Steve Boone Up Close and Unplugged

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Submitted by Don Graham

These days there are documentaries for every era of the music business. There are films on The Wrecking Crew, Muscle Shoals and the Motown era with The Funk Brothers. Steve Boone, bass player/songwriter and founding member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame group, The Lovin’ Spoonful, has decided to take this concept to a different level.

If You Can’t Dance - You Don’t Stand a Chance

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Submitted by Bill King
Janelle Monae Photo Bill King

The demands on musicians in hard times couldn’t be more evident than when you scan the top of the Billboard charts and realize the big stars are triple threats. We’ll give Adele a pass – she’s an anomaly. Otherwise, it’s all about theatrics, dance and voice. You rarely get a hearing if you can’t keep the visuals popping. Even double right-foot Drake created a diversionary visual with his “Hotline Bling video, a likeness to a Seinfeld Show episode when Elaine cuts a “gimp dance” in amongst startled onlookers; that keeps him in the high hoofing game.

When I first inhabited the bandstand in 1961 I never cared for dance. In fact, I got paid to play both eleventh and twelfth grade high school proms. I felt I came out on top. My dilemma? Should I pin a corsage on the baritone sax player or clarinet guy?

Music and dance are inseparable.

Musicians tend to celebrate Duke Ellington for his large ensemble masterpieces; those collaborations with Billy Strayhorn and bypass the early development years when he was scoring charts for dancers at the Cotton Club. This was a beautiful thing! Guys and dolls – music and motion!

BTW with Ben Caplan, Viet Cong, Braves, Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, Alessia Cara

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Submitted by Lenny Stoute
Photo at right: Ben Caplan

The mighty, mighty boss baritone of Ben Caplan has been filing up venues all across our fair land all fall. Caplan and his sprawling band, The Casual Smokers, have been criss crossing the continent since mid-September playing over fifty shows in two months that culminated in a two night hometown stand in Halifax with Symphony Nova Scotia. This week it's Toronto's turn, with Caplan and crew touching down at The Burdock Dec.4 for a full album performance of his strangely brilliant "Birds with Broken Wings” album. The work features over 30 different musicians and a raft of unconventional instruments. The eleven songs making up the album range from angry and edgy to dramatic and inspirational, to some of the most beautiful and unconventional work Ben's ever made. With his new release, Caplan’s soul-fired, charismatic music has moved leaps and bounds, exploding out in surprising new directions.

BTW- with The Bros. Landreth, Wilderness Of Manitoba, Riverdale Share, Lowest Of The Low, Ulrika Spacek, Whitehorse, Daniel Caesar

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Submitted by Lenny Stoute

Roots rockin' beardos and JUNO Award Winners The Bros. Landreth have dropped an EP of cover songs titled Undercover Bros., or rather a collection of “songs we wish we wrote,” says vocalist / guitarist Joey Landreth. Beginning October 9, the songs were released one-by-one with a new track appearing each week on the band’s Spotify playlist. The EP includes tracks by Steely Dan, Lyle Lovett, John Hiatt, Paul McCartney, and Ry Cooder.

"We’ve always leaned heavily on our influences and wore them on our sleeves,” says Landreth. “We wanted to find a way to say thanks to those whom we have borrowed so much from by recording our renditions of their tunes.

Each of the songs make their way into The Bros. live set from time to time, and the band has been on another extensive North American tour since October 17.Fans can let The Bros. Landreth know what other songs they would like to hear them cover and can vote on a selection of chart-topping pop songs that they’d like to see the band put their spin on.

Earlier this year The Bros. Landreth were honoured with the JUNO Award for Roots Album Of The Year. Their record, Let It Lie, is album about open highway and broken hearts, anchored by the bluesy wail of electric guitars, the swell of B3 organ, and the harmonized swoon of two voices that were born to mesh. Rolling Stone has called them “...four Manitobans who understand that in blues music, it's all about the swagger, not the speed.”

Ray Charles Confessin' The Blues

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Submitted by Bill King

When I first heard Ray Charles I knew that was the voice I wanted to inhabit – just borrow for my own. It was far different from the soft tones that surfaced on a.m. radio. This was a voice that carried a teardrop around – a bit of rural soil – you could mix and grow good things in it.

Nearly every band I’d played with the early years had Ray as a starting point. He was everywhere – The Ed Sullivan Show, his own specials, Johnny Carson Show, the neighborhood – a festival coming soon – country radio – pop radio – midnight soul radio.

Few performers have wielded greater influence over generations of aspiring musicians than Ray Charles. In fact, the best way to gauge the impact of a performer may be by counting the number of imitators. In Charles' case, they are too numerous to count. Although he himself had impeccable musical taste, formidable ability to meld genres in new ways, and sang with genuine integrity of feeling, the influence he had on mediocre singers is profound. During the decades of the ‘50s, ‘60s, and ‘70s, you could travel the back roads and blue highways from Louisiana to California, stop in any juke joint or club and hear a Ray Charles wannabe belt out an off-key rendition of “Georgia” or “Unchain My Heart.”

Almost never did these karaoke clones on the Right Reverend Ray succeed musically.

Nevertheless, more than once I have seen approving eyes in the audience and smiles on the face of the singer, especially if they succeeded in mimicking a memorable Charles inflection.

