Proudly Canadian: The Blushing Brides

The 'Brides' Live.jpg

Submitted to Cashbox Canada

In late 1978 one Kingston, Ontario musician, Paul Martin was dragged into a dingy club in Montreal called the ‘Grande Bock Tavern‘ on St. Catherine Street. He was told that the band playing there that nite would be of interest to him, in so much that he, being a connoisseur of the music of the Rolling Stones, would appreciate this local Montreal bands antics & approach to performing covers of not just the Stones, but of Bowie, Dylan, Springsteen & the J. Geils Band. Not just covers of the hits of these artists, but obscure numbers as well, B sides, not normally heard from a ‘classic cover band’ of the time. After seeing this interesting little troupe called ‘Jade’, he decided to make a gesture to the front-man of ‘Jade’, one Maurice Raymond. Would he, Maurice, be interested in joining his band, “Consilium” as their front-man.

Maurice decided to take up Paul on his offer and packed up his bags & scurried off to Kingston with childhood friend & guitarist James ‘Doc’ Green in tow for both moral, musical and spiritual support. Both Maurice & James become members of a now touring, though on a very localized (the Canadian Provinces of Ontario & Quebec) and small scale, rock band. Complete with a manager, (Gord Nichol, Paul’s one time High School Prof.) crew and staging…they set out to conquer the world.

The bands initial goal was to play covers of bands like the Stones, as well as working in some of their own material to see if they had the RIGHT STUFF, to be a writing / recording entity of there own…Things took off from the start, with the combination of players, Maurice on vocals & harmonica, Paul & James on guitars, Martin Van Dyjk on bass, Richard ‘Rico’ Berthiaume on drums and Andre Lasalle on keyboards, ‘Consilium’ shocked & excited audiences wherever they played, with their ‘ take no prisoners ‘ approach to both the covers they played and their original, though limited, material.

After a name change, ceremonially performed at the legendary ‘Chaudiere Hotel’ outside of Ottawa, on New Years eve 1979, the former ‘Consilium’ became “ The Blushing Brides”. (Lets set the record straight on where the name came from once and for all, Gord Nicoll, the manager of the band came up with the name after, and I quote “I had a vision in a dream” unquote!!!)

From the start, it became apparent to the band and fans alike, that the newly dubbed ‘Brides’ had a certain flair, when it came to playing the compositions of one Mr. Jagger & one Mr. Richards…What with the physical similarities of Maurice to Mr. Jagger & of Paul to Mr. Richards, it became difficult for fans of the ‘Brides’ NOT to associate them with the Stones. This was never more apparent then after the ‘Brides’ first U.S. show in Syracuse, NY at the now defunct “ Uncle Sam’s “. The response was so overwhelming that the word of this ‘STONES’ band spread like wildfire across the northern U.S states, with the ‘Brides’ becoming a cult, must-see phenomena.

The Blushing Brides’ popularity grew so quickly they soon were playing at amusement parks where attendance could reach over 10,000 people. During the years of 1979 – 80 – 81 ‘The Brides’ averaged 250 performances a year, a staggering number at any level of the music industry. With the experience gained over this initial period the band became a ‘devastating live act’, with few rivals.

A major label bidding war began and in 1980 with RCA Records offered the group a five-year recording contract. Their 1981 debut album called ‘Unveiled’ produced a bona fide Stones-ish hit single with “What You Talkin’ About”. To capitalize on their popularity in the Quebec market they even re-dubbed 4 songs in French and issued an EP there.

Although a majority in the band thought it would be a better idea to drop the Stones’ schtick completely and focus on the original side of their material, if they hoped to sell the album, some members (one actually, Maurice) within the group had other ideas on how to proceed with the ‘ Brides’ original course. During a cross Canada arena tour with Chilliwack, the differences of opinion became too great between the other members & Maurice & James were, after finishing the tour, voted out of the band by the majority members, Paul, Martin, Richard & Gord. The remaining members continued to tour & attempted to record the second ‘Brides’ album with a new singer and guitarist, but were dropped by RCA before its release. Maurice was recruited by the ‘Brides’ U.S agent from Flash Groups Agency, Rudi Slavi and headed stateside to form a comparable band named “ Lonely Boys “. James headed off to join a group named “ Perfect Affair” out of Toronto.

