The songwriting team of Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller wrote so many hit songs and songs that were the soundtrack to a baby boomers life that it’s mind boggling to see the output in print. Hound Dog, Jailhouse Rock, Kansas City, Stand By Me, On Broadway, Love Potion #9, Searchin’, Don’t , Spanish Harlem, On Broadway and on and on.
On February 16, Rock 'n' Horse Saloon hosted its first ever Country County Fair in the heart of downtown Toronto. The evening kicked off with a live music performance courtesy of Shanya Lynn and Homegrown, and featured various on-site activities including a strongman game, balloon darts, bazooka ball shoot out and of course plenty of line dancing and mechanical bull rides. With the first instalment under its belt, Rock 'n' Horse Saloon looks forward to hosting a second edition on Sunday, May 18 (Victoria Day Long Weekend). Tickets can be bought in advance or at the door, and all proceeds go to MusiCounts, Canada's music education charity associated with The Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (CARAS) and the Canadian Country Music Association (CCMA).
"We are thrilled that our first Country County Fair was such a great success," says Matthew Gibbons (President, MRG Ventures). "It's awesome to be able to offer Country fans a fun long weekend activity and support a great cause like MusiCounts. We are really looking forward to the next event."
We first met Swedish singer/songwriter Tom Levin at Canadian Music Week 2013 in Toronto in the International Market Place (IMP) Room. He was promoting his new record Tooth and Claw and we were fortunate to get a copy and review it. It was a fine album and we stayed in touch waiting and watching to see what this talented Swede would follow up with.
Levin has just released the follow up album Them Feet, his fifth album, and a great product to keep the momentum of Tooth and Claw rolling and solidify his place in the country, pop, Americana genre.The title track Them Feet, starts with a cool riff with the insightful lyric that we’ve come to expect from Tom. The track is a little reminiscent of a chain gang song but the message of giving your all to something is front and centre.
Tom was a prisoner of sorts to a bad record deal that held him captive for three years from 2007 to 2010 but when finally free in 2011 was named as indie artist of the year and was the only International performer invited to New Orleans’ Cutting Edge Festival. He is preparing to release two albums in 2014 starting with Them Feet.
There are only three songs here not credited to Levin alone, one of which is I Raise My Flag but even this is unmistakably Levin lyrically, and as you listen you get the true feeling of surrender that is implied. Pull Yourself Together with it’s “shave and a haircut “ Bo Diddley feel shows a different, rougher side of Levin’s voice.
The story of the The Bells plays out like a who’s who in the beginning of the Canadian music scene. The Bells were a Canadian rock band formed in 1965 in Montreal, Quebec, originally starting out as The Five Bells. The Five Bells first hit in late 1968 was "Moody Manitoba Morning", written by Winnipeg Singer/Songwriter Rick Neufeld, who later be a recording artist in his own right, signed to the Astra Label by the legendary Bob Hahn. (father of industry icon Kathy Hahn). In 1970 after shortening their name their next hit was "Fly Little White Dove Fly", which became a Top 10 hit in Canada. Piano player Frank Mills joined The Bells for a short period from 1970 to 1971, after which he pursued a successful solo career, the highlight of which was the #3 1979 U.S. hit single "Music Box Dancer". Mills was replaced by piano player Dennis Will who remained with the band through to the end. Charlie Clark also joined the band in 1970 as a guitarist and vocalist.
Blame David Byrne for the overblown, self-consciously arty cover. Thankfully, that and a smattering of percussive passages are the only overt traces of 2013’s Love This Giant collab with Mr. Bryne. The rest is pure Annie Clark; transforming, fearless, wary and tireless in pursuit of a unique musical vision. On this fifth album, she nails all that like J.C. on the cross. Or as The Guardian put it, “An artist who has worked out exactly what she wants to do, and exactly how to do it.”
This collection builds on 2011’s Strange Mercy, the album on which Clark managed to channel her usual avalanche of ideas into a clutch of finicky, quirky and very relatable post-pop songs. Her most reliable source of creative dynamic, the contrast between the watercolour vocals and the shred-infused guitar lines, serve her well here too, only this time, the guitar magic comes down in short sharp bursts. The sense of restraint is palpable, generating its own kind of tension as we wait for her to bust out. And wow, in some songs, she just never does.
“Huey Newton” is like that, coming in on an angular, fuzzed out, barely contained riff, Annie goes to snarling snd setting the stage for a nuclear guitar explosion. Instead, the tune’s dark menace and sense of foreboding comes courtesy of a finely tuned vocal performance and wall to wall bass lines. This sense of coiled restraint shows up in the lyrics as well.