Jesse Winchester Let The Smooth Side Show

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Submitted by Don Graham

Photo Credit: Pierre Millette 

The second annual Jesse Winchester tribute show Seems Like Only Yesterday was held last weekend at the legendary Toronto listening venue, Hugh’s Room. Founder and creator Bill McKetrick, a talented musician/songwriter/singer in his own right, put together a diverse and talented lineup for this event. As he explains, "The Jesse Winchester Tribute concert is a labour of love for everyone involved. Both a love of the man and a love of the music. All of us consider it an honour to be able to continue the tradition of Jesse Winchester at Hugh's Room, where he was the first person to perform when the club opened in April 2001, and performed every April until the year before his passing. The participation of his son, Lee, is just that little extra bit of connective tissue that makes the whole event even more special."

And a special night it was,  the show started with a poignant and moving version of Jesse’s beautiful “Defying Gravity.” What made it so special was it was sung and played by Bob Cohen, longtime guitarist for Jesse. Bob had actually never sung solo as his mastery on anything stringed was his job with Jesse. But he delivered the tune with poignant grace and you could have heard a pin drop. Bob and I worked together in bands in Montreal before Bob joined forces with Jesse. He  introduced me on this night  and I got to do an old favourite of mine “ Payday” backed by Bob and the multi talented David Woodhead on bass.

BTW- Jenny Berkel, Lost And Profound, Little Miss Higgins, Small World Asian Music Series, Aidan Knight, The Mountain Man, Betty Moon

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Submitted by Lenny Stoute

Montreal based singer/songwriter Jenny Berkel is getting ready to throw the snow tires on in support of her upcoming sophomore album with a Spring tour beginning Apr. 14. Set for release the following day, Pale Moon Kid was recorded with producer Daniel Romano. Steeped in sparkling guitars, sparse piano, pulsing bass, and percussion, this glowing new collection reveals writing that has grown even sharper and more lyrical. Born in the heart of Ontario’s lush forests and fields, Berkel's music has drawn her across the country, experiencing dramatic changes in landscape. This constant shifting finds its rest in her songs, as is the case with album track and first single Wealth In The Country."

“This song came from a stormy autumn spent in a cottage on a farm in southern Ontario,” says Berkel. “The farm was on the very outskirts of the city; to get there, you had to drive down this little gravel road with a high bridge to get over the train tracks. From the top of the bridge, you could see the shape of the suburbs, but from the bottom, you could feel completely enclosed by the forest and fields. The images in this song come from my time there. I love how we recorded this - at its heart, it’s very much a folk song, but the production shifts it into a new and exciting direction.”

Ron Chapman – From the Police, B.B. Gabor to the Forbidden Shore of Cuba

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Submitted by Bill King
Photo: Telmary Diaz and Ron Chapman Miami Film Festival

To know more about who Ron Chapman is and what he’s currently up to – here’s is a bit of bio about the producer/director, musician. Chapman recently appeared as a guest on my CIUT 89.5 interview show, The Bill King Show and we dug back into his history and talked about his passion for film making and affection for Cuba.

Ron Chapman is a lifelong musician, producer, director and entrepreneur. Early in his career he was a musician, managed musical artists, produced albums, and produced and directed rock videos. He owned and operated the legendary, ground-breaking Toronto music club “The Edge”, bringing an eclectic mix of some of the day’s most exciting international acts and artists to the scene. For decades, he has been producing and directing television commercials, working with some of the world’s leading brands.

As a filmmaker, Chapman’s first documentary, “Who the F**K is Arthur Fogel” - CEO of the Global Touring division of Live Nation Entertainment and long time Canadian music promoter – Arthur Fogel – Chapman follows the impresario behind the scenes.

Chapman introduced his latest called, “The Forbidden Shore,” the most in-depth cultural/music documentary ever to come out of Cuba, shot over a 3-year period, with performances from over 60 top Cuban artists and over 80 interviews at the recent Miami Film Festival.

Eric Andersen Trifecta: Andersen, Camus and NYC

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Submitted by Don Graham
Eric Andersen Photo Credit PaoloBrillo

Singer./songwriter/ poet Eric Andersen never met a laurel he wanted to rest on. Although his accomplishments in music as a pioneer of the folk explosion of Greenwich Village in the 60’s left him with a legacy that cemented his name in history, he continues to evolve.

