BTW-Tomato Tomato, Bobby Long, Chelsea Stewart, Don Brownrigg, Madison Violet, Julian Taylor, James Taylor Tribute, Audra Santa, Danny Marks

Tomato Tomato.jpg

Submitted by Lenny Stoute

Very representative of how New Brunswick-based roots rock outfit led by Lisa and John McLaggan, Tomato Tomato do their thing is Canary In A Coal Mine. The new album by Tomato Tomato, is now on all digital platforms, and through their website tomatotomato.ca. The latest collection marks a significant creative step forward, having been recorded at Nashville studio The Bomb Shelter (Alabama Shakes, Margo Price) with producers Jon Estes and Andrija Tokic, along with some of Music City’s finest musicians.

The result is a potent display of everything that’s made Tomato Tomato one of the most beloved groups on the Canadian folk music scene in recent years, from John’s inventive songwriting to Lisa’s unforgettable Neko Case-esque vocals. “Kite Song” is only one example of the duo’s intimate connection, following in the wake of the album's stomping first single “Take It On The Road.” Their range is further displayed on the album tracks “You Don’t Know Anything,” an instant roadhouse classic, and the quietly powerful closer “Nothing Left."

For musos, there’s even a couple of covers, The Band’s “Ophelia” that strips the song down to its bluesy essence, and A-ha’s “Take On Me,” which unexpectedly drew admiration from the Norwegian stars after the McLaggans posted a video of them performing the song live. Lisa says, “We really had a clear vision for this record, having chosen the tracks out of about 30 songs we’d written. The next step was putting our dream team together for the recording, which brought us back to The Bomb Shelter where we’d made some of our Christmas album in 2017. It only took nine days and we focused on keeping the atmosphere spontaneous.”

John adds, “Our style has actually changed a lot. When we first started, we were more heavily influenced by old-time and bluegrass music. It was just a guitar and tambourine, and things built up from there. We're always working hard to keep things interesting, and naturally, that’s led to our overall style evolving.”

Bobby Long Photo Credit Jamie_StrachanBobby Long
Photo Credit Jamie Strachan

New York-based British singer-songwriter Bobby Long’s love of The Beatles is evident on his just delivered album SULTANS, on Compass Records. The two-part title track that bookends this, his fourth album, playfully pays homage to Sgt. Pepper and the music Long heard at home growing up in rural southwest England, while this taut new 10-song set of original material effectively traverses his signature love, loss and heartache milieu. SULTANS finds Long expanding on his spare, singer-songwriter arrangements for a more adventurous Beatles sound with psychedelic flourishes, electric guitar and keys.

Long emerged from London’s folk music open mic night scene in 2009. Armed with a canon of hauntingly poetic songs and some notoriety for one of them being included in the hit film Twilight, he relocated to New York and laid down roots there. His critically- acclaimed debut album A Winter Tale (2011) was followed by the more rock-oriented Wishbone (2013). He returned to his singer-songwriter roots for the evocative Ode to Thinking (2015), and now SULTANS takes a somewhat more adventurous path.

“The songs on this album are a definite continuation and development,” Long explains. “It’s about the whole body of work for me. It’s all part of the greater. I don’t think you can define anyone by one album. When you’re recording, you always have the greater picture in your head. Your imagination runs over the tracks, and they take all sorts of weird forms. The sounds of this record are the closest to what was in my imagination that I’ve come on a record.”

SULTANS was produced by multi-instrumentalist Jack Dawson with whom Long had collaborated and toured with on behalf of his 2012 EP, The Backing Singer. It was recorded over a one year period in a studio in Brooklyn. With Long on guitar, Dawson also played bass on the tracks while studio engineer Dave Lindsay played drums.

“Jack and I have a shared love of so much music, and we would talk endlessly about records we love,” Long explains. “Jack, like myself, is a feel guy so we were never too picky about tone or instruments. The album is basically a reflection of our friendship and love of songs. Jack really added his own colours and personality to the album, and it’s definitely the best thing I’ve ever done. Of course, I always feel that the new one is the best one, but I feel pretty strongly about this one.

Bobby Long On Tour
March 8— Club Passim, Cambridge, MA
March 16— Jammin Java, Vienna, VA
March 22— Fat Tire Friday, New Belgium Brewery, Asheville, NC
March 24— Eddie's Attic, Decatur, GA
April 5— Fat Tire Friday, New Belgium Brewery, Fort Collins, CO
April 11— Cactus Café, Austin, TX
April 12— Poor David's Pub, Dallas, TX
April 13— Blue Door, Oklahoma City, OK
April 16— Duck Room at Blueberry Hill, St. Louis, MO
April 17— Gaslamp, Des Moines, IA
April 18— Raccoon Motel, Davenport, IA
April 19— Café Carpe, Fort Atkinson, WI
April 23—Club Cafe, Pittsburgh, PA
April 24— Rumba Cafe, Columbus, OH

Chelsea StewartChelsea StewartCanadian reggae-jazz starlet Chelsea Stewart went to the genesis of reggae on her JUNO Award-nominated album release, Genesis, out now.

