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Route 21

Talking Bands
by Luke Arbuckle

Joerg Soltermann, Wayne Murnaghan, Nathalie, Mike Huston and Mike MacDonaldHailing from the greater Charlottetown area, the five-piece blues band, Route 21 is bringing the tunes we know and love to a whole new level.

Since their forming almost two years ago, the band has build up an impressive repertoire of both familiar classics and obscure gems. At home playing anything from Fleetwood Mac and Johnny Cash to Susan Tedeschi or Beth Hart, each member brings an independent love for the music to the band.

Route 21 is made up of Joerg Soltermann on guitar and harmonica, Wayne Murnaghan on drums, Nathalie Duguay as lead vocalist, Mike Huston on bass, and Mike MacDonald on guitar.

The band came to be when Nathalie, who’d been performing blues matinees in Charlottetown posted an ad looking for musicians to start a serious rock/blues/country band. After a few weeks of networking, the bulk of what is now Route 21 was in place. “It really didn’t take long to find the right people,” says Nathalie. “We met a few times and I think we knew the chemistry was there right away. It didn’t take long before we had a wide variety of songs we liked to play.”

Wayne said although the band plays a lot of covers, their style isn’t about imitation, it’s about making it their own. “People want to rock out to music they know, that takes them somewhere,” he said. “We work well together on stage, keep the energy high and musically, we have each other’s backs.”

The band has ben playing regularly across the Island for a while and while they plan to continue playing local venues, they’re gearing up for a busy summer.

Mike M. said the band has played all the regular spots and is confident a ripple effect will soon open door to other opportunities. “Networking is a big part of successfully playing music,” he said. “The venues around town and the Island are great, we’ve had a lot of fun so far and we’re definitely looking forward to playing everywhere we can.”

Nathalie said one of the biggest influences on her music, her performances and her life was her Father, Roger. “He was a truly talented and loving performer,” she said. “We was always performing, music was everything and could light up your life for just the few minutes the song might last.”

Named for the road on which their jams began, Route 21 is bringing a different kind of blues to the Island. A high-energy and practiced performance and although familiar and comfortable at times, their skill and passion make for a one-of-a-kind experience.

But you don’t have to take my word for it, check Route 21 out for yourself and look to this month’s Live Music section of The Buzz for show listings.

John Cain Band

Talking Bands
by Luke Arbuckle

John Cain Band (photo: Luke Arbuckle)It’s common for seasoned musicians to meet at public events and spontaneous jams are par for the course. Every once in a while, those musicians click and a whole new sound is born. Some might call it fate, others circumstance, good chemistry or vibes. PEI can call it the John Cain Band.

Veterans to the Island music scene, the band formed in November after an impromptu gig aligned the stars and brought the guys together. John Cain is on guitar and vocals, Walter Reilly is on the drums, David (Davie G) Garbus plays bass, and Neil Knudson rounds out the band’s sound with trumpet, vocals and guitar.

Although new to the scene, the band is bringing a unique history and passion to venues across the Island. Walter and Davie G have been close friends for 40 years and have made a point of jamming together regularly for just as long. It’s a closeness that can be heard in their music. “Our music is the undertone of our friendship,” says Walter. “We’ve been playing together for a lot of years and I think we’ve found something pretty awesome here.”

With a shared love for R&B, blues, and dance music, the band strives to mix genres and creates their sound by drawing on a large variety of influences. “We play things people might recognize, but we pride ourselves on being tight-knit and practiced,” says Neil, who transcribes the band’s ideas into specific parts and intricate riffs. “We’re all about the music, playing it, and making people move, we’re new, but already proud of how we sound and where we’re headed.”

John said in addition to the weekly gigs they’ve landed at Red’s Corner in Pooles Corner or the Haviland Club in Charlottetown, the band hopes to do some off-Island touring and maybe play a festival or two.

“I think we’ve really hit the ground running,” said John. “We know what we want to sound like and love to play, so rehearsing is something we’re all used to. That helps a lot and I think that cohesion can be heard in our music. We each bring a fair bit of talent and a lot of experience to the table.”

Davie G agreed and said it’s their wide variety of musical influences that’s really helped them hone their sounds so quickly.  “We’ve all been inspired by the music we love, and that leaves a lasting impression on musicians. Initially, we thought that because we all have a history with the Blues, that would be what we play, but it’s proven not to be the case,” he said.

“We’re an R&B band with strong roots from multiple genres, but most of all, we just love to play music and give people something to dance about.”

The John Cain Band plans to start recording their first EP in the near future and will be hosting Blues Nights at Pooles Corner and in Charlottetown on a regular basis. The band will also host a “Dance Your Pants Off Event” on March 27, from 9 pm to 12 am at the Haviland Club. Check out this month’s Live Music section of The Buzz for more.

