Tag Archives: Toronto music

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LEGENDARY ROCKER CAROLE POPE JOINS CHURCH OF TREES & ROB PREUSS FOR BRAND NEW SINGLE (released JAN 15)

Ottawa synthpop band Church of Trees has hooked up with legendary Rough Trade vocalist, Carole Pope, on a new single WORLD’S A BITCH. The single captures the global angst over the COVID pandemic and the desperate need for vaccine distribution. The JUNO award-winning Pope, who pushed the boundaries of sexuality and sexual politics both in Rough Trade songs and on stage, says “I think the song encapsulates how we’re all feeling about being locked down…and you can dance to it!”2021 Carole Pope & Bernard  FrazerWow! How great is it to see one of Canada’s iconic, game-changing artists stepping up when we need someone, anyone, to kick the collective arses of those national and provincial “leaders” who have been caught napping when it comes to vaccination roll-outs? Thanks to former Spoons/Honeymoon Suite keyboardist Rob Preuss (pictured below) who was working separately with both Pope and Church of Trees, he suggested that Trees’ frontman Bernard Frazer write something that might suit Carole’s voice. Frazer says, “I leapt at the chance. I’ve been a Rough Trade fan since the 70’s, and Carole’s voice has always resonated with me. So, to write for such a legend was a dream come true.”Rob-Preuss promo picI reached out to Bernard to ask him about the new single, hoping that Carole would also add her voice to the interview, and voila! This is what they had to say….

As professional musicians, how has Covid impacted your ability to stay connected with your fans and allow you to showcase/sell your music?
BF: Multi-member projects, like ours, aren’t able to physically get together to play things like Facebook Live events. So, unless you’re willing to compromise Covid protocols (which we’re not), you can’t get together to rehearse no less play a virtual gig. In that respect, it has been a big pain in the rear! However, we have been incredibly active producing new music and making it available digitally. So, we are able to connect with fans in that way. (Bernard Frazer, pictured below)BERNARD FRAZER Promo pic 2021 BCP: It’s difficult, we made a couple of socially distanced videos. One with BNL- I also released a couple of singles and have one more I’m working on. This really impacted my plans for Attitude, a musical I wrote with Kate Rigg which was supposed be workshopped at Buddies In Bad Times theatre. Because of that we’ve gone virtual and I’ve created a GofundMe page so fans can contribute and get involved in the creative process.

Obviously, touring is off the table until the pandemic is under control, so have either of you created or participated in any online concerts or have plans to do so?
BF: When things lifted a bit in the late summer, we were just starting to re-group so we could rehearse, but then the second wave started to rear its ugly head. So, we thought better of it.  If there is an opportunity, say after we get our vaccinations, we will definitely start rehearsing for some type of performance. We are itching to play live again.
CP: I had to cancel and postpone several live dates. We were part of NAC’s Canada Performs series and Tim Welch, my guitar player, and I have done one curated performance for a fan’s wedding and we’d like to do more. Since we couldn’t be inside, we shot a stealth video at the CNE grandstand. Carole1Now the world has access to music without setting foot in a record store (sadly) or having to purchase hardcopy CDs, vinyl, etc. has that opened up new markets/audiences to you as well as creative collaborations with int’l artists?
BF: Definitely. As synthpop artists, we have found a large, worldwide, “family” of synth-based artists who not only promote each other, but collaborate, as well. We’ve done several collaborations with Rob Preuss, who is now in New York City, as well as the electro-band Graflex from Manchester, UK. We are looking at future collaborations with an artist in the Netherlands, another in B.C., and a great electro-duo from Colorado. We have also discovered a fantastic group of internet and terrestrial radio stations and radio shows that solely promote electronic music. We now get played around the world, from the UK, France, and Germany, to the Netherlands, Japan, South Africa and Australia!
CP: I’ve been collaborating with people in Canada and the US for the past few years. I’m not great at promoting my work – I just want to make art, but am inspired by the connections Bernard has made. I will try to work my music more this year.Carole2.byLedaResurreccionjpegThere are so many opportunities to stream your music – which platforms do you prefer and where can fans find Church of Trees and Carole Pope?
BF: Church of Trees prefers churchoftrees.bandcamp.com because it enables the artist to recoup a reasonable percentage of sales (downloads and CD sales). But we also respect the fact that so many people prefer on-demand/playlist driven music. So, Spotify, iTunes, Deezer, and Google Play are great too.
CP: I’m on Bandcamp but do better on other streaming sites like iTunes and Spotify etc. I also sell merch on Teespring.com and my own website.

