Rick Keene Music Scene – Rivercat Provides 52 Saturday Nights of Real Rock N Roll

It may sound like a cliche but – it absolutely does not mean a thing without that swing.

Mark Rivers

Rivercat was established more than two decades ago. Principle songwriter and leader Mark Rivers honing his New Jersey-bred craft under the bright lights of New York City. Just like the Big Apple itself – Rivercat is a blend of everything. Just like The Big Apple itself – Rivercat is filled with attitude.

The first thing you hear within Rivercat on their new album 52 Saturday Nights is that Coney Island ‘noise’. Garland Jeffries has it, Lou Reed had it and anyone who has breathed that air – has it. The sound from Rivercat cannot be easily described nor can it easily be duplicated.

New Night – the first tune on the disc feels subdued. The guitars and vocals trapped under a sewer and clawing to escape the ‘muddy waters.’ Like a slow moving Demon – the tune gathers strength and breaks into a comfortable jam. The chemistry within Rivercat obvious. A feeling the best is yet to come on the disc; a given. New Night brings the foreplay.

Red Lipstick, the second tune – combines a rockabilly beat with a punk sound. In between – the vocals and chorus swoon like alternative birds. The music and the voices not quite connected which gives the song an edge and a view of the outside looking in. Intentional or not, a feeling of The Stones from Some Girls shines through. A real kick in the gut at loud volumes.

Perhaps the most radio friendly tune on the album – Down in the Streets, has swagger. A chaos which is neither Rock nor Punk. A Reggae feel with sloppiness. A first listen pinches the curiosity. A second go embeds the tune into a never ending session. If only all songs could be written this way.

Drive is Rock without the Roll. Guitar heavy and no sloppiness. A sign that Rivercat can do what it wants and do it well. A straight on tune with no messing around. An interesting precursor to the next tune on the disc – The Rain.

The Rain journeys into the 80s and 90s sound. Harmonies akin to the band Journey and rhythms which Chrissie Hynde would be proud of. The connotations within the lyrics on all songs – typical of New York. Keys on the song bring to mind a little Pink Floyd. The guitar solo simple but profound. Rivercat as we have heard thus far non existent. A tip of the hat to the band who are so diverse in their craft.

In Suzie’s Bullet, the band hits it’s Coney Island persona full tilt. Almost spoken lyrics ( hello Lou Reed?) evolve into hard riffs and a hard story. Once again – Rivercat harnessing energy. Teasing with bursts of what you can have if Rivercat wants you to have it. The ebbs and flows are sensational and fit the mood of a love tale gone bad.

52 Saturday Nights is a tribute to the band’s favorite night to play. The album reeks of Bourbon.

Bourbon retains the swagger of Rivercat. The swagger of New York. An off kilter track which gives attitude through perfectly placed guitar riffs, background vocals and in your face shots of rhythm. The entire sound gets you prepared for the second catchiest tune on the disc; Shake This House.

If you look up Rock N Roll in the dictionary – Shake This House should be there. Your toes start tapping. Your heart starts pounding. Your brain hears the rebellious lyrics and then one of the most catchiest choruses kicks in. You are dead from the waste down or head up if Shake This House does not end up on your playlist or you do not end up on the dance floor.

If music can make you feel you are crawling on the floor trying to explain yourself – then Party Train and Blue Whiskey have done their jobs.

Rivercat combine old school sensibilities in their tunes. Country acoustic popping up between electric riffs and Southern Blues. A Muscle Shoals ‘live on the floor’ gospel fuddled sound. Drawls and slurs appearing relentlessly through a spurned lover banging on the glass with a rose in one hand and a bottle of Jack Daniels in the other..

The final two tracks on the album are anthems of sorts. Somebody 2 Rock commences with a teasing, slow moving beckon and then slaps you almost immediately with a powerful two punch. Guitars singing behind the words like a hurt animal giving the tune an added dimension not heard in the first ten songs on the disc. Live – this could be the first tune or the encore. Either way – it is another tune from the disc bound to end up on a playlist in the swampy landscape of pure Rock N Roll. Calling all nations …

One After 909 has the feel of a Beatles’ song because it is. One of the earliest Lennon / McCartney tracks and released on Let It Be almost ten years after it was written. The tune predates the Beatles’ Boy Band commercial career start with a predominately penned Lennon ‘Cavern’ song. Rivercat fittingly end 52 Saturday Nights with Rock n Roll although once more with a held back energy. The album starts and ends with a band forlornly in control of their sound and capabilities. Holding the reins of a trip everyone must take.

