Tuesday, March 28, 2017

LOCAL CONCERT ALERTS (The Old Wives & Deathsticks), A New Local Band, And More!!

Before we kick off our first news post in four days, just a heads up that today is reportedly the final day for HMV's liquidation sales before their Station Mall location closes for good in advance of Sunrise Records moving in. Last time I was there, everything was 70% off or more, so make use of the sales today if you can, and we'll be replacing them in our music store links shortly as well! Now, here's a stacked news post featuring a surprising lineup departure, LOCAL CONCERT ALERTS for the spring, and first, a new local band!

Over a month after their local concert debut, new local punk/alternative trio Handsome Sandwich have finally launched their own Facebook page, so what should you know? Comprised of Bear Hunters drummer Johnny Belanger, Winkstinger guitarist Jesse Cook, and Redundant bassist James White (with Johnny providing most lead vocals), you may have seen this curiously named band open for Gianni Gagoots live at LopLops Lounge last month, but that remains their only announced concert appearance. Despite the trifecta of past common band links for 2/3rds of the band (James & Jesse with The Elements, James & Johnny with Caveman Morrison, and Jesse & Johnny with Jack Spades), Handsome Sandwich will reportedly not sound like any of them, and will harbour more similarities with Johnny's solo concert sets that he played in the mid-2010s, some with Jesse playing alongside. An original song named "Signs" is in progress, but unless you missed their debut gig, there are no other hints about their sound yet.

A band with such well done (if bizarre) artwork can't be all bad, especially with such a solid lineup of familiar faces from recent punk and metal bands, and it will be very interesting to see how Handsome Sandwich fare into 2017! I know that Johnny had wanted to front a punk band locally for a while now, and if this is the realization of that goal, then look out, as there's a lot of potential to be had, even with such a curious yet creative band name! Stay tuned for more on Handsome Sandwich as it comes in!

Next up, here's some LOCAL CONCERT ALERTS, starting with the delayed local concert debut of Whitby, Ontario garage/noise rock duo Deathsticks, who will rock The Gore Street Cafe on Thursday, April 20th! Work commitments scuttled this band's planned New American Pub concert in October, but now, they're getting a second chance for local fans to see what the guys in AlgomA saw when the two played together in Peterboroigh last summer. Expect some minimalist but aggressive originals with a psychedulic spacey bent at times from Deathsticks next month when they headline at the laundromat! In place of the never-debuted Dark Garfunkel and Sleeping Together from October, the local opener is ex-Pixo Control frontman Mike Mikus, whose own rising solo pop rock originals continue to make waves, so keep him in mind for April 20th at well! Despite Six, Two, Oh.'s intended promotion of October's cancelled date, next month's show appears to be in-house through the venue, as is often the case there.

As usual for Gore Street Cafe events, this is an ALL AGES concert under the venue's usual "pay what you can" model, and an early start time of 7:00 PM is advertised. For more details, visit the official Facebook event page, and stay tuned for more from this intriguing concert as it comes in!

Also, we have one more new show to confirm today, but this one is indeed via Six, Two, Oh., as three touring punk bands from out west will hit The New American Pub on Sunday, May 14th for what is being called "The Alberta Intrusion"! The bands in question are Edmonton pop punk trio The Old Wives, fellow Edmonton punk rockers Worst Days Down, and Calgary punk quintet The River Jacks, so how's that for a solid lineup of hard hitting punk from afar? In particular, you may recognize The River Jacks from headlining at The Algonquin Pub two years ago, so if you've missed them since that Gonqshow concert series date, here's the belated sequel! The local opening band is newer local punk/metal trio Stegadeth, whose frontman Bill Bennett opened for The River Jacks here in 2015 with Stereo North, and they should provide solid support to the Alberta intrusion in May! This 19+ show has a 9:00 PM start time and $5 advance tickets, though the price jumps to $7 at the door.

Advance tickets are apparently now available at Northland Music, Case's Music, The Rad Zone and Big Guns Barbershop on East Street, so keep those locales in mind, and visit the official Facebook event page for more details! This should be a great concert for punk fans, with The Old Wives' skate punk sound, Worst Days Down's more alternative stylings, and The River Jacks' old school sensibilities a nice match for any taste, so check the above links to give all of the night's bands a listen, and get your tickets A.S.A.P.!

