Sunday, December 31, 2017

2017: A Look Back In The Year Of Local Metal, Hard Rock, And Punk

For our final post of the year, I'm once again looking back at the events, shows, bands, and news stories of 2017 in the local metal, hard rock, and punk scene, which is always a fun post to research and reminisce on, so here's what you should know from January 1st until December 31st in another busy and entertaining year for the SMS!

As will be the case in 2018, last year got an early boost when Pop Evil returned to The Dreammaker's Theater at the Sault Michigan Kewadin Casino on February 25th, with openers Badflower & Kaleido also along for the trip, while Alter Bridge & In Flames joined forces to rock the same venue on May 16th! Kewadin Casino spread the love to their St. Ignace branch for a rare outdoor concert there from Lita Ford and Jack Russell's Great White on June 24th during their summer concert series. Sault Ontario wasn't left out in the cold, with The Tea Party returning to headline a free Roberta Bondar Pavilion show on July 16th during the ONTour concert series alongside a varied openers lineup, while Dokken, Firehouse, and Love 'N Revenge brought their tour to The Essar Centre on September 30th. The year ended with a bang at The Dreammaker's Theatre, thanks to the returns of Bret Michaels on November 25th and Theory of a Deadman (with openers Infathom) just yesterday. Hopefully 2018 brings us more high profile concerts like these!

Outside of these major venues, Sault Ontario got plenty of high profile concerts this year for metal, hard rock, and punk fans alike! In 2017, such notable touring bands as Adam's Mind, CKY, Darsombra, Destroyer, Diamond Head, The Gutter Demons, K-Man & The 45s, The Raygun Cowboys, The Ripcordz, Speaker, Special Ops, Vaultry, Who Made Who, The Wild, and Zaum all rocked a regional stage, among many other acts. This year saw many notable concert events of varying sizes and scopes, like the second annual Guy Thiffault Memorial Concert, Fishbowl Festival, and Sky's the Limit mental health fundraiser concerts, Live705's increased slate of multi-band events, the debut of the Oh!No 2017 Music Festival in Leeburn, the NLFB Meltdown audition/battle of the bands (won by M.D. Dunn), and familiar ongoing annual events like Rotaryfest, Toystock, The Northern Vibe Festival, and J.D. Pearce's Halloween Party (expanded to 2 nights this year!) Look for more shows like these in the new year!

There was a fair amount of activity in Sault Michigan and the Eastern U.P. to go around as well in 2017 for concert fans! Out of town cover favourites like Peril, Scarkazm, and Nudge.-successors Spun came back here for multiple shows throughout the year, while Ontario-based Bon Jovi tribute Keep the Faith played surprise shows at Bay Mills Resort & Casino, and local favourites like 415E, Banned, Highway 63, and Project 906 kept up their busy schedules at varying levels too! In scope, the biggest attractions may have been the Theatre of Night Christmas tour stops at The Soo Theatre and in Pickford earlier this month, giving a rare live platform to this classical metal project, while The Rudyard Musicians Festival and Sugar Island Music Festivals both returned for another year, and Bay Mills Bands Together resurfaced for two more benefit concerts in Brimley this year, the latter set at a softball tournament. Fingers crossed that 2018's even bigger for the E.U.P. scene!

The year saw many big general news stories not directly related to local concerts, such as out of town tour runs mounted by such familiar local acts as A Dire Setback, AlgomA, Jack Spades, The Elements, Shit Liver, and Theatre of Night, while bands like Bizotic, The Din, Soundcheck, and Treble Charger also hit the road for out of town gigs of their own. This year did have it's share of unfortunate stories, such as the passings of Terry Becker, Steve Pevarnic, and Jason Michaud, the closures of HMV & VM Radio, and the end of Paperclip Productions and Werehold Records' Friday the 13th events. Other sub-optimal stories this year included the Quiet Riot and Rock The Border Music Festival situations, fires at Reggie's Place and The Soo Theatre, no bands at The Soo Zombie Walk, April Wine dropping out of the Lita Ford show in St. Ignace, Mikes Haggith & Mikus moving out of town, and the cancellation of The Rad Zone Battle of the Bands.

However, there were good stories to come along in 2017! Music retail-wise, we saw the Station Mall launches of Sunrise Records and Spencer's Gifts, The Rad Zone opening their second branch at Vintage Games 'N Junque, and Grooves Music relaunching under new ownership as Crooked Music. In terms of bands, we did get to witness Nameus becoming Soundcheck, "Woods V" being reissued on vinyl, Jack Spades striking a sponsorship deal with Northern Superior Breweries, and The Din being featured in the new independent movie Ashes of K, among other good and bad stories this year!

2017 gave us a handful of newly released local metal and hard rock albums, with local doom metal trio AlgomA's two split releases on old formats getting the most attention on a wider scale, including their vinyl single split with Finnish doom/death metal veterans Hooded Menace from January, and then "Trading Faces", their covers-centric cassette tape EP with local/St. Catharine's grindcore trio Shit Liver that came out in September. The latter received a local release concert at The New A, an honour matched by The Din, who put out their second and final studio album "Suburban Dream" to a rousing response at their farewell concert at LopLops in October! Also this year: The Apocalypse Afterparty finally gave their debut EP "Bufflesnort" a soft release, SweetKenny put out four new studio albums for score purposes, Abhorrent Forest released their EPs "The End of Life" & "Ethereal", and special mention to Mike Mikus' debut solo album, which does feature some unreleased Pixo Control holdovers. Hopefully 2018 sees even more big album releases from many talented local acts!

This year wasn't as packed for high profile new metal, hard rock, and punk bands compared to 2016, but there were many familiar faces making some new waves around the Sault area! One of the biggest was new local genre-less but alternative/punk sounding trio Handsome Sandwich, who have been a fan favourite sight at various shows throughout the year, while new indie/hard rock trio Vol. have gotten off to a quick start since launching over the summer. Other notable debuting bands on the local stage this year included Apocalypse Afterparty sister band The Noochin' Lanterns, Cherry Crush's Foo Fighters tribute side project The Soo Fighters (get it?), veteran punk supergroup The HTs, The Elements' acoustic side project Kariokeheads Unplugged, and resurgent hard rock solo artist Mike McCleary. Add in new black metal studio solo act Abhorrent Forest, and there were some big new acts to take in over the past 12 months!

Something that 2017 gave us a lot of was lineup changes, departures, and additions in local bands, and none arguably had more upheaval than Jack Spades, who started their year by replacing every instrumental band member, then replacing new bassist Steve Shaw with Rob Speers, and then welcoming Tiffany Stocco and Johnny Belanger back after a year away! Speaking of which, Tiffany's other band Stegadeth welcomed Johnny on drums too after the departure of Daniel MacDonald. Theatre of Night also bolstered their (live?) lineup by jumping from a 2 man studio project to a 6 (briefly 7) person band featuring local and Western Michigan performers alike, just in time for their Christmas tour. Also this year: Chris Nielsen took over on vocals for Larry Babic in A Dire Setback, Josh Amendola & a returning Ryan Sherman joined Jesse and Jonas in Winkstinger, Brenton Ellis returned as Destroilet's second singer, Travis St. Amour replaced Kevin Overton in Bizotic, and Yannick Casavant joined Redundant, among other personnel switches since January!

