Friday, December 14, 2018

LOCAL CONCERT ALERT (Highway 63) & Our Theatre Of Night Concert Previews!!

As promise, our extended preview of this weekend's remaining Sault Michigan metal concerts makes up the bulk of this morning's post, including a new video of that band in action, but we are leading off with a LOCAL CONCERT ALERT for next weekend for you Yooper readers to check out! Here's what you should know!

Local classic/hard rock cover quartet Highway 63 will end their year+ concert hiatus at the previously teased Dondee Lanes concert on Saturday, December 22nd! The band termed this event as a "back on the road party", but the venue is calling this their Christmas party, and it will take place inside the bowling alley's nightclub, which was renamed from the Sportman's Lounge to the Double D Bar & Grill this fall, complete with it's own Facebook page. I don't know whether or not there were renovations in conjunction with the renaming, but the new moniker works well enough, and it has more allusions to the Dondee name than before! The Christmas party proper will be an all day event with drink specials and a pizza/wing buffet, but Highway 63's return set will cap off the night, in what will be their first public show since late 2017, and their first since drummer Justin Lawless & their yet-unrevealed new bassist replaced Ron Suchey & Chris Leask.

This should be a fine way for Highway 63 to resume their local run, with their new lineup and setlist in tow, so keep all of the action in mind for next Saturday! The party begins at 12:00 PM (with Highway 63 playing at 8:00 PM), this is presumably a 21+ event, and there is no announced cover charge. Visit the Facebook event page & above for complete details on the Christmas party, Highway 63's return, and the newly renamed Double D Bar, which is now included in our venue listing for the Dondee!

Next up, here's our last concert previews for this weekend, as local classical metal project Theatre of Night will make the local stops of their second Christmas tour this weekend, including a return to the Pickford United Methodist Church TONIGHT and their debut at The Dreammaker's Theater at the Soo's Kewadin Casino branch TOMORROW NIGHT! Earlier teasers of a Sunday date in Sault Ste. Marie have not had a public follow-through. Just under a year removed from their dates in Pickford & at The Soo Theater, this talented ensemble will return almost intact from 2017, with only singer Stacie McCarthy absent from the first tour. Fans across Michigan have been enjoying Theatre of Night's metal-infused take on Christmas standards for over a month now, and it'll be great to have Craig, Steve, Rachel, Scott, and Erik back home for the holidays! Tonight's Pickford show (at 115 East Church Street) will have a later 7:00 PM start time compared to last year, and is absolutely ALL AGES.

Like last year, there is no admission fee, but a free will offering will be taken at the church. As for tomorrow's Kewadin gig (a rare show of this scale there from a local headliner), this special concert will be held in The Dreammaker's Theater's table seating configuration, and to go along with that, food, drinks, and a cash bar will be on hand for willing patrons. Some proceeds for this show will go towards local Salvation Army operations, and the Sault Lions Club is helping put this on, so some worthy causes are involved this weekend! Tickets are still available at this link, at the in-person box office, or at 1-800-KEWADIN for $15 at a table or $25 in the theatre seating. Similarly, a 7:00 PM start time is advertised, and this is definitely ALL AGES as well. This should be a great weekend of metallized Christmas standards from a very talented quintet of local and Western Michigan notables, you'll be entertained at either venue over the coming days! Note that the tour ends in Holland next Sunday.

For complete details on both of this weekend's concerts, visit the official Facebook event pages linked here & here, and for a preview, here's a new video of Theatre of Night in concert, as live-streamed on their Facebook page from their show last week! This concert took place at the Fountain Street Church in Grand Rapids, so this is arguably more of a preview of tonight's Pickford church show than anything. The video was taken on a stationary camera behind what appears to be all of the seats, so the distance isn't optimal, but you do get a good sense of the church's grandeur and design! The live-stream unfortunately includes 20 minutes of set-up, but from then on, you'll get the band's full 2018 stage show for 75 or so minutes, so if you can't come out this weekend, this is a must watch! Carols performed include (in order) "What Child Is This?", "Carol of the Bells", "The Little Drummer Boy", "Away In A Manger", "The Nutcracker Suite", "Silent Night", "O Come All Ye Faithful"...

