Category Archives: Music

John Cody’s Race Against Time

John Cody

John Cody

Faced with a cancer diagnosis that would rob him of his voice forever, veteran music man John Cody furiously worked to put together the songs and guest players for his album Hard Won: The Final Recordings.

I spoke to Cody just before he was set to have his throat surgery for Samaritanmag.

The interview appeared shortly after the album came out.

To read it click here.

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Buffy Sainte-Marie And Tanya Tagaq On Polaris Podcast

Buffy Sainte-Marie and Tanya Tagaq.

Buffy Sainte-Marie and Tanya Tagaq.

Awhile back my employers at the Polaris Music Prize managed to get past champions Buffy Sainte-Marie and Tanya Tagaq together in a room to collaborate on a song called “You Got To Run (Spirit Of The Wind).”

As a piece of bonus content, we also turned the making of the song into a full Polaris Podcast episode.

You can listen to the episode below.

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Jeff Burrows Continues To Do 24 Hour Drum Marathons

Jeff Burrows

Jeff Burrows

Back in late-May Tea Party drummer Jeff Burrows pulled off his eleventh 24 hour drum marathon to support local charities in Windsor, Ontario.

Such an outlandish feat deserved some attention so I spoke to him about it, as well as his new drum tech-for-hire scheme, for Samaritanmag.

To read the story go here.

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Samaritan News 10 Pack: Prince, Chance The Rapper, Blue Rodeo And More

Prince

Prince

Here are some of the stories I wrote for charity ‘n’ entertainment site Samaritanmag in May:

Country Singer Miranda Lambert Helps 60 Dogs Get Adopted

Blue Rodeo Show to Help Parry Sound Health Centre for Locals and Cottagers

Former Prince Associates Create Foundation To Continue His Charitable Work

Chance The Rapper Org SocialWorks Teams with Audio Company Landr

Ariana Grande’s Star-Studded One Love Manchester Concert Raises Millions For Terror Victims

Red Nose Day USA To Feature Julia Roberts, Celebrity American Ninja Warriors, Love Actually Cast, More

Nine WE Day 2017 Dates Announced, Including Toronto, New York, Vancouver

UK Musician Tim Arnold’s New Music Video to Support Equality

WATCH: Big Sean’s “Light” Video Condemns Senseless Violence

Lea DeLaria, Gavin Crawford and More Part of LGBTQ-Positive We’re Funny That Way Fest

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The Rolling Stones Get Through Richards’ Tumble

The Rolling Stones' Licks tour.

The Rolling Stones’ Licks tour.

LIVE: The Rolling Stones
October 16, 2002
Air Canada Centre
Toronto, ON

The first time I ever encountered The Rolling Stones was at the home of one of my father’s biker drinking buddies. As a curious 10 year old, I’d rifle through the biker’s records, judging them almost solely on the look of the album covers. It’s when I got to The Stones’ Goat’s Head Soup that my impression of the band was forever calcified.

Musically, the album’s best moment is the melancholy ballad “Angie,” but what really struck me was the pull-out poster sleeve of actual goat’s head soup. I stared at that photo for a long time. It was kinda gross, but also compelling, dangerous and very, very evil. It was also the coolest thing I’d ever seen.

As I continued to learn more about The Stones and music in general, their mystique continued to grow. Maggie Trudeau. Heroin busts. Sympathy For The Devil. Brian Jones. Hell’s Angels. Altamont. Exile On Main Street. It all swirled together to create a vision of one of the most vital and nasty rock ‘n’ roll bands in history.

But that is history and this is 2002. Some 40 years after their inception, The Rolling Stones are a different band. The danger is now clouded in a thick fog of nostalgia and that rambling, rollicking rock band has morphed into an efficient, effective touring machine, a cash-hoovering monster trading in on waves of feel-good familiarity.

And therein lies the dilemma. I knew going into the Stones show at the Air Canada Centre that this wasn’t going to be the barroom romance of Love You Live or the vital near-punk of Got Live If You Want It. But I was certainly hoping for more than a slap-dash of the hits, count the money and prep-the-next-set-of-suckers run-through.

Things got off to a dubious start. With the exception of what appeared to be every aging stripper in the G.T.A., the crowd was well-heeled, well-lubricated, well-greyed and well-girthed. More disturbing, however, was Keith Richard’s dramatic tumble across the stage to kick-off set opener “Street Fighting Man.”

Watching any near senior citizen take a tumble is unsettling, but seeing Keith Richards do so to start a show is even worse. Still, considering the audience shared what was likely a knowing sympathy, there was little in the way of gawking, audible gasping or otherwise.

