Monthly Archives: July 2012

July Issue of Lipstik Indie

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Reviewed by Carolina Smart

By pure serendipity I came across this CD.  It was mixed in with another package sent to me for review.  Another reviewer was supposed to review this CD but once I started listening to it, I claimed it for my own.  A mix of Motown style 50’s rock and roll such as Stone Cold Man to a 1930’s blues twist with In My Time of Dying and Skinny Girl, Soul Stack is the kind of music you listed to in on a sweaty July night. 

I am thick in the indie music scene and am surprised I haven’t heard of this band till now.  With strong blues guitar riffs reminiscent of Eric Clapton and Howl’n Wolf, Soul Stack has a very smooth sound with tight production.  According to the bio on their website, this album was recorded over a two day period in the winter of 2011. Two day recordings would be reminiscent of artists of the 50’s/60’s due to production costs, I’m not sure if this was the reason here or they were just in the groove, but this is one of the best two day recordings I’ve heard in a very long time.

Band members Jonathan Knight (vocals/guitar) and Tom Bona (vocals/drums) with the addition of Mark Wessenger (vocals/keys) and Josh Knight (vocals/bass) are a group of amazing musicians, who have pulled off what has become one of my favourite album’s of the year.  The album can be purchased through their website http://www.soulstack.com or through CD Baby. 

If you are in the Toronto area, they have a show coming up at The Dominion on Queen (July 14).  More info can be found on their Reverb Nation page (www.soulstack.com).

Track list:
1. Intro
2. Stone Cold Man
3. In My Time of Dying
4. Desperate Times
5. Since You Came Around
6. Skinny Girl
7. In Your Mind
8. Just a Natural Thing
9. River of Love
10. Holy Roller
11. Your Only Man
12. Let Me Be Your Fool
13. Miss Me

Reviewed by Carolina Smart

Scarlet Jane is a collaboration of two well know Canadian Indie artists Andrea Ramolo and Cindy Doire.  Dark, edgy and beautiful, when their songs reverb out of your speakers you visualize these two raven haired beauties playing in equally beautiful and intimate venues.  I’ve seen Andrea play a few times at the famous Dakota Tavern in Toronto.  The duo would definitely fit in at any Nashville type setting.

Songs such as Aching Heart, Burning Up and We’ll Never Be Found are emotionally wrenching, the lyrics written by two amazing storytellers.  Each song on Stranger are poetic masterpieces, painting vivid descriptions of experiences that all listeners can relate to.

The albums title song Stranger and Can’t Come Back have a much more upbeat feel. Can’t Come Back has a strong Rockabilly sound, reminiscent of a 50’s country rock and a very danceable tune.  Though I hate choosing favourites from any album I review, Can’t Come Back is at the top of my list.

Smooth, tight production value places this album in list of some of my favourites of 2012.  I can’t wait to see these ladies perform live.  They are currently on a cross Canada tour, details are on their website, if they are in a city near you, they are a must see.

Two beautiful women, two powerful voices, one absolutely amazing album!

Track list:

Wild Fire
Aching Heart
We’ll Never be Found
Ride On
Stranger
Beautiful
Can’t Come Back
Oh Darling
I’m Gone
Burning up