Rivercat are one of very few bands keeping Rock N Roll alive. In a New York state of mind. Of course …

You Really Should Visit Rivercat Right Here !

 

Rick Keene Music Scene – Molly Johnson Talks Juno Nomination and A Much Needed Black History Website

History comes in many forms. Molly Johnson herself – is Canadian music history.

Molly is a pioneer. Musical theater, Theater, Disco, Funk, Rock / Pop and Jazz. Molly has not only done it all, she has excelled in all.

A Member of the Order of Canda

In 2019, Johnson has been nominated for a Juno Award in the Best Adult Contemporary Category. She has already won a Juno for Jazz Recording and this recent album places her in the company of some of her favorite artists.

This year is also fertile ground for a website she is starting up. A Black History informational tool which she hopes will be a go to place for teachers in all Canadian institutions.

Please LISTEN below to my chat with Molly. Hear some great tunes and find out why history is so IMPORTANT to all Canadian’s futures.





Rick Keene Music Scene – 2018 Year in Review Part Four

The music kept coming.

The Montreal International Jazz Festival got underway and this year was a great mix for fans of all genres.

July

Gary Petersen – the original drummer for The Guess Who (and a man who started drumming before Rock n Roll’s heyday) took some time out to chat about his career and the future of The Guess Who. Petersen has never stopped playing for the band (he owns the name) and along with his mates; the first brand new Guess Who album in twenty years  hit the shelves in September. An educational chat for sure.

Lonesome George Thorogood took time to chat following the release of his first ever solo album (Party Of One) and previous to his show at The Montreal Jazz Festival and Trois Rivieres en Blues.

The word legend is tossed about too easily these days but not in George’s case.  He started his career busking and within three years opened for Muddy Waters and The Rolling Stones.

Not too shabby.

Sometimes the apple does not fall far from the tree.

Mary -Lynn Doroschuk just happens to be the daughter of Stefan Doroschuk (Men Without Hats). Mary-Lynn has a new band called Wave 21. A Country -Alt unit filled with catchy tunes and classy riffs. A Montreal group to keep your ears on. A Montreal band that will only get bigger.

Joan Jett graced Place Bell along with Tesla and Styx.

Jett as powerful as ever with Punky licks and attitude while Tesla catered to the more Heavy minded fans in attendance. Styx – making their fourth appearance in Quebec in the past seven years commanded even more respect than before. They were hot and the night lasted longer than any Grand Illusion.

Beth Hart

If Beth Hart stayed home and sang lullabies to her kids, the world would be a much sadder place.

Hart and her trio were in Montreal for The Jazz Festival and Beth stole the hearts of everyone. Telling stories of her very dysfunctional upbringing between soaring vocals and soft balladry – Place des Arts was on the verge of a collective hanky giveaway.

On this planet – no female singer can reach into their souls so deep and raise the roof so high within a song. Multiply that by fifteen tunes and see how tired you are from a Beth Hart show.

Boz Scaggs

Boz was here as part of The Jazz Festival and what a surprise musician he turned out to be. Unless you were / are a huge fan or came from a certain decade, Boz (to the general music world) was a two hit wonder. Like many musicians from the 70s and even the 80s, the limelight and success don’t go hand in hand. Boz has more talent playing, singing and producing/ arranging than about 75% of those with hits before or since. Put that in your hat and smoke it.

Jordan Officer opened up for George Thorogood at Place des Arts as part of The Jazz Festival and blew the roof off the joint. Officer has turned the corner in his Blues comeback and had George’s Destroyers shaking in their boots. Trois Rivieres is Jordan’s latest record and it will be considered the turning point in a soon too be mammoth career.

Ranee Lee

Easily the concert of the year in Montreal. 

