Archive for May, 2016



hip mm ptragicallyhip_2331

Due out June 17th the Tragically Hip’s new album Man Machine Poem is a testament that the band’s connection and emotional resonance with fans has evolved together.

Off the top I can tell you that after five complete listens it becomes clear there are at least 4 or 5  songs on Man Machine Poem that will kill at radio, yet as a whole the album forges new sonic textures.

How is this possible?

The Hip simply remain true to what they do best.

And that is write memorable songs about life’s everyday experiences.

Like Blue Rodeo, Stompin Tom Connors, Tom Cochrane and even the game of hockey The Hip have faith that what they do matters to Canadians.

Opening the cd with the haunting song Man, the band goes dark pinned by a powerful vocal by singer Gord Downie.

It’s a gutsy type of psychedelia that gives way to a soon to be Hip classic on the next song In a World Possessed By The Human Mind.

Pulsating to the backbeat of Johnny Fay it shivers, and shakes your speakers with a 90’s Day for Night rumble.

What Blue is easily one of the band’s most vulnerable, loving, yet absorbed songs in the context of love.

If you could say this new song defines Gord Downie in the present so be it.

Yet again a laid back groove builds intense on the track Great Soul where Rob Baker and Paul Langlois’ guitars surround and weave hypnotic as Downie lays it bare.

Elsewhere the acoustic Tired As Fuck has a mid 90’s Trouble at the Henhouse feel.

The song suits perfectly to me at least the 2016 approach to the highs and lows and often mundane of what keeps us up at night.

Both Hot Mic and Here in the Dark could be live faves.

In fact, the whole band drives on both songs.

The tracks crackle with the inventive bass work of Gord Sinclair, and again the guitar weld of Langlois and Baker.

Drummer Johnny Fay pushes Downie to his front man best.

The pretty In Sarnia and Ocean Next are atmospheric and revealing, the latter in an almost Led Zeppelin acoustic mold.

Producers Kevin Drew and Dave Hamelin have somehow transformed New Hip vibes while never leaving the past too far in the rear view mirror.

Man Machine Poem proves beyond a doubt that as players and friends The Hip as a unit are one of the most exciting acts on any stage on any given night.

Even with such a storied catologue taking chances as they do on this album has never sounded so righteous.

NOTE. Album is due out June 17th

JOHN EMMS is a veteran music journalist, Post Media contributor and singer songwriter with Canuck Blues Rockers THE SHAFTMEN

JOHN is on Twitter







David Vest’s new album Devestatin’ Rhythm proves that despite technological advances you can’t beat a great blues combo that play with real feel.

Check out the new tracks Stop This Madness, or Staring Down the Barrel of The Blues. Great lyrics, solos that count and that storytelling vocal work by Vest.

Vest’s Mojo  is working’ folks.

If that was not enough the funky slinky The Blues Lives On with it’s name checking of artists is sublime and so is the solo piece Red Dirt Remedy.

Can’t say enough good things about the stellar guitar work of Teddy Leonard and band mates Gary Kendall and Mike Fitzpatrick

Talk about in the pocket!

Meanwhile tracks such as Kingsnake, West Coast Saturday Night and Biscuit Rollin Baby will get you out of your chair..

If you were born too late to experience rock n’ roll and blues in it’s purest form this is a good place to start.

JOHN EMMS is a veteran music journalist/Sun and Post Media contributor and singer-songwriter with Canuck Blues Rockers THE SHAFTMEN






SP 40

Chances are if an artist has songs that contain passion and integrity then Stony Plain or Holger Peterson on his Saturday Night Blues radio show have brought them to an International audience.

Stony Plain is a record company, Holger is a record man, these are records.

And may I say amen to that!

You have to know the difference between records and albums and cd’s and mass music.

When you dig that then you know why Peterson and Stony Plain stands for something

The great thing about Stony Plain’s 40th is that among the 57-track, three-CD album, you find gems of  music from singer/songwriters,  blues, R&B, gospel, swing, jazz genres and much more.

