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Archive for May, 2013

Concerts From Coast to Coast: June

Posted on: May 30th, 2013 by Ripple Creative Strategy No Comments

By James Sandham

Hello, summer. Hello, beers, patios and the best live music across the country. Here is this month’s picks of what to see.

Vancouver – Oldfolks Home @ The Railway Club – June 17

Oldfolks Home is the stage name of Ricardo Lopez-Aguilar. He’s kind of like a one-man Broken Social Scene – think the same sort of swelling, emotional, folk-fusion sound – and on June 17 you can see him in Vancouver at The Railway Club as part of the last leg of his North American tour (which includes stops across Canada as well as in the United States). He’ll be promoting his album Black & Blue, which just came out this year and is apparently the result of the breakdown of his marriage. If you think you’ll be in for a cry-fest, don’t worry. This is “the world’s first happy divorce,” according to his record label. Joyful stuff, as you can hear from the track below.

Oldfolks Home – “Garland’s Moving to Vancouver”

 

Calgary – Rykka @ Wine-Ohs – June 14

Vancouver-born dance-rocker Rykka (a.k.a. Christina Maria) will be coming back to Canada after an extended stint in Europe to launch her debut album, Kodiak, in her hometown. From there she’ll be touring east across the country, including this stop, one of two shows she’ll be doing in Calgary. From there it’s on to Switzerland and Germany, so catch her while you can. Get a taste from the track below.

Rykka – “Blackie”

 

Winnipeg – The Highest Order @ The Park Theatre – June 13

If I was in Winnipeg on June 13, there’s only one place I’d be: the Park Theatre, seeing Toronto’s amazing The Highest Order as they lay down their brand of fluttering, dreamy, psych-infused country. Think The Sadies, but on some kind of hallucinogen. They’ll be promoting their debut album, If It’s Real, which just came out earlier this year on Idée Fixe Records. Below, they cover Charlie Rich’s “Lonely Weekends” – one of many fine tracks from the disc.

The Highest Order – “Lonely Weekends”

 

Toronto – Broken Social Scene et al. @ Fort York – June 8

If you’re in Toronto on June 8, why not head on down to ol’ Fort York for Field Trip, a celebration of the 10th anniversary of Arts & Crafts, one of the city’s most dynamic independent music labels.

There will be performances from all of the Arts & Crafts regulars – including Stars, Hayden, Jason Collett, Dan Mangan and more – and, of course, from the label’s big names, like headliners Broken Social Scene and Feist. It’s general admission and tickets are already on sale. Nothing says summer in Toronto like a Broken Social Scene show.

Broken Social Scene – “Meet Me in the Basement”

 

Montreal – Striker @ Café Chaos – June 21

Just to top things off, why not start the summer with some metal? And I mean REAL, screaming, ’80s-inspired, hard-partying metal – the kind of stuff that would have made Jeff Hanneman proud. Look no further than Edmonton’s Striker, who’ll be playing dates across the country as part of their Heavy Metal Rampage ’13 tour. The summer begins. So, party on, dude.

Striker – “Forever”

This Week in Music History: May 27 to June 2

Posted on: May 28th, 2013 by Ripple Creative Strategy No Comments

By David Ball

On May 29, 1971, Anne Murray snagged a Top 30 RPM hit with “It Takes Time,” a song written by Shirley Eikhard, a talented 15-year-old upstart living in Oshawa, Ontario, a.k.a. Canada’s arts and culture hotbed. I kid… kinda!

“It Takes Time” is the first song on Murray’s fourth studio album, Straight, Clean and Simple, which was released in 1971

Eikhard’s 1972 self-titled debut (album cover artists really had a good thing going back in the early ’70s)

The talented teenager, who was originally from Sackville, New Brunswick, would find fame on her own as a producer and JUNO Award–winning performer and composer. Several of her reported 500 songs have been covered by the likes of Cher,The Pointer SistersEmmylou Harris and Bonnie Raitt. Eikhard’s best-known song is “Something to Talk About,” a track that would win Raitt, the red-headed blues guitarist, a 1991 Grammy Award for Best Pop Vocal Performance.

