Album Reviews

Meg Tennant Echoed Light

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Submitted by Don Graham

I have been a Meg Tennant fan for a few years now, catching her live performances when my scheduling permits, so I was eager to hear her latest recording, “Echoed Light”.

The 11 song set was all I hoped it would and more. Co-produced by Tennant and roots rocker Mark Ripp, the album captures the warmth and honesty of Meg’s voice and the production compliments the smooth, articulate writing style that has become the trademark of Meg Tennant’s music.

Originally from the north of Ontario (Sault Ste Marie), Meg now resides in Toronto having spent 25 years out west in British Columbia where she played the coffee house circuit. She shared stages with the likes of Austin legend Eliza Gilykson and the legendary Tom Russell.

Her early influences included Joni Mitchell, Linda Ronstadt, Emmy Lou Harris and the Beatles.

The Respectables featuring the single 'The Power Of Rock & Roll'

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Submitted to Cashbox Canada

With more than 25 chart-topping singles in Canada, The Respectables return with a brand new album 'The Power of Rock and Roll', produced by none other than the iconic Rolling Stones’ 30 years long member and vocalist Mr. Bernard Fowler.

With influences of blues, rock and country, ‘The Power of Rock and Roll’ also features Keith Richards' Expensive Winos band member Waddy Wachtel on two tracks ('Power of Rock and Roll' and 'That Girl ') while Grammy-Award winning composer and arranger Jeff Bova performs the symphonic and string arrangements on another two additional songs ('Oasis' and 'As Good As Love Gets ').

With 11 original tracks to choose from, straight up rock and roll is featured on 'That Girl', 'Give Some' and 'Power Of Rock And Roll', followed with hints of country-rock on the cuts 'Highway 20' and '18 Wheelers'. Two fabulous ballads include the airy 'Oasis' and the very British 'As Good As Love Gets'. There’s no denying that the raunchy road song 'Wheel In My Hand' is a real gas and the tribute track to the band's early beginnings called 'Mardi Gras' is undoubtedly a whole lotta fun - New Orleans style!

Juke Box Hero The Musical

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Submitted by Michael Williams

A little background... the rock musical for me started in Collinwood High School in Cleveland, Ohio, where we all played music, trying to live up to the lyrics of Juke Box Hero long before it was written -that was the magic of Foreigner.

They captured the universality of rock ‘n’ roll dreams, just like Bruce Springsteen, Meatloaf, Journey, Elton John and so many others of the '70s. We lived the lyrics, the music of Foreigner from the beginning. They gave words to our generation’s collective evolving rock ‘n’ roll dreams as if in the Akashic Records, encoded on our DNA. That alone for any music fan or musician is the ultimate compliment.

To survive the battle of time, music intact, the spirit of the songs resonating upon each listen to the anthem "I want to know what love is". Add the commercial success of 80 million records sold, induction into the all-important prestigious Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2013 by Billy Joel...Damn, that is great!

Mick Jones and Lou Gramm shared the honors; they have had several reunions over years, now called Foreigner Then and Now.

Alone, Mick and Lou have battled back from life-threatening health problems and both have survived. Just the fact that they are both still alive and making music is a miracle in itself.

That is a story much stronger and more enticing for any Foreigner fan than the story behind "Juke Box Hero the Musical".  They could have used the song "When The Night Comes Down" as the source theme and done better.

Monte Mader Pour Me Whiskey

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Submitted by Don Graham

To quote an old Timbuk3 song, Monte Mader’s future’s so bright she has to wear shades. This young Wyoming born singer/singer is about to break through with a new album and kickin’ single. A little country and a whole lotta rock “Pour Me Whiskey" from 'The Devil I Know' album will grab your attention and your ears. This is not Monte’s first rodeo, her debut EP with Big Sky, Skydive, brought Monte’s name to people’s attention and the new EP The Devil I Know will solidify her place in the industry.

Monte Ashley Mader was born in the Big Sky country of Wyoming and her rancher Dad was a huge influence on her love of music and zest for life. “My Dad was a musician but gave it up to run the family ranch. He instilled a love of music in me and my early influences were Three Dog Night and The Steve Miller Band. I guess the turning point for me was watching the George Strait movie Heartland. I saw George singing I Cross My Heart and at 5 years old I knew that’s what I wanted to do. But I ended up in Virginia in a bad relationship and knew I had to make a move. On February 10, 2014, I packed everything I owned into a U-Haul trailer and headed to Manhattan. I figured New York City was where I had to be to pursue my music. I had to find out who I was as a person, a musician and a songwriter. I wanted to write my own songs and say what I wanted to say. When my Dad passed away I lost my best friend but I feel him with me all the time and feel him smiling with pride as I move forward.”

John Mayall Nobody Told Me

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Submitted by Iain Patience

There are few musicians who genuinely merit the description ‘legendary,’ maybe a handful at most. But with an octogenarian, UK bluesman, John Mayall, we have the real deal. Nobody could question or disagree that this is a guy who is truly a living legend. Now aged 85, Mayall has been a US West Coast resident for around half his life, and yet he is still often viewed as a UK blues phenomenon. Speaking to the man at home in LA, he is relaxed, warmly welcoming and excited to be again on the brink of a global tour to promote his latest album, ‘ Nobody Told Me.’

