April 2013

Drake Jensen: OUTlaw

Drake Jensen - OUTlaw

Soaring Eagle Productions

Awright buckaroos and buckarettes, Drake Jensen’s back with some sweetass music so y’all better be watching. On account of the gay thing, dude’s debut disc was a well-behaved calling card, designed to at least get his boots inside the door. That one dropped in ’11 and since then Drake’s not only put himself way inside the room, he’s looking at redesigning the sucker.

So this time around, the big guy can unlax and have fun and it shows large. Backed by his OUTlaw band, itself anchored by the amazing chops of producer/multi-instrumentalist Jonathan Edwards, Jensen is in full on beltin’n’croonin’ modes, where appropriate.

The interpretations, the attention and expression of nuance is coming easy here as is the song craft displayed on the Jensen-written or co-written tracks on the album.

Opener and deserved first single, “When It Hurst Like That” is trad country all the way, leaving it up to the vocals to elevate the tune and dude does great in that regard. “Fast Enough For Me” follows with Jensen dropping into a gravely growl atop a Texas swing rhythm with this snappy self-penned ode to life in the love lane. Another Jensen-written (co-write with Tia McGraff and Tommy Parnham) “Checotah Oklahoma” follows, leaning more on the baritone end of his range and with stark lyrics and an ominous drum pattern reminiscent of a Johnny Cash number.

Within Rust Not your Average Vantown Band

Within Rust

Story: Lenny Stoute

We tend to look to Montreal for the next new things but increasingly,Vancouver is becoming the new Montreal. While the rapid success of the Yukon Blonde type sound spawned its share of clones, Vantown ‘s got its own brand of diversity going on. The groundwork laid down by pioneers Nardwar and Neko Case continues to yield up crop after crop of Left Coast mavericks with something to shout about.

Meet Exhibit A, Within Rust. In their own words.

Richie Havens Gone at 72

Richie Havens @ Hugh's Room 2006.jpg

Submitted Don Graham
Photo: Richie Havens @ Hugh's Room 2006

Richie Havens, singer/songwriter/guitarist and folk icon passed away on April 22, 2013 in New Jersey at the age of 72.

Born in Brooklyn, New York in 1941, Richie Havens headed to  Greenwich Village in the early sixties to get involved in the burgeoning folk music scene. Havens soon got a reputation as a solo performer in the Village folk circle and after cutting a couple of records with a small label, was signed by Bob Dylan’s manager, Albert Grossman, who then signed him to Verve Forecast, a big folk label at the time. His debut album “Mixed Bag” was released in 1967 and contained the anti -war anthem ‘Handsome Johnny’ which Havens had written with the then unknown Louis Gosset Jr. Also on that album were Gordon Lightfoot’s ‘I Can’t Make It Anymore’, Dylan’s ‘Just Like A Woman’, ‘Eleanor Rigby’ and a beautiful version of ‘San Francisco Bay Blues’.

By 1969 Havens had released five more albums, two of which were “exploitation” albums from Douglas Records who he was signed to before Verve. Also in 1969 Havens was the first act to perform at the historic Woodstock Festival. His set was a three hour marathon, partly because a lot of the acts were caught in the traffic jam leading to the Festival. Acts were being helicoptered into the event to get around the traffic. The Woodstock performance was a huge turning point in Havens’ career and the subsequent release of the movie would help him reach a worldwide audience.

Living Color Still Vivid After 25 Years

Vernon Reid and Michael Williams.jpg

Submitted by Michael Williams

Photo Credits:  Petra Richterova

PHOTO: Vernon Reid and Michael Williams

Twenty five years ago Living Color released “Vivid”. Their debut album, fostered Mick Jagger, took the world by surprise. They were opening for Robert Palmer at Roy Thompson Hall in Toronto. Being a big Robert Palmer fan since Vinegar Joe, I was at the show.  His 1985 release of “Addicted to Love” and its high fashion video dictated the way the crowd was dressed that night – men in suits and women in long gowns. This was not a Living Color crowd! While I loved their performance, the audience barely clapped.

After the show I went backstage. It was quiet. I pushed open Living Color’s dressing room door and saw the long faces of disappointment. I stuck my head in and said to them, “You were great! Come see me at Much Music”. Corey Glover, the lead singer, did and that was the beginning my wonderful relationship with Living Color.

Twenty-five years and several Grammys later, including one for “Vivid”, Corey Glover and I sat down and talked before a recent  Living Color show at the Opera House in Toronto.

MW:  Twenty-five years ago it all started to happen. How does it feel now in retrospect?
CG: Old, very old. I never thought I could last 25 years in anything so I am good with this!

Luminato Festival Returns to Toronto – June 14-23, 2013

Luminato Festival.jpg

Submitted to Cashbox Canada