Thursday, February 25, 2021

LOCAL CONCERT ALERTS (Fort Creek, Soundcheck, Tarnished, And Tym Morrison!!)

As promised, here's a bunch of LOCAL CONCERT ALERTS for your Thursday night reading, now that concerts on both sides of the border have the go-ahead in a limited basis once again! Leading off are a pair of SHORT NOTICE gigs for the weekend ahead, so here's what you should know!

Local classic/hard rock cover quartet Soundcheck will play their first public concerts of 2021 TOMORROW & SATURDAY NIGHT when they return to Reggie's Place on Queen Street East! Apologies for the short notice, these dates were only announced via their Facebook event page on Saturday. One of the few heavier local bands to play live dates with pandemic restrictions, you may recall seeing Terry, Cameron, Paul, and Glen at both Reggie's branches last fall (most recently at Reggie's West in December), so this looks like Soundcheck are picking up where they left off now that concerts can take place again, even in this form. If you're up for some hard and classic rock hits, and likely country cuts given the locale, head to the downtown Reggie's TOMORROW & SATURDAY! These are 19+ events with no cover charges and early start times of 8:00 PM, as venues do have to close earlier right now.

Of course, Reggie's and other local concert venues that are choosing to host bands will be subject to similar social distancing limitations as they had last fall, so expect capacity limits, spaced out seating, early closing times, and mask requirements where stated. If you can brave all that, Soundcheck will await TOMORROW & SATURDAY! See above for more details, and here's Soundcheck in action live at Reggie's West last year!

Next up, Sault Michigan hard rock band Tarnished (minus Nathan) will make their Hulbert Township debut on Saturday, March 13th when Alex Traynor & Josh Fair bring their two-man acoustic show to... The Hulbert House Bed & Breakfast?! This is the first show we've covered in Hulbert (an hour west of the Soo) since Project 906's pre-pandemic gigs at Hulbert Happy Hour, and while the venue is definitely atypical of where you'd normally see Tarnished play, so was Biggby Coffee before their weekly series there! The Hulbert House (at 9920 South North Hulbert Road) has hosted sparing live concerts that they have documented on their Facebook page, and hopefully Alex & Josh deliver a fun set for gathered fans in a couple of weeks A 9:00 PM start time is in effect for this concert, which has no cover charge, and while this doesn't strike me as a 21+ event, you may want to enquire within.

And it goes without saying, please respect The Hulbert House's social distancing regulations, whatever they happen to be come March 13th, to keep yourself and everyone else safe. Visit the official Facebook event page for more details, and stay tuned for much more from Tarnished soon!

Also, let's head back to Sault Ontario, as local hard rock singer/guitarist Tym Morrison will return to the aforementioned Reggie's Place for his second announced solo concert of 2021 on Sunday, March 21st as part of their Sunday matinee series! Tym has announced more dates for there on his personal Facebook page, but we'll hold off on those until they receive a public confirmation. Next month's gig will be Tym's first solo date since rocking Reggie's Place this past Sunday, and while the early timeslot isn't normal for him, the Sunday matinee timeslot is par for the course at Reggie's. Expect a 19+ age limit, 3:00 PM start time, no cover, and very similar social distancing measures unless things appreciably improve in the next three weeks. For more details, visit the official Facebook event page, and stay tuned for more from Tym when publicized!

Finally, local southern hard rock quintet Fort Creek will end their own pandemic-induced break when they return to Reggie's West (the former Roosevelt Hotel) for gigs on Friday, March 26th & Saturday, March 27th! Surprising that they're waiting so long to play following the resumption of limited concerts, but a post on their Facebook page from the 14th did note that bassist Robin "Bones" Lee was injured, albeit still rehearsing. These will be Fort Creek's first concerts since their Christmas Cheer fundraisers at the Reggievelt back in November, and after a four month layoff, hopefully they shake off the rust and deliver some more fan favourite rock and roll for the crowd, however limited it may be, next month! The band is also planning to give away some merchandise over this weekend, so if you want some of the swag they've been promoting on Facebook, there you go!

