Sunday, April 5, 2009

Pat Robitaille: Runnin' Down a Dream

If there is one person that I've posted on who really doesn't "need" the extra attention I'm giving here, it's got to be Pat Robitaille, but I doubt he'll take offense. Pat is probably Windsor music's greatest rising success story at the moment. He's one of those guys who just couldn't do anything other than what he's doing.

In the past few years Pat has logged more miles and graced more festival stages than anybody Windsor calls their own. He is a guitar virtuoso, a silky voiced songwriter and a personality that is hard dislike. Pat has had opportunities to "sell-out" to major label interest and grab some dough, but what is most commendable in the young man is his desire to run it down himself, under his own indie terms.

If you have never heard Pat play or seen him preform, you'll quickly understand how he is rising with his first note. Pat is a polished professional who is nothing but charming and eager to shoot the shit about any random thing. His music is on the cusp of international rotation and acclaim and if you haven't caught on yet, get to his site, hear his acoustic styling and hop on board before he's long gone from our local stages and we're clinging to him from afar.

Sean McLeod and Perilelle: A Great Honor for a Damn Fine Collaborative Effort

Sean McLeod is a hustlin' fool. I have personally seen him walk away from non-artistic jobs that don't fit the mold he wants for his life, run down opportunities to catch something on film and extend himself to great lengths to find a situation which will not only help his ambitions, but help someone else as well.

I spent some time with Sean this past weekend and amidst our standard shit-talking and sarcasm, it was hard for me to deny (even jokingly) that this last project of his is anything but pure pro! Sean recently recruited one of Windsor's most unique musical acts, Perilelle (one woman electro-wrecking crew Steph Copeland) to team up with his vision of creating a bad-ass music video and winning the WAMM competition which was held at Phog this past Thursday. With their collective strength and creativity (and a pretty large team as well) this squad did exactly that and Sean is now two for two in film competitions being entered and won in this area this year.

Sean and another team of friends won the 48 hr. film fest competition this past fall with their comical short, "The Hardships of Heroism" and now with Perilelle's videoed tune "Damages" in the bank as champ, who knows what can come next for either or both of these artists.

Sean is a real live working film maker. He pretty much won't do anything else and I love that about him. As you will see in this video, the man knows his way around a camera and his talents are here in this region waiting for anyone to engage them. Check him and Steph out, they are two very unique and credible talents alive in our midst.

Leighton Bain: A Story-Tellin' Songster

I've known Leighton for quite a few years now and although there is generally a long stretch of time in between our encounters, I can always immediately tune into one of his tunes and find out what's been happening. Story-telling songs don't seem to get the attention they used to anymore. I understand the value of amped up, loud rock and roll, but I'd like to see quality singer/songwriters getting a little more love and attention that would break them out of whatever pen some people think they fit into.

Not every singer/songwriter writes every song about their boyfriend/girlfriend breaking their heart and taking their dog. Sometimes you get Hayden or Elliot Smith-sometimes you get people who let you in, in a hundred different ways with nothing but themselves and their guitar; sometimes you get Leighton.

Leighton Bain has been strummin' his guit-box for as long as I can remember. From what I've known, he's come up with a million different angles to investigate himself and others through song using little more than his own mind and hands. The man has a knack for writing songs. Like Hayden or Elliot, Leighton often takes interest in the darker moments of life and captures them through various eyes. He is a solid and versatile guitarist and he packs a set of pipes which can take you in any direction at any moment; belting it here, whispering it there.

At the moment, Leighton is dividing his time between the Dub city (that's here- those kids and their slang) and the "T dot". Although there are no new shows posted on his site, the spring has sprung and that generally means Windsor can expect their native son home shortly. I'll keep an eye out for all interested and try to stay somewhat up to date on this thing as this semester comes to a close but even if I never see write again, it'd be worth your while to take a listen to what the man has to say.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Death or Comber: Giving Life to Lonesome Open Mics and Ramblin' Rock and Roll

When you host an open mic for an extended period of time, it's hard to keep your shit fresh. If no other musicians show up, you play three sets on your own and it's generally to the same faces who have seen your song and dance (or blurs of it here and there) before. I'm not bitching, I love those faces and most of the time they make me feel like I'm keeping them fairly pleased, it's just nice for all of us when something quality pops in unexpected and the open mic can serve its finest function.

The fellas in Death or Comber have found their way to the DH in various forms on various occasions. Sometimes it's just Kurt and his guitar, sometimes an electric to flush it out, sometimes the whole crew, bass, drums and all, blocking the entrance to the kitchen telling you it's too late for deep fried pickles. Whatever way they come, these guys always make my night more enjoyable. They'll always play a couple of choice covers (Joe Strummer or Irene Goodnight) to get themselves warm, but they are always more focused on their originals, which are certainly that.

