Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Last Month's Poll Results & This Month's New Poll!!

It's now time to wrap up last month's poll and launch a new one on the SMS, and with last month's turnout, I am more optimistic than I have been in a long time! As you may remember, we posed this question last month: What was your favourite new local metal, hard rock, or punk band of 2018? In a stunning turn-around from our last polls on here, 20 readers cast votes, which is extremely encouraging, and I thank all of you who voted! Maybe fewer choices helped? In any event, here are your final results!

Re:Born (9 votes, 45%)
Parabol (7 votes, 35%)
Coral Fang (4 votes, 20%)
Poison Girl (0 votes)
Other (0 votes)

What do you guys think? Well, in a small crop of debuting heavier bands last year, the results are pretty clear, and while last fall's crop of debuting tribute bands got a lot of attention, no one won more fan votes than Re:Born, the Project 421-succeeding power rock quintet who made a big impression in their first three shows. With pre-made chemistry, familiar old school metal and hard rock covers, and carried over 421 originals, the guys got off to a strong start last year, but how will they look and sound with Elly on vocals? Hopefully we'll know soon! A strong second place went to Parabol after their show-stealing gigs late last year, while fellow Halloween weekend debutantes Coral Fang also won their share of votes, proving that Tool and The Distillers have big followings around here! Unfortunately, no one cast votes for Coral Fang's sister HIM tribute band Poison Girl, but they also haven't played live more than once. Hopefully everyone stays busy in 2019, and that even more new bands turn up!

Congratulations to Re:Born on winning the poll, and thanks to everyone for voting! As for this month, we are continuing with our "favourite _____ of 2018" polls by posing this question to you guys: "What was your favourite new local metal, hard rock, or punk album of 2018?" Last year saw a surprisingly strong crop of local album releases, so there should be no shortage of choices for readers, but can we get a similarly good vote total this month? To make the poll, albums must have seen their initial paid release (including "name your price" offerings) occur between January 1st and December 31st of last year, with reprintings, singles, exclusively free albums, and paper-sleeve demos excluded. Notably, this affects Chase Wigmore's 2018 output, as his unfinished 12 EPs of Christmas series was solely posted for free before the 2019 calendar year began, but he does have an album in the poll still, and you can always vote for "Other" if need be. As well, artists with multiple similar releases are grouped together. Now, here are you 12 choices, plus "Other"!

Abhorrent Forest - To See Eternity: A return to their original black metal form after their late 2017 ambient EP "Ethereal", solo project Abhorrent Forest quietly released their third EP "To See Eternity" in March. Updates haven't followed publically since, so this could prove to be Wyrn's swan song for this project, but did you take to their dark instrumental metal onslaught the most in this poll?

Crucify The Whore & Chase Wigmore - A Couple of Degenerate Bastards: After a lengthy dormant period, goregrind solo project Crucify the Whore began ramping up public activity again last year, punctuated with the release of a split album alongside past collaborator and fellow prolific solo artist Chase Wigmore. The divided nature of the online release and the limited physical availability haven't helped exposure, but would you vote for "A Couple of Degenerate Bastards" here?

The Din - Suburban Sendoff: Four months after ending their active run with their Suburban Sendoff farewell concert at LopLops Lounge, local alt-hard rock trio The Din released a live album of the same name featuring the whole 90+ minute show's soundboard recording. Featuring The Din's only electric album version of "We Met As Surrogates" and a Gord Downie tribute cover of "Blow At High Dough", this lived up to the hype, but does it earn your vote?

Any of Mike McCleary's 2018 albums: Prolific local hard rock musician and activist Mike McCleary had a very busy first half of 2018, which saw him release "Hourglass", "Weight of the Truth", a heavily revised re-release of "In Ruins", "The Party Album", and "What You've Done To Me", and don't forget his "Weight of the World" compilation either! There's a lot to take in from Mike in a short time, but his talent and messages speak volumes, and were any your individual favourite?

Mike Haggith - From The Nickel Stage: For his first solo album release in three years, Din frontman kicked off his Thompson, Manitoba era with "From The Nickel Stage", a live EP comprising his headlining set at last summer's Nickel Fest in Thompson. Also serving as a preview of his upcoming studio album "Bridges" (with only 2 performed songs not expected for it), this well received show comes through well on the live album, but was it your favourite local album of 2018?

