Music

The Rhythm Express Soul Explosion ‘69

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Submitted by Cashbox Canada

The first edition of Rhythm Express recorded a mixture of Latin, funk and soul jazz on a disc titled Beat Street, becoming a popular entity on Real Jazz - Sirius/XM and CBC radio in 2008.

The band played a few gigs and laid dormant until a life revival when recent Reggae Hall Fame inductee, drummer Everton ‘Pablo’ Paul invited Bill King to lay keyboards on an album of instrumentals featuring eighty-three year guitarist and ska/reggae pioneer Ernest Ranglin: Ernest Ranglin at Side Door Records; December 2014.

King and Paul rekindled their musical collaboration dating back to 1973-1976 when they recorded the funk instrumental, “Sawbuck” and “Nothing’s Gonna to Take You Away,” featuring vocalist/guitarist Wayne McGhie. “Nothing’s Gonna Take You Away,” was updated when Buffalo native Deborah Ash added her pastoral lyrics and reconfigured melody to the verses and was then covered by soul empress, Chaka Khan on the recording “Naughty,” for Warner Music. King, Paul and McGhie scored another song placement with “Streetwalker,” as part of the soundtrack to the iconic Canadian film, “Outrageous,” staring female impersonator Craig Russell.

King’s 70’s band was an integral part of the growing popularity of reggae in the Toronto music scene. The band played the El McCambo, the Jarvis House and numerous college and university gigs throughout southern Ontario; even an appearance on Keith Hampshire’s Music Machine in 1974.

Jessica Mitchell Grown Up Things

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Submitted by Don Graham

Country music has always been known for its ability to tell a story in song, reach into a bag of emotions and present it in a musical way that touches hearts and souls. While it’s well known that lately a good number of the so called “bro-country” hits that have saturated the airwaves have been absent of that characteristic, it seems a turn in direction is coming. The female artists have not been a large part of the playlists lately but are mobilizing to return in force with songs of substance.

A great example of this is newcomer Jessica Mitchell and her new single “Grown Up Things.” Jessica is a born storyteller who has spent the last ten years honing and shaping her craft, writing new music and developing a unique sound. Nashville-based Canadian singer/songwriter icon Patricia Conroy was impressed by the young talent, “I had the pleasure of meeting and writing with Jessica here in Nashville and I was blown away. I love her voice and style. She is her own person and not trying to follow the pack. Love her.”

The Time Has Come To Say Goodbye – Canada Votes!

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Submitted by Bill King

I don’t usually get jacked on elections but this may be the most important federal election in a half century. I get that uncomfortable sensation I have two choices; either be confined to darkness or I can side step and walk into the light. It’s truly become a strange play for votes.

The fact musicians are finding their voice in this drives home the feeling many of us have that we are losing ground controlling our own destiny. Sam Cooke sang about the civil rights movement – “A Change is Gonna Come”, Oscar Brown Jr. “Bid ‘Em In” – black women sold as sex slaves – breeders for plantation owners, the Clash“Clampdown” - the tyranny of governments, Bob Marley“Get Up, Stand Up” – stand up for your rights – Creedence Clearwater“Fortunate Son” – the children of privilege able to dodge war, Marvin Gaye“Inner City Blues “– war, drugs and poverty, Peter Tosh“Legalise It” – and this week Blue Rodeo’s “ Stealing on My Dreams,” a poke at Harper’s governance.

Ruthie Foster Blues Gospel Diva At Her Best

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Submitted by Iain Patience

Ruthie Foster is way more than just another blues lady. She's a true gospel diva with an astonishingly powerful voice that sounds like it must have literally raised more than a few rooves and rafters over the years. Her stage-presence is always dynamic; clutching her trusty Gibson guitar, she launches herself into each number with immediacy and clear intent. Audiences look on in awe as she storms from one song to the next, pulling tracks from her beeded, braided head and an impressive award-winning back catalogue of sultry, soulful music with confident ease and purpose.

