The Abrams Brothers-From Bluegrass to ‘Newgrass’

Cover, Julu 29, 2011

Story: Lenny Stoute
If John Abrams is a typical 20-year-old Canadian youth then our country is in for a bright future. Right on the rim shot of 9 a.m. the front man for bluegrass rockers The Abrams Brothers is on the line from home base Kingston, Ontario with the story of the Coldplay connection.

Just before new album Northern Redemption closes out there’s the unlikely explosion of Coldplay’s anthemic ‘Viva La Vida’. Since the originals are pretty cohesive on the theme of music’s redemptive power, quite how that one fits in is a puzzlement.
“ Ok, that one was just for us,” laughs John. “We’re huge Coldplay fans and we thought it would be really cool to do a bluegrass country rock version. We started playing it live and people liked it so then we thought to make a video, really just for fun.
It took some doing but we ended up getting the song to Coldplay. They sent word back that they really liked our version and gave us permission to go ahead and do the video for free.


Wackers Backstage

Bob Segarini returns with Music Matters next week. Please visit our feature article today  by our new contributing journalist Jaimie Vernon, the author of the forthcoming book, Canadian POP MUSIC Encyclopedia.

by Jaimie Vernon

Forty years ago Bob Segarini and Randy Bishop were on the way up with their California dream band, The Wackers, living a post-Beatle existence criss-crossing North American clubs in an attempt to capture the rock and roll brass ring. Elektra Records had already given them a one-album shot under the name Roxy and so label president Jac Holzman found their newly configured glam pop act an antidote to the pretense of label mates The Doors.

As a tightly knit five-piece – which included Bill “Kootch” Trochim (bass, guitar), Ernie Earnshaw (drums) and Mike Stull (guitar, bass) – The Wackers entered musical stage right with the Gary Usher produced “Wackering Heights” in 1971. And on subsequent trips to Montreal they recorded “Hot Wacks” in ’72 and “Shredder” in ’73 – an album that gave the Wackers their only legitimate hit single in Canada with the tune "Day and Night”. 

Music Matters for July 22nd 2011: Untold Stories of Rock…Because I’m Wack in the Saddle Again.

Music Matters

Normally, I would be writing a column about a band I think you should know about, the injustices involved in what has happened to the radio and record industries, or some bauble of shiny nonsense that has caught my attention that I think you should be aware of.

Truth be told, I actually have something nice to say about Rebecca Black's new single, "My Moment", and a rather funny take on the deep doo-doo Rupert Murdoch has found himself in, but I just haven't had time to write these witty and amusing tales to enlighten and amuse you.


Because I am up to my tired, red, and blurry eyeballs in the reunion of a band that hasn't been in the same room together in 38 years. The band in question is the focus of the second story in today's column, a tale that touches on a small part of our first trip to Montreal, a trip that would eventually lead me to move to Canada and find myself still living here and loving it almost 40 years later. If you want to see the band that left California for Montreal all those years ago, we'll be playing a set (or at least trying to play a set) at Cherry Cola's in Toronto on Sunday, July 24th between 7:00 and 11:00 pm. Be advised that a lot of people have decided to have a peek already, so get there early.if you decide to join us. More about the reunion in these pages at a later date. In the meantime, here's a tale of the Mom that Loved Her Boys, followed by the second tale, The Beer of Destiny.

Robin Givens tells on the ‘Church Girl’

Cover July 22, 2011

Story: Lenny Stoute
Photos: profileent.ca

As usual in Toronto, once mid-summer hits all thoughts turn to cottages and aid conditioning. Down on the baking streets, flocks of colourful sundresses return from their annual migration, eagerly followed by the Common Shorted Male and everywhere, dogs of every size and shape shuffle and pant. All hot, all dragging ass. Just looking at them makes you hot too.

BLANK CITY a Must See film of a Cultural Art and Musical Revolution


If you knew better then to think of bringing sandwiches to the first Police Picnic then you would remember when disco died and hairspray bands soon got the Doc Marten Boot from a new and raging scene emerging from, England, New York, and down under, “Punk Rock” was born. The Toronto punk scene was blossoming in the 70’s with venues like Klub Dominoes at 1 Isabella Street. The 3rd floor nightclub that had once been an after hours disco Mrs. Nights, bounced to the tunes of Deejays like Chris Shepherd, Dave Allen, Ivan Palmer and then the video files and charts by Arthur and Brian who’s collection of rarities inspired a new scene of in club visual arts far before digital imaging made it way to the airwaves.

Groups like “Japan, Anti No Where League, The Deserters, UK Subs and Black Flagg” cranked it up to what now became Canada’s number 1 underground scene breaker.

The trend was set and the scene kept growing, Nuts n Bolts, Crash and Burn and the after hour’s scene of Voodoo lounge with Dave Allen & Siabhon spinning tunes at the top of a growing surge for an anti normal society. Reunions are abound with the Klub Dominoes’ Alumni, Bat Cave, with Ivan Palmer and talk of the long over due reunion for the Voodoo club and lounge that are bombarding the cyber blogs and social networks on line.

Music Matters for July 15th 2011: Different Strokes for Different Folks.

Music Matters

I am not a critic. I’m especially not a Critic. I think the best way to criticize something you personally dislike, especially in the media, is to simply not mention it. Why give something credibility that grates against your grain like fingernails on a chalkboard or ketchup on a perfectly cooked slab of Prime Rib?

Kit Andrew Brings The Big Time To Little Burl's Creek!

Cover July 15, 2011

By Don Graham

On the weekend of August 26 to 28, 2011, the biggest names in country music will make an appearance in the little town of Burl’s Creek (Oro Station), Ontario, just minutes from Barrie, Ontario, which of course is just up the road from Toronto, Ontario. The first annual CMT Music Festival will bring together some of the finest talent for a weekend of music, family fun and celebrations.

That is the great thing about country music and musicians. Where else would you get this many headliners sharing a bill and a stage? It really is what rock ‘n’ roll used to do. Back in the days of Woodstock, Monterey and Newport, rock bands would unite in a festival atmosphere and create a great environment for music and good times. It seems now that all the rock bands prefer the arena/ stadium route and don’t want to share the bill and revenue with other bands.   But country music still believes in bringing the music to the people and The CMT Music Festival is a perfect example of this way of thinking.  Country music is like the “cool” uncle that everybody wants to hang out with, easy to get along with and fun to be around. Rock music is more like the big brother that everyone wants to hang with because he’s cool and struts around like he’s got the world by the tail.

Music Matters for July 8th 2011: My Favourite Summer Songs and Why I Love Them.

Music Matters

Here’s a collection of videos and some anecdotes to while away a hot, languid afternoon this weekend or enjoy anytime you feel the urge. These songs all impacted me in positive ways over the years and all of them have made a lasting impression.

The humanity in this music, so often missing in music these days, doesn’t make me long for the past, but rather, excited to hear it returning as we speak. There is so much great music being made today, I have every reason to believe that music is healthier than ever, and the personal signature and the unique quality of well crafted songs is much more important than following the herd. Summer’s here, the music is all cued up and waiting for us. Shall we?

Louie Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald: Summertime:

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.

Syndicate content