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Specialists in All Styles


Vintage

Got You Covered
by Jaclyn Killins

Vintage 4.0

Vintage is possibly the most versatile cover band on the Island. Donnie Bowers and Tim MacPherson team up as Vintage 2.0, described on their website as “a duke-it-out, down-and-dirty, grass-roots acoustic duo.” When they are in need of a bigger sound they call in bassist Chris Buote and drummer Nat Lamoureux to fill out the sound and morph into the full-blow rock band Vintage 4.0.

With this flexibility they can play anything from a small house party to a Canada Day rock show and everything in between.

Bowers and MacPherson, who bonded over a common interest in music in high school, are the co-founders of Vintage. Bowers describes MacPherson as highly creative. “He’s the colour and I’m the dots that keep [Vintage] together.”

Not blind to the stigmas, Bowers defends the creative merit of playing in a cover band, pointing out that even though they aren’t writing the songs they are interpreting them, taking them apart and putting them together again, weaving them into something new. “All of the greatest actors in the world didn’t write the movie,” Bowers said.

It also takes a lot of musical knowledge to listen to a song and recreate it in an interesting way. “You’ve got to have good ears. You’ve got to take it in, re-formulate it, and put it out in a palatable form,” Bowers said.

Vintage not only re-creates songs, but they change things up, playing different solos and arrangements every time. They play everything, from country to rock to rap. “It just comes from loving music and listening to music and playing so many gigs that it just works out that way.”

Every Thursday at Hunter’s Ale House Bowers and MacPherson are at the mercy of their audience, playing all requests. They take 4 or 5 requests at a time and string them together to create cohesive mini-sets. “It’s such a challenge musically, but it’s so much fun,” Bowers said.

When Bowers and MacPherson were trying to break into music in the early 90s it was almost impossible to get a gig as an original band. Cover bands dominated the scene, and so it was natural for them to hone their skill playing other people’s music. Instead of concentrating on writing they focused on developing their musicianship.

While he has a lot of respect for the young bands putting their own music out there, Bowers is at a stage in his life where it is hard to find time to play music let alone work on writing music. He looks forward to the future when he can get into writing as well as playing, but for now he enjoys the camaraderie of the cover scene, a place where you can strap on a guitar and be confident because you know you are surrounded by solid musicians.

www.vintageacoustic.ca

Bright Lights

Big City

Got You Covered

by Jaclyn Killins

M.J. Mullen, Leigh Pursey, Shane Coady, Joey Kitson

St. Patrick’s day came early at The Wave and for entertainment on March 14 they called in the rock and roll services of Big City. The band, formed six years ago, now consists of Joey Kitson on lead vocals, M.J. Mullin on guitar, Leigh Pursey on bass, with Nat Lamoureux and Shane Coady sharing drumming duties.

Before the show someone clued me in that Kitson is one of the best vocalists from PEI. It didn’t take long to understand why. Best known as lead singer of the Celtic rock band Rawlins Cross, Kitson’s voice is versatile and solid, hitting the high notes of a song like “Billy Jean” and the low notes of “Folsom Prison” without wavering.

The night started off slow but the band was hot and the crowd kept accumulating until there was barely room to move. By the end of the last set the entire pub had become a dance-floor and it was clear this was the best party in town.

Here’s a slice of my email interview with Joey Kitson:

How do you know the members of your band?

I’ve played with these guys in many different groups over the years. They are some of the best musicians the Island has to offer.

What does each member bring to the mix?

Beyond their musical ability, it’s their professionalism that makes Big City a success. We have a good chemistry, and diverse musical backgrounds and tastes. This allows us to cover a lot of different musical styles and genres. Not every band can play to a crowd at the Wave or a wedding at the community hall in Fortune.

What is your favourite style of music to perform?

I have a varied musical taste. Oddly enough, with Big City, I tend to enjoy the songs we play that have a strong country/southern rock influence. I think we do a decent job of that type of material.