And surprisingly, perhaps, guitar is not her first instrument. Ruthie's a piano-player but, as she quips: 'The guitar's a lot more portable.' And unlike most musicians of the blues world and stage, she can read music, having graduated in that subject before signing up with Uncle Sam and joining the Navy to see the world as an engineer. It was while with the navy she turned her attention to fretwork developing a hard-hitting percussive style that has certainly served her well over the years since her demob.

'My voice is my first instrument, though,' she says. A positively barn-storming quality developed and honed as a kid growing up in rural Central Texas where her grandmother ensured she attended the local Baptist church and weekly song sessions. The same grandmother who introduced Foster to piano and a love of music in a more general way as she grew-up.

BTW Thunderclap, The East Pointers, Viet Cong, Tobias Jesso, Sugar Brown, Martha & The Muffins, Scarlett Jane

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Submitted by Lenny Stoute

So here comes the annual Fall deluge of new music to swamp us with binge listening. We're not going to latch onto them all, so for lovers of something a shade diff, check this pair of newbie albums.

THUNDERCLAP is a self-taught singer/songwriter, proficient at most instruments he lays his hands to. Been writing songs since he was 13, and masterminding various rock n' roll outfits since he was 14. Originally from the Niagara region, the dude's now an international happening, playing gigs in Lyon, Paris, Berlin, London, and elsewhere across Europe and North America.

THUNDERCLAP’s potent style of performing was honed on the rough stage of the streets, now expanded beyond those origins into a vehicle for National and International stages. In 2013 THUNDERCLAP embarked on a 7 city East Coast Canadian Tour with Spooky Ruben . His debut LP entitled "Hell Bent On Success", was produced by Spookey Ruben (Feist, Kei$ha). If you can rate an artist's hiptitude by who guests on the album, then this boy's rolling with some heady company for a rookie. The guests include Bob Wiseman (Blue Rodeo), Mary Margaret O'Hara (Miss America) and Dave Clark (Rheostatics)! A one-man band, he possesses the bravery needed to take the stage alone and believes this heightens the vulnerability of the performer, thus creating a more emotional rapport with the audience. This type of performing, which he likes to call 'guerilla folkestry,’ can be just as powerful when performed at concert or on the street, as THUNDERCLAP does regularly.

Odetta – Bernie Sanders and the Winds of Change

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Submitted by Bill King

Martin Luther King called her the Queen of folk music. Most people beyond the caravans of folkies knew little of her yet she was an important and impressive social and political figure who stood tall – a respected voice in the folk revival of the ‘50s and ‘60s alongside Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Mavis Staples etc. She was center stage for the civil rights March on Washington in 1963 and considered her part as “one of the privates in a very big army.”

It’s 1981 and American president Ronald Reagan suffered a gun wound and America stands still. It’s one of those “how could this happen” moments yet it did and it shook the land. A few months later I’m on a return plane flight from California and assigned an economy seat next to this compact African/American woman.  Americans talk! They are never shy and when an event of such epic proportion hits home every corner of that occurrence is researched, lit, exposed and dissected. It was our turn.

We were about to endure big change under Reagan. The bullet was only a temporary set-back. I’d experienced Reagan’s iron-fisted punch up with air traffic controllers and got sidetracked in Detroit – almost spent a night when the union called a strike. I’m thinking, why would someone pick a fight with those who keep all those thousands of specs that criss-cross and shine on radar from smashing into each other that could cost thousands of lives? This was sheer madness.

The Heavyweights Brass Band, Christopher Butcher and the Next New Generation!

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Submitted by Bill King

Brass bands have been competing dating back to the 1930s’ when there were as many as 20,000 going toe to toe across Great Britain, Australia, New Zealand, Norway – a good portion of Europe and North America. These were military style concert bands. Some where labeled fanfare orchestras found in Germany, France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg.

Today’s brass bands bare the influence of New Orleans; a fusion of African folk, jazz, military and the modern era big funk mix-up (Toronto’s Heavyweights Brass Band). Just out of range is the Balkan sound (Toronto’s Lemon Bucket Orchestra) and Punjabi (New York’s Red Baraat) - a blend of Western styles and traditional Bhangra rhythms. The specialized music isn’t just limited to North American and European shores – Africa has a long tradition represented by one of the most entertaining and precision brass bands; Eyo’nle from Benin (Africa Night).