Mike Vincent - Apocalypse or Ultimate Chaos: A familiar sight from bands like The Bear Hunters, D.O.T.H., and Skull After Betrayl, Mike Vincent released his first two solo albums on March 25th of last year. Showcasing his musical maturity across 22 instrumental tracks, these albums flew under the radar somewhat, but did one/both of Mike's debut solo albums top last year?

Northwest - Songs From 2015-2017: The last SMS-covered local album release of 2018 came from veteran indie/punk quintet Northwest, who launched their second EP "Songs From 2015-2017" on December 22nd at their CD release party at LopLops Lounge. Featuring some added musical diversity and maturity on their new material, fans enjoyed Northwest's sophomore effort, and it no doubt helped their 2019 CBC Searchlight run, but would you vote for it?

Redundant - Redundant: After years of recording sessions failed to lead to a proper release, Redundant finally recorded their self-titled debut EP last year, even giving the EP it's first physical release at their Vans Warped Tour stop in Toronto in July! Featuring three originals and two Scary Uncles carry-overs, "Redundant" was well received by fans of the guys' upbeat punk rock attack, but was this your favourite local release of 2018?

Shit Liver - Hitting The Fan: Arguably the highest profile local album release of last year from a heavier or punk band, fan favourite grindcore trio Shit Liver finally put out their second studio album "Hitting The Fan" in March, coinciding with a high profile Canadian support tour, including a well received headlining concert at The New A.  Exclusively released on vinyl for physical copies, fans of Shit Liver's brutal live show definitely took to their devastation, but would you pick it here?

Sykotyk Rampage - Live At The Paris Hilton: While their live concert hiatus has no end in sight, "the original crash band" Sykotyk Rampage re-emerged in April with "Live at The Paris Hilton", their first brand new album release since 2016. A faux live album combining new tracks and select re-recordings from their extensive back catalog, this was a fun return to form for the Beckers and company, but is your environ-mental suit ready to vote?

Any of SweetKenny's 2018 score albums: A quieter but still busy year from Dafter, Michigan solo artist Kenneth "SweetKenny" Sutton saw him release four score albums, including "Escape of the Desert Rat", "Music For The Body", "Management", and "Monster", all intended for usage as soundtrack music for other media. The wait for a traditional follow-up to "In Your Face" continues, but did Ken's skilled and prolific score albums win you over compared to other albums?

Telephone & Address - Monster: Almost three years after being announced, garage/punk solo project Telephone & Address released their fifth CD "Monster" (no relation to the SweetKenny score of the same name) last February. An electric lo-fi album like it's predecessor, "Monster" would prove to be the Chris Shoust-led band's final public activity before falling inactive, but did he end this period on a high note via this album?

Other: Did we miss an album you'd rather vote for? Did I forget a metal, hard rock, or punk release from a locally-based act in 2018? Would you rather vote for an album from a band outside of our genre range, or even the Soo area? Maybe you liked a free album more than something that was for sale? If, for whatever reason, your preferred choice isn't here, "Other" is for you!

VOTE TODAY! You guys have until February 18th or so to cast your votes, and it'll be interesting to see how this goes, especially with the uptick in votes from our last poll! That's all for today, but stay tuned for more news and notes in the coming days! Thanks everyone!

Monday, February 18, 2019

Local Metal Video Showcase!!

Today's post features lots of new videos and some more recent updates from a handful of diverse local musicians, and we'll start with a new demo/highlight video from Sault Michigan classical metal project Theatre of Night's second Christmas tour last year, as uploaded to their YouTube channel on Saturday! This clip combines audio and video footage from the tour dates, plus select photographs and band artwork, to create a best-of montage of sorts. Some of the zoomed in live concert clips don't look familiar, so hopefully that footage can find it's way online in a fuller form, but you'll recognize much of it from prior full concert videos they posted online. The quality is inconsistent, but this is a nice way to look back on the Christmas tour and presumably preview the third installment for later this year, and it looks like a good time was had throughout, so give it a look below!

Next up, here's some rare live concert footage of local hard rock singer/guitarist Tym Morrison, as live streamed from Room 21's Facebook page during his acoustic show there on Friday! This isn't the first such concert of his there that the venue live streamed, but the prior clip was from an open mic night. Two songs were separately filmed on Friday, with Tym covering Oasis' "Wonderwall" and, as embedded below, The Tragically Hip's "Blow at High Dough". As this is a solo performance, the vertical camera angle is fine for these videos, and gathered fans seem receptive to Tym's skilled covers! Give Tym's new Room 21 videos a look above & below!

