A Tribute to Neil Young

There was a tribute show celebrating the musical life of Neil Young that was tied into this years Luminato 2009 Festival in Toronto. The line up was fabulous and tickets were gone in no time at all! Man, I wish I was one of those lucky one!

Relive a milestone in Canadian music history.

On January 19, 1971, Canada’s legendary singer-songwriter Neil Young gave a solo concert at Toronto’s Massey Hall. Audiences there heard for the first time several of the iconic songs that would later appear on his albums, including his best-selling LP Harvest – yet the live concert recording itself wasn’t released until 2007.

I was so pissed that I didn’t get any that I put the show out of my mind. Then today I came across this site, with complete audio of the show! It was just out of the blue that I found it and i just wanted to share it with all those Neil Young fans out there. Even the lucky bastards that went to the show!

“There is in Young so much talent and so much quiet charm that he’s bound to stick around for a long time, maturing and writing and rewarding his audiences.” Jack Batten, Globe and Mail, Massey Hall concert review, January 20, 1971.

Listening to Colin James do Heart of Gold was great! He did it in a reggae format, very different. Steve Page, ex-Bare Naked Ladies front man, did his first public appearance at the tribute, since his arrest in Buffalo. He performed Journey through the Past. Sister Euclid did a cool version of Helpless. As a matter of fact, I was in downtown Toronto when we attempted to break the record for most guitarist in an ensemble playing that very song! They called it “The Great Canadian Tune!”.

So check it out, you might just find some neat new versions of an out classic there.

Neil Young just Keeps on Jammin’




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The Toronto Beaches Jazz Festival was a blast!

My wife and I went to the 21st Annual Toronto Beaches Jazz Festival and we just fell in love with this event! Imagine, 2 km of closed street with 50, yes you read that correctly, 50 bands playing on street! They were at just about every other corner. Each band that night played 3 sets from 7:00 pm to 11:00 pm. They all staggered their performances so as not to drown out each other.

It really was a magical night! We quickly found some parking, walked along the boardwalk and got to the beginning of the street fest faster then I thought we would.

We were first greeted by the sounds of a jazz fusion band with this fabulous violinist graciously blasting out solo with all he had! Then came the smell of the Beaches Festival, the FOOD! Note: if you plan to attend next years event, GO HUNGRY. Too many types of food to mention in this post.

The atmosphere was really electrifying. The relaxing buzz, that seemed to be coming from everywhere, was quite family friendly. Kidz, dogs and everything in between where out there last night. There weren’t all that many people walking around at first, but that certainly changed 2 hours later.

The styles were very diverse. We first witnessed a fusion band, then a Dixie land band, followed by Salsa/flamenco guitar players, a BIG BAND (all were really tight) then a blues band. The organizers were trying to highlight Big Band’s, Swing, Dixieland, Smooth, Post-Bop, Afro-Cuban, Fusion, Funk, R&B and Soul sounds. Wow, is to put it lightly.

This video captures the sounds of this band correctly. The Visual well …

At the end of the night the band we both found the most intriguing was a band called Project Phoenix. We were so impressed that we bought one of their CD’s titled Milestone. Go and listen to the song called “Jump for it” on their site. It was the last song they played last night and it was purely brilliant!

So if you love any of the styles that the Beaches Jazz Festival provides us at their event, then this is a must see for next year! See ya then!

Beaches Jazz Festival, Keep on Jammin’

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Half Past four

Now Half Past Four, that played last at the Nuance show, is unlike any band that I have heard or seen in a long time. Crafting original, fresh soundscapes from their headquarters in Toronto, Canada, Half Past Four offers exquisite musical novelty and experimentation to true musical connoisseurs and rock-party goers alike is how they define themselves and I must agree.

They are very difficult to pin their unique style, done to just one genre of music. It’s not that I’m trying to, but for my readers this may just help them out a bit.

Crafting original, fresh soundscapes from their headquarters in Toronto, Canada, Half Past Four offers exquisite musical novelty and experimentation to true musical connoisseurs and rock-party goers alike.
Half Past Four

The music is progressive in natural, but the stage presence is pure art rock. During their performances, the band has videos playing behind them all the time. If you get the opportunity to see them live, PLEASE pay attention to what’s going on in the background, it’s worth it!

The lead singer is hypnotizing and infectious to watch! Together, they elevate their audiences musical adventure to a whole new, very entertaining musical experience.

Everything about this witnessing this band live is new and refreshing to me. This is one of those bands that you route for to make it big! If you are in the GTA area, you must check out when and where they are playing … once again it’s worth the drive.

Keep on Jammin’

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Bare Naked Ladies-less

As you may or may not know, Steven Page, one of the founders of the Bare Naked Ladies has now left the band to pursue a solo career. The crazy boy band from Scarborough Ontario is saying good bye to one of the masterminds behind their great success for the past 20 years!