The Busted Skulls

Talking Bands
by Luke Arbuckle

The Busted SkullsHolding their own at the heavier side of the Island music scene, the Busted Skulls are a thrash-metal punk/hardcore band hailing from Charlottetown. Just four Island guys just living their lives from day-to-day. Although level-headed and soft-spoken by day, their music tells another story.

The Busted Skulls are Darrell Warren on lead/rhythm guitar and vox, Sean McKay on bass guitar and backing vox, Yannick Gagnon on the drums/leather, and John Ulvstal as rhythm and lead guitar.

Local musicians from across the spectrum, the band came together about two years ago and quickly found their niche performing an average of three shows a week last year. Lead guitar player, John Ulvstal said the heavy metal scene on the Island is going strong. “We had a really busy year in 2014 with as many as three gigs in one week,” says John.

“Rather tiresome for a group of guys who still have day jobs.”

Drawing their inspiration from a wide assortment of times and genres from The Beatles, to Pantera, The Misfits, Megadeth, and Cliff Burton, in addition to writing their own tunes, the band (in their own way) have perfected a small arsenal of cover material.

John says while they’re passionate about the music, it’s the fun they have using it as an outlet and a means of expression that keeps them rocking so hard. “We’ve written a few original songs, but haven't concentrated on that too much as we are doing this for fun. I have always been a fast, aggressive rhythm guitarist,” he said.

“I guess it’s always been a great outlet for any of life’s frustrations. I love my instrument most when I can pick it up, crank it up and disappear into that place in the universe we like to call the zone.”

Yannick’s been drumming since high school and joined the band shortly after they started up. “I’ve always played a lot of rock music,” said Yannick. “But not always a lot of metal, it definitely keeps be on top of my game.”

Sean says the band’s sound is about methodical licks and aggressive style. “I define myself as a musician by trying to focus on being both extremely tight and consistent, especially as a bassist holding down the backbone.”

John added although they’ve slowed things down a little in the new year, the band is happy with their direction and are hoping to release an EP in the summer.

Look for Busted Skulls in the live music section of The Buzz and visit for a special documentary on the band.

The East Pointers

Talking Bands
by Luke Arbuckle

The East Pointers on an Aussie stageWe at The Buzz wanted to ring in the New Year a little differently this year and thought reaching out to Island musicians on tour in far-away lands might be just the way to do it.

The East Pointers are an Island-based trio currently on a tour in Australia which began shortly after Christmas. The fresh new trio hit the ground running and haven’t looked back. Fiddle player, Tim Chaisson has toured the world as a performer/songwriter with a pop and country-tinged take on contemporary folk. Koady Chaisson, the trio’s banjo player, has often played at his side. Meanwhile, guitarist Jake Charron is based in Ontario and has performed with a long list of award-winning performers from around the world.

From the sunny beaches of Australia, Jake Charron had a few minutes to speak with us and assured us their flavour of traditional Celtic tunes is being well received in the land down under. “It’s been pretty sweet down here,” said Jake.

“We’re loving the sunshine, but it does feel a bit odd heading into the Christmas season with 30 degree weather.”

Beginning at the Woodford Folk Festival near Brisbane, their tour is taking them down the coast of Australia. When they reach the bottom, they’ll keep heading south. “The East Pointers tour kicks into gear right after Christmas,” Jake said. “The tour takes us mostly along the east coast of Oz (fitting for The East Pointers) and down into Tasmania.”

Jake said the band is eagerly awaiting to see how traditional east coast Canadian and Celtic music is received in a land so far away. “I guess we’ll see how our music goes over, but so far everyone has been very welcoming to a few Canadian boys,” he said.

Jake said the band’s future remains unwritten, but includes a few specific plans. “I guess just see where we can go with this band,” he said. “Share some PEI tunes around the world if we can. We’re working towards a new album in the new year, so that's the next project.”

The band wraps up it’s tour on January 26 and barring any awesome opportunities, could return to the Island to complete the new album as early as February. Despite the new experiences in a new part of the world, The East Pointers will always consider PEI their home. And Jake says, “I’ve spent quite a bit of time in Charlottetown over the past few years for various gigs and festivals, and always felt at home amongst good friends, good food, good drinks, good music.”

The East Pointers will return to the Island soon, so make sure to check out this next month’s live events page of The Buzz.

Rachel and Amy Beck

Talking Bands
by Luke Arbuckle

Rachel (left) and Amy Beck (photo ©pixbylorne)From an early age, two sisters from Montague, Amy and Rachel Beck sang and performed together. From writing basement jingles and childhood ‘radio shows’ the sisters are taking their passion for music and performing to whole new levels.

