I was fortunate enough to snap up some excellent seats for Nickelback's Feed the Machine tour when it arrived in Toronto this summer. I am not prepared to debate the merits of Nickelback with anyone until they actually attend one of their shows. Opening for the concert (which also included a solid set from Daughtry) was my "find" for 2017, Shaman's Harvest.
I am almost embarrassed that it took me so long to "find" this band, and their incredible country-heavy rock laced sound. This band from Jefferson City, Missouri, has been releasing albums since 1999. Fortunately, even though I was late to the party, I have made every effort to educate myself on their back catalogue. They are straight forward no-holds barred rock, and Nathan Hunt's voice gives the band a unique and powerful sound. This is the type of music that is missing off radio for the last five years. There is no auto-tuning here :)
To give you an idea of what Shaman's Harvest brings to a concert, I have selected my favourite track off of their 2014 album "Smokin' Hearts & Broken Guns". "Dangerous" does have a few swear words in it (so you are forewarned), but like all good rock songs, you'll be banging your head and playing air guitar by the time the song is over ;)
Danko Jones is another very impressive Canadian band, that while somewhat famous in this country, has found even more success in the European hard rock scene. I was fortunate enough to see them at the Air Canada Centre in 2009 when they were an opening act for Nickelback . Along with 90s powerhouse Live!, it was one of the best concerts I have ever attended.
Danko Jones is a straight-ahead hard rock band, that doesn't dwell on platinum album sales, but rather quality rock experiences. They are a band that feeds off of their fan base, and it shows in every song they play. I have included "Full of Regret" off of their Below the Belt release as an example of their style (and for those who play EA Sports on their XBOX360, you might recognize this song from NHL 11).
As you will see below (if you keep reading through my blog), I am a HUGE Michael Franti fan. In the summer of 2013 I was lucky enough to catch both his concert at the House of Blues in Cleveland and his long awaited return to Toronto at the Danforth Music Hall. At both concerts I was blown away by the opening bands. In Cleveland, it was Saints of Valory, and in Toronto it was Canadian artist Michael Bernard Fitzgerald.
Going into the concert, I really wasn't aware who the opening band would be, and since I was attending with friends who had never seen Michael Franti and Spearhead before, I was hoping it would be the talented Saints of Valory that I was introduced to at the Cleveland concert.
It became obvious that there was a new opening act by the initial setup of the stage, and when Michael Bernard Fitzgerald (MBF) came out, I had no clue what to expect. From the first few bars of "Man Overboard", I quickly realized that MBF was the artist that I had heard during the August Cineplex interview that they play before movies start. I was interested by him when I heard him there, but the absolute disappointment of the movie I saw pushed his name out of my head.
So, to say MBF was a happy surprise that Saturday night in September of 2013, is a bit of an understatement. He is a talented musician, who is very deserving of your ear (I liked him so much, I bought all the music at his merch table after the show). His earnest and optimistic sound complimented what followed on that magical evening with Michael Franti and Spearhead, and I cannot wait to attend a concert where he is the head-liner. Calgary should be proud of this up and coming superstar.
I have included one of my favourite songs from his album "YES", Follow.
I grew up in a home that didn't play any rock music. The closest I heard from my father's 8-track player was Elvis Presley, but then it was usually only the music he produced during his "gospel years" or the songs that sounded like they belonged on a country station. Needless to say, growing up, most of the music I was exposed to had a twang and an electric slide guitar.
Even when I had saved enough of my paper route money to buy my own stereo (and my very first cassette, AC DC's Back in Black), I still found myself spending countless hours laying in the living room listening to my dad's collection of Stompin' Tom Connors records.
I have always had a fascination with Stompin' Tom. His music is simple, but catchy, and it plays right into my sense of patriotism. I fully believe that his songs about Canada changed my career path from one that was focused on Computer Engineering into one that saw me specialize in Canadian History while I was at Wilfrid Laurier. I have learned as much history from listening to Stompin' Tom as I have from reading any textbook. He truly is a Canadian treasure, and should be used as a resource in every classroom.
I have had the pleasure of seeing him in concert serveral times, including my one "brush" with Stompin' Tom fame when at a concert at the Lulu's Roadhouse in Kitchener he stopped playing, pointed at me in the front row, and told me to "Shut the F**K UP!" (I guess he didn't appreciate me yelling "I love you Stompin Tom" at the top of my lungs at the end of every song).
I would be shocked to know that there is any Canadian who hasn't heard some of his famous songs, such as The Hockey Song, The Ketchup Song, Bud the Spud, and Tillsonburg. However, I have decided to include one of his lesser known ditties, "To It And At It", which not only gives a glimpse of what it means to be Canadian, it also demonstrates his gift as a song writer. I guarantee you you will be singing along by the end, and probably humming the melody for the rest of the day.