“It Takes Time” was also recorded by Eikhard for her 1972 debut and became the first of many RPM Top 40 hits for the under-rated singer-songwriter.

 

“Making it Work” by Doug and the Slugs peaked at No. 29 on RPM’s singles chart on May 30, 1983. It was the second Top 30 hit off of the popular Vancouver band’s JUNO Award–nominated third album, Music For the Hard of Thinking.

What are Freddie Mercury, Burton Cummings and, I believe, Gino Vanelli and Oliver Stone doing on Doug’s album cover?

If you put a gun to my head, I’ll freely tell you that Doug and the Slugs’ brand of fun-loving, novelty pub rock comes off sounding like a poor-man’s Huey Lewis and The News, which shouldn’t be construed as an insult. Doug Bennett and his rotating cast of Slugs were a larger-than-life club band that eventually managed a fair level of commercial success during the 1980s and ’90s, almost exclusively in Canada, except for the times MTV would air some of their videos and when Norm Macdonald used the group’s first hit “Too Bad” as the theme song for his short-lived ABC cult sitcom, “The Norm Show” (1999-2001).

Doug Bennett continued to tour with the Slugs until his death in 2004.

 

When some artists reach a certain level of notoriety, they choose to shorten their official stage names – take Cher, Wynonna, Bono (the Ego Hall of Famer even abbreviated his fake name) and Diddy (or however the hell Sean Combs refers to himself these days) for example. But leave it to the artist formerly known as “Alanis” to shake up the trend.

The rebirth of the once lightly regarded first-name-only teen queen (b. June 1, 1974) into multiple JUNO and Grammy Award winner Alanis Morissette, one of the most influential and successful female singer-songwriters of the past 25 years, blindsided the media and the music establishment alike in North America and around the world. Few saw the Ottawa native’s meteoric Robert Johnson–like nobody-to-somebody transformation coming. Although, unlike the unfortunate Delta blues legend, Morissette’s relatively quick assent to superstardom didn’t involve selling her soul to the devil at the crossroads.

Teen queen Alanis’s debut album

In the spring of 1991, when she was living in Toronto, the release of the then-16-year-old big-haired dance-pop singer’s self-titled debut generated decent sales in Canada, selling over 100,000 units and peaking in the RPM Top 30, as well as generally mixed reviews. (Many critics backhandedly compared Alanis to similar-sounding young dance-pop performers of the day, specifically Debbie Gibson and Tiffany.) Yet, the album did win Alanis her first JUNO Award for Most Promising Female Vocalist of the Year in 1992 and elicited three Canadian hits, including the RPM No. 14 “Too Hot.”

“Too Hot” by Alanis

It’s safe to say that Alanis’s career may have evolved in a completely different and less impactful direction had the reception been less chilly to her more mature ballad-based 1992 effort, Now Is the Time. As it turned out, her two-record contract with MCA Canada wasn’t renewed, but this was a good thing.

Alanis looks a little like Janis Joplin... and Sean Lennon

In 1995, Morissette hooked up with a new manager, moved to Los Angeles and met famed producer Glen Ballard. The pair hit it off and began writing a bunch of new songs, which resulted in a deal with Madonna-owned label Maverick Records and the subsequent recording of a little something called Jagged Little Pill.

In case you don’t know what happened next, let me provide some highlights: Jagged Little Pill was a worldwide smash and produced six big hits, including the edgy breakthrough single “You Oughta Know” and “Hand in My Pocket.” The album stayed in Billboard’s Top 10 for 69 weeks, reigned over Canada for six months and made it to No. 1 in a total of 12 countries. It sold over 16 million copies during its initial run (the tally currently sits at 33 million) while collecting four Grammy Awards and eight JUNOs.