... "O Holy Night", "Hark The Herald Angels Sing", "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen", and "We Three Kings", plus some instrumental/aria spots, and all as bookended with pre-recorded narration about the birth of Jesus and the nativity, keeping with the setlist's rough concept. Theatre of Night sound great here, and Rachel's vocals are beautiful, so fans of Christmas carols done heavy will enjoy how this turned out! If only the camera was zoomed in more, and if only more people came out! Whether or not you can see the guys in Pickford tonight or in the Soo tomorrow, give Theatre of Night's full live concert experience a look below!

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

Thursday, December 13, 2018

LOCAL CONCERT ALERT (Soundcheck) & Most Of This Weekend's Concert Previews!!

Hey guys, it's time to begin another round of weekend concert previews! We have more hard rock shows this weekend than a normal post can contain, and while we usually hold the latest of the previously announced ones for the second post, I'm actually going to hold the Theatre of Night concerts in the E.U.P. until tomorrow morning due to their high profile and new information. Don't worry, they are coming! As such, let's begin this concert preview post with a SHORT LOCAL CONCERT ALERT!

Local classic/hard rock cover quartet Soundcheck are reportedly returning to for The Rockstar Bar for one night only THIS SATURDAY NIGHT! Apologies for the short notice, this show was only announced via the venue's Facebook event page on Tuesday, and as is often the case, the band hadn't acknowledged the show on their own Facebook page at press time. This will be the Mourning Wood successors' first concert at The Rockstar Bar in almost a month, and their first anywhere since rocking The Reggievelt two weeks ago. With their fan favourite, 1980s-leaning cover selection, fans at The Rockstar Bar should get their fill of hard rocking tunes from Soundcheck on SATURDAY, so don't miss out! As was the case last month, this is a one-nighter, though rather than a full "Cheeraoke" night tomorrow, it's due to a concert we'll be touching on in a bit. SATURDAY'S concert has a 19+ age limit, no cover charge, and a 10:00 PM start time. See above for more details, and here's Soundcheck live!

Next up, we'll move to previously announced concerts by going to The New American Pub, where local acoustic hard rock trio The Wyld Stallyns will make their venue debut TONIGHT as part of a special fundraiser concert towards next year's Special Olympics' Provincial Winter Games being held in Sault Ste. Marie! This event should go a long way to help support and promote the annual games for Ontario athletes with special needs, and it's great to see that event be held locally in 2019, so be sure to visit the above links for all of the charitable details on the games! Three acts will perform tonight, including the aforementioned Wyld Stallyns for another set of unplugged rock favourites and possibly some more surprising pop hits, while the other acts will include folk singer/songwriter Catherine Taddo and Oosik Records owner Al Bjornaa tackling some 1990s-centric turntable mixes as DJ Oosik. Nice mixture of styles here, so keep everyone in mind tonight at The New A! This is a co-presentation of Exit Realty and Girl Friday Productions.

Tickets are $20, which may seem steep, but remember where proceeds are going. You can buy them at Exit Realty at 207 Northern Avenue and at The New A itself, and while a 6:00 PM start time is advertised, posts on the Facebook event page hint that musicians' sets won't begin until 7:00 PM. This should be a fun night of varied local musical entertainment helping a great event, so see above for more details, and here's The Wyld Stallyns live!

Also, let's head to the aforementioned The Rockstar Bar, where fans of this year's Halloween Party concerts at the same venue will get an encore of sorts, with two of that weekend's tribute bands returning for an encore in a different holiday season! The advertised headliners are the Tool tribute band from the second night, with Redefined, Half Past, Wild Iris, and Late Shift alumni all expected back for one final(?) turn covering the progressive metal standouts. If they've decided on a name for the band, I don't know it, but it's great to see John, Steve, Alain, and Anthony tackling Tool once again tomorrow! The opening band will be the Red Hot Chili Peppers tribute band from the first night, and while not credited as such on the Facebook event page, they are local funk/hard rock quartet The Elements playing an entire Chili Peppers cover set once again. Whether or not you saw them over the Halloween weekend, fans of The Elements will know that they can handle this band very well, and expect a fun set from them once again tomorrow!