Like many people who have "found" this group, I tripped across Walk Off the Earth when a student sent me the link to their cover of Goyte's "Somebody I Used to Know" video. I was instantly hooked by their vocals and obvious musicianship. I spent more than a few hours that night trying to learn everything I could about WOTE.
That night led to on-line discussions with friends (some of whom were aware of the band, but failed to share their find with me...), which led to plans about seeing the band live. Fortunately, with a little research I found out that the band would be playing in their hometown, Burlington, at the Burly Calling music festival. For the dozen or so of us that managed to make it to the show, it was one of the best live shows we had ever seen. WOTE is truly one of the most talented bands in the world, and they need to be seen live to truly be appreciated.
Walk Off the Earth is well known for their own unique covers of popular songs (such as a spectacular cover of Maroon 5's Pay Phone), but their original material is also very well done. I have included their song, Red Hands, off of their EP "R.E.V.O.", which has been picking up major amounts of radio play since it's release in late 2012.
I tripped across this amazing band when I became hooked on CBC's reality show, Cover Me Canada. Travis Wood, the lead singer, has an amazing voice and a mesmorizing stage presence. One only has to watch him cover Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah and you'll be hooked too.
The band ended up winning the competition, and hopefully, along with some intense marketing and heavy touring, they will become the superstars that they deserve. I have included my favourite song of their self-titled release, "Waiting for the Rebel".
During my frosh week at Wilfrid Laurier (23 years ago this September), I was introduced to this "underground band" by a new friend who happened to live in Toronto. I have been a fan ever since.
The Barenaked Ladies were thrust on to the national stage by the controversy surrounding their name (mayor Mel Lastman didn't want it posted on city owned buildings), but to me they will always be the first band I saw in concert at university and the memories associated with their "little yellow cassette tape" that I played over and over and over again.
The band is quirky, but with this sense of humour comes tremendous musicality, human understanding and intelligence. The band has had tremendous success, both with and without Steven Page as lead singer, and has just released their greatest hits package "Hits from Yesterday & the Day Before". I am sure everyone is familar with their mega hits "If I Had a $1 000 000" and "One Week" (not to mention their theme song to "The Big Bang Theory"), but I have included one of their slower songs, "Call and Answer", as evidence of their ability to write truly beautiful and moving lyrics.
This post is a little different, because I think you actually need to see the video evidence to really appreciate Mike Tompkins' talent. Mike is an incredibly talented acapella artist. Born in Edmonton, Canada he has become an internet sensation with his covers of famous songs, with full instrumentation all made by mouth. He has to be hear to be believed. Talent like this needs to be celebrated.
I discovered the music of this Waterloo, ON based singer-songwriter through a CD loaned to me by my good friend Jo-Anne. She had seen Scotty perform at a Canada Day celebration in Waterloo, and she thought that I would enjoy listening to it.
After the first few listens of this artist, who has a sound akin to John Mayer and Train, I spent a few hours reading about Scotty and his incredible determination and desire to "make it". His series of Youtube videos, where he goes door to door in Kitchener-Waterloo seranading people on their porches (and suffering more than one slammed door in the face) and his recently released video for "Wanna Be Loved" show that this young man has the talent, drive and personality to become a true homegrown Canadian superstar. I have included "Wanna Be Loved" which was recently picked up for rotation on MuchMusic and MTV.
An Easter weekend spent first driving to my parents, and then again to my in-laws, meant that there was a lot of time to listen to mixed MP3 CDs in the Honda Civic. All four of us, to one degree or another, love hard rock music, and some form of it is the usual "go to" selection when we have to spend time together on a trip (since it's the only type of music we all agree upon and there is only so much Ke$ha I can take in one sitting).
One band that I discovered a few years ago, and have had several opportunities to see in concert, is Bobnoxious. I love this band so much that I convinced a friend of mine to book them for a small outdoor concert that he was promoting two summers ago. Because of the booking, I was able to meet Bob Reid and the boys and spend a few hours learning about what life is like on the road for this immensely popular local band.
Bobnoxious' music is straight-ahead, balls-to-the-wall, gritty rock and roll. Their attitude is pure rock, and most of their songs are about the three staples, sex, drugs and rock and roll. This band has to be seen live to be appreciated. They are all attitude and work-ethic, and by the sweat that streams off of them, you know they are going full out and giving you everything that they have.
The band receives a lot of airplay on the local radio station, 94.5 The Bull, and I have posted one of my favourite (and website appropriate) songs, "Tool Loud" below.
An exploration of the music that holds meaning in my life.