February 2015

Proudly Canadian: The Mynah Birds

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Submitted by Cashbox Canada
Source: Wikipedia
Photo: The Summer of 1965

 The Mynah Birds were a Canadian R&B band formed in Toronto, Ontario, that was active from 1964 to 1967.  Although the band never released analbum, it is notable as featuring a number of musicians who went on to have successful careers in rock, folk rock and funk.

Over its short lifespan, the group featured a large number of artists in its many different configurations. Its most memorable lineup included Rick James (who later had a solo career in funk music), Rickman Mason, John Taylor and Neil Young and Bruce Palmer, both founding members of Buffalo Springfield.   Goldy McJohn and Nick St. Nicholas would later become members of the rock band Steppenwolf. Also, a late-running 1967 version of The Mynah Birds featured heavy rocker Neil Merryweather.

The Mynah Birds grew out of a 1964 group called the Sailorboys, fronted by Jimmy Livingston and also including guitarist Ian Goble, drummer Rick Cameron, organist  Goldy McJohn and bass player Nick St. Nicholas.

Sean Webster & The Dead Lines See It Through

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Submitted by Iain Patience

This is the fifth release in about ten years from Webster, who spent a good few years in Australia but was finally tempted back into the studio in 2013 to record this excellent ten-track album.
Two of his previous efforts, the debut 'Long Time Coming' (2004) and follow-up 'If Only', both won critical acclaim with Webster being tipped for great things. Instead, the Brit seems to have adopted a less ambitious and quieter life Down Under for some years. Given his musical pedigree and style, however, it appears clear that any suggestion of a quiet life is far from likely and with 'See It Through' Webster again throws his hat into the ring with considerable flair.

This is good-time rock-blues with a raucous feel, driving energy and high-energy soloing from a guy who is not afraid to fly high.  Webster's guitar soars and sings - it even sighs, when required - with polished licks aplenty and remarkable riffs. His voice is powerful, growling and gutsy. And his songwriting skills are evident here with a maturity and virility that matches his driving vocal delivery.

All in all 'See It Through' is a very fine bit of work featuring an accomplished musician in his prime, clearly enjoying a return to the stage and the studio.


G2R - One Band’s Pursuit of Genesis Prog Rock Perfection


Submitted by Lenny Stoute

Douglas Chase is doubly blessed. The lifelong musician couples the technical skills of a master of his craft with the soul of a poet. Good thing too, as he reckons the two qualities are essential for correct replications of the music of Genesis. The music of Genesis, its performance and propagation is what the keyboards supremo is all about.

Doug "Professor" Chase has been playing keys almost all his life. He began his studies at the Royal Conservatory in Toronto passing through Grade 10, then onto the University of Regina to graduate with Distinction in Performance on Piano with a minor in composition while winning performance and composition competitions along the way and a CBC debut. He had the privilege of taking jazz workshops with Frank Mantooth, Don Thompson and even bought Doug Riley's L100 and studied jazz briefly at Humber College. He’s recorded with Double Juno award winner Derek Miller, opened for Shania Twain, The Black Crowes with Stone River in front of 20,000 people, the currently unpopular Bill Cosby and Aaron Lines to name but a few. His heart though lies in Progressive rock and is humbled to be able to step up to the piano bench of the great Genesis music.

So when dude drops some musical wisdom it’s well founded. On the phone from his Kitchener-Waterloo area digs, he frames it like so. “The music is quite complex, also quite accessible. It brings multiple layers of satisfaction and enjoyment to the table. So many elements of what goes into popular music come together in the music of Genesis.”

Jimmy Webb Oh What a Tuneful Web He Wove

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Submitted by Don Graham

When I left for Hugh’s Room in Toronto on Sunday night the temperature was a bone chilling 38 below zero with the wind chill. My thoughts were that Jimmy Webb would be disappointed with the low turnout for his scheduled show with people figuring it was just too cold to head out. When I arrived at the venue at 7:15 pm for an 8:30 pm curtain call, I opened the front door I couldn’t believe what I saw. The room was packed, standing room only and the mood was warm and expectant. Such is the mettle and dedication of Jimmy Webb fans. The table sitting next to us had seen Jimmy four previous times and couldn’t wait to hear him again.

Jimmy Webb made his way to the stage at 8:30 pm and started off the set with the 1977 hit “The Highwayman” and for the hour and a half plus that followed he held the audience with his stories and string of hits. It’s hard to believe that he only sang seven full numbers in his set but each one was a gem and the story behind the song was as interesting as hearing the song itself. I couldn’t help but think of the great American backporch philosopher Will Rogers while listening to Jimmy spin his tales. The story of a young Okie boy driving the tractor with his transistor radio dangling from the umbrella. “For those of you too young to remember transistor radios, they were like the iPhone of the day. It was a miracle. You could take a radio station with you wherever you went,” Webb told the crowd.

George Shovlin Blues Band: Got Blues…If You Want It

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Submitted by Iain Patience

Shovlin hails from the North East of England. Blues music seems to course through his veins. This album is a simply marvelous mix of old traditional numbers given a singularly individual and fresh lick of paint and colour.

Tracks included in this 13-track self-produced release include classic blues masterpieces from Blind Boy Fuller, Lightnin' Hopkins, Skip James, Furry Lewis, Leadbelly, Muddy Waters, Jimmy Rodgers and Jimmy Witherspoon. All are given a fabulously refreshing make-over, with some striking guitar cover and gravel pit vocals.

Shovlin and his band are clearly aware of the limits of blues norms and unafraid to break the mould and push ahead, beyond the usual constricting confines of traditional form and structures that these revered classics normally generate. And while the usual twelve-bar blues proliferates, the originality of the musical interpretations make this an inspired and inspiring recording.

Coming from the region that produced Eric Burden and the Animals many moons ago, it's hardly surprising to find Shovlin also pushing the blues boundaries to the limit and beyond. This is one of those rare things, a cracking album of classic  traditional blues played with enormous flair, confidence and originality.