Sunday, August 9, 2009

Journal from the Hiatus

First off, my apologies for the long delay in entries this summer. I am on somewhat of a self-imposed hiatus this summer due to my new employment. I am the restaurant manager at Bob-Lo Beach House & Grille on Bob-Lo Island (off the coast of Amherstburg) and the long hours have made attending musical performances or properly listen to CD's a virtual impossibility, so I've had to take a step back. When the restaurant's "season" expires in the Fall, I promise to back in full force, updating this Blog once again several times a week.

So what's up Windsor (and beyond)?

Some thoughts and comments on the summer I've missed so far...

1) I am truly saddened that I missed out on PhogPhest. Anyone that knows me well knows how much Windsor's local music scene means to me. It has been at times a frustrating lover, an intellectual whore, or a nursing shark. But I have loved being a part of it, on stage and on paper, every second of the way. When Phog won Best Live Music Venue on CBC Radio 3, there where few prouder than I. When Tom and I initially talked about who should play, I was ecstatic that Tom was on the same side as I that local talent should dominate the line-up. But my work obligations made attending the event impossible. The day I had been looking forward to since I first took up the fight for the scene had arrived and I wasn't able to attend. Bugger. It's taken me weeks now, but I'm finally able to look at pictures, read Blogs and watch videos of it. For those who were there, I hope you realize how special a moment you were a part of.

2) I missed some amazing shows and CD releases so far. I was able to catch the end of the Two For The Cascade CD Release (for As God Intended) and it was fantastic. I also managed to check out Charles Benn's CD release/going away party, which was a real gem that I wasn't expecting. I missed some glorious others, unfortunately. I would have killed to see Field Assembly's release show, or Yellow Wood's come-back show at The Room, or Ten Indians' 20th Anniversary Finale. I had also hoped to check out return of Woods of Ypres to the homelands, the CD release for This Is Me As A Woman, the reunion of Sewing With Nancie, the debut of The Magic Hall of Mirrors and many many other great shows, from both local faves and out of town delights. Again, I hope you all have been enjoying these shows that every local band has put on this summer. Remember that there are plenty of us out here that would LOVE to be there each and every night but cannot and we still support you.

3) Many people have been asking me what's up with me. This time last year I was in two bands: The Golden Hands Before God... and The Hung Jury. Now, seemingly I am in neither. Well, after taking several months off after a very busy three years as a Golden Hand, I have gotten together with some friends to make more music. On Saturday August 22nd, I will be on stage with the debut of my newest project, The Vaudevillianaires. It's a riff heavy loud rock band and I've managed to join up with some dudes that are a real joy to be around. I've been working with guitarist/co-vocalist Ted Dimoglou a lot lately (due to our day jobs) and it's been a thrill playing with someone whom I've admired musically all the way back to one of my earliest Windsor Scene heroes, Big Daddy A & The Merves. Joining Ted on guitar is Eddie James, who played in one of my other Windsor faves from years gone by, Hogfat. I'm reunited with my Golden Hands alumn Damien Zakoor on drums, who's always a pleasure to play with, and we're finalized with Damer's bandmate from The Tyres, Ken Jean, on bass (who was my favourite person in the Tyres movie, hands down). It's been a lot of fun and hope to see some peeps out at our unveiling. I'm also hoping to join back up with The Magic Hall of Mirrors when the work load tapers off. I was around when they started up but had to go on work leave for the summer. There you go. All caught up.

So thanks to everyone who made this Blog such a success during the first half of 2009 and who have asked me loads of questions about its disappearance since the "hiatus". Keep sending me CD's (I promise I'll catch up in the Fall) and I'll see you out in the clubs...

Thursday, June 4, 2009

CD REVIEW: Evelyn Falls "Dirty Girl"

Evelyn Falls, "Dirty Girl"
Produced by Evelyn Falls

If Detroit is Rock City, then Windsor is at least Rockville (with apologies to REM). Whatever Detroit was brought up with - from Motown to the Stooges and beyond - Windsor has reciprocally absorbed and that is why I think Windsor has a untapped resource for local music diversity.

With that being said, it's surprising that Windsor hasn't taken as much advantage of its rock heritage as it perhaps should. It seems that indie rock and singer/songwriters such as Yellow Wood, Ron Leary, Michou, alternative rock such as Ashes of Soma, StereoGoesStellar and One Man's Opinion and metal like Fiftywatthead and Lodown have dominated the national circuits, while rock and roll seems to have become an afterthought.

