Canadian Music Fest=In the Land of a Thousand Dreams


Story:Lenny Stoute, Michelle Kaye, James Lizzard
Photo: Trent Severn

‘Twas the year of the drummers in particular and a stepping up of the musicianship in general. We can say this with a clear conscience, since as always, we passed on the star attractions in favour of the lesser known hungry hearts.

And what a glorious firestorm of youth in anguish and exhilaration that turned out to be. First inkling the drum thing was afoot came at the Drake. First act we caught was the dynamic duo Mad Ones, being Andrew Devilliers on guitars and drummer Phil Wilson. The sweaty pair put out a contrapuntal din so scalding and full of garage rock swagger, you just know they’d never got on a White Stripes bill.

Dammed if the next act wasn’t another drumbastic duo, PS I Love You, who are Paul Saulnier on guitar and Benjamin Nelson on drums, going down a rock’n’roll road all their own. The dynamic here’s a little diff, with singer/guitarist Saulnier in charge of the theatrics while Nelson’s busy laying down massive and supple sonic foundations, a la Nirvana era Dave Grohl. While they have the dynamics down, the songwriting is sketchy in places. When they get it right, as with  “Sentimental Dishes”, it’s brilliant, and includes Saulnier referencing Paul James by playing guitar behid his head.

J.P. Cormier releases “Somewhere in the Back of My Heart”

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J.P. Cormier appears from the shadows at the side of the stage—an unsmiling mountain of a man in dark glasses—and stalks almost angrily to his seat in the spotlight. He picks up his instrument, adjusts his mic stand and asks the audience: “How’re ya now?” in a rumbling baritone.

Then he starts to tell his story.

His lyrics and melodies elicit every emotion you can muster as he paints picture after picture of loves lost, towns disbanded, fishermen killed by their trade and the most important moments of his own life. His voice is surprisingly sweet and soft-sounding, completely unexpected coming from his 6’4” frame.

He begins an instrumental on one of the five or six instruments he may have on stage with him and you realize that this man is not just a singer or a songwriter. As his fingers fly, with such speed and precision, upon each instrument in turn, you get another picture—one of pure joy and boundless energy; total spiritual abandon bordering in its execution on genius. It’s a word that is used to describe him again and again.

CMF Ones To Watch


Story:Lenny Stoute. James Lizzard
Photo at right: Handsome Distraction

If it’s March it must be tax time fun time. Sorry, that’s CMF time fun time, when a gazillion bands and the people who love them descend on the T. Dot for your amusement and to party like they’ve never been here before.

As they should, this being the shank end of Winter, with any excuse to get loose to live music being the best you’ve ever heard. Accordingly, and in absolutely no order, here are the acts which a number of people have been getting in our inner ear about. Now quit it.

The party gets started Tuesday night with a hard rock blast at Bovine Sex Club. This is not for the faint of heart, as headliner Buddy Black won't take the stage until 2 a.m. Once the man comes on, you’ll be glad you’re missing work the next day. Black deals in mutant psychobilly powered by pre-grunge guitars and swampy drums, a sound simultaneously melodic and menacing.

Black and newly reformed band The Midnight Society’s  been busy on the beaver with upcoming album Adversary Avenue, so expect to hear lots of the new stuff. Although exactly which ones remain to be heard, as the album 
features splashes of bagpipes (performed by Black’s fathers), trumpet, saxophone, sousaphone, theremin, organ, piano, harmonica, accordion, and banjo-tar.

As the Reverend Black’ll tell ya’ll when he’s testifyin,”People get ready!’

Meet Jenavive

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Submitted by Michael E. Williams

Two years ago, at Canadian Music Week, I heard several talented musicians whose careers I have been following since then. These performances, all at the Cashbox Canada  booth, included  Ambre McLean (great voice and talent), Lyric Dubee (young and dangerously good) and a beautiful shy young lady from Calgary ,who did not really want to perform, but I coaxed her into it… she did a few original songs and wow! Her name was Jenavive… a classically trained pianist who discovered her voice. Music became her solace and gave her confidence as she was teased and bullied growing up.

JS: Music definitely helped! I spent all of my time in music classes.  I practically lived in the band room in high school. My high school band teacher was a very positive person in my teen years. We're actually  still really good friends today. I'm not sure what would have happened if I had not had music to turn to. Beethoven was my rock.

Ladies Lead the Way Ambre McLean and Tara Holloway

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Submitted by Michael Williams
Photo: Tara Holloway

Gary Santucci and Barbra Milne opened The Pearl Co. in 2006 in Hamilton. It is an old acoustically perfect room that feels like an old hippie living room, full of friends, with old comfy couches and good sight lines to the stage on the floor. The Pearl Company has become my favorite venues showcasing films, theatre, dance and live music.

Recently at the Pearl Company I saw Tara Holloway and Ambre McLean perform as they have been touring southern Ontario together. While I had seen Ambre several times before, this was my first time seeing Tara Holloway live. Very impressive!

Tara’s voice was fresh with wonderful control and strength. Her material was well chosen for a voice that kills most of what is on the radio today. She has a voice uncharacteristic of her generation. The lady has tons of chops and learned them from the road and her dad’s old record collection.  Tara is a great voice waiting to be discovered by radio. Her debut, “Sins to confess”, is well worth the price. Tara as a solo artist is raw and can be heard perfectly without a microphone. This is when you really get a sense of the magnitude of her vocals. I am in love with her voice and her songs.  I was very impressed with Tara Holloway’s set.

Juno Talk With Michael Williams

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I find the nominations of the 2013 Juno Awards a great cross section of Canadian music from last year.