Lee’s husband / musical mentor Richard passed away the morning of her Jazz Festival show and for most artists – the plug would have been pulled. Not only did Ranee perform, she outperformed any of the numerous award winning shows she had done before. Emotions were high (the crowd knew of the circumstances) yet Ranee used the emotion to grow stronger with each song. The concert will go down as one of  the greatest  in Montreal music history.

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Rick Keene Music Scene – 2018 Year in Review Part Three

Half way through the year – the music kept coming.

The folks at The Montreal International Jazz Festival announced their line up and the stage was set ( so to speak).

June

Jann Arden was in town and at this point in her musical career – she is the Elton John of Canadian women.

The hits and the magic within new tunes are gone and she is relying on her past glories to fill joints around the Country. Thankfully, she is a very funny woman and the banter alone is worth half the price of admission. Add the hits from twenty years ago – you get fully what you paid for.

East of Sunday – Carvin Jones

Blues guitarist extraordinaire Carvin Jones made his first appearance in Montreal and local band East of Sunday opened up.

Jones is a monster on guitar and his showmanship – second to none. Think Buddy Guy without the powerful voice. East of Sunday are poised to take the Montreal Rock throne away from The Damn Truth. Look out this coming summer as both Carvin and East of Sunday will hit the road with heat.

Paul Young / Midge Ure

Paul Young was one of the biggest stars of the 1980’s video wave and Ure co-wrote Do They Know It’s Christmas for Band Aid. Ure was also the leader of Ultravox and a member of Thin Lizzy among other things.

Ure and Young held a double bill at Club Soda and only one showed up.

Ure was fine as he gained strength with his tunes – hits and all. Young, on the other hand was, well … old. Paul stumbled through a set continually struggling to hit notes and stay in key. When he did get in sync – his voice was weak. A sign of the end or an off night? Things that make you go hmmm …

Dr. Lonnie Smith

The good doctor ( the most sought after Hammond B3 player in all genres) put on a clinic at Le Gesu. Fifty years in the spotlight and recording with the who is who of music has enabled Smith to assume command over the audience, his band-mates and his instrument. Anyone who witnesses a Smith performance – is blessed.

Aram Demirjian

Conductor Demirjian sat down and spoke of his upcoming Montreal gig with Dreamworks Animation. The gig is a full orchestra playing the soundtrack live of DreamWorks classics such as Shrek and How To Train Your Dragon.

In the beginning of cinema, live orchestras were the only form of sound for a viewing audience. To witness and hear the experience in 2018 is a welcome change to digital dust.

Cecile Mclorant- Salvant

The second best female singer walking the planet ( Lisa Fischer would be first) put on a lesson in vocals. Adding all the great ingredients from all the great Jazz ladies ( Holiday, James, Fitzgerald) and her own unique voice, Salvant is the driver. Complete command of everything and she is’ just starting out’. A must see concert if you must see.

Charlotte Gainsbourg

If there ever was a female artist who did all for ‘art’s sake’- it is Gainsbourg. The actress / composer / songwriter / singer / writer / painter and poet lays all her emotions on her sleeve.

Her show at MTelus was not for the non intellects. Combining electronica and common place rythym with her piano sensibility is mesmerizing to the punters. Her fan base is devoted, loyal and safe to say; artistic.

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Rick Keene Music Scene – 2018 Year in Review – Part Two

What a year it was …

Twelve months have come and gone quicker than a man / woman looking for a one night stand. That’s what happens when music is in the air and in your soul.

Let’s take a look back shall we? Let us revisit the musical past of 2018.

April

Steve Hill finally released a live album after nine studio albums. He wanted to make sure it was done right and being the perfectionist Steve is – the delay came as no surprise. Check out the album; The One-Man Blues Rock Band, it’s a must have for Steve Hill fans.

The Box, one of the most successful bands to come from Quebec, returned with a brand new EP titled Take Me Home. Jean Marc Pisapia, the singer and songwriter for The Box, gave a three part interview about his career and the new EP. Very insightful if you are a fan of the eighties and Canadian music history.

Jim Cuddy of Blue Rodeo fame was in town with his side project The Jim Cuddy Band. Their performance at the Corona which included Jim’s two sons and Barney Bentall – blew some Canadian wind into the joint. Cuddy’s down to earth charm combined with an elite backing band was just what the music scene needed. Blue Rodeo ain’t got nothing on these guys and girls.