Well, that is about to change. With bands like The Golden Eagles, Time and The Tree Streets releasing some exciting new releases and bringing full on rock shows back to the fore front, rock and roll is coming back in a big way.

Another band ready to unload their rock and roll is Evelyn Falls, who drop their new album, Dirty Girl, this Friday June 5th at The Chubby Pickle (762 Ouellette Ave.).

Dirty Girl is a 10 song offering, self produced with an honesty and raw approach that captures their sound perfectly. These guys aren't spending their nights trying to figure out some kind of new sound to change the face of music. Like so many of Windsor's most successful bands - Inoke Errati comes to mind - they aren't trying to re-invent the wheel. They're taking a tried and true highway and simply making a few of the side streets their own.

The guitars are monstrous and seem to encapsulate the sounds of both Zakk Wylde (Ozzy Osbourne, Black Label Society) and Jerry Cantrell (Alice in Chains), crossing the preverbial streams to make a bombastic tapestry around some gracefully melodic heavy rock and roll. The vocals are passionate (although they waver occassionally) and their honesty and passion is never in question.

I have to be honest - songs (and bands) like this are not exactly my cup of tea anymore. I spent many a year hunting for the latest guitar rock band in my youth but I definitely look for something with a bit more substance these days than sophomoric lyrics and big guitar swells, but Evelyn Falls have done something that few have done lately. Taken me back to a time when I didn't care what they were necessarily trying to preach and just rode the rock and roll riffs to a great night of partying with some good friends, bouncing along with the intensity and passion of the players and hoping I could sneak in the door at sunrise and not wake my parents.

Good to see rock and roll is still alive for all the right reasons.

Evelyn Falls CD Release Party at The Chubby Pickle (762 Ouellette Ave.), Friday June 5th

Saturday, May 23, 2009

EVENT PREVIEW: Ron Leary's Last Stand

The Big 3 (Ron Leary, Kelly "Mr. Chill" Hoppe and Scotty Hughes)
Billie's Place (3179 Sandwich St.)
Saturday May 23, 2009

Okay, that 'last stand' comment may be a bit dramatic, but tonight is Ron Leary's last official booked gig as a Windsorite before he heads off to the Big Smoke and becomes a Torontonian. And it's tonight on the West end.

Ron is perhaps one of the most fluid performers you'll ever see. And by that I mean he has the ability to seemingly play with any rag-tag combination of musicians and still sound amazingly like Ron Leary. Whether it's him by himself, in a combo with Adam Fox and Yellow Wood's Rideout Brothers or as part of The Big 3 (which also features the stellar gifts of Kelly "Mr. Chill" Hoppe and Scotty "Shoes" Hughes), it never falters too far from the tree and Ron's songs still shine through as the star of the show.

Ron was a huge influence on The Hung Jury when we started out - he let us play with him when no one else knew who we were and he encouraged and groomed Kelly Nicholls into the songwriter and performer he is today - and I'd imagine he's had similar effects on a multitude of other performers and songwriters in this city. He's going to be a tough act to follow and an even harder cog to replace.

Ron's debut album, theroadinbetween, garnered critical acclaim across the country and parts of the U.S., and became the definitive soundtrack for summer in Windsor-Essex County for many local residents' during 2006. And as he prepares to begin work on the long overdue and highly anticipated follow-up, you can bet your bottom dollar no city will be as proud or as supportive as Windsor when he comes back for a release show.

The good news out of all this is that Ron will still be coming down to play shows in Windsor, just not as frequently as before. Which, in all honesty, may be a good thing. For him and especially for us. After all, perhaps now, knowing that another Ron Leary gig isn't right around the corner, many musicians will start to realize how much we've taken Leary's songwriting for granted and how much we actually miss it.

I know I will.

(Poster designed and created by Stephen "Earl" Nilsson)

Friday, May 22, 2009

EVENT PREVIEW: Big Night of Awesome at 156 Chatham St. West

I've had a lot of wonderful nights at 156 Chatham St. West. I've played some great shows at both The Loop and The Coach with almost all my past musical projects. I've had some great nights of drinking (which resulted in some not so great mornings of cursing drinking) at Pogo's, and watched some amazing music at every venue in the building.

Tonight marks one of those great nights where the Loop and the Coach simultaneously have shows going on that I desperately want to see. It makes for an exciting night of running up and down the stairs, burning calories in the name of rock and roll.