About 10 years ago, while attending UPEI, the singing/songwriting team Amy and Rachel decided not only to hold onto their dreams, but pursue them together. This November, the sisters released their second album in two years titled Run.

Rachel said they are more than excited about the release, but a few years ago, she said, they could never have imagined their music would be so successful. “We feel so fortunate to be doing what we love,” she said.

“When we entered that CBC Searchlight contest back in the winter of 2013, we never imagined we would release two albums in two years, tour the Maritimes, and get to play such fun showcases and events.”

The duo, who’ve recently returned from showcasing at Folk Music Ontario, attribute part of their success to finding inspiration in everyday life. “One of the tracks on the EP, At First Glance, began at a photocopier. The machine had a really catchy rhythm which soon turned into a song,” Rachel said. “It’s funny the places you can find inspiration.”

In addition to the skills the sisters have honed their whole lives, Amy said they received a lot of help and support over the years, particularly with the latest album. “The musicians we worked with on the record were fantastic, including our producer Tim (Chaisson),” she said. “His musicianship and experience added so much to our project, and we couldn’t be happier with how it turned out.”

Mr Chaisson is an Island musician and producer who was approached by the Beck sisters to help them perfect the record. He said he was excited to produce the record and was impressed with the quality of the songs the Beck sisters were writing. “When Amy and Rachel approached me about producing their record, I was thrilled. It was my first official producing ‘gig’ and I loved working with them. Their songs were well written, structured and hooky,” he said. “It’s hard to beat sibling harmonies and they’ve got it down. Their vocals, coupled with Amy’s solid guitar playing, made my job pretty easy.”

It’ll be a busy time for the sisters. With the release of their second album, Run, they have shows booked across the Maritimes this fall and are hoping to secure tour dates for an extended tour in 2015. “We’ve made some great contacts with folk festivals in Ontario,” Rachel said. “We’re looking forward to building on those relationships and extending our touring into Central Canada in the next year. We can’t wait.”

Check out the show listings of The Buzz for more info on where and when to catch Amy & Rachel.

Spencer Soloduka & The Tearaways

Talking Bands
by Luke Arbuckle

Michael, Josh, Spencer, Simon, Jordy, Emma, NikkiI knew I was in the right place when I turned the corner of Kirkwood Drive in Charlottetown and down the street, I could hear the rhythmic chaos of a band in full rehearsal.

I was greeted at the door by Spencer Soloduka and the Tearaways, a seven piece soul band who’ve been rocking the Island’s music scene for a little over a year.

Led by frontman, vocalist and key player, Spencer Soloduka, the band is comprised of a variety of impressive musicians with a variety of musical backgrounds; Simon Joseph on bass, Michael Peters on guitar and backing vocals, Jordy “Jorbit” on drums, Emma Turner sings backup vocals, Nikki Waite plays alto sax and Josh Underhay plays trumpet and the flugelhorn.

Though seven member is a lot to work and organize with at times, the dynamic couldn’t be better. “We each bring something unique to the group. We’re all very different but it’s all fallen into place,” Spencer said. “I think we all really enjoy working together.”

One of the Island’s most in-demand soul bands, they started playing local venues last year and have been grooving the Island since.

Josh attributes some of the band’s success to the dynamic of its members. “We play well together and have fun doing it, there’s synchronicity to the group that I think the audience really enjoys,” he said.

A trained engineer by trade, Spencer put aside his tool belt to focus his energy on the music, writing and honing the band’s sound. He knows what it takes to make a career in music work and has dedicated himself to it. “Making music is not a job, it’s a lifestyle,” he said. “If you want to get a life out of music, you have to put a life into music.”

Each of the band members agree with his motto and have built their lives around learning about and performing music. With a large variety of influences like Ray Charles, Sly and the Family Stone and Bill Withers, the band promises to deliver a deep soul experience riddled with licks and riffs from across the musical spectrum.

Focused primarily on writing and pro forming there own material, Spencer said over time, the band has learned the value of a cover, done with their own flare.

“We’re mixing it up a lot, playing some things people know and some of our own and i think we’ve found a great balance,” he said.

The band has plans for a regional tour though the dates aren’t set as of yet. In the meantime, they plan to keep playing the Island circuit and are releasing their first five song EP on December 5 at the Haviland Club in Charlottetown. Check out The Buzz Live Music listings for more dates.

