Friday, February 27, 2009

Kickin' it at The Kildare for Kenya

The Kildare House (1880 Wyandotte Street East) welcomes an impressive lineup of local artists behind a noble cause tonight beginning at 9:30 pm. The event is being advertised as 8 acts for 8 bucks with 100% of the proceeds being donated to charity programmes in Rafiki Kenya.

Especially in the last year or so, I've noticed that the Kildare House is opening its stage to a wider variety of talent. This is still the most authentic pub experience in the city and there is no comparing the Celtic warmth which seems to surround this place, but it is still nice to mix things up a little every now and then and see who stumbles through the door.

I highly recommend supporting this establishment, this cause, and this evening of music from some of Windsor's best. From Dave Dubois, Kelly Hoppe and Ron Leary (who have already made their way into this blog in one way or another) to Eric Welton, Adam Rideout and others (who I fully intend to feature in the near future) this night of music and exchange will be one to enjoy and remember.

Sorry that I'm doing this day-of posting again, but I couldn't let this one slip by.

Monday, February 16, 2009

The Peace Leeches: Looking to Suck the Goodness Out of Everyone

The Peace Leeches are among Windsor's most unique and entertaining musical ensembles.> Young and filled with inspiration and hippie sensibilities, The Peace Leeches form a tandem of energy and showman/womanship that this city has rarely seen. There is no cloud big enough to darken a Peace Leech party and watching them perform demands your attention and applause. I would wager that this band sheds more calories per show than any other Windsor group and that is a fitting testament to their over-riding dedication to music and entertainment.

The band is made up of only two members, Ray Stern (Vocals, synth, guitar) and Corey Schatz (guitar, bass and tech wizardry). Their sound is psychedelically influenced and places as much emphasis on complex, technological mastery as live performance. The songwriting is multi-dimensional and leaves much room for interpretation and Schatz simply owns his pedal work. What I mean by this is that I have seen countless guitar players get pedal or tech happy without mastering the craftsmanship that is necessary. As a result, rhythm and melody can get lost in a clutter of noise and the only way to avoid this is in taking hours of tinkering around behind closed doors to make it work. Well done Peace Leeches, you certainly make it work.

I could write all day about their songs and show, but the reality of it all is that The Peace Leeches cannot be fully appreciated until they are seen. On the 21st of this month (February) they are part of a show fittingly tagged "Focus on Stage" taking place at Phog Lounge (157 University West).> I highly recommend taking part in this evening as it is also promoting local rock photographer Ron Marston and his countless years of dedication and amazing work crossing the artistic genres. The night kicks off at 9pm with The Leeches and moves on incrementally louder from there with some heavy rock and roll from Fiftywatthead and the Vultures. This will be a high energy affair, bring your boogie boots and your finest mosh pit attire.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

The Big Three at Billie's Place: Bailing Out Your Valentine's Blues

The Big 3 @ Billie's Place
Mr. Chill, Scotty "Shooze" Hughes & Ron Leary

This is the kind of show that inspired me to take this direction with this blog. When these guys unite their super powers it is a perfect example of the extremely high level of talent we have in our midst that could slip past you if you don't carry on in certain circles. Kelly Hoppe AKA Mr. Chill (formerly of Big Sugar fame), Scotty "Shooze" Hughes and Ron Leary are of the highest quality songwriters, collaborators and performers this city has EVER seen. Ron is the mayor of Windsor music and his story-telling tunes have rambled their way across the vast Canadian map building a reputation for Ron as a dedicated road warrior who will run down any opportunity to further his music. You must check him out.>

Kelly has had all the success any Canadian musician could dream of and he's back in Windsor, kicking the shit out of his harmonica, because he wants to be here and sees value in things some of us may neglect. He is as humble as gentlemen get, but don't let his kind rockabilly exterior fool you, when he rocks that mouth harp he is nothing but mean. WHOOO BOY!

Scotty wraps the trio together with complimentary licks that seem effortless while he grooves along with the music, but are nothing short of genius. He has as firm a hold on musical structure and dynamics as any guitar player I've seen and he always looks to be having such an awesome time while he's playing that it has an infectious effect on everybody present. These guys mesh very well together and their show exemplifies the experience and awareness that their track record implies.

