Kete Bowers
Fri Jul 12, 2019

It’s a blue-skied and sunny day and pouring out of the speakers is the most melancholic UK voice since Bert Jansch. It belongs to Kete Bowers, a Liverpudlian singer-songwriter and it’s rolling out the tunes of the current album, Paper Ships. It has a Canuck connection, produced by and featuring Michael Timmins alongside his Cowboy Junkies drummer brother Peter and released on the Current Records. The material is very much about loss, depression, fear and despair on both a community and individual level, delivered in tones reminiscent of Leonard Cohen and Townes Van Zandt.

Arrangements are to the bone, coloured in places by pump organ, pedal steel, accordion and Dobro. Highlights include the UK Americana (Yeah, you’re hearing it here first) of‘There Was A Time’, a reflection on people, places and times that have passed, especially those lost to the conflict who “sleep now on foreign shores.” It’s a theme that also informs the slow waltz crawl of ‘Winner’, thoughts from overseas where “Summer here can hit eighty-five in the day/And take the strength from the strongest man”, “raking through the past”and reflecting on lost friends, lost youth and a lost relationship while clinging to the hope that “all things will become new again/ And my friend me and you again/ Will paint the whole damn town red/Tear down the walls, have a ball”.

‘Ghosts’ is another deliberate, slow-paced number that, winters “colder than they used to be”, again treats on loss, both personal and the death of once vibrant high streets as “Only old ghosts walk behind you/On that road”. Looking for desolation and despair? Then cuddle up to ‘Town With No Cheer’,and the bluesy fingerpicked ‘A Place By the River’, the lines “The men they don’t cry here god forbid and oh the shame/Soldiers of god show no mercy when they fight and kill and maim”, finding the narrator back in the combat zone, where “each day I watch my friends fall”, “boxed in with no way out” and remembering “a place by the river on the bend where the willow grows” while “gambling on a book that says Jesus saves will bring me safely home to you” even though “God’s left his heaven and nobody can hear me at all”.There are moments of optimism (A Fine Day To Leave) but even that is couched in terms of having nothing to keep him from bidding it all farewell and walking away without a backward glance.

Strong stuff but bracing, like walking against stiff winter winds. One that gets inside your bones and stays with you even after you’re home and warmed up. The album closes fittingly with the countrified ‘You Stole My Joy’ and well, “Nothing much got built after seventy-nine/The whole damn town it took a dive”. Not Kete though, long before the music ends, you know this boy’s bound for higher ground.

Heather Bambrick
Heather Bambrick

Award-winning and JUNO-nominated Jazz vocalist Heather Bambrick is celebrating the release of her newest album, Fine State, available now! The album sees the St. John's-now-Toronto based Bambrick moving in some new musical directions, with a more Pop-influenced Jazz sound, featuring strong Canadian content, and original material. “(It’s) more of a departure from the traditional sort of records I’ve made in the past,” she says. “This project brings together more of the things that inspire me overall, not just in jazz and not just in music. The arrangements show influences from rock, pop, and folk music, and the tunes we’ve chosen have a strong connection to the events of the world around me and the roots of who I am as a musician and a person.

“The material on this record comes from a variety of different sources and has been inspired by several factors,” she continues. “While my initial intention with this recording was to include a fair amount of Canadian material, as well as some more original songs, I found there also became a bit of a theme (or themes) developing. There’s a lot of connection to Newfoundland (which isn’t surprising, coming from this proud Newfoundlander), as well as several tunes that comment on the condition of the world around me. “This wasn’t an intentional thing — it was more happenstance … and I’m pretty glad it happened!

The first single to shine off the lucky 13-track collection is the Pride-inspired “Right To Love”. “This tune was originally an instrumental composition called ‘Reflections,’” she shares of the piece. That was, of course, until Canadian lyricist Gene Lees created the stunning lyrics that initially alluded to the struggles faced by those in interracial relationships during the civil rights movement.

“Eventually, the song was adopted by the LGBTQ community, as the lyrics also addressed the struggles faced by those who simply want to open their hearts in honest, loving ways, and to live in the simplicity of that love without judgment or ridicule,” It was particularly important for me to record this song during this 50th anniversary year of the Stonewall Riots. Even after all this time, the message here remains simple: love is love!”