Having written and recorded such classics as Thirsty Boots, I Shall Go Unbounded and Violets of Dawn and later on the amazing songs on Blue River you would think Eric would have enough “laurels” to rest on and bask in those accomplishments. After all he has had songs recorded by Ricky Nelson, Judy Collins, Sandy Denny, Fairport Convention, The Kingston Trio, Peter Paul and Mary, Linda Ronstadt, Johnny Cash, The Grateful Dead, Linda Thompson, Mary Chapin Carpenter, and Francoise Hardy to name a few.But resting is just not in his DNA. In fact when we caught up with him at his home in The Netherlands over the Easter weekend he was planning his latest venture, while he was gardening and working on a new song.

Donna Flynn All About The Voice

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Submitted by Don Graham

It’s not unusual to hear virtuoso musicians talk about the great teachers they had and lessons they took. Be it guitar players, horn players or string instruments, most had some form of lessons or training. And how often have you heard vocalists refer to their voice as their “instrument” ? And yet the majority of pop or country singers don’t take lessons or have any training. The theory seems to be “ I open my mouth and sing.” But how much would singers benefit from a little training? I would venture to say, like any other “instrumentalist”, a lot .

Enter vocal coach Donna Flynn. “ I can help people get the most out of their singing voices by teaching them techniques and exercises that I have studied and are proven. This enables me  to take singers to the  next level,”

Donna grew up in Montreal “I was active in the music and repertory scene as a singer and dancer.” She moved to Toronto where she began a journey of vocal training with vocal coaches in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Nashville and the Royal Conservatory in Toronto, but she felt that none of these were helping her reach the level she was sure she was capable of reaching. She began to realise if she was going to bring out her full voice and individuality she would have to develop it herself. So that’s what set out to do.

Heather Rankin – That Fine Line

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Submitted by Bill King

We’ve visited places and declare never to return or check off a wish list. Then there is the unexpected – a place of authentic magic – a place we develop a surreal affection for. Sometimes it’s just the nature of things – others, the people and surroundings and others – all three. Cape Breton is my north, North America land love.

September 21, 2004 Ivan’s Hurricane force winds tapped Cape Breton. I had the marvellous opportunity to drive the long winding mountainous cliffs that rise over the rolling seas and travel the interior – the Cabot Trail - then hang tight through Hurricane Ivan – play chicken with a fierce ocean and meet the people. It’s the terrain and warm embraces – the picturesque villages that color memories trimmed in the eloquent natural light of a Vermeer painting.

I’ve always appreciated the Rankin’s – that big Celtic tradition. Any chance to rekindle my long distance fondness for the East coast is always a welcomed treat, especially through its people. I caught up with celebrated singer – songwriter and actor, Heather Rankin for a chat about her first solo effort – Fine Line. Here’s a bit of that conversation.

Bill King: Do you still run the Red Shoe Pub?

Heather Rankin: We certainly do.

B.K: I take it’s a seasonal operation – when does it open?

H.R: It opens last weekend in May this year.

B.K: Partners with your other sisters?

Concerts, Class and a Closing

Tim Tamashiro, Reg Schwager, Don Thompson, Ben Heppner.jpg

Submitted by Pat Blythe
Photo Credits: Pat Blythe, A Girl With A Camera "The Picture Taker"
Photo at right: Tim Tamashiro, Reg Schwager, Don Thompson, Ben Heppner

It's been a rather exceptional week for music....jazz, folk, blues, touch of absolutely stellar week and it puts me right over the top. To say I'm delighted is a gross understatement. So let's begin....

Saturday night found me at the Glenn Gould Studio as the guest of Jane Harbury. The show....well, it was not what I all. What a wonderfully entertaining evening. Full of music, stories and laughter, host Tim Tamashiro and tenor Ben Heppner kept us all in stitches and our ears full of beautiful, toe tapping, finger  snapping music. Sam Taylor, you would have been right at home!

BTW Nocona, Slow Talker, Noah Zacharin, Sam Cash & The Romantic Dogs, Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros, Youngblood, Lucinda Williams, Lowest Of The Low, Willie Nile


Submitted by Lenny Stoute

Americana country psych band Nocona's music is based on the family tradition – from The Carter Family and The Louvin Brothers to Willie’s Family Picnic and the cool California breeziness of The Mamas and the Papas. At times the music finds the petulance and power of The Ramones and The Kinks, but it is tradition that comes out on stage every time Nocona bring their traveling circus to town.

Nocona is about energy--a rock band with history. They draw their roots from country, folk, punk and rock, taking the psychedelia of the 13 th Floor Elevators and mashing it up with the Bakersfield sound—Roky and Buck, Love and the Burrito Brothers. They’ve just released their 2 nd studio album, Long Gone Song, from which muso blog, Moxipop call Nocona, “…one of the most promising frontrunners of the Americana revival scene as of late.”

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.

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