Finally, we have a surprising update from a veteran cover fixture, as local classic/hard rock quartet Mourning Wood appear to have parted ways with drummer Glen Thomas. A reason for his departure has not been publically announced, but singer/guitarist Terry Eaton revealed that they have a drummer vacancy via his post on the Musicians Wanted Facebook group yesterday. Glen has been a fixture with this frequently seen cover band since replacing T.J. Case in August 2015 upon their expansion to a four-piece lineup, and it was nice to see Glen back in a band that played some hard rock for the past year & a half, but hopefully things are amicable, and don't miss him with The Peace Vibe! Glen's departure may explain why Mourning Wood haven't played live in over a month (with Terry & guitarist Steven Flint's side project Soundcheck picking up the slack recently), but they are looking for a new "tub thumper"!

Steven noted in a comment on the aforementioned Musicians Wanted group post that "versatility is key", having singing ability is a bonus, and they just want "a skilled musician who's down to earth" that loves to play live, while Terry mentioned that Mourning Wood have gigs booked through the end of the year, including New Year's Eve (specific dates and venues not listed.) If you're interested in trying out for Mourning Wood, message Terry at this link or above, and stay tuned for updates on their drummer search and more general updates soon! Thanks everyone!

Monday, March 27, 2017

YouTube Channel Profile Series: MissOutDoors' Channel

Let's kick off the last week of March with this month's YouTube Channel Profile, as we continue our monthly spotlights of YouTube channels with posted content at least 50% centered around SMS-covered local bands and concerts! This month's randomly selected channel has a wide assortment of videos from a major concert 3 years back, so here's what you need to know!
MissOutDoors' channel (http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCNk4UcPHupyKKlpSa1-QgsQ)

Owner: YouTube user MissOutDoors (real identity unknown, but I believe she's from Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario)

Channel Timeline: Launched on June 27th, 2014; Videos posted from that day through the following month

Channel Summary: MissOutDoors visibly created her channel solely to upload videos from Alice Cooper's headlining concert at The Dreammaker's Theater at the Sault Michigan Kewadin Casino, which took place the same as day as it's inception. Of her 30 videos, 29 are from the Alice Cooper show, the sole exception (and last video) being of her entering the annual Spartan Race in Ottawa the following month, which has no connection to local music, but shows her endurance via the obstacle marathon.

Why You Should Watch: You should check out this channel if you love Alice Cooper and/or his most recent local concert appearance, especially as MissOutDoors filmed 46 minutes of this show, albeit scattered throughout 29 clips! It's extremely hard to do an Alice Cooper concert justice this way, but at least she got a lot of videos that were generally clear & well filmed! However, the fragmented nature of these uploads may turn off some viewers, with only one video exceeding 4 minutes in length, and nine running for under one minute, including two videos that only last 12 seconds. Also, while she did film most songs at this concert, a few notable songs did miss the cut, like "Under My Wheels" & "Poison", but click here & here or alternate footage from other attendees if you're curious.

Our Recommended Videos To Check Out

Alice Cooper Kewadin 2014 Video 1: Though partially uploaded out of order, a great place to start is the opening song from the shock rock legend's concert set, where he covered Judy Collins' "Hello Hooray", as previously seen on his "Billion Dollar Babies" album. The 78 second video captures Alice in full command of the stage, complete with dramatic introduction, and then-new guitarist Nita Strauss is in fine form as well! A late set-suite also included additional covers of The Doors (continued here), The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, and The Who, if you're so inclined.

Alice Cooper Kewadin 2014 Video 18: The longest single video filmed by MissOutDoors from this concert was of Alice Cooper performing his classic "The Ballad of Dwight Fry", fittingly featuring him performing in a straitjacket to represent the title inmate. Solid performance of what could be considered a ballad, but still eerily done, and complete with requisite theatrics at the end! To see what happened to Alice, check out the 12 second "Video 19" and "Video 20" (the latter of which segues into his song "Killer".)

Alice Cooper Kewadin 2014 Video 27: Even though this is the second portion of MissOutDoors' video of this song (see the first chunk in "Video 26"), her latter upload of Alice Cooper playing his classic song "I'm Eighteen" is by far her most popular on YouTube, attracting well over 2,000 views. This may partly be due to Nita Strauss' guitar solo in the clip, as praised in the comments, but it's a nicely filmed clip overall, even if it didn't need to be uploaded separately from #26! This was her final song filmed prior to the "School's Out" encore in Videos 28 & 29, skipping "Poison" in between.

I hope you guys liked this month's YouTube Channel Profile! Next month in this series, we'll be taking a look at 2 channels, as the first randomly selected channel only had one video, but the second had two distinct types, so things are rounded out sufficiently. Our next channels in this series will be the channel under the name of Quiet Riot drummer Frankie Banali (with a single video hyping up THIS THURSDAY'S show at The Machine Shop), and Noochy Lanterns drummer Amanda Brown's channel (featuring videos of related band The Apocalypse Afterparty), so look for these on or around April 27th! That's all for now, but stay tuned for more news this week! Thanks everyone!