We'll close with some new videos and updates from both performers on the "A Couple of Degenerate Bastards" split, including goregrind solo project Crucify the Whore! Two weeks ago, project leader Tyler Gibson noted on their Facebook page that he has "got some big show announcements" coming up, and he also had plans to upload another EP of some kind. Not much has followed on either front, but stay tuned for updates! Most recently, C.T.W. posted this new 100 second long jam session video on Friday, which features a strong guitar performance along with effective lighting. Vocals are still an acquired taste, but long time fans will want to check this out below!

Finally for today, here's the latest video postings on local alt-folk/metal solo musician Chase Wigmore's Facebook page! One is an audio recording shared from Chase's personal Facebook page on Saturday entitled "Detective Dick Jerkins, P.I." (again borrowing his Awokest alias for the obvious detective pun), featuring Chase speaking in an intense narrator voice about the title character. Effective for what it is, it'd be interesting to see the story be fleshed out further! Embedded below is this 78 second original clip featuring Chase performing three separate instrumental tracks combined into one clip. Sort of a progressive metal jam, the song sounds very promising, and the separate video tints are a nice touch, but the clip ends too abruptly. Hopefully there's more to come like this from Chase and/or Awokest, and give Chase's newest uploads a look above & below!

That's all for now, but stay tuned for last month's poll results and our newest poll on the site next! Thanks everyone!

Saturday, February 16, 2019

LOCAL CONCERT ALERTS (Parabol & The Elements), The Studio 10 Fire, And Much More!!

Here's a new news post for your Saturday afternoon reading, so what can you find here? A bunch of assorted updates, some overdue coverage on a devastating news event from earlier this week, and leading off, some LOCAL CONCERT ALERTS for next month. Here's what you should know!

Local funk/hard rock quartet The Elements will reprise their role as backing musicians for another round of live band karaoke at The Rockstar Bar on Saturday, March 16th as part of their St. Patrick's Day weekend festivities! An encore for this style of event that debuted last month, The Elements proper will rock out with karaoke singers (and Rob presumably when none are ready) on this night, though it'll be a special abbreviated gig, as they will immediately follow a triple header of out of town stand-up comedians, the first such booking from Six, Two, Oh.. It'll be interesting to see how that event does, so click here for full details on the performers and admission info therein! As such, The Elements' set proper will have a late start time of 12:00 AM, technically placing it at the beginning of St. Patrick's Day itself, so what better way to ring in the holiday? Yes, The Rockstar Bar will have green beer.

A presentation of (Choose) Maxx Entertainment, this concert is definitely 19+, and while the stand-up comedy show has a $5 cover charge, I don't think that would apply if you just came at midnight to see The Elements and/or sing karaoke with them. Looks like a fun night of diverse entertainment next month to get in touch with the Irish spirit with, and The Elements should deliver some hard rocking tunes, with or without karaoke singers! Visit the official Facebook event page for more details!

Next up, The Elements aren't done for shows at The Rockstar Bar next month, as they'll reprise their Red Hot Chili Peppers tribute band alter ego on Saturday, March 23rd when they open for new local Tool tribute band Parabol once again! Basically a direct encore to the two bands' joint tribute concert at the same venue in December, this will be Parabol's third public concert appearance, their first of 2019, and first since confirming their permanent name. With this local supergroup's faithful sounding and technically proficient tribute to Tool winning them many fans last year, how will they perform for concert #3 next month? Of course, The Elements are no strangers to The Chili Peppers, but on March 23rd, they'll take on a temporary tribute band moniker, performing under the name Scar Tissue. Fitting name, but given Jesse Cook's involvement, I'm surprised they don't just recycle the name of his 2007-2008 Chili Peppers tribute band Sikamikanico.

Another presentation of Maxx Entertainment, this concert has a $5 cover charge, a 19+ age limit, and a 9:00 PM start time. This should be a fun night of familiar tunes from two proficient and chemistry-filled tribute acts, so visit the official Facebook event page for more on Parabol and "Scar Tissue" returning to The Rockstar Bar next month!

