Features

The Swing and The Sting Of Ashley MacIsaac

Cover July 8, 2011

Story:Lenny Stoute

There has never been a fiddlin' fool like Ashley MacIsaac and Lord knows it'll be a long time 'till we see his like again. So it's great to know he's still with us and kickin' it Ash-style. Which translates as: Send lovers, guns and money and take no prisoners. Oh wait, that's Ashley Bad Boy and dude says he ain't down with that no more.

Or not. Depends. Not that he'll ever roll over and take shit but the former ‘enfant terrible’ acknowledges since he’s no longer ‘enfant’ he’s likewise past the ‘terrible’ for its own sake stage.

“ I just came in from checking the gutters because now I have a normal life and I can still stay creative. I’m mainly focused on the music now but I guess I’m still somehow pissing people off because I regularly get death threats. Been getting them for years.”

Here’s where the going gets tricky. The man’s a known media manipulator who takes an impish glee in the prospect.  Here’s a typical exchange on that subject, of the sort which continued throughout the conversation.

“ How did you deal with all the trash that was written about you?”

Music Matters for July 1st 2011: My NXNE Awards and a Canada Day Untold Story of Rock.

Music Matters

Canada Day. A celebration I hold very dear because of my love for this, my chosen home and, in my opinion, the best place to live on this tired old mudball. Apparently, a lot of people agree with me from all over the world. We are a diverse people who have come here from all over the globe to be Canadians. We choose to be here, our cultures are welcome here, and we live for the most part, in multi-part, multi-cultural harmony.

When asked, I tell people I am Canarican and live in the greatest country in the world. Sometimes, I think we should be called The United Provinces of Canada. That’s a name that sounds as awesome as we are. The good old UPC…our home and native land has a nice ring to it, don’t you think? Makes us sound bad-ass, too. Jordan JohnJordan JohnWe are united in our desire to live free and well, and at the same time allowed to keep our cultures in tntact while we enjoy the cultures of our friends and neighbors. I can have Canadian bacon and eggs for breakfast, a taco for lunch, a plate of manicotti for dinner and order Chinese food late at night. I can take the TTC to neighborhoods that are unique yet buttressed up against one another. You can walk down Bloor, or Dundas, or College Street, or many other Toronto arteries and tour the whole world, and all of Canada is much the same way.

WAYNE BUTTERY’S GOT THE SUMMERTIME BLUES. IN A GOOD WAY

Wayne Buttery 1

Story: Lenny Stoute

Once you go Bananas you never go back. Just ask blues man Wayne Buttery who’s made a career on its appeal. Buttery broke into the Toronto music scene in the Sixties as part of the Canadian Blue-Eyed Soul Invasion, which included acts Tony Flaim, George Oliver and Johnny Wright. All those cats were singers though and Wayne was content to wail on guitar for the moment. In the early Seventies he stepped up the act by co-founding a 50s nostalgia act called Bananas and helped move them in a short space of time to being the best known band of their kind in all of Canada. At first, Wayne wasn’t singing and didn’t really care all that much until the night the singer didn’t show for a gig.

“ We did a quick check and as I was the only one who knew all the lyrics, I was it. It was three songs before my knees stopped knocking and then after that I started getting cocky”.

With Wayne now the lead singer, the Bananas appeal soared and toured all across Canada and into the US for the rest of the decade, along the way playing with stellar blues acts of the period including Wilson Pickett, Muddy Waters, Dutch Mason, James Cotton, Gary ‘U.S.’ Bonds and like that.

Of course, all good things come to an end. Or not.

Michelle Wright Answers the Call of the Hall!

Cover July 1, 2011

By Don Graham

Canada's country songbird and ambassador of all things good about Canadian entertainers, is poised to receive one of Canadian country music's highest honour. Michelle Wright will be inducted at the Gala Industry Event on Sun Sept 11 at the Hamilton Convention Centre into the CCMA Hall of Fame. On this historical occasion at the Canadian Country Music Association's annual event,  Michelle Wright will take her rightful place in Canadian music history.

In 1985, while performing in a Hamilton bar, Michelle was discovered by producer Brian Ferriman. Ferriman was so impressed with her deep alto voice that the pair signed a recording and management deal that has lasted 25 years, and now it is fitting that Hamilton is the place where she will be bestowed with this prestigious honour in the country music scene.

Speaking with Michelle from her home outside of Nashville, I could sense how centered and content she is with her life right now and how happy she is with the direction she has taken. Her reaction to the induction was simple and direct, "I don't think the reality of it will hit  me until the induction but it is truly an honour to be included in the list of such people and musical icons of Canadian talent."

Music Matters for June 24th 2011

Music Matters

Word of Mouth and How Radio and the Major Labels Sent Me to the Internet for Music

How much has the Internet changed things when it comes to music? As it turns out, not that much. What HAS changed are the ways middle men, lawyers, managers, agents, radio, and record companies can stop you from hearing what’s out there….

I had an epiphany this week thanks to NXNE. I realized that for all the hype, emails, Tweets, Facebook invites, and beer tickets, only one thing got me to get off my ass and go hear a band I had never heard of before.

Word of mouth.

Not just ANY word of mouth, but recommendations from friends and people I know who LOVE music and are prone to sharing their discoveries with like-minded people, of which I am one. “Hey, Bob, you have GOT to see these guys!”, will get my attention quicker than any amount of free beer tickets if it comes from someone I trust.

