The pride of Pembroke, Ontario, Canada, Jason Blaine, is about to break new ground with a new album (his 6th) and it is arguably his best to date. The album, Country Side, was released last week in conjunction with a new single, Spotlight. We caught up with Jason, who has been living in Nashville, Tennessee for nine years now. “I feel so blessed to be able to do what I love, in a town that I love surrounded by people I love, my wife and three kids.”
The road to success has been a long one for Jason but he has stayed the course, remaining true to himself and his music and he couldn’t have done it alone and lovingly acknowledges the support of his wife. “I remember when we first moved to Nashville 9 years ago , my wife held down the fort in our little apartment with our baby girl while I pounded the streets of town trying to get a deal. It took about a year but it finally came together. I couldn’t have done it without her.”
Barry Stagg, singer/songwriter, musician, playwright and musical entrepreneur is a solid example of what tenacity and talent can provide in this ever changing music business.
Born in Montreal, Quebec he graduated from Université de Montréal, and started on his musical path with Tony Green to become Green and Stagg. The duo were signed to Gamma Records out of Montreal under the tutelage of manager Ben Kaye. Their debut single, "To Love Means To Be Free", became an instant hit when released in February 1970. The song won theCanadian Business Music Industrywriting award.Green and Stagg rode the charts for the better part of the early '70s.
Signed to Gamma at the time , they were offered a deal with London Records which had a better reach for them on a distribution level so they made the decision to move to the ill-fated label, which went bankrupt not long after. Stagg would have success with a number of solo releases on RCA before moving to North Carolina where he currently resides with his family.
From 1989 to the present, Barry Stagg is considered a playwright-in-residence for theNosco Academy of Theatre Arts, where he writes scores, operas and stage shows. During that time over 60 musicals were written and composed, covering a wide range of themes.
Ghost in The Machine is launching The Rockin’ Winter Blues Series scheduled to start November 5, 2015 at the famous Rockpile, 5555 Dundas Street West in Etobicoke, Ontario.
The kickoff of the monthly Blues series will feature Canadian Blues Legend, Jack de Keyzer. de Keyser has twice won the prestigious Juno Award, Canada's highest musical honour, and seven times received Maple Blues Awards including Blues Album of the Year in 2000 and the Lifetime Achievement Award in 2001. Real Blues Magazine crowned him Live Act of the Year in 2001, and has twice named him Guitarist of the Year.
The lineup for the first show is impressive, besides Jack de Keyzer ,The Blues Time featuring Alishan Hagopian and Frank Cosentino will perform as well as Jerry Johnson featuring Steve Negus on drums, Flash Teeter and the Men From Mars featuring rising star Paul "Flash" Teeter and the fabulous Max Brand.
On Tuesday October 20th a great Canadian celebration will be presented at the famous Berkeley Church in downtown Toronto. Canadian musicians and dancers from different genres will share the stage at the inaugural presentation of This Land Is Our Land all to benefit McDermott House Canada. McDermott House Canada, MHC, is a foundation started by beloved Canadian tenor John McDermott.
McDermott is known as much for his charitable acts as his career in music and is passionate about giving back to the people who give so much of themselves to make our world a better place.“McDermott House Canadais a registered charity dedicated to Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre - serving those who serve. Our partnership with Sunnybrook continues to be a rewarding one, as we work together to accomplish the transformation of the Palliative Care Unit in K1E Veterans Centre. Our mission is to promote the highest quality of life for Veterans, Military, First Responders and community patients facing the final stage of a terminal illness. We continue to work diligently to raise the money required to accomplish our mission. Celtic SunYour continued help and support is greatly appreciated.” says John McDermott.
Sultans of String definitely colour outside the lines. Their brand of music is refreshingly unique in a captivating and mesmerizing way. The full band consists of two guitars, bass, tablas and fiddle or violin depending on how you look at it, and on the latest album, sitar.
The origin of the band was a duo with McKhool and Laliberte. The two met when Laliberté was a guitarist coming off a tour with Jesse Cook and cross Canada tour with The Chieftains. When McKhool (who has worked with Jesse Cook, Pavlo and Club Django) first heard guitarist Laliberté’s rhumba rhythm their musical meeting was the impetus of the Sultans of String’s sound , the irresistible relationship between the violin and the flamenco guitar. Acoustic strings meet with electronic wizardry to create layers and depth of sound, creating a sound that was uniquely theirs and a sound that was so big it was hard to believe it was coming from just two people.And soon more members were added to fill out the sound. “I wanted to create a band that would keep me as interested as the audience.. it’s got to be fun for me. To have a band that is able to incorporate all these styles; it keeps it really interesting. I think I would get more weary of a project that was just diving into a not creating something special.”
The current lineup consists of Chris McKhool on violin, Kevin Laliberté & Eddie Paton on guitars, on bass Drew Birston and rounded out with Chendy Leon on percussion, Ravi Naimpally on tabla with special guest Anwar Khurshid on sitar.
