March 2016

CW Ayon: Enough To Be Proud

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Submitted By Iain Patience

This is an 11-track album drawing strongly and positively on the renowned blues music of the Mississippi hills. CW, or Cooper, Ayon is a part-Cherokee native American from New Mexico who wields a guitar with purpose while beating out a rhythm with his free feet on drum and cymbal – a one-man band of some note and compleity with a wayward and deceptively simple guitar style that more than hints at his musical pedigree and love of the Deep South blues tradition.

The overall feel of this recording is decidedly acoustic while the actual fretwork leans to the light, soulful electric playing style of late – period pickers like Texas wizard   Lightnin’ Hopkins, albeit hitting it here as a one-man-band!

The one-man-band format seems to be going through something of a rebirth at the moment, gaining new fans and popularity with a new wave of music lovers.

Ayon is quickly establishing himself as an international master of the style and Enough To Be Proud is a mighty fine addition to that particular musical cannon.

A style that relies heavily of necessity on open guitar tunings, this album is a splendid example of just how good  well-worn tradition can be when played with passion and spirit.

Greg Keyes Keyes To The Highway

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Submitted by Don Graham

Back in the golden days, a hot young guitar picker would start a band with his buddies, play the pubs and bars 6 nights a week and make a name for himself and his band. Not to mention get incredible chops from playing live and often. Young kids like Clapton, Jimmy Page and that ilk did just that. But in this modern age of not many paying gigs to play for bands what does a young gunslinger do?

Well Toronto’s “hot as a pistol” young gun, Greg Keyes, seems to have it under control. “I moved to L.A. to check out the music scene there but there wasn't as many opportunitiesas there were at home.  When I came back to Toronto I realized that on any given night I could see a multitude of different kinds of live music, funk, ska, rock or country. So I thought I should become adept at lots of different types of music. There were lots of people playing music but not a lot of money so I saw an ad on Craigslist looking for a fulltime country guitar player. I didn’t know much country but started listening to guys like Brett Mason and I rented a Telecaster and auditioned. I got the gig with Lindsay Broughton and really enjoy playing that style.”

Little Richard: Bronze Liberace

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Submitted by Bill King

I woke up this morning to a great shot of Little Richard rocking the piano and ‘bop a lula’in’ - “Long Tall Sally” back in ’56, courtesy all those clip-diggers on Facebook. What’s remarkable about this vintage black and white is the band is solid African American - front loaded with saxophones and scattered about - a “bippy crowd” – corner to corner smiley white folks. Those be the days my friends. This got me thinking about a gig I dig back in the early seventies at Queen’s University when my band was the opening act.

It's been decades since I've smoked a bowl of hashish, and none finer than the one I shared in January of 1971 with Little Richard, the Bronze Liberace.

At that time, I was the keyboardist and vocalist with Homestead, a Toronto act that had caught the attention of Guess Who producer Jack Richardson in 1970.
Our Homestead concerts were testimonials against the Vietnam War and protests over degradation of the environment. I wore more Canadian flags than springtime on Parliament Hill. Jack understood my position and my opposition to the war. He just rolled with the situation, doing all he could do to rectify it--although I made his task nearly impossible.

We were invited to do a 7:30 pm set at Queen’s University, opening for Little Richard. The stage was outfitted with humongous Traynor speakers. Back then they were cheap, with a sound quality like stampeding caribou when fully exercised.

Proudly Canadian: David Wiffen

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Submitted by Cashbox Canada
Source: Rock Pop & Folk Music Rick James
Photo: David Wiffen 1970's UA Promo Shot

Born in England in 1942, singer/songwriter David Wiffen came to Canada when he was a teenager. He began his singing career at the folk club The Village Corner on Pears Avenue in Toronto, Canada. He later hitchhiked across Canada and ended up in Calgary where he briefly managed The Depression Coffeehouse.

In 1965, he was invited to play with other artists at the Bunkhouse folk house in Vancouver, for a session that was also going to be recorded for an album. David was the only one who showed up. The recording session ended up being a solo album called ‘David Wiffen Live at the Bunkhouse’. He then played with The Pacers from Northern British Columbia and when they were offered a record deal in Montreal, Quebec, David Wiffen followed them east. The record deal, however, fell through and he then went to Ottawa, where he joined one of the first Canadian folk/rock bands, The Children, composed of Bill Hawkins, Bruce Cockburn, ‘Sneezy’ Waters, Neville Wells, Sandy Crawley and Richard Patterson. (formerly of The Esquires)

Red Dirt Skinners Behind The Wheel

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Submitted by Iain Patience

The fourth studio album from the Red Dirt Skinners, an English husband and wife duo featuring Rob Skinner on guitar and his partner Sarah on Soprano Sax, is a welcome addition to the bands catalogue. Strong on harmony and driving, rhythmic fretwork from Rob, the whole project is driven forward by Sarah’s searing sax playing and innate sense of musical freedom.

The collection of nine self-written songs serves well to highlight the couple’s ability and a growing confidence evidenced in the maturity of the writing and the music itself. Genres and musical boundaries are pushed aside with a refreshing ease. Switching effortlessly from blues and jazz undertones to Americana and modern-country, the Skinners wheel and deal as they change tempo, pace and styles at almost every turn. This is not a band for die-hard, stuck in the groove, traditionalists.

With a lengthy forthcoming tour of Canada about to kick-off (March 25th) the Skinners are making their second trip to Canada and revel in the adrenalin-fuelled challenge of live performance. The only outfit in the UK to have picked up national awards in both blues and country music categories, the Red Dirt Skinners are a genuinely, sparkling and refreshing antidote to the world of musical blandness. The opening, title track is an excellent, rolling, lyrical number that is virtually guaranteed to keep you tuned in for the remainder of the ride. Highly recommended.