July 2014

The Sand in My Shoes Terry Gomes

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What better to review on a weekend when everyone should be having some fun in the sun. The Sand in My Shoes is an EP from Ottawa-based Terry Gomes, who is a guitarist influenced by smooth jazz and a Latin American flavor.

This is his 5th recording, and credits much of his influences on his upbringing and musicial inspirations. “Growing up in a Guyanese family, I was exposed to a lot of Caribbean-based music, including calypso and a variety of other music from South America and Latin America. I have played many genres of music, but after the passing of my father and uncle, I moved into a type of music and recording that would have made them proud.”

Gomes studied classical guitar and modern composition at the University of Ottawa. He graduated with an Honours degree and went on to teach guitar for a decade, while performing in various bands.

‘Look Alive’ opens up the EP, and is a timeless song, with smooth guitar lines and slick percussion, ‘Hey Sweet Shirley’ shows the folk/rock influence of Gomes earlier days, ‘Tradewinds’ is truy the jewel on the recording; for anyone who has walked the beach watching a Caribbean sunset, this is it. ‘On The Pier’ is a great production of simple guitar and tasteful percussions, and the closing track ‘Hide and Seek’ brings the whole production together, once again showing the true experience of great musicians.

Astrid Young-One Night at Giant Rock’ll Change Ya

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Submitted by Lenny Stoute

“The desert leaves its mark on you.”  Astrid Young’s cheery tones are coming at me from Picton, Ontario but the conversation is steeped in the deserts of the American South-West. The multi-faceted lady’s in the middle of rehearsal for a clutch of upcoming gigs, in support of current album, One Night at Giant Rock. This fourth solo outing’s a big deal for a whole lot of reason, not the least of which is the fact it’s a co-production with Violent Femmes’ drummer Victor DeLorenzo.

“I’ve always been a huge fan of the Femmes and I was thrilled to meet Victor. We hit it off from the first time we met in San Fran. Once the idea came up of working together, he was right into it. With the Femmes busy schedule and mine, it took a couple of years to get it done, which was good in that it gave us a lot of time to get it just right. As collaborations go, working with Victor was the perfect balance of skill sets. He’s the master arranger so it came down to I brought the songs and he brought the sound.”

Judging by the critical reaction and the ever-growing added tour dates, they all done good. As Astrid recently remarked in an interview, “"People come to my shows thinking I play Neil Young songs. It was very difficult becoming a musician in a band because no one really saw past that connection. It's the reason I left Toronto."

Ghost Hands Across the Player Piano

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Submitted by Bill King

Author of Bill King’s “In Concert!” Essays, Images and Interviews

Delroy Figgins played the Chase Lounge some eighteen years before succumbing to a heart attack while plying the loins of Molly Jarvis in the women’s bathroom.
Figgins celebrated a January birthday, in fact a milestone – number sixty.

Throughout the near two decades, Figgins earned an honest reputation as the man who could play any song from any era – right or left-handed in any key. The trick was to first learn the lyrics then one would never forget the melody.

Art Tatum would occasionally drop by and share a drink and talk repertoire and the two men would play some kind of head game based on ‘stump the audience’.

Figgins praised Tatum as being the only true pianist on the planet who knew every inch of the instrument, even the grooves in the wood frame, the cigarette holes; down to the sostenuto pedal near the floor. He said when Tatum touched a piano it would submit and play mistress and offer him every inch of her flesh without commitment or payback.

Both men had a special version of ‘Tenderly,’ and had it preserved on piano roll.

Piano rolls were popular in houses where folks never understood the instrument or practiced long hours, but liked to entertain when company dropped in. Most times it was rag time music, sometimes a bit of Gershwin – whenever, it had to be fast and impressive.

Johnny Winter’s Last Stand

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Submitted by Iain Patience

Photo Credit:MJM Blues

Johnny Winter was simply one of those guys who was always fixin' to die.  A legendary figure, with a legendary appetite for everything dangerous, he lived  the rock & roller life to the full. Sadly, his last gig, at the wonderfully intimate Cahors Blues Festival in France saw a less than wild, stirring performance. The ghosts were already waiting in the wings.

Winter squinted, in his usual way, at the audience, a rapturous full-house turn out that worshipped the man and his music. Running through a back catalogue of challenging, raw emotion and stylistic, staccato guitar, he wooed the crowd, pulling tricks from his amazing, famous hat with aplomb and clearly, and sadly it seemed at times, difficulty.

Winter was clearly struggling with the high humid temperatures - 34 Celsius - and the demands of an adulating, admiring audience.  His coordination was at times shaky - but it has often been that way, part of his special magic. His voice was also rocky and stretched. But again, what's new? The guy was seventy. Nevertheless, he managed well over an hour under flashing strobes and baking, airless heat on his trembling feet. People were forgiving, happy to see the guy in action, to taste his old personal mojo magic.

Proudly Canadian: The Five Man Electrical Band

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Submitted to Cashbox Canada

The Five Man Electrical Band (originally known as The Staccatos from 1963-68) is a Canadian rock group from Ottawa. They had numerous hits in their native Canada, including the top 10 entries "Half Past Midnight" (1967) (as The Staccatos), "Absolutely Right" (1971) and "I'm a Stranger Here" (1972). Internationally, they are best known for their 1971 hit single "Signs".

The band The Staccatos was formed in Ottawa, Canada in 1963. The band initially consisted of Dean Hagopian (vocals), Vern Craig (guitars), Brian Rading (bass), and Rick Bell (drums/vocals, born Rick Belanger). Hagopian left after about a year, and was replaced by vocalist and guitarist Les Emmerson, who would quickly become the band's prime songwriter, while Bell and Emmerson split lead vocal duties.

The Staccatos made their debut as a recording act in 1965, with their early singles being written by the team of Craig and Emmerson. After releasing a non-charting single on a small independent label, the group signed to Capitol Records of Canada, and their second single, "Small Town Girl", made it into the Canadian top 20. Several follow-ups also cracked the top 40, and The Staccatos were rising stars in their native country. Their debut album, Initially, came out in 1966, and featured their hits to that point as well as several new recordings.

In the summer of 1966, Mike Bell (Rick's brother) joined the group as a second drummer and third vocalist. Shortly thereafter, the group had their biggest hit to date with "Half Past Midnight", which made it all the way to #8 on the Canadian charts. This was the second Staccatos single written solely by Emmerson, who by this point had taken over writing virtually all of the band's original material. Also in 1967, The Staccatos issued a joint album with The Guess Who, each band taking up one side of the LP.