JUNE 9: Canadian Power Metallers STRIKER

Canadian (Edmonton) power metallers STRIKER, will be kicking off their Canadian tour in Toronto on June 9th at The Garrison. I took a quick look at their online presence and was impressed by how busy they’ve been. STRIKER has also been nominated for a Western Canadian Music Award for ‘Metal/Hard Rock Artist of The Year’, the results of which will be announced in October, 2016.

GET TO THE GARRISON! https://www.facebook.com/events/1139997849396057 

If you’ve been reading my past articles, you’ll have seen that I’m not easily impressed with indie musicians. I search and search for something new and exciting and occasionally I find something, but more often I’m disappointed. Listening to STRIKER initially had me shaking my head thinking to myself, wow, they are just copying hair metal from the 80’s, but I listened for longer than 30 seconds and it raised my eyebrows. These guys have my attention.

I found their entire new album ‘Stand In The Fire’ on Youtube (posted by a fan, which can’t be good for music sales) and listened to the whole thing. I often complain about a band not having “found their voice” and having a lack of originality, but STRIKER has certainly found their voice. Bands often say “we are unapologetic” (gawd I get tired of reading that), but those bands don’t know what unapologetic means. What it really means is, when you play from your heart and soul and you’re real and don’t hestitate, than there’s nothing to apologize for. STRIKER’s got that. They play smooth. They are not posing. They’ve obviously played long and hard together because they’re tight and together as a unit. There’s a ton of energy in their music. An energy that, sometimes, is a little hard for the ear to take in the way this particular album is produced, but I can tell that they will be amazing live in Toronto on June 9th.

STRIKER says they are inspired by legendary bands like Iron Maiden. Their Facebook page says they are a “New Wave of Heavy Metal”, and I believe them. They are new. There is something next generation about them. It sounds like hair metal, but then there is the double pedal on the drums. It’s more hardcore. Then they throw in a saxophone, just to confuse you. I love these guys.

 

STRIKER Poster

I liked them so much, I brought them to the attention of musician/filmmaker Aaron Peters, who has started a new “thing” at his production studio in Winnipeg called ‘Drum Rides’. Peters makes videos of drummers playing on a riser that spins. The video affect is pretty cool and the drummers have a riot making them. The video creates some fun content for Facebook. I told Peters he should check out STRIKER. After they play in Toronto (June 9th), they’ll be in Ottawa (11th), Montreal (12th), Quebec City (13th), Sudbury (15th), Thunder Bay (16th) and will land in Winnipeg on June 17th before returning to their home town Edmonton (24th). I suggested Peters invite them for a Drum Ride during their stop in Winnipeg.

Peters listened to the album posted on Youtube that I shared with him and initially didn’t seem very impressed. Then he listened longer, and by the end of the album, had this to say about STRIKER,

“At the risk of sounding like an old bastard, I’d like to say that it would be super killer to hear STRIKER recorded in a way that harkened back to analog. Or at least an approximated approach to that sound. STRIKER kick all kinds of ass. I highly recommend this band and any recording they put out. I am actually proud that STRIKER are a Canadian band. They do us proud by carrying the metal flag like this.” Aaron Peters

I kid you not, that’s what he wrote to me. I was astonished. I like STRIKER, too, but never expected that response from a seasoned rock musician.

Peters has invited STRIKER to his studio during their stop in Winnipeg. There will be a ‘drum ride’ video to follow.

The band; Dan Clearly (vocals) Tim Brown (lead/rhythm guitars) William Wallace (bass) Adam Brown (drums) recorded the album themselves with the help of Randy Black (who filled in on drums while Adam was away. Frederik Nordstrom (Bring Me The Horizon, In Flames, Opeth) mixed the album.

‘Stand in The Fire’ is available on limited edition orange vinyls at Striker-Metal.com plus digitally on iTunesCD Baby.

REVIEW – BLACK ABSINTHE – EARLY SIGNS OF DENIAL

I’d like to start this review by thanking Toronto, ON’s BLACK ABSINTHE for sharing their new music from their album ‘Early Signs of Denial’ set for release on May 13th, 2016. I really enjoy getting previews of the new music coming out of Toronto.

A song from the heavy metal 6 track EP that has been released is “The Wild”. This song has tons of energy and you’ll hear the band’s classic rock influences all over it.

