Like a real-life character out of Bruce McDonald’s classic film Hard Core Logo, Scott Earl Hardy has played the same dives across Canada more times than he’d care to mention, been on the wrong end of too many bad deals, and survived his share of near-death experiences. Yet, through it all, he never lost his passion for writing and performing rock and roll in its most dangerous form.
Hearing Hardy’s new album, Love Kills Slow, without knowing any of this, one could easily assume that its go-for-broke arrangements and no-holds-barred lyrics were the work of an artist at least half Hardy’s age. But deep within these grooves lies punk rock’s original promise, fulfilled by music only someone with Hardy’s credentials could create.
Love Kills Slow is a collection of the best tracks Hardy has recorded over the past few years at producer John Dinsmore’s Toronto studio, Lincoln County Social Club. Dinsmore also contributed scorching lead guitar, after laying the foundation on bass with his NQ Arbuckle rhythm section mate Mark Kesper on drums.
Alt-rockers, The Balconies, have had a banner season already with the release of their epic new album, Rhonda, and have kicked off their fall tour that will take them across the country through November and December. Now, with their adopted-hometown Toronto show set to hit the stage at Lee’s Palace tonight, the group is excited to share the next piece of Rhonda – a stunning music video for the title track. Watch the story unfold here.
“Finding balance is a challenge for everyone,” says frontwoman, Jacquie Neville. “How do we find time to be social, creative, alone and reflective, and also find time to make a living? As musicians, it’s difficult to find a balance between doing what you really want, and what you need to in order to survive. We consider it very important to do things that fuel our passion, and inspire and empower us. RHONDA, our heroine, struggles to achieve equilibrium in her life: she wants to reject working a traditional job, but fears of uncertainty, and her insecurities, hold her back.”
This week, it's a righteously mixed bag. First off, the re-release of Ween's seminal release, GodWeenSatan, and its genesis, as remembered by Dean Ween (Mickey Melchiondo).
“They say you only get one chance to make your first record and that's very true. The thing with Ween though, we had already been together for a while by the time our debut album, GodWeenSatan, was initially released, and had amassed a TON of tunes. I hadn't thought of GWS as a new album, but more of a "greatest hits" of our first six years together.”
"GWS was re-released by Restless Records on September 11, 2001 - a day that lives in infamy. We had planned a show at our local bar, John and Peter's in New Hope, PA, on September 14 to celebrate the reissue. If you are old enough to remember 9/11, you remember the feeling of dread and that things would never be the same, ever. We didn't know whether to cancel the gig or not, but ultimately decided that we shouldn't let the tragedy affect our plans.”
Submitted by Lenny Stoute Photo at right: Debra-Jean Creelman
Vancouver's Debra-Jean Creelman is making a name in Americana roots circles for her singing and songwriting. An accomplished singer having found success early with Canadian indie pop act Mother Mother, Debra went on to focus on her solo career in 2008. She's also lent her voice to a bevy of notable Canadian artists, including Frazey Ford, the Wooden Sky, the Crackling, Louise Burns, Aidan Knight, Dustin Bentall, and Pugs and Crows. For the Railtown Sessions, Debra-Jean steps to the left of the folk/roots idiom and brings an ethereal quality to the collection. On "Midnight Sun" her voice pierces a wall of fuzz reminiscent of 50's doo-wop and 60's psychedelia. "Up in Smoke" winds its way in a meditative fashion while "Maybe They Were Right" brings grit and swagger. She sings "It's so hard to speak my heart, when my mind is breaking" on the slow burning "In the Dark", full of vulnerability. All in all, the swelling distortion and strong yet delicate vocals of Debra's Session echo the howl of the locomotives grinding their way out of Railtown.
Koerner Hall- Various Artists Submitted by Lenny Stoute
For their tenth anniversary production of the UnCovered series, the folks at Up Stage Theatre went uptown to Koerner Hall to stage the potentially tangy UnCovered: Queen & Bowie. That potential was not often realised as the storyline offered many occasions on which, rather than a clash of creative views, we had consensual arrival at a soft middle ground.
But you don't go to Uncovered for strong storylines, you're there for the music and on that front, the cast and band delivered the goods. The strong line-up offered Brent Carver (Tony Award-winner), Divine Brown (Juno Award-winner), Melissa O’Neil (Canadian Idol-winner, Broadway’s Les Miserables), Sara Farb (Stratford Festival), Maev Beaty (Stratford Festival), Gabe Grey (Beeba Boys, Bomb Girls), Andrew Penner (Sunparlour Players, Soulpepper), Kelly Holiff (Charlottetown Festival), Robert Markus (Stratford Festival, Shaw Festival), Arinea Hermans (2016 Banks Prize Winner) and Jahlen Barnes (2016 Banks Prize Winner).
As befitting the theatricality of the material, they were backed by an orchestra of piano, violin, cello, guitar, bass and percussion, which made for intricate layering of sounds absent from the originals. Full marks for creating unique arrangements tailored to the story within each song's lyrics.
With the two towering catalogues of Bowie and Queen to work from, there was no shortage of killer story songs in the set, though 'Killer Queen' wasn't one of them.
