Sometimes you stumble upon a perfect combo and feel slapped upside the head by the obviousness of it. Chocolate and peanut butter; brie and apples; bacon and well, anything. Imagine a singer-songwriter, more specifically - please take a moment to envision JF Robitaille and let's pair him right up with one of the purest, most gently arresting voices I've had to pleasure of falling upon in ages: Lail Arad and you have what happened to me backstage at Waterstock.
They shared a story, they laughed, they made me feel at once thrown into a beautiful 1950's era Spanish romance movie (neither are Spanish, btw, its really about the 'air' of a person, it was like she laughed in slow motion) and exceedingly envious of finding a combination that makes music touching and real anew.
We've Got it Coming is the latest release from this duo, each backed with their own musical history and ample talent. You will hear it at the top of the show, followed by their hilarious and frightening story of being stuck in the mountains with a very strange stranger.
I'll allow you a moment to mentally nod Jim Morrison on that last note and then turn your attention to what is new in Canadian music and you will have these two at the top of your playlist. Check them out, follow them, find them live because I did and I'm a better music fan for it. JF Robitaille and Lail Arad = beautiful. Thank you guys. Links below.
Blue Rodeo is synonymous with Canadian music, they helped put us on the map. They laid the groundwork for hundreds of Canadian bands to rise up in international waters so thick with America's take on rock people simply didn't know what hit them when Blue Rodeo hit the stage.
Jim Cuddy formed Blue Rodeo and has lead them through worldwide tours in the ensuing decades since. He also formed the Jim Cuddy band with other musical genius' that hold a special place in my heart like Kathleen Edwards, Sarah Harmer (formerly of Weeping Tile and if i get the distinct pleasure of introducing you to this brilliant band's work I want full credit please, put me in the liner notes of your fan fiction, Weeping Tile is THAT good) and Wilco's Jeff Tweedy. Oh yes, that Wilco.
Basically anyone who is anyone in Canadian music or Canada itself knows and loves Jim Cuddy. His management is SERIOUS and his gatekeepers are professional as FUCK. Yeah, that sentence just happened. But Jim, oh Jim. At 61 years old this guy was better looking than most 25 year olds. How is he not aging? WHAT gives? He is also quietly beautiful and incredibly charming without trying to be and without pretence at all. I asked him for the interview, something I would not normally do in person and on the spot with a name this big. When I sat in a room with RUSH I was so nervous I could barely speak, let alone ask for the interview. But Jim was warm, inviting and immediately said 'of course!' and then remarked on how awesome by mobile studio is (it is, it really is and I worked my ass off for it so I get to say and write this as much as I want!!) and then proceeded to manage my nerves for me (after talking to all the other bands who were so in love with him by normal ease at being in a very small space with someone world famous evaporated and I was nervous and sweaty and stammering).
He told me a heartbreaking story of his time with Kris Kristofferson (yeah, that one) that you frankly need to hear. I've left the rest of the interview straightforward and clean so you can just feel the story hit you full on.
Thank you Jim.
Thank you Waterstock.
Enjoy Warpaint in anticipation of their upcoming 2017 album release for which I CANNOT WAIT, except I have to, so I am semi patiently. This is a band I wanna see main stage this summer and I hope there's a festival hosting them at that level because they would be on the cutting edge of what's happening on the indie circuit.
Lead Singer Luke Roes, Bassist Chris Levesque, and Drummer Thomas Perquin make up Ivory Hours, listen in as I sit down with Luke.
Bry Webb is the frontman for The Constantines, one of my most beloved bands. Stemming from their start in 1999 they traveled and toured and put out 4 full length albums and 2 EPs, skyrocketed to indie fame and broke up in about 2010. Then in 2014/15 they hit the scene again, hard.
The Constantines, or Cons, as they're known on the indie scene, played Massey Hall May 27, 2015 - one of the most pivotal moments in my life even tough I wasn't there (oh I wanted to be but you will hear why I didn't make it to that show and you can find that exact show through Live at Massey Hall ) and reignited that love of a truly great Canadian rock band.