Unfortunately, we said goodbye to a number of notable bands this year, and/or saw them fall into long-term inactivity, with The Din getting the highest profile send-off prior to Mike's move west via October's farewell/CD release concert at LopLops. Their friends in post-punk quartet Gnaeus previously announced their surprising breakup in the spring, while classic/hard rock cover quartet Mourning Wood merged operations with Soundcheck not long after, and classic metal veterans Project 421 disbanded themselves in the fall. Notable acts like Dullahan, Dustin Jones & The Rising Tide, Gianni Gagoots, Heavy Head, Sykotyk Rampage, Tantrym Tyme, and Curtis McKenzie's solo project were moved out of our active band links this year, while The Band Camp Rejects would be nearing the same boat if they had an online page, As It Stands' cancelled comeback at the CKY show may have been it for their 2017 reunion, and 415E remain on hiatus since their last shows in the summer. Hopefully we see some of these bands back at it down the road!

As always, we'll finish our year-in-review post with notes on big comebacks and returns in the local scenes this year, and we had a large amount of those in 2017! Of course, the Guy Thiffault Memorial Concert last week provided lots of returns for it's second year, including one-off reunions of both Bankshot and Nebraska Arms, plus the return of Talk Shit after a year's hiatus, so punk fans got some nice late Christmas gifts there! This summer saw Treble Charger return after 2 years off for an intimate headlining show at LopLops and a Brantford festival, while Skeyes of Seven resurfaced after a similar stage layoff with their expanded five-piece lineup, and Shit Liver played their first local show in a year & a half during the "Trading Faces" release party. Also this year: Eclipse reunited after a tumultuous breakup last fall, The Billy Bastards came back for a stag & doe, Lucky 13 returned for the Taryn Bugyra benefit concert, and bands like The Bear Hunters, Jack Spades, Northwest, Them, Twistory, and Winkstinger came back from 6 month+ stage hiatuses. Here's to many more comebacks and reunions in 2018!

2017 was an eventful year as usual, if not quite as busy overall compared to 2016, but lots of positive things happened, and I can only hope that 2018 is even better! And yes, this year did mark our 10th anniversary back on July 4th, but I wanted to keep this post focused around the bands and shows, not myself. Still, thanks again for all of the positive words then, and not from an unfortunate private conversation later in the month! That's the last I have to say on the matter. Here's to a great 2018 ahead, and stay tuned for our post previewing the year at large tomorrow! Thanks everyone!

LOCAL CONCERT ALERTS (Spun), Soundcheck Concert Preview, And More News & Notes

Here's our final news post of the year, so what will you find here? Big updates from a local punk band, some assorted recent news and notes, and a preview of the final hard rock show in the Soo this year, but first, here's LOCAL CONCERT ALERTS for next month!

Marquette hard rock cover quartet Spun will make their way to Sault Michigan for the first times in 2018 when they hit The Satisfied Frog again on Friday, January 26th & Saturday, January 27th! After a busy first year for the Nudge. successors both here and out west, Spun will be making their first Soo stops since rocking the same venue two weeks ago. This talented outfit have already became fast favourites for Frog patrons in the past year, and hopefully next month's shows are the first of many there for Spun in the new year! As usual for their local gigs, these concerts will take place at 9:00 PM both nights, you must be at least 21 years old to attend, and there are no announced cover charges. Spun' hard rock covers should be a great way to warm up next month, so keep these in mind for in four weeks' time, and visit the official Facebook event page for more details!

Next up, here's (surprisingly) our only hard rock concert preview for New Year's Eve, making this our last preview of 2017, as Sault Ontario classic/hard rock cover quartet Soundcheck will cap the year by headlining at The Esquire Club for their New Year's Party TONIGHT! This will be the Mourning Wood successors' first show at this west end venue in about a month and a half, and will also be the second time that they've played a New Year's Eve bash, doing the same at The Rednecks Saloon last year under their original moniker Nameus. (FYI, Obsession played The Esquire Club last year.) Given that this is a New Year's bash, expect frills like extra food and drink items and party favours and the like, as bars often go all out to ring in a new year, so mind that when you notice that the admission fee is $20. However, Soundcheck noted on their Facebook event page that admission includes your ride back home, and while I don't know specifics of that promotion, it's nice for those that need it after a night of partying!

As you might expect, this is a 19+ concert and a 9:30 PM start time is advertised. This should be a fun concert to end the year with, especially as it's your best bet for a hard rock show tonight in the area, so check the above links for more details, and hopefully some public videos of theirs turn up!

Also today, here's the latest from local punk rockers Redundant, who have been very quiet since their set-turned-solo performance at Rock 4 Autism in May, so what's new to report from their camp? First, they're expanding to a quartet, as they announced the addition of guitarist Yannick Casavant to their lineup via their Facebook page on Christmas Eve. I'm not overly familiar with Yannick musically, but I believe that he has band experience going way back, and hopefully he fits in nicely with Justin and the White brothers going forward! His local debut with Redundant is to be confirmed, but the guys made a huge announcement on Facebook the next day, as they've apparently been added to the lineup for the Vans Warped Tour's final stop in Toronto on July 17th! If The Rising Tide can play the long running punk festival tour, why not Redundant? I haven't seen a formal lineup announcement yet, but this will be a huge opportunity for the guys, and hopefully we hear much more from Redundant in 2018!

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

  • I have unfortunately deleted Eclipse frontman Curtis McKenzie's solo project from our active band links due to it's Facebook page being taken down at some point in the past few months, and I don't believe there is an alternate page elsewhere. This seems to imply that Curt has shuttered his 2017 solo activity, which is very disappointing, as his shows at The Vape Escape and elsewhere seemed to be going well! Hopefully we see him back out there (with or without Eclipse) in the near future!
  • A benefit concert has been announced to help local resident Joni Radford's battle with breast cancer, which will take place on Saturday, January 13th at The Canadian Nightclub. While a performer lineup hasn't been announced at press time, Jack Spades frontman J.D. Pearce commented on the Facebook event page that they have a "couple (of) rad bands so far." Stay tuned for updates on this benefit when bands are publically confirmed for it, and our best wishes are with Joni at this difficult time!
  • In an addendum to the drumkit dive incident during Stegadeth's set at the Guy Thiffault Memorial Concert on Wednesday, Live705's Facebook page has shared the multi-camera video of what happened, as filmed by Id Iota's Christian Lemay, presumably for future Shaw TV content. I won't embed the video here out of respect to the nature of what happened and to not single out anyone publically any more than social media already has, but Live705 have indicated that Case's Music and the person responsible have stepped up to help reimburse or replace broken gear. Hopefully things will move forward and upward into 2018!