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Stiffler's Mom - "The Demo" EP Review!!

Now is a good time to post our 93rd monthly CD review at The Sault Metal Scene, and with no new hard rock or punk releases to look at this month, we're dipping into the archives for a look at the only EP from veteran local hard/party rock trio Stiffler's Mom! As they played live just this past weekend, they're a perfect band to tie in a review for, so what should you know about their CD? Entitled simply "The Demo", this was independently released back in 2004, though surviving online details on it's original release are minimal at best. Stiffler's Mom's current and classic lineup is present on "The Demo", including singer/drummer Greg Simpson, guitarist Michael Davies, and bassist Jon Ferguson. This album is long since out of print now, and I doubt that Stiffler's Mom sell stock of it at modern concerts, but fan Alex Moore did upload the whole EP to YouTube last year, and song titles below are linked to his uploads of them. With four songs running for a robust 19 minutes, let's begin our review of the elusive Stiffler's Mom demo!

The opening song is actually a cover, namely their version of Gordon Lightfoot's classic ballad "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald". Aside from extra guitar flourish from Mike & some vocal harmonizing, this is a fairly faithful rendition of the original song for the first 2 and a half minutes, but after some ocean effects, the full band kicks into usual Stiffler's Mom gear with a heavier and faster pace. Musically speaking, I should prefer this, but it really takes away from the somber tone of the disaster, before the 6 minute track ends on a melancholy note. To me, the fast heavy stretch is really out of place, and it should have started the song, then became gradually more melancholy. Next is the album's shortest song "Yesterday", an altogether more fun and successful performance that shows Stiffler's Mom at their fun and lively best! Greg's melodic singing suits the tone, and his drumming also matches well, though Mike's guitar solo doesn't show his true abilities, and the song can be a little repetitive. Strong recovery overall though!

"Pearl's Necklace" comes next, and ignoring the obvious innuendo of the title, the song is a solid track, and at times, the vocals remind me of the verses on Inner City Surfers originals, so make of that what you will! The song has a catchy drum beat, Jon shines on bass, and Mike's guitar solo is way better and more diverse, adding up to the EP's most entertaining song yet, though I will say that the pre-solo break and it's near ska-sounding ambiance is too jarring of a shift, and the song ends way too abruptly. Still, it's my highlight so far on "The Demo"! This release ends with "Enjoy The Show", a song carried over from Stiffler's Mom's predecessor band Sin Stereo (their version linked here), and the new version doesn't alter much from Sin Stereo's, aside from the chorus, with the backing vocals sorely missed in this version's melody. You could argue that this is both bands' signature original, and it's hard to argue, especially with another solid guitar solo and catchy verses, but it's not quiet at it's predecessor's musical level.

So, how do I sum up Stiffler's Mom's 13 year old demo? Overall, it's a fun and high energy release that showcases the guys' skill as original songwriters, and might be of special note to fans who aren't aware of their original music background! Greg Simpson's melodic singing and solid drumming were a nice compliment, Michael Davies laid down some solid guitar solos, and Jon Ferguson's bass work was ever present, and things came together at their peak on "Pearl's Necklace", but there were points to address. I preferred the choruses of the Sin Stereo version of "Enjoy the Show" to the Stiffler's Mom remake, the guitar solo on "Yesterday" paled compared to the later ones, and most jarring of all, the heavy & fast section of the Gordon Lightfoot cover was not well suited to where it was in the song, and if you have to have it, I'd have started the song with it, before the disasters began. Overall though, this was a nice studio debut for Stiffler's Mom, and it would be interesting to see them release a second CD (perhaps with "Sweet Juanita"?)

Give Stiffler's Mom's demo EP a listen at the above links, and I hope you guys liked this month's CD review! As for our April CD review, I am not 100% sure what we are reviewing next month, but here's what I can tell you. A new CD release will take precedent, and while both The Apocalypse Afterparty and Skeyes of Seven have complete EPs in the can, neither have seen a paid public release yet. If one comes out by late April, they'd be next, but check out our next "Where Are The New Albums?" post for more clues! However, if a Telephone & Address album comes out soon, it will not be next month's review topic, as we only just reviewed their latest album in December. Given bands playing live next month, our next review choice could easily be an album from A Fall From Innocence (tied in with A Dire Setback's Larry Babic) or Haggith (tied in with Eclipse members), but time will tell if either is up next.