BTW with Dione Taylor, Julian Taylor, Cadence, Jason Collette, King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, Willie Nile

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Submitted by Lenny Stoute
Photo at right: Dione Taylor

The prairie sky, expansive and wide, covers a great deal of North American real estate. And of all the emotions contained therein, it’s the prairie blues, a rural feeling that sings louder than all others on Dione Taylor’s new EP Born Free. Music's always been an important and integral part of Dione Taylor’s life. A pastor’s daughter from Regina, Saskatchewan, she was born and raised in a family she describes as “really connected to the gift of song. My whole family sings and plays instruments in church,” praises Ms. Taylor, who began playing the organ at age four and by ten was the music director and organist at The Shiloh Assembly Church (Apostolic) in Regina.

The Tenors with Pavlo

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Submitted by Bill King

Bill King: I know you are on a long tour, where are you at the moment?

Remigio Pereira: I just came from New Jersey to spend two days at home with my mom. I’ve been on the road and singing sick the past eight days and I just needed to get away and come and surprise my mom. I need to regroup myself.

B.K: This is seventy dates?

R.P: We’ve added more dates, no longer just seventy. It’s probably in the eighties right now. We started September 18th and go to the 23rd of December and get a month off then start again January 22nd then straight through until springtime.

B.K: How do you handle and endure?

R.P: Well, we try to stay as healthy as possible but on this tour it’s been impossible since Victor got sick first. After that Fraser got ill and you are in tight quarters all of the time. Then on planes I got sick. Basically, you put your head down and move forward then look up and see how far you’ve gotten.

B.K: When you face health challenges like this do you sort of lean on one another?

BTW with Tia Brazda, Zeus, Carlos del Junco, The Retroaction, Tiny Fireflies, Technical Kidman, Willie Nile

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Submitted by Lenny Stoute
Photo at right: Tia Brazda

The Bay Bloor Radio outlet in Toronto is a massive space and befitting the store's rep as a famed purveyor of audiophile equipment of the highest order, the compact performance area boasts awesome acoustics. Jive swing vocalist Tia Brazda put the dynamics to the test in a short and tout sweet set at a party celebrating the storied store's 50th anniversary.

The lady generally swings with a full band avec horns but for this intimate gig was backed by guitarist Mike Freedman and Gord Mowat working a stand-up bass. This format allowed for a greater appreciation of the subtle interplays between the musicians and there's some slick stuff going on here, with Freedman slyly pushing the envelope on occasion. Working mostly with songs off current album Bandshell, Brazda showed us her sassy, brassy and wistful sides on crowd pleasers "Hard Luck," "Shine," and "All Mixed Up." in a totally filler-free set that was over all too soon. Given the high rollers in the audience, it's very likely the lady scored a holiday season corp. gig or two off her endearing performance.

BTW with The Wainwright Sisters , Ritual, Geographer, Autopilot, Concealer, Rita Chiarelli, Cecile Doo-Kingue, Terra Lightfoot, Crystal Shawanda, Suzie Vinnick

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Submitted by Lenny Stoute
Photo: Wainwright Sisters

Fall is prime time for sweater-folk music and the perfect time to release the mucho anticipated debut album 'Songs In The Dark' from The Wainwright Sisters, out Nov. 13, 2015.

Although they're sisters, Martha Wainwright and Lucy Wainwright Roche didn't grow up together.

Aside from genetics, their true bond was a musical one, both growing up in families steeped in songwriting. Both their mothers would sing them lullabies (Kate McGarrigle to Martha and Suzzy Roche to Lucy). Now to honour that, 30 years later, Martha and Lucy are singing many of these same songs, some penned by their mothers and father (Loudon Wainwright III) on 'Songs In The Dark.'

The record also includes songs that shaped their childhoods, made famous by the likes of Woody Guthrie and Jimmie Rogers. When Martha and Lucy grew up and become songwriters of their own, they discovered their physical separation was trumped by their shared musical DNA. On 'Songs In The Dark,' this is captured in its elemental essence: dark, mysterious, and beautiful.

The Wainwright Sisters - Upcoming Showcase Dates
11/07 - City Winery, New York, New York
11/10 - St. Stephens Church, London, England
12/1 - Phi Centre, Montreal, Quebec

Jessie Tylre Williams Giving Back

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Submitted by Don Graham

Canadian country artist Jessie Tylre Williams has an agenda, not in the negative sense, but in the best possible way. Jessie has taken her music to a new level with her National House Concert Series Benefit Galas, and is taking this HCS right across Canada shining a bright light on those suffering from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) within our a Canadian Troops.

With the series endorsed and supported by organizations such as Wounded Warriors Canada, Can Praxis, The Royal Canadian Legions, Tri-service Military Veterans Association, ANAVETS, and many other local and National supporters it’s no wonder that this event is a roaring success!

Jessie Tylre WilliamsJessie Tylre WilliamsWe caught up with Jessie at her Alberta home to discuss the impact this event is having on the attendees, the benefitting organizations and herself. ” This is the most rewarding thing I ever done in my musical career. To know that in a small way we are making a difference in people’s lives is overwhelming. There is an awful lot of work that must be done to make one of these events happen but every minute of it is fulfilling and warms my heart.”

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