May

One of the co – founders of April Wine, Jim Henman , has been affected by the senseless shootings south of the border. He was so profoundly moved by the acts of violence – he wrote a song.

The song ‘Some of These Children’ is a poignant and stirring take on events that have affected everyone. Parents, teachers, relatives and the entire world.

Jim Henman is donating fifty percent of all sales from the song to The Boys And Girls Club of Greater Halifax. This is a start to not only help the kids in Nova Scotia – to also send a message globally that us humans have had enough.

Buy Jim Henman’s song here !

The Brooks resume includes opening up for The Doobie Brothers and Kool and The Gang. Two huge blowouts at the Montreal International Jazz Festival are also easy on the ears on a rhythmic C.V.

In May – the band (and what seemed like the entire city of Montreal), raised the roof at L’Astral and cemented their position as this city’s soon-to-be next Arcade Fire on the global scene.

April Wine’s Brian Greenway sat down and spoke of his career with April Wine and what came before. Bands such as The Wackers and The Dudes along with tales of playing at the historic Maples Inn before Myles Goodwyn grabbed him for super-stardom. Brian also spoke of his side project The Blues Bus with former Wine guitarist Gary Moffett.

Up and coming guitar player Paolo Stante released his third album; At It Again. The most complete recording of his career and cementing his position as one of the top ten guitar players in Quebec and Montreal.

In a music galaxy far, far away – a Canadian band altered the airwaves and sent Canada into an entirely different universe.

Crack of Dawn were the first black band to be signed to a major label (CBS) in Canada. Otis Redding’s producer discovered them and the band sold more albums than Earth, Wind and Fire in Canada. They were headed for stardom yet they disappeared.

In 2018 – they released a new album and started touring again. Proving once and for all – you can teach an old dog new tricks as long as the tricks are old.

April Wine co founder Jim Henman was in the news yet again. He recorded an album with his family. Something he wanted to do for a long while and finally finished it before it ‘is too late’. The Henman Family Album is a delightful listen with all ten kids doing their musical thing.

Lawrence Gowan of Styx took time out to chat once again. Speaking with Larry, Lawrence or Gowan is always a history lesson and a lot of fun. The interview was a precursor to Styx’ appearance with Joan Jett and Tesla at Place Bell in Laval.

The League of Rock enlisted some local rock stars including Brian Greenway ( April Wine) and Corey Diabo ( Jonas and The Massive Attraction) to coach musicians who normally just play in their basements. It is an event which showcases talent and at the same time, gives an opportunity for the players to hit a stage in front of a live audience for maybe the first and last time in their lives.

Local songwriter and guitar player Justin Saladino released his album A Fool’s Heart. It was a coming of age for the young West Islander and music teacher. His vocals – a weak point before, came into fruition and the album cemented Justin’s place among the best in Montreal.

If You Like What I do – please donate here to help me support music.

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Rick Keene Music Scene – Jess Moskaluke Delivers ‘A Small Town Christmas’ Musical Gift

Jess Moskaluke was and is a huge Shania Twain fan.

 

Now – Jess is creating a career which may mirror that of her idol. Art imitating life …

A three time winner of the Canadian Female Country Artist award and recipient of a Juno for Canadian Country album – Jess has released her first Christmas album.

Great timing !

Please listen below to my chat and enjoy some Christmas tunes !

Jess? What’s up?

Visit Jess Here !

 

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Rick Keene Music Scene – Andy Kim Talks Induction Onto Canadian Walk of Fame and The 14th Annual Andy Kim Christmas

Andy Kim is a ‘lucky guy’.

Lucky is the way Andy describes a career which has now placed him among the Gods of Canadian music. On December 1st – Andy was inducted onto Canada’s Walk of Fame.

Not too bad for that ‘crazy boy’ who left Montreal for New York as a teenager.

Please listen below to my chat with Andy about his impressive induction as well as The Andy Kim Christmas which takes place Dec. 15th at The Corona.

Andy? What’s up?

 

 

Buy Tickets for Andy Kim Christmas Here !

Visit Andy Here !

 

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