Julie C. Myers is a talented singer/performer in her own right with a bluesy, rootsy voice and visually dynamic stage show and her solo album “Rock On Fearless Journey” showcases her skills. But her uncanny resemblance to Fleetwood Mac’s Stevie Nicks makes it a natural move to offer that tribute to Stevie as a stage show. “I’ve always entertained, starting with theme parks in my hometown of Memphis and moving on to Las Vegas,”Julie said during a break from rehearsing for her upcoming tour. “I played Vegas as part of “Legends in Concert” show and had my own self -contained show ‘Nearly Nicks’ as well.”
Julie is a southern girl, born and raised in the home of the Delta Blues, Memphis Tennessee, “ best barbeque in the south at the Rendezvous.” and is currently living with her husband just outside of Winnipeg, Manitoba in the Canadian prairies.
Saskatchewan singer/songwriter Alex Runions is making his way the only way he knows how, with hard work, determination and using every bit of the talents he’s been blessed with. “I know how tough this road is but it’s the only road for me to take. I’ve heard it said it takes ten years to become an “overnight” success and I figure I’m about eight years into it. I’m going to keep doing what I do, keep my head down and move forward every day, even if it’s only a little at a time. I will get there.” And if his latest recording is any indication, Runions just took another big step forward down that road.
His sophomore album, South of the City, was recorded at double CCMA award winning studio, MCC Recording Studio in Calgary. The album is a mix of love songs, break up songs and all of the feelings that go in between. With a number of co-writes and two songs solely written by Alex himself, this album is going to have you wrapped up in the emotion and passion that Alex always delivers.
Here is track by track description from Alex Runions himself.
Stacey Lee Guse has been singing for as long she can remember and for a young woman, she has already accomplished a great deal on her musical journey. She has been, and still is, a much sought after session vocalist and has added her creative background vocals to hit albums, radio and television themes,all while working with world class producers like David Foster, J. Richard Hutt, and Jason Barry.
Stacey Lee had a hit single as a duet partner with John Landry, “MyHeart Says Yes (But The Hurt Says No) which was a CCMA nominated duet. She was also a member of the popular Canadian vocal trio Lace with Bev Mahood. “Working with Lace was a great experience for me. We had a lot of National exposure and toured the country, the U.S. and into Europe, and we performed as a part of the George Strait Country Music Festival, the Calgary Stampede and a lot of other North American music festivals. I got to share the stage with legendary artists as well. There was Merle Haggard and The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, to name a couple.” Stacey Lee got to tour with Jason McCoy of The Road Hammers and was featured on his single, "I Lie". She has also backed up numerous other Canadian artists onstage and in studio including Jason Blaine, John Landry, Lace, Michelle Wright, Tonya Kennedy, Jamie Warren and Sean Hogan amongst the list.
In the Beach Village of Toronto , it’s the most wonderful time of the year. No, not the kids going back to school, but the Annual Beach Celtic Festival, Toronto’s only outdoor ceildh in beautiful Kew Gardens. So sing along "At the 12th Celtic Festival: Sandy Graham brought to us; one pipe band piping, Bold Step Dancers dancing, Old Man Flanagan’s Ghost entertaining, Don Graham a-strumming, Caledon County singing, Métis Fiddlers fiddlin’, vendors selling cool stuff, adults and children smiling, and all at a great Scottish price..IT’S FREE.”
There now, you are in the mood to celebrate all things Celtic on September 12th and 13th in the park. Founder, creative director, organizer, talent manager, weather watcher and all around overseer Sandy Graham is all smiles when talking about this year’s presentation.
“Every year I get to honour and celebrate my Mum with this lively gathering that would make her proud. For two days every September Mum is walking the park with us and enjoying the fun, food and music that would remind her of her home in “the old country.” This year we are honoured to dedicate the festival to the loving memory of ‘Big’ Harry MacGregor our loyal and steadfast supporter for many years.”
“Come on people now, smile on your brother, everybody get together, try and love one other right now.” When you hear those words the first voice that comes to mind is Jesse Colin Young. Jesse didn’t write this one, Dino Valenti did, but he sure owns it as his is the definitive version. We caught up with Jesse at his home in Aiken, South Carolina.
“Our record ‘Get Together’ was released in 1967 but it wasn’t a hit until ’69. I guess America wasn’t ready for it ‘til then. So to us it was a two year old record when it broke. But it has been a huge part of my life and career. It was a game changer and a life changer.”
The Youngbloods were Jesse on vocals, bass, Jerry Corbitt, vocals,lead guitar, Lowell ‘Banana’ Levinger on electric piano, guitar and Joe Bauer on drums.The band moved to San Francisco in 1967 during the ‘Summer of Love’. Their debut album, produced by Felix Pappalardi (Cream and Mountain) yeilded another minor hit with ‘Grizzly Bear’ written by Jerry Corbitt. “Corbitt and I formed the band up in Cambridge. I was playing at Club 47 up there and somehow a message was passed to me to not go back to house I was staying at cause the guy I was staying with had sold some dope to an undercover Coast Guard agent. I ended up staying with Corbitt ; we picked and jammed and eventually said “Let’s buy an amp and start a band. When he passed in early 2014 it hit me hard. We always talked about doing something together again, we sounded so good vocally, a sweet blend, but it never happened."