Carole, back in the late 70s & early 80s, you were instrumental in bringing excitement, danger and sexuality to live performance – in your opinion how do today’s music stars measure up with their sexualized performances? Do you think they overuse it to the point that the music/lyrics are only secondary?
CP: Some singers are unconsciously sexy like St Vincent and Billie Eilish, but a lot of artists throw it in your face and it’s like yeah whatever.  There’s some really bad factory manufactured cookie cutter shit out there. And don’t get me started on the lyrics. I find a lot of supposedly sexy songs forgettable and insipid. I’m a huge fan of my gurl Peaches who’s a great lyricist and very sexy performer who pokes fun at sexuality. I know I’m not mentioning any guys but I think they broke the sex mold when George Michael and Bowie (the most beautiful man ever) passed.

And Carole, other than this impressive collaboration with Church of Trees (and Rob Preuss & Jordon Zadorozny), are there any artists with whom you’d like to record/write?
CP:  I’ve worked with Peaches, Nona Hendryx, Dusty Springfield, Alain Johannes, Hawksley Workman and Rufus Wainwright, and tried to collaborate with Dave Gilmore on a Pink Floyd album (which didn’t happen) but would love to work with Bjork, Radiohead and St Vincent. A woman can dream.

Bernard, you’ve been guiding Church of Trees’ musical journey from its formation in 2017 to the upcoming EP “Pause” – can you tell me who were your early music influences? I hear perhaps a little early Brit synth/pop like Howard Jones or Thomas Dolby, and was wondering if you ever listened to Japanese pop/classic genius Ryuichi Sakamoto?
BF: I love Ryuichi Sakamoto. I listened to Yellow Magic Orchestra quite a lot in the 80s, and have followed Sakamoto’s solo career, including his film scores, over the years. I loved his scores for The Last Emperor and The Revenant. David Bowie is, perhaps, my all-time fave artist. I have listened to everything he has release, from the 1960s (Konrads, King Bees, Manish Boys) through to Blackstar. Howard Jones, Thomas Dolby, Duran Duran, OMD, Brian Eno, Robert Fripp, Soft Cell, Japan, and Gary Numan are all massive influences, as well.

 And finally, Carole, I was intrigued to learn of your upcoming (and very personal) theatrical project “Attitude: The Musical” based on the life of your brother, Howard (pictured below), a New York-based musician who died of AIDS in 1996. Will you be performing in the stage version or on the soundtrack album?  Or will you remain behind the scenes as writer/producer working with the director?
CP: Attitude is ever evolving so I might show up in the stage production but mostly I’m going to work behind the scenes. I haven’t thought about singing on the sound track but thanks for the idea.AttitudejpegWORLD’S A BITCH is available at: www.churchoftrees.bandcamp.com  … and all streaming services.

Follow Carole Pope at  IG: @carole_pope   Twitter: @carolepope   www.carolepope.com
Follow Church of Trees at   IG: @church_of_trees   Twitter: @churchoftrees   www.churchoftrees.com

A note of trivia: Back in the late 70s, Carole was my next door neighbour in Cabbagetown and I would frequently see superstar visitors walking up her path. I’d often sit on my tiny front porch with a cup of tea and wave across the flower beds. She and her Rough Trade partner, Kevin Staples, were the quietest, most polite neighbours you could ask for. Meanwhile, my house was ground zero for wild gatherings that included Second City & SCTV cast members, celebrity photographers, musicians – usually the band Songship which featured Catherine O’Hara’s sister Mary Margaret as lead singer (the band’s drummer Bruce Moffatt was one of my room-mates), and I occasionally played host to legendary skater and artist Toller Cranston who lived a few blocks away.