What is the best thing about performing in a cover band?

Depending on the crowd or night, you never know what you are going to be expected to perform.

What is the worst thing?

The success/enjoyment with a cover band is driven by the crowd response. As long as the crowd is digging your performance, things are as easy as pie. It’s those nights when the crowd is thin and lacking enthusiasm, that performing feels more like work. Fortunately that doesn’t happen very often.

I had cover bands pigeonholed as entertainment for a more mature crowd but last night the University Pub was hopping. What is it that makes your performance accessible to all?

It’s all about your repertoire, and ability to read the crowd effectively. You have to be able to “give the people what they want,” no matter who they are or where you are performing. If you can do that, you can be successful in this game.

Is there anything else you want to say?

I just wanted to add that for such a small province, we have a high quality of local musicians. It’s important for people to get out and support both cover bands and original artists. We are lucky to have them around.

Blue Collar Rock

Davey Jones

Got You Covered

by Jaclyn Killins


Davey Jones - Jeff Wilson, Roger Jones, Jeff Barrow, John Trenholm, Davis Ward

With this column Jaclyn begins her latest assignment—covering the Island’s popular cover bands. True weekend warriors, cover bands enterain thousands of people at club dates and dances every week, year-in year-out. Want to hear something you know? These bands know how to play it!

The parking lot of the Roadhouse in Cornwall is packed when I arrived on a Valentine Saturday night for my first venture into the world of cover bands. Entering, I can hear the music loud and crisp. With precision and energy the band is playing Pretty Vegas by INXS. I pay cover, and maneuver through the crowd to a table where I can survey the scene.

The dance floor is full of people dancing their middle-aged butts off. I’m feeling a bit young and a bit out of place and a voice in my head is sayings: “We ain’t at Baba’s anymore, Toto.”

On stage the band Davey Jones has a professional appearance, from the gear to the lights, to the ease with which they play.

The band consists of Davis Ward on guitar and vocals, Roger Jones on guitar and vocals, Jeff Wilson on bass, Jeff Barrow on keys and John Trenholm on drums. They were the Davis Ward band for about 5 years until Jones joined them a year ago and they morphed into Davey Jones, a band that plays everything “from Stompin’ Tom to Ozzy,” Ward said.

Back at my table, a few ladies sit down and we chat. I’d been making jokes earlier in the evening about embarking on an Anthropological study of Cougars, but I am polite and try not to stereotype. Of course I have to laugh when one of the ladies, a cute blond admittedly over 40, states that she doesn’t date anyone over half her age.

The talk shifts to music and another of the ladies, Angela Bryan of Cornwall, tells me she likes Davey Jones because they stay true to the songs. “They do their own thing but they are not trying to overdo what the artist already did,” she said.

Eventually I get up and dance and I quickly discover how unifying it can be when a band rocks out to a tune that everyone knows. Even an Indie music fan like me could appreciate the feeling of inclusion on the dance floor with everyone belting out lyrics and throwing arms around the shoulders of strangers. I’m not a fan of dancing but when the last few notes of Sweet Caroline play to end the night I feel I can go on for hours.

There is a formula to songs that get people dancing, Ward explains in an interview the next day. “140 beats a minute in the key of E,” he quotes a member of AC/DC. This formula, (Michael Jackson’s song Beat It for example) gets people dancing. “It’s called the white man shuffle,” Ward laughs, referring to the male standby of shimmying from one foot to the other.

Regardless of this formula people enjoy Davey Jones because they pull of a great show. “I love to entertain people,” Ward said. And this really is clear when Davey Jones is performing. Ward may not be the partier he once was when he was opening for David Wilcox and Ronnie Hawkins, but he can still rock.

Something Special

PEI Music Awards

by Jaclyn Killins

Kerri Wynn MacLeod (photo: pixbylorne)As a girl from Ontario I feel like I’m crashing a party when I get to experience the intimate yet endless talent of the music scene on PEI, so I was feeling giddy when I scored tickets to the PEI Music Awards.