Bry Webb joins me after he played Riverfest and while he only hinted at what was to come for The Constantines it lit a spark of hope that I would get to see this band live again, to return to a place and time of stunningly great lyrics, hard hitting drum lines and that fender strat lifted overhead calling the crowd to their feet. And keeping them there all night.
The Slackers are the kind of New York Ska band your momma warned you about, they live up to every expectation possible in ska love and you know damned well I was into ska in the 90's like every other good natured music geek. Getting to finally meet and sit down with Marcus Geard was nothing short of brilliant and the culmination of my 15 year old self's every joy. Marcus did not disappoint and I managed to capture so much of his life story he almost missed his ride out of town.
The Slackers are touring now - GO see them live, this is the kind of band you literally HAVE to see live to understand the depth of talent here. Ska has an unfortunate tendency to disappear in the recording - they are like the jazz of almost-rock, you will never see the same show twice and that's one of the few times that is a good thing. Its a living breathing animal on stage and I'm not talking about Marcus' stash. The music has to be lived to be heard properly. There, you will fall in love.
Marcus and I feel in deep deep like, making friends with rock stars is not something I ever anticipated with this little show but its damned sure a side effect one could get used to :)
The Slackers are self styled masters of Reggae, Ska and Rock’n’Roll from New York City.
The Slackers began in 1991 in NYC. After years of local gigs and rehearsing in a dingy basement in Manhattan’s lower east side, the band released its debut album, Better Late Than Never, in 1996. The band’s success resulted in the release of a second album, Red Light, on the Epitaph label in 1997. Since then the Slackers have released 11 more studio albums (The Question, Wasted Days, Slackers & Friends, Close My Eyes, Slackers in Dub, Peculiar, Boss Harmony Sessions, Self Medication, Lost and Found, The Great Rocksteady Swindle, and The Slackers [self-titled, 2016] ) 3 live albums (Live at Ernestos, Upsettin Ernestos, Slack in Japan), several EPs (International War Crimminal, My Bed is a Boat), and numerous singles and compilation tracks.
Since 1997 the Slackers have played over 100 shows every year in a total of 46 american states, 7 Canadian provinces, 22 European countries, 5 Latin American countries, and 2 Asian countries.
The band’s musical style is distinct from their contempories; a mix of early Jamaican music with classic 50’s and 60s American styles. There are influences from 50s and 60s Rock’n’Roll, Rythmn and Blues, Jazz and Latin music. Singer Vic Ruggiero has coined the term ‘Jamaican Rock’nRoll.’ to describe it. He says, “The band might play a classic Jamaican style but the vocals are distinctly American east coast, revealing the obvious connection of Jamaican music to the Doo-Wop of Harlem and the Bronx.”
With the demise of record companies over the last 5 years, the Slackers have successfully used crowdfunding (www.bigtun.es/theslackers.) to release new music including the latest release, The Slackers [self-titled] in February 2016.
That one time though, there was a snake.
But its a real thing to walk into a room of 12 rockstars and tell their tour manager (not quiet enough) that you need to move the interview to a different greenroom because there's a live, loose boa constrictor in the building and you can't record in the studio you'd booked because, well - the snake was last seen in that area.
Police were called. Animal control was called. More beers please was called, mostly to calm nerves but also because the fucking Sheepdogs were there to perform as BROS.
Let me clear that up: Sheepdogs frontman Ewan Currie started a side project with his brother and fellow Sheepdog Shamus and they are so big time that their first foray into this thing - they are traveling with a 9 piece band.
If you don't know what normal bands travel with I will let you know it is NOT even close to a 9 piece band. Most smaller projects, or bands in general, have trouble affording travel with the entire band itself. Let alone adding extras. These guys can add 9 extra dudes, each more bearded and tattooed than the last (also known as Paula's holy land) to travel across flipping North America and Europe. Oh maybe Australia too because its so cheap to travel there, hahaha...
Turns out these guys were born in Australia, which even as a music geek as massive as I am, I didn't know that about these guys until we sat down and talked gators. And parenting. And decisions you make when your kids are in danger.