When I praise the new release, he is clearly pleased and maybe even proud about it, a twinkling-sort of response as he confirms how much he enjoyed making the album and how he still loves getting out on the road meeting fans with his fellow musicians. These days Mayall has a solid backing band that he feels has become a near-permanent fixture with Greg Rzab on bass and Jay Davenport on drums, together with a more recent addition, Carolyn Wonderland on guitar. With the new album, the band is joined by some heavyweights including Joe Bonamassa, Todd Rundgren and Springsteen’s East Street Band buddy, Soprano actor and writer, Steve Van Zandt. When I mention Van Zandt, Mayall, laughs and says: ‘Yea, I loved the Sopranos, and who would have thought Steve would be a blues player? But he sure is. You’d not think he’s committed to blues but he can do it, he has the feeling. Anybody who has the feeling is okay by me.’

Folk Alliance International 2019 Wasn’t That A Party!

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Submitted by Don Graham

Once again a great success, Folk Alliance International’s annual international professional development and networking conference, the world’s largest gathering of the Folk music community and industry with over 2500 delegates has completed yet another great event.

This year, it took place this year in Montreal, Quebec, Canada between February 13th to 17th at the iconic Fairmont Queen Elizabeth Hotel. This hotel, of course, is the location where John Lennon and Yoko staged their bed in for peace in 1969 and in suite #1742 recorded Give Peace a Chance. And the location is on land that was the territories of the Kanien’keha-ka and Kahnawa-ke people. The Folk Alliance International’s mission is to serve, strengthen, and engage the global folk music community through preservation, presentation, and promotion.

In 1989, 125 people from across the continent traveled to a retreat in Malibu, California, to begin discussions on the formation of a coalition of folk organizers. Invited by Clark and Elaine Weissman and the California Traditional Music Society, they were major presenters and small folk societies, people who’d done business across the continent, but who’d never met face to face. The earthquake that rocked southern California just days before the event was nothing in comparison to how this formational meeting changed the way that the folk music and dance presenters, performers, agents, managers, media, and record companies do business in North America.

Kathryn Grimm’s Blues Tools

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Submitted to Cashbox Canada

Musician/singer/songwriter Kathryn Grimm’s new CD “BLUES TOOLS” is a twelve-song collection of mostly original material in the Electric Blues/Rock genre. The first song of the CD was born in Los Angeles just over a year ago where Kathryn was gigging as a bassist for another artist. In the spare room of a kind couple’s home who put her up “The Best of Me,” her self-proclaimed anthem for domestic violence, was spontaneously penned. “I’d been wracking my brain for some time trying to find a way to write a song with a subliminal message for victims of abuse. Using simple language my hope was for them to see themselves and be inspired to find help. I truly believe that’s what I've accomplished with this song. What I didn’t realize at the time is that I was writing about my own situation.”

Kathryn’s chronic introspection has resulted in several autobiographical ditties on the CD. “God Is Testing Me” was written minutes after she discovered her van had been stolen in broad daylight with her gear inside. “Talking To The Wind” has an infectious Latin Blues groove and is an ode to “being with someone incapable of listening”. “C’mon Home” is a song about the regrets of mistreating someone, “a stinging reminder of a former immature me”.

Orit Shimoni Lost On The Road To Nowhere

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Submitted by Don Graham

The great thing about following the career of an artist for a long time is watching said artist evolve and grow. Such is the case with singer/songwriter Orit Shimoni, a true troubadour in every sense of the word. I have watched her grow musically and have had the pleasure of reviewing and enjoying her albums through the years. Her latest effort Lost On the Road to Nowhere, a 13 song collection, is in my humble opinion her best to date. Orit is a modern-day gypsy, really not having a fixed address, but with homes all over the world, literally. Orit was born Isreal, lived in Montreal and recorded this last CD in the home studio of Martin van de Vrught in the Netherlands. The work was produced by the multitalented de Vrught who lent his skills on guitar, lap and pedal steel, banjo and percussion to the tracks and blended in perfectly with Orit’s guitar and allowed the songs and the sincere and gripping vocals be the stars.

Western Swing Authority Live and Swingin’!

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Submitted by Don Graham

On this Toronto February night, the 25 degrees below zero temperature was bone chilling and teeth chattering but inside the city’s iconic venue Hugh’s Room Live it was Texas hot. From the moment the band hit the stage toes were tapping, hands were clapping and bodies were swaying in swing time. The seven-piece group featuring twin fiddles, Shane Guse and Dan Howlett, guitar whiz Paul Chapman, upright bassist, Matthew Lima, drummer Gary Craig, who did a remarkable job subbing for regular drummer Jimmy Boudreau, steel guitar legend Ed (Pee Wee Charles) Ringwald and vocalist extraordinaire Stacey Lee Guse are in stratosphere all their own.

The Strumbellas Announce New Album and Spring Tour Dates

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Submitted to Cashbox Canada

The Strumbellas are thrilled to announce their fourth album, Rattlesnake, is set for release on March 29th, 2019, out in Canada via the band’s own imprint, Underneath A Mountain Records, under exclusive license to eOne Music Canada; and internationally with Glassnote Records. The band recently released the video for Salvation, the first single from the new album, which is currently sitting at #12 on the Alt-Rock chart in Canada and has surpassed two million streams worldwide. Pre-order/pre-save Rattlesnake here.

Rattlesnake marks a stylistic turn from the group’s melancholy, introspective releases, to an uplifting album with songs that focus more on optimism. Produced by Tim Pagnotta (Elle King, Walk the Moon), co-produced and engineered by Brian Phillips, the album was recorded on the band’s home turf, at the legendary Bathouse Recording Studio outside of Kingston, ON and at Revolution Recording in Toronto, ON.  The nine-track body of work is the sunny side of the street follow-up to The Strumbellas’ Billboard Charting third album, Hope, which featured the #1 single, Spirits.

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