A devout CBC listener, I wasn’t familiar with host Kerri Wynne MacLeod before the show, now I feel I may know too much about her. MacLeod started the candid hilarity when she admitted finding out there wasn’t a podium this year made her reevaluate her choice of undergarments. From politics to ex-boyfriends, nothing was off limits and when a young audience member started chirping, MacLeod was quick to sass back.

My favorite performance was by Meaghan Blanchard who turned out to be the big winner of the night with four awards. Move over Anne of Green Gables there’s a new redhead on the scene. Blanchard’s music really gets to me, and I’m surely not alone. It didn’t matter how many times she was called up to the stage, I don’t tire of her charm, just as I don’t tire of her music.

Meaghan Blanchard (photo: pixbylorne)

Kris Taylor, who caused a few sniffles in the crowd with his song about his grandfather, tied with New Royalty for Pop Recording of the Year, baffling drummer Tristan Gray of New Royalty who said: “This wasn’t supposed to happen.” It wasn’t a surprise to me, the kids of New Royalty are fun to watch and they put together a great album in Sleepover. 

Another favorite for me was Vishten who performed their song “Monsieur Matou.” Whenever I see this band perform there is this moment, when toe tapping becomes foot stomping, when I feel completely happy. Vishten took home two awards and I got a laugh when Kerri Wynne MacLeod prompted Vishten’s Pascal Miousse to repeat his speech in French and he didn’t seem to realize she was hitting on him.

John Connolly (photo: pixbylorne)John Connolly began the second half of the evening with his song Sunbird, which always makes me think of my first car. I made the mistake of listening to Sunbird while driving the other day and found that my foot went straight to the floor. It’s a great driving song but be warned, it causes speeding! By the end of the night Connolly was the winner of three awards.

With Pat Deighan on vacation in Africa, bassist Dan Wagner and guitar player John Mullins accepted the award for Alternative Recording of the Year (a tie with Connolly). “I thought you were going to win. I kind of regret voting for you now,” Wagner joked to Connolly.

How I managed to never catch a Grass Mountain Hobo show when they played 70 shows this summer is beyond me. I was delighted to finally experience the music of this rag-tag bunch of talented guys in old-timey outfits. The Hobos took home three awards including fan choice awards Weekend Warrior and Entertainer of the Year.

Grass Mountain Hobos (photo: pixbylorne)

I was surprised to see obvious crowd favorites Smothered In Hugs go home empty handed, but it goes to show how tough the competition was.

The tribute Marcella Richard played to her partner Ken MacCaull who was memorialized with a lifetime achievement award, was touching, even with my shoddy French comprehension, and I was glad to be exposed to her band. The College of Piping tribute to the late Scott MacAulay, who received a posthumous lifetime achievement award, almost brought a tear to my boyfriend’s eye while the highland dancers dazzled me.

At the end of the awards show John Connolly, in characteristic positivity and grace, summed up the year.

“This is a time we’re going to look back on fondly because the music that’s coming out of PEI right now is really special.”

All PEI Music Awards Gala photographs are by PixbyLorne.

 

Moe Hashie

A 
Different Drummer
by Jaclyn Killins

Moe Hashie

Some of Moe Hashie’s most euphoric moments have taken place while sitting on his drum stool. The first time he got this feeling was when he was at a gig at the legion when he was 16 years old. “I’m always trying to reach that euphoria, I strive for it,” he said.

Moe explains that this feeling of elation stems from an intangible reciprocation between band mates. “When you’re playing in a band and everything is gelling. You get moved by the music,” he said.

Moe Hashie is the drummer for the band Edge based in Summerside. This band has been rocking the Island for 10 years, picking up two P.E.I. Music Awards in 2006, Entertainer of the Year and Weekend Warrior.

