Nadia Elkharadly: Music NOT on the Radio

Discovering new music is one of my favourite things in life.  Unfortunately, as per Bob’s column yesterday, finding new music on the radio these days is, well, impossible.  Impossible, that is, unless you’re a twelve year old girl (or a sexually confused teenage boy.)  Let’s face it, unless you like pink hair, animal print, young boys who look like lesbians or…Drake, the music you want to hear isn’t coming at you from the airwaves.  Hell, I can’t even listen to Q107 for some classic rock without becoming enraged every time they play R.E.M., Pearl Jam or something else that is decidedly NOT classic rock (classic rock is a GENRE not a time frame Q PEOPLE!!)

As a result, I get my musical fix from a number of other sources beyond mainstream radio.  Online radio (like CBC Radio 3), social media (Facebook, twitter), even via email, I hear or get pointed in the direction of all sorts of amazing indie music, bands, and artists.  But some of the best introductions to new music have come my way completely by chance, and sometimes result in a domino effect of fantastic musical encounters.

Before I got into the music reviewing gig, I was just a regular, every day concert goer.  Paying for tickets with actual money wasn’t my favourite thing, so I was always on the lookout for free shows and contests to win tickets to concerts.  When 102.1 the Edge brought on Fearless Fred as their afternoon drive personality, Fred instituted a now annual concert series called the “Everything to do with Fred” show.  I’ll admit that I’m not a huge fan of his radio voice (I maintain that Martin Streek had the best radio voice in the world, RIP), but Fred has awesome taste in music.  I had won tickets to the show, and was actually looking forward to seeing Toronto twosome U.S.S. tear up the stage, but the band before them were the showstoppers of the night.  Ever seen 6 (or 8, or 9, the number changes with every show) guys, one with a chainsaw, on stage, occasionally joined by cowgirls who strip down to their gstrings and pasties?  Well then you’ve never seen a White Cowbell Oklahoma show.  The second this band started their set, their dirty, gritty, gasoline powered country rock and roll had me hooked.  With songs like “Put the South in your Mouth”,Shot a Gamblin Man” and “Sugar City”, WCO put it all out there, as their trashy/sexy dancing chicks (almost) take it all off.  Their in-house mascot/percussionist Chainsaw Charlie takes his namesake power tool to all manner of stuffed animal, bathroom tissue and seasonal vegetation depending on the time of year.  You may think that all the bells and whistles serve to cover up mediocre musicianship, but that is definitely not the case here.  These boys know how to rock, and know how to do it well.  The extras are just that:  fringe benefits to create a complete aural and visual experience.  And if they’re pouring Jaeger, whiskey or some other unidentifiable liquids into the crowd, other senses end up getting involved, whether fans like it or not.  White Cowbell Oklahoma put the “show” in showmanship, and I consider it deeply depressing that they don’t have another show coming up soon (although I hear it’s because they’re in the studio working on a new album…so I guess that’s allowed.)  To this day, I have yet to see an all-around more entertaining live performance, and to think, I came upon this band completely by accident.

Seeing WCO once was clearly not enough, so I made a point to check out one of their Toronto shows as soon as I could.  It was at this show, at the Horseshoe, that I made another musical discovery in the form of their opening act:  Big John Bates and the Voodoo Dollz.  The band’s namesake and founding member John Bates is a music industry veteran, founding legendary Canadian metal band Annihilator, and forming The Bates Motel before joining burlesque forces with the Voodoo Dollz.  The collaboration with WCO was only natural, considering both bands’ penchant for southern inspired rock and scantily clad women.  Since my first encounter with Bates a couple of years ago, he’s taken on a new bassist, in the form of his wife Brandy Bones, and shed the burlesque dancers for a different sound and style, but I’ll never forget that first show.  The Voodoo Dollz, a pair of salacious cabaret sex kittens tore each others costumes to pieces, staged mock knife fights and entertained as well as seduced the crowd.  Bates’ was a rockabilly idol reborn in a dark Toronto bar, and bassist at the time sCare-oline (Bones’ predecessor) rocked her stand-up bass.  After that, Big John Bates in any incarnation was added to my must see list for life.

My last random musical surprise (for this column anyway) happened just this past summer.  My good friend Mark Munroe was taking part in a musical showcase at the Drake Hotel, and was slated to perform some of his signature dance tunes.  A group of us turned up to support Mark at his show, but to his, and our frustration, the promoters made some serious scheduling blunders, and his set time ended up being much later than anticipated.  Several cocktails, beers, and catch up conversations later, Mark still had a couple of artists ahead of him, some good, some bad, and some…not worth mentioning.  One band however not only deserves mentioning here, but has since become one of my favourite local bands.  They are, and they are awesome (and I’m not just saying that because I’m Egyptian.)  That night at the Drake, the usual fivesome was two members short, but they still managed to blow me away.  Singer Nate Daniels’ emotive vocals gave me goosebumps, and the simplicity of the acoustic performance was accented by the classical romanticism of Caitlin Grieve’s violin.  One twitter follow later, and I was a fan for life.  Seeing as a full band live sealed the deal, and I’ve been singing their praises ever since.  Not as well as Daniels or guitarist Dante Berardi Jr. sing (check out “Selfish” or “Addict” if you don’t believe me)…but I do what I can.

Random musical discoveries are what make life as a music lover worth living.  There’s nothing better that standing around a venue with a band in the background, only to have that band leap from the background directly into your face.  I can’t wait for that next band to reach out and grab me…I mean, my attention.  That is, unless their guitarist is really cute.

Until next time,



Nadia’s column appears every Tuesday

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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.

One Response to “Nadia Elkharadly: Music NOT on the Radio”

  1. I call it ‘Adventures in Music’, Nadia, and it has served me well. So now I have a few to add to my millions of arms-lengthed list of bands to check out. Anyway, I’m a sucker for any band with enough respect for cowbell to include it in the band name.

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