Similarly to the above downtown Reggie's shows, Fort Creek's west end Reggie's dates are both 19+ affairs with no announced cover charges, and the start time is currently advertised as 7:30 PM. Once again, pandemic restrictions are fluid and could change if things improve in the coming weeks, but regardless, please follow all of the venue's restrictions and capacity limits to ensure a safe environment for the band, staff, and fellow patrons alike. Visit the above links for more details, and stay tuned for this month's YouTube Channel Profile next! Thanks everyone!

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

9 Times Dark - "Vicissitude" EP Review!!

It's now time for our 140th monthly CD review at The Sault Metal Scene, and this month, we're taking a look at new local punk solo project 9 Times Dark's debut EP "Vicissitude"! Independently released to major streaming/download platforms on August 26th, this EP was recorded last year at Relentless Audio with producer Ryan McLaughlin, who also mixed As It Stands' "The Lost Tapes" EP. 9 Times Dark are solely (I believe) represented by local musician Christopher Raginskis, though if I am missing anything re: the album's personnel, note that 9 Times Dark don't have a dedicated band page outside of album sale locations. Speaking of which, this handy CDBaby link lists most of the official services hosting "Vicissitude", but it can also be heard on Relentless Audio's YouTube channel for free, and if you want downloadable mp3 copies, Amazon has it for $5.94. With 6 songs running for about 15 minutes, let's kick off our latest CD review!

If you noticed the relatively short run-time for 6 tracks, there's a reason for that, as half of them are sub-75 second bridging tracks, two being functionally instrumental. "Vicissitude" opens with the shortest of all namely "Frequencies", which just has the sounds of Chris (I assume) getting into & starting a vehicle, and fiddling with the FM radio dial, complete with many frequencies being quickly scanned. Not much to it, but I think he did record original song fragments to play on the "stations". This song leads right into the first proper song "Funeral Home", which definitely has a horror punk vibe to it in both lyrical themes and Chris' somewhat deeper singing voice, which has a bit of a Mike Ness quality to it. This contrasts with an upbeat modern punk vibe, which is cleanly produced and they play off each other well! Strong music all around, and this is a good way to sample 9 Times Dark early!

Third on the EP is "Celebration Of Life" (I'm noticing a theme), which is another short bridging track. Here, you get sampled dialogue of an angry woman, a vocal choir, and some processed effects over top of everything, and the woman helps segue directly into the next full song, "Last Date". The longest song on offer, this makes more good use of music contrasting with the words being sung, as this is seemingly an folksier acoustic number, but Christopher's lyrics & vocals (which remind me of Paul Kuhr from Novembers Doom in this setting) are much more sinister and downbeat. Not badly handled, I can easily picture this in a live-setting as a drinking song of sorts, but based on my musical tastes, I do prefer the more upbeat & rocking opener. The penultimate song is the last short bridging track, fittingly titled "The Bridge", but this one is a real song while it lasts.

If you liked "Last Date", this feels like a continuation of it in tone, with more of the downbeat low-register singing from Chris and a moody, dark tone. Again, not much of a song (barely longer than "Frequencies", but it fits where the EP has went. "Vicissitude" closes with "The Director", which brings things to a close on a punk trajectory (and you can probably guess that this isn't a movie director.) Musically, this really reminds me of Social Distortion, with less of the horror punk side despite the lyrical subject matter. While it's well performed and produced, and definitely full of interesting details you don't often hear in other punk lyrics, the song's pacing is a little flat compared to "Funeral Home", especially in the vocal levels. Not a bad song though! Fittingly, it closes with more FM radio dial fiddling as Chris arrives at his destination, bringing the EP full circle.