In any event, look for our next CD review at some point in April, and stay tuned for more news and features next week! Thanks everyone!

Friday, March 24, 2017

LOCAL CONCERT ALERTS (CKY & Nova Rex), Plus A New Din Video!!

On this Friday evening, we have a new video to share, but first, let's tackle two recent LOCAL CONCERT ALERTS featuring notable American headlining bands, including one in particular that's gotten tons of local buzz since it was announced yesterday! Here's what you need to know!

Pennsylvania alt-metal trio CKY will make their local concert debut at The Canadian Nightclub on Thursday, June 8th! Yes, the band best known for songs like "96 Quite Bitter Beings", "Flesh Into Gear", and "Familiar Realm" will rock the Soo in a few short months, and even without longtime frontman Deron Miller in their current lineup, their energetic punk-influenced originals are sure to get a huge reception in their local debut! After all, they're the namesake of and a huge part of the old CKY DVDs that begat the Jackass series, so keep that angle in mind too! A stacked local openers lineup will include the return of hardcore quintet As It Stands to the stage for the first time since 2012 on June 8th. Though A.I.S. only formally broke up in 2014, we've been waiting well over 4 years for a new show from the guys, and with John Mignacca back home, they're primed to reclaim their spot in the local scene! Also slated to open are punk/metal favourites Jack Spades, in the public debut of their new lineup!

No word yet on who's joining J.D. and Justin in their new lineup, but this will mark Jack Spades' first show since opening for SNFU in September, and this will be a great way to welcome them back after over 8 months away! The current opener lineup is rounded out by newer alt-punk quartet A Dire Setback, who should be in fine form following their own recent Canadian gigs, so don't be late for their set either! Notably, this is the first announced concert promoted by Jack Spades frontman J.D. Pearce since his annual Halloween party last year, but what a way to get back into the swing of things, and keep posted in case he has anything sooner to announce! This 19+ show currently lists an unusually early start time of 6:00 PM, and tickets are now on sale at this link for $20, though in-person local availability has not been publically noted as of press time. As a long-time fan of anything to do with the CKY name, this is a huge deal, and it will be awesome to have Chad, Matt, and Jess in the Soo come June 8th!

J.D. has noted that this show has seen the fastest online sales on the first day of any of his promoted concerts, so get your tickets A.S.A.P. just in case by clicking here, as who knows when and where they'll be available in person, especially with As It Stands and Jack Spades both returning that same night! Stay tuned for continued updates as they roll in, and As It Stands are back in our active band links, hopefully this isn't a one-off!

Next up, here's one more new show announcement for later this year, as Florida-based hair metal veterans Nova Rex will hit The Rockstar Bar for a headlining concert on Wednesday, August 30th! A familiar band to glam metal diehards, Nova Rex have been active since the mid-1980s, and while they never achieved the mainstream superstardom of other contemporary acts, they have a solid following that carried them to their own Netflix documentary in 2011, and they should light things up at The Rockstar Bar to help send out the summer! Returning local classic rock cover quartet Nikkfitt (featuring Browbeat and Redundant alumni) will open this show, and this will be a nice showcase for this talented local outfit who don't play live often enough, so keep them in mind as well! Admission for this 19+ event is $8, with advance tickets likely to be available at The Algonquin Hotel's front desk, and an oddly early start time of 8:00 PM is advertised. Visit the official Facebook event page for more details, and stay tuned for updates on this Hair Scare-worthy concert!

Finally, we were going to close with a new Facebook video from the aforementioned A Dire Setback, but that video was quietly deleted today for unannounced reasons, so we'll cover it if it's re-posted later. Instead, here's the latest clip from local alternative hard rock trio The Din, as uploaded to their Facebook page yesterday! Another in The Din's long line of comedic Facebook videos, this is a "public service announcement" on how not to headbang, a direct nod to Quiet Riot, who will no doubt play "Bang Your Head (Metal Health)" on THURSDAY at The Machine Shop, with The Din opening the night's lineup! Needless to say, the headbanging demonstrations in the video aren't "traditional", and while the guys recuperate, drummer Brandan Glew hypes up the Quiet Riot show, especially as tickets are almost sold out. Click here for full ticket details while they last, and give The Din's new video a look below, as it is funny, and sound effects may be employed!

That's all for today, but stay tuned for more news and notes over the weekend! Thanks everyone!

Thursday, March 23, 2017

LOCAL CONCERT ALERTS (The Din, Soundcheck, And Tym Morrison), And Weekend Concert Previews!!