I for one, like his old band. They were lots of fun and full of unbridled enthusiasm on stage. They brought out the kid in you and that really is what makes them a stand out act in today’s copy cat music world.

Steven Page’s first solo attempt (while still with the Bare Naked Ladies) was called The Vanity Project.

I only started to listen to bits and pieces of The Vanity Project while writing this post and it’s not that bad. Hit and Run is played in an open tuning format that has a nice, full feel and sound to it. The one called These Wasted Words reminds me a Toronto band called Needy Fingers. So Young, So Wrong, So Long is the type of song that one takes on a long road trip and Here Today And Yesterday has that incredible Klautu aura about it! I think I might pick it up!

My wife and I always wanted to see BNL live, but never got the chance. I guess they’re another great Canadian act that we never get to experience. Don’t get me wrong, The band The Bare Naked Ladies will still exist without Steven Page and perhaps we’ll see them play someday, but it probably won’t quite be the same. At this time the remaining members of The Barenaked Ladies do not plan on adding a new singer – they’ll continue on as they are and in fact are in the process of getting ready to go on Tour later this year.

Steven and the boys were not there to blow you away playing speed music or had that in your face onstage persona.

Steven Page was the one guy in the band that everyone could relate to. He is the modern day resonance man, and that is what he is about to do again. His next venture will be in the theatrical arena. He is the musical composer for the Thomas Patterson Group, Bartholomew Fair at the Stratford Festival. This appears to be a natural progression for him to follow. I think that he will eventually gravitate towards the stage, not the orchestra pit.

Steven Page’s style of guitar playing is very simple and straight forward and very much to the point. Nothing fancy at all in his approach but, it does the trick. His rhythm guitar playing is his bread and butter while playing in the band, plus he has done the odd little guitar solo here and there.

While reading the Toronto Star at work the other day, I noticed an article about Steven Page. It was about his first public musical exposure to the world since leaving the Bare Naked Ladies (BNL). He will perform as a solo act in the Neil Young tribute show coming up Wednesday, June 10 at Massey Hall here in Toronto. It will be part of this years Luminato festival of arts and creativity. I wonder what he will try and pull off at this gig, it’s anybody’s guess really.

As for Stevens adventure into the world of theatre, I am not sure if it will involve him in front or behind the stage. I can envision him in serious roles, desperately attempting to shake off the type casting of his kid like antics on the musical stage with BNL. I think this will be good for him. It will be an adventure that we will all be watching closely. So best of luck to Steven Page in his future endeavors!

My question to you all is, will he reach the lofty heights in his new career as he did with the Bare Naked Ladies?

Keep on Jammin’

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2009 Brenda Carol Renaissance Jazz Fair

This event, Brenda Carol Renaissance Jazz Fair, seems to be taking the neighbourhood by storm! Believe it or not, my neighbour told me! Once again I found out about this near by extravaganza by leafing through my bi-weekly newspaper called the Mirror! The only thing was I found it this Sunday, about 2 weeks after it was delivered! In the words of my good friend Charlie Brown, Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!

This event, the 3rd annual no less, sounded like it blew the lid off the joint. The event was held every night from Friday Jan. 30th through to Sunday Feb. 01. The joint in question is our local Renaissance Cafe at 1938 Danforth Ave. in Toronto. This place is about half the distance from our home, as compared to the Broadview Espresso Cafe, so I can even ride my bike there.

Checking out some of the acts that were held at this year’s event, it looks like Brenda chose a nice collection of jazz bands. I love the fact that they had a one much younger player in this year’s line up. That musician is Sam Dickinson on guitar, at the tender age of 17! Wow, there was even a guy playing there from my home town of Brantford named Kyle McGregor! He played both guitar and piano on Sunday.

Jazz music is a positive and creative genre played from the heart for the sheer love of the art.
This jazz fair is intended to showcase performers giving them the opportunity to perform in front of
peers, a respectful audience and to enjoy this exceptional opportunity. This Jazz Fair is not an open
stage show. All performers are selected and allotted performance time.

This time, I have given myself a reminder of the show next year and God willing, I will be able to give you a REAL critique of the event!

Keep on Jammin’

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The band called Klaatu

The Canadian Progressive Rock band Klaatu certainly needs no introduction. The myth/rumor of “Klaatu are the Beatles” didn’t hurt the bands career either.

Some of Klaatu’s great compositions are Calling Occupants, Anus of Uranus, Sir Bodsworth Rugglesby III and Doctor Marvello just to name a few. Bands just don’t make music like this any more. Where is the passion, ingenuity and originality?

They were so massively talented in so many ways, that I can not possibly begin to tackle all of their skills in just one post! I will try though to sum them up in a couple of simple areas. For the un-anointed, sit back and enjoy a terrestrial ride.