I can’t tell you how much of a thrill it was to find Bob Carpenter who I had never heard.

2 tracks Mister Blue and Satan’s Golden Chain have a tremendous impact on your gut emotion.

Ditto goes for the track Shingle by Shingle by Eric Bibb and also new tracks Mourning Dove by Paul Reddick, No More Cheap Wine by the great Colin Linden or Kenny Blues Boss Wayne’s new track Bankrupted Blues.

This is quality new music.

Maybe you want to hear James Burton, Albert Lee, Amos Garrett and the great David Wilcox recreate That’s Allright Mama or It Takes Time by Ronnie Earl and the Broadcasters.

One thing is certain you may want to pick up your guitar and woodshed a wee bit more after you hear the above mentioned.

This whole project is quality, care and passion.

JOHN EMMS is long time veteran music journalist, long time music lover and singer-songwriter with Canadian Blues Rockers THE SHAFTMEN

The band have released 3 albums and working  on their fourth..Check them out here






alpha omega 6

Since the late 90’s PREVAIL has been all over the world gigging. He recorded over 10 cd’s with Swollen Members many of them going Gold and Platinum. His new work is with this nephew in the group The Alpha Omega. We conducted an intelligent and insightful interview and I was excited to hear how urgent their new work is.
“Even though my nephew is in this project Alpha Omega and he is as you mentioned family we could not expect everything to correlate on stage or in the studio. Having said that I was overwhelmed by the progress we made from the beginning” explains Prevail calling in from Calgary about the group’s new EP The Strain.
“I even explained I could show him some short cuts and different styles but he wanted to develop his own style of writing and wordplay and he has turned into an amazing emcee in a short amount of time, adds the multi-Juno Award winner and gold and platinum selling artist and co-founder of Swollen Members.
Neph (Corey Joseph) is the elite of Vancouver’s next generation of hungry emcee’s, who has also been privy to the behind-the-scenes workings of the industry throughout his new career.
Together, Prevail and Neph form Alpha Omega.
To be sure, the new cd The Strain shows the duo in excellent form dropping big time hooks and excellent wordplay
Timmins fans will get to check out the show May 24th at the Working Class.
” I think on the new album as you mentioned and also the former cd The Concept some might say it is a not as dark and heavy as some of The Swollen stuff.
Initially we wanted to get out of the gate and have fun but on The Strain tracks like Ouroboros S.I.N.S. and Abyss we do have a heavy vocal tonality and the topics have some more meat lyrically.
I have to say this group has been a dream come true and I want to bring this project to as many people as possible”
Long known as one of one of Canada’s superb free stylers Prevail has not altered his lyric attack.
“Well, I like it when people don’t get the lyrics on the first listen says Prevail. I stick my lyrics in a compartment a lot like the bands I grew up listening to such as A Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul, Jungle Brothers and more. It’s later you might hear a line in the song and say ahh that’s what they are talking about.
Prevail is also old school in the way he starts to form his songs.
“Yes, I go with a pen and paper. Heck, I wear glasses and if I had to look at the keyboard every time I wanted to rhyme it would not work Prevail says with a laugh.
Having said that Neph or I may come in with some stuff but it’s really the passing off of improvised lyrics that is a great way to explore each others writing process”
With the enormous success of Swollen Members who released nine studio albums, one greatest hits album and 2 compilations Prevail considers this part of his career as important in every context.
” I think some artists may think you have to chase the last great single or album they made. It’s a dangerous mindset and I learned early on that you could get into trying to duplicate those feats and that limits you in creating new magic.
Just recently we did an all ages show and a young man around 13 says wow I really love Alpha Omega with Neph and I asked him how he heard abut us and he said his dad was really into Swollen Members but I love this thing. I think it’s great a new generation can take ownership of something now and later when they do some digging it will lend some substance to what they were already gravitating towards” says Prevail
“I have had a number of musical comrades say the feel they are watching the Prevail from 15 years ago and now with Neph and all the new songs I feel re-invigorated. We live for the live show and it is gong to be exciting”
JOHN EMMS is a veteran music journalist, Sun Media contributor, singer-songwriter with Canadian blues rockers THE SHAFTMEN
JOHN is also on TWITTER