Death or Comber has a rambling folk style that mixes elements of harder electric rock with strong song-writing to create a folk/punk hybrid which doesn't disappoint. They are fairly new to this scene, but in the past four or five months I've heard their name being positively thrown around more and more. This Thursday (April 2nd) Death or Comber plays The Whiskey downtown with The Mind Frames and the ever-entertaining Peace Leeches. The show starts at 10 pm sharp with the Mind Frames, and after a brief musical pause for the A channel news, Death or Comber takes the stage before the Leeches bring us home. I think that this will be a very fun evening so come out for a drink to close out the semester or just because you're interested in what I'm pitching. The Whiskey is located at 300 Ouellette Ave., beside the Honest Lawyer and beneath A channel.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

The Tyres: Rolling Once Again

In the past two evenings I've caught The Tyres twice. As I heard them for the first time in quite a while on Thursday night, I was reminded of how much rock and fun they've provided in the past ten years around these parts. The Tyres have played every venue this city has seen even briefly open its doors to live music. I've seen them at the old Press Club, The Bridge, Venues, The Coach, The Loop, Billie's, The DH, all of them, and their show rolls on steadily every time no matter where they are or who's in front of them.

When people talk about bands being tight, I always think it goes further than just the music itself. When I go see The Tyres I don't know if I'm more entertained by their music or their banter. These guys have known each other in this form for so long that their presence together is very naturally clever and humourous. You can't under value qualities like that with bands. If a group keeps you entertained even while their tuning or adjusting equipment, it is a huge ace in the sleeve and it just makes the whole experience more enjoyable for all involved. Their songs don't veer too far from that characterization either. They are often witty or somewhat tongue in cheek, but never at the expense of the music. These mo-fo's can all play, and all their parts are thoughtfully constructed with various displays of effective harmony.

When Damien Zakoor (long time drummer) packed his bags for Montreal this past year it seemed as though the era of The Tyres was in jeopardy. This is not the kind of band who could get a sessional drummer to cover Damien's parts and all would go on, sometimes that just doesn't cut it. I doubt that The Tyres would have ever really "broken up," but distance is tough no matter how loud your amp is. The good news through all of this is that Windsor is in Daimer's blood and what with all our present prosperity, he just couldn't stay away (I once had a cat like that). He's back behind Dominic and Ken where he belongs now, and all is right with the world. If you have never seen a Tyres show, you must keep an eye out. There surely is "Rock to Discover."

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

When Irish Eyes are Dilated...

Well, Happy St. Patrick's Day everybody! I'm not going to feature any one band or venue today because I think that a day like today lends itself to pub-crawling and stumbling from place to place. From this moment (noon) onward, jig your way around this city and spend some time in some of Windsor's authentic pubs for the real Celtic experience.

There is music everywhere and throughout the day today, so I'll only point to a few spots specifically in the event that you`re stuck. Micks Irish Pub (28 Chatham St. East) has music all day from various Celtic crews such as Tartan Army and Kenneth MacLeod and the Windsor Salt Band later in the evening. The Aardvark (89 University West) sheds its blues persona for the day and hops on board with the green theme with music starting at 6pm and continuing onward with Kenneth and co. early and Ron Leary and Kelly Hoppe doing their thang to get you to tomorrow. The DH will most certainly be jumping all day long, so come on down for Irish food and drink and with music beginning at 9pm from yours truly.

Hope everybody survives the day and does it up right. Some people don`t get the point of St. Patrick`s Day, but the point is simple and endearing if it is interpreted in the right light. Go out and get drunk. Have fun with your friends, enjoy some good music and food and revel in good cheer just because there`s a whole year to worry about other things and you`re excused for the day. Don`t get so bombed that you end up in a ditch or the drunk tank, but if you`re someone who has never dug the whole character of the day, give it a try and work on your final portfolio of whatever tomorrow. Good cheer possesses rejuvenating power ya`ll, immerse yourselves in it, don`t hate, participate. Too Ra Loo Ra La!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Well Done Welton! Renaissance Man Eric Welton Making Strides.

Producer, singer/songwriter, sound man, photographer, bartender, advertiser, collaborator, optimist, fan. Eric Welton is a man of many hats. Coming to Windsor as a Chatham export a few years ago, Eric has lent his willing and capable hands to just about every musician in this area in one form or another. He's made posters for six packs, recorded albums for 20's, been there to help you mix the sound live, and written and performed in entertaining fashion, West to East, while always hoping to get a few more folks together on any given night, to share some tunes and collaborative energy just to see what happens. I've got to say, it's nice to see that mind frame making progress and paying dividends.

In the last year, Eric has recorded and pressed Travis Reitsma's album Blue Beard, written, recorded and pressed his own album, Fool Heart, recorded and assisted in production on the Tara Watts upcoming release, About Love, and has had his hand in about a thousand other projects aside from gigging. The drive behind Eric's humble demeanor is relentless and impossible to overlook. In the recent past, Chatham rock giants Square Root of Margaret officially added Eric to their roster and guaranteed the man a future in a legitimate, touring, collaborative. Eric has continued to pursue solo gigs or gigs with a shifting lineup in The Eric Welton Band, and will play under that heading Thursday March 19th at The Whisky (Ouellette and University, under A channel) starting at 10pm. The bill also includes West side veterans of rock, The Tyres and the dirty punk styling of High Mother to close it down.

The Whisky is below A channel on the corner of University and Ouellette right beside The Honest Lawyer. Although this joint has been more of a cover band venue in the past, Jamie Greer has got his hands in that place, and that means local, indie music was bound to work its way in there. Jamie is the hardest working promoter of local music this city has got, so I suggest checking out (but not replacing me with) his blog, Musically Speaking. Thanks for reading gang and good shit once again Eric, keep at 'er.