That's all for now, but stay tuned for our retrospective post on everything that went down in the local metal, hard rock, and punk scenes in 2017 later today! Thanks everyone!

Friday, December 29, 2017

The 2nd Annual Guy Thiffault Memorial Concert Review!!

Hey everyone, it's finally time for our review of Wednesday night's second annual Guy Thiffault Memorial Concert! Moving to The Canadian Nightclub this year after rocking The Rockstar Bar last year, I am pleased to report that parking lot renovations aren't as widespread as they were a few months ago, as patrons could get through the normal entrance to the downstairs venue, though actual parking space was still limited. Solid turnout, especially in time for the final 2 or 3 bands, with loads of familiar faces seen for both recent local music fans and veterans alike, and it's great to see that over the holiday season! This is also the first time I've been at The Canadian for a show with Northern Axperts' ax throwing cage open for business concurrently, and while it does eat up floor space, there wasn't any massive distraction from hearing axes hitting their target, so that worked out in and of itself! Live705 were on hand to provide sound, and like last year, Slumshine frontman Brenton Ellis raffled off another original painting for the cause.

Jack Spades frontman J.D. Pearce even brought an SNES Classic and TV for people to play, which was a nice touch during breaks! And before we get into the bands, just a note that advertised DJs The Dub Selectah and Manskirt solely provided the house music beside the stage and did not have a Seith-esque formal DJ set during the night. I'm not a massive reggae fan, but the jams seemed to go over well in between bands!

Opening Wednesday night's festivities were local punk cover quartet Talk Shit in their first public concert set since last year's Guy memorial, and while I don't know where they've been in 2017, they kicked things into gear with a solid set to start the night off! Covering a range of punk bands like NOFX, SNFU, and Teenage Bottlerocket, this online page-less band seemed as energetic and carefree as they did last year, and despite their recent dormancy, I think they may have been a little tighter than before, with Marc Lafrance and Steve Shaw especially rocking out well on guitar! The biggest difference was that bassist Ian Robinson was back in the Talk Shit fold after missing last year's memorial (Mark Rand filled in that night), and he slid in nicely with some solid grooves! This time around, the guys roughly divided up lead vocal duties between the entire band, and while everyone sounded good, Ian had a welcome ferocious bite that metalheads would appreciate! Solid return for Talk Shit, and hopefully we see them more often in the new year!

Next was local punk trio Stegadeth in their first public concert appearance since Bear Hunters drummer Johnny Belanger took over for the departed Daniel MacDonald, so how did he fit in with his new band?  Well, if you're familiar with his and guitarist Tiffany Stocco's prior (and beyond...) chemistry in Jack Spades, plus his existing skill level, you'll know he fit in nicely! If anything has been added, it's increased backing vocals, as Johnny helped give some extra vocal harmonies that didn't hurt the proceedings at all! Playing originals like "Kingdom of Ashes" and covers of everyone from Bad Religion to The Ramones to GG Allin, Stegadeth were on point from where I saw them last year, and while Tiffany still needs to seem more confident in her vocal delivery, Bill Bennett's snarl and aggression were in full force! Their set was poignantly capped off (post-delay) by a cover of SNFU's "Fate" in Guy's memory, as Stegadeth had done last winter as well, and hopefully we'll see much more from Stegadeth in 2018!

Now, I have to address a shocking incident that took place late in Stegadeth's set, as an attendee abruptly decided to leap into the drumkit during their version of "She Banged The Mayor". As a result, Stegadeth's set was cut short by 3 songs, and there was a 20+ minute delay for repairs to the kit (owned & provided by A Dire Setback's Nick Kainula), while the attendee was removed by security and the police were called down over the incident. I won't go deeper here, but there is a video and lots of discussion on social media if you know where to look. Unfortunate and needless all around, but at least the show was able to go on, and hopefully everything is resolved!

Once Nick's drumkit was operational again, his band A Dire Setback took the stage for their first set since the departure of original singer Larry Babic this fall, so how did the alt-punk band sound in their first outing as a trio? As I surmised at the time, guitarist Chris Nielsen is now A.D.S.' lead singer, and given his prior work as their backing vocalist, he was a fine choice to take over the role! He has a good punk tone to his singing, and while more reserved than his scream-peppered backing vocals may lead you to think, he should grow into the role in the ensuing months! Bassist Matt Quinn took over backing vocals, and while he needs to bump up the energy a little bit, is it off base to note that I was reminded of Serj Tankian when he projected his voice? Aside from their opening song (labelled as "Endless" on their setlist), A Dire Setback stuck to established originals like "Forget This Memory" & "Kicking & Screaming", and the music held up nicely, but there is room to develop the band's new vocal attack when we see them live next!

Local punk/metal quintet Jack Spades took the stage next, and as previously teased in Christmas photos on their Facebook page, they had two lineup reversions to reveal on Wednesday, as they have welcomed back Stegadeth's Tiffany Stocco & Johnny Belanger on rhythm guitar & drums, replacing their initial replacements, Anthony Orazietti and Chris Thompson. Reasons for Tony and Chris' departures have not been publically announced, but hopefully nothing bad happened, and don't miss Chris with Eclipse! This brings Johnny and founding member Tiffany back to the band for the first time since their departures last year, and it's great to see them back in the fold! As for the set proper, it went over very well for fans of any Jack Spades lineup permutation, with originals like "Rise", "Crossroads", and their newest "Cenobites" on full display alongside covers of bands like Turbonegro and The Ripcordz, and everyone held up their end of the bargain!

Daniel Horton shone on lead guitar in particular, bassist Rob Speers (in repurposed Frightlight vest) is coming into his own, and J.D. Pearce remains a commanding presence on vocals, be it on stage or mingling with fans on the floor! In a lineup that's now a hybrid of their classic era and late 2017 manifestation, it'll be interesting to see how Jack Spades does in the coming months! After Jack Spades' set, fans were surprised to see former Bankshot guitarist Christian Pasiak take the stage for an unadvertised solo set. This lined up with some personal Facebook plugs that implied that his Ottawa-based indie/pop rock trio Sleepy & The Noise would be making their local debut on Wednesday, so I presume this mini-set was what was being alluded to. I'm not highly familiar with Sleepy & The Noise, so I don't know if the songs he played were from that band, but he has a good voice for the softer music on display! All I'll add is that I think an acoustic guitar would have meshed with the songs better.

The advertised headline act was next, that being a one-off reunion of Guy Thiffault's old indie punk band Nebraska Arms, though playing a full 7 song set rather than their brief 2 song turn last year! As you may recall, the band played with guest bassist Mark Rand last year while guitarist Wayne Watkins handled lead vocals, but both roles went to Wayne's former Northwest bandmate Clint Wilson (recently of Late Shift) this time around, though Wayne did sing lead on their penultimate track. Clint's bass ability is no secret, but this was the first time that I can recall him fronting a band, and he was more than capable in this guest appearance, even seeming to channel Guy at times vocally! Playing familiar songs like "New Jersey Kneecap" and "Art of Science" plus a Hot Water Music cover, it was great to see Wayne, Dave, and Adam back together again for the occasion, and they hadn't lost the energetic spark that radiated through Nebraska Arms shows circa 2009!