Billie's Place (3179 Sandwich Street) is yet another great West side pub, with a great story and experience. Billie worked at the DH for years and was a favorite bartender for many. She banked some cash over the years and eventually bought her own place across the street, staying true to the neighbourhood that loved her and giving them another place to gather together for food, booze, music and socializing. This pub is personal and warm and the cemented two dollar whiskey's don't make anything colder. It's like a great house party when this place gets jumpin' so pop in tonight or any other time to support local causes and great music. Valentine's day heart ache has a friend in folk music, rockabilly and cheap whisky.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

"Let's Go Down to the Old West End"

O.K. I'm not going to pretend like he's not my brother, but I don't think that that should completely discredit my opinion when I tell you to go to the historic pillar of drink, The Dominion House (3140 Sandwich)on Wednesday (and Tuesday) nights to hear some authentic West End jams. Kenneth has put a lot of miles on his musical odometer and the crew he's got behind him now are as good as any ensemble I have heard him with.

Kenneth's old stompin' ground was the now fallen, but not forgotten, Bridge Tavern on the corner of University and Bridge Ave. If those walls could talk, they'd probably ask to be thrown up on less. That place was home to a large following who has, in the face of tragedy, emigrated further West to the D.H. where more than a century of patrons have drank before. The Dominion House is a historic Windsor establishment and the fellas that have been running that place for the last few years truly grasp what comes with that territory. They are lovers of good music and tall pints and in my experience with them, they have been nothing but supportive of local acts and good times. I'm glad Kenneth found a home there, he's been keeping that place jumpin' since he came.

The Windsor Salt Band is made up of: Max Marshall (bass), Mark Calcott (keys), Sally Zolari (drizums) and Kenny fronting the pack on the guit-box, the fiddle, the mandolin and some other appearances here and there. Max has infectious energy to team with his mean licks, Mark plays some accordion and contributes stellar harmonies, Sally is Windsor's baddest lady drummer (if not drummer period) and they all mesh very well together. A quality evening of music in the middle of the week breaks the grind, so head West good people, eat, drink and be merry.

As a shameless plug, I host an open-mic at the D.H. on Tuesday nights,completing what Kenneth and I like to call, "The West End Weekend". It is much more stripped down than Kenneth's night, but I've been there for three years and I still really love how open mics serve an ever-shifting stage of talent. This open mic is very original friendly and has opened me up to some great local talent in Eric Welton, Death or Comber, Merridian, Tara Watts, this old guy who did some very funny stand-up and countless others. I'm always glad to have people coming out and if you play, or know someone who does, please be encouraged in getting up and strumming out a few.

Sorry this post is so freakin long, I don't know what got into me. Here are your sparknote inspired bullets.
blah, blah, blah, Bridge closed, blah, blah, blah, pushing his brother, blah, blah, blah, go to the Dominion House, blah, blah, blah, pushing himself.

Good day.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

High Wattage and More at Cafe Morena

It's nice to see venues rising on the heels of ones lost. When Skye Lounge closed on Pellisier and was turned into a waiting room for Jack Rabbit Slims, or whatever it is now, I felt like the city lost its best solo-act stage. Skye was personal and artsy, it had high ceilings and a great host in Nina and I didn't think that any other place could match the desires of a duo or solo act with quite the same style. This place wasn't meant for bands, but it certainly was made for music.

I think that Cafe Morena (999 Erie St.) has become Windsor's new stage for solo performers. The place is quaint and stylin and finds itself in a very cultural location. There is foot traffic on the streets and ears that are interested in creativity. Like Skye, Cafe Morena entertains the perfect decibel level for its atmosphere. Nothing is ever intrusive, but everything accents everything else.

Speaking of fine accents, Tara Watts is one of Windsor's.> Tara is the Windsor music scene's female poster child. She's strummed a lot of tunes 'round these parts in the last few years and her talent and credibility as a songwriter and performer are as well renowned in this area as musicians get. Tara hosts her very original friendly open mic on Friday nights, so I suggest popping in and hearing some of her uniquely crafted melodies along with some other treats who always manage to pop in. Tara is also putting the finishing touches on her first full length album set for release in the spring of this year. The release will be one of the bigger musical events in the coming months and the technical responsibilities rest in the very capable hands of Eric Welton who this blog will feature more directly in the next few posts. Keep an eye and ear out or ask Tara for the weekly update each week when you go see her play.