Also today, I thought I should give some overdue thoughts on a recent major news event, namely the severe fire at The Dime Nightclub (better previously known as Studio 10) this past Sunday and Monday. As well documented in local news media, the 89 Hudson Street venue and it's on-site apartment buildings were destroyed by the fire, which police are not treating as suspicious, and the fire unfortunately took the life of a 60 year old tenant (our best thoughts and wishes are with his family and friends.) The remnants of the building have since been torn down, and you can read more on the fire proper and response on relevant news websites. Though primarily known in recent years for it's exotic adult entertainment, SMS readers will recall Studio 10 as the host of a handful of Havadder concerts from 2014-2016, while it was a far more active concert venue in the 1970s and 1980s, playing host to numerous bands back when it was known as The New Ontario Hotel.

As it wasn't a regular concert venue for most of my adulthood, I can't remark first hand on Studio 10/The Dime, but it's unfortunate to lose a familiar downtown venue that provided entertainment, employment, and a home for many locals. Visit local news websites for much more on the fire and response, and our best goes out to every employee, tenant, and customer affected by this devastating event.

Finally for today, here's three shorter news items from the last while, and as usual, these are in alphabetical order by event, venue, or page name:

  • Algoma Ride For Autism is looking for bands to play during this year's charity motorcycle rally on Friday, June 14th. No word on location or timing, but for reference, local punk trio Redundant were among performers at last year's official afterparty at The Verdi Hall, while prior years featured live bands before the rally. If you're interested in playing this year, contact organizers at this link, and stay tuned for updates as they roll in!
  • Local arts & culture Facebook page SooSpin is looking for local albums on CD or vinyl for an unspecified project. I have no insider knowledge on what they're doing, but if you're interested in donating or loaning any local albums, contact SooSpin at this link!
  • A SaultOnline article by Megan Pounder from Sunday speculates that The Tech may have closed for good, based on inspection notices being posted on the front door, businesses moving out, and calls to building owners going unanswered. SMS readers will best know the former Lakeway/St. Mary's building and it's W.W. Baldwin Auditorium as an occasional concert venue for events like The Sky's The Limit, The Soo's Got Talent, and The Din's CD release party. A positive picture wasn't painted by SaultOnline, but hopefully things get resolved for all parties, and that 130 Wellington Street East finds a permanent use again down the road!

That's all for today, but stay tuned for more news and updates on the site next week! Thanks everyone!

Thursday, February 14, 2019

LOCAL CONCERT ALERTS (Highway 63, Project 906, Soundcheck, And Tym Morrison!!)

Let's get this weekend's hard rock concert previews on the site today, and as luck would have it, all of today's covered artists have SHORT NOTICE LOCAL CONCERT ALERTS tied to this weekend's previews! I apologize in advance for that, I'd have covered them in advance had I known about them even last week! However, a couple of new shows in this post have advance notice, and three other previewed shows for this weekend had prior word too. Now, here's what you should know in rough chronological order!

Joining his previously announced Gliss Restaurant gigs TOMORROW & SATURDAY and his Room 21 concert on SATURDAY NIGHT, local hard rock solo artist Tym Morrison will play a special Valentine's Day matinee at Gliss TONIGHT as well! Apologies for the short notice on that concert, Tym only announced it via it's Facebook event page earlier this week, and it was definitely not previously announced with his early 2019 regular Gliss bookings, as he's not playing Thursday every week like he did at Gliss' old location from January-June. A busy stretch is ahead for Tym, who has a one week return to his old triple bookings at Gliss this weekend (including TONIGHT), while fans who prefer a traditional nighttime concert can see him at Room 21 above Low & Slow on Saturday, so you guys have plenty of options for his prolific batch of rock covers! TONIGHT'S Valentine's Day Gliss show has a special earlier start time of 5:00 PM, while the two regular gigs are still at 6:00 PM.

Those concerts remain free with no age limits, but again, this is a sit-down formal restaurant. Meanwhile, Saturday's Room 21 concert is a 10:00 PM affair with no cover and a 19+ age limit. Visit the Facebook event pages linked here & here and the above links for more details, and here's Tym live!

Next up, local classic/hard rock cover quartet Soundcheck will return to The Esquire Club for concerts TOMORROW & SATURDAY NIGHT! Again, apologies for the short notice, we only heard about these shows via the Sault Music News Letter Facebook page on Tuesday (as backed up by personal Facebook postings from band members), though there has not been a public acknowledgement of them via the band's Facebook page at press time. Last seen on a public stage at Bon Soo, this will be Soundcheck's first concert weekend at The Esquire Club in just over a month. With their brand of old school and fan favourite covers, Soundcheck should deliver another fun weekend of hard hitting tunes TOMORROW & SATURDAY NIGHT, so keep these in mind if you're near the west end! Expect 10:00 PM start times, 19+ age limits, and no cover charges. Visit the above links for more details, and here's Soundcheck live in concert last year!

