Roxanne Tellier- Heating Up A Friday With Poor Angus and Xprime

Roxanne

I don’t like winter – never have – but really, I have to admit we’ve had it pretty good so far this year. With so little snow, there hasn’t been that nasty collection of icy patches that lie in wait for me around every corner and incline. Thank you, ye gawds of climate change.

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I don’t leave the house much, when it’s cold, and the sidewalks feel like they’re lying in wait to snap my ankles, but Pat Blythe lured me out on Friday to see a band that came highly recommended.   Poor Angus, a rollicking Celticband, were appearing at Hugh’s Room, to the delight of those claiming an Irish or Scottish lineage.  The last time I saw that many redheads in one place was at the St. Patrick’s Day parade.   poor angus pic

And as soon as the lads took to the stage, the gingers were bobbing their manes and tapping their toes to the rousing tunes. One young couple at the next table couldn’t contain themselves, and leapt to their feet, dancing wildly in a 2 foot square piece of floor.  For this one night, we were all proud, rowdy Celts with a mighty thirst for wine, women and song.

On stage, the five career musicians encouraged our thirst,with violin ace Andrew Bryan readily downing pints between songs. Andrew, Ross Griffiths (bagpipes, tinwhistle and flute,)  Brian LeBlanc (guitar, mandolin, and Bodhran,) and Joel Guenther(guitar) provided solid lead and back up harmonies, while DJ Moons, on bass, held it down and solid.

Based out of Hamilton, the guys have been around for several years. Their latest CD, “The Gathering” boasts a tune that took Poor Angus to the top four out of 3,000 bands in the CBC SearchlightCompetition. On stage, they have a relaxed yet energetic feel, and the band seemed delighted to be performing for the enthusiastic audience.

Catch them next when they heat up the London Music Club  (London, ON) on February 26th

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Braced by good food and several large pints, Pat and I had to dash off before catching the end of Poor Angus’ set, as we were expected at the Horseshoe to see our good friends in Xprime hit the stage. The place was packed, but we squeezed our way up front where Pat bagged a good spot for photographing the guys … you can always count on Xprime for great live shots.

xprime dec 2015

Xprime. They Float! (Picture by Girl With a Camera)

This was the first time I was seeing the boys as a trio – keyboard/guitarist Gab Sid left the band last summer. Phil, Neil and Steph kicked out the hits from their last album “PM,” and teased the crowd with some new material they’re currently recording for their next CD.

As always, they were terrific – I’ve never seen them do less than great; they’re just that good.  High energy, strong, assured playing and those trademark harmonies keep their fans coming back for more.

Just released this week, here’s the latest video from PM:

I’m not privy to why Gab left Xprime, but leaving a group just shy of stardom is not without precedent. People leave bands for all sorts of reasons, though the most common ones revolve around money and personalities. Sometimes it will be the realization that things are starting to get serious, and that destination was never in the band member’s long term game plan.

In today’s music industry, bands have a lot asked of them. Everyone in the group has to be on board with what’s involved in making a living, and that means no one gets to play ‘rock star.’ Instead they’re playing their own manager, booking agent, publicity department, and record label, while maintaining a social media profile, designing websites, writing and recording, and playing live. Fortunately, Xprime now have great distribution (eOne), and a terrific manager who believes in them, Michael Greggs.

It’s a tougher gig than it was when I was swanning around in bands. More like running a small business than making music. But there have always been bands that worked hard, got just close enough to taste a little success, only to have it all go very, very wrong.

Back in 1987, musicians from two separate bands (Colourbox and A.R.Kane) created a little side project, involving primarily sampled sounds. They called themselves MARRS, and released just one single, “Pump Up The Volume.” To their surprise, the song caught on big time, and even nabbed a Grammy nomination. But none of this had ever been in their plan, and the group quietly faded away without any further releases, largely due to the legal issues that had begun surrounding sampled music.

While still a teenager, Gregg Alexander was gobbled up by the music industry, and he spent nearly a decade ‘in development.’ Although he released a couple of solo albums, nothing hit until he formed the New Radicals, and released a successful album in 1998 called “Maybe You’ve Been Brainwashed Too.” The hit, “You Get What You Give,” broke worldwide, and the record label had big plans for Alexander. Unfortunately – he’d had enough. After more than ten years of slogging, he had his hit, and success wasn’t that sweet. So, after just a few months, he canned the band and quit live performing.

After years of cruising just below the radar, Robert Palmer joined John Taylor and Andy Taylor of Duran Duran in 1984, and formed Power Station. What had started as a lark got serious very quick when their first album spawned three big hits … “Some Like It Hot”, “Get It On (Bang a Gong)”, and “Communication.”

The Taylors were delighted to be offered to headline on a massive tour with Paul Young, Nik Kershaw, and OMD. But Palmer had other ideas – with his new, higher profile, he thought he’d prefer to get some of the band’s glitter onto his own solo career. And so off he went, leaving Michael des Barres to step in and front the tour, as well as appear at Live Aid. An EP was recorded with the new line-up, but was shelved by their record company.

So, while some bands struggle along for years, finally catch a break, and revel in their success, others implode before becoming household names. Personalities, priorities, and shifting circumstances can really take a toll on any struggling enterprise. Throw in artistic temperaments, and some of the best and brightest in the game never even get to bat.

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Roxanne’s column appears here every Sunday 

Contact us at dbawis@rogers.com

dbawis-button7Roxanne Tellier has been singing since she was 10 months old … no, really. Not like she’s telling anyone else how to live their lives, because she’s not judgmental, and most 10 month olds need a little more time to figure out how to hold a microphone. She has also been a vocalist with many acts, including Tangents, Lady, Performer, Mambo Jimi, and Delta Tango. In 2013 she co-hosted Bob Segarini’s podcast, The Bobcast, and, along with Bobert, will continue to seek out and destroy the people who cancelled ‘Bunheads’. 

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