Back in the mid-80s, Toronto was re-emerging as a musical hotbed with a special focus on a rebirth of the singer-songwriter tradition. The Cowboy Junkies and Blue Rodeo were in their formative stages. Andrew Cash, who had recently signed a solo deal with Island Records, had begun hosting a weekly songwriting showcase at the Spadina Hotel called Acoustic Meltdown, which obtained a cult following among music-lovers in the city.
Future Skydiggers Josh Finlayson and Andy Maize were frequent guests at those shows. They had been friends since childhood, and separately had formed their own bands. Maize fronted Direktive 17, which toured around Southern Ontario. Finlayson played bass in The Ramblers, which had relocated for about two years to the UK chasing the tail end of punk’s glory years. By 1984, both bands had run their course, and the two teamed up to play and record as an acoustic duo under the name West Montrose.
The simplicity and portability of the acoustic format was a reaction to their experience with the noise and circumstance of playing in rock bands. As they continued to write and record and occasionally appear on the Spadina stage, gradually the elements of a new group started to fall into place.
The Haunted came out of Montreal, Quebec, with a dirty and scruffy bad boys image. Formed by Jurgen Peter, it has previously been reported that the band formed as an instrumental group called The Blue Jays in late 1963. This is now known to be incorrect, although the band did start out playing instrumentals, with Bob Burgess on bass, The Blue J's were a separate high-school act for whom Jurgen Peter stood in on guitar once for one gig which was broadcast on local radio.
Jurgen Peter: "In Canada, in the early '60s, there was no such thing as a commercial music industry. The DJ's played only American records and it was common knowledge that they lived off "payola" from the record companies. When we, The Haunted, started to play as a band in the Montreal area, there was no way to get a recording contract, no one to play your records, no booking agency to book us, no large shows and paying gigs to play at, no music magazine or anything like it to promote a local band."
The band was formed in 1991 when Chris Murphy and Andrew Scott met at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design (NSCAD) in Halifax; Patrick Pentland and Jay Ferguson joined soon after. According to Sloan's official website, the band is named after the nickname of their friend, Jason Larson. Larsen was originally called Slow One by his French-speaking boss which, with the French accent, sounded more like "Sloan". The original agreement was that they could name the band after Larsen as long as he was on the cover of their first album. As a result, it is Larsen who appears on the cover of the Peppermint EP, which was released on the band's own label, Murderecords.
Later in 1992, Sloan released their full-length album Smeared on Geffen Records. In 1994 Geffen did not promote their second album, Twice Removed, due to artistic disputes, although it sold well in Canada. Spin named it one of the "Best Albums You Didn't Hear" in 1994. A 1996 reader poll by Canadian music magazine Chart! ranked it as the best Canadian album of all time, only two years after its release. The same poll in 2000 ranked the album third, behind Joni Mitchell's Blue and Neil Young's Harvest. However, the 2005 poll once again ranked the album first.
Like many other groups in Toronto at the time, Bearfoot was formed as one of Ronnie Hawkins' makeshift bands, when Edmonton natives Dwayne Ford (ex Nomads) on piano and guitarist Hugh Brockie were hired in 1971 to play with his Rock and Roll Revival and Travelling Medicine Show.
A short time later, Hawkins had the boys in Brantford, Ontario, playing a club upstairs while he was checking out Tin Pan Alley downstairs. They were playing to a packed house six nights a week. He recruited its singer/guitarist, Jim Atkinson, and bassist Terry Danko (brother of The Band's Rick Danko, another group that owed its start to Hawkins), and added them to his lineup, letting David Foster go in the process.
But within a year, one by one, Danko, Atkinson, and Ford all flew the Hawk's nest. Danko and Atkinson first began writing their own material on their own, and when Ford joined them, they spent a few months on the coffeehouse circuit as a trio, while they haggled with various record labels about a contract.
On the collective recommendations from Pete Seeger, Ian Tyson, and Kris Kristofferson, Columbia Records' Clive Davis signed them to a conditional deal. A few months later they hooked back up with Brockie and Hilton, went to Manta Studios in Toronto with producer Lee DeCarlo, and recorded one self-titled album under the name Atkinson Danko & Ford With Brockie and Hilton.
In the 1960s in Sarnia, the band that would later form in Toronto as Max Webster started out with various names such as The Grass Company, The Quotations, Big Al's Band, ZOOOM. The band chose Max Webster in 1973 in Toronto and originally consisted of guitarist and vocalist Kim Mitchell, keyboardist Terry Watkinson, bassist Mike Tilka and drummer Paul Kersey. Mitchell and Pye Dubois would write the majority of their material, with Mitchell writing the music and Dubois writing lyrics. During his tenure with the band, Watkinson also wrote a significant amount of material, typically one to three songs per album.
Kersey left the band after their 1976 self-titled debut album, to be replaced by Gary McCracken. After recording and touring for their second album, High Class in Borrowed Shoes (1977), Tilka would follow suit and leave the band, being replaced by Dave Myles. Myles had previously played with Mitchell in a series of pre-Max Webster bands, all based in Mitchell's and Myles' hometown of Sarnia, Ontario.
Max Webster's third album, Mutiny Up My Sleeve (1978), was produced by the band and Terry Brown in collaboration with their ex-bassist Mike Tilka (who was now concentrating on a production career), and featured the Mitchell/Watkinson/McCracken/Myles line-up. This line-up would last through their fourth album, A Million Vacations, and a subsequent live album, Live Magnetic Air, both of which were issued in 1979.