  • The Sentimental Factor
  • Myth/Mystic
  • Sound of the band

First of all there is the sentimental factor. Klaatu was CANADIAN! Their music resonates in Canadian minds of the good times that we, as a country, were experiencing! When I was around 9-10 years of age, I distinctly recall listening over and over to the song Sub Rosa Subway. I would be in my parents backyard, with that old silver Radio Shack AM radio, goofing around with the family doing whatever, just having good old family fun!

As for America’s first subway
The public scoffed, “It’s far too rude”
One station filled with Victoria’s age
From frescoed walls and goldfish fountains….
To Brahmsian tunes …

Next came the mystic of the band. Nearing the end of the Beatles era, a band was rumored to be the actual Beatles working in a clandestine project. Who were these members, where did they come from? It was a mystery and myth to most of us at the time. Everyone who thought that this group was in fact the Beatles, frantically searched through any and all of their past master pieces and for subtle clues. You can see how this would make the rabid fan lose many a nights sleep, looking for their lost heroes, just listen to Klaatu’s sound.

Let’s face it, even the electronic voice analyzer in Australia thought it was Paul McCartney singing Sub Rosa Subway. Dee Long Klaatu

Then came their distinctive sound! In some of their anthems, you could easily hear similarities in the voices.

Klaatu had many fans listening to the bands songs backwards looking for any hidden meanings. To decide for yourself, go to the Klaatu website and click on The MUSIC, in the top left of the site, look down towards the section and click BACKWARDS MESSAGES! You then have to go through a disclaimer that rightfully so, blasted some idiot who illegally took the bands hard work from their site, and created his/her own YouTube video, uploaded it to the site and then had the balls to take credit for it! Fucking idiots!!! It has since been removed by Youtube! They do have the backwards messages section nicely set up and it’s easy to use. It allows you to listen to some of the songs in question, forward and then backwards. The words show up when playing them backwards and it is quite astonishing!

So I hope that you enjoyed the trip! I just loved posting on this topic. I hope to keep the art of fine Canadian Progressive Rock music alive!

Keep on Jammin’

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Moog Taurus Pedal

The Moog Taurus pedal is an analog synthesizer that is played with your feet. It helps fill out the song your playing with that real church pipe organ/deep base register sound. The best example of this sound is when The Police used this pedal at the beginning of Don’t stand so close to me. This ancient, blast for the past, is precisely what your looking for, if you want that little extra something for your sound!

If you’ve ever seen a church organ up close or in pictures, then you may have a better idea of what this instrument looks like. Hey, if you ever went to someone’s home and they had one of those ‘ol cheezy home organs, then you’d have a good idea as well! The Moog Taurus pedal looks exactly like the pedals at the bottom of these organs. You play it with you feet!

The Moog Taurus Pedal has been around for ages. Bands that have or had them in their musical arsenal are bands like RUSH, YES, Pink Floyd, the Police and many other rock, fusion and metal performers from yesterday, right up to the present day scene!

The thing that got me thinking of this was while playing with CounterPoint the other night. Chris Noto, the best bass player that I have ever had the privilege of playing with, brought it up while taking a break. He said his brother has one and that he’d love to get it from him if he could, and believe you me, this guy REALLY knows what he is talking about. The way this guy plays the bass, if he had one of these things, it would sound like he is playing 3 instruments at once! Just imagine what it could do with your sound.

So check out the links on this page and learn for yourself what this could do for your band’s sound.

Keep on Jammin’

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Playing Guitar with CounterPoint

So on Thursday Oct. 30 I was jamming with Counterpoint!

This is the band that was playing in the 2008 Nuance Art Rock festival. This experience was one that I will remember for years to come.

The guys in CounterPoint are looking for a guitar player that will help round out their unique sound. As you’ve read in some of my other posts on this blog and on my Guitar Licks and Tips site, I have been very excited about how these guys approach song writing and how they play, because they achieve that BIG FAT sound that I LOVE.

The guys from CounterPoint

They asked me if I wanted to jam/try out for the guitar player role for these masters of progressive rock, when I saw them that fateful night at the show. I hummed and hawed about this for months it seemed (really it was only a couple of weeks). Then finally one night I said to my wife, what the heck and just threw my hat into the ring! That night I had a lot of trouble sleeping. In the back of my mind I was saying to myself Am I really ready for this?

We then set a date to get together. It was delayed a few times because of this, that and the other thing, but finally we got together.

When we sat down in the rehearsal hall, Rising Star Studios, I was finally relaxed. You couldn’t find a nicer bunch of guys. We sat and talked for a while, they even brought a couple of beers to make the jam more relaxing, nice touch.

I just stuck to my coffee because I had the songs that I went through at home in my old brain box running in overdrive and I didn’t want to mess anything up! As a rule I don’t like to drink when I play guitar, unless it’s at a campfire or just goofing around here and there. While jamming with guys of this caliber, you need to have your head screwed on correctly! As it turned out, these were just your regular kinda guys and I had absolutely nothing to worry about.

Keep on Jammin’

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