The Year in Music: 2012
Here are the highlights from this year’s local music scene. Listen up!
If I look like a deer in the headlights, it’s because the details of my “career” have me running around in circles. I have been straddling a fence between the old and new ways of marketing music, and it’s exhausting. My years preparing to perform and supporting performers at the Headwaters Arts Festival were good schooling around marketing. Posters, flyers, tickets, sound, lights, chairs, phone calls, helpers. It’s actually all very exciting. What stumps me is the new business of electronic promotion. I know we’re in transition to what may be a better way of doing things. And I suppose I’m in the middle of it, getting familiar with the Facebooking, the tweeting, the blogging – and all the general online presence required to put your face in everybody else’s face as much as possible. But do I really want that? I’ve only really ever wanted to be able to live and succeed in my own community, to be appreciated by my neighbours and peers, and to measure my work by the satisfaction it gives me. Yes, I want to make money and I’m nervous about my market going elsewhere, but I can’t helping feeling that every day spent in front of a screen figuring out how to use these fabulous electronic tools is just another day lost from the real goal of making music.
Till The Morning Shows Her Face to Me
Recorded at North of Princess Studio, Kingston, Ontario – 2011
Greg Tilson, son of our long-time MP David Tilson, writes, sings, and plays guitar and harmonica with this fabulous large band/orchestra currently working out of Kingston. Favourite “folkestra” of Charles Spearin of Broken Social Scene, The Gertrudes have a wonderfully naïve and exuberant sound, reminding me of another indie living-room band called Beirut. I’m a sucker for banjo and – ooo – a good theremin now and again. Sweet vocals, intimate lyrics and a casual groove that only happens when a band is in synch, The Gertrudes were a super happy surprise to me. Favourite tracks: Six Jars and Carolina, very Louisiana. Discords, banjo, cello and accordian (yup, accordian), even trombone. All my favourite things.(But what is “spectral processing”?)
The CD is available at Booklore on First St. in Orangeville.
Recorded in Los Angeles, California – 2011
Loud and proud, Sass Jordan, winner of Billboard’s Best Female Rock Vocalist award, has toured and worked with the likes of Cheap Trick, Van Halen and Carlos Santana. Her songs have also been featured on numerous TV shows, including Party of Five and Melrose Place. Now she’s teamed up with her musical friends Brian Tichy and Michael Devin of Whitesnake to create S.U.N. (Something Unto Nothing). Their eponymous CD is full of hardcore rock guitar and mind-bending bass music that was written in two weeks when the band holed up in the mountains of California’s Canyon Country. Favourite tracks: Favour and Fortune and Mobile Again.
Dream of a Perfect Day
Recorded at her studio in Hockley Valley – 2012
Iconic Shirley Eikhard lives right here! How ’bout that? Her latest CD is another lovely helping of her trademark sultry rhythms, poignant lyrics, and intriguing vocals characterized by the throaty, from the belly thrust that brings jazz greats like Billie Holiday and Etta James to mind. With her honest and reflective prose, vocal range and dance-around timing, Shirley always gives us “something to talk about” – and to think about. She’s still got it. Classic talent, Shirley “works alone,” playing every instrument and arranging, engineering and producing all. Favourite tracks: Early Train To London – flashback to beehives and miniskirts, and The Nature Of Life. She’s a natural.
Recorded at The Woodshed, Toronto – 2012
Dynamic Erin McCallum has come out with another Detroit-style blues CD. I reviewed her 2006 contribution 5 A.M. Blues and saw her perform again at this year’s Blues and Jazz Festival. Powerful vocals and presence along with skillful musicianship make this a tight blues ship. Erin’s new CD is just like being there, only with some major Jack de Keyzer sprinkled on top, from playing to production. (Remember Jack from all the years he has rocked our Blues and Jazz Festival?) Erin and I swapped CDs – I love the music business. Some flat-out great photos of Erin in the sleeve. Favourite tracks: Hero, for the delicious guitar, and Complicated Woman, for the lyrics.