Nebraska Arms' set closed with a rendition of "I Was A Writer" where they were joined by Clint's HTs bandmate (and this concert's promoter) Lucas "Sal Velinus" Schmiedendorf on vocals, foreshadowing their upcoming set together. Lucas was relying on a lyric sheet, so his performance wasn't as loose as it may have otherwise been, but he acquitted himself well to help close out their set, and kudos to him for putting this show on!

Surprisingly, the show closed with Lucas & Clint's new local punk band The HTs in just their second live concert appearance, but before their set proper could begin.... remember how event advertising listed an act named "BS" as special guests? My educated guess going in was that they meant Guy's last major band The Business Suit Trappers, who also played two songs last year, but I should have been thinking over a decade earlier, as "BS" stood for Bankshot, the acclaimed late 1990s local punk band! Yes, we got a partial Bankshot reunion to kick off The HTs set, with Lucas and Clint joined by the aforementioned Christian Pasiak, though unfortunately, neither singer Ron Pelletier or bassist Neil Vallee were able to participate. In their place, Christian took over lead vocals, while HTs bassist Ryan Disano filled in for their songs. Bankshot's run was before my time locally (I was 11 when they disbanded), but you can tell that it was a thrill for fans to see them live again, and for the guys to play their songs again, if only for a few minutes!

Outside of the "Angst For The Memories" CD, I don't have any memories of Bankshot as they were in their heyday, but their performance was fun, and Christian's vocals suited what they played! Ryan was tucked in the back a little too much and didn't seem to show a lot of energy, but as a passive younger observer, it looked like the reunion delivered, and if only Guy could be here to see it! When their mini-set ended, Christian traded places with regular HTs guitarist Andre LeBlanc, so what can be said about The HTs for our first time seeing them in a non-tribute band setting? There's room for some polish, but they are a new band, and they delivered a fun selection of punk classics and local throwbacks to close the night! Alongside renditions of NOFX and Rancid songs, they threw in some renditions of old Hangdowns classics like "Self Bortrait", "Bunch of Jerks", and (of course) "Fire Ban", which is a great gesture to Guy's memory for his family & friends!

Lucas sang lead capably and with attitude during their set, as fans of his old bands will expect, Andre's guitar work was a solid compliment, and Ryan showed more life and enthusiasm for the HTs set proper, and while they can tighten things up a little and engage the crowd a little more, you couldn't ask for a bigger first show (not counting Halloween), and hopefully we hear much more from The HTs in the new year! Overall, while there were some hang-ups during the night (the drumkit incident primary among them), this was a fun show and a great way to remember Guy and help raise funds for the Tracy's Dream charity, and hopefully everyone had a great time! It's interesting to note that every band that played on Wednesday (besides The HTs) was playing with a different lineup than when we last saw them, so for me at least, an intriguing hook was how each band would sound, and everyone delivered in different ways, be it permanent or with guests!

Hopefully plans remain in place to hold a third memorial show for Guy in 2018, and while I didn't know him that well, I hope he'd have enjoyed and been honoured by Wednesday night's entertainment! You can check out our photos and videos from the show at this link or at our Facebook page, but just as a disclaimer, I was forced to film every band after Stegadeth with my tablet's camera due to my normal concert camera having very untimely SD card read errors prior to A Dire Setback's set. Any connection to the drumkit incident is coincidental, I was as shocked as everyone else! This was my first time ever extensively using my tablet for photography or concert videos (I brought it to take notes with), so I apologize if the quality is inferior to our usual work, this will not become a common occurrence. I have already discarded the faulty camera, and have better cameras here to use next time! As for our videos, here's Talk Shit covering Bigwig's "Flavor Ice", Stegadeth playing "The Wire",...

...A Dire Setback playing "Faded", Jack Spades covering The Inner City Surfers' "Ten Commandments", Christian Pasiak playing a song whose name I didn't get (can you help title it?), Nebraska Arms playing "Lighthouses", Bankshot playing "Friendly Foe", and The HTs covering Cat Stevens' "Wild World"! No, Christian's video isn't sideways, that's a thumbnail error.

That's all for today, but stay tuned for more news and our 2017 retrospective post soon! Thanks everyone!

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Concert Previews For This Weekend, A New Album Release, And More!!

Here's another new post for your Thursday morning, and while we're mostly tackling this weekend's final slate of hard rock concert previews for 2017, we also have a new album release and a new video upload to round things out! Note that we are holding our preview of Soundcheck's New Year's Eve concert at The Esquire Club for our next news post due to it's Sunday night placement, so we can cover it closer to showtime. Now, here's what you should know for this weekend's concerts before the 31st!

We'll start with the final regular weekly concerts of 2017 for former Caveman Morrison frontman Tym Morrison, who will return to Gliss Steak & Seafood for another matinee trifecta TONIGHT, TOMORROW, and SATURDAY! A continually reliable sight over a fairly quiet weekend to end the year (at least for hard rock shows in the area), Tym's skilled and well-tested brand of acoustic hard rock covers should provide another entertaining weekend of music over the next few evenings! Note that there isn't a Facebook event page for these shows as of this writing, but the shows are advertised on SooToday's event calendar. Also, while Gliss is holding a New Year's party again on Sunday night, the musical performer for that will be The Paul Dellavedova Band for a third straight year, so keep that in mind if you want to end 2017 with the blues! As for Tym's threepeat of unplugged shows from tonight through Saturday, expect 6:00 PM start times, no announced cover charge, and no age limit. See above for details, and here's Tym live!

Next up, let's head to the E.U.P. for the final major original hard rock show in the area for 2017, as British Columbia hard rock/post-grunge quartet Theory of a Deadman will return to The Dreammaker's Theater at the Sault Michigan Kewadin Casino THIS SATURDAY NIGHT! Previously seen at this venue with headlining dates in 2012 & 2015, this platinum selling band (alternately known just as Theory in recent materials) are touring in support of their softer new album "Wake Up Call", and with familiar songs like "Lowlife", "Santa Monica", and "Rx (Medicate)", there should be something for fans across their run on Saturday! The openers will be Munising hard rock quartet Infathom (featuring former Soo resident Dillion Semasky on vocals), in their first concert appearance in the E.U.P. since playing in Brimley last March. Huge opportunity for Infathom, and hopefully they make a big impression on the big stage in a couple of nights' time! This show is presented once again by Allstar Promotions, so kudos for getting them back here!

Tickets for this show were $34.50, but the show is advertised as being sold out, so I'd recommend calling 1-800-KEWADIN in case anything opens up in the next few days. The concert proper starts at 7:00 PM on Saturday, and there are no announced age limits. While I'm admittedly not a huge Theory (of a Deadman) fan, I appreciate them taking a risk with a more original sound on this new album, and hopefully it's as big of a hit as the sold-out tickets imply! Visit the official Facebook event page for more details, and here's Theory live earlier this year!

