Tommy Stewart from Godsmack as they officially launch their c.d on the 20th of November. They are playing at the Key Club and Jordan is hoping for the best …
“We have done two live shows so far …” Says Sass. ” The Viper Room. and another club called Vamp in Los Angeles.The reception we received was very good considering it’s a new band and no-one is aware of us. One gig, there were fifty people but you have to start somewhere …”
Jordan hooked up with Brian Tichy following a long period of not seeing one another. Tichy was the drummer on Jordan’s album Rats – way back in 1994. Sass admits it was long overdue …
“We had a connection even back then and always said we should do a record. We ran into each other in 2011and said – ‘Let’s do it!”
They recruited the other members and off to the desert in New Mexico they went. The video for the song ‘Nomad’ was filmed in a similar setting in California. Jordan loves the openness of such places.
“It is such s freeing experience. It does something to your soul being out there – alone with nature. It makes you write and come up with ideas from a very pure place.”
The foursome of musicians believe they have recreated a sound from the early 1970’s and purposely avoided music which was ‘trendy’. For Jordan – easy to do since bands like Zeppelin and the Rolling Stones were her favourites growing up in Montreal.
“Obviously – we (S.U.N ) would love to embark on a huge tour playing to as many people as possible. Unfortunately, it does not work that way. People have to like us first and then instill a demand for us. It is up to agents and promoters where we go … not us.”
At forty – nine years young, Jordan does not get nervous before a crowd and really – never did. She does admit that every once in a while, anxiety does get the better of her and she does not know why …
“I guess I am no different than anyone else.”She says.” Everyone suffers from panic attacks once in a while. You just go with the flow and ride it out …!”
It’s hard to believe anything would make Jordan nervous. She has worn many different ‘masks’ and performed on a variety of different stages since her first album in 1988. It’s been a long journey since leaving Montreal in 1992.
She has released seven solo albums and charted as high as #9 with the song ‘High Road Easy’ in 1994. She was a judge on Canadian Idol from 2003-09, she sang in front of 500,000 people at the S.A.R.S concert in Toronto in 2003 and she has opened for or played with everyone from Cheap Trick to Aerosmith.
Her songs have also been featured on numerous television shows, including Melrose Place, Party Of Five, Baywatch and Knightrider.
That’s just her singing career …
Sass starred in a Broadway play titled Just Janis. It was a tribute to the life of Janis Joplin and Jordan played the singer as the world knew her. Jordan had the vocal capability to pull it off yet it almost ruined her vocal chords.
“I had to sing every night for six nights a week. It was very hard on my voice.” Explains Sass. “Luckily – I hooked up with a vocal coach by the name of Don Lawrence. I was referred to him by Dimo Safari – a photographer who works with the Stones and U2. He was able to train me to sing in a way which not only allowed me to sing longer – he also made me a better singer in the long run. I am lucky to have got to know him.”
Jordan had also dipped info the acting world. She made guest appearances on NBC ‘s television show Sisters and starred in Winnipeg’s version of The Vagina Monologues.
In 2010, while performing for the Canadian troops in Alert, Nunavut – Sass was asked if she wanted to be an honorary Colonel in the Canadian Air Force.
Normally, RCAF honorary colonels were ceremonial titles handed out to retired Canadian military officers to foster “esprit de corps” within the unit. Now, the titles are handed out to people in the position to increase the exposure of what the military does.
Sass recalls her response when the title was offered to her …