Heading to Sault Michigan and area next, local blues/hard rock quartet Project 906 will make their debut at Snow's Bar & Grill in nearby Cedarville TOMORROW NIGHT, before returning to The Strongs Tavern in Eckerman on SATURDAY NIGHT! Apologies again for the short notice, both shows were only announced via the band's Facebook page on Monday. These will be Project 906's first publically announced gigs (last week's retirement party excepted) of 2019, with TOMORROW'S being the first show we've ever plugged at Snow's Bar & Grill, who only appear to book live bands infrequently. Oddfellow aside, Cedarville doesn't really turn up in our coverage, but 906 picked a good weekend to head to 1187 Park Avenue, as this is Snowsfest weekend in Hessel & Cedarville! Click here for details on non-musical events at this annual festival. Meanwhile SATURDAY'S Strongs Tavern show will be their first there since November.

Short notice or not, at least we caught wind of this one before it took place! If you're up for a hour's trip west, Project 906 should be up to their usual tricks there, and hopefully both of these regional shows are hits! As best as I can tell, both of these shows are 9:00 PM affairs with no announced cover charges and 21+ age limits. Visit the above links for more details, and here's Project 906 live in Strongs last year!

Finally, local classic/hard rock quartet Highway 63 have more new gigs listed on Kewadin Casino's entertainment page for this year, starting with their long awaited return to The Rapids Lounge at the Sault Ste. Marie Kewadin Casino TOMORROW & SATURDAY NIGHT! Once again, apologies for the short notice, we only learned of these shows in the past week, though unlike their last shows, the band has since acknowledged them on their Facebook page. This will be Highway 63's first concert weekend at the Soo Kewadin since the end of 2016, when the guys took a break from shows there to do "some travelling", and combined with their 2018 hiatus, they're only now returning to The Rapids Lounge over two years later. You can read into the "travelling" verbiage all you want, but it's awesome to see the Switzers and company back at this familiar venue TOMORROW & SATURDAY after far too long! This will also be their first Sault Kewadin weekend since George Belleau, Justin Lawless, and Brian Drumheller joined their expanded lineup.

Meanwhile, two more mid-year concert weekends at the St. Ignace Kewadin have also been announced for The Northern Pines Lounge in St. Ignace, with Highway 63 returning there on May 3rd & 4th and June 14th-15th, so if you're up for a trip south, circle these dates on your calendar! TOMORROW, SATURDAY, and the St. Ignace shows are all at 9:00 PM with no cover charges and 21+ age limits. Highway 63 should deliver a fun weekend of hard and classic rock covers TOMORROW & SATURDAY NIGHT, so don't miss out then or later this year, see above for more details, and here they are live!

That's all for today, but stay tuned for more news and updates in the coming days! Thanks everyone!

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

LOCAL CONCERT ALERT (Slaughter), Two Inactive Band Notes, And More SMS Band Link Updates!!

While the snow continues to pile on outside, here's a new news post to check out on this Tuesday evening! We're mostly addressing updates to and removals from our band links today, but to lead off, here's a big LOCAL CONCERT ALERT for later this year!

Las Vegas glam metal veterans Slaughter will make their long awaited return to our area on Saturday, June 29th when they rock Kewadin Casino... in St. Ignace?! Best known from hit singles like "Up All Night", "Fly To The Angels", and "Real Love", this will be Slaughter's first regional concert appearance since opening for Stryper at the Sault Michigan Kewadin in 2012, and their third local gig since 2008, but now they're headlining with their high energy classic hard rock! Pasadena glam/hard rock quartet Autograph (of "Turn Up The Radio" & "Blondes In Black Cars" fame) will open with their own familiar brand of 1980s rock action, so don't bypass their set either! Clearly, the St. Ignace summer concert series did well last year, as this Kewadin branch is booking even more touring bands for 2019, though the Slaughter show appears to be indoors at the casino's on-site event center. The location may be atypical for Kewadin-booked hair metal, but how do $10 tickets sound?