Note that the marquee board outside of The Rockstar Bar also mentions karaoke tomorrow, going along with the venue's recent focus on Friday karaoke nights for Christmas Cheer, but the event page does not reference a karaoke element, so tread with caution if you're expecting that tomorrow night. A $5 cover charge is in effect for this 19+ event, which has an advertised 10:00 PM start time.If you love progressive metal and funk rock, this would be a great night to see both, and with the talent on display in both bands, hopefully they can live up to their Halloween weekend promise! Visit the above links for more details, and here's the Tool tribute live!

Finally for today, let's head back to the Gliss Restaurant on Spring Street, where former Caveman Morrison frontman Tym Morrison will continue his weekly matinee concert arrangement with shows TOMORROW & SATURDAY NIGHT! One week removed from tripling up with an extra Thursday nighter at the Water Tower Pub, Tym is visibly only playing at Gliss this weekend, but fans of his unplugged hard and classic rock covers would be well served for a trip to this popular downtown restaurant over one of these two weekends, so keep both shows in mind if this is up your alley! As usual for Tym's long term Gliss gigs, these remain 6:00 PM events with no announced cover charges or age limits, but remember that this is a sit-down restaurant. Visit the official Facebook event page for more details, and here's Tym live!

That's all for today, but stay tuned for our Theatre of Night previews and much more next! Thanks everyone!

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Steel Panther Concert Video Showcase!!

Today' post is emtiely devoted to fallout from the Steel Panther concert at The Dreammaker's Theater at the Sault Michigan Kewadin Casino on December 1st, and by all accounts that I've heard on social media in the past week+, the show was a big hit and full of their usual ribald hilarity! It should be worth noting before we get into the videos that bassist Lexxi Foxx dropped out of their current North American tour (including the Soo date), which Steel Panther (presumably jokingly) chalked up to his checking into "an undisclosed sex rehab." Filling in on bass is Spyder, a long-time friend of and backstage doorman for the band, and from what I've seen from the show, he fits in well, but hopefully Lexxi's back in full force next year! In terms of YouTube videos, I know of two filmers who posted footage from that night, including the ever-prolific Christopher Paci, who got 12 videos on the 1st, including 8 of the hair/comedy metal standouts in action, so what should you know there?

Starting with the headliners (pictured here from the meet & greet with Rock 101's Scott Cook), these videos were only just posted to Chris' channel 2 days ago, and his Steel Panther clips include their cover of Van Halen's "Unchained", and their originals "Goin' In The Backdoor", "Poontang Boomerang", their seasonally timed "The Stocking Song", "Community Property", "Gloryhole", and "Death To All But Metal", but embedded below is their opening song "Eyes of a Panther", as preceded by a recording of Van Halen's "Everybody Wants Some". Full disclosure, some of these songs are raunchy, as indicated by some of the song titles, but don't shoot the messenger, I didn't name them! Chris had a good, if shaky, angle of Steel Panther, and while the audio has it's scratchy moments, you can hear their glam metal tribute/parody well, and you'll get lots of amusement if you stick with these videos and pay attention for the lyrics! See more above & below!

Chris' other four videos are of opening Detroit hard rock sextet Wilson, who were filmed playing "Windows Down", "My Hustle", "Dumptruck", and as embedded below, their two set-closing songs, namely "Like A Baller" & "House of Fuckery". Fans of Wilson's 2013 Sault Ontario set may be surprised to see a more hip-hop influenced sound on many of these songs, even including a DJ in their expanded lineup, and while they're still very much a heavier rock band, the songs here are more upbeat and lively. Myself, I prefer their early-mid 2010s work, but they were a good fit for energy and lyrics earlier this month, and judge Wilson's new sound for yourself below!

Kudos to Chris for his great videos once again! We'll close with a single video from another channel, namely that of YouTube user topshelfalpena, who headed north for the Steel Panther concert and got the video below of guitarist Satchel playing a guitar solo, while also manning the bass drum?! That's a new one! Of course, Satchel shreds at his best here, and fans of extended guitar solos should like this well shot clip, though it's a shame that the filmer didn't post more videos that night. Give this clip a look below!