So, what are my final thoughts on 9 Times Dark's first EP? While it's very short, it's an interesting first foray that shows some relatively unique inspirations for the area! I believe Christopher took a lot of the funeral home lyrics from personal experience, and that definitely gives these songs their own flavour, and it helps to hear them together to see the story being told. The EP is lean, with only 3½ songs, but they showcase a good musical range, from gritty straight-forward punk rock to slow and downbeat numbers, and given the inspirations on offer, 9 Times Dark immediately have their own sound and place in the local scene. The production was very good, perhaps too clean given the music and lyrics on offer, and Chris is a solid musician, but I do want to hear more from 9 Times Dark in more ways than one, from this being a short EP, to the possibility of expanding beyond a solo studio project.

If you like Social Distortion-style punk bands, and/or some uniquely dark imagery in your punk rock, give "Vicissitude" a listen at the above links, and hopefully we hear more from Christopher and/or this project in 2021! I hope you guys liked this month's CD review, but what are we reviewing in March? I have an idea of what I'm looking at, and while it will likely be another new album, I'm not going to immediately state the name yet, as the album in question hasn't been publically announced by the act in question at press time. Stay tuned for updates, and for a weekend concert preview post on the site tomorrow, now that some shows are back! Thanks everyone!

Monday, February 22, 2021

A Look At Tarnished's TikTok Videos (Part 2!!)

Before we begin today's post, I wanted to note that Highway 63/Mama's Boys singer/guitarist Henry Switzer's obituary is now online at this link. There, it says that he passed away suddenly at War Memorial Hospital on Wednesday afternoon at just 49 years of age (he would have turned 50 on March 27th.) Listed survivors include his wife Kristina, three children, three grandchildren, his parents, and three brothers. Funeral services will be held privately at C.S. Mulder Funeral Home in Sault Michigan on Friday, with a public celebration of life planned for "later this summer", though with the pandemic, who knows what form that could take. The lengthy and well written obituary goes into great detail about Henry as a father, husband, auto shop owner, musician, animal lover, and overall, as a good person. It is definitely worth a read whether you knew him well or not, and our continued well wishes are with the Switzer and Brooks families at this difficult time. R.I.P. Henry!

Now, today's post otherwise keeps us in Sault Michigan for our second look at the videos posted by Sault Michigan hard rock band Tarnished on their TikTok page! We covered their first 27 videos there on the site last month, running through December 11th, so let's pick up where we left off! As was the case last month, I can not get the embed code for TikTok videos working on the SMS, and if you are Sault Ontario reader and find videos without working sound, then odds are the audio is geoblocked in Canada. 

On December 14th, the guys shared two videos of Alex & Josh's acoustic performance on Eagle 95.1 FM's morning show, where you can see them playing fragments of "Metalyn" with Alex & Josh, and the holiday classic "Run Rudolph Run" with Alex & Nathan, both of which have made their way to Facebook already. What didn't go there is this clip of Alex talking about their appearance on the Eagle, including brushing off the vehicle for the drive there, and clips of DJ/station owner Tim Ellis asking the band about availability of their "Down To The Wire" EP. Then-drummer Gary Croad even makes a brief appearance, despite not performing. Fun look at the behind the scenes stuff you can't seen when listening to the radio, if obviously short given the nature of TikTok! Ensuing videos include an example of "beautiful wall art" at "the band pad", and a handful of pre-Christmas uploads

These include two late-night rehearsal clips (one jokier than the other) that I believe were related to their studio version of "Run Rudolph Run" that you may have seen on Facebook a couple of months ago. The others in this batch are two episodes of their ultra-literal TikTok series "A Note In Review", where Josh reviews a musical note. On Boxing Day, Alex starred in this video showing off some of his Christmas gifts and teasing Tarnished's 2020 plans to put out some new music. Speaking of which, their next proper performance clips were posted on December 30th, where Tarnished (Gary included) covered Aerosmith's "Same Old Song & Dance" and played their own "Cabin Fever", with Alex manning the camera while singing sans guitar. Fun performances while they last, though whether the gratuitous lightning improves things on the Aerosmith cover is up to you.