Yes, tickets are that low, and you can buy them starting Friday at 9:00 AM at this link, the Sault Kewadin's in-person box office, the gift shop at the St. Ignace Kewadin, or presumably at 1-800-KEWADIN. This show has no advertised age limits, and an 8:00 PM start time, and is presented by Classic Rock: The Bear (whose 95.3 signal is easily heard in St. Ignace, but only gets fringe reception in the Soo.) It'll be very interesting to see how this show does given the non-Sault locale, but if you love the Hair Scare and 1980s glam rock, you won't wanna bypass this show, especially at this price! See the official Facebook event page and the above links for more details!

Next up, we have regrettably moved local death metal project Life's Eclipse back to our inactive band links. While no public statements have been made regarding their current status, the band has not issued an update to their Facebook page since January 31st of last year, well past our one year inactivity cutoff. The flagship band of local independent label Werehold Records (both led by singer/guitarist Jason Mills), Life's Eclipse reunited in 2011 after a few years' hiatus, and had been active to varying degrees ever since as a studio project. Long-time readers may be most familiar with Life's Eclipse from their regular involvement in Werehold Records' nine Friday the 13th new music posting events from 2012-2017, often featuring songs from incomplete and unreleased albums. It should be noted that Werehold Records proper haven't updated their own Facebook page since 2017, and of their roster of metal/hard rock artists, only Moss remain in our active links.

I know that personal commitments have been at least partially to blame for the slowdown in Life's Eclipse/Werehold updates in the late 2010s, so a resumption of public activity could happen at any time pending availability and scheduling.  Life's Eclipse were a brutal, technical, and well-composed band when firing on all cylinders, and Jason & the Werehold roster had a lot of talent and ambition to go around! Despite not being known for live concerts, they flew the extreme metal flag well for the E.U.P., and hopefully we hear more from Jason, David, Joe, and Casey when the time is right!

Also, we have one more band to move to our inactive band links, namely Sault Ontario rap metal/party rock collective The Apocalypse Afterparty. While the band did publically acknowledge that "hibernation is ending" back in October, their Facebook page has quietly been taken down since, which (Destroilet aside) is historically a bad sign. In any event, the band had only posted once on Facebook in the past 15 months, and in lieu of the apparent deletion, they are now linked here via their Wix website. Active since 2014, this eclectic masked group evolved from a duo to a full live and studio band, though concerts were selective, often at private bookings or via short notice "pop-up" gigs. The Apocalypse Afterparty may best be known from their quartet appearance at the 2015 VM Radio Battle of the Bands at The Canadian Nightclub (surprisingly making the finals), while they released their EP "Bufflesnort" back in April 2017.

Whether or not you previously knew of X, Z, x, z, and company's real identities, The A.A. made their mark in the mid-2010s! With a unique stage presence, creative hybrid sound, gender-equal lineup, and imaginative back story, it's a shame that The Apocalypse Afterparty didn't play live more often, but hopefully we see Paul, Amanda, Sara, Sven, Rito, and former band members back out there down the line, masked or otherwise!

Finally, CBC Music closed it's artist page service on November 20th, due to the decrease in traffic and attention to band pages there compared to other social media services (you can read more on the decision at this link.)  This didn't receive the advance notice that PureVolume's closure had, so I unfortunately was unable to back up anything there from local artists, but much like PureVolume, I did recognize how little CBC Music (formerly CBC Radio 2) was used by local musicians in recent years. It was a useful and informative service in it's day, and I'll miss having it around! As of this month, we had only linked four local bands (all defunct) to CBC Music pages, so changes to our links are thankfully minimal, especially as only one didn't have an online band page elsewhere. With all of that said, I changed our links for defunct punk bands The 12 Gauge Ready and Glunk! to their MySpace pages, while replacing Burn The Past (previously known as Downshift) with their Bandcamp page.

The only removal was 2007-2012 local/Oil Springs metal band Sue Inside, who don't have a known online page outside of CBC. It's unfortunate to lose one of the oldest local death metal bands from our links, but hopefully Shane, Adam, and Jeff are still musically active out of town! Hopefully this all clears up the recent link changes, and in lieu of the CBC Music page deletions, maybe they'll bring their FM station here sooner or later? That's all for today, but stay tuned for weekend concert previews next. Thanks everyone!