Recorded in parts at Wellesley Sound Studio and Andaluz Records, Toronto, and at “House On The Hill” Studio, N.S. – 2oo7
Treat! I’m a bossa nova girl for sure. Very authentic, Paul and his fellow players capture the feeling of Rio de Janeiro in these eight original tunes. Recently married into the neighbourhood, Paul has already made a generous contribution of his time and skills playing locally. With a jazz diploma from McGill and a guitar, Paul found his way to Rio in ’88 via Denmark, San Francisco, Mexico and Guatemala, and played with some of the greats in a nightclub gig that lasted three years. Favourite tracks: Ipanema Breeze and Rio Bossa. Everybody samba!
The Groove Collection:
Celebrating 10 Years Of Orangeville Blues And Jazz
Compiled in Orangeville – 2012
Another great CD commemorating our fabulous Blues and Jazz Festival, the mix of songs was taken from mainstage performances this year. Carlos Del Junco, Jill Barber, Harp Dog Brown and, of course, the fearless Festival maestro Larry Kurtz. It’s a great cruiser of a CD and a fundraising vehicle for the Festival, so consider picking up a copy in support. The CD is available at the following locations:
- Booklore on First St.
- Blighty’s Tuck Shop (behind Timmys on First St.)
- Ardvarq Music on Broadway near Mochaberry Coffee Shop
- Broadway Music just west of John St.
Favourite tracks: Where’d My Baby Go by Dwayne Dopsie & The Zydeco Hellraisers, and Isolation Blues by Charlie A’Court. It’s like being there, but without the rain.
Recorded at Karasound Studio – 2011
Wendy is this year’s big surprise for me. Extraordinary. She and her band played at the Blues and Jazz Festival Gala. Sexy, sweet and soulful, she made some of the menfolk a tad uncomfortable as she gyrated to pull out those sorrowful notes from deep within. Wendy is something to see and hear and is some kind of writer. Surprise again – Don Breithaupt, her keyboard player, is reviewed here as well. Love her to bits. Favourite tracks: Slow Dance Hotel has a kind of Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head feel, and Beautiful Sinner – “I’m going to forget everything I’ve ever known…”
Do What You Love
Aporia Records, Toronto – 2012
Multidimensional Lily Frost skips right into the first song of this way fun CD of ’50s and ’60s British, poppy, swingy, go-go girlie, tell-it-like-it-is tunes. Clearly I love her work and to see her live is a whole other ball. Sure, fun rhythms, but she is mesmerizing to watch – beautiful, tall and lithe. And there is always interesting instrumentation, such as megaphone, trumpet and wurlitzer, not to mention hubby José’s vintage and playful electric guitar. He’s a soundtrack unto himself. Favourite tracks: Without a doubt the first, Background Radio, and I’m on Fire – “…with flowers in my hair.”
The Great Alton Fire
Recorded at BWC Studios, Brampton – 2012
Ryan Masters is another Harmony Rainbow Group prodigal, so on this CD you will hear smatterings of Jae Marr, David Joseph and Stewart Gunn, to name a few of the members. Ryan’s songs take interesting and regular musical detours, and his phrasing and the imagery in his lyrics definitely pull you into the set of his conversation/song. It’s an easy, folkie/poppy listen with some sweet instrumentation, and the sleeve has a wonderful wraparound, antique sepia image of our fair village of Alton.
Favourite tracks: She Sings in Key and Tree Island.
Enter The Chaos
Recorded at Man Behind The Curtain Studio, Orangeville – 2012
I don’t need to retell what a labour of love it is to make a CD. This 16-year-old sorcerer has created a fantasia of sound with wisps and influences of Roger Waters, Peter Gabriel and Brian Eno, some of our favourite progressive rock legends, exploring “psychedelic, medieval and renaissance style keyboards with modern/1980s style electronic beats and incorporating elements of electro-industrial, future pop, and world music” – his words, to put a fine point on it. Jacob Lang, aka Malus Caelestis, has conjured a beautifully crafted product. Favourite tracks: All would be great candidates for a futuristic screenplay. Good work, young feller.