Another weekend is soon to commence, so let's tackle this weekend's hard rock concert previews today, plus the first news on a returning all ages concert event later this spring! Before we get too far, yes, I do know about the huge concert announced for this summer at The Canadian (click here for early details), but I want to give it proper emphasis as a headline story, so we'll tackle that in our next news post, 100% guaranteed! Now, let's kick things off today with LOCAL CONCERT ALERTS, most on SHORT NOTICE!

Local classic/hard rock cover quartet Soundcheck will return to The Rockstar Bar for one night only THIS SATURDAY NIGHT! Apologies for the short notice, the show was only confirmed via the official Facebook event page on Monday, and the former Nameus still don't have an online page to plug concerts with. This is the third show in as many weeks for this newer veteran band, whose 1980s-centric covers should entertain attendees once again on SATURDAY, so don't miss out on their next gig! Also, we can at last confirm the identity of their new fourth member, that being Lucky 13/ex-Thin Ice guitarist Robin "Bones" Lee, who appears to be taking over the bassist role, leaving Terry Eaton and Travis Sharpe to focus on guitar. Robin has guested with Terry & Steven's other band Mourning Wood in the past, and he played with Terry in a (one off?) band named The Jukebox Junkies a while back, so he's a fine fit with Soundcheck, as you hopefully saw last week or the week before!

Our source for the above information is The Rockstar Bar's Hayley Warnock on the event page. FYI, I have no idea what Soundcheck's busy schedule means for Mourning Wood, who haven't played live in over a month, but if we hear anything, we'll let you know! A one nighter due to tomorrow's Stiffler's Mom show that we're previewing later in this post, SATURDAY'S Soundcheck concert has no announced cover charge, a 10:30 PM start time, and a 19+ age limit. Check the above links for more details, and if you know where to look on Facebook, see if you can find a personal video of Soundcheck covering Billy Idol at Rednecks with guest guitarist Mike Muto!

Next up, here's one more late notice confirmation, as local hard rock solo singer/guitarist Tym Morrison will return to The Barrelhouse Wine & Whiskey for his fifth announced solo date there THIS SATURDAY NIGHT, joining his usual Gliss Steak & Seafood matinees TOMORROW & SATURDAY! Again, apologies for the short notice on the Barrelhouse gig, Tym only just announced this show via it's Facebook event page yesterday. With the spring now officially begun, you could always warm things up after a long winter by checking any of Tym's three concerts this weekend, including his first gig at the downtown tapas restaurant in two weeks on SATURDAY, or via his regular weekly gigs at The Quality Inn's restaurant, so keep all three in mind for acoustic hard rock cover action! The Gliss shows remain 6:00 PM affairs with no cover or age limit (but remember where they're being held, this is a formal restaurant, not your standard nightclub.)

As for SATURDAY'S Gliss show, expect a 10:00 PM start time, no announced cover, and a 19+ age limit. For more details, visit the official Facebook event pages linked here & here, and for a preview, here's Tym live!

Lastly in new show announcements, remember the Sky's The Limit mental health awareness concert from Algoma Family Services that took place at The Tech last May? Well, it is coming back for a second go-around on Thursday, May 4th, and local alternative/hard rock trio The Din are headlining this year! No audition required this time for Mike, Tammy, and Brandan, who will succeed the defunct Pixo Control as this year's top billed act at The Tech's W.W. Baldwin Auditorium, as part of Algoma Family Services' Children’s Mental Week activities. The Sky's the Limit serves to bring awareness and raise funds for mental health programs at A.F.S., which is a great gesture, and kudos to The Din for offering their services once again! The opening lineup will again be filled out via live band auditions, which will be held at The Tech on Wednesday, April 19th & Thursday, April 20th at 6:00 PM both evenings. Like last year, auditioning musicians must be district residents between the ages of 14 & 29, and these are private auditions, not public concerts, so keep that in mind just in case.

To book audition times or get more details, call (705) 945-5050 (extension #2301 or 2318), or submit a video for consideration by e-mailing footage to chmw@algomafamilyservices.org! For reference, last year's Sky's the Limit fundraiser also featured such acts as Electric Church, Aldous, rapper White Noize, and at least three other youth groups. This ALL AGES event has $5 admission or $20 for family groups of 5 or more, and a 7:00 PM start time is advertised. This should be a fun night of rising young talent for worthy local causes, so hopefully there's a great turnout once again, stay tuned for updates, and visit the official Facebook event page for current details!