Downstairs at the Coach and Horses is a send-off show for Death or Comber. These guys have quickly become one of my favourite new local bands in recent memory - their self-titled debut CD is superbly produced by James O-L (he of Villainy fame), with some fantastically mature songwriting from guys who used to be in the pop-punk band Majority D. But it appears that Death or Comber may be over before they really began, which is a shame. It appears their singer is going off biking on the East Coast for the summer and their drummer is moving to New Zealand for teacher's college. Here's hoping that when the singer - known only as Kurt - comes back from his maritime cycle tour that they regroup with a new drummer and keep this machine rolling. These guys have a bright future ahead of them if they chose to pursue this avenue. They're being sent off with some great opening bands - two bands that could easily have headlined this show, or any show for that matter. Explode When They Bloom and James O-L & The Villains are opening the show, which is slated to start promptly at 10pm. Death or Comber, closing out the night, is expected to go on around midnight, so don't show up at 1am expecting the show to still be about to start. You lose, suckahs!

Upstairs at The Loop is a triple threat bill of some great music as well. Starting off the show is the sultry sounds of Andrew MacLeod (of The Mindframes). MacLeod has been playing a lot with his band, The Mindframes, and as part of Eric Welton's band, so it's nice to see him playing his own solo show. Not sure if he's bringing a backing band of any sort for this - I'm not sure The Loop's size is very acccomodating for solo acts, but you never know. Andrew has a great presence of mind, so if anyone can pull it off, he will. He's followed by Tara Watts & The Vamps - which is Tara Watts avec backing band (see I learned some French in Montreal), which I'm assuming is the same backing band she used at her CD release party - Chad Howson (Another Saturday Knight) on drums, Johnny West on keys and her brother Brandon Watts on bass. Tara's CD About Love is a true gem of an album, beautifully recorded by Eric Welton, with some great playing all around. Finally, the night is being closed out by the electro-acoustic lushness of Two For The Cascade. Since becoming a four piece from a two piece, 24TC been steamrolling some great shows and picking up a lot of buzz as they approach their highly anticipated CD release party in July. Which will probably be their last live show for some time as vocalist/Moog tickler Stefanie Zaccagnini is due to give birth with her and husband/vocalist/guitarist Kevin Buckridan's child in the coming months. The special bonus? Prior to the show, they'll be screening Martin Scorcese's brilliant documentary/concert film The Last Waltz featuring The Band. This movie is pure musical magic.

And you know what will make "gig surfing" an even more viable option tonight? Both shows are 100% completely FREE. So now you have no excuse.

Thursday, May 21, 2009


This weekend, electronic music fans from around the world will converge on the Detroit-Windsor area for Movement 2009, a continuation of the Detroit Electronic Music Festival (DEMF) that began in 2000.

Showcasing many of the world's top electronic artists, from world-class DJ's to innovative electronic ground breakers, it not only showcased the world's elite performers in the electronic genre, but re-affirmed the rich history that the area has had in the creation of some of it's initial pioneers, such as Carl Craig, Derrick May, and Windsor's own Richie Hawtin (aka Plastikman).

Featuring such recognizable names as Bad Boy Bill, Benny Benassi, Carl Cox, Derrick May, Kevin Saunderson, RJD2 and the legendary Afrika Bambaata, this year's festival - taking place once again at Hart Plaza from Saturday May 23rd to Monday May 25th - will once again have a Windsor flair, as two of our own are doing sets during the festival. DJ Heidi (or Heidi Vanden Amstel for many of the original Loop goers will remember her from) will be bringing her bag of tricks from across the Big Pond for a set at the Beatport Stage on Saturday from 4pm to 5:30pm and the ever innovative Kero opening up on the Red Bull Music Academy Stage on Monday (starting up the show for Afrika Bambaata) from 2pm to 3:30pm.

But for those who can't make it over for all (or any) of the dates but still want to take part in the festivities, here's a little guide to what's going on in Windsor for the weekend in celebration of this year's Movement festival.


Listen to DJ Heidi on BBC Radio 1's "In New DJ's We Trust" Program
r's own globe trotting DJ sensation Heidi (pictured left)is also a co-host on BBC Radio 1's underground electronic program, "In New DJ's We Trust". She's co-hosting the show which you can hear on-line from 2am until 4am on BBC's website here. Remember, this is 2am on Friday (so technically you'll be listening when you get home from the bars on Thursday night!). If the live time is off your radar, you can listen whenever you like anytime after off the website.