“Imagine Motörhead with a dose of double pedal bass drumming, and you’ve got Black Absinthe.”

Listening to this band was a nice trip down memory lane. They say their music is for fans of BLACK SABBATH, MOTORHEAD, MASTODON, HIGH ON FIRE, COHEED AND CAMBRIA. I think I even hear a bit of YES in there (track called ‘Now’).

To the band members Jack Cerre (Vocals & Guitar), Kyle Scarlett (bass), and Austin Henderson (drums), congratulations boys, you nailed it. Also, congratulations to producer, Dave Baksh and mixer, Frank Gryner, you nailed it too. The work is very professional and quality. Not a note out of place. Layer upon layer mixed just right. I wouldn’t be surprised if the musicians are classically trained.

Now go away you bore me.
What?

They obviously took great care with the lyrics in their songs. Their EPK says “Once the songs on this album were finished we were looking for a title that felt in tune with the songs as a whole. We consulted a St.John’s Ambulance First Aid Reference Guide for possible names. Beating out contenders like ‘Penetrating Chest Wound,’ ‘Bites From Ticks,’ or ‘Putting on Dressings,’ we decided on Early Signs Of Denial. It captures the pessimistic nature of a lot of the lyrics and we think suits it sonically too. It’s a metal record, Early Signs of Denial seemed like it should be the name of a metal album! “

Great sense of humour.
Now go away you bore me.
What?

“Sometimes you have to play a long time to be able to play like yourself.” Miles Davis

You see, the thing about MOTORHEAD, ROB ZOMBIE, BLACK SABBATH, etc, is they were original when they came around. Bands like YES were called Progressive, back when they were progressive. The reason people have been crying in their drinks over the death of Lemmy, Bowie, Prince, is because those people had a unique quality that had never been experienced before. They stood out from the crowd.

They found their voice.

I’m happy to have been introduced to BLACK ABSINTHE. I love to discover the talent in Toronto. However, the problem with a band and studio full of very skilled and talented people is they try too hard to do it right. It’s one thing to be a team, but be a team of unique individuals and let your light shine. Stop trying to be like the classics. Be the future. We’re waiting for you.

We’re so bored. Please show us a new scene. Please find your voice.

The band is hosting their Toronto CD release show on May 14th at Coalition (282 Augusta) w/ support form Montreal’s MUTANK (Wacken Metal Battle Canada 2014 Champions) and locals Sludgehammer, Klaymore and Astaroth. That’s a great line-up. Expect a quality night. Event info here.

TORONTO’S ROCK PRINCESS JACQUELINE LOVELY

OhJustEatIt.ca has been taking on a bit of a theme lately. I’ve been looking at the rich history of this city. First, Toronto celebrated it’s 182nd birthday, then the historic Brunny closed it’s doors.

20150821_225251A special gem in this city is rock princess  JACQUELINE LOVELY PERRAS. Jacqueline has been a rich part of Toronto’s music scene since the 80’s. Today is her birthday.

Jacqueline recently shared some tracks from her new album that she’s working on in studio now. She is self-producing the album and plans to release the 14 tracks “just before the fall equinox”. I listened to “You Will Remember Me”, “Unchained”, and then two tracks written by Karm Kleaver (of Toronto metal band Kraken) “Harlot of Babylon” and “Powerhouse”.

Jacqueline is well known for her rough rock-chick voice that works perfectly on Janis Joplin or AC/DC covers. In this album, Jacqueline shows the strength of her range and a softer side of herself.

“This is an introduction to me as a singer and a person. I’m self-producing now so whatever this is….rest assured it’s how I see myself…but I really want people to hear and feel what I feel.”

When Jacqueline is on stage, she often will talk between songs about her life and lessons learned. She’s very open about herself and feels she needs to share her stories. According to her, that’s what this new album is. Her story.

Today, her birthday, is all about her story. Happy birthday, Jacqueline. Rock on!

Mar 31: 140 YEAR OLD BRUNNY STORY COMES TO AN END

“It is with great pride and sorrow that I announce the legendary Brunswick House will be closing on March 31 after 140 years of memory making history.”

Toronto’s oldest pub the ‘Brunswick House’, or the Brunny as it is affectionately known, officially announced they are closing their doors due to the termination of their lease, and are planning a “Last Dance” tomorrow. There is no official news on plans for the building.