That's all for today, but stay tuned for more news and weekend concert previews on the site soon! Thanks everyone!

Monday, December 10, 2018

Defunct Local Band Profile Series: Kraken Mara & Dreamscape

It's now time for our final Defunct Local Band Profiles of 2018, as we continue our monthly spotlights of defunct or inactive metal, hard rock, and/or punk bands from the Soo area with surviving online pages! As randomly selected, we are finally taking a look at a band bumped from our November installment due to the first band then having more information than anticipated, but we have rounded things out for a shared profile this month. These two bands each feature familiar faces from recent metal bands, so here's what you should know in this month's profiles!
Kraken Mara (also spelled as "KrakenMara")

Genre: Progressive Metal/Djent

Hometown: Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario


Brendan Christie (Late & Loud, Stillbroke), guitar/programming
Jake Valois (The Palm Trees, Exiled Earth), guitar
Benn Garside (Late & Loud, Lazer Queen), bass

Info/Analysis: Quietly forming in 2015, Late & Loud alums Brendan Christie & Benn Garside publically unveiled this new instrumental studio project the following summer, alongside Wawa music veteran (and Brendan's brother-in-law) Jake Valois. Though Benn left early on, Kraken Mara continued as a duo, and largely focused on recording their unreleased self-titled EP, with sessions heavily teased on their website & social media pages. Updates ceased after October 2017, and the band dissolved by early 2018, with Brendan later moving out of country. Four songs can be heard at this link, and as teased by their liking bands such as Tesseract, Periphery, and Polyphia, Kraken Mara's brand of technical prog-metal was very promising, extra heavy, and well composed, with Brendan & Jake pairing well on guitar, and it's a shame that the EP never came out (let alone the guys never playing live!) Here's their playthrough video for "Stratus" in a very familiar locale!


Genre: Funk/Metal/Alternative

Hometown: Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario


Kris "Funkadelic Fois" Foisy, vocals/guitar/bass
"Metal" Mike Beith, vocals/guitar
"Big" Al Palmer (Sativa Rose), drums

Info/Analysis: Active from circa 2003-2008, surviving information on Dreamscape is in short supply, but the band was visibly led by Kris Foisy, who said he was "just a songwriter who has something to share with those willing to lend an ear." Six songs are posted to their MySpace page, and while their player doesn't load (an unfortunately common occurrence on the site nowadays), the guys did claim to release an album of some kind in 2007. When I critiqued Dreamscape's songs on this site back in 2010, I noted that "Slowly Die" and "Heavy Tune" had good instrumentation and showcased their heavier side well, but most of their other songs were on an experimental funk bent, albeit showing promise in that genre range. I hope MySpace's players work again soon, as Dreamscape had good qualities, but check out Alex Palmer's later work in Sativa Rose in the interim!
I hope you guys liked this month's Defunct Local Band Profles! Our next installment of this series will also be our first one of 2019, and with a Sault Michigan band next too, but as our next randomly selected band again doesn't have enough surviving information to warrant a solo profile, I have rounded things out with a random Sault Ontario band in a similar state. As such, we'll be looking at late 2000s acoustic death metal duo (and Insipid Brutality side project) Condemned, and the short-lived 2017 Foo Fighters tribute band aptly named The Soo Fighters, so look for those on or around January 10th, and stay tuned for more news and updates soon! Thanks everyone!

Saturday, December 8, 2018

LOCAL CONCERT ALERTS (415E), Fringe North Festival Videos, And Much More!!

Before we begin today's post, I wanted to apologize for a missed concert, as local funk/hard rock quartet The Elements played a solo headlining gig at The Rockstar Bar last night. This was a hybrid of their own live show plus the venue's recent Christmas Cheer karaoke events on Fridays, with that taking place between the band's sets. I profusely apologize for this show slipping us by after it's short notice announcement earlier this week, but hopefully it went well yesterday, and don't miss Rob & Jesse with The Wyld Stallyns TONIGHT at The Harp! Now, here's some assorted updates, new video discoveries, and leading off, LOCAL CONCERT ALERTS for next year!