Why you’ll find me on the Internet and in the clubs…

Are you Friends Of Jack? You will be after you’ve heard them

Cover June 24, 2011

Story: Lenny Stoute

They got oil underneath their fingernails
and a country song in their heart
and the men of Friends Of Jack
don’t give a flying fart
 
First time I ever heard of Friends Of Jack was through a photographer friend lives on Brine Street and known to hoist a few on St. John’s totally rockin’ George Street. He’s the source of the rhyme above, which he swears was chalked on the wall of a popular leaking spot in an alley off George.

Paul John who sings and plays guitar with Friends Of Jack says the story just might be true, given the band’s large and loud following in St.John’s.

The group initially formed in St.Alban’s Newfoundland, hometown for core members and brothers Daryl and Chad and cousin Paul, all last named John. Within the kitchen parties of that small community the siblings cut their musical teeth with lots of help from family members.
: You could say it’s in the blood”, says Paul, “ I grew up with my dad and uncle playing guitar in bands. I was kind of a late starter and when I started I was more into rock”.

Music Matters for June 17th 2011: NXNE First Impressions and an Open Letter to Brian Wilson

Music Matters

Once again, Toronto becomes ground zero for music, beer tickets, and late nights. Between CMW, Indie Week, The Beaches Jazz Festival, and now NXNE, it seems like we are not only the centre of the Music Universe, we are also its jukebox, program director, and Uber Fan.

Aaron Pritchett – Finally ‘In the Driver’s Seat’

Cover June 17, 2011

By Sandy Graham

Take a combination of humble and driven, then put those two characteristics together and you have Aaron Pritchett. Add in talented, handsome, great songwriter and a focused artist and you have the whole package for success. The combination of all of this, and the fact that Aaron Pritchett is completely in charge of his destiny at the moment makes the title of his new CD ‘In The Driver’s Seat’ make perfect sense. For the first time in Aaron’s career, he is calling the shots and making sure the fans get what they want.

I had the pleasure of chatting with this artist, and can honestly say it was such a wonderful conversation, it reminded me once again why I am in this business in the first place – it is all about the music.

“I didn’t start out as a country music fan. I was a rocker. My really early influences were the rock ‘n’ roll legends my parents used to play. Elvis, Sam Cooke, Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, Van Morrison, and one of my all time favourites, James Brown. I ‘graduated’ to rock in the 1980’s; the first record I bought was Loverboy, and I was heavily influenced by Canadian acts back then, especially Bryan Adams. (Pritchett’s new single ‘DRIVE’ was co-written by  Bryan Adams and British writer Phil Thornalley). I also loved Def Lepperd, AC/DC, bands like that;  they were all a big part of the rockier licks I use in my songs today. I grew to love country music because of the lyrics, the songs are all about true life experiences.”

Country Music Association of Ontario Announces New Board of Directors

Story by Natasha Slinko

Country Music Association of Ontario (CMAO) hosted their Annual General Meeting at the Victoria and Albert Pub in Scarborough Ontario this past Sunday.  After a short meet and greet, the CMAO moved forward with the agenda to elect the new blood for the board.

The CMAO is a very dedicated group of music industry professionals that founded and now serve on this board and it is through their hard work and dedication that the CMAO is what it is today.  In a short time they have built up a membership of over 400 and still counting and are fostering relations with all aspects the Canadian Country music world.

The goal of the Country Music Association of Ontario is to foster and support the growth and development of Country Music in Ontario, for managers, artists, singers, songwriters, musicians, bands  promoting the incredible talent we have here not only in Ontario, but across Canada. CMAO promotes the various genres of country music that encompasses country, folk, alternative, bluegrass, roots and Canadiana.
The CMAO is happy to have now expanded the new Board of Directors to include music industry veterans who will bring their expertise and knowledge to the table to further the growth of this organization. The CMAO is dedicated to expanding it's membership to further enhance the networking and participation of the Canadian country music scene.  education and encouraging creativity and the unique contributions of the entire country music industry. 

Blackie and the Rodeo Kings-Send In The Queens

Cover June 10, 2011

Story:Lenny Stoute

A Time Zone mix-up has me calling the Man In The Black Fedora an hour early but Colin Linden is all graciousness in putting aside whatever he was into for a talk.

The Southern gentleman thing suits Linden like a well-worn pair of Levis. Not only has he been resident in Nashville going on 14 years but throughout the conversation, Linden heaps praise on all concerned in the making of the band's new album, Kings and Queens. It's not a false humility rather a genuine enthusiasm for making music.

"We still go at it strictly for the love of the song. It's never about what a song can do for us. It's always about how we can best serve the song, show it off at its best."

Blackie and the Rodeo Kings owes its genesis to this core idea. The band formed as a one-of vehicle to record an album, High Or Hurtin', The Songs of Willie P. Bennett, in celebration of the work of this unsung roots music hero. This was in 1996 and 15 years and six albums later, it's still about the songs.

Kings and Queens drops June 14 and threatens to propel the band into the serious spotlight. This lurks in the wings as the album features collaborations with some of the finest female singer/songwriters currently trodding the boards, among them Rosanne Cash, Lucinda Williams, Patti Scialfa, Holly Cole and Serena Ryder.

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