Nadia Elkharadly: The Musical Time Machine

There are few things in this world that are capable of evoking such an intense response as music.  It inspires happiness, sadness, fear, hope, every emotion possible.  It sets a mood, it creates an atmosphere. It brings back memories, and it helps make new ones.  And sometimes, music can even take a person back in time.  The old becomes new again, new can become old.  Young artists from all over are dusting off the old standards and pulling inspiration from times long gone, often from even before they were born.  Older musicians see value in the music of those who admired them.  The results are, in a word, AWESOME.  Here are some of the bands and musicians that are doing exactly this, and doing it really, really well.

Rival Sons

These long haired Lotharios from Long Beach have had their praises sung by writers on this site time and time again, and it’s no wonder why.  Their album Pressure and Time is getting play everywhere but on mainstream radio (ain’t that always the way?) and they put on one of the best live shows I’ve ever seen.  The last time I saw them play was just a couple of weeks ago.  They were in town supporting Evanescence and the Pretty Reckless down at the Sound Academy.  Their performance at the former Docks venue was stellar of course, their huge sound easily filling the vast venue, boggling the minds of every pale faced, black vinyl wearing Goth wannabe kid in the crowd.  But it was their secret, last night show at Cherry Cola’s Rock and Rolla Cabaret that was the real deal.  Jay Buchanan (vocals), Scott Holiday (guitar), Robin Everhart (bass), Michael Miley (drums) have a love for that bar that is warmly requited, so they definitely saved their best for that epic hour and a half long set.  The most striking thing about their performance however, is the way it literally yanked you back in time.  To see Rival Sons take the stage, to hear Buchanan belt out every song, from the future rock anthem “Burn down Los Angeles” to the sweetly seductive ballad “Only One”, it must have been how it was to see the Doors play at the legendary Whisky a Go Go on Sunset.  Old becomes new again, Rivals Sons embrace their musical roots and revive them to their greatest advantage.

The Sheepdogs

If there was ever a band that you could imagine playing at Woodstock (the first time around), it has to be The Sheepdogs.  These shaggy boys from Saskatchewan must have raided every thrift store that Saskatoon has to offer to ensure that they not only sound, but look the part of the quintessential hippy band from the sixties.  Where Rival Sons take the heavy, hard route, The Sheepdogs take the gentle approach.  Twangy, country inspired guitars, four part harmonies, and story-telling songs are reminiscent of the heydays of Lynyrd Skynyrd, CCR and The Band.  It’s easy to imagine sitting in a field making daisy chains in the sun, while the Sheepdogs serenade in the background, singing “Southern Dreaming” or “Please don’t Lead Me On” from their latest release Learn and Burn.  And by a blessed musical miracle, Ewan, Leot, Ryan and Sam are actually getting airplay, both on mainstream radio and TV, and on many of the more obscure outlets.  Winning the cover of Rolling Stone back in August probably didn’t hurt.  People who before had only heard of the Biebs and Drake as Canadian artist can actually say they know at least one song by the Sheepdogs.  And if that’s not a battle won in the fight against terrible popular music, I’m not sure what is.

Tara Priya

How is it that the tiniest girls always have the biggest pipes?  I had the chance to hear Tara sing on the opening night of Indie Week, and I was sold.  The early departure of the sad yet talented Miss Winehouse left a void in the music industry, and Tara is well on her way to being the one to fill it.  She sings the old standards as if they were her own, citing influences in Etta James and Billie Holiday.  She does the legends proud with vintage vocals and pinup style beauty.  With a doo wop lookin’ band backing her, it was another trip through the time machine to watch her perform.  With a solid foundation underneath her, Tara will surely be rising up, and making sure that the songbirds of yesteryear are known and never forgotten by her young fans.