Spoiler alert: snake is still at large.
Enjoy the interview and the two new releases from BROS. At the top of the show I play Tell Me and midway I play Brazil. You will love them both for different reasons, like the BROS themselves.
This week on TMS I host Justin Rutledge, and I don't want to blow your minds but he has played with Dolly Parton. Yes. My personal white whale ebbs ever closer my loves. Justin blew my mind actually when we talked about how he writes.
A love note to my listeners:
You'll note I didn't do a retrospective on the year and this is mostly because so much happened I am not sure what to include and what to leave for another round. This time last year I had just pressed GO LIVE on my podcast and sat with bated breath to see if anyone, anywhere would consider downloading it and listening to me.
I spent hundreds, HUNDREDS of hours editing, ripping, recording and trying with all my might and then-skill-level (which has improved!) to produce a show I love. I hit refresh and saw a download. It was my husband in the next room and I could hear him giggling softly when he heard my breath draw in at the sight of that one single download that meant the world to me. A few more downloads trickled in and I started to check out Twitter a little bit, Libsyn, PodBean and eventually ITunes and started listening to other podcasts. I guested on PassersbyPodcast with Matt and his listeners started reaching out to me, I will always be grateful for this because many of these folks have become my podcast hub.
I hit 100 downloads and cried (you will see a theme here of me crying when happy and I blame my parents for this weird trait). I met up with the Angry Ginger and Salty Language's Tony and his beer expert wife Jeannie and laughed until our sides hurt somewhere in the middle of Michigan. I hit 1000 downloads and felt dizzy. I was asked to join Shumway Industries with a group of people I consider to be some of the best independent podcasters and I cried at the idea I could be considered among them for even a moment. Bill from Wicked Theory, Angry Ginger and TK1 of 7DAG, Stef of Gotham Lights, Diamond Dave, and a funny little proxy-caster named Agent Palmer who would go on to become one of my podcast confidants for every major change I have made to improve my show. I went to Podcast Movement in Chicago and met the great and astoundingly talented Carrie Zylka, the gentle giant (and I mean GIANT) Dan Lizette of Podcast Digest, and a host of other talented podcasters I now consider friends. I guested on over 20 shows and brought in as many fellow podcasters as I could manage to my show and these were more fun than I can write accurately about.
I hit 10,000 downloads and told my family I might have a shot at this for real. I was invited to Podtoberfest and cried, I got to meet my heroes and it only made them larger in my mind somehow. I spent 15 hours on the road with Dougie, the Shumway IT guy and that truck contained some of the best conversations I've had, ever. I spent 36 hours podcasting with this group of awesomeness and finally gave in to the idea I might indeed be a music geek.
I hit 30,000 downloads and forgot what numbers meant and I'm a math-lover people. I podcasted at so many music festivals I almost lost count, but not actually because each one was so meaningful and important to me I have kept every media pass I've ever been handed. I'm not kidding, I have them all on my dresser so when I'm getting ready in the morning for my soulless 9-5 to remind myself there is more out there for me, this work is for something, my audience growth is happening and I will do this for a living. My show got picked up by a college radio station and is now being prepped for a weekly Indie Music spotlight show, hosted by little old me.
A year. I've been a podcaster for a year and I still can't believe how well its going. The setbacks have been bumps, the hours have been long and beloved, the chances people have taken on me have been humbling and wonderful and so deeply appreciated. As I look forward to 2017 I am a stronger podcaster and one more focussed on taking this to the next level. I don't know how to get there, there is no manual for this, its still too niche, its still too new - but I'm trying.
Every day I am trying to make this happen for my family and for me and the little music nerd inside me that's screaming to get to the next show and record the next story. Thank you for coming along for the ride, I'm so happy you are here. I'm so happy we are. The downloads are a steady heartbeat now, rhythmic and reassuring that the audience I've built are sticking around and telling their friends about the show, every single one of them matters to me. Each is a step closer to getting to do this full time, something I was told was a dream, something I was told repeatedly could not and would not happen.
But the funny thing about being told no is this: I just want it that much more.