Finally, we'll close this weekend's currently known hard rock concert previews, we'll return to The Rockstar Bar for the return of local hard/party rock trio Stiffler's Mom to the stage TOMORROW NIGHT! Announced with surprisingly long notice earlier this month, this one nighter will be Stiffler's Mom's first show since playing the same venue over a month ago, and it'll serve as a rocking way for fans to help Greg, Mike, and Jon ring in the season, so keep tomorrow's show in mind to check out some Stiffler's Mom action! Remember, this is a one-night-only event, Soundcheck are playing at this venue on Saturday. As usual for Stiffler's Mom's trips to The Rockstar Bar, tomorrow's show has a 10:30 PM start time, no announced cover charge, and a 19+ age limit. Visit the official Facebook event page for more details, and here's Stiffler's Mom live!

That's all for today, but stay tuned for some big news regarding today's major concert announcement tomorrow! Thanks everyone!

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

LOCAL CONCERT ALERT (Easter Bash), New Video Uploads, And Much More!!

After two days of Battle of the Bands Rewind Profiles, we're back with a new news post on this Wednesday morning, so if you're wondering where coverage of the LOCAL CONCERT ALERT toplining this post was, here's your answer! We also have some new videos and assorted notes to round things out, so here's what you should know!

Local concert promoters Live705 will host their previously teased Easter weekend concert on Saturday, April 15th when they put on their first ever event at The Rockstar Bar! Breaking from their bi-monthly scheduling for their fourth concert, this show will feature giveaways ranging from band merchandise to concert tickets to even some type of items from A&W, which is a unique attraction for the holidays, so keep the added incentive in mind! Young local blues/hard rock trio Electric Church will headline on Easter Saturday in their Rockstar Bar debut, while new local pop/hard rock trio The Noochy Lanterns (featuring Apocalypse Afterparty & The Fury alumni) will co-headline in their public concert debut and first gig, private or otherwise, following their recent break, so come to see how they do on a big stage! Live705's flagship alt-punk quartet A Dire Setback are also lined up for April 15th, alongside indie rock quartet K.I.C.K. (fresh off of their LopLops show on the 14th) and newer local punk/metal trio Stegadeth.

Remaining acts include folk rock solo artist Shit Creek Survivor (listed on event promotion under Jacob Quarrell's initials J.Q. for unannounced reasons) & Deejay Elementz, a veteran local DJ from Underground Empire Records, whom featured A Dire Setback at their YouTube Party last year. Strong & diverse lineup with Live705 favourites and newcomers alike, so don't miss out! This 19+ show has an 8:00 PM start time on April 15th, and while admission is $10, Live705 is again utilizing vouchers for $2 off admission rather than selling $8 advance tickets, so contact performers if you want a voucher. This should be a fun concert, so check the official Facebook event page for ongoing details!

Next up, here's the latest installment of local alternative/hard rock trio The Din's ongoing cover video series (now no longer labelled as being monthly), as posted to their YouTube channel on Sunday! The cover choice won't be surprising for fans who've seen The Din's recent concerts, as this is of their version of The Tragically Hip's "Blow At High Dough", as recorded at Mission Control Studios, where The Din have done studio work at. The wide angle shot of the band isn't optimal, especially as the table the camera is on eats up a lot of that view, but the cover is solid and familiar for fans of The Hip and The Din in equal measure, so check it out below!

Also, here's a new YouTube find from former No Arrow drummer and Faithless Sin guitarist Joe Falco, who appears to have begun work as a solo musician once again! Apart from his former Joe Falco Experience solo project, he has recently been posting acoustic blues originals to his new Reverbnation page, and while his singing voice could be a little rangier, he has talent and adapts well to bluesier tracks, especially on "Malevolent Moonlight", which is asking for full band accompaniment. Over on his new YouTube channel, he's mostly focusing on outlining the specifications of and reviewing his Gibson Les Paul guitar, plus this video where he chats about songwriting, but he did upload one solo performance cover there, where he tackles Live's "Dolphins Cry". Not a bad cover, if very reserved, and Joe should project his voice a little more to improve on his clarity. Give Joe's recent solo material a look above & below, and hopefully he keeps at it!