The song’s sentiments are a distinct reflection on how Bambrick connects with her audience on the whole. From their skillful, effortless interaction, to the variety and breadth of her material, Bambrick approaches every aspect of her performances with the goal of leaving audiences feeling far better after her shows than before they arrived. This is why her concerts have been described as what happens when “Ella Fitzgerald meets Carol Burnett at a Newfoundland kitchen party.”

“This is the first time I’ve had someone else take over more of the production duties, and that fell on the very capable shoulders of Ben Wittman along with Jono Grant,” Bambrick adds of Fine State. “I’d been a fan of Ben’s work for many years, and some of my favourite albums were ones he’d produced. He and I have been playing together for a few years and so he had a good sense of who I was as an artist and as a person. He was able to bring all of that out in this recording.

“My other co-producer is Jono Grant, someone I’ve known and worked with for more than 20 years. I simply love working with Jono and I trust him with my voice more than almost anyone else. He knows how to get the best sound from me, and also how to create interesting textures and wonderful sonic landscapes. Working with Ben and Jono was fun, exciting, and a real lesson in possibilities for me!”


Next up is one for fans of The Bronx, Queens of the Stone Age, High On Fire, Eye Hate God, Fu Manchu and like that. Gritty ‘n’ Grungy, Vancouver's Waingro’s got this concept thing going on and just spit out its first single, ‘Red Death'off an upcoming album.

Waingro is not just a crazy, terrible human for hire trying to make his life in L.A. as portrayed in the 1995 film Heat. It’s also the name of a crazy rock n' roll band who are making their way through the Canadian music scene and beyond with the release of third album "III" set to be released in the UK on vinyl and digitally worldwide via Sludgelord Records on August 15th along with its Canadian vinyl release on September 13th via No List Records.

Using the character from Mann's movie as a jumping off point, the Vancouver band imagines further scenarios of pre-Heat Waingro situations, such as that in their first single 'Red Death'For those unfamiliar with the movie, the band explains the premise behind the lyrics for the track and the musical influence. "The second track always needs to be a heavy hitter. It was fun to play into Converge influences on this one at the end. The lyrics talk of Waingro’s recipe for Red Death, which is a form of meth that's swept the streets. It's a shameful thing to brag about but that falls in line with what a shitty dude like him would do. And it’s a recipe that he will take to his grave - what an asshole...”

"III", is the third album from Waingro and shows considerable growth from their previous releases "Mt. Hood" (2015) and Self-Titled (2014).

"The first album was kind of chaotic, the second one explored the stoner/doom side of things a bit more, and this new and third one is a mix of the two, but with a more grunge/noise element to it."

Fans of this style will appreciate the heavy, abrasive, high energy sound of 'Red Death', which can be heard streaming on Doomed & Stoned at the following link:

Altameda Photo Credit Levi Manchak
Altameda Photo Credit Levi Manchak

In a similar vein but with a prairie jingle jangle and a tad more melodic, Edmonton's Alameda have been impressing audiences across North America with both their live show and the critically acclaimed album Time Hasn't Changed You. The band are giving fans an extra treat and are sharing three of the album's b-sides, on an EP called More Time.

These three songs weren't on the album but were still something special the band felt should be shared, saying. "We felt that these three tracks had a spirit of their own, that is as much unique as it is a part of what Time Hasn't Changed You became."

2019 has kept Altameda busy with a wild tour schedule that had them opening for The Trews, playing SXSW, while also playing a handful of headlining dates across the country. They aren't about to slow down anytime soon, this summer the band will be playing a slew of festivals, along with opening for The Sheepdogs for several dates!

Full and resounding, cutting and dynamic, Altameda's sophomore record, Time Hasn't Changed You, is full of all that makes life a beautiful mess. Brought along by warm bass lines, bluesy rhythms and the sweet whir of the Wurlitzer vocalist Troy Snaterse's lyrics burn with nostalgia and present desire, made vivid by his talk-like cadences and emotional peaks. It will lift you out of your seat-then all at once send you spiralling down to the kitchen floor. It's love lost and gained and lost again. It will stay with you even after vinyl and needle have parted ways. Time Hasn't Changed You, was produced by Aaron Goldstein (City &Colour, Daniel Romano, Kathleen Edwards).

