Music

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 rock....an 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 expected.....at 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

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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.

BTW Rococode, Ben Caplan, Reddening West,Lily Frost Slakah The Beatchild, Bombargo, Tanika Charles, Jason Collett

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Submitted by Lenny Stoute

Vancouver-based indie pop duo Rococode's new full-length album 'Don't Worry It Will Be Dark Soon' is just out, and Noisey has a sneak preview with the Exclusive Premiere of the album track 'A Diamond'. Rococode (Laura Smith and Andrew Braun) will also be hitting the road in support of the new album, kicking off a North American Tour Apr. 21st in Edmonton, AB.

The release of 'Don't Worry It Will Be Dark Soon' is hot on the heels of Rococode's critically acclaimed 'Panic Attack' EP which came out last October. It's been four years since Rococode released their debut and now they’re making up for quieter times. The sophomore album features more tracks from the band’s work with producers Caleb Shreve and Ted Gowans, recorded in Vancouver, New York and Los Angeles. 'Don’t Worry It Will Be Dark Soon' picks up where the 'Panic Attack' EP left off and delves deeper into recurring themes of growth, fear, escape and acceptance delivered via pure pop hooks in spacious arrangements. 

Lisa Hartt and Don Graham Bring It Full Circle

Lisa Hartt Photo Credit Pat Blythe A Girl With a Camera

Submitted by Sandy Graham
Photo at right: Lisa Hartt
Photo Credit Pat Blythe "A Girl With a Camera"

They started out in the coffee houses in Montreal in the late 60’s and early 70’s, formed different bands and played the clubs, toured, made records and eventually played better venues with larger crowds. On Sunday March 20th, Lisa Hartt and Don Graham will be under the same roof and sharing a stage at a coffee house as the circle comes round again – full circle.

To complete the Montreal theme, the event will take place at venue run by another Montreal celebrity (Cleveland born) Montreal DJ Michael Williams, who rose to national fame as one of the first VJs at the groundbreaking MuchMusic television network.

Jamey Aebersold – In His Own Words!

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Submitted by Bill King

Early 60’s we turned onto Aebersold Drive and pops parked the station wagon out front of our new music teacher’s small brick bungalow and began what would be a lifetime friendship based on music and basketball.

Aebersold was just wrapping up a degree in saxophone at Indiana University and plotting his future. That future would drive him to originate his version of a ‘Play-A-Long Series’ of jazz standards – some 133 plus recordings since inception in 1967. Along the way, some 40 years of Summer Jazz Workshops and in 2014 Aebersold was honored by the National Endowment of the Arts with the prestigious Jazz Master award.

Through the years I’d make Aebersold Court a mandatory stopover. That meant several games of pick-up basketball on Aebersold’s home court and the customary jam session.

We have people we look for inspiration in our lives – people who keep you straight and aware the only way to achieve your goals is through hard work. Witnessing the octopus like arms of Aebersold binding, licking stamps, fielding telephone calls, taking and placing orders, proof-reading and correcting the pages of the next book caused one feel you weren’t collecting or contributing all you could to each day. Aebersold did this all while gigging, teaching and serving his community in so many ways. Humility is key here!  There’s none of this self - bravado – no – “I’m the greatest bullshit” – just do the work – play the chords, scales and solve problems.

BTW Jim Bryson, Ron Hawkins, Hollow Hand, Little Scream, Elliott Vincent Jones, Basia Bulat.

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Submitted by Lenny Stoute
Photo: Jim Bryson

Jim Bryson played 3 sold out shows at Quitters Coffee Shop in Stittsville to celebrate the release of his anticipated new album 'Somewhere We Will Find Our Place.' While relatively unknown in the mainstream, Quitters has considerable clout among music folk, being owned and operated by another roots star, Kathleen Edwards, currently on retirement from the biz. Which made the sellout pretty much a slam dunk.

Exclaim.ca premiered the new video for the track The Depression Dance, and check CBCMusic.ca for an exclusive First Play of the album, which is available through the usual dealers.

To bring this record to life, Jim elicited the help of Charles Spearin (Do Make Say Think, Broken Social Scene) and Grammy Winner Shawn Everett (Alabama Shakes) to flesh out and rethink how songs would and could be presented. "Somewhere We Will Find Our Place is about change, about trying new things. It's the soundtrack to moving back home, building a shed, breaking a leg, and finding a stability. Plus hope and optimism."

Upcoming Show Info:
February 25, The Burdock, Toronto, ON (Early)
February 25, The Burdock, Toronto, ON (Late)

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