Roads are something Penner knows about. At eighteen, Penner left small town life to wander the highways and back roads of North America. Eventually he found himself in Chicago serving mystery soup and stale bread to two hundred and fifty homeless men a day. Next, a women & children’s shelter, then youth shelters and detox centers. For thirteen years he immersed himself in this subculture of the disenfranchised, absorbing as much raw humanity as he could. When a shift was over he would spend endless cathartic hours writing and playing his guitar, exorcising heartache through music, a practice that ultimately lead to a full time career as a touring and recording artist.
To Build a Fire is Cam’s seventh recorded album and there are moments on the disc that will surprise and amaze even the most devoted Cam Penner fan. The symphony of sound and lyricism showcase the inevitable evolution of a growing artist; this album is a new start. The lush beauty of the opening brass track lures you in but leaves you wondering what is to come…then it begins. Ukuleles, guitars, banjos strummed. Floorboards stomped. Kick drums kicked. Feet stumbled. Thighs, knees, hands slapped and clapped. Voices strained and bent. Fingers gripped, grabbed and picked. Arms and hands flung. Body and sound thrown against wood and metal. It’s folk. It’s rock n’ roll. It’s Cam Penner, breathing fire into every note and lyric, carving his own path with music born from the soil and sin of this world. Catch him along with an electrifying 2013 line-up at the 21st Annual Salmon Arm Roots & Blues Festival.
At what point did their university-learned mastery of classical theory give birth to their understanding of rock and roll energy and pop structuring? Hence the whole chicken-or-the-egg conundrum…
The Balconies are a band with a story. Siblings Jacquie and Steven Neville lead from their perches at the front of the stage, with Jacquie’s wide-eyed guitar strums and Stephen’s lanky bass lines tumbling in a dryer filled with Liam Jaeger’s rhythmic peppering.
For those well-versed in indie-rock archetypes, the Balconies’ beginnings – boy meets girl in university while studying classical music; girl drags brother out of school and into the basement; boy, girl and younger brother pound out rock jams to the outstretched arms of Ottawa bars. But beginnings are just that – the roots that sprouted.
And now the Balconies stand before you – teeth barred, eyelashes batting, clothing and hair drenched in sweat. In the blink of an eye, the trio has grown from a humble indie pop band to a leather-clad three-headed rock and roll monster, punctuated by 80s hair metal flair.
They’ve shared the stage with Cold War Kids, Mother Mother, Devo, Sloan, Stars, and, most recently, Wide Mouth Mason and Big Sugar while touring in Fall 2012.
But The Balconies aren’t satisfied.
They’re out for blood and hungry for fresh ears– as indicated by the video for the single “Kill Count” (a single which garnered the band extensive major radio play and media attention), and the video for the haunting single, “Do It In the Dark” (which premiered on Much Music in October 2012).
The trio is hard at work on their upcoming full-length album. Coupled with a European Tour, including the MIDEM Festival in France, and slots on the North American festival circuit, which saw them in Austin for South by Southwest, the future looks bright.
So, if you fancy a riot of gargantuan rhythmic proportions, swing by. Oh…and be prepared – this will get loud.]]>
Born out of a university art-rock collective, Jack O’Brien (bass), Curtis Roush (guitar), A.J. Vincent (keys), Joseph Mirasole (drums) funded their self-titled debut album entirely independently. Jack’s Moustache was set up by the band & offered TBLSH fans a chance to buy personalized love songs & videos, private meals cooked & served by the band, spanish lessons, homemade cookies, full house/apartment cleaning, canoe rides & car washes by the band (in jean cut offs, no less!!) Sounds amazing right? Well the album is too…
Serving up a sizzling combination of rock ‘n roll musicianship, the R&B infused album was an incredible success – boasting solid song-writing, inspirational harmonies and just the right amount of sexy, gritty, southern psychedelica. Producer Danny Reisch utilized the best elements of vintage and modern recording to achieve a sound both forward-looking and evocative of 1970s hi-fi.
The first track, “Shanty,” pairs southern rock with hard disco, featuring the searing slide licks of guitarist Curtis Roush. Following the lean, exuberant stomp of “Bare Hands Bare Feet,” the band settles into the dark psychedelic funk of “La Piedra De La Iguana,” led by keyboardist A.J. Vincent’s dusky vocal and Farfisa organ work.
Throughout the middle of the record, the solemn rhythm and blues of “Detroit” is juxtaposed with “Back And Forth,” a four-on-the-floor disco-funk romp.
On “Garden Of The Gods,” the album’s penultimate 10-minute epic, the band evolves from stately ballroom Americana to an expansive, ensemble anthem, conjuring up their limber and unrelenting live sets. The fiery “Rhubarb Jam” closes out the record with the agile, booming funk of bassist Jack O’Brien and drummer Joseph Mirasole.
Following their album release, The Bright Light Social Hour has embarked on a heavy touring rotation, playing over two hundred shows throughout the United States, Canada and Mexico. Latest news on the touring scene features the band at the Tortuga Music Festival & Lollapalooza. Chronicling their adventures, the band has released a series of self-produced tour documentaries depicting life on the road.
