Railroad Steele was born out of the need to feed the musical soul. Created in 1989 by lead guitar player Laurence Massicotte and lead vocalist/keyboardist Glenda Massicotte it has become a vehicle for many players to hone their skills. Located mid way between Sudbury and Sault Ste Marie Ontario, the members are spread amongst the treasured little communities (Iron Bridge to Massey) we call the Walford Station. Many players from the region had got their start with us and will always be remembered as part of the group. The band has changed its genre several times playing everything from classic country to classic rock with their own original tunes which makes for a crowd pleasing experience. Railroad Steele has opened for recording artist April Wine, The Stampeders, The Bright Brothers, and has shared the stage with the likes of Kim Mitchell, Honeymoon Suite, Prism, Glass Tiger, Colin James, Coney Hatch, Carol Baker, Graham Townsend and many incredible artist along the way.
‘On the Verge of A Good Day’ has a great clear vocal, with a repetitive guitar lick that sticks in your head, with a feeling we all embrace of being on the verge of a good day.
The second track rocks it out with ‘Looking Back at You and Me’, a reflective song with survival and love while ‘Life After Love’ could be the follow-up to this track, with Jenny Massicotte delivering a tasteful vocal.
‘Dreaming’ rounds out the vocals with steady harmonies and reminds you of the same feel of ‘No Time Left for You’ with a Guess Who flavor while ‘Do You Believe in UFO’s’ is a playful tune talking about aliens and the reality that they might just be among us.
‘Back on Track’ has a bluesy feel with Allman Brothers style guitar sounds, and Gracie Slick vocals.
Once again Railroad Steele addresses the love gone bad song with ‘Did What I Had to Do’ and
Thirsty Boots, Violets of Dawn, Close The Door Lightly When You Go and I Shall Go Unbounded, all classic and age resistant songs and all written by the same man, Eric Andersen.
In the sleeve notes of a compilation album titled "Violets of Dawn". Andersen is quoted as saying that "Leonard Cohen once came up to me and said 'I'm a poet and never thought of writing songs until I heard 'Violets of Dawn' and then I began to write songs.”Kris Kristofferson liked my sexy songs, my love songs...It helped him write the kinds of things he did in Nashville like 'Help Me Make it Through the Night". Nice!
“There were only a handful of us in the Village doing that at the time, writing our own songs. There was a lot of folk singers but not a lot of actual songwriters. But they started gravitating there. Joni Mitchell. Ian and Sylvia. Leonard Cohen for example started drifting in,” Andersen explained by phone from his home in Holland. Talking to Eric I felt like I was talking to a young man. There is an edge to his voice, a spirit that still burns bright even after 50 years of plying his trade. An intelligence in his answers, a thoughtful pause before giving his view on something. Not a weary bone in his body and despite the legacy of music he has already created, Eric is nowhere close to being done. He will always be a “seeker”. He is still writing songs, writing a book and has a documentary set for release this year titled ‘The Songpoet’.
Twelve short months ago, Florida-based Selwyn Birchwood and his band had just won the International Blues Challenge in Memphis, Tennessee. He had a self-produced album out on the streets and was playing mostly local gigs, trying all the time to break into a wider global audience. The IBC award helped push the boundaries for him and last July he played one of the USA’s most popular and significant blues festivals, The Portland Waterfront Blues Fest in Oregon. It seemed clear then that this was a guy and a band destined for greater things.
Fast-forward and the band is now signed to Bruce Iglauer’s Chicago Alligator label with a great new CD, ‘Don’t Call No Ambulance’, under their belt and international accolades flowing in.
The IBC award was joined by Selwyn also taking the 2013 Albert King Guitarist of the Year Award. Two renowned accolades that many bands and players would virtually kill for! But despite this international acclaim, there remained a need to push at the doors of venues and festivals. Selwyn himself acknowledges the struggle while agreeing that the IBC awards helped him gain a toe-hold in hitherto closed doors.
‘Winning the IBC was huge for us. I wouldn’t say that it ‘opened’ as many doors as it UNLOCKED them. A great starting point, being a relatively obscure band from Florida, it was hard to grab peoples’ attention outside our home state. We had been touring throughout Florida for the past 5 or 6 years and people down home knew of us and received us openly, but I found out really quickly that getting work away from home was a huge challenge. After we won the IBC, people were more willing to take a second look at us and that’s all we needed. Once people actually saw us perform, we didn’t have too much of a problem. It was a matter of getting our foot in the door. Once we were able to do that, then I was wanting to kick it open!’
BK: Your new album is called “Hollywood Boulevard”, tell me something about it. Raoul: It’s funny, I spent a lot of the year as an actor going back and forth to Los Angeles cause we all kind of get on the ‘dream train’ and head down there to see what happens. Years ago, I was sitting in LA X when I just started to go down to the shuttle where the area is for rental cars, when I see this guy. He looks familiar and I say, “Man, that’s Max Weinberg. I swear to God, I did that thing where I looked at his luggage tag and I see M. Weinberg. We get on the same Rent-a car-shuttle and I say, “Hey Max, how’s it going?” We start to talk and he is an incredibly nice guy. I asked why he was there and he said, “Well, you know, I’m just looking for work and trying to stay in the loop.” This is while he’s on TV everywhere and Conan’s show.
BK: He’s still looking for work. Raoul: Yeah, and he said, “I like to come to L.A. every once in a while to keep my hat in the ring and see what’s going on. You don’t come here and waste time, you network and talk to people, it’s a good thing to do.
I thought, “Man, if Max Weinberg is coming to LA every once in a while, I’d better do this too.” So that means over the years I’ve come to L.A. a lot. Sometimes, I only go 2 or 3 weeks a year, and sometimes I stay 9 or 10 weeks. That whole time, I’m looking for auditions, meeting agents. I started to get in the music scene cause many of the great contemporary blues people that I love are based in the whole California region. There are a lot of white American artists who had that opportunity to play with and collaborate with many of the masters, particularly in California. Those guys didn’t embrace, as strongly, the blues rock tradition. They were more traditional.
Every day we all wake up to another flood of new music, churned out by insomniac elves while we slumber. Given this musical monsoon, it’s inevitable that some really good stuff will be swept away along with the froth, to exist thereafter only in the memory of the few who experienced them. Such was the fate of The Story on the Road to Waterloo, the vampire-centric punk country opera released by genre mastermind Buddy Black to a climate of, for the most part, chilly indifference. However, the scatterlings who picked up on it were enough in number and enthusiasm that over time, The Story on the Road to Waterloo has achieved a certain cult status.
Which is just not enough for Buddy Black. The cult thing is nice but dude believes his opus deserves a wider hearing. This is about to happen when Buddy Black & the Ghost Umbrellas roll out The Story on the Road to Waterloo Thurs. Oct. 2 at The Cameron House.
“Simply, I think it’s the best thing I’ve done yet. It’s the kind of thing that sticks with you. I know I’m not alone in this; people who’ve heard it say it’s their absolute favourite of everything I’ve ever done. It’s beautiful, tragic and harrowing and both the story and the music have a purity of feeling. The problem with the initial release was poor distribution due to a number of obstacles. I feel I’m now in a position to reach a wider audience, spring boarding from the cult following.”
The timing’s right as there’s also a wider, more appreciative audience for all things vampire, so the project should benefit from this. The EP’s theme derives from the 1988 horror cult classic ‘Chillers’, from the scary mind of Daniel Boyd, a movie very dear to Buddy’s heart.