Monday, February 11, 2019

Defunct Local Band Profile Series: The Small Town Rivals

After a slight delay, it's now time for this month's Defunct Local Band Profile, as part of our ongoing monthly feature series spotlighting inactive local bands (linked on the SMS) who may not be a functioning project anymore, but deserve a spotlight with current readers. This month's completely random selection features a few familiar faces for fans of modern punk rock locally, so here's what you should know on them!
The Small Town Rivals

Genre: Pop Punk/Alternative

Hometown: Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario/Whistler, British Columbia (the band later listed Toronto, Ontario in lieu of Whistler as a "current location")

Members: (Members not in their last full lineups in italics. Note that the band featured different live lineups depending on where the band was playing, a'la iT in the late 2000s, with Wayne and/or Jesse joined by bandmates local to their respective hometowns. Bassists and drummers who performed exclusively with the local version of The Small Town Rivals are appropriately credited.)

Wayne Watkins (Northwest, Nebraska Arms), vocals/guitar
Jesse Nelson, guitar
Mike Smykacz (Northwest), local bass
Scott Phillips, bass
Clint Wilson (Bankshot, Northwest, Late Shift), local drums
Liam Murray, drums

Dave Prendergast (Nebraska Arms, Gilmour), local bass
Marc Santos (Northwest, A Fall From Innocence), local drums

Audio/Video: The Small Town Rivals' non-local lineup released one EP to their Bandcamp page on November 9th, 2012, entitled "East vs. West", which is available on a "name your price" model. Video-wise, there's not a lot from this band (there's honestly more of two otherwise unrelated bands of the same name), but at least two videos exist publically, including a solo unplugged "late night stir fry edition" of their unreleased original "Algoma Steel", and as featured here, this studio preview clip from the EP sessions, as set to their song "Heartbreaks & Fairytales"!

Info/Analysis: Formed as a studio project between long-time friends Wayne Watkins and Jesse Nelson in 2010, The Small Town Rivals evolved into a formal live band by the following year after Jesse moved out east, debuting with shows locally (at the original Coch's Corner) and in North Bay in June 2011. Updates were minimal until the band's new lineup began writing for their "East vs. West" EP in 2012. After it's release, the band entered the CBC Searchlight contest in 2013, and returned for a few live concerts that May, opening for The Brains & The Penske File locally & playing at the annual Pouzza Fest in Montreal, while Wayne previously played an S.T.R.-branded acoustic show at Coch's Corner that March. After entering a Hockey Night In Canada song contest that fall, The Small Town Rivals quietly fell inactive and were effectively succeeded by Wayne's new fully local indie/punk band Northwest, which has since featured all but one of the local Rivals in their past or present lineups.

If you're familiar with Wayne, Mike, and Clint/Marc's work with Northwest, you'll be right at home with The Small Town Rivals, whose upbeat punk rock sound, Perry Farrell-esque vocals, and indie sensibility all translated to the later band. The guitar attack isn't as full, and the genre variations aren't as noticeable in studio material, but The Rivals had a strong chemistry and nice recording quality on songs like "Old Hollywood" & "Grave Digger", and they are definitely worth a listen for fans of Northwest and members' related projects! Hopefully Wayne & Jesse pick things up again!
I hope you guys liked this month's Defunct Local Band Profile! Next month in this series, we'll head back to Sault Michigan to close another 2-1-3-1-2-1 cycle between the Twin Saults, and our latest random selection has given us 2001-2008 Cedarville hard rock quartet Oddfellow! Look for that on or around March 10th, and stay tuned for more this week! Thanks everyone!

Sunday, February 10, 2019

LOCAL CONCERT ALERTS (415E), A New Battle Of The Bands, And Much More!!

Here's a new news post for you Sunday afternoon reading, and it includes some assorted recent updates, the latest from a prolific local solo artist, and preliminary details on the first local battle of the bands in far too long. First up though, here's some LOCAL CONCERT ALERTS for next month!

Reunited Sault Michigan hard rock quartet 415E will play their second concert weekend since their return on Friday, March 1st & Saturday, March 2nd when they rock The Northern Pines Lounge at the St. Ignace Kewadin Casino! While not yet publically acknowledged on their Facebook page (a vague hint last month aside), the shows were recently confirmed on Kewadin's entertainment page, as part of a mass listing of concerts at the Rapids and Northern Pines Lounges through June. There's not a lot of verifiable hard rock gigs that we didn't already know about, but we'll have a couple more later this week. This will be 415E's first concert weekend in St. Ignace since their final pre-hiatus gigs in July 2017, as well as their first St. Ignace appearances with new bassist Brett Blackwood and drummer Jason VanLuven, so if you missed last month's return weekend, here's your next chance! These 9:00 PM shows have a 21+ age limit and no cover charge.

