JAIMIE VERNON – November DISCoveries

Now that the institutional insanity of Black Friday has passed and everyone was thankful to get a discount on a Made in China television using a year’s worth of minimum wage, might I suggest some inexpensive independent music to give to everyone else as Xmas gifts? And you don’t have to stand in line or need a shotgun to do it.


BARNES & ZACHARIN
“Somethin’ Like This”
Having met guitarist Noah Zacharin a year ago at C’est What in Toronto during a strange quadruple bill (where the four of us did two songs each and rotated our sets for the whole evening) I quickly concluded that he was, by far, the best act on the bill. The term troubadour is the most accurate description of Zacharin’s craft – a performer of original and obscure cover tunes and a country-esque virtuoso blue-grass guitar picker who also happens to be an entertaining story teller. Zacharin’s migration from Montreal to Toronto in the late 1980s found him in a country band with fiddle player Jeff Barnes. Over the years the duo has teamed up for the convenience of fleshing out one-off gigs and a residency as Barnes & Zacharin at the Underdown Club. While Noah has been slowly crafting one of his long-in-the-making solo CDs (he’s in a tie with Boston for the longest stretch between releases) he and Barnes have put together a snapshot recording of songs they used to perform together. Far from their entire repertoire, it’s a slideshow of styles, eras and traditions covering everything from modern songwriters like Gordon Lightfoot (“Go Go Round”), Tom Waits (“Hang Down Your Head”) and Dylan (“Watchin’ the River Flow”) to eternal standards like “Tennessee Waltz”, “Ain’t Misbehavin’” (Fats Waller) and “Waiting For a Train” (Jimmie Rodgers). The most notable contributions are Leroy Preston’s “My Baby Thinks She’s a Train”, Joe South’s “Down in the Boondocks” and the hauntingly plaintive “Hello In There” by John Prine. Both gents lay down acoustic guitar with the occasional sweetener from Barnes’ fiddle. The take turns singing every other song – Zacharin as the gruff everyman (specifically on his own tune “Feel Like a Jukebox”), and Barnes as the crooner. The entire package from beginning to end is masterfully executed and evokes a 1930’s dust-bowl/hobos on a train atmosphere. It’s wanderlust campfire music that ends with the J.D. Loudermilk instrumental “Windy and Warm”. Those hungry for post-Depression era Americana, this CD foots the bill.  http://www.noahsong.com

WAKIN’ UP JOHNNY
“Welcome To the Dawghouse”
Formed in 2010, Wakin’ Up Johnny – featuring Bob Robinson (vocals, rhythm guitar), Dennis Ridout (bass, backing vocals), Mike Elder (lead guitar, harp) and Duanne Welsh (drums) – made their Toronto debut at Toronto’s Black Swan in February 2011 on a festival bill that left the jaded city audience surprised and hungry for more. The band returned to home turf in the Meaford/Collingwood, Ontario and contemplated their next move. With a fistful of original tunes they began demoing and took the best of the lot, “Ravenna”, to local radio where it also tickled the fancy of Georgian Bay area radio programmers. The group soon developed a following in the Blue Mountain and Wasaga regions. This year they returned to the studio, remixed the demos and laid down more tunes that comprise the nine song “Welcome To the Dawghouse”. The album sparkles with the promise of a Southern Rock renaissance that we briefly saw in the 1990’s from the Arc Angels (“In Existance”, “Jammin’ At Jazzy’s”) and The Black Crowes (“Sophie’s Eyes”, “Goodbye”). There’s also enough Southern boogies and Lynyrd Skynyrd-isms to make them true contenders for the crown. It’s early days for W.U.J. but songs like “Ravenna”, the punchy reggae-blues “Sunshine”, “Running” and “68 and I Owe You One” might just make them the new Kings of a nearly dead classic rock form. I’m already looking forward to their sophomore release which they’re currently working on. http://www.wakinupjohnny.com

PICTURE THE OCEAN“Picture the Ocean”
Prolific Edmonton, Alberta duo Jesse Dee & Jacquie B were in the midst of touring their roots-rock/alt-pop album ‘Our Ghosts Will Fill These Walls’ with the album’s drummer Matt Blackie when they realized that they were musically stronger as a formal trio. From that epiphany came the concept to create a new act – Picture The Ocean – and a flurry of writing. The result is their self-titled debut featuring a grittier, more guitar-driven and keyboard padded rhythmic bedding for Jesse and Jacquie’s smooth harmony blend.  Many of the tunes are mid-tempo, lilting sing-song waltzes such as “Erehwon”, “Being Me”, “Everything Is Erased”, “Wake Me Up” and the best song on the disc – “The Storm”. When you peel the musical onion back it reveals beautiful and almost pretty sounding ballads like “Sick With You” and “I’ll Be a Mountain”; There’s a peppy toe tapper in the song “Scars” and they even take on the blues with the instrumental “Russia?” which is a cross between “Put a Spell On You” and “Statesboro Blues”. This CD is truly laid back with a visual soundtrack quality and is recommended for those nursing a broken heart or contemplating a lifestyle change. It’s both comforting and thought provoking. http://www.picturetheocean.com