In our first Sault Michigan hard rock concert announcements of 2019, local hard rock cover quartet 415E will reunite to kick off the year at The Rapids Lounge at the Soo's Kewadin Casino branch on January 5th & 6th! This surprise announcement ends an 18 month-long hiatus dating back to their last public concerts at the St. Ignace Kewadin in June 2017, which were termed as their last gigs there "for a while", with guitarist Chris Hubbard commencing work on his own solo project in the interim. I'm not sure what happened to 415E, but it's great to have them back after far too long, and they are back in our active band links! In their Facebook page post announcing the gigs, 415E noted that they'll have "a lot of new songs" as well as a "new rhythm section", which seems to imply that bassist Mitch Goetz and drummer Tony Hubbard (Chris' dad) aren't in the revived band. If accurate, reasons for their departures weren't announced, and we await confirmation of their replacements, but hopefully nothing bad happened!

For what it's worth, Kewadin Casino's entertainment page does not yet list 2019 gigs at their lounges, we will let you know when hard rock shows for early next year are announced there. As usual for Kewadin lounge concert weekends, these shows have 9:00 PM start times, 21+ age limits, and no cover charges. Hopefully Chris and Dave(?) can shake off the rust and pick up where 415E left off last summer, so visit the above links for continuing information on their return in four weeks!

Next up, we have some very belated videos from the live musical entertainment at this year's Fringe North Festival (and/or Art In The Park) in Sault Ontario to share on here! Over two dozen clips were uploaded to the Arts Council of Algoma's Facebook page in August from the live musicians who played at The Roberta Bondar Pavilion during the festival, and I do apologize for these being so late to make the site, The Arts Council page hadn't previously been a haven for live concert videos. A wide array of talented local musicians can be seen in these clips, such as Great Chamberlain, Circular Vibrations, Guy Smith, ex-Griphook frontman Jim O'Leary, The Algo Rhythms, The Barn Board Trio, Sasa Jurko, Mustang Sally, and Colin Gasparelli, among others, so click the above links for the non metal/hard rock performances that were filmed! As far as I can tell, just two of these videos feature a hard rock performer or cover, and one is of local acoustic hard rock trio The Wyld Stallyns, so what should you know there?

A surprising cover of Elle King's "Ex's & Oh's", this rendition puts Christina Speers' vocals to nice use, and look for Rob & Jesse's Elements bandmate Jonas Gasperas on guest hand drums too! The biggest issue with the video is it's vertical camera angle, as while everyone's in frame, the camera placement isn't optimal for the resolution, as almost half of the video is of the stage & floor rather than who's performing on it. Give The Stallyns' Fringe North video a look below, and apologies again for missing The Elements' Rockstar Bar show last night, I hope it won't happen again!

The other hard rock cover comes from local blues trio The Paul DellaVedova Band's Fringe North Festival set in August, as they covered Bad Company's "Rock 'n Roll Fantasy"! Though best known for their blues originals and renditions, Paul and company can go heavy when need be, and they put in a strong performance of this 1970s hard rock favourite here! Again, the vertical camera angle doesn't help for similar reasons, but poor Rick is not in a good spot given the lighting placement and camera angle. Still, fans of Paul's prolific blues rock should appreciate this rendition, so give it a look!

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

  • Former Boxcar Junction drummer Mike Blair has launched a new live event sound company named 705Live! They are not to be confused with A Dire Setback's promotion company Live705, who also provide sound at concerts, but it'll be interesting to see if the similarly named companies can coexist! 705Live were recently seen manning the controls for Toystock VII, among other concerts hinted on their Facebook page, and they also provide lighting for events. Mike has a professional setup with lots of experience, so definitely consider 705Live at the above links, and they're now linked on the SMS!
  • I have removed Sault Michigan classic/hard rock cover quartet (and Highway 63 side project) Cousin Eddie from our active band links due to the quiet deletion of their Facebook page earlier this year. Oddly, this news comes following learning of two scheduled concert weekends at regional Kewadin Casino branches this month, but with their page deleted and no obvious social media hints that they are still alive, I am hesitant to list these shows here. If they are still on, we'll let you know, but best of luck to Chris, Greg, Nathan, and Ron in the future either way, they were a promising band!
  • The Soo's Got Talent will return in 2019! As per photos on their Facebook page (and a URL name edit), the Sault Ontario talent contest will be back for a second go-around, presumably next fall at The Tech if nothing changes, and they are looking for a wide variety of performers once again, which does include musicians. Remember that Tym Morrison and ex-Re:Born frontman Robert Nevitt were among the dozens of competitors in year #1, which was won by singer Daniella Brewer. See above for more details!