On January 3rd, Tarnished uploaded a video of them setting up and having a Nerf battle at the private New Year's party that Alex & Josh performed at, and while video of that set was not shared on TikTok we already covered a Facebook video from that event on the SMS. That same day, a slideshow clip set to AC/DC's "Back In Black" was uploaded to commemorate the band hitting 600 likes on Facebook (though I'm surprised that they'd celebrate one social media milestone on a completely different social media platform.) Their next three videos are not musical whatsoever, instead having them sum up Jurassic Park in a nutshell using brief re-enactments, running commentary, and movie clips. Reminds me in a way of That Guy With The Old Glasses' old movies-in-5 seconds videos! Lastly for now, a January 10th video featured Alex & Josh shopping for furniture at Big Lots.

Either I miscounted videos last month or they've deleted videos since, but only 7 TikTok videos are left on Tarnished's page that I haven't addressed on the SMS yet. We'll save those for an upcoming post, but that's all for today, and we'll be back with a new news post by Thursday! Thanks everyone!

Saturday, February 20, 2021

LOCAL CONCERT ALERTS (Tarnished & Tym Morrison), Plus A New Addition To Our Band Links!!

Here's a new news post on this Saturday afternoon, devoted to two topics: SHORT NOTICE LOCAL CONCERT ALERTS as we ease back into live concerts post-lockdown (again), and a long belated addition to our Sault Ontario band links! Here's what you should know!

We have a new-ish band to add to our active local band links, and they are relaunched "shield rock" duo Swampgut! Not to be confused with the defunct Sault Michigan metal band Swampghas, this is the studio project led by former Rising Tide/Gianni Gagoots drummer Frank McCormick and collaborator Rob MacDonald that you may recognize from their initial active run from circa 2011-2015. I will admit, I didn't include Swampgut in our primary coverage in their first run because their music didn't seem to skew towards hard rock, but in listening to their material on Rob's YouTube channel once again, there's enough of a variance there where I probably should have covered them actively then. My belated apologies, so let's make up for lost time! Listed as being from Batchewana Bay, Swampgut describe themselves as blending "many styles including rock, psychedelic, and funk music."

Swampgut don't have a dedicated Facebook page, but Frank has promoted their relaunch on his visual arts page since December. Nine songs (some long, many themed after the Soo region) can be heard on Rob's YouTube channel linked above, while three "jam room sessions" can be heard on their new Bandcamp page, which were uploaded as "albums" with a "name your price" payment option, though given the strong hint Frank made on his Facebook page with this image containing apparent album track listings, there may be more up their sleeves than on a quick glance. Note that the second session featured guest performers "Kev & Boyd" (no last names, but you can infer likely candidates from there.) This may fit in with Frank's post in December hinting that "this time, the Others will be summoned", so are "the Others" guest musicians? Time will tell, but Swampgut are somewhat cagey online with who does what on their songs (I can't find any public mention of instrument roles.)

The music on offer so far from Swampgut has a very varied spread of hard rock and trippier, eclectic elements that can be hard to sum up succintly, but if you liked Frank's work with Gianni Gagoots, or took to old local bands like Sykotyk Rampage, you should find solid entertainment value here. Strong performances, if having somewhat lo-fi recording methods, and I'd be curious to see what Swampgut have in store for their revival! Check out their 10 minutes-long original "As Old As These Hills" below!

Next up, here's some SHORT NOTICE LOCAL CONCERT ALERTS, and now that we're out of the Ontario lockdown, Sault Ontario's first hard rock gig of 2021 will see veteran local guitarist Tym Morrison return to Reggie's Place TOMORROW as their first Sunday matinee performer since re-opening! Apologies for the short notice, this concert was only announced via it's Facebook event page on Monday. After his Motley Market series ended last fall, Tym made his first modern-era appearances at the newly re-opened downtown Reggie's in December with two shows in four days right before the lockdown, including another Sunday matinee. It's great to see Tym back at one of the few concert venues willing to host local music during this screwy time, albeit with obvious social distancing measures in effect, so go check out his hard & classic rock, and covers TOMORROW!