After both the ‘ Brides ‘ and ‘ Lonely Boys’ found limited success The Blushing Brides were reformed, sans James, in 1984 with a deal brokered by the bands original road manager Richard Diamond. Richard settled into the Lead guitarist spot that was left open. The band resumed its stature as one of the world most formidable live acts with the additions of drummer Doug Inglis (Formerly of Goddo) & Mike Mozak on saxophone, along with original ‘Brides ‘ Paul Martin & Martin Van Dyjk. The band put together one of the industries best equipped and well oiled touring units on the circuit at the time, travelling the U.S & Canada with two 22 foot trucks of sound & lighting gear, one motorcycle (for soundman extraordinaire, Eddie Freedman) and the legendary “ Blue Slumber”, the bands personal form of conveyance. The mythology of the ‘Brides’ prowess became the envy of rivals and compatriots alike. When the ‘Brides’ rolled into town, the whispers were heard, “The Rock Show’s in Town. ”Occasionally the band included in its show keyboardist Cam Butler & and percussionist Sasha Tukastch (formerly of Platinum Blonde).

Some have called this line-up of the ‘ Brides’ and this period, “the Glory Years “ of the band. And, with the group back to performing 150 – 200 concerts a year, it was no doubt the most ‘musically ‘ formidable assemblage. The bands credo at the time, “50 of you will NOT make it past the first song!!!” was never more true.

From 1984 until 1990 there was little change in the band, with only a few casualties along the way. The departure of Doug Inglis to other projects, replaced by Jack ‘JackeeBoy’ Fuller and Vic Cassis replacing Martin Van Dyjk on bass, the band continued to tour consistently thru those years.

The biggest blow to this Brides juggernaut came with the departure of co-founder, Paul Martin in 1990. Paul had decided that it was time for a change of scenery. He married and settled into a less hectic lifestyle. Maurice, being the sole original member left, found life without his ‘Partner in Crime’ a difficult time. After a few stints with players the like of Paul Cockburn & Gary Silver attempting to fill the shoes of the formidable Martin, fate finally smiled down upon him, with the meeting of Desmond Leahy, another Toronto guitarist far more in the mould of the departed Martin. Although Des was his own man in guitar terms when compared to Paul, he and Maurice soon found a common bond thru their mutual political beliefs and their love of the printed word (books) & found their own symmetry on stage.

As the years passed, guitarist Richard Diamond decided to strike out on his own as a solo artist but lacked the proper frontman persona to pull off the songs convincingly. Raymond was soon brought in and in no time the record was soon dubbed a Blushing Brides project.

In 1995 The Brides signed to Toronto-based Strawberry Records (distributed by A & M), recorded by Mike (Spike) Barlow with additional tracks recorded at Phase One and Arnyard Studios in Toronto. A single, “Feel Like A Man”, was soon released and the band hit the clubs with a combination of their original material and Stones cover tunes. The Brides’ lineup became Maurice, Richard, Sasha, Desmond, bassist Glen Olive and keyboardist Dylan Heming with the band continuing with this line-up until 1997.

In recent years the band has been doing select venues in the Northeastern U.S & Canada as well as Western swings thru Canada performing 50 + shows a year, with Raymond and Martin reteaming on occasion for the ‘classic’ version of the Brides.

There have also been new additions to the band, with Daniel Hoffenberg ( guitar ), Lee Boice ( guitar ), Rodney Ledbetter ( drums ) Shane McConnell ( bass ) filling the bands slots in the U.S. & Des, Richard, Sasha & or Doug or Jack on drums and Matt Jacob on bass footing the Canadian dates.

After 30 plus years of touring the ‘Brides’ continue to bring fans of the Rolling Stones a unique performance perspective on the music of the Stones. Far more violent, sexual, and daring then the now cookie-cutter type performances of the Stones, The ‘Brides’ continue to live up to the title, “ The World’s Most Dangerous Tribute to the Music of The Rolling Stones”.

Information Courtesy of www.theblushingbrides.com