Jen Lane and John Antoniuk are coming back to Eastern Canada for a fall tour and it looks like a lot of audiences are going to get to enjoy this heart-warming, down-to-earth couple right in their own hometown.
In celebration of Jen Lane’s latest record being released on vinyl, the Saskatoon couple has almost back-to-back-to-back dates all over Ontario and Quebec starting from November 1 and continuing right through to November 29. There are shows booked in Guelph, Orillia, Gravenhurst, Oakville, Wakefield, Montreal and the town of Durham in Grey-Bruce.
They are also continuing their twice-yearly residency at the Cameron House, the warm and cozy venue in downtown Toronto that just celebrated its 35th Anniversary. You’ll find John opening things up at 8 pm every Tuesday in November, followed by a long and lovely set by Jen Lane and her band.
Jen’s latest video is for the title track of her latest album, “This Life of Mine”. It’s a glimpse into the recording process and the studio where it was recorded, complete with very adorable alpacas. Here is the link to that video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GTMzaS4MbdA
For details on the full eastern Canada tour, as well as more videos and streaming songs, visit Jen’s web page at jenlane.com
Singer-songwriter Megan Bonnell is currently on a cross Canada tour this fall with Great LakeSwimmers. Hitting up five of the provinces, the tour will see Megan perform solo for crowds from Sudbury, Winnipeg, Calgary, Nelson, Saskatoon, and Sault Ste. Marie, to name a few. The tour kicked off Monday, October 24th and to get her fans pumped for the show Bonnell`s released a stunning acoustic video performance of her song, Broken Hearted Avenue, off her current releaseMagnolia, a lush instropective discourse of an album.
"I love that this tour takes us winding around Lake Superior, across the prairies, and into the mountains. Everything seems to fit perfectly together on this run. The Great Lake Swimmers every night; in churches and small towns. I feel very lucky." Megan continues, "Fall is such a reflective time of year, and to witness the way it takes hold differently in each province, is really poetic to me. It makes me feel inspired to be playing each night under these wonderful circumstances."
Eric Andersen, one of the founding fathers of the great American Folk Family, continues to evolve and reinvent himself. It’s as though he has an unquenchable thirst to create new works and adapt the works of other literary icons of the past. For me that is the mark of a true artist, constantly moving the finish line and looking for new ways to express himself and not fearful of taking the great works of others and translating them into song in his own undeniable fashion.
And that is just what he has done with Albert Camus, the great French-Algerian 20th Century philosopher. The paintings of Oliver Jordan were what first inspired Eric to reinvestigate the works of Albert Camus which in turn inspired him to write the songs for The Shadow and the Light album. Camus, whose productivity was from 1935 until his tragic demise in a car wreck in 1960, was similar to Eric in that they both sought the truth in their words.
Andersen managed to take the text of Camus and expertly transform them into four songs; The Plague,( Song of Denial) The Stranger, (Song of Revenge) The Rebel (Song of Revolt) and The Fall (Song of Gravity). Kind of like Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. Each song is haunting in its content and production with the sincere, honest vocals that have become Eric’s stock in trade.
Good to hear from this crew again. It's been a few years since MONA (Nick Brown, Zach Lindsay, Alex Lindsay, Jordan Young & Justin Wilson) released anything so there\s a palpable excitement around the band and its fans regarding the Oct. 28 unveiling of the six song EP, "In The Middle"
The five piece has seen rejigging and creative tensions since their last release and has come with a renewed sense of purpose and a fresh and vibrant set of newly penned songs that may very well be the best of their career. MONA recently gave fans a sneak peak of what they've been working on.
"We have always been a tight knit group, but the vibe is the best it's been and we are looking forward to bringing these songs to the public," says front man Nick Brown. The band is currently preparing to join fellow label mates - The Wombats - as special guests on the second leg of their North American Tour for a handful of exclusive shows that will run until the first week of October. The first show kicks off on Tuesday, September 27th in Denver. In addition to the series of dates with The Wombats, Mona will be opening for July Talk on their North American Tour later this fall. The tour will run through mid-December.
Submitted by Iain Patience Photo: L-R Jim Cuddy, Bonnie Dobson, Gordon Lightfoot
With a hand cupped to an ear the echoing whisper can almost be heard: '……Who?.... Bonnie who?…..Bonnie Dobson….who?,' as it filters through the hall. A strange state of affairs indeed, because Bonnie Dobson is one of music's true survivors, a lady with a gorgeous, glorious voice that over half a century since her emergence in New York's nascent folk-music scene, still glints like gold.
Originally from Toronto, Canada, Dobson worked the incipient US folk scene alongside Judy Collins and Joan Baez, and was ranked by Time Magazine as one of the top three folk-musicians and singers in 1960s USA alongside them.
She played all the famed haunts, now steeped in legend and musical myth and folklore, hanging out in Gerde's Folk City, The Gaslight, The Bitter End. The lady toured extensively with Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee, Mississippi John Hurt, and worked with Pete Seeger, Reverend Gary Davis, Lightnin' Hopkins, Artie and Happy Traum - always working her way and looking astutely around the world surrounding her as she wrote songs of love and loss and prescient, at times disturbing, thought.