Also today, here's a surprise new album release, as Dafter hard rock singer/guitarist Ken "SweetKenny" Sutton quietly released his 23rd solo album "Assassins" on December 11th! His first solo album since August's "The Dogs Are Watching" (which curiously still isn't on his Bandcamp page), this album is his tenth to primarily function as a score for use in movies, TV, or video games, so fans hoping for a true follow-up to his last traditional album "In Your Face" will have to look to 2018 for the next one, maybe. Ken describes the album as being about the title characters being sent to kill a girl who knows too much about them, and whose father is also a former colleague of theirs, which contrasts the album's peculiar subtitle on Sweetkenny's website ("A Comedy Album"?!) You can buy "Assassins" digitally for $7 on Bandcamp, among other sources for varying prices seen at the above links. I'll hold comments on the album towards a potential album review, but fans of his scores will want to give "Assassins" a listen at the above links!

In terms of a SweetKenny album review... if you're wondering why we didn't review "The Dogs Are Watching" in November given the end of our 6 month anti-bias buffer (post-"Epic"), it's because I honestly forgot about it. To make up for that, I will review a SweetKenny album on the site to start 2017, and I am going to stick with "The Dogs Are Watching", due to it's still recent release, and it being slightly heavier than both "Assassins' & his next album "Escape of the Desert Rat", which can be streamed on his website in advance of it's January 10th release. Stay tuned for more on that album next month, plus our next SweetKenny CD review!

Finally for today, here's a new video from Sault Ontario hard rock solo artist Mike McCleary's YouTube channel, as uploaded last week! A nicely edited music video for his song "Be The One", this features lots of interesting visuals that allude to the lyrics (displayed on screen), this has a gritty yet upbeat sound that showcases his musical diversity well, so give it a look below, and stay tuned for more from Mike's solo project!

That's all for now, but stay tuned for our review of last night's Guy Thiffault memorial concert on the site next! Thanks everyone!

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

YouTube Channel Profile Series: Detoxicated

I hope you guys had a great Christmas and Boxing Day! We are back from the holiday break of sorts with this month's YouTube Channel Profile, also our final monthly feature post of 2017! This series spotlights 1-3 YouTube channels whose content is at least 50% devoted to local metal, hard rock, or punk bands and/or concerts, as randomly chosen the previous month in order to promote their content and encourage readers to check them out and/or subscribe to them! This month's choice is stacked with footage from one of the Soo's biggest exports, so here's what you should know!
Detoxicated (

Owner: YouTube user Lauren DeDieu, who I don't believe is locally based

Channel Timeline: Launched on February 12th, 2006; videos posted from that day until February 2010

Channel Summary: Originally intended as a channel for videos from MuchMusic's programs Video On Trial and Live@Much, it quickly became known as a source for videos of or relating to local/Toronto indie punk quartet Treble Charger, as implied with the channel name referencing their 2002 album "Detox". Featured content includes music videos, live performances, band commentaries, behind the scenes sessions, and interviews, including many from MusicMusic during their early 2000s heyday. However, most content since July 2006 has been of separate projects, primarily Montreal alt-rockers Mobile.

Why You Should Watch: This is a must-watch channel for fans of Treble Charger, especially from their later years, and with 30 or so videos dedicated to them on the Detoxicated channel (not to mention a Greig Nori-featured episode of Video on Trial to lead off), you'll find a lot to like here, especially if you miss the good old days when MuchMusic truly aired music! However, note that this channel hasn't been visibly updated in well over 7 years, not even for post-reunion activity from Treble Charger.

Our Recommended Videos To Check Out

Treble Charger - Red (Original Version): Though outpaced by a Mobile & Video on Trial video each in popularity, the music video for Treble Charger's 1994 song "Red" is the most viewed here from the band's featured content, netting over 260,000 views. Notably, this is the video for the version of "Red" from their debut album "nc17", not the more famous re-recording from 1997's "Maybe It's Me". Featuring artsy footage of a woman running through a colourful forest full of unexpected items, this softer original (featuring Bill Priddle on lead vocals) is in line with the band's mid-1990s output, and it's a well written number accentuated with interesting visuals! Note that the video is letterboxed, having been uploaded before YouTube introduced widescreen videos in 2009. Also, while many other Treble Charger music videos can be checked out on this channel, a curious omission here is the video for the 1997 version of "Red".

Treble Charger - American Psycho Band Commentary: Much in the same vein as commentary tracks on DVDs, Treble Charger (sans bassist Rosie Martin) made very similar recordings back in 2002 for what I believe to be early website exclusives, before coming here in 2006. These feature Greig, Bill, and then-drummer Trevor McGregor giving running commentary on their music videos for "Friend of Mine", "How She Died", "Brand New Low", "Business", and as embedded below, "American Psycho". The video quality isn't great, and each half of the video is squished to fit the aspect ratio, but it's neat to hear the guys reminisce on the video shoots in an informal setting, and you do hear some good trivia and humourous facts throughout, if you don't mind the hit-and-miss audio quality! Note that the latter three videos are not on this channel in their original form, but are available elsewhere on YouTube.

Treble Charger - Live@Much Part 1: Most of the Detoxicated channel's videos are of Treble Charger's appearances on MuchMusic to promote their album "Detox", including five from a mid-2002 appearance on MuchOnDemand & seven videos comprising their entire episode of Live @ Much from November 13th, 2003. A hybrid concert & interview in front of a studio audience at Much headquarters in Toronto, the episode starts below with "Brand New Low", while part 4 features "Hole In Your Head" & "Don't Believe It All", and it closes with "American Psycho". Parts 2-3 & 5-6 are solely of interviews by host & then-VJ Jennifer Hollett, and they cover lots of ground for their career, music, and future plans (including some audience questions on part 3), though with Bill's departure shortly afterwards & their hiatus the following year, it's interesting to see how some of the responses turned out. Excellent flashback for fans of the band and MuchMusic alike, and well worth a watch!

I hope you guys liked our final YouTube Channel Profile of 2017! To start 2018 in this series, our first random selection for the new year will take us to the official YouTube channel of local doom metal trio AlgomA, so watch for that on or around January 26th, and stay tuned for weekend concert previews and more on the site next! Thanks everyone!

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Guy Thiffault Memorial & Mike Mikus/Id Iota Concert Previews, Plus More New Notes On Both!!

In what I project to be our last news post before Christmas Day, we're devoting things solely to two big concerts taking place just after Santa's big voyage, with new notes on each to touch on, including a new video find! Now, here's what you should know for your post-Christmas concert plans! (Updated on December 26th)

We'll start our special post-Christmas concert previews with the CD release show for former Pixo Control frontman Mike Mikus THIS TUESDAY NIGHT at LopLops Lounge, featuring alternative/hard rock quartet Id Iota as one of the opening bands! After an over 5 month hiatus from the local stage since moving to Montreal, Mike came home for the holidays with a well received acoustic show at The Rad Zone this weekend, and will break out the full electric live experience on Boxing Day, so fans of his alt/pop rock-styled solo material should definitely consider a trip to LopLops to see him again and buy his self-titled debut solo album! For reference, prior solo and Pixo Control bandmates Dustin Goodall and Keeghan Rosso will return to back him up alongside guest keyboardist Chloe Moore (as cited at this link.) Also, for fans of The Pixo Control, the new CD includes a pair of songs intended for that band's unreleased second album, which are "Electric Fetus" & "Plastic Veggies", so you'll get a few heavier songs on Boxing Day!