Reviewed by Viki Ackland

Troy Western’s latest EP “Rocks In A Bucket” put him on the road from his home in St. Catharine’s, Ontario to Canada’s east coast with his “Rocks & Fields” tour. “Feel The Love”, the lead track, can be heard in a series of videos from Commonplace Eco-Village on environmentally-friendly lifestyles. You can often find Troy performing around southern Ontario ranging from solo acoustic shows to those with the full band, as well as with a variety of guest musicians. Festival highlights include the Niagara Food Festival, the S.C.E.N.E. Music Festival, the Fort Erie Friendship Festival, the Fort Erie Music Festival, the Highland Creek Heritage Festival, and the Sammy Sugar Day Festival. He helped organize and performed at the hugely successful fundraiser “ANDREW’S FIGHT” in support of a friend and paramedic fighting cancer. Troy was featured on Brock University’s radio station, CFBU 103.7 on the show “Inside The Rhythm Hive” and on television on “The Source”, a community news and entertainment program in the Niagara region, wherein he talked of his passion for music, family, and creative inspiration. Some past experiences found Troy opening for Canadian rock group Big Sugar with an exciting acoustic version of “Oh Canada” that was met with exuberant cheers from the 200+ crowd. The 2006 Toronto Independent Music Awards recognized Troy with a nomination for “Best Classic Rock” for his song Into The Sun. He also earned by popular vote, the coveted “Featured Artist” spot on BreakingLocals.com, a networking website for musicians and fans alike. 

Find out where Troy Western’s journey is taking him now at http://www.TroyWestern.com. Join the adventure on Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, or ReverbNation, or get his e-newsletter by emailing troynews@troywestern.com with the words “ADD ME” in the subject heading.

This passionate acoustic based performer has a melodic lovely voice that will haunt you long after you have listened to him. The first track “Feel the Love” is an upbeat rocking song with strong instrumental and vocals telling a tale of love and finding ones way home. The second track “Til the sunrise comes near” is a bit calmer but not lacking in story telling. My favorite was the final track “Look Around.” I love the beginning and I found it quite lovely to listen to, from the acoustic guitar to the harmonies. All in all, an enjoyable experience.

Biography

Troy Western is a singer-songwriter putting the ‘thunk’ into his folk-rock grooves. His music seems to have a slightly different edge that likely comes from his eclectic music tastes. While some have compared Troy’s sound to the Dave Matthews Band or Neil Young, many say they just can’t quite put a finger on it.

Tracks
Feel the Love
Til Sunrise Comes Near
Getting Home
Untitled
Look Around

Life With More Cowbell

Big rollicking fun & magic @ You Can’t Take It With You

I want to go live with the Sycamore family.

Some big magical fun at the Young Centre last night when I went to see Soulpepper’s production of George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart’s You Can’t Take It With You, directed by Joseph Ziegler, where we spend a few days in the family’s living/dining room witnessing the comings and goings of various family members, friends and even prospective in-laws in this rollicking circus of a household.

Set in the late 30s, the living/dining area of the Sycamore home is surprisingly neat, considering all the various pursuits and work going on in the house. Mom Penny (Nancy Palk) has been turning her hand to playwriting of late – this after giving up painting – with several scripts in progress, moving from one to another when she gets writer’s block. Dad Paul (Derek Boyes) plays with Meccano erector sets in his spare time, and designs and creates fireworks in the basement with friend/colleague Mr. De Pinna (Michael Simpson), an child-like unmarried chap, formerly the ice man who came into the house eight years ago and never left. Daughter Essie (Patricia Fagan) works at home as a candy maker and is an aspiring ballet dancer, but not particularly good at it after eight years of studying with Mr. Kolenkhov (Diego Matamoros), while her husband Ed (Mike Ross) who delivers the candy, accompanies her dancing on the xylophone and enjoys printing things – everything from the family’s dinner menu to phrases that catch his fancy. Daughter Alice (Krystin Pellerin), the most conventional member of the family, works at an office, where she meets and falls in love with Tony (Gregory Prest), the boss’s son. Grandpa (Eric Peterson) decided to quit the rat race 35 years ago and has been having loads of fun ever since attending circuses and commencements, playing darts, collecting stamps and caring for his snakes. In addition to the family members are Rheba (Sabryn Rock), the Sycamores’ maid/cook, and her boyfriend Donald (Andre Sills), the handyman – who in their way are both family as well.

Tony and Alice want to get married, but Alice is worried that her unconventional family won’t fit in with prospective – wealthy and conservative – in-laws Mr. and Mrs. Kirby (John Jarvis and Brenda Robins). And her nightmare comes true when Tony brings the folks over a day early for dinner and, despite her family’s support of the match and wanting to make a good impression, all hell breaks loose.