Over the past decade Rita has won every major Canadian blues award, including multiple Maple Blues awards, CBCs Great Canadian Blues Award, Toronto Independent Music Awards, Hamilton Music Awards, Manitoba Blues Society and the Hamilton Blues Society’s Lifetime Achievement Awards. Most recently Rita was awarded the prestigious Maple Blues ‘Blues With A Feeling Award’ for Lifetime Achievement.
As if creating beautiful music wasn’t enough, Rita has entered the film world & has recently released the soundtrack for her award winning documentary, Music From The Big House – which is her 9th recorded album.
Music From The Big House takes Rita on a pilgrimage to the birthplace of the blues, the Angola Prison Louisiana State’s Maximum Security Penitentiary. This musical journey is a glance into what used to be the bloodiest prison in America, but now gives lifers something to live for through the power of music. In contrast to sensational stories of convicts, we witness remarkable voices of hope as their love of music radiates humanity and redemption on their quest for forgiveness.
Rita never imagined that her love of the blues would lead her to a historic jailhouse performance with inmates serving life sentences for murder, rape and armed robbery. But their shared bond of music, and Chiarelli’s vivacious personality draw striking revelations from the inmates.
“It’s a beautiful film and one that all music lovers, regardless of preferred style, can appreciate because the music speaks to something deeper in our souls. It speaks to love, redemption, forgiveness and understanding.”
Showing no signs of slowing down, Chiarelli continues to tour in North America & Europe and is a veteran & featured artist at this year’s 21st Annual Salmon Arm Roots and Blues Festival. Rita’s many albums include Road Rockets, Just Gettin Started, What a Night Live!, Breakfast at Midnight, No One Is To Blame, Cuore: The Italian Sessions, Uptown Goes Downtown and Sweet Paradise.
Rita is currently ‘road testing’ material for her up coming album ‘Back to Blue’.]]>
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A Natural Fact continues to garner accolades and rave reviews, with the latest recognition coming via the International Songwriting Competition. ”Leaving”, written by Steve Strongman and producer Rob Szabo, features multiple Maple Blues award winner Suzie Vinnick singing with Strongman.
Penner has described his philosophical outlook and songwriting muse: “Sometimes I feel the thousands of souls I’ve listened to are people living inside of me, telling their tales.” Agreed. When listening to Penners songs you can hear the struggle, the hope, the yearning to be better. “I’ve never really written topical songs, I usually write about the emotional struggle, the pull between what’s right and wrong.”
On To Build a Fire, his new album coming out this year, there are moments that will surprise and amaze even the most devoted Cam Penner fan. The symphony of sound and lyricism showcase the inevitable evolution of a growing artist; this album is a new start. ‘To Build a Fire’ speaks to the world. It’s folk. It’s rock n’ roll. It’s Cam Penner. Breathing fire into every note and lyric. It’s full of everything we should be looking for, not only musically, but in life.
But wait! There’s more! Oh! Ogopogo won’t drive the adults in the room nuts. Sure,… there might be singing and shouting about trucks, dinosaurs, raccoons and even sea anemones, but even boring old adults can have fun to Oh! Ogopogo!
This is especially true if those boring adults like music influenced by The Ramones, The Pogues, Fred J Eaglesmith, The Beach Boys or The Cars.
Oh! Ogopogo! Great kids’ music, that adults can dig.]]>
This undeniably bright star of the Sta’atl’imx Nation from the interior Lillioet British Columbia has earned his artistic integrity. His debut album, Just Where I’m At (2000), garnered international recognition, establishing him as a respected singer, songwriter, guitarist and performer, winning Best Male Artist and Best Rock Album at the 2000 Canadian Aboriginal Music Awards. The video of its popular single, “Young Enough,” reached the Top 5 on the coveted Bravo Video Hit List and the Top 10 on the Much More Music chart and won Best Music Video Award at the 2002 American Indian Film Festival in San Francisco.
Surrender promises no less, receiving early recognition with a nomination for Best Video for “You Got It” at the 2010 Aboriginal People’s Choice Awards. This collection of unique and distinctive original songs re!ects a deeply felt musical statement of change, growth and maturation. “It’s about being vulnerable to the experiences that make us human and real,” George explains. “Letting go … To free yourself from judgement in order to evolve.”
And evolving he is, into one of the most exciting Canadian artists today. His talent is undeniable. His stage presence is passionate and full of expression and his connection to the audience is unwaveringly sincere. He is the real deal.]]>
Shuswap darlings Mike Shaver and Steph Webster founded a Million Dollars in Pennies in early 2012. The idea was based around a simple presentation; two acoustic instruments and two voices. The band recorded their debut album a couple of months later and wanted to do something unique to present the album. A series of ‘Let’s push the envelope’ discussions led to the duo undertaking a five-months, 8020 kilometer cross-Canada bicycling trip last summer. The band traveled from Victoria, BC to Cape Spear, Newfoundland, and played 30 concerts along the way. They played their way home aboard VIA rail’s On Board Entertainment program, from Halifax to Vancouver.
Always scheming new ways to perform music while having an adventure, this summer they will portage and canoe their way from Salmon Arm to Seymour Arm where they will perform alongside Current Swell at Don Fink Memorial Park, August 10, 2013.