“It’s a fusion of fresh Canadian and Jamaican reggae music,” Stewart shares of the chart-topping release. “It’s a collection of songs about the different phases of love, all with the ‘beginning’ and original reggae music in mind.”

Much like the tracks — including “Over You”, which hit #1 on three Canadian reggae charts — Stewart’s voice is like a cold glass of lemonade served crisp and sweet on a hot summer’s day. The multi-talented singer/songwriter is classically trained and deftly showcases a dynamic range within genres and styles, from classical to jazz to everything in between.

She’s won ReggaeXclusive Magazine's Song of the Year, a Trailblazer Award, an Entertainment Award for the International Woman Achievers' Award, and a Caribbean Entertainment and Music Award. She was the first Canadian female to perform at Rototom Sunsplash, the biggest reggae festival in Europe, in their 22-year history. While songwriting since her early teens, on Genesis she welcomed the skills from someone close in her corner — her mom.

“I enjoy the creative process of songwriting with my mother,” Stewart shares of their unique partnership in this regard. “I’m pretty sure we are the only mother/daughter songwriting and production duo in reggae music — if not all music — in Canada right now!”

The pair’s synergy has proven to be most fruitful, with Genesis their showpiece accomplishment.

Stewart takes on a little tour through it.

“This is a song about empowerment,” she explains about the aforementioned chart-topping track, “Over You.”“It’s about recognizing that you are in a romantic situation that doesn’t serve you, and about mustering the courage to leave.

“It was a different and pleasant experience,” Stewart adds about “Just Wanna Love You” — a track the pair worked with other songwriters on, including Canadian Renee Brown. “That writing collaboration turned out to be one of our favourites from the collection. Working with legendary music makers Sly and Robbie out of Jamaica — who’ve worked with great names like Mick Jagger, Sting, Grace Jones, and so many more — was humbling and exciting at the same time.”

“Perfectly Lonely” has been tucked in Stewart's back pocket for some time. “I wrote this back in grade nine,” she recalls. “It’s my mom’s favourite song. It’s about having the patience to wait for your true love, and staying busy ‘doing you’ in the meantime.”

The last song may have been all Stewart’s penmanship, but the first on Genesis — “Do You Love Me” — was all her mom. “It was fun watching her create this song,” Stewart gushes. “We were in Jamaica and she was writing it and singing it while I was in the shower. Then, somewhere in the middle of it, I stuck my head out the door and added the ‘ohhhs” and we just started laughing together. It was funny… I think we knew we found a good song!”

Don BrownriggDon BrownriggA comeback of sorts for East Coast singer-songwriter Don Brownrigg is afoot with a new album, Fireworks, his first in five years. The album features the CBC Music Top 20 charting song, "Bad Timing". Since his last album, he has traveled to China as a puppeteer, pursued a degree in Osteopathy, worked behind the scenes as a festival presenter, and fell in and out of love twice. These elements are what helped form the thematic foundation of the newest album.

The 10 songs on Fireworks find Brownrigg sorting through the emotional journey of the last few years, coming to terms with mental health questions, sexuality, and romantic relationships.

“I had two big relationships in the writing of this and was at two opposite points of view in them," says Brownrigg. "In one relationship, I was the one stifling, clipping it, pushing away, closing myself in, and then I was the opposite the next time. So looking back at that, seeing the similarities, what I wanted from each one, what I had to give, but also the shitty things I did, or the good things I did, or the shitty things the other person might have done.”

Listeners will hear those tensions play out in the album’s lead-off single, the moody, evocative "Room For Me", the darkly sparkling "Strum and Rhyme", and the urgent apology contained in the single "Bad Timing". Brownrigg teamed up with award-winning producer and friend Daniel Ledwell (Good Lovelies, Rich Aucoin, Jenn Grant). Between the two, they recorded all the vocals, and the bulk of the instruments as well, save strings and drums. For those, they brought in Kinley Dowling (Kinley, Hey Rosetta!) on violin and viola, and Tom Terrell (Modern Grass) on drums.

WATCH AND SHARE "ROOM FOR ME" VIDEO

Don Brownrigg On Tout
March 28 - Vancouver, BC - The Heatley *
;March 29 - Duncan, BC - Duncan Showroom *
;March 30 - Sidney, BC @ St. Paul's United Church *
;April 2 - Calgary, AB @ The Ironwood *
;April 4 - Edmonton, AB @ The Almanac *
;April 5 - Saskatoon, SK @ The Bassment *
;April 6 - Regina, SK @ The Artesian *
;April 10 - St. John's, NL @ The Black Sheep
;April 13 - Margaretsville, NS @ Evergreen Theatre
;April 17 - Toronto, ON @ The Burdock ^
;April 18 - Ottawa, ON @ National Arts Centre ^
;June 7 - Halifax, NS @ The Carleton
;* w/ Erin Costelo
;^ w/ Kim Harris

After 20 years together, Juno nominated singer-songwriting duo, Madison Violet, are as much wanderers as they are musicians. The band is excited to announce Everything’s Shifting, their new album to be released on March 8, 2019 (Passenger Sounds Inc.), featuring lead single Tell Me. Have a listen here and across all music platforms.