With the stage rust shaken off last month, hopefully 415E have a great weekend at the Northern Pines Lounge next month, and might we finally get some new video footage of 415E with the new lineup in the near future? Visit the above links for more details, and stay tuned for updates as they roll in!

Next up, a battle of the bands will hit Sault Ontario this spring for the first time in almost two years, and a spot opening for The Killer Dwarfs is on the line! The event will be held at Soo Blaster on Friday, March 1st, where the winners will earn the opening slot for the highly anticipated Killer Dwarfs concert at the same venue on April 27th, a'la the early 2010s battles to find local openers for 3 Inches of Blood and Bam Margera. No competitors have been publically announced at press time, but promoter (and Rock Talk columnist) Ernest Skinner is looking for bands to play sets containing "4 or 5 of your best 80s-ish rock tunes." As such, it seems like bands playing songs in a similar orbit as The Killer Dwarfs would at least have a leg up. Full details aren't public yet (i.e. how judging is formatted, entry fees for bands and fans), but each participating band will get 5 tickets to The Killer Dwarfs show proper, and the winners will also get 5 more tickets and five $50 gift cards for Soo Blaster

The battle proper on March 1st has a 7:00 PM start time and a 19+ age limit, and for more details on attending and registrations, visit the official Facebook event page and/or message Ernest at this link. It's been a long wait since May 2017's NLFB Meltdown event at LopLops for another true battle of the bands in Sault Ontario, so this alone should warrant high interest on March 1st, but who all will enter? Stay tuned in the coming weeks for more information as it rolls in, and see above for more details!

Also, here's the latest from local solo hard rock artist Mike McCleary, who posted a lengthy message on his Facebook page on Wednesday to outline his recent work. In the post, Mike noted that he's been working on "heavier, more aggressive" music lately to challenge himself, and while much of his work during his recent musical hiatus related to political activism, that's not a theme in his newest music, specifically his upcoming EP "Propaganda Model", apparent cover art on the right. Mike outlined the lyrical inspiration for his newest songs, including a brand new track named "Y.V.L.M." that he posted onto his Soundcloud page, and the songs have an overarching theme against hate and racism. He was very blunt and direct in his write-up regarding his personal views, so keep that in mind just in case. Mike closed the post by saying that the EP "will be ready tomorrow night" (Thursday the 7th), but at press time, it has not fully posted in sale format that I can tell.

I don't know if "Propaganda Model" is indeed completely finished or not (or if it has more than the three publically unveiled songs), but it's great to see Mike back in his usual prolific mode for studio recordings, and I can't complain about a heavier album! If this does see a paid public release in February, it'll instantly become a favourite for our next CD review on the SMS, but stay tuned at the above links for more on "Propaganda Model"!

Finally for today, here's three assorted shorter news items from the last while, and as usual, these are in alphabetical order by artist or event name:

  • To help fundraise for this fall's third annual Oh!No concert festival in Leeburn, promoters Six, Two, Oh. will host another 1990s-themed dance party at The Rockstar Bar on March 15th, while also launching an "online fundraiser" a'la Kickstarter or GoFundMe. If you e-transfer donations, you'll get the associated perks for your contribution, ranging from personalized post cards ($5) to early bird tickets ($35) to a lifetime spot on the guest list ($1,000), among other rewards. It'll be interesting to see how well this does, and get more details above on how to make Oh!No III happen!
  • If you wondered why we didn't cover Sault Michigan hard rock quartet Project 906's late-notice show at Huck's Pub & Grill (formerly Joe's Bar & Grill) in Rudyard yesterday, it's because they played at guitarist Joe Jenkins' dad Jeff's retirement party. Even though the band publically acknowledged it, I typically don't cover shows here with an overtly personal nature like this, similarly to why we don't cover bands playing at stags & does. Hopefully their set was a hit, and best of luck to Jeff in retirement!
  • Former Suicide Kings guitarist Steven Flint is looking to jam "more often" with like-minded Sault Ontario musicians, though he is "not looking to play live". While he prefers to play guitar, and is looking primarily for bassists and drummers, Mourning Wood/Soundcheck fans will recall his skill on those instruments. If you're interested in jamming with Steven, message him at this link or via his Musicians Wanted Facebook group post from Friday!

That's all for today, but stay tuned for this month's Defunct Local Band Profile next! Thanks everyone!