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

Thursday, December 6, 2018

LOCAL CONCERT ALERTS (Tym Morrison & The Wyld Stallyns), Rock Of Ages In The Soo, And More!!

Before we begin today's weekend concert preview post, we have a concert cancellation to note, as Sault Michigan hard rock quartet Project 906 are no longer advertised to play at The Back Bay Grill & Games at Bay Mills Resort & Casino in Brimley on Saturday, as per their events calendar, with Rock 101's Scott Cook advertised as DJing then instead. A reason for 906's withdrawal was not announced, but hopefully nothing bad happened, and that we see them back on stage again soon! Now, we have some band updates, a big and relevant musical's trip here next year, and first, SHORT NOTICE LOCAL CONCERT ALERTS within our weekend previews!

Preceding his next Gliss Restaurant matinee gigs TOMORROW & SATURDAY, local acoustic hard rock singer/guitarist Tym Morrison will return to The Water Tower Pub for one night only TONIGHT! Apologies for the short notice, this show was only announced via the venue's December concert calendar earlier this week. With Thursday matinees at Gliss not taking place at the new locale, Tym's schedule is opened up to bring his unplugged cover action back to The Water Tower Pub, which last hosted him for a concert back in June. If you're up for a later show at a more northern/central locale from this prolific solo artist, be at The Water Tower Pub TONIGHT for all of the action! As for his ongoing weekly run at Gliss, you can see his acoustic hits at the new Spring Street location at their usual matinee timeslot tomorrow & Saturday at 6:00 PM with no announced cover charges or age limits, but remember that this is a formal sit-down restaurant.

As for Tym's Water Tower Pub show TONIGHT, expect a 9:00 PM start time, no announced cover charge, and a 19+ age limit, and just for reference sake, Tym is not advertised for this year's Blues For Food charity concerts at the same venue in two weeks. For more details on Tym's tripleheader this weekend, visit the official Facebook event pages linked here & here for more details, and here's Tym live a few years back!

Next up, local acoustic hard rock trio The Wyld Stallyns will return to The Harp Pub & Grill for their second public concert there THIS SATURDAY NIGHT! Again, apologies for the short notice, this concert was only announced via it's Facebook event page earlier this week (albeit with more notice than their Canadian show on November 24th!) Fans will have last seen the Elements side project at the former Madison's Pub over the Halloween weekend, so if you can brave the snow for a run to the Pine Plaza, you'll be rewarded with a night full of varied but often heavy covers on SATURDAY, and audience participation is welcomed too! Note that this is a one-nighter, and while I have seen no advertised reason why there's no Friday gig from the band or venue, this will reportedly be The Wyld Stallyns' last Harp gig of 2018. Expect a 19+ age limit, 9:00 PM start time, and no cover on SATURDAY, so see above for more details, and here's The Stallyns live!

Also in the news, this isn't a "concert" per say, but the hair metal/1980s rock-themed musical Rock of Ages is coming to GFL Memorial Gardens for one night only on Tuesday, March 19th! This is a scripted musical play rather than a true concert (I made an exception for the local Tommy production because of That's Chester being the house band), but this is still a big deal for fans of Rock of Ages' prior stage productions and it's 2012 feature film, so I can't ignore it! Rock of Ages is stopping at the former Essar Center as part of the 10th anniversary tour following it's Broadway debut in 2009 (where it ran until 2015), and is about an aspiring singer and a bartender's romance and quest for stardom in Los Angeles in the 1980s. This jukebox musical is loaded with familiar glam metal and classic rock songs woven into it's plot, with bands like Twisted Sister, Foreigner, Poison, REO Speedwagon, Styx, Whitesnake, Journey, and Def Leppard represented, among many others.