But Morissette proved she was no one-trick pony…

Her highly anticipated follow-up, Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie, set a U.S. record in 1998 as the highest selling first-week release by a female artist and topped the album charts in six countries. The album also captured a JUNO Award for Best Album, while one of its four hit singles, “Thank U,” was nominated for a Grammy. While it’s true that none of Morissette’s other albums (including Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie) have found anywhere near the same level of earthshaking adulation as Jagged Little Pill did (and still does), all have done well internationally, as have her 15 headlining world tours.

Morissette’s first brush with celebrity was as an actress on CJOH Ottawa’s teen sketch comedy and variety program “You Can’t Do That on Television.” If memory serves me correctly, I think she even got a bucket of the show’s trademark green slime dumped on her head from time to time.

Alanis (although it could be her twin brother Wade, who is thankfully not an evil twin) on CJOH’s “You Can’t Do That on Television,” circa 1986

Morissette continued acting throughout the years, appearing on stage (The Vagina Monologues), in other TV shows (“Weeds” and “Degrassi: The Next Generation”) and in seven feature films (she was rather good as God in Kevin Smith’s hack comedy Dogma; I almost walked out of the theatre).

The devout vegan, environmentalist, Buddhist-convert, former girlfriend of “Full House” mullet-head Dave Coulier and ex-fiancée of Canadian Hollywood star Ryan Reynolds married rapper Mario “MC Souleye” Treadway in the spring of 2010. In December of that year they became proud parents of a daughter named Ever Imre Morissette-Treadway.

It’s all a far cry from her first-ever tour opening for that flash-in-the-pan “gangsta-rapper” Vanilla Ice, that’s for damn sure, yo!

 

A riot broke out at Toronto’s Ontario Place on June 2, 1980, during a punk concert? COOOOOOOL! Well, maybe not uppercase COOL. Perhaps more like just coooool, but not surprising given punk’s underlying rebellious history.

Here’s the story in a nutshell…

Two of Canada’s most promising rock acts at the time, Hamilton, Ontario’s Teenage Head and Toronto power-pop outfit Segarini Band, were hosting a free concert at outdoor Ontario Place Forum (now the site of the more spacious, yet inferior Molson Amphitheatre).

Teenage Head was readying itself for the big-time with songs from its latest album, Frantic City, which was already receiving heavy airplay on Toronto’s big rock radio stations Q107, CHUM AM and FM, and CFNY (now known as The Edge). Excitement was noticeably high for this freebee, and lathered-up faithfuls numbering in the hundreds began lining up many hours before the Ontario Place gates opened.

Ten thousand mostly inebriated fans, described by Toronto Star scribe Geoff Pevere in 2011 as “an undulating mass of humanity,” surrounded Ontario Place’s unique rotating stage at 7:30 p.m. and proceeded to boo opener Segarini Band. However, the fans weren’t jeering Bob Segarini and his bandmates at all, although nobody told the guys this relevant fact during their 30-minute set.

Nope. What set off the boos that eventually snowballed into a full-scale riot near the end of Teenage Head’s headlining slot was the decision made by Ontario Place staff to close the front gates in order to keep 5,000 fans from entering the grounds, which were already at over-capacity, with no security. Naturally, people didn’t like this one bit. Emotions escalated and folks began breaking through fences while others began jumping on stage with Teenage Head.

Cops were called in to curb the mayhem, which also included the usual hurled beer bottles and minor tussles. The June 2, 1980, concert was dubbed “The Punk Rock Riot.”

Frankie Venom on stage at Ontario Place during his band Teenage Head’s free show on June 2, 1980

My punker friend Stu (formerly of Hamilton’s The Dik Van Dykes) took part in the madness on that fateful warm summer day. I asked him recently what he thought of the show.

“The Alice Cooper riot paled by comparison,” he said.

Stu was referring to the ghoulish rocker’s infamous no-show at Toronto’s Canadian National Exhibition a few months after the Ontario Place incident.

“The Punk Rock Riot” was immortalized in 1981 by The Items’ in their song “Ontario Place Riot.” For more information, check out Pevere’s article on the event in the Toronto Star.