Id Iota (featuring Dustin Goodall again) will themselves be returning to the stage for the first time in 5 months with new material of their own, while indie/pop duo All Us Others (who played with both acts at Rotaryfest Stage 2 this year) will open the show, so come early for their rising sound! This special concert has a 19+ age limit, 10:00 PM start time, and $10 admission fee, or $5 if you have student ID (add $5 for a digital download copy of Mike's album!) It's great to have Mike and Id Iota back for the holidays, and hopefully the release party's a blast, so visit the official Facebook event page for more details, and in lieu of Dustin's sadly-now-deleted video of Mike and company covering The Pixo Control's "Potpourri" at his local farewell show in July, here's an alternate video of that same song from the crowd! Dustin's video was solid, hopefully it returns online down the road!

Next up, here's our other special mid-week concert preview for you hard rock and punk fans, as the second annual Guy Thiffault Memorial Concert goes down THIS WEDNESDAY NIGHT! Moving to The Canadian Nightclub (in spite of parking lot renovations) after holding last year's event at The Rockstar Bar, this concert will again pay tribute to late Hangdowns/Business Suit Trappers frontman Guy Thiffault, whose passing last December paved the way for this hastily booked but overwhelmingly successful tribute show, and it's great to see it back for year #2 with more advance word! This year's installment will be headlined by a one-off reunion of Guy's old indie/punk band Nebraska Arms, who played a brief 2 song set last year, and it'll be interesting to see how Wayne, Dave, and Adam do with more time on Wednesday! Local punk/metal quintet Jack Spades will also take the stage for a hard hitting set of their own originals, and it's great to see them on this year's bill!

New local punk quartet The HTs (featuring Bankshot, Northwest, Quasar, and Caveman Morrison alumni) will play their first non-Gimme Gimmes tribute set on Wednesday as well, so come on down to hear them for yourself, especially with no public media online yet! Remaining announced bands are all returnees from last year, including punk trio Stegadeth (in their debut appearance with Johnny Belanger on drums), alt-punk trio A Dire Setback (in their first show since the departure of original singer Larry Babic), and in a new confirmation on the Facebook event page on Thursday, online page-less punk quartet Talk Shit! As you may recall, this band reunited last fall after a 7 year breakup, but they'd been very quiet throughout 2017, so how will they look and sound in their first show in a year? Be at The Canadian on Wednesday to find out! Promoter/HTs frontman Lucas "Sal Velinus" Schmiedendorf also revealed that DJs The Dub Selectah and Manskirt will be on hand to spin tunes between bands, so keep them in mind as the music pumps all night long!

Special guests are teased on the poster and event page, though the only one credited beyond the DJs is "B.S." Could this stand for "Business Suit" (Trappers), as in an encore reunion of Guy's last major band? Time will tell! This event will see all proceeds going to Tracy's Dream, a local chariy that helps pay for Sault Area Hospital parking for those with serious medical need, which is a great gesture! Admission for this concert is $5 in advance (which you can buy online at this link) or $10 at the door, this is a 19+ event, and doors open at 8:00 PM. The partnership with Driverseat towards getting a discount on desginated drivers to get you home is still a thing, so visit the event page for details on Wednesday if this interests you, and once again, The Canadian is open during the parking lot renovations. There are signs up noting how you can pull into the property and enter the venue, so don't let things scare you away!

This should be another great show to honour Guy's memory, and hopefully there's a high turnout to rock out with this stacked lineup of local punk talent! Visit the above links for more details, stay tuned for this month's YouTube Channel Profile on the site next and here's Nebraska Arms live last year! Merry Christmas and/or Happy Holidays, everyone!

Thursday, December 21, 2017

LOCAL CONCERT ALERT (Soundcheck) & Christmas Weekend Concert Previews!!

Another weekend is upon us for concerts, so we'll tackle that mostly today, but we also have a LOCAL CONCERT ALERT and related apology to touch on as well! It's a quiet holiday weekend for hard rock shows in the Twin Saults, but let's get things rolling on this Thursday afternoon!

Local classic/hard rock cover quartet Soundcheck will return to The Esquire Club for their New Year's Eve bash on December 31st (one week from Sunday!) Ending a quiet second half of 2017 for the Mourning Wood successors, this will be their first show since Toystock late last month, and second appearance at a New Year's concert, sending out 2016 under their old temporary moniker Nameus at The Rednecks Saloon last year. Soundcheck's varied but often heavy brand of covers should attract a solid response as they help kick off 2018, so don't miss out on this one if you're looking for a sufficient New Year's event! This will obviously be a 19+ event with an announced 9:30 PM start time, and while admission will be a higher price of $20, keep in mind the usual New Year's Eve party frills for such nightclub events, and this will apparently include a complimentary (cab?) ride home, so keep that in mind also! Give the Facebook event page a look for more details!

Also, as a related note, I want to apologize for a minor error in a post earlier this month, as we erroneously credited Soundcheck's recent one-off turn with 3 Day Millionaires drummer Scott McLurg as taking place during their November 17th show at The Esquire Club. It was actually at their pre-Toystock show at The Rockstar Bar show on the 24th. Slight error, but I just wanted to acknowledge it, and hopefully Scott fit in fine last month!

Next up, here's this weekend's hard rock concert previews on a fairly slight weekend for announced events, possibly due to Christmas holidays starting for many. We'll start with the latest unplugged concerts from former Caveman Morrison frontman Tym Morrison, who will return to Gliss Steak & Seafood for his penultimate weekend of concerts there for 2017 TONIGHT, TOMORROW, and SATURDAY! Though not yet acknowledged with a Facebook event page, they are plugged on SooToday's events calendar, and Tym did note them in a personal Facebook posting. As these shows take place from the 21st through 23rd, they won't conflict with any Christmas Eve/Day plans, so keep these in mind for some hard rocking acoustic covers from a very talented singer and guitarist to help ring in Christmas proper! As usual for Tym Morrison's ongoing Gliss arrangement, expect 6:00 PM matinee start times at the downtown restaurant, and no announced cover charges or age limits. See above for details, and here's Tym live!