Falcon Jane Music, Toronto – 2012
Ah, our Sara May. I say “our” because she’s in my daughter Clancy’s age group and circle here in our community, where our children’s lives overlap and hence do ours. Generation upon generation. We watch each other’s lives unfold, and in Sara I see a child who was apparently influenced by The Beatles, Pink Floyd, Leonard Cohen and WKRP. Master of the long sentence, Sara May got the message out years ago with her double set Keep In Touch But Let Go, which I reviewed in these pages, and those messages keep coming to the end of every breath. A consummate creative force.
Favourite track: Yours (A Plane Ride Away).
Hunger Of The Heart
Recorded at Bruce Ley Studio, Mulmur – 2012
Dignified Bruce Ley has plenty to say about matters of the heart. Without giving away his ring count, Bruce’s pool of influence in the early going was the Rat Pack and Canadian country croon. A real old softy, Bruce’s warm piano swept me away on this CD, as it did on my own, and his lyrics bare some pretty tender territory. Bruce’s musical friends are all over these well-crafted arrangements.
Favourite tracks: How Did He Make You, Leaving Home, and anything featuring the choir.
Recorded at BWC Studios, Brampton – 2011
There go my speakers – again. Tagged “Crossover Hardcore Metal Old School Punk Thrash Brampton,” some of you may imagine why I could only listen to this piece in moderation. Um, where do I begin? Cory McCallum once told me I was talking sh**. It was true at that moment (you had to be there) and is also true in this case. What do I know but that this is more headbanging scream therapy, possibly for new dads. Although I can barely distinguish lyrics, I’m pretty sure there’s some swearing and I’m pretty sure they’re good because we’re talking Cory McCallum, who is pretty much a legend in these parts. Hardcore electric guitar and drums – this much I know.
Favourite tracks: Butterfly Effect, and Go For a Soda and Don’t Come Back, mostly because I like the title – amusing.
Recorded at The Drive Shed Studios, Toronto – 2011
Oh boy, I think I’ve hit a bit of a vein here. Don Breithaupt has been a busy career musician. Wow – guitar solos by Kim Mitchell and Rik Emmett, a song co-written with Marc Jordan, and an extraordinary guest list of veterans who have played or sung for the likes of Boz Scaggs, the Pat Metheny Group and Steely Dan. They’ve all come together to remind us of that essential groove. Remember? The one we left behind? Yes, Don lives here. His CD is something of a throwback for me. These are my bands. This is my music. But more, Don adds a Doobie Brothers, even a Johnny Clegg pull. This is good music for me. Favourite tracks: I Could Do Without the Moonlight and Lebanon.
Recorded at the Horse Hospital – 2011
“Freakout Indie Psychedelic Swamp Rock” is how this new masterpiece by the Lazers is tagged. Cory McCallum, Stewart Gunn and the rest of the boys are done wowing the earth for now, but have left little unsaid. Great lyrics! Imagine a fabulous mix of tempos and emotion à la Todd Rundgren, Rocky Horror, Spiders From Mars and a dash of – The Association? Steely Dan? More genius synth, phrasing, harmonies and discord. Another circus in a box from long-time Harmony Rainbow Group members.
Favourite tracks: Standing in Line and Stew’s Blues – “It’s all I can do to keep your lashes dry.”
Love Songs For The Open Range
Recorded at Bruce Ley Studio, Mulmur – 2012
Lisa Watson, tireless promoter of the local music scene and scribe of all the reviews you’ve read on these pages, launched her own CD this fall. The 13 love songs by such musical poets as Lynn Miles, Leonard Cohen and Bob Dylan are driven by eloquent lyrics, not a note of cheap sentiment among them. And Lisa’s beautifully pure voice does them all justice, laying her angelic high notes over her haunting lows. With superb instrumentation by a host of talented local musicians, these are songs for thoughtful lovers.
Favourite tracks: Ain’t Life a Brook and that heartbreaking tribute to enduring love, The Dutchman. – SB
If you are a musician or band reviewed on this page and would like a link, song or video embedded please email the details to Valerie Jones. Thank you!