20 years is a long time in anyone’s life. Few bands last more than an album or two — a few tours, a song played on the radio, and then they’re quickly forgotten. Alan Doyle, Sean McCann and Bob Hallett have somehow managed to keep the dysfunctional-family-bar-room-brawl-student-art-project-musical-pirate-crew known as Great Big Sea going for two decades. And more often than not, they have done it with more than a bit of flair.
Submitted by Cashbox Canada Source: Canadian Bands
Scrubbaloe Caine is at the roots of what would become several other Canadian household names. The band was formed when guitarist Jim Harmata and bassist Bob Kidd, who'd played together in the mid 60's in Jason Hoover and The Epics and the R&B All Stars, and keyboardist Al Foreman left their on-again, off-again individual groups in Vancouver for Calgary, where they hooked up with mutual friends guitarist Paul Dean and Henry Small (ex of Gainsborough Gallery) in 1970. The five auditioned numerous drummers before settling on Bill McBeth, who Dean had previously worked with in a Calgary-based band called Canada. The band did a few shows together, but Kidd quit in 1972, only a few months in. Jim Kale was recruited as the replacement bassist, following his recent departure from The Guess Who.
The band relocated to Toronto and signed a deal with Dynaflex Records in '73, and headed to Hollywood that summer. They recruited David Kershenbaum as producer and released ROUND ONE on RCA before year's end. The band's dual-guitar attack, augmented by keyboards and occasional harmonica work from Foreman and Small's electric violin made for an eclectic rock mix. The band released a pair of singles, "Feelin' Good On Sunday" and "Rosalie" while touring throughout western Canada. Other tracks included the lead-off "Edmonton Rain", "Daybreak," the bluesy "Feelin' Good About A Blues Guitar," and their cover of the Leiber/Stoller-penned Elvis hit "Trouble."
The DeFranco Family, featuring Tony DeFranco, was a 1970s pop music group and family from Port Colborne, Ontario, Canada. The group, all siblings, consisted of guitarist Benny DeFranco (born 11 July 1953); keyboardist Marisa DeFranco (born 23 July 1954); guitarist Nino DeFranco (born 19 October 1955); drummer Merlina DeFranco (born 20 July 1957); and lead singer Tony DeFranco (born 31 August 1959).
The group had a number of hits between 1973 and 1977, including "Abra-Ca-Dabra" and their biggest hit, "Heartbeat (It's a Love Beat)." Either Tony DeFranco or the entire family appeared in almost every issue of a number of the teen magazines of this period, such as Tiger Beat and Flip. By the late 1970s, the group had faded from the pop scene.
The five siblings who comprised the DeFranco Family were born to Italian immigrant parents and raised in Port Colborne and Welland, Ontario. Initially performing as the DeFranco Quintet, the group found success after a demo tape of their songs was heard by Sharon Lee, editor of teen magazine Tiger Beat. Impressed by what she heard, Lee arranged for Charles Laufer to fly the group to Los Angeles for an audition. Laufer signed the group to an exclusive deal with his company, Laufer Entertainment, financed a three-song demo, and helped them to secure a contract with 20th Century Records.
Buffy Sainte-Marie OC (Beverly Sainte-Marie) is a Canadian-American Cree singer-songwriter, musician, composer, visual artist, educator, pacifist, and social activist. Throughout her career in all of these areas, her work has focused on issues of Indigenous peoples of the Americas. Her singing and writing repertoire also includes subjects of love, war, religion, and mysticism.
In 1997 she founded the Cradleboard Teaching Project, an educational curriculum devoted to better understanding Native Americans. She has won recognition and many awards and honors for both her music and her work in education and social activism.
Buffy Sainte-Marie was born in 1941 on the Piapot Cree First Nations Reserve in the Qu'Appelle Valley, Saskatchewan, Canada. She was later adopted, growing up in Massachusetts, with parents Albert and Winifred Sainte-Marie. She attended the University of Massachusetts Amherst, earning degrees in teaching and Oriental philosophy and graduating in the top ten of her class. She went on to earn a Ph.D in Fine Art from the University of Massachusetts in 1983.
In 1964 on a return trip to the Piapot Cree reserve in Canada for a Powwow she was welcomed and (in a Cree Nation context) adopted by the youngest son of Chief Piapot, Emile Piapot and his wife, who added to Sainte-Marie's cultural value of, and place in native culture.
Eye Eye was a Canadian rock band in the 1980’s who were signed to Duke Records.
The band had its roots in The Oh Nos, a Toronto band whose members included vocalist Bill Wood and guitarist Andy Ryan. After that band broke up, Wood formed the band Billy Club, while Ryan joined with drummer Mark Caporal to form Eye Eye as a duo; vocalist Michael Bell and bassist Doug Ruston were soon added. Both bands were finalists in Q107's Homegrown talent competition in 1984, which Eye Eye won; the following year, Eye Eye were also finalists in CBC Television's Rock Wars and the Rock Express/MuchMusic Talent Search.
With this success, the band entered the studio to record a demo which attracted interest from several record labels, but their early contract offers were withdrawn when Bell left the band. Wood then rejoined the band as Bell's replacement, and the band signed to Duke Street Records in late 1985.