Next week: Guns N’ Roses and Prince’s Trust Concert

“Ontario Place Riot” by The Items

Freaking Out with Soundways: Psychedelia in Afro Rock, Mor Lam and More

Posted on: May 23rd, 2013 by Ripple Creative Strategy No Comments

By James Sandham

One of the best things about the Internet is the way you can stumble upon just about anything – sometimes without even looking. Which is why I was extremely stoked when a friend of mine happened to share a track with me from an album he happened to come across online: The World Ends: Afro Rock & Psychedelia in 1970s Nigeria. I don’t think it gets much more obscure than that.

But lo and behold, there’s a whole wealth of this stuff floating around online, and all of it is seriously awesome. Subsequently, I’ve been on a huge (HUGE) afro-psych-rock kick this week, an interest that has now spilled across continental borders to include Lao and Thai mor lam, another musical genre that happens to incorporate elements of psychedelia. So this week I want to share some of the standout tracks I’ve come across on this journey.

Ify Jerry Krusade – “Nwantinti/Die Die”

OK, so somehow (at the time of writing) this track had a mere 178 views on YouTube (a good many of which have probably come from me). Not exactly surprising, I guess, given its esoteric nature, but a travesty nonetheless, because this song rocks. It’s the track that piqued my whole interest in the genre, and it sounds like it could have come straight out of 1960s San Fran.

A little historical background from the album’s publisher, Soundway Records: “As the summer of love was blossoming in London and San Francisco, Nigeria was imploding into civil war. Also known as the Biafran War of 1967, it was a grisly conflict taking over three million lives. Yet at the same time as the country was being pulled apart there was a new world beginning. The tracks featured represent a forgotten chapter in Nigeria’s musical history when the youth threw their varied morsels into the pot from hard rock to psychedelic soul when guitars were cherished instruments, symbolic of a new movement, when highlife and Afrobeat played second fiddle to ‘the beat.’”

Everything I’ve heard from this album is amazing.

 

The Hygrades – “Rough Rider”

These guys were also featured on the World Ends compilation. Like Ify Jerry Krusade, it’s a bit difficult to track down any information on The Hygrades, but what I’ve been able to glean so far is this: according to Soundway’s Nigeria Rock Special: Psychedelic Afro-Rock & Jazz Funk in 1970s Nigeria CD booklet, The Hygrades were the creation of Enugu-based guitarist and producer Goddy Oku, and they released a string of 45s for HMV/EMI in the early 1970s.

Oku, who was a talented musician, also had a reputation as a bit of a technical genius. He was known for building his own sound equipment and amps, and even his own guitars. As of 2008, when Nigeria Rock Special was released, he was still running his Godiac studio in Enugu in the east of Nigeria. As this song attests, the world is richer for his work.

 

Chaweewan Dumnern – “Sao Lam Plearn”

Let’s branch out a bit now – from Nigeria to Thailand, which is where Chaweewan hail from. This track comes from another Soundway compilation – The Sound of Siam: Leftfield Luk Thung, Jazz & Molam in Thailand 1964-75 – and is just as mind-blowingly good as The World Ends et al. On this album, Soundway digs into Thailand’s vinyl archives and unearths a broad range of vintage sounds to offer a unique vantage point on the country’s experimental period in musical history.

 

The Funkees – “Akula Owu Onyeara”

This track comes from another of Soundway’s Nigerian complilations, Nigeria Special: Modern Highlife, Afro-Sounds & Nigerian Blues 1970-6, and brings some serious funk to the mix. Originally released as a single in 1973, the title means “don’t beat the madman” in Ibo. The members of The Funkees were all veterans of the Biafran War and recorded a number of singles in the 1970s for HMV and EMI Nigeria, before moving to London to record their debut album The Point Of No Return.

 

Batida – “Algeria”

Last, but not least, how about something a little more modern? This is some of the more recent stuff coming from Soundway, taken from Batida’s self-titled album, which was released last year. The video was made using 1970s archival footage of the Carnival of Luanda, mixed with images of current routines in one day of concert at the Knowledge Pavillion in Lisbon, a brilliant update on some traditional sounds.

Check out the Soundway Records website for more great music. Happy exploring!

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