The only other currently announced hard rock shows in our area this weekend come at The Northern Pines Lounge at The Northern Pines Lounge at the Kewadin Shores Casino in St. Ignace TOMORROW & SATURDAY NIGHT, as Sault Michigan classic/hard rock cover quartet Highway 63 will take the stage for the final times this year! Ending a busy year of (generally) one concert weekend a month at The Northern Pines Lounge, these shows have been advertised by the band on their Facebook page as their final gigs before going on "a bit of a hiatus" so they can learn new sets. No word on how long their break will run, but just in case it's for an extended period, don't miss TOMORROW & SATURDAY'S shows for another solid weekend of hard rocking fan favourites! You can check out the Monkey's Uncle successors tomorrow and/or Saturday night at 9:00 PM, and these are both 21+ events with no announced cover charges. See above for details, and here's Highway 63 live!

That's all for this abbreviated weekend concert preview post, but stay tuned for more by Christmas Eve! Thanks everyone!

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

LOCAL CONCERT ALERT (Project 906), Theatre Of Night Updates, And More!!

Things have been quiet around here lately, possibly due to the holiday season commitments of local musicians, but we do have an all Sault Michigan post to check out on this snowy Tuesday night, including new videos from a few different acts, and leading off, a LOCAL CONCERT ALERT for next year!

Local hard rock/blues quartet Project 906 will be one of two local opening acts for a big blues rock concert at The Dreammaker's Theater at the Sault Ste. Marie Kewadin Casino on Saturday, February 10th! The show proper will be headlined by Ann Arbor blues singer/guitarist Laith Al-Saadi, a finalist on The Voice last spring, but don't let that stop you, he's an extremely talented musician who knows the blues in and out, so genre fans should definitely give Laith a listen! Fellow Detroit-area blues act The Chris Canas Band will also make the trip north with a soulful blend of blues and funk rock of their own, so keep them in mind too! In terms of the local openers, Project 906 will provide some hard rock sensibility in their first announced show of 2018, and first public and full band set since their Paradise road trip over Halloween. Joining them on February 10th are the reunited Chord On Bluz, featuring ex-Clownsack bandmates Tony Rogers & Bob Helsten, so don't miss them either! Nice to see them back out there!

A presentation of new local promoters Up Beat Entertainment, tickets are $30 each ($25 for the limited discount rate), and there are plenty of tickets available from almost any conceivable area at this link, at the in-person box office, or at 1-800-KEWADIN. This is an ALL AGES show, and everything will start at 7:00 PM as usual. Joining Pop Evil and Big Wreck in the same short span of February 2018, this collection of "the best of Michigan blues" should be a great time for genre fans, so visit the above links for current details!

Next up, here's some fallout from Theatre of Night's Christmas tour stops this weekend in Sault Michigan and Pickford! Members of the local classical/metal project's live lineup have been posting photos from both shows on their new Facebook group, and early reviews are positive for the concerts so far, which is great to see! The concert was briefly mentioned in this new Sault Evening News article (which is otherwise on The Soo Theater's return from fire renovations), while one video from the show is actually just of the marquee sign outside of the theater. However, if you're craving concert videos, you are in luck, and Christopher Paci's YouTube channel has came to the rescue for a rare batch of videos for his first Sault Michigan concert video uploads in seven months. That all said, what can you see there? Chris filmed Theatre of Night playing their versions of "What Child Is This?", "Little Drummer Boy", "The Nutcracker Suite", "Silent Night", "Oh Come All Ye Faithful"...

..."O Holy Night", and as embedded below, their set-closer "Carol of the Bells" on Saturday night, so visit individual links to watch each video. Definitely performing as a sextet with no Chris Webster, these are strong performances that capture the holiday spirit well, with Rachel & Stacie a nice match on vocals to boot, and the stage setup is classy and suits the evening! Muffled audio for the most part, but overall, these do the job nicely, so give these videos a look above and below!

Next up, here's a few more new Theatre of Night videos, both courtesy of Midlothian, Illinois nightclub Cheers Live Music Venue's Facebook page earlier this month! Unlike the band's own videos from this early stop of their Christmas tour, these were filmed at a few different angles during their first of two shows in Chicagoland, including two different clips of "Carol of the Bells" (linked here & here), but embedded below is their version of "Silent Night" from that weekend. Good turnout, solid audio, and the vocals are top notch, but the visuals can be a little blurry on "Silent Night" in particular. Check these our above and below, and hopefully more is on the way!

Finally for this slightly abbreviated post, here's a new video from Werehold Records' YouTube channel of an apparent new addition to the local indie label! The project in question is named Snatcher (after the cult Sega CD adventure game), and fittingly, the song here is a cover of that very game's "The Pleasure of Tension". No word on if this is an extension of Shatterhand's original focus on songs named after video games or it's own animal, but it's an effectively heavy take on the original techno-influenced instrumental, and it'll be interesting to see if Jason's Snatcher project has more in the works! Give their first song a listen below!

That's all for today, but stay tuned for this weekend's concert previews on the site next, in all likelihood! Thanks everyone!

Saturday, December 16, 2017

LOCAL CONCERT ALERT (Tym Morrison), Plus Lots Of New Videos!!

Here's another news post for your Saturday afternoon reading, so what's on offer today? Mostly new videos from artists on both sides of the border, but leading off, let's start with a SHORT NOTICE LOCAL CONCERT ALERT!!

Fresh off wrapping up another week of Gliss shows, local hard rock singer/guitarist Tym Morrison will head to The Water Tower Pub TONIGHT as one of many performers at their eighth annual Blues For Food fundraiser concert! Profuse apologies for the short notice, this has been announced since at least November 8th, but we only learned of it via a mention on Tym's personal Facebook page this morning, and given the genre theme, it's never been something to hit our direct radar before. This annual concert features a stacked cadre of blues-leaning local musicians, with all admission fees being either cash or non-perishable food donations to the Soup Kitchen, which is an excellent cause, and hopefully year #8 is another huge success to that end! This is Tym's first publically credited appearance at Blues For Food, so expect a bluesier set from him TONIGHT, while 10 other artists are advertised on the poster. These include (in listed order) Catherine Taddo, blues rockers Five Below Zero, Obsession frontwoman Valerie Powley, Treble Charger guitarist Bill Priddle...

...Stuart Bolduc, Barn Board Trio/ex-Gianni Gagoots guitarist Liam Seymour, Rusty McCarthy, Rick Wysynski, Mark Gough, and Steve Quesnele. Very talented lineup with many familiar faces from the local blues community and past Blues For Food events, so don't miss them and more special guests TONIGHT! This show starts at 9:00 PM TONIGHT, and you must be 19 or older to attend. Visit the official Facebook event page for more details, and here's Tym Morrison live a few years back!

Next up, here's the latest from local punk trio Stegadeth, starting with a surprising lineup shift, as they announced the addition of Bear Hunters/Handsome Sandwich drummer Johnny Belanger to their lineup last month, replacing Daniel MacDonald. The band cited unspecified "health reasons" for Daniel's departure, so hopefully it's nothing too serious, and that we see him back on stage down the road at some point! Of course, Johnny was a bandmate of guitarist Tiffany Stocco's with Jack Spades (Mk 1) through last summer, and he should fit in fine with her and Bill going forward, starting at the Guy Thiffault memorial concert at The Canadian on the 27th! In our first look at Stegadeth Mk 2, the band posted this video to their Facebook page last week featuring their cover of Diarrhea Planet's "Ghost With A Boner" (I didn't title the song or band, don't shoot the messenger!) Filmed by frontman Bill "Orthae" Bennett while playing, the performance is raw and promising, but not a lengthy look at the new lineup yet. Still, check it out below, and don't miss them live after Boxing Day!