Rock of Ages tickets range from $59.50-$99.50 depending on seating location, and tickets go on sale tomorrow at 10:00 AM at this link, at the in-person box office, or by calling 1-866-775-9422. I personally didn't love the movie (too glossy and polished for my liking), but the play was a smash hit, and the movie soundtrack went gold in Canada, so I have no doubt that 1980s rock lovers will be very interested in seeing Rock of Ages at the Gardens! Visit the above links for complete details, and if you want more details on the company behind this production, head to the tour website!

We'll close today with the latest from Sault Michigan classic/hard rock cover quartet Highway 63, whose ongoing hiatus and lineup/setlist re-tooling may be nearing it's end. In a presumed sign of the band's new makeup, their current Facebook profile photo is solely of guitarist Nathan Switzer, implying that he has survived the changes, but when your dad is frontman Henry Switzer, that may not have been difficult. No word yet on their new(?) bassist, we'll let you know when something is said! A playlist on Apple Music (which I don't have) has the planned setlist for Highway 63's new lineup, and comment replies on their Facebook page imply that The Smithereens, The Stone Temple Pilots, Night Ranger, and some country covers are in their current repertoire, while their new setlist is "almost all new music." On November 27th, the band floated the possibility of hosting a "Back on the Road Party" at Dondee Lanes, which Henry hinted would take place on Saturday, December 22nd.

I'm not rushing to add the event to our concert calendar pending a formal announcement, but if this holds up, it'll be a big way for Highway 63 to end their year+-long concert hiatus, so keep tabs for updates! Finally, Henry shared this video of him covering Cheap Trick's "The Flame" onto Facebook on the 27th as well, which is an attempt to line up professional vocal recording tracks with raw video. Not a bad rendition, it lets Henry showcase his range nicely, though the vantage point from almost behind him is still not optimal. Check it out below, and stay tuned for more from Highway 63!

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

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

LOCAL CONCERT ALERT (The Tea Party), New Videos, And More Updates!!

Let's get a new news post rolling on this Wednesday morning, and it's a stacked one, with a handful of recent shorter updates, some new concert videos, a long awaited music video, and leading off, a big LOCAL CONCERT ALERT for early next year, so here's what you should know!

In the first announced local hard rock concert of 2019, Windsor hard/world rock trio The Tea Party will return to Sault Ste. Marie for a headlining concert on Wednesday, March 27th at The Machine Shop! The Juno Award nominees behind hits like "Heaven Coming Down" & "Temptation" were last seen locally when they headlined the local stop of the ONTour concert series at The Roberta Bondar Pavilion in July of last year, itself ending a 19 year break from their last Soo appearance, so it's great to have them back already for another concert! Last year's was very well received, and with their new single "Black River" now on sale, there's already some positive momentum for this show in the spring! Opening bands (local or otherwise) have not yet been announced, we'll let you know when/if they're confirmed. Promoted by Cabin Media (who are also promoting the upcoming Obie Trice and The Game rap concerts locally), this is unfortunately not a free concert like last year, with tickets going for $35 for the first 200 customers, and the cost goes up to $40 afterwards.

Tickets go on sale on Thursday morning at 10:00 AM at this link, and one assumes at The Machine Shop's in-person box office, so act A.S.A.P. if you want $5 off! Also unlike in 2017, this is sadly a licensed 19+ concert, but there is an early-ish 7:30 PM start time advertised. The Tea Party have a lot of familiar hits for anyone familiar with Canadian rock radio and old school MuchMusic, and it'll be nice to have the Jeffs and Stuart back in town early next year! Stay tuned for more updates as they roll in!