CJAM 91.5 FM Official Movement Simulcast Party & Movement Radio Weekend
CJAM 91.5 FM, Windsor's only campus and community radio station, is doing something special for Movement this year. Starting at midnight each night over the weekend, until noon the following day, CJAM will be doing special electronic programming to keep you going until the next Movement (although that last sentence kind of makes CJAM seem like a musical laxative). On Friday May 22nd, they're hosting a special Movement party at Dean Martini's (63 Pitt St. East, Second Floor), that will be simulcast on CJAM 91.5 FM and hosted by CJAM's own resident electronic guru, Josh Bryant, from 10pm until 2am. Featured on the bill include local DJ's VEX, FURS, Adam Francesconi (from CJAM's Rhythm Gallery) and subMENTAL (from CJAM's Braille Radio program). This event is open to anyone 19 and older and there is no cover for this special CJAM sponsored dance party.

Move: Pre-Movement Party at The Boom Boom Room
The Boom Boom Room
(315 Ouellette Ave.) has arguably been Windsor's electronic mecca for years now, enticing some of the world's best DJ's to mark down Windsor as a viable stop on their world tours. It's no wonder they'd be jumping in on the Movement excitement this weekend, although it's a bittersweet party. Featuring local DJ's Ian Hind and Waseem (pictured left) (in sadly, his final Windsor gig as he prepares to leave for Vancouver for Film School at the end of the month), the Boom Boom Room always knows how to throw a party and with these two manning the decks, it should be jumping for sure.


Kero at DEMF After Party in Detroit

If you won't be able to check out Kero (pictured below) for his Monday slot at the Red Bull Music Academy Stage, but you're over at Movement on Saturday, you can still catch up with him at one of the Official Movement After Parties. Kero will be joining the Friendy Intergration party at Blondies (2281 West Fort St., Detroit, MI) featuring CLP (Chris Deluca vs. Phono), James Ruskin and others (including Windsor's Ian Hind). Starts around 10pm and will undoubtedly go to the wee hours of the morning. You know, those nights where you realize the sun has been up for hours, and you're still a bit intoxicated ordering an Egg McMuffin. Tickets are $20 at the door and it's open to anyone over 18. For more details, check this out.


ENTAL at Kill Your TV II Movement After Party in Detroit
subMENTAL is the DJ alias for Angela Desjardins (pictured left), the host of CJAM's Braille Radio, and she's one of over 40 DJ's spinning at this massive after party on Sunday in D-town. Featuring such stars as Joey Beltram, Ben Sims, Aux 88, Evol Intent and Reade Truth (amongst a whack load of others) at the City Club Complex (400 Bagley St., Detroit, MI). They're opening up all four clubs for this event - City Club, Leland Ballroom, The Labyrinth and Studio 54) and it ends at 10am on Monday. Yes, another blurry eyed morning of hallucinations and fast food breakfast burritos. subMENTAL is spinning in Studio 54 on Sunday and the event will also feature visual projections by Kero. You can check out the complete list of DJ's here.

There will probably be more events going on as well but these are ones of special interest for those of you who will be getting their electro-dance groove on this weekend, likely calling in sick (or drugged) on Monday (and most likely Tuesday and parts of Wednesday as well). Electric boogaloo, my babies!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

EVENT PREVIEW: Indie Showcases at The FM Lounge, starting tonight!

Thanks to some creative planning by local musicians (and all around great guys) Pat Robitaille and Ryan Fields, FM Lounge (the Venue Formerly Known as The Fish Market, 156 Chatham St. West) will be hosting a creative and exciting showcase of local music each and every Tuesday night, beginning tonight!

The idea is showcase a variety of musicians and singer/songwriters from Windsor's vibrant music scene, of varying levels of success. Some artists may just be starting out, while others may be battled hardened touring pros. Each artist will showcase material in a small set amidst the intimacy of the FM Lounge's four walls. Pat Robitaille will be hosting the events at first as the night grows, with special guests joining him for each great session.

Between each "classic format" performer (i.e. guitar and voice) will be some electronic artists playing music as the next performer is setting up. This is a great way to see/hear some local electronic performers do their stuff outside of a sweaty dance club or late night party and in doses that those who don't generally like the genre can absorb and hopefully appreciate the intricacies involved in assembling electronic sounds and beats.

There are some great perks to attending these showcases (which will directly follow the already existing Last Trio Sessions lead by Alan Penner, where you can see some live jazz performed by Penner and his co-horts - absolutely free - from 7pm until approximately 10pm), apart from witnessing some great music from a wide array of local talents.

First off, the entire showcase night is free. That's right. There is no cover for this Tuesday night event. And let me tell you, you're getting a bargain.

Also, there will be weekly giveaways to the patrons who come and hang out at the FM Lounge each Tuesday to experience these showcases. These will usually be tickets to area shows and such, and they are top dollar tickets!