Also today, here's some long overdue new videos from Sault Michigan classical metal project Theatre of Night's Facebook page, in advance of TONIGHT'S Soo Theater concert! Apologies for the delay in these making the site, they fell through the cracks far too often. All via shares from keyboardist Craig Harrison's personal Facebook page, one comes from November 21st, and it's just a 10 second clip of their version of "The Little Drummer Boy" played through a computer. Sounds good, but very brief! Another one from November 6th is this video filmed at Grooters Productions in Holland featuring ominous instrumentation, though the dark lighting doesn't accentuate things well, especially with no one visibly performing live. Also that day was this video showcasing the beginning of their version of "Silent Night" (again, via computer tracking), though this does reveal that they have pre-taped spoken word introductions on certain songs. Again, this is short, but it's a good preview!

An earlier video from November 2nd features just tracking background instrumentation. Embedded below however is this weekend rehearsal video from the 20th that opens with Craig performing a section, before translating to instrumental performers at Grooters. Arguably the heaviest non-concert video yet from Theatre of Night's Christmas tour cycle, this is a nice preview of what to expect tonight at The Soo Theatre or tomorrow in Pickford, despite the vertical camera angle, so check out these new-ish Theatre of Night videos above & below, and stay tuned for more next week!

Finally, here's the first video posted to Sault Ontario hard rock solo musician Mike McCleary's new YouTube channel! An original song called "Childish Leaders", this is Mike's entry into the Serj Tankian Challenge, a contest by System of a Down's frontman where musicians must make a 3 minute-or-less original song that starts with a a provided 7 note progression. Very well put together video with lyrics and animations, and if Mike did this all himself, kudos for a great job! Catchy song with a laid back feel yet serious lyrics, and hopefully it makes listeners think about what's on offer below!

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

Friday, December 15, 2017

Theatre Of Night Concert Previews & New Videos, Plus More Recent Updates!!

Today's post does indeed feature our previews of this weekend's Theatre of Night shows, but with a lot to say and unpack for their Christmas tour finale, we have extended our previews to cover most of this post, as rounded out with some assorted Sault Ontario news and notes. Without any further adieu, here's what you should know for this weekend!

After months of anticipation and teasers, Sault Michigan classical/metal project Theatre of Night will finally hit the local stage this weekend with the final announced stops of their Christmas tour! These include their well-hyped Soo Theatre debut TOMORROW NIGHT, while they'll bring the live experience out to Pickford THIS SUNDAY for a special matinee show at the Pickford United Methodist Church, so fans have two options to see them this weekend! Though the tour has commenced in Jackson and in Illinois, these will be Theatre of Night's first public concerts in the E.U.P. in four and a half years, and first here to be explicitly themed around their "Christmas Night" album and related material. With live shows requiring a full band, these will see Craig & Steve joined by five touring(?) band members, primarily from the Grand Rapids/Muskegon area, including singers Rachel Mender (their former I.S.O.M. bandmate) and Stacie McCarthy, bassist Scott Andringa, and drummer Erik Sales. It will be very interesting to see the full sextet on a local stage this weekend, so keep everyone in mind!

Tomorrow's Soo Theatre show is the bigger production, given it's location in the historic downtown theatre, with proceeds from the concert going to the Soo Theatre's Raise the Roof Project and recovery efforts following the fire back in October, so this show will help restore the venue in two different ways! There will be a meet & greet of some kind after the show, while The Soo Cello Crew (a chamber-style group conducted by Maggie Twining formed through recent classes there) will open the proceedings with their own classical renditions. As for Sunday's show at the Pickford United Methodist Church, this will be a more intimate show preceded by a Christmas potluck dinner at 4:00 PM, and this should provide a fitting atmosphere for their live show, especially as most of their songs come from religious/nativity-based carols. A Christmas program featuring Sunday school class performances will precede Theatre of Night during their regular service, click here for details if you are so inclined.

Tomorrow's Soo Theater show features $15 adult admission, $10 for students with valid student ID, and $5 for Soo Theatre Arts Resource Studios (STARS) members, with tickets available online at this link, at the venue's in-person box office, and presumably at the door, while the Pickford show has no advertised admission fee. The shows start at 7:00 PM tomorrow and 5:00 PM on Sunday, and both are ALL AGES. For more details, visit the official Facebook event pages linked here and here! This is all shaping up to be a huge weekend for Theatre of Night and company, especially as the first band to play The Soo Theatre since the fire in October, , and hopefully both of these shows are a huge hit so that we see some permutation of Theatre of Night on stage again in the future! There are more new videos to touch on of theirs, but for a preview, here's some videos from their show at Cheers Live Music Venue in Midlothian, Illinois (outside of Chicago) last week! These were uploaded to the band's YouTube channel yesterday, but what should you know on these?

These feature Theatre of Night performing their renditions of "Carol of the Bells" and, as embedded below, "O Holy Night", and while the stationary angle could be a little more centered, the band sounds solid, and Rachel & Stacie's vocals add a nice dimension to the carols! It should be noted that ex-Elipzis guitarist Chris Webster is not seen here or in any recent media, though I can't confirm if he's out of the whole tour, or just had prior scheduling conflicts. Hopefully nothing bad happened, he would have been a solid component for the tour! Still, you couldn't ask for a more seasonal show for the holidays, so give these a look below, and don't miss out this weekend!

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:

  • I have moved Sault Ontario hard/pop rock quartet Heavy Head to our inactive band links due to a year's inactivity. This union of Suicide Kings, Jack Spades, Winkstinger, and Bear Hunters alumni will be best remembered from a smattering of early 2016 shows, including a set in last year's VM Radio Battle of the Bands semifinals, but updates quietly ended last summer, save for an impromptu return during a November open jam session. Heavy Head had a lot of talent and promise, and hopefully we see Mike, Jesse, Daniel, and Johnny out there again at some point!
  • The annual Hempfest concert/marijuana culture festival was permanently cancelled this spring. Organizer Robert Neron announced the news on the Hempfest website in May, citing a "lack of money" and sponsorship for his reasons, as complicated by his own health concerns, though he thanked fans, performers, and sponsors for their support, and left open the possibility of passing the event on to new organizers. Hempfest had permanently moved from nearby Ophir to Moonbeam in 2014, so it's no longer directly relevant to the site, but I thought it was worth mentioning. Best of luck to Robert in his future endeavours!
  • In a change to one of links of local concert/musician photographers, I've replaced Jeff McKersie Photography's website (which is currently down) with his still-active Facebook page. Minor update, but now that's accurate again, and check Jeff's page out to see his pictures or inquire about shoots of your own!

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