Rick Keene Music Scene – Foreigner Bring Some ‘Hot Blood’ To Montreal

First thing you need to know, Foreigner 2019 is not your Father’s Foreigner.

Gone is the golden voice that belted out the songs of many people’s youth. Lou Gramm (vocals) and Mick Jones ( Guitar, Keys, vocals) wrote collectively or individually a Rock n Roll catalog which placed the band as one of the biggest selling bands of all time. Gramm may be gone but Mick, his new band and the songs remain.

Foreigner 2.0 is led by what a front-man should be. Kelly Hansen has the chops to rival Gramm. Kelly Hansen has the energy to rival Mick Jagger. Kelly Hansen has the comedic banter to earn a position at Just For Laughs. Tunes like JukeBox Hero, Cold As Ice and Urgent are delivered with power, tightness and adrenaline. In short – Hansen makes it feel as if the (over forty) patrons in attendance are back in high school and worrying about pimples.

Jones

Jones (who was taught how to play ‘Hey Joe’ by Hendrix himself) is a legendary figure. Not many men or women can grace a stage with such a pedigree of tunes. Waiting For a Girl like You, Dirty White Boy, Hot Blooded, Feels Like The First Time and I Wanna Know What Love Is – all part of a Rock n Roll catalog which has stood the test of time. Rock n Roll purists cringed at the music of Foreigner in the eighties along with most of the eighties’ bands. Listening to Foreigner 2.0 in the present day makes the case for Rock n Roll 2019 being ‘dead’ ring true.

Gimbel

With many 2019 Rock bands, it is all about melancholy and Zeppelin – like screaming. Too many bands called Rock n Roll lack songwriting, harmonies and swing. Too many bands lack diversity. Foreigner and Foreigner 2.0 may have a sound that makes people aware who they are immediately yet within that sound is talent on many platforms. Within that sound is something that is essential to Rock n Roll. Saxophone.

Jeff Pilson (bass), Bruce Watson (lead guitar), Michael Bluestein ( keys) and Chris Frazier (drums) are powerhouses in their own ‘homes’. Collectively, released upon the masses, they are a band of gypsies hungry to rape and pillage musical souls with conviction. Foreigner 2.0 are kicking at the door of becoming Foreigner 6.0. Like the iPhone – Foreigner may change but the ‘apple’ remains close to the tree.

All the great bands in history have included Sax or horns on their records and live. Sax is what made the transition of Jazz ( Rock n Roll in popularity once upon a time) to Rock so smooth. The transition of Blues to Rock so smooth. The transition of Country music to Rock so smooth. Saxophone brings soul and a grounding to the guitars. It is a leash to harness the errant solos or the runaway singers. Tom Gimble last night at Place des Arts was the gatekeeper. Filling in and breathing out at the proper time.

Foreigner 2019 may not be your Father’s Foreigner but they are are not dead nor are they disabled. Foreigner 2019 are alive, well and making your son’s band look bad.

Visit Foreigner Here !

Rick Keene Music Scene – Dawn Tyler Watson Celebrates Smoke Meat Pete’s Birthday !

Once a year, Pete Varvaro ( aka Smoke Meat Pete) leaves for a month. Once a year – people don’t get the Blues.

Ben Racine

Smoke Meat Pete ( both the restaurant and the man ) not only provide the best Smoke Meat in Montreal, Pete is the only guy in the city providing live music seven nights a week. In a landscape filled with more and more live venues closing, a real tip of the hat must go to Smoke Meat Pete.

Dawn Tyler Watson

Pete’s birthday marks the reopening of the restaurant every year following a much deserved vacation. It is an occasion to not only eat cake and celebrate the man ( soon to be legend), it is also an opportunity to showcase some of the best Blues players in the city. On March 9th 2019 – patrons were blessed.

Fuel Junkie took the stage at 1pm. The band, in a relatively short career thus far, have already graced the stage at The Montreal International Jazz Festival and The Tremblant Blues Festival. They also were very close to winning the Quebec to Memphis Blues Challenge which would have sent them to Memphis to compete among the elite of the world. Smoke Meat Pete attracts the best of the best.

Led by Mark LeClerc, Fuel Junkie are a wall of sound. Horns complimenting a hard rhythm and piercing guitar solos. Vocals, harmonies and songwriting. Not a weak link within the band (which is often not the case with new bands). Fuel Junkie are (literally) schooled musicians with experience beyond the members’ relative young ages. The walls shake and keep on shaking long after Fuel Junkie have left the building. As an added bonus, young guitar phenom Justin Saladino joined Fuel Junkie which for many was a marriage made in Blues heaven. Justin beat out Fuel Junkie at the Quebec to Memphis challenge so an indication of how local musicians help one another – a signal of a healthy musical future soars high in the Quebec sky.

Justin Saladino

Everyone has a guilty pleasure and Smoke Meat Pete is no different.

Every Saturday night at 6pm (and on his Birthday), Pete picks up the guitar along with a few select musicians and has the time of his life. They say passion surpasses all boundaries and Pete’s passion for The Blues has transformed Pete from a ‘beginner guitarist’ to more than adequate in a very short time.

Pete’s partner in crime on Saturdays (and his birthday) is the imposing Hawk on vocals and harmonica. Nobody sings the Blues with as much power and force in Montreal as Hawk. The type of performer that leaves none indifferent. Whether it is belting out the Willie Dixon classic Little Red Rooster or Gloria by Van Morrison, Hawk etches his voice into your soul and months later – it continues to haunt. Like any talented vocalist, love him or hate him; his mark has been left.