This year  Leonard Cohen is nominated for three Junos including Artist of the Year, Songwriter of the Year (which he shares with his co songwriter/producer Patrick Leonard), and the People’s Choice.  His son, Adam Cohen, is nominated for the Adult Contemporary Album of the Year for his release “Like a Man”, also produced by Patrick Leonard.

Maestro is back 25 years after winning the very first Juno for Hip Hop in 1990, nominated for Rap Record of the Year. He is uniquely Canadian in his selection of music with Classified. His latest “Black Tuxedo” samples Blue Rodeo’s “Try”, one of the best soulful countries ever. Maestro has also sampled The Guess Who “These Eyes” and Gowan’s “Criminal Mind”. You could not be anymore Canadian.

The other rap nominees are producer Rich Kidd, Classified, and JD Era from the Wu Tang’s Canadian Label. Back also is former Swollen Member’s Mad Child. The glaring omission is that of  Drake’s absence in this category.

100 Mile House Brings Transatlantic Folk to Toronto

Derek Pulliam  Peter Stone Denise MacKay  Scott Zubot   Photo Credit  Al Bartholet.JPG

Submitted by Don Graham

Alberta trio 100 Mile House were in Toronto for the Annual Folk Alliance International Conference held at the Delta Chelsea Hotel. Husband and wife team of native Albertan Denise McKay and transplanted Londoner Peter Stone and multi instrumentalist Scott Zubot did numerous showcases, live interviews and “meet and greets”.  I caught up with them at the very intimate Saturday afternoon showcase in the Alberta Room at the hotel.  Just a happy coincidence the name of the room happened to be the same as their home province.

There was no P.A , no stage and a packed room of very attentive music lovers, a tough gig at the best of times.  With Stone on guitar, Zubot on fiddle and mandolin and McKay playing drums on a suitcase, 100 Mile House showed why they are one of top up and coming acts to hit the scene.  The atmosphere was informal and the band showed that truly professional combination of being relaxed and polished.  The vocals were crisp and dynamic and the instrumental blend was superb. Stone’s performance of his award winning song, ”Better Still”,  was captivating and enthralling.

Ranchers for Peace-No fun Walking Around Black


Story:Lenny Stoute

On Feb. 26 2012 in Sanford, Florida a black teenager Trayvon Martin was shot dead during an altercation with white neighbourhood watch coordinator George Zimmerman. Evidence indicated that Zimmerman had set the altercation in motion. He was subsequently charged with second-degree murder and the case is currently before the Florida courts.

This incident outraged people across America and galvanized a songwriter thousands of miles away into speaking out in song.

Name’s Charles Duncan and with 17-year-old daughter Ray, makes up folk/roots rock outfit Ranchers For Peace.

“ I’ve been involved with civil rights for most of my career. I’m also old enough to remember the violence against the Civil Rights movement in the Sixties.

“ When I first head of the Trayvon Martin case I was shocked, outraged and deeply saddened. I really thought we'd gotten past the point where a black teenager could walk down the street without incident. It’s troubling because if we can’t get on the same page regarding basic civil rights, then we’re in a lot of trouble.

The single, “Walking Around Black” came together quickly, with Ray Duncan providing the urban flavour and tweaking the beats to come up with an appropriate sound.

“Once we got it down, we decided very quickly not to put it on the album we were working on. We didn’t want to profit from this tragedy in any way but we did want it to be heard, so we put it up as a free download.

The CMAO Announces Inaugural Awards Show

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Submitted by Anya Wilson Promotion & Publicity

The Country Music Association of Ontario (CMAO) announced its inaugural Awards Show. The event will be held on Monday, May 27th, 2013, at Markham Theatre at 171 Town Centre Boulevard, Markham, Ontario. The CMAO has confirmed that multi-award winning celebrated singer-songwriter and recording artist from the Ottawa Valley, Charlie Major, will host the awards. Major has enjoyed many #1 singles including fan favourites such as ‘I Do It For The Money” and “The Other Side.”

Charlie MajorCharlie MajorAlso confirmed to perform at the concert and accompany the show’s performers are renowned top musicians The Western Swing Authority, a group of seasoned professionals whose bio includes multiple Canadian Country Music Awards, Juno nominations, as well has a résumé that spans from playing with Gordon Lightfoot, John Cowan. George Canyon, to Kellylee Evans.

The Country Music Association of Ontario (CMAO) is an endeavor by a number of energetic individuals in the country music industry in Ontario and is the only Country Music Association that represents Ontario as a whole.

The Memories Worth Every Penny

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Submitted by Don Graham

As of February  4th,  2013 Canada will no longer produce the penny. Retailers will no longer be obliged to accept them and prices will be rounded up or down to the nearest round number.

The end of an era to be sure and the end of expressions and songs being current.  No more will we say “ a penny for  your thoughts”,  now I guess it’s  “ a nickel for your thoughts.”  “a penny saved is a penny earned. “  Gone!   A lucky penny? Sure, keep one for good luck , but you can’t spend it. As long as there have been trains people have been putting pennies on the railroad tracks to see them flattened. Penny candy?  Well that went years ago but you still can’t help but being nostalgic about it. How many of us had parents that said “ Look after the pennies and the dollars will look after themselves.”

And the music!  “ Every  time it rains, it rains pennies from heaven”  by Bing Crosby from the movie of the same name. And the ‘Penny Song’ by the Monkees:
“Throw a penny from the window, watch an old man play a song
On a twenty-dollar violin he bought before the war,
Are there any requests?
I'll play them for a penny,”

John Fogarty said in ‘Down on the Corner’ - “ You don’t need a penny, just to hang around.”
Canadian country band The Wilkinsons’ had a hit with ‘26 Cents’ - “Here’s a penny for your thoughts, a quarter for the call…”

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