Moe and his band put on a music festival called Edgefest about five times a year at the Shipyard in Summerside. During these mini festivals it is not out of the ordinary for the band to be performing in front of a 500 person capacity crowd.

A second CD is in the works for Edge and if all goes well it will be released in the spring.

Moe runs Music Rocks Academy in Summerside, a business that offers lessons for drums, guitar, bass, voice, piano, violin and mandolin. They also offer dance instruction in hip-hop and jazz.

Over the past 16 years Moe has taught approximately 150 drum students and about 50 guitar students and he finds this very rewarding. Recently he took in a concert at Summerside Intermediate School where he got to watch some of his students shine, Moe said. “There’s nothing more gratifying for a teacher than to see the confidence.”

One of Moe’s students is a talented 14 year old who is so advanced in his drumming he is working with fourth year University material. “I just hope that he surpasses me,” Moe said.

Moe, who has been playing drums since he was five years old, has lent his skill in the studio for about 20 musicians, Catherine MacLellan and David Rashed of Haywire to name a few. “My first studio session was a Christmas album when I was 15,” he said.

Moe sings and plays guitar and bass, but drums are his passion. He says drummers are more apt than other musicians to be fanatical about their instrument and he a prime example of this. He collects drums, he tunes drums and he is hoping to start making custom drums in the near future. “We dream about drums, we talk about drums, we read drummer magazines…”

www.edgerocks.ca, www.musicrocksacadamy.com

Brady MacDonald

A 
Different Drummer
by Jaclyn Killins

Brady MacDonlad

Powerhouse rock band Battery Point has one of the most entertaining drummers on the Island in Brady MacDonald. Stick tricks and talent aside, it's the fire with which the 25 year old hits the drums that makes him mesmerizing.

When he plays he is terrifying. With eyes alight and teeth clenched the usually sweet, fun loving Brady turns into a demon on the drums. His enthusiasm is a force that pumps up the crowd and draws them in.

"I try to put on a good show, something visual rather than just sitting back and playing," he said.

At a recent band showcase, Batter Point caught the eye of an American booking agent, who is rumoured to have been unable to take his eyes of off this spectacular drummer.

Brady draws inspiration from hard rock drummers like Bryan Mantia of Guns and Roses and Tommy Lee of Motley Crue.

He and his older brother Craig, who plays bass for Battery Point, have been playing music together for 14 years.

When Craig's rock band Chamberlane needed a drummer 11 years ago Brady was an obvious choice despite the fact that he was 14. "I started playing in their old rehearsal rooms," Brady said.

On the patio of a now defunct Charlottetown bar called Melons, Brady and Fugato drummer Jon Holmes struck a deal to trade drums. The kit Brady now plays is the same one Jon played in the bands Supercar and Port Citizen. He has grown quite fond of Jon's set. "He's never getting it back," Brady laughs.

The kit is straightforward Pearl, except for the snare, which is a 13-inch tom Amiel Leblanc converted to a snare. Brady originally had this drum made as a back up but it eventually found its way to the starting lineup when he randomly threw it on in the recording studio and gave it a try. He liked the way it had a marching band sound mixed with rock and roll deepness and has stuck with it ever since.

The trade between Jon and Brady epitomizes the sense of camaraderie between drummers on the Island. Growing up in the music scene, Brady found other drummers and musicians were always keen to help him out. And Brady himself keeps up the tradition, always willing to fill in for a cover band or help someone in a pinch.

With their new record, A Kick in the Blood, in stores and international interest, Brady and his band have a lot to look forward to.

David Cyrus MacDonald


A Different Drummer
by Jaclyn Killins

David Cyrus MacDonald

Before a recent show in Peterborough, Ontario the Paper Lions mulled about their tour van. Drummer David, clad in red plaid, mustachioed with blue eyes peeking from long bangs, produced a cooler full of PEI oysters and started shucking, handing out oysters to locals and friends alike.