Says the Sled Island Festival "Tinged with country and accented with Americana, Edmonton's Altameda revel in western twang 'n' jangle. Whether it's in a borrowed suit or a secondhand dress, the band is dead-set on repurposing classic hooks against the vibrant backdrop of their prairie sound." -

AltamedaTour Dates
07.04...Burnstown, ON...Neat Coffee
07.05...Bala, ON...Kee To Bala*
07.06...Bala, ON...Kee To Bala*
07.09...Toronto, ON...Horseshoe Tavern
07.11...Niagara, ON...Jackson Triggs Amphitheatre*
07.12...Niagara, ON...Jackson Triggs Amphitheatre*
07.13...St. Catharines, ON...Warehouse
07.27...Bengough, SK...Gateway Festival
08.24...Jackfish Lake, AB...Bro-tel Backyard Festival


“I am enough. I am Tome.”These powerful words introduce more than just the self-fulfilling definition of Canadian artist Michelle Oluwatomi Akanbi aka Tome’s middle name; they also introduce a movement she’s reverberating throughout her newest album, TÖMESROOM — available now.

“I am unapologetic in this project,” she says of the EP and tabling topics around relationships — good and bad — from the perspective of a strong, confident woman. “That’s what I want to portray most in this album: the shamelessness of being a confident woman.

“Writing these songs made me realize my self-worth and who I really am. I am at a stage in my life where experiences with the people around me have shaped my mindset around relationships and myself. TÖMESROOM is a glimpse into the personal experiences and intimate realizations I’ve come across these past two years.I’m showing all sides of me, and I believe these songs — and their important messages and stories — are something every female can attest to.

“It’s important to me that fans know who they are as women and people. That is very common for a woman… To truly find her self-worth because of past relationships or an extreme experience that changed their lives forever? It’s a beautiful thing to encounter and overcome. That mindset had to be included in my songwriting.”

Already a standout on the scene, the Toronto-area singer/songwriter invested the better part of last year fine-tuning her sound even further. The results are two-fold, and ones not to sleep on.

First, there’s TÖME’s now-signature sound: an exotic, intoxicating blend of blended language lyricism, sultry, soul-warming vocals, all backed by an eclectic cocktail of Afro, reggae, pop, hip hop and RnB. Secondly, you have Michelle OluwatomiAkanbi’s mission-at-large: “I want to change the game musically,” she says of her genre tag. “Afro-RnB can help and change Canadian music.”

Between early influences from Western artists like Beyonce, Rihanna, Alicia Keys and Jhene Aiko — and Afro-influenced from Asa, Yemi Alade, Teni, Wizkid and BurnaBoy — Akanbi is committed to serving as an empowering voice to African Canadian French female artists through example, both self and song. “Afro-RnB isn’t completely non-existent. It’s there, but no one has claimed it or pushed it as an established genre. There is an opportunity in the industry for this music, especially since it is a musical sound many diverse cultures can relate to. It’s unique with a very multidimensional sound so listeners get a sense of familiarity, but also a sense of curiosity.”

Afro-RnB is a genre titled and modelled on the cultural evolution the world has come to in younger generations, Akanbi continues. “As Africans, we have our own cultural heritage, norms and musical influences. Growing generations are more inclined to discover new experiences. We are in a day and age where diversity is predominant in society. Canada is a multicultural country that devotes our entire lives to making sure all feel welcomed. Our music has and should continue to reflect this diversity.

“Afro-RnB has yet to be introduced in the market as a Canadian sound,” she continues. “However, when one includes two genres meshed together to relate to a wide range of people? There is something to be proud of as a multicultural country!”

BITS’N’PIECES-St Joseph Island, ON, Go North Music Festival announces the official schedule for the 3rd annual festival. Set for Saturday, July 13, 2019. This year's festival held on beautiful St. Joseph Island, will feature a solid group of artists including alt-rock outfit Birds of Bellwoods, folk-rock powerhouse Skye Wallace, JUNO award-winning blues/country singer Crystal Shawanda, rock band Sun K, singer-songwriter Sarah Smith, indie pop-rock group Jesse Merineau, indie rock band Another Crush, and Celtic punk rock group Dustin Jones and The Rising Tide. The full-day festival is also offering Friday camping this year to give festival-goers the chance to truly experience all that St. Joseph Island has to offer. Tickets are available online and at various local vendors - The Township of St. Joseph Municipal Office, Moose Sweats (Richards Landing), 17 East Trading Post (Desbarats), Rad Zone (SSM), The Vibe Eatery (SSM), Northern Superior Brewing (SSM) and Outspoken Brewing (SSM)….this just in. Ottawa folk rockers Tribe Royal wins Best Emerging Artist at Summerfest in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Big ups dudes.