Next up, local death metal band The Bear Hunters finally released their first ever music video on Saturday! The first upload on their YouTube channel in over 4 years, this is for the first publically released song from their forthcoming sophomore album "The Dead Testament", namely "I Fear No God", so what should you know here? The video was directed by Shit Liver frontman Josh Penno via his independent film company Spacebag Productions (who are now finally in our "Other Local Metal Links" section), and was filmed at Robbie Adamson's church in nearby Leeburn, notably the site of both of the Oh!No festivals. The Bear Hunters didn't play at either installment (Johnny's other bands and Nik's Beaver Slap guest turn aside), so you could call this a belated make-up date of sorts! As you may tell by their new picture, the video does not feature rhythm guitarist Josh Stephney, who does play on this track and the CD, but still lives in Southern Ontario and hasn't performed live with the band since May 2016.

I'll hold comments on the song proper until our likely review of "The Dead Testament" in 2019, but the video is very well shot, with Josh capturing some effective mood lighting (even with candles!), and some excellent close up shots of the guys in action. I'd have included a little more outdoor footage, especially given how it was snowing when The Bear Hunters entered the church, but this is excellently done, especially for their first music video. Give it a look below, check the video description for the complete track listing order for the album, and keep posted for more updates!

Also today, here's two newly discovered videos of local classic/hard rock cover quartet Soundcheck, courtesy of drummer Glen Thomas' YouTube channel in recent months! One is from his debut as Soundcheck's permanent drummer, namely the Downtown Street Party on Queen Street East on September 22nd, and you can see the guys cover The Beatles' "Come Together" here in front of GFL Memorial Gardens. In terms of public video footage, this isn't a new cover (you may recognize this version from a Wawa gig with ex-drummer Scott McLurg), but this copy has strong merit and a strong performance that recalls Aerosmith's version to an extent! I like the setting right beside the Memorial Tower, but the outdoor sunlight is too overexposed, and the filmer flipped the camera sideways to capture Terry Eaton's guitar solo, so lock your mobile device's orientation for best results. Embedded below though is their cover of Greta Van Fleet's "Highway Tune", so what should you know there?

Filmed at Soundcheck's concert at The Esquire Club (also finally in our active venue listings) on November 3rd, this too features guitarist Travis Sharpe singing, and if you ask me, his solid vocals benefit from him not trying to sound like Josh Kiszka by way of Robert Plant! As for the video proper, I'm not high on the post-production effect where motions stay on screen for a slight delay, especially when the guys don't move around a lot, and the usage of a second camera's viewpoint late feels somewhat tacked on, and ideally should have been incorporated more. It's nice to see some more videos online, so give Soundcheck's new clips a look above & below!

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

  • Based on their Facebook page's new cover photo, it looks like local Celtic punk veterans Dustin Jones & The Rising Tide have indeed enlisted Lake Effect drummer Chris Johns (replacing Mikey Hawdon) & The Barn Board Trio's Liam Seymour on guitar, officially making them a quintet. Mikey last played live with The Tide in July 2016, with Chris taking over on drums for their 2018 reunion, and Liam joined on later in the year. Both seem to fit in well, and it'll be interesting to hear the five-piece tide at LopLops later this month, but best of luck to Mikey with his Toronto bands!
  • As frequently teased on social media prior, local/Thompson, Manitoba solo hard rock artist Mike Haggith released the first single for his forthcoming studio album "Bridges" onto online streaming and download platforms on Saturday! That single is "The Nature of the Times", which also has a music video in the works, and you can stream it on Spotify and buy it on Amazon, CDBaby, and iTunes. Like with The Bear Hunters above, I'll hold comment on the song until the likely review of "Bridges" next year, but this song will please fans of Mike's softer original material. Check it out above, and stay tuned for more on the CD!
  • Dafter, Michigan hard rock solo artist SweetKenny quietly released another instrumental score album to his website on November 10th, though this oddly has not been released in a paid format at press time, and is also billed under his real name Kenneth Sutton. Entitled "Monster", the 8 songs are intended for usage in commercials for sports drinks and sports in general, and the album name may intentionally reflect Monster Energy drinks. Fans of his scores will want to check it out above, but we'll let you know if it goes on sale!

That's all for today, but stay tuned for more news and updates as December progresses! Thanks everyone!