Here's the line-up for tonight's showcase (Tuesday May 19th).

10:00 - 10:30pm - Jackie Robitaille

10:45 - 11:15pm - Adam Ridout-Arkell (of Yellow Wood)

11:30 - 12:15pm - Pat Robitaille

Between artist music will be provided by (wh)y.m.e.(??), who will also close out the night following Pat Robitaille's set.

The giveaways for tonight's show include:
  • Two (2) tickets to Bedouin Soundclash with The Stills at Shores of Erie Wine Festival, September 10, 2009
  • Two (2) tickets to Edgefest 2009 in Toronto, June 20, 2009 (featuring Metric, The Stills, K-os, Alexisonfire, AFI, and more)
  • Two (2) passes to Media City 15 Film Festival in Windsor, May 20-23, 2009
  • Two (2) tickets to Michou, Pat Robitaille and StereoGoesStellar at The Blind Dog in Windsor, May 29th, 2009
Not bad for the first week, eh?

Next week's edition (May 26th) will feature the following:

10:00 - 10:30pm - Efan!

10:45 - 11:15pm - Michael Hargreaves (of Michou)

11:30 - 12:15am - Pat Robitaille

Between artist music provided by ST. AMRA (the electronic duo featuring Stefan from Michou and Efan! and Adam from Yellow Wood) and there will be great giveaways again, including more tix for Bedouin Soundclash and the Michou/SGS/Pat Robitaille show at the Blind Dog.

Friday, May 15, 2009

EVENT PREVIEW: Creative Walk for Windsor

Okay, anyone who knows Tom Lucier (co-owner of Phog Lounge) knows he can be a bid obsessive-compulsive about his causes. Not to say his causes aren't superb, justified and needed, but Tom has a way of being everywhere (from YouTube to Twitter) that sometimes his causes are lost in his eccentric soap boxing.

Well, I've supported many of his ventures and attended several of his call-0uts, but this is one that I think he is 100% correct on.

On Monday morning at 9:30am (yes, that's right, a.m.), on Windsor's 117th Birthday, Mayor Eddie Francis will be taking citizens on his Mayor's Walk down by the Riverside. Well, there are some within the creative class (as well as Windsor-Essex Walks) that are suggesting we take a Creative Walk for Windsor to intercept Eddie's walk and after watching Tom's plea, I fully agree.

Here's the details from a press release:

Creative City Walk
Monday, May 18, 2009
9:30 am – 2 pm

Windsor Endowment for the Arts (WEA) in partnership with Windsor/Essex Walks and are inviting all local arts groups, artists, arts advocates, children, seniors, families, and visitors to join us to celebrate Windsor’s birthday, together as a community.

Health, sports, businesses, environmentalists, designers, chefs, everyone is invited to join Windsor’s Walk for a Creative City.

Our efforts will reinforce our commitment to Windsor as a creative and cohesive community, while highlighting our diversity and strength - together as a group.

9:30 a.m: Meet and warm up at Morning Flight sculpture, Riverfront Sculpture Garden
10:00 a.m: Let's start walking!
11:00 a.m: Riverfront Festival Plaza with food and entertainment

Meet up with friends and let's show everyone what a great and creative community we are! We need your support to show commitment to OUR CITY.

Walk for Our Creative City!

If you are an organization, business, group that wants to participate, please contact Pina at

Okay, got it? Good.

Now watch Tom's video plea for people to attend. He's bang on the money. There's been far too many calls-to-arms put out by so many people, from playwrights to musicians, from bar owners to gallery owners, and so many Windsorites (especially those directly involved) who ignore or chose not to attend. The city will never take us seriously if those within the arts community continue to ride the apathy train rather than affecting the change personally. As someone who has long championed a creative cause and far too often seen the people I've been defending and trying to encourage stand by the wayside waiting for me to continue to put words in their mouths or direct unknowns to their websites, I can say I feel his pain.

So I will be there at 9:30 am. And like Tom Lucier, I ask you to think about it the next time the public or the media or someone ignores your art. Have you really made your presence known and your voice heard, or are you stuck in a cycle of playing to your friends at a comfortable bar? Is this what you really want to do or is this something you want to do to justify the late nights and expensive instruments?

It's your call friends. Meet you in the morn with our coffees and are eye boogers. Let's show Windsor who we are and why we do this.

We are the creative voices of Windsor, Ontario. If we don't care if our own city knows who we are, they why should anyone?

(PS - The art piece they're referring to - "Morning Flight", located at the end of Askin at the river - looks like this:)