As the band went into “It’s Only Rock ‘N’ Roll” Richards still seemed off his game, which only served to reinforce how valuable Ron Wood is. As the Richards jester routine began to right itself, Woods held down the fort going into song three, “If You Can’t Rock Me.” Sublimely cool, through the course of the evening Wood’s solos and slidework would polish and refine Richards’ antics and Mick Jagger’s posturing.

The pairing of “Don’t Stop” and “Rocks Off” would introduce the multimedia portion of the show, with the first of many lip/tongue montages displayed on a huge screen backdrop. That was followed by a lurid short film featuring young, nubile and sexually ambiguous model types getting drunk and feeling each other up. Up until this point everything was rather perfunctory and a not just a little bit embarrassing.

Then came “Love In Vain.” Slow and dirty, this song was a breakthrough. Where up until then The Stones were aging hit-peddlers, here they were world-wizened blues-rock masters. “Let It Bleed” and “Monkey Man” continued to fuel this resurgence. By this point Jagger was in full frontman mode, strutting and cocky.

Richards came to life as well, playing particularly vibrantly on “Monkey Man.” The plodding audience clapalong in “Gimme Shelter” and Jagger’s fumbling faux sex-up with backup singer Lisa Fischer brought things back down again, but this wasn’t the lowlight of the evening. That was reserved for the Richards-sung double-shot of “Thru And Thru” and “Happy,” followed by “Start Me Up” and “Honky Tonk Woman.”

The fault with the Richards songs is obvious and my distaste for “Start Me Up” is a strictly a personal idiosyncrasy. But “Honky Tonk Woman” was a whole different set of weird. The band were incidental to what could be described as Stones anime porn flashing on the big screens, where a topless Betty Page-type lewdly rode a pierced tongue. That may pass for dangerous in the ‘burbs, but it was more just embarrassing.

Still, in what was slowly developing as the theme for the evening, a moment of bad was framed by a moment of sublime. In this case “Can’t You Hear Me Knocking.” Once again returning to their roadhouse roots, this song, faithfully rendered and stretched out with Jagger harmonica and Wood guitar solos, recaptured the vitality that represents the best attributes of the Stones.

“Satisfaction” was a crowd-pleaser, but the true highlights came when the Stones shifted operations to an “intimate” stage set up in the middle of the floor. Packed together and shorn of the high walls and barricades that quash intimacy, the band tore into “Mannish Boy,” “Neighbours” and a singalong “Brown Sugar.” This was clearly the Stones at their most fiery. Charismatic, swaggering and mere inches from their audience, the band ended their regular set in dramatic fashion.

By the time band returned to the main stage for the encores of “Sympathy For The Devil” and “Jumping Jack Flash,” many of the evening’s earlier transgressions had been forgotten. Having taken it all in, I realized you can’t go back. Heck, I wasn’t even there in the first place — I was still a baby when many of the Stones most dangerous moments actually took place. But for a few minutes I was transported back to some bygone era. There I was in a dingy, smokey club, strange goats head and tongue images were all around. Brian Jones was there, too. “The Last Time” and “Bitch” were also miraculously playing at the same time. In this haze I got to witness Mick, Keith and the boys at their most rocking and most world-beating.

And because of that I can understand everyone who woo’d to “Brown Sugar” and sung their hearts out to “Satisfaction.” And, frankly, that’s enough.

This review was originally published October 17, 2002 via Chart Communications.

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Behind Buffy Sainte-Marie And Tanya Tagaq’s Collaboration

Buffy Sainte-Marie and Tanya Tagaq on the Polaris Podcast

Buffy Sainte-Marie and Tanya Tagaq on the Polaris Podcast

Polaris Music Prize winners Buffy Sainte-Marie and Tanya Tagaq teamed up awhile ago to create the song “You Got To Run (Spirit Of The Wind)” together.

The pair talked about the song as well as a number of other issues in episode five of the Polaris Podcast, which I had a hand in helping put together.

The song was recorded in fall 2016 at Orange Lounge in Toronto with producer Jon Levine (Nelly Furtado, K’naan, Drake). It was mixed by Howie Beck (Feist, Hannah Georgas, Jason Collett).

The song was inspired by champion dogsled racer George Attla, who competed in the first-ever Iditarod dog sled race in 1973 and was the subject of the 1979 film, Spirit Of The Wind.

To listen click on the player below.

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Reasons To Be Concerned About Chris Brown’s “Jiu Jitsu” Song

Chris Brown

Chris Brown

Chris Brown, the enemy of all right-thinking Rihanna fans around the world, recently released a song called “Jiu Jitsu.”

From a martial arts standpoint this song is… problematic.

Sarah explained why in a post for Fightland.

To read it click here.

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