If you wanna learn (or remember) what it was like in Toronto back in the 70s and early 80s, pick up a copy of Carole’s tell-almost-all autobiography, Anti Diva.book

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“BAD TO THE BONE” FRONTMAN GATOR JAMES PROUD TO PAY TRIBUTE TO BLUES LEGEND GEORGE THOROGOOD

BAD TO THE BONE was formed in the summer of 1993 by singer/guitarist Gator James and has been going strong ever since. Based in Oshawa, Ontario, this band is the only authentic George Thorogood to tribute band playing across North American, and they continue to attract and entertain audiences from coast to coast. The band has shared stages with many well-known recording artists over the years, for example: April Wine, Kim Mitchell, David Wilcox, Georgia Satellites, Sass Jordan, and many others.

On Saturday September 16th, they join other great tribute bands [The SRV Experience, Thunderstruck, Bon Jovi Forever and Southern Fried] along with host Kenny Robinson, the award-winning comedian and tv personality, t0 play Durham’s 1st Annual Rock Tribute Festival presented by Sunrise Concerts (details below).  I recently chatted with Bad to the Bone frontman and founder Gator James about life on the road portraying the rock/blues icon….BTTB 2017 PosterWhat first inspired you to sing/play guitar like George Thorogood?  I was doing “I Drink Alone” with a band I was touring with in the 80’s and when I came off the road and decided to put together a tribute band, one of the other members said my playing style and voice sounded a lot like him. So, we learned a few more songs and it really clicked.

Was rock/blues your first passion or were you a closet disco lover?   I’ve played many styles of music from classic rock to jazz, rhythm and blues to progressive rock. I always gravitated to music that makes you feel like moving and Thorogood fit the bill for me.

What keeps you (and the band) on the road and performing for the fans?   The feeling we get when we rock our audience and turn new fans onto George Thorogood.BTTB Pic 3Have you ever met George, and if so, what was your first comment/question to him?  I contacted Thorogood’s manager when I was forming the band and told him I would like to meet George to have him authenticate my poster when he was in Toronto. His manager told me George doesn’t like tributes so he said George probably would not comply. A few years later I got invited by a sound tech friend of mine to help him with staging at Toronto’s Government nightclub when George was playing there and I hung out with his guitar tech all day. I watched sound check and was even able to offer help as a stagehand during his show….. but was unable to get to him due to security. But at least he does know about us.

Apart from the September 16th gig in Oshawa, what other shows have you booked in the coming months…any Christmas or NYE concerts we should mark in our calendars?   All our festival shows are done for the summer and we only have a couple of club dates as I am busy with my other band The Gator James Band. But we’re definitely waiting on calls for more Bad to the Bone dates.

You can follow Gator and the band via their website: badtothebone.ca  and their Facebook Group Page.

Durham’s 1st Annual Rock Tribute Festival 
Saturday Sept, 16th (doors open 5pm)
General Sikorski Hall, 1551 Stevenson Rd N, Oshawa
Tickets are available from: www.ticketpro.ca 

Thanks to our media sponsor…..CKDO logo

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DEAD DOG RECORDS BREATHES NEW LIFE INTO TORONTO’S MUSIC RETAIL SCENE

Congratulations to Stephen, Maesy and Kristie on today’s grand opening of their DEAD DOG RECORDS store at 1209 Bloor St West (near Lansdowne subway stn)…what a great day it was for vinyl lovers and all things music! lgoFor years, I used to shop at a now-defunct big-name record store on Yonge just south of Bloor where all three worked, where Stephen would always manage to secure my hard-to-find requests for music and films – I was crestfallen when that store was closed down.  It was hinted that Maesy, Kristie and Stephen were planning to open their own store within a year and I was thrilled to learn last week that they had risen, phoenix-like, with this cool Dead Dog Records store in Bloordale.20150926_132639Jacquie, personal chef from www.chezJacquie.ca was out front (see above) offering homebaked cookies to all Dead Dog shoppers – now that’s how you launch a business: FREE FOOD!  And inside, the store was packed with keen vinyl fans as well as family and friends of the trio of owners. They even sell turntables…really good ones!20150926_133418