Kaufman and Moss have written a highly entertaining piece about family, acceptance and finding your bliss. Do what you love even if you’re not particularly good at it – as long as you’re getting a kick out of it, it’s all good. Like Grandpa says of money and position: “You can’t take it with you,” so you may as well relax and enjoy yourself – a very forward-thinking notion for the time.

A thoroughly charming play, with lovely performances all around. I especially enjoyed Peterson, an audience favourite who gives us a brilliantly funny and real performance as Grandpa, commenting on the household goings-on and calling folks on their silliness, his pre-dinner grace more like a state-of-the-union chat with God. Additional cast include some fun turns from Raquel Duffy as a drunken actress who comes to read for Penny, Maria Vacratsis as a displaced Russian royal now working as a waitress, and Brian Bisson and Tim Ziegler as the G-men who raid the Sycamore’s dinner party (with Ziegler also playing Henderson, the IRS man who comes to see Grandpa about his unpaid income taxes).

http://lifewithmorecowbell.wordpress.com/2012/06/21/big-rollicking-fun-magic-you-cant-take-it-with-you/

Absurd family tragedy in The Goat

WARNING: This post contains adult language and content.

Edward Albee’s The Goat, or Who is Sylvia? (subtitled: Notes Towards A Definition of Tragedy) is one absurd, darkly funny, mind-fuck of a play. And if you hadn’t been aware of the play’s subject before arriving at the theatre, you sure as hell get the idea when you receive the program. The cover is a veritable Kama Sutra of man/goat lovin’ illustrations. I went to see Atic Productions’ run of The Goat, directed by Carter West, at the Tarragon Theatre Extra Space last night.

On entering the theatre space, you see a set composed of white pedestals, each with an empty plate frame – plates are set at the top of the show when the cast sets the stage, the family home – and a pair of white column/lintel entrances, the lintels askew atop uneven columns. Bringing to mind ancient Greek architecture. The pre-show music is a mix of love songs throughout the decades. Love and tragedy are coming.

Martin (Tim Walker) and Stevie (Rosemary Doyle) are a well-off, well-matched and happily married 40-something couple. Their sweet and handsome 17-year-old son Billy (Ben Hayward) has recently come out as gay, and they’re being pretty cool about it. Their domestic bliss is shattered when Martin reveals to his best friend Ross (Benjamin Blais) that he’s been having an affair – with a goat named Sylvia – a confidence that Ross proceeds to share with Stevie in a letter. You can imagine the family discussion that arises from this revelation.

What is interesting about this play is that Martin and Stevie, in addition to being very intelligent, open-minded people, have the sort of relationship in which they can actually have a discussion about Martin’s unusual infidelity – as painful and enraging as it is for Stevie. As the audience, we are presented with the notion and left to our own judgements – about bestiality and adultery, and even unintentional, spontaneous moments of incest and pederasty. Ross is the sole voice of conservative convention in the play, passing harsh judgement on anything beyond a well-hidden affair with another human, preferably of the opposite sex. And yet his hypocrisy shows as he coaxes the details of Martin’s affair with Sylvia – and despite his protestations and crying moral foul, he takes the taboo scenario in with a sense of scandalized glee.

The play is about 100 minutes long with no intermission and the actors – especially the family members – are taken on a physical and emotional roller coaster ride. Martin and Stevie are fun, affectionate and easy in their relationship – and love each other so big – and the hurt of Martin’s affair crashes so hard that every plate in the room lays broken in the end even as Stevie herself crumbles to the floor in agony. Even young Billy, who tries to intervene and is especially protective of his mother, is reduced to a balling mess after Ross returns to poke the wasp’s nest he’s already kicked at.