Located at the corner of Bloor Street and Brunswick Avenue in Toronto, the Brunny was established in 1876 as a neighborhood bar for working class immigrants, and later for the students of University of Toronto. The better known Blues venue, Albert’s Hall, operated upstairs above the Brunny for many years. It was considered the more respectable room. People have called the Brunny a “rat infested student lounge” (although I think the reference to rats was a reference to the students as opposed to actual rodents). The Brunswick House calls itself “Night Club/Dive Bar”.

It was refurbished in 2004 by new owners, and became known for their all-you-can-eat gravy bar. Celebrities such as Fan 590’s Sid Seixeiro and Ryan Hains of The Sportsnet Television Network were regulars. Seixeiro’s influence has brought 16 types of poutine to the menu & a late-night sampler called the Rob Ford “Crack of Dawn Munchy Madness.”

“Thank you for the memories and thank you for teaching me the bigger the fight, the bigger the reward and growth.”

Social media has been teeming with sorrow since the announcement was made that the Brunny would be closing it’s doors. Customers shared their memories and gratitude on The Brunswick House Facebook page . The hashtag of #savethebrunny appeared in Twitter and The Brunswick house is using the hashtag #OneLastDance to communicate about the last event on Thursday March 31, 2016.

“There will never be another Brunny.”

Tickets and information for #OneLastDance: www.Wantickets.com/TheLastDance

March 6 – Happy Birthday Toronto!

Photo courtesy of John Temou, CULTURE SHOCK PRODUCTIONS, INC
Photo courtesy of John Temou, CULTURE SHOCK PRODUCTIONS, INC

March 6, 1834 was the day Toronto became a city through incorporation and today we celebrate the city’s 182nd birthday.

Back in the day, Torontonians danced in the dance halls to the music of Stanley St John and Frank Bogart. Today, Toronto is a vibrant scene of music genres, dance clubs, music venues and music festivals. Much of the city’s tourism is based on music events. Never a dull moment.

Today I’ve chosen to display a beautiful photograph of the city taken by Toronto photographer and videographer, John Temou of CULTURE SHOCK PRODUCTIONS, INC. John is currently working with “ALL CANUCKED UP” Comedy Night, a new WebTV series shot at The Paddock Tavern, 178 Bathurst St, one of Toronto’s oldest bars. Follow their Facebook page for regular updates on performers. Next show is April 9, 2016.

All Canucked Up: https://www.facebook.com/AllCanuckedUp

canuck

 

Toronto Still Paying Tribute To DAVID BOWIE

On January 12, one day after news broke that DAVID BOWIE passed away, the band HOLY HOLY stopped into Toronto’s The Opera House on their “Man Who Sold The World” tour. They added a second date at the Opera House after the first date sold out. The cover band features men who’ve worked with Bowie, Tony Visconti and Woody Woodmansy. HOLY HOLY has been referred to as “perhaps the world’s most over-qualified Bowie tribute band”. Many other Bowie tributes took place across Toronto, but there are a few notable indie performances that didn’t get much attention, and i’d like to mention them here.

JayI encourage you first to get out Sunday night to Supermarket Restaurant and Bar to see JAY EDWARDS, a singer/songwriter I’ve written about before. Jay is one of the golden nuggets in the city of Toronto that is not getting a lot of recognition, but definitely must be experienced. Jay has had 28 operations on his skull and you don’t expect much from his small obviously disabled body. When he opens his mouth, a completely different man appears. It’s not something easily described. It needs to be experienced. A documentary film about Jay “Present to Love” will soon be released, as well as some newly recorded songs.

Sunday, January 17
Jay Edwards
Supermarket Restaurant and Bar
268 Augusta Ave, Toronto
set starts at 7pm

Another regular favourite in Kensington Market are the SIN CITY BOYS. They play regularly at Graffiti’s Bar and Grill and performed a David Bowie tribute Saturday.

Saturday, January 16
Graffiti’s Bar and Grill
170 Baldwin St, Toronto

Finally, Toronto’s own famous DJ, SKRATCH BASTID, performs a tribute on Youtube that you can watch whenever you like!

Walk Off The Earth Cover Hello With KRNFX

At work last week, I was doing some monotonous data entry and decided to liven things up by checking out ADELE’s “Hello” on Soundcloud. What ended up happening was after listening to Adele, covers of the song followed…for more than an hour! The song seems to be covered in every genre of music. It was fascinating and shows exactly what a well written song it is that it can be covered so well with everyone lending their own style and flavour to it.