Keith Rich and the Po Boys

I was at the El Mocambo, waiting to see a band I was there to review.  There was this sort of American Idol-esque singing competition happening, which unfortunately was not to my taste at all.  As yet another cover of an Adele song that I’ve heard a million times died away, another sound filled my ears.  The rapid strumming of a guitar, the simple slapping of a box drum, and some strong scratchy vocals: literally music to my ears.  I looked to my left, and there stood Keith Rich and the Po Boys.  For a band that hasn’t been a band all that long, these boys sure embrace the very roots of music.  From Johnny Cash, to Elvis, to songs all their own, Keith Rich and the Po Boys revive my old favourites and bring them to a new audience.  They’ll be doing just that at Brooklyn (1185 Queen Street West) tomorrow night.  I highly recommend you check them out.

Fraser Daley

Former bandmates of Canadian music icon Jeff Healey, Alec Fraser and Mike Daley are still making wonderful music together.  I had the chance to check them out this past Wednesday night at the Intersteer over on Roncesvalles (best pierogies in town!) and I cursed myself for waiting so long to treat my ears to such a fantastic performance.  Playing covers from the better part of the last century, and toe tapping original tunes, Daley’s fingers fly over his guitar while Fraser draws the bassline and the beat from his stand-up bass.  It’s a joy to watch such talented musicians make music, and have a great time doing it.  But what was the most interesting thing about their show last Wednesday was their cover of, surprise surprise, a Radiohead song!  My memory being the sieve that it is, I can’t recall now if it was “Fake Plastic Trees” or “High and Dry”, but what I do remember is my pleasant surprise to see these guys, who’ve probably been making music since Thom Yorke was in diapers, play this song, and enjoy it just as much as every other song they’d played that night, and of course, make it all their own.  New becomes old just as old can become new.

Johnny Cash

This addition to my makeshift list will probably raise a few eyebrows.  I’ve always loved Johnny Cash.  From the fifties with the Tennessee Two (then three) to the sixties dueting with June Carter, to the eighties with the Highwayman, there’s many a song I can cite as a favourite from among his multi decade spanning catalogue of music.  But what really made me love Johnny Cash was how he embraced the reversal of everything I’ve been talking about here.  He took songs that I loved, by bands I grew up with, and made them his own.  Instead of old becoming new, new became old as Cash covered “Rusty Cage” by Soundgarden on Unchained and “Hurt” by Nine Inch Nails from American IV: The Man Comes Around.  Paring down the electric guitar heavy, pounding drums laden “Rusty Cage” to a simple, slowed down acoustic song, Cash makes the song sound like something he could have recorded in his early days at Sun Records.  And the best part is, you can clearly hear how much fun he had singing the song.  And his trademark baritone voice, roughened by age, wavering with emotion as he sang Trent Reznor’s well-known ballad, pierces the listener’s soul and, and brings a tear to my eye every time I hear it.  I’m not one to deny Reznor’s talent, but once Cash covered that track he lost it forever.

Time passes, and music is what makes it pass.  It goes forwards, backwards, and sometimes comes full circle.  There’s so much amazing music out there, and it’s great to see so many musicians drawing upon each other for inspiration, from their pasts and their futures.  It makes being a music lover in this day and age all the more enjoyable.  Share your music loves with me here in the comments below, I can’t wait to hear them!

Until next time,

Xo
N

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Nadia Elkharadly is a Toronto based writer with a serious addiction to music. Corporate drone by day, renegade rocker by night, writing is her creative outlet.  Nadia writes for the Examiner (.com) on live music in Toronto and Indie Music in Canada.  She has never been in a band but plays an awesome air guitar and also the tambourine.  Check in every Tuesday for musings about music, love, life and whatever else that comes to mind.

2 Responses to “Nadia Elkharadly: The Musical Time Machine”

  1. Last night I heard a Rival Sons track on the unlikeliest of stations, Sirius/XM’s The Boneyard, on Eddie Trunk Live. The Boneyard is a classic hard rock channel (heavy on the ’80s) but Eddie played the song because he liked it and thought it was cool. A listener called in to thank Eddie for turning her on to Rival Sons….and I just may buy the album on iTunes.

  2. Wow. Great article. I was impressed with your artist choices. Just heard rival sons on 98.1 london. But I was really impressed with your frazer daley choice. They are amazing, what a wonderful duet. You have a heart of stone if you don’t smile when you hear their music.

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