Walker is lovely as Martin, a good-humoured, gentle and loving man struggling with the onset of middle age and tormented by his desire for Sylvia. He has great chemistry with Doyle, who brings a funny, smart and sexy Stevie – loyal in love but fierce in betrayal. You really believe that Martin and Stevie have a big love for each other. You also believe that Martin really loves Sylvia too – an extremely painful truth for both Martin and Stevie. Hayward is adorably smart-ass as the teenager Billy, an intelligent and good-natured kid who is aware of just how cool his folks are – and he loves them both a lot. He brings a nice sense of Billy’s conflicted feelings  – torn between the child’s response of running away and the man’s response of stepping in to protect his mother. Blais gives us a nice combination of humour and cynicism as Ross, a character who’s really the outsider in this grouping, espousing a socially moralistic attitude towards fidelity and honour – but it’s all okay if you don’t get caught. Except one must stay within one’s own species with an age-appropriate partner and opposite sex is best. Really strong performances all around – you’re constantly wondering what will happen next. What will he/she do now?

As I mentioned in an earlier post, The Goat has a very short run at the Tarragon Extra Space – it closes tomorrow afternoon (Sunday, June 24). There are still a few chances left to see it, though, with matinées today and tomorrow at 2:30 p.m., and an evening show tonight at 8:00 p.m.

For more info, visit Atic Productions at: http://aticproductions.com/

http://lifewithmorecowbell.wordpress.com/2012/06/23/absurd-family-tragedy-in-the-goat/

Raw heart sounds – Tin Star Orphans @ the Horseshoe

Shortly after my friends, Kat, Lizzie, Lizzie’s friend Janis and I entered the back room of the Horseshoe last night, we met up with drummer Johnny Rowe, who was set to do double duty with two bands: Inlet Sound and Tin Star Orphans in back-to-back sets at the top of the evening – which is just fine by him because, stamina challenges aside, he loves to play.

Inlet Sound

First band up was Inlet Sound, a folk rock band from Hamilton with a great Celtic, violin-backed, east coast sound, bringing to mind great east coast bands like Great Big Sea and Rawlins Cross. Dream Awake, a lovely collection of lyric ballads, is their EP release – I picked up a copy at the venue last night – and their first full-length record The Romantics is nearing completion. Check them out and give them a listen here: http://www.inletsound.com/

I’d heard Tin Star Orphans once before, at the end of 2011 at the Rivoli, and was struck by the band’s raw, driving sounds – packing a big punch, but with a big heart – largely due to frontman Zachary Bennett’s lyrics and vocals, strong guitar arrangements (Bennett and Dean Marino) and Johnny Rowe’s percusssion. And I was very happy to purchase a copy of their recent recording The Days of Blinding Fear – lots of which we got to hear live last night.

Bennett’s vocals are alive and raw, going from soft and introspective on ballads like “Fire” to a ferocious growl in “Year of the Wave,” a prophesy of impending environmental disaster, warning of a Momma Nature losing patience, trigger finger twitching. Love the final line of that one: All fanatics may bow their heads and pray but I’m only hoping someone brings champagne.

Songs like “Fire” and “Jaw Wired Shut” – among my favourites – have a U2 sound, reminiscent of The Joshua Tree. Haunting and visceral. And “Three Cheers for the Coward” has an especially haunting sound, while “We Are Lions” is pure driving beat. Johnny Rowe was showing no signs of slowing down on the skins during that second set. If I were writing this about a classical concert, I’d characterize his playing as “robust.” The man can play – and he was still givin’ ‘er right to the end of Tin Star Orphans’ final chords.

Tin Star Orphans

Tins Star Orphans – Zachary Bennett

Tin Star Orphans – Dean Marino & Zachary Bennett

Tin Star Orphans – Johnny Rowe

You gotta give these guys a listen: http://www.tinstarorphans.com/

http://lifewithmorecowbell.wordpress.com/2012/06/24/raw-heart-sounds-tin-star-orphans-the-horseshoe/

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