So I was thrilled this week to discover that WALK OFF THE EARTH has covered “Hello”. Their Youtube video is in their usual hilarious style of the band lined up, playing some instruments and lending their voices at just the perfect time. WOTE have got their stage choreography down to a science. This video features Toronto’s own award winning beatboxer and singer, KRNFX. It was nice to see him there. WOTE is known in Toronto for being friendly and inclusive with other artists.

Nov 21st – Canadian Metallers ODIUM

ODIUM Photo courtesy of AsherMediaRelations.com
ODIUM Photo courtesy of AsherMediaRelations.com

I can’t help it, death metal is always my favourite. I get excited when I get introduced to a death metal band and I play one of their songs for the first time. So much energy. So much drama.

Hanover, ON based Canadian melodic metallers ODIUM are performing at the Rockpile West in the November 21st ‘Pitfest’ in support of their album Terrarform (I enjoyed “The Cell”) released on October 23rd.

One online biography for the band said “The lyrics invite listeners to take a journey through despair”. I can’t hear their lyrics. I don’t care, I love the sound. They are full of energy, but they’re “melodic” so they play pretty and bring it to a nice climax. They don’t take me on a journey of despair, they get me excited and I feed off their energy.

SAT NOVEMBER 21, 2015 – 7pm
Odium
Toronto, Canada, 2015
Rockpile West
5555 Dundas St. West
Toronto, Canada
with My Dear Malice, Adrian Pain & The Dead Sexy, Crimson Breed, Dawn Vally, Hey Clown

What Do Authors, Musicians & Uber Have in Common?

What Do Authors, Musicians & Uber Have in Common? Indie.

Saturday, I went to a book reading for the book “Wake Up and Smell the Shit”, a book edited by Canadian travel author, Kirsten Koza.

Movie set on Bay Street, Toronto
Movie set on Bay Street, Toronto

I needed to travel from north of the city to McNally’s Book Store . I plugged the address in on my Uber app and the lovely lady who picked me up proceeded to the DVP where we got stuck behind an accident for an hour. I became very anxious about being late, but she was a doll and chatted with me while we inched our way down the highway. She told me all about enjoying life as an independent Uber driver, and said Uber is trying to encourage more female drivers. She finally dropped me off at Richmond and Bay, and I jumped out and started running toward McNally’s front door when I noticed a horrific scene of a burnt-out car on Bay Street. I thought “what’s with the driver’s in this city!” when I looked back and realized there was a large green-screen behind the fire truck. Movie set. Toronto. Of course.

I got to McNally’s on time to hear 3 final readings from the book. The book is made up of short story submissions of travel misadventures from several writers. One of the writers, filmmaker Kyle Keyser, told a story of getting up close and personal with a Peeping Tom rock star…hint: “Love in a Black Jeep Wrangler…Livin’ it up when the pants are down”. You really should get this book. It’s funny.

Kyle Keyser
Kyle Keyser

One feature of the event was guest musician Jorge Miguel. He found out about the event from his friend, Juno award winning album designer Michael Wrycraft, who is a mutual friend of Koza’s. Miguel added some sweet flamenco guitar to the room. McNally’s book store, in my opinion, is the most beautiful book store in the city, and being in that space with Miguel’s spanish flamenco guitar music felt very relaxing. I bought both his CDs.

Jorge Miguel
Jorge Miguel

If you’re ever looking for a new way to enjoy Toronto music, check out Toronto literary events. Take an Uber car to get there. Things will crash and burn around you in this crazy city and it won’t matter because it will be so much fun.

Pick up your copy of “Wake Up and Smell the Shit” here: Amazon

Get a copy of Jorge Miguel’s music here: Website

Kirsten Koza says good night to Jorge Miguel
Kirsten Koza says good night to Jorge Miguel

STEVEN ADLER’S TRIP TO TORONTO (everyone loves the drummer)

Jacqueline Lovey Perras can be very persuasive. She sent me an invite through Facebook, sent me an inbox message and even, somehow, got her drummer/boyfriend Serge Wisotzky to roll over an ATV and land in hospital with stitches and minor fractures, so that her fans could all follow the adventure online. (Kidding! I hope you’re doing okay, Serge.) Jacqueline was very excited about opening for Steven Adler and his band Friday night at The Rockpile West. She knows how to draw a crowd to her shows and she knows how to be heard. She got the message out loud “Steve Adler, everyone!”. The call out was clear, I needed to attend the show.