GRACE NOTES

* Mark December 2nd on your calendar. The Revival Club in Toronto will host the second fundraising event for guitarist Rick Gunn who successfully made it through a stem cell transplant in August to battle a rare form of cancer. Rick’s doing much better but still needs money our help to stay financially solvent while he is tended to by homecare nurses and additional medical expenses. The event will feature The David Henman Band, Bob Segarini, Sebastian Agnello, Terry Draper (ex-Klaatu) and many others. Check out the details here: http://friendsoftheboogieman.eventbrite.ca/
Or contribute donations here: http://www.kapipal.com/rickgunn2

* Uber-Power Pop fan and songwriter Elizabeth Racz is currently helping to produce the upcoming Albaby Records’ “Monsters of Lite Rock” tribute CD which will be an ode to MOR songs from the 1970s. One of the first two submissions for the project is the exceptional Cliff Richards “We Don’t Talk Anymore” by Australian power pop master Michael Carpenter. Check it out here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7wzInezhmtg
Join the tribute group for further updates on the songs and acts that will be involved:
https://www.facebook.com/DrinkAToastToInnocence

* Maestro Fresh Wes and The Trews. Not two names you’d associate with each other even in the confines of the small Canadian music industry. But The Maestro’s been a fan of The Trews’ straight up classic rock sound since they teamed up for a tribute to Haiti Relief awhile back and asked the band to appear on his latest album and single/video for the tune “I Wanna Know”. The unlikely team-up has generated a very cool tune. Here’s a mini-doc on the making of the song: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l5bI-C5M-lk

*Legendary Toronto music promoter and former manager of Downchild Blues Band Richard Flohil has finally decided to commit his memoirs to paper and is looking for financial backing to make it happen. The book should prove to be both entertaining and eye opening as Richard has run with the musical pack going right back to upbringing in the UK. More information on how you can make Richard’s project a reality here: http://www.kapipal.com/flohilbook

* Another behind the scenes music innovator was Gerry Young of Current Records/Management who helped cultivate the careers of The Parachute Club, Betty Moon and Martha & The Muffins/M + M. He has already written his view-from-the-inside book “Pop Goes The Weasel: Rock and Roll Off the Record”. Order it here:  http://www.amazon.com/Gerry-Young/e/B00852JGNC/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1353719427&sr=1-2-ent

* Meanwhile, your intrepid blog author Jaimie Vernon (that’s me!) is currently helping The Paupers/Lighthouse drumming legend Skip Prokop realize his own autobiography. The book, tentatively titled ‘Sunny Days & Rainy Nights’, will see the light of day in early 2013.

R.I.P.
As I was writing this blog two prominent Canadian music figures passed away between November 22 and November 23. Our condolences go out to the families of music promoter Peter Bennett and “Motor” Mike Anderson, former drummer for punk acts The Viletones, The Secrets and Arson.

Send your CDs to: Jaimie Vernon, 180 Station Street, Suite 53, Ajax, ON L1S 1R9 CANADA

Jaimie’s column appears every Saturday.
Contact us at dbawis@rogers.com

Jaimie “Captain CanCon” Vernon has been president of the on again/off-again Bullseye Records of Canada since 1985. He wrote and published Great White Noise magazine in the ‘90s, has been a musician for 33 years, and recently discovered he’s been happily married for 16 years. He is also the author of the recently released Canadian Pop Music Encyclopedia and a collection of his most popular ‘Don’t Believe A Word I Say’ columns called ‘Life’s A Canadian…BLOG’ is now available at Amazon.com

2 Responses to “JAIMIE VERNON – November DISCoveries”

  1. Stop, Jaimie! I’m already behind. Now I’m six or seven more albums further behind. My behind hurts.

  2. Looking forward to Skip’s book.Ever since I started reading these blogs,I have enjoyed Bob’s stories and adventures.After reading Al Kooper’s book Backstage Passes and Backstabbing Bastards,I referred to him as the Forrest Gump of Rock and Roll.Bob is giving him some competition.Would like to see him put one together as well.Cheers.

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