No matter their success, the Paper Lions remember where they come from. “My whole way of life is rooted in the PEI way of life,” David said. And that includes handing out oysters to strangers in parking lots.

When David was in grade 6, he drummed for his first band, UFO Tofu. He played in bands throughout high school and University and in the spring of 2004 the Paper Lions were formed.

He studied percussion at UPEI with David Sheppard and then went on to teachers college, but for now he is enjoying life as a full-time musician.

David’s kit was custom built by Island drum-maker Amiel LeBlanc. Encircling each drum are words from a poem David’s father, Hugh MacDonald, wrote called “Chicken Legs” about David stepping off the ice after a hockey game as a child and feeling big.

His kit includes two snare drums: a conventional snare in the normal position between the knees, and a popcorn snare attached to the high hat stand. He tunes the regular snare low for “fat back beats” and the popcorn snare high for a “crisp sound.”

Alone on the drums, David practices what he calls the “clinical” aspect of his play. He works diligently on technical skills, expanding and maintaining his chops. When he practices with the band, he likes to try out different ideas. “I’ll try things that sound stupid and try to reel it in to a concise pattern and try to make it hooky and riffy,” he said.

When David is feeling creative he often finds himself on the piano. He contributes “snippets of lyrics and melodic ideas” to the Paper Lions but admits he is more comfortable as a lyricist than a songwriter. He’s got writing in his blood and has been known to fill long hours on tour typing away on a blackberry.

One of the most notable things about David is he is a vocalist as well as a drummer. The Paper Lions are well known for their strong harmonies and David plays an essential role in this.

Besides being a solid driving force in the band, David steps up during performances, leading the band with spirited bongo playing and an astonishing four-drumstick solo.

Decades of Song


Abegweit Chimes Perform in Charlottetown and Summerside

by Jaclyn Killins

Abegweit Chimes '08

Before I sat in at an Abegweit Chimes practice I thought a barbershop chorus was made up of robust men in suits and saddle shoes. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Thriving on Prince Edward Island is an award-winning a capella chorus made up of 36 vibrant and talented women of all ages.

The Abegweit Chimes sing four-part harmonies a capella in the barbershop style. Their sound is full and complex and has been sending shivers down spines for 26 years.

The Chimes will perform a show entitled “Decades of Song” on November 8 at 7:30 pm at the Confederation Centre of the Arts Mainstage Theatre in Charlottetown, and November 9 at 2:00 pm at the Harbourfront Theatre in Summerside. Tickets are $17 for general admission and are available from the box office or from Chime members.

Money raised from performances and fundraisers goes toward travel and education. In the past coaches from Texas, Chicago and Halifax have been brought in to help the group hone their skills.

Songs ranging from the 1920s to the 1990s will be performed in a variety show format. Expect to be mesmerized by the layers of sound, captivated by the chorography and dazzled by the costumes. “It’s an energetic chorus, visually pleasing as well as musically pleasing. Something happens at all times. This is really a performing art,” said Myrt McCardle director of the Abegweit Chimes. Along with the chorus, two quartettes from the Chimes will perform as well as soloist Mary Capper.

Wayne Collins, former CBC personality, and honorary member of the chimes will be master of ceremonies and Island favorites, The MacRae Brothers, will perform two sets of their Celtic Yarns.

The Chimes are members of Harmony, Inc., an international women’s singing organization dedicated to education and camaraderie through democratic principles. As members of the organization the Chimes compete annually in regional competitions and in 2006 and 2007 they won. This year they placed second.

Mothers, daughters, sisters, aunts, nieces and grandmothers come together in the group over the common love for singing. For many of the women involved the group is a labour of love, a challenging activity they approach with enthusiasm. It is a sisterhood of sorts, with the members sharing laughter and adventures on their annual trips to competitions. During times of sorrow, the group rallies around in support, singing at funerals and providing a collective shoulder to cry on.

For information check out their website at www.abegweitchimes.ca or contact Mary at 902-436-8603.

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