Lexeverything

LEXEVERYTHING (ALEXIS CLEMENT)

When I first arrived at The Rockpile, I came in just as the first band, SISSY SPACESHIP was finishing their set. Besides the pink-haired girl, Janine Taylor, centre stage rocking out with a surprisingly big voice for such a petite girl, just behind her was the cutest blonde female drummer! Lexeverything was so pretty I was mezmerized and she played drums with a huge smile on her face, which made me involuntarily smile as I watched her. I love when I see a female drummer. Toronto has a few good ones (i.e. Lindsay Bird of DIRTY JEANS, Renee Couture of THE STANDSTILLS). Now I’ve seen one more. Because I came in at the end of their set, I’m going to have to check them out at their September 5 gig.

SISSY SPACESHIP (Toronto): Janine Elizabeth Taylor (Vocals), Joey Clement (Lead Guitar), Justin Mervyn (Bass), Duncan Brown (Guitar), Lexeverything (Drums) – next gig: Sept 5, The Rockpile West

Ev LockeEV LOCKE

Next up was THREE QUARTER STONE. Their drummer Ev Locke is one of my personal favourites. He’s fun to watch. Always looks like he’s having the time of his life behind the kit. Blonde hair flying, sticks twirling, big huge grin on his face. His enthusiasm is contagious. I haven’t seen THREE QUARTER STONE for years and it was nice to see them again.

THREE QUARTER STONE (Guelph): Danny Wray (Vocals), Chris Drone (Guitar), Scott Clarke (Bass), Brian Musgrave (Guitar), Ev Locke (Drums)

Serge Wisotzky

SERGE WISOTZKY

The band I came for, ARON CROSS, were the next set. The thing I love about this band is they are so theatrical. Jacqueline Lovely has major pipes and starts the show by grabbing the mic and yelling out to stir up the crowd. The crowd returns with a cheer. She’s always dressed in her long blonde rocker-chick hair with flowing middle-ages style dresses. Her band looks like a travelling troupe of gypsies who just climbed out of their wagon to entertain us. On stage they perform like they’re in a Shakespeare play. Jacqueline even pulls out a large cross that she chains herself to while singing her original “Unchained”. Serge had a sore arm from his ATV accident, but he was drumming like a trooper, grimacing a little, but didn’t miss a beat.

ARON CROSS (Barrie): Jacqueline Lovely (Vocal), Serge Wisotzky (Drums), Jeremy Parker, Jon O’Connor, Martina Fasano, and Roxy Luciani

Serge Wisotzky with Steven Adler

STEVEN ADLER

When the ARON CROSS set was over, a dramatic curtain was hung over The Rockpile stage and the crowd waited anxiously. Then AC/DC played full blast over the speakers with the crowd singing along enthusiastically before the curtain was dropped and ADLER appeared.

Steven Adler was the drummer and co-songwriter of GUNS N’ ROSES from 1985-1990 (It’s So Easy, Welcome to the Jungle, Sweet Child o’ Mine, Paradise City, Patience, Nightrain). His current band ADLER was formed in 2011.

Steven Adler was at the drums all smiles. He was smiling and having a good time through the whole set. His front man Jacob Bunton impressed me with his rendition of Mr. Brownstone. He nailed it. He was charming to watch. Tons of personality and totally adorable from his black rimmed eyes all the way to his black nails. They’re a good looking rock band and give a great show. Adler’s sense of swing is what makes it fun party music. The crowd was rocking out and having a great time.

ADLER (California): Steve Adler (Drums), Jacob Bunton (Lead Vocals/Guitar), Lonny Paul (Guitar), Johnny Martin (Bass)

I was wishing I’d brought my camera. I forgot to pack it in the morning and only had my cell phone to take pictures with. All the drummers were blonde (and so metal hair!) and it would have been a fun collection of pictures to capture them all properly, or maybe even get the drummers to pose together. Missed the chance. There was no shortage of cameras at the gig though. Everyone is a digital photographer today. There will be lots of lovely pictures available online. The crowd loved all of them.