Sunday, August 31, 2008

Back to the future

I've just been away in Nelson, B.C., visiting family while an army of robot slaves update the blog in my absence. Fortunately there was a bevy of show opportunities awaiting my return because the Nelson nightlife, while pleasant in its own way, doesn't exactly offer the diversity of Ottawa. I walked over to The Rainbow after a full day of attending to neglected chores to see Gunsmoke and The Reverb Syndicate. The former is just back from tour, while the latter is readying itself for a trip overseas. The band on stage when I walked in the door was neither the former nor the latter: Sudbury's The Havocs. I hadn't heard of them before, but did recognize drummer Mitch as Varge bassist "Mike Fang"; guitarist Jeff Houle also served in Varge (as drummer). Bassist Paul Lowenberg rounds out the trio. Mitch and Jeff - who are brothers, I hear - also play in Statues (who came through town on August 9). Anyway, the family tree aside, these guys rock a heavy mod influence with covers of The Who and The Jam's In The City, and also covered MC5's High School.

The Havocs, The Rainbow, August 30, 2008

Gunsmoke sounded really sharp. So sharp Adam Freeborn sliced open a finger, leading to much blood on the bass strings and a premature end to the set.

Gunsmoke, The Rainbow, August 30, 2008

Finally the Reverb Syndicate capped the evening with their spyadelic instro-sounda, plus dancing girls. This was their first Ottawa show in a while - sort of a warmup for an upcoming Euro-tour.

The Reverb Syndicate, The Rainbow, August 30, 2008

They had a big enthusiastic crowd of dancers - hopefully a sign of future success on their overseas trip.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Electric ladyland

Ladytron were by far the loudest band I saw at Bluesfest - not that I saw many acts that stressed the volume of their performance. I was planning to leave after Jenn Grant's set, but the buzz crossing the road from where they were playing was intriguing enough to pull me over. Up close it was just about enough to knock me over. Allegedly their was a bylaw officer doing the rounds to make sure everyone played below the required decibel level. I can't help but suspect that Ladytron surpassed it. Lucky for the band the Giant Telecommunications Company Stage shades its performers in the afternoon, since they wore their best nightcrawlers clothes. Guitarist Daniel Hunt joshed that it was “a really unusual show for us since it’s the first time we’ve seen sunlight.”

I briefly wondered if Helen Marnie wasn't actually Tracyanne Campbell from Camera Obscura.

Daniel Hunt mans the synths.

Mira Aroyo. This lot likes a good grip on their microphones.

Singalong action!

And so on!

You can just about make out fourth member Reuben Wu, second from right.

Time for a quick audience snap.

More singalong action!

The profusion of synthesizers and microphone stands made unobscured shots of everyone a bit tricky.

Glad I stuck around for the show.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Moon unit

Jenn Grant is also on the Six Shooter label now, but apparently they ran out of space at the Black Sheep Stage because she performed out by the river. She was also the most sensibly dressed performer of the festival in her white dress. Her wonderful voice isn't just a studio concoction - it was just as fine in person as on record.

Shawn MacGillivray at right; it seems like he plays bass for a bunch of other Halifax-area musicians.

Kinley Dowling - also of Hey Rosetta! - pitches in with some violin. Drummer Glen Nicholson was at Bluesfest last year performing with Inflight Safety.

Singalong action!

More Kinley and Glen!

And so on!

The only downside to the performance was that during the latter part of her set you could hear Ladytron cranking up the volume at the Giant Telecommunications Company Stage.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008


The Farrell Bros once again cruised through Ottawa. The pride and disgrace of Selkirk, Manitoba, make a striking contrast with The Kingmakers, preferring nitro to retro.

Shawn rocks the Gretsch!

Gordie is A-o-Kay.

Nuke Norval drums atomically.

And so on!

And a few slow-speed photos sans flash.

A mighty charged up performance.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

NQuiring minds

NQ Arbuckle is a straightforward country act from Toronto, at least as far as sound is concerned. If you listen closely to the lyrics, you'll find they can get fairly twisted.

First there's Neville Quinlan, putting the NQ in NQ Arbuckle..

Guitarist Peter; I got no decent photos of his twin brother Mark, who plays the drums. Since they're identical twins, you can imagine what he looks like.

Bassist John Dinsmore at left; guest dancing from country chanteuse Carolyn Mark and Justin Rutledge at right.

And so on!

Faceoff action with Peter!

More Pier.

Backing vocal action!

That was good in a meat-and-potatoes way.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Shure thing.

The Kingmakers take their rockabilly very seriously - so seriously they recorded their album at Sun Studios in Memphis. They dress sharp and generally do it up right. Their set at Zaphod's July 16 opening for The Farrell Brothers featured a fair number of covers, and some swell originals.

Clark Lawlor on the 'Elvis mike'.

Pinstripe Bobby Primeau wearing -what else? - pinstripes.

John Cormier on twangy guitar.

Standup Steve Donnelly - on his broad shoulders the fate of the band rests. Literally.

These guys like to ride the bass guitar. As you can see it fits three.

The whole lot!

And so on!

In sum: That'll flat get it.

Sunday, August 24, 2008


Nick Moss is a Chicago blues guy. He sounds good, plays good and has a swell band. What he didn't have was most of his gear sing some light-fingered Montrealers made off with his van the night before he played, leaving him and his Fliptops with only his Les Paul and a mandolin. The van's been recovered, but the gear is gone.

Nick Moss; his regular drummer is Chicago veteran Bob Carter, so I presume the guy at right is a fill in. Victor Spann, maybe?

Gerry Hundt on bass, Willie Oshawny on piano.

And so on.

Rhythm section action!

A good show, and a real trooper.