Finally for today, here's three assorted shorter news items from the last little while, and as usual or these brief news groupings, these are in alphabetical order by artist or organization name:

  • I have switched the link for local musicians union The American Federation of Musicians, Local 276 from their now closed website to their information page on the A.F.M.'s website. The local union can be handy to help work through legal red tape and paperwork for copyright and playing out of the country, so keep it in mind if your band aspires to do anything that requires paperwork!
  • A local rhythm guitarist named Eric Rosset is looking to join a local band that plays rock, punk, metal, or alternative genres ideally, though he'd play anything other than country, and he can do backing vocals too. I'm not familiar with Eric musically, but if you're interested in trying Eric out, message him at this link or via his Musicians Wanted Facebook group post from yesterday!
  • Cheboygan, Michigan rock radio station Rock 105 (which gets fringe reception in the Soo) has re-obtained it's former Glen Arbor signal at 95.5 FM, and the station broadcasts as Rock 105 & 95.5 now! This mirrors the then Real Rock two station network from 2009-2013 before 95.5 (then WJZJ, now WGFE) became a simulcast of Onaway adult contemporary station Easy 106.3 as WQEZ. This won't directly affect local coverage of Rock 105 aside from on-air naming, but keep WGFE 95.5 FM in mind if you're driving out to Traverse City!

That's all for today, but stay tuned or weekend concert previews next! Thanks everyone!

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Battle Of The Bands Rewind Profile: The 2016 Speak Easy Battle Of The Bands

At last, let's tackle our final installment (until a year after the next battle) of our Battle of the Bands Rewind Profile Series! One day removed from our look back at last year's second VM Radio Battle of the Bands, let's reflect on the other March 2016 battle of the bands that also entertained local music fans during this busy month. Like our prior installments of this series, this is strictly an informational feature with trivia, facts, and results, and no personal criticism or reviews of the competing bands. Now, here's what you should know on last year's second local battle of the bands!
The 2016 Speak Easy Battle of the Bands (March 10th, 2016)

Background: Following the success of the Battle of the Bands at Algoma University's campus bar The Speak Easy on March 5th, 2015, organizers at the Algoma University Students Union indicated plans to hold further battles on at least a biennial basis, announcing a planned second installment for November 2015, though it was postponed due to unspecified "sponsorship issues". Instead, the second battle took place on March 10th, 2016, just over a year following the previous event. Like in 2015, seven competing acts played 15 minute sets each, and results were determined by a fan vote with no formal judging panel.
Prizes: Winnings were identical to 2015's Speak Easy Battle, with $400, $200, and $100 respectively going to the first, second, and third place bands.

Competitors: Two of 2016's competing acts were returning from 2015, those being alternative/hard rock trio The Din (who dropped "Mike Haggith &" from their name over the winter) and local/Toronto indie rock musician Jesse Merineau. The other five bands were all newcomers to a local battle of the bands, and they included alt-electronic project Aldous, former Coverfly bassist Bryan Brown in  a rare solo set, modern hard rock quartet Eclipse, punk/metal quintet Jack Spades, and reunited death/thrash metal trio Pillory. Impressively, all of the confirmed bands from the original November date were still able to compete in March.

Results: Fans at the battle selected Jesse Merineau to win the 2016 Speak Easy Battle and the $400 top prize. The Din came in second place to win $200, while Eclipse claimed the $100 third place prize.

Aftermath: Jesse Merineau rode the momentum of his battle victory to work on his upcoming solo CD (scheduled for release this summer), while he also returned home for a handful of notable concerts last year, including one with runners-up The Din opening at LopLops in September. The Din and Eclipse would both go on to finish in identical spots in that month's VM Radio Battle of the Bands, with The Din releasing their debut CD in the summer and continuing their upwards momentum well into 2017, and Eclipse playing steadily until suddenly disbanding for four months in November, though they will return to the stage next month. Pillory and Jack Spades remain familiar sights on local concert stages, with the former in pre-production of their second CD, and the latter teasing their new lineup's debut and first gigs since the fall in the near future. Aldous remain active in studio, but haven't advertised a live show since August, and Bryan Brown hasn't been publically advertised since as a musician, though both have indicated that they're now based out of town.

Some Notable Performers' Newer Bands (Metal/hard rock in italics, ex-members noted with an *):

The Bear Hunters (Justin Lam & Johnny Belanger from Jack Spades)
The Elements (Jesse Cook from Jack Spades)
Great Chamberlain (Anthony Marcello from Jesse Merineau's backing band; Based out of Ottawa)
Handsome Sandwich (Jesse Cook & Johnny Belanger from Jack Spades)  
Heavy Head (Jesse Cook & Johnny Belanger from Jack Spades and Daniel Horton from Eclipse) 
Project 421 (Curtis McKenzie, Daniel Horton, and Chris Thompson from Eclipse)
The Steeltown Girls (Tammy Hill from The Din)
Stegadeth (Tiffany Stocco from Jack Spades)
Winkstinger (Jesse Cook from Jack Spades)  