MidnightShine-hires-29Alan DoyleIMG_2092 bnwcolin james jpegTC 5BR 2johnny reidsab-01-cameron-baileyjake and the funds


This year I thought we would go with an all Canadian list for our May Run PLAYLIST
As you know each year..we change the artist and song list..This year  North Bay, Timmins, Attawapisktat and more were included
For the most part, we tried to stay away from obvious hits.
You hear those all the time. I like to use the old school term even though all these tracks are downloadable, which makes it easy for me and you.
A drum roll please.
Midnight Shine -Northern Man-Attawapiskat and First Nations identity is a big part of this band’s sound. I just love the production values of the title track. You need this song and the whole album. A must have.
Alan Doyle- 1, 2, 3, 4-Doyle will be up in Kirkland Lake June 24th with the Arkells and both bands make this year’s list. High energy rocker from Doyle’s cd So Let’s Go.
Johnny Reid-When The Sun Goes Down-From his cd What Love is All About. Great roots based rocker, Johnny just has that killer voice. Heck there is even a snappy organ solo. Cool
Tom Cochrane-Sunday Afternoon Hang-“the drinks are cold and the days are hot” Are you kidding? Wow, this is a great summer or a May Run anthem from his latest cd Take It Home.
Colin James-Stay-Absolute fave. Heavy vocal from Colin. Great guitar tone, reminds of his version of a Rolling Stones feel. I pulled this from Take It From The Top, Best of Colin James
Lee Holmes-It’s No Secret-Iroquois Falls native and blues rocker who now does gigs in Italy a good part of the year. Solid album. Check it out.
Honeymoon Suite-What Does It Take-Since the band will be here in late August at the Kayak Fest we just had to include this classic ballad from their cd The Big Prize
SAB-Little Girl- From the cd Flyin High Livin Free-One of Sab’s catchiest songs. Nice baritone sax, cool vocals, guitar solo by Sab and the band sounds just right. Miss that guy big time!
Arkells-Come to Light-One of Canada’s most creative newer acts. From the cd High Noon.
Jake and the Fundamentals-Nothing But Fine-The boys from North Bay add to our list with this catchy blues rocker from their cd Blues & Rhythm.
The Shaftmen-Bright Lights Big City-The only cover we have done. Original by Jimmy Reed with this one. Jack De Keyzer produced and played on it and yes it rocks.
The Skydiggers-We Don’t Talk Much Anymore-When I feel a little low on relationships this is one of my fave drinking songs from the band. I pulled this from the 22 track cd The Truth About Us
Glorious Sons-Heavy-This is pure rock n roll new Canuck style. Catchy, riff hard and oh so good.
Coming to Timmins this summer. From the cd The Union.
Jeff Healey Band-Cruel Little Number-Back to the glory days from 1998. A more polished track, but either way one heck of a great artist and band.
Tragicailly Hip-Boots or Hearts-Classic Hip, but then it’s all classic. And it never falls apart even if Gordie says it does.
Powder Blues Band-What Have I Been Drinking-Classic Canuck blues from the great Vancouver band led by Tom Lavin. I love the live version from Montreux.
Blue Rodeo-Begging You To Let Me In-From one of my fave BR’ cd’s The Days In Between. Killer groove by drummer Glenn Milchem, Jim’s great vocal and a wacked out guitar solo. Never get tired of this track.
JOHN EMMS is a veteran music journalist, singer-songwriter with Canadian Blue Rockers-THE SHAFTMEN
John  is on TWITTER

May 2016