Since we're on the topic of Cafe Morena, I also will take this opportunity to give Jackie Robitaille's gig on Thursday's some light.> I knew Jackie fairly well in high-school and her brother Pat is still a pretty good friend and a travelling, recording, touring machine. What I did not know about Jackie is that she is packing the pipes I have learned to recognize, paired with some very soft, sensitive and beautiful piano stylings I had always known she had in the bank. Her clarity cuts right through, and she completes a solid feminine tandem representin' the early bird's weekend, Thursday and Friday. Drop by for a drink and/or a tune (there are other options too) on either or both nights. The ladies will be glad to see ya, and you'll be glad to have seen and heard them.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Francophones and Microphones: Windsor and Montreal Come Together to Rock the P-Hog

Windsor's finest and most dedicated rock venue Phog Lounge (157 University West)>
continues their support of independent up and comers tonight beginning at 10 pm. "The Phog" has long been Windsor's most consistent importer of indie music and has afforded many music lovers countless occurrences where they can catch a band from here or away, before they move on to bigger (but not always better) things. Tom Lucier (who also happens to be the mind behind 'Here Be Dragons') has dedicated a great amount of energy over the years to keeping music alive in Windsor and keeping outside talent interested in this city as a potentially positive place to have one's music heard. I highly recommend that you folks check out the link above and stay in the Phog's loop. Tom and the Phog have recently been included in CBC's search for Canada's best music venue, so while you're over there, cast a much deserved vote their way to boot.

The lineup at Phog tonight consists of three acts, one local and two from Montreal. Headlining the night is David Martel> a gifted singer/songwriter who brings more than one may have come to expect from such a categorization. Martel's songs are well constructed and well produced. He is no average bleeding heart acoustic act and his name is rising across this great nation of ours. Along for the journey is fellow Montreal acoustic hombre Mike O'Brien, who I don't know much about but hear great things regarding his ability to warm the stage for Martel and how they compliment each other on select tracks.

Closing the evening is my band, The Mindframes. I'm not going to say much about us, but we're a five piece and I gain great satisfaction from playing with this crew. We're likely to be placed in a category of somewhat progressive, folk-rock (if such a thing exists) and we'll be hitting the stage at around midnight to bring the show home. I know I promised greater notice and I WILL get better in that regard, but it would be great to see some familiar faces and maybe share a drink or some thoughts on what you think of the venue or the tunes. See ya there.

Monday, February 2, 2009

The "W": Working to become more than the symbol for "West Side" and "Whatever"

Dwaine Iler is a local music producer and the frontman of Windsor's west side rockers, The Original Lady Eyes. In addition to helping other musicians get their shit recorded cheap and keeping his own projects moving forward, Dwaine has officially released his new, and latest project and is eager to have it reach willing ears.

The W Music Compilation consists of twenty-six tracks, written and performed by various Windsor musicians of various styles and backgrounds. In gathering these tracks together Dwaine wanted to account for the diversity of the Windsor music scene and perhaps provide a forum which could amplify the voice of its collective make-up.

There is a wide range of music gathered on this recording and although I did not recognize many of the names on the inlet, I found great pleasure in a few of the tracks and was glad to have come upon them. The tracks which seem to stand out to me include: "The Same" - A Welcome Breeze, "Circlops" -Citywide Vacuum, "Serenade"- Jakie Robitaille, and a tune by a 14 year old gal named Keats Conlon who shows off some bad ass pipes, all the signs of good song writing 101 and a name which already sounds like she's a rock star... seriously, Keats Conlon?... that's a cool name.

Anyway, I recommend picking this CD up for various reasons, but I will focus on the good, home-grown music you may miss out on element of my attack. A lot (not all, but a lot) of these tunes are worth your time. The CD itself has 19 tracks with the additional 7 appearing in the form of MP3 drag and drop files. If you're interested in grabbing one, leave a comment and we'll figure it out. Thanks for reading.