Move the Mountains

Talking Bands
by Luke Arbuckle

Top row Nathan Power, Kent Blenkhorn; bottom row Angus McPhail, Josh Power.After a summer off, Talking Bands returns to The Buzz to meet the musicians, hear their stories and provide an inside glimpse into what makes Island musicians tick.

It was the first summer on the Island circuit for indie-folk rockers Move the Mountains. Despite their recent arrival to the scene, these four musicians have made themselves known for their indie-rock inspired modern-pop sounds.

The band consists of brothers Nathan and Josh Power from Grandview, Angus McPhail from Charlottetown, and Kent Blenkhorn from Amherst, Nova Scotia. Each a songwriter in their own right, the group uses a variety of instruments and harmonies to deliver a high energy, tightly knit performance.

Nathan is the lead vocalist, guitarist, mandolin and harmonica player for the band. He believes it’s the combination of skills each member brings to the group that is helping them refine their sound. “It helps to have all members coming up with the creative process and reworking our songs,” Nathan said, adding that he and his brother Josh have been playing music together since high school. “This band is more collaborative than previous bands we’ve been involved in.”

Part of what makes Move the Mountains unique is their mastery of the three-part harmony. Josh and Angus are also vocalists for the band. “You’ll find lots of bands with two people who can sing,” said Josh. ”We have a lot more three-part harmonies.”

They’ve come a long way in a short time and uphold a rigours practice schedule. The band played some of the Island’s hottest venues and events this summer and continue to write and develop new songs. “We’ve played places like Caledonia Days, Baba’s in Charlottetown, The Pub in Montague and recorded a bit of material,” said Angus, the band’s vocalist and bass guitar player. “Right now, we’re working on recordings of our newest material, songs written by Josh, Nathan, and myself.”

At the end of the day, Kent, the band’s drummer and backup harmonica player perhaps summed it up best when he called their music a labour of love, something they want to be proud of and share with anyone wanting to rock out with an awesome local band.

Move the Mountains are in the process of recording their first studio album and pursuing plans for an Atlantic or Canada wide tour.

Solid and Engaging

Ladies and GentlemAn

Review by Dave Stewart

I can’t recall the actual wording of the request from The Buzz when I was first asked to review Off the Cuff Comedy Presents: Ladies & GentlemAn. I can, however, tell you what I heard: “How’d you like to review a new sketch comedy show with a hard-to-remember name performed by four recent musical theatre graduates/ triple threats? It’s playing at 11 pm on a work night.”

“Not very much” was my initial response, but The Buzz was persistent, and so I found myself at the 11 pm preview performance of “OtCCP:L&G” at The Guild.

And I liked it.

Performed and co-written by Jacob Durdan, Sarah MacPhee, Kristena McCormack and Kaitlyn Post, four recent grads of the Holland College School of Performing Arts, “OtCCP:L&G” is an hour-long collection of sketches that pokes affable fun at PEI and, refreshingly, at the notion of being a triple threat itself. That the show features performers who are trained in dance, acting and vocal performance strengthens it in almost all regards.

In terms of talent, the four performers are equally and well suited as a professionally-trained ensemble. Each earns his or her share of laughs and appreciation, and all are engaging. During monologues, however, MacPhee and Post truly nail it, almost wholly disappearing as performers to deliver believable and memorably funny characters.

The show itself is well-balanced and entertaining. Despite the fact that, as is par for the sketch comedy course, a couple of sketches (and only a couple) are duds, none wear out their welcome. It’s a solid hour of entertainment.

While the show is an initiative of its performers, the guiding hand behind it is that of Jan Rudd, a veteran of the Island sketch comedy scene with stints in both Annekenstein and The Drill Queens. Rudd is also an instructor at the School of Performing Arts, and acts here as Director and Head Writer. She’s a talented comedy writer who serves the performers well by keeping sketches short, allowing each performer his or her moment as the focus of attention, and in playing to the performers’ strengths. Rudd even lampoons her real life role as instructor to the ensemble in a couple of video segments featured in the show.

If I had a complaint about “OtCCP:L&G”, it’s that it is at times too self-referential. Some sketches require familiarity with The Confederation Centre’s Anne of Green Gables—The Musical, and others are enhanced by a knowledge of the relationship between Rudd and the performers, and of the performers’ recent status as performing arts graduates. A minor point, however. 

What may be more damaging to the production is the advertising, publicity and name (of the show? the ensemble?). In my eyes, each misrepresents what you’ll see on stage, and may discourage some from attending. Yet, I hope that won’t happen. “OtCCP:L&G” is worth catching, and it showcases the beginning careers of four members of PEI’s next generation of professional performers. 

“OtCCP:L&G” runs Thursdays and Fridays at 11 pm until August 29.

Events Calendar

January 2019
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