Hawk

Joining Hawk and Pete on stage for the birthday bonanza were Jo Hell ( guitar), Stephen Rudinsky (drums) and Ciro Scott (bass). Hell along with Hawk – the originators of live music at Smoke Meat Pete many moons ago.

Hawk’s and Hell’s showmanship may have been the lightning rods yet it is Rudinsky’s firm metronome drumming and Ciro’s bass which keeps things from falling apart. Every player in any good band needs the battery section to fall back on. It is easy for a front-man or a soloist to lose their way. Rudinsky (a veteran and much sought after session player) never wavers. His timing impeccable. The frame of the band remains strong even if the body may have some rust. Rudinsky maintains the frame with enough oil and polish to keep it on the road but adding the necessary swerves.

Stephen Rudinsky

Following nine hours of music, smoke meat and plenty of laughter – Montreal’s Queen of The Blues took the stage.

Dawn Tyler Watson

Dawn’s star has never been so bright in her long and winding career. Not only did Watson win the Quebec to Memphis Challenge, Dawn won the IBC International Blues Contest in Memphis. Add several Maple Blues nominations and awards – Dawn has established herself as the premiere female vocalist in Quebec among the newer generation of singers.

One of the reasons Dawn has jumped ahead of her peers is the talents of her backing band. The Ben Racine Band. Ben’s songwriting and arranging talents have pushed Dawn into truly ‘finding’ herself. Ben on guitar (also winning at Memphis for guitar player of the year), combines the artful balance of modern day chops with old school sensibilities. It is all about the spaces with Ben and his band. Spaces which allow Dawn to not only breathe – to discover the creative voice inside and to paint the room in fabulous colors.

Dawn Tyler has a vocal range which can caress or levitate. The Ben Racine Band’s horn section can do the same. The group’s rhythm section can do the same. Together – Watson et al become a wall of sound as smooth as Billy Holiday’s bottom. As silky as a satin cloth or chunky as a chocolate chip cookie. Tunes from the album Jawbreaker taking the punters on a journey filled with tears, joy and spiritual awakenings. All elements of all humanity’ s life experience on display via Dawn Tyler Watson and The Ben Racine Band.

Once a year, Pete Vavaro ( aka Smoke Meat Pete) comes back after a month. Once a year – people get treated to an (almost) entire day of the Best Blues in Montreal.

You Can’t Beat Pete’s Ideas !

Visit Smoke Meat Pete Here !

Photos courtesy Frank Muggianu

Rick Keene Music Scene – Jeff Coffin Of The Dave Mathews Band Talks ‘On the Corner’

On The Corner was not received well upon it’s release in 1972. Times change …

The (now) landmark album by Miles Davis was ahead of it’s time. A precursor to 1970’s Funk, Rock and eventually Hip Hop. Miles – as usual, ahead of his time and ahead of the times.

Dave Liebman was on that album with Miles and it gave Jeff Coffin (Dave Mathews Band, Bela Fleck and The Flecktones) an idea. Coffin assembled an All Star band to do a live performance of On The Corner. A ‘gig’ that thankfully was recorded and a ‘gig’ that one day may be considered historic in itself.

Liebman, Coffin

Please listen below to my chat with Jeff about the album, Miles and The Dave Mathews Band.

Jeff? What’s Up?

Visit Jeff Here !

 

Rick Keene Music Scene – Juno Nominee Sue Foley is ‘The Ice Queen’

Canadian women going to Texas to play the Blues was not an everyday event …

The year was 1989 and Foley was planted deeply within the Austin Blues scene. It was a time for learning and because the (then) twenty – one year old Sue took her craft seriously, a quick assent took place.

Foley cut her ‘chops’ in the subsequent years and it all came into Canadian fruition in 2001 as Foley won a Juno Award for Best Blues Album. Love Comin’ Down cemented Foley’s place in Canadian music history.

Please listen below to my chat with Sue about her ‘time off’ from solo albums and her Juno nomination for Best Blues album in 2019 with her latest release – The Ice Queen

Visit Sue Here !

Rick Keene Music Scene – A Candid Chat with Dawn Tyler Watson; The Queen of The Montreal Blues

Dawn Tyler Watson could have left us for the big gig in the sky a couple of years ago. Thankfully – the Grim Reaper did not get the email …

photo Laura Carbone

Not only did Dawn recover from four blocked arteries, she went on to become the first Canadian and the second woman to win the IBC Blues Challenge in Memphis Tennessee. Not too shabby eh?

 

Please listen below to my chat with Dawn and find out about her health scare, her experiences since Memphis and news on her upcoming new album. Hear a track here !

Dawn? What’s up?

Visit Dawn Here !

Rick Keene Music Scene – Arcaydium; A Breath of Fresh Musical Montreal Air

To make it in this business – bands must have that ‘thing’. 

Any experienced DJ will tell you, all it takes is a three minute listen to separate the ‘men’ from ‘the boys’.

The ‘it’ in question is many times not explainable. A unique sound, voice or chemistry. It is basically magic. A wondrous thing found at Hogwarts.

Please listen below to my chat with Chris Petterson about his band Arcaydium.

Listen to Montreal’s new magic act! 

Chris? What’s up?

 

Visit Arcaydium Here !

 

Visit Smoke Meat Pete Here!

 

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Rick Keene Music Scene – Elizabeth Shepherd Loves Montreal on Her New Record

Once a Montrealer – always a Montrealer …

Elizabeth Shepherd is a traveler. Physically and spiritually. Searching for new within herself and within the world of music.

Her latest release brings her back to Montreal to discover things that were always under her nose. In the album Montreal – Shepherd brings the listener on a trip through her hometown.

Please listen below to my chat with Elizabeth.

 

Visit Elizabeth Right Here !

 

 

Visit Smoke Meat Pete Here!

 

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