"Tell Me is about when one of you falls out of love, you sometimes can’t help but keep one foot in the door after thinking of all the good times, leaving your partner with a glimmer of hope that it can be put back together.” - Madison Violet

Everything’s Shifting is a collection of 11 original songs recorded and mixed by Hill Kourkoutis and Daniel Ledwell. Along with Kourkoutis and Ledwell adding their musical excellence, the duo is joined by Jake Zapotockzny (background vocals, electric guitar), Kinley Dowling (viola, violin) and Michael Belyea (drums) to round out the studio recording. The album is a heartfelt examination of how memory can splinter a heart, how loss shapes perspective and how sometimes, no matter how hard you try, you can’t have love without regret. It is an album to be listened to on the open road, with the windows rolled down: a love letter to their fans, from two wanderers who continue to follow the melodies wherever they lead.

“Julian Taylor, this is your life.” Those weren’t the exact words used by Taylor’s mother one recent Christmas when she gifted him a trunk full of all kinds of personal memorabilia. But she may as well have. Wading through that treasure chest in his attic led to a period of self-reflection that resulted in a collection of 8 new songs that would become Julian Taylor Band’s most personal record to date. Avalanche is due out on March 29, 2019, via Gypsy Soul Records. The album features the lead track, "Sweeter" (over 100K spins on Spotify) and the most recent single, "Back Again", recently added to Stingray's Pop Adult channel.

The band will celebrate the new album with a special hometown Toronto show at The Great Hall on March 30th. Tickets are on sale now. https://juliantaylorband.com/.

For "Back Again" the band popped by Canterbury Studio to record with engineer Jeremy Darby and Julian Decorte, with Taylor himself in the producer's chair. "This song was inspired by the unconditional love that I had for my Grandparents out west in Maple Ridge;" shares Julian. "They taught me about the importance of being with nature and really helped raise me. I’d visit them every summer on the west coast where they lived on a farm for some time. They’re gone now but before they left this Earth they taught me about being a good person and how to carry myself. My Grandfather who was Mohawk instilled many Indigenous values and ways of life into everything he taught me. It’s a song about the cycle of life and now it’s my turn to create those kinds of memories and teach those values to my kin." 

;The new album Avalanche (mixed by Tim Abraham at Soleil Sound) is the sound of a band who is fully capable of cranking up to 11 and dazzling you with pyrotechnics, but who chooses instead to put that energy into slinky grooves (“Time,” “Take What You Need,” “Never Let the Lights Go Dim”), smooth country rock (“Back Again,” “Sweeter”), and soulful blues (“Avalanche,” “Learn to Love,” “Gone”). Lyrically and musically, it’s an album that Taylor could only make at this stage in his life. His time as an underrated talent is surely over.

Not a revivalist, but a musical revisionist, JT masterfully re-combines and updates the vintage sounds that inspired him, to create bold, innovative new songs. Taylor, of both West Indian and Native Canadian descent, is a charismatic frontman, prolific songwriter, and endearing individual. A calm, somewhat self-effacing person offstage, Taylor morphs into an intense, incendiary and almost shamanistic presence onstage. Toronto poet Robert Priest describes him as “the kind of artist forever in the zone, the voice limitless, the songs full of feeling and memorable hooks.”

Good to see Mr. Wrycraft back doing his thing. A Man Called Wrycraft Presents Sweet BabyJames happens at Hugh’s Room Live Fri. Mar.15.Doors 6 PM Music 8PM.The format looks like some very talented ladies giving voice to the deep dish melancholia of OG folkie James Taylor. The lineup’s Arlene Bishop, Heather Bambrick, Wendy Lands, Chris Birkett, Annie Sumi, Taivi, Tyra Jutai, The Zubots.

James Vernon Taylor is an American singer-songwriter and guitarist. A five-time Grammy Award winner, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2000. He is one of the best-selling music artists of all time, having sold more than 100 million records worldwide.

Michael Wrycraft is a Juno-Award Winning graphic designer/art director/photographer who specializes in music and is a music lover and supporter supreme.

BITS’N’PIECES

Audra SantaAudra Santa

Noir soul singer/songwriter Audra Santa takes a time out from her frequent appearances at Baby G’s to cross the bridge Mar.11 for a show at Old Nick’s on The Danforth. The lady’s shows are always venturesome affairs and this one will be no exception as she‘ll be crowd testing new material, including some songs written for and performed with the electric guitar. Who knows if down the road we can all say, “I was there the night Audra Santa went electric.

Danny MarksDanny MarksThe boss man of the blues matinee Danny Marks, he of the wildly successful Saturday Matinee at Cadillac Lounge, is taking the show uptown. Danny checks into the Mount PleasantRose Sun. Mar.10thfor a late matinee (5-8pm) with a show that pairs blues esoterica with warm rapport and some kickass riffing.

Y’all do come out and support live music!