  • New local hard/pop rock quartet Heavy Head were advertised to compete at this battle, just one night after they finished in third place in the first VM Radio Battle semifinal, but they dropped out the day of this event due to scheduling conflicts for frontman Mike Gaetano. However, the remainder of the band still competed as members of Jack Spades or Eclipse.
  • As was the case in 2015, the second Speak Easy Battle was held one day after the first semifinal of last year's second VM Radio Battle of the Bands at The Canadian Nightclub, which again differed by being a multi-band event over multiple nights, though the performer lineup actually fell from 11 competing bands in 2015 to 5 in 2016. The Din (who competed the day before) and Eclipse (who competed the following week) made the finals and finished in second and third place in both events, while Jack Spades played a non-competitive guest set on night #2 of that battle due to frontman J.D. Pearce's promotional involvement. The winner of the second VM Radio Battle was indie rock quartet K.I.C.K..
  • After missing the podium in 2015 with a strictly solo set, Jesse Merineau recruited local power pop/glam rock trio Caroline Divine to serve as his backing band for his Speak Easy Battle return last year, which apparently did the trick, giving him some "divine" intervention for his first place victory. While the set was entirely comprised of originals from Jesse's upcoming CD, this was technically Caroline Divine's last publically advertised concert before singer/guitarist Anthony Marcello moved to Ottawa, though his old bandmates joined Jesse & guitarist Mitchell Nielsen when he headlined at LopLops in September.
  • Similarly to Jesse Merineau's reversal of fortune from 2015 to 2016, The Din and 3/5ths of Project 421 (in their side project Eclipse) also moved from missing the podium to claiming top 3 placements in 2016, foreshadowing similar improvements in the VM Radio Battle later that month, which they also didn't place at in 2015.
  • Pillory's set at this battle marked their return to the stage after a nearly two year hiatus following their final shows as a thrash quartet in mid-2014. The band debuted new bassist Jordan Leach, their trio lineup with no rhythm guitarist, and a heavier, death metal-influenced sound at this event, completely abandoning their older originals from their debut CD "Cringe At The Cross".
  • Jack Spades' all-original set at the Speak Easy Battle was filmed by Shaw TV Sault Ste. Marie personality (and VM Radio Battle guest judge) Christian Lemay for a feature that aired on channel 10 in mid-late 2016, interspersed with interview footage taken from an Oddfellows Hall concert around that same time. This can be seen as a precursor to Shaw TV's recently-debuted series OnStage, featuring full concert sets from recent local events.
  • Twin City Sound & Entertainment were on hand to provide sound for the duration of the battle. Notably, Twin City Sound co-owner Steven Flint was a former bandmate of Eclipse's Curtis McKenzie and Daniel Horton in the short-lived hard rock band Punch, who were the 3rd place finishers in November 2013's Viva La Battle.
  • The most notable band from the inaugural Speak Easy Battle to not return for year #2 was defending champions Gnaeus, who won both of 2015's local battles. The post-punk quartet are believed to have missed both events due to the departure of drummer Brendan Garlick over the winter, with his replacement Alex Proulx not debuting with Gnaeus until their Ontario tour run that April.
  • While then-Haggith bassist Jordan Leach and experimental musician/Gore Street Cafe co-owner Sam Decter had promotional involvement in 2015's Speak Easy Battle, neither were publically involved with the event's return last year. Jordan did compete in the 2016 battle with Pillory, but as he wasn't promoting anymore, there were no concerns regarding a potential conflict of interest.
  • Despite prior hopes to hold further Speak Easy Battles of the Bands at least twice a year, there has been no official public word on a third installment from the A.U.S.U. since last year's event, be it this month or at a different date. A third VM Radio Battle of the Bands also did not occur in March 2017.
  • The Din later performed at Landmark Events' Showcase Festival in Toronto in January 2017, which was a competitive event to feature rising young bands to  music industry executives who would judge bands and select ones to get music industry grants. It's not known if The Din progressed any further in this showcase, but they did praise the event and the oportunities it brought afterwards.

    Shaw TV's video of Jack Spades' set
    (No other public videos known; Videos of the top 2 acts from 2015 featured to supplement this section)

    Sources/More Info:
    Official Facebook event page
    Event press release from SooToday
    I hope you guys liked this month's Battle of the Bands Rewind Profiles, and hopefully this series will return next year, saying that someone holds a new local battle later in 2017! That's all for today, but stay tuned for more news and previews as this week rolls along! Thanks everyone!