20150926_133625There’s something for every musical taste….20150926_133343 20150926_133354 20150926_133426 20150926_133443 20150926_133454…and I was thrilled to find some old friends from the late 70’s, early 80’s when I was a club kid. In fact, the late, great BB Gabor was a fixture at the various bars and clubs around town and I have cassettes recorded directly off the board from the recording sessions that resulted in this album. Who remembers…“nyet nyet Soviet…Soviet Jewellery..” ?20150926_133208And Vancouver’s Doug and the Slugs were awesome in the 80’s.  Remember the hit single “Too Bad”? I remember seeing the band live at the old Blue Note on Pears Ave.20150926_133317

Iggy!!!!!!!20150926_133246

and a big favourite of all the store’s owners…Cash…Johnny Cash. Lots of great vintage albums here.20150926_133605Tons of great merchandise, too. I got a black Dead Dog Records t-shirt and a couple of pins so I’m looking fwd to being their walking billboard to promote this great new business that will benefit musicians and fans alike.20150926_132939 20150926_133502 20150926_133533Are you a movie fan? Well, you don’t have to rely on Netflix or your cable company to deliver your fave flicks…Dead Dog also sells great DVDs, many hard to find films that are never shown on digital or traditional TV channels. Come on down and browse…20150926_133619and if you’re a Sheldon or Wolowitz type of geek, well, Dead Dog has something for you, too!20150926_133756 20150926_133810I love discovering great new (or in this case, old) talent as I flip thru the bins and look what I found today…20150926_133839I think we should make Claude on a Cloud a hit all over again…let’s get on YouTube and find this guy. The world needs more Claude!!

So big congrats and thank-you to Dead Dog Records – we can’t wait to visit your in-store events, live music events & special promotions and hope that you become so successful that we have to call you Old Dog Records!

Maesy (left) & Kristie (right)

Maesy (left) & Kristie (right)

Stephen

Stephen

DEAD DOG RECORDS, 1209 Bloor St West, Toronto  T: 647-748-0748
www.Facebook.com/DeadDogRecordsTO
Instagram.deaddogrecords

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RON KORB DEBUTS “ASIA BEAUTY” CD WITH STANDING-ROOM-ONLY TORONTO CONCERT

Despite the heavy downpour, the Musideum in downtown Toronto held a packed audience as award-winning flautist and composer RON KORB unveiled his latest album, ASIA BEAUTY, accompanied by Lou Pomanti on piano and Linlin Wang on erhu.

Cover-2015(less green)With a stunning 36pg full-colour book of photographs attached, the 19 track (+ 2 bonus tracks) CD channels Ron’s experiences and inspirations from previous tours of China, Vietnam, Hong Kong and Taiwan. His beautiful wife, Jade, took the photos which accompany Ron’s story behind each tune.

Asia Beauty 2The enthusiastic crowd of fans and media jammed into the humid and steamy performance space seemed entranced by each note. Everyone seemed to be taping the performance (below) which was also webcast around the world. Many favourable comments from excited fans in the US and Japan were received the next day.

20150707_202638 20150707_201138 20150707_212411After the concert, fans wanted photos with Ron (below) including Singaporean actor and singer Laurance Tan, jazz flautist Bill McBirnie (middle pic) and of course, the obligatory “band photo” (bottom pic) featuring Linlin Wang and Lou Pomanti flanking Ron.

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20150707_215231….and members of Flute Street (Toronto’s Professional Flute Choir) filmmaker Patrick Jenkins and Hong Kong designer Rita Ip (below with Ron)

20150707_193748 Rita Ip_RonIf you missed the concert last night, check out Ron’s website for CD purchase info or downloads: http://ronkorb.com/

20150707_193412Ron composed and produced the entire album, ably assisted by Gary Honess of Kuhl Muzik studio where most of the tunes were recorded and mixed, plus Ron Searles (Glenn Gould Studio at CBC), Paul Intson, Jeremy Darby (The Canterbury Music Company) and Phil Demetro of Lacquer Channel Mastering. Album design by Carolyn Quan. Financial assistance from FACTOR Canada. Thank you to Roger (sound) and Donald (Musideum) for making the concert possible.