Where do the cream of college and university brass players go these days, a good portion hit the rhythm band circuit – that being small clubs and eclectic festivals. As a career pursuit, mainstream jazz for the most part has drifted to the background and horn bands of all shapes and color – funk, blues, ska, soul now the prime activity.

BTW-with Diemonds, Red Moon Road, Lucero, Modest Mouse , Alabama Shakes, Greg Rekus, Busty and the Bass

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Submitted  by Lenny Stoute

Here's an overnight success that's only taken a decade. That's how long female-fronted hard rockers Diemonds have been bashing it out, playing every venue they could plug into across Canada and the US. The quintet, fronted by the commanding presence of Priya Panda is having a helluva 2015. The hard-working posse have played such notable festivals as Heavy MTL, SXSW, NXNE, Vans Warped Tour, Seattle Hempfest and most recently The KISS Kruise with KISS and Cheap Trick. Just out is third and most heavy hitting album so far, Never Wanna Die, which gets release in the U.S. on prestigious Napalm Records. A personal highlight for Pryia was opening for hard rock heroine Lita Ford in Toronto, which was followed by their Infest The West last August.

Bob McCarthy A Satisfied Mind

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Submitted by Iain Patience

Bob McCarthy is a sadly lesser-known treat for lovers of good, solid soulful blues picking. His near-fifty year career has seen him climb from the sixties coffee-houses of New York's Greenwich Village - a breeding ground that spawned many top names including Bob Dylan, Tom Paxton and Dave Van Ronk, and which offered the young McCarthy an open musical door and bags of confidence-building experience - to opening shows and sharing the stage with the likes of Jorma Kaukonen, Bonnie Raitt, Neil Young, Nanci Griffith,  Taj Mahal, The Beach Boys, Linda Rondstadt and countless others; in short, a true who's who of modern US acoustic-roots music.

Now based in the beautiful, leafy backwoods of New Hampshire, McCarthy can still be found picking guitar around the East Coast and giving his time and talent generously to numerous deserving local causes.  His recording credits span many years with his two most recent offerings, 'Sudden Light' and 'Where I Live', both leaning towards a deft, light jazz touch, soaked in soul and steeped in the tradition of the old blues masters.

McCarthy's guitar fretwork is always tasteful and gripping, guaranteeing a pleasant earful for listeners and fans of good old-fashioned quality music. And he is as comfortable picking a Mandolin as a guitar, which he also does with positive zing and class.

BTW with Lenny Stoute Chad Van Gaalen, Daptone Gold, Paul Reddick & The Sidemen, The Boxcar Boys, Destroyer, Terry Gomes

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Submitted by Lenny Stoute
At right: Chad VanGaalen

Calgarian wild child Chad VanGaalen kicks off his Western Canadian tour tonight in Calgary's Assembly Hall. Tour opening gigs are always special and this one is so on account of being his first indoor show there in over three years. The tour also includes an appearance at Bermuda Fest in Edmonton. For the west coast dates, VanGaalen will be joined by Samantha Savage Smith, and for a few dates, indie-folk mainstay Hayden.

These shows will also see the debut of Chad’s new backing band, Bleach Wipes, made up of Ryan Bourne (Sleepkit, Ghostkeeper) and Chris Dadge (Lab Coast, Bug Incision, Samantha Savage Smith). This hugely talented pair brings Chad’s kaleidoscopic musical world to life onstage.

Chad VanGaalen’s Calgary fans in particular are in for a treat with this announcement. Since 2012, the singer-songwriter has only played his hometown twice: at a surprise outdoor show at Tomkins Square last May, and a few months later at the 2014 Calgary Folk Music Festival. Fans of his music know that VanGaalen’s sonic universe knows no bounds, covering everything from country-folk laments and garage-psych ragers to indie pop gems and free-form electronic outbursts. To accommodate and accentuate this range of musical offerings, Chad will be performing in Calgary over two nights at two strikingly different venues.

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