This is a 3:00 PM event with no cover charge and a likely 19+ age limit, but wear your mask and be mindful of Reggie's capacity limits and social distancing measures to keep you and them safe. For what it's worth, I don't expect that this is the start of a weekly engagement for Tym at Reggie's, as their Sunday matinee has always had a rotation of acts, but we'll let you know when Tym does return. See above for more details, and here he is live!

Lastly, Sault Michigan hard rock band Tarnished (minus Nathan) will do an encore of last week's matinee gigs at Crooked Music on Ashmun Street with special weekday matinee performances there on MONDAY & WEDNESDAY! Again, apologies for the short notice, these dates were only announced on their Facebook page on Wednesday, and only in one sentence of that post. Those same days this week saw Alex & Josh bring back their Biggby-era acoustic show to the downtown music store, and they appear to have went well to get re-booked this coming MONDAY & WEDNESDAY, so look for more hard rocking hits from two members of Tarnished then! Like this week, these are 12:30 PM matinees with no age limits or cover charges, but please respect Crooked Music's social distancing measures. See above for more details, and for a preview, here's a new video from this past Wednesday!

Posted to their Facebook page that night, this is of Alex & Josh covering The Scorpions' "Rock You Like A Hurricane", albeit in black & white, and only 44 seconds of the first verse and chorus. Solidly done acoustic version while it lasts, and Alex hits the right vocal notes throughout, so give it a look below, and see much more in colour on MONDAY & WEDNESDAY!

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

Friday, February 19, 2021

Last Month's Poll Results & Our New Poll!

It's now time to wrap up last month's poll on the SMS and launch a new one! As you may recall, we posed this question to you guys last month: What was your favourite new local metal, hard rock, or punk album of 2020? Only 10 votes, which is disappointing, but thanks to everyone who did vote, especially with a fairly interesting final tally, which you can see below!

The Bear Hunters - The Dead Testament (3 votes, 30%)
A Dire Setback - A Dire Setback (3 votes, 30%)
Mike Haggith - If Ever Comes The Day (2 votes, 20%)
Other (2 votes, 20%)
9 Times Dark - Vicissitude (0 votes)
As It Stands - The Lost Tapes (0 votes)
Either of Crucify The Whore's new albums (0 votes)
Tarnished - Down To The Wire (0 votes)

What do you guys think? Regarding the albums with no votes, I'm most surprised that As It Stands' long-belated EP didn't get any votes, especially knowing how popular they were a decade ago. The other three options were tempered by lower-profile release methods, or in Tarnished's case, not being based on this side of the border. I can't speak for the two "Other" votes, but the three top vote-getters predictably got the most positive attention in the poll, validating their contemporary fandom and successes! Mike's positive votes show that he has maintained his local following since moving west, and with A Dire Setback & The Bear Hunters tying for the lead, both metalheads and punk fans had their say! In ties like this, my tiebreaker is to give the edge to the newer album (as it had less time to garner the same votes), so I'd consider "The Dead Testament" as the winner, but both were very solid new albums that deserve to be checked out!

Thanks to everyone for voting! As for this month's poll, you may recall me mentioning last month that I was condensing our 2020 wrap-up polls from five to two due for obvious pandemic-related reasons. One is now in the books, and this month's poll poses this question to you guys: COVID-19 aside, what was the biggest local metal, hard rock, or punk news story of 2020? This was a tricky poll to narrow down choices for, given how different of a year 2020 was in pretty much every facet, but it certainly wasn't boring! As noted above, the COVID-19 pandemic alone will not be an option in the poll, as that is a wide-sweeping blanket topic that, in & of itself, isn't a local music story. It certainly impacted everything, and it undoubtedly defined 2020, but we're trying to be specific to newsworthy events. Similarly, I'm not including specific concert cancellations as options, because pretty much everything after mid-March had an identical fate, and where do you draw the line?

I narrowed down your choices this year from our usual 25 to 20 (hopefully we can bump back up for 2021), and of course, "Other" is back too if you would prefer. Now, here's a little on the final options!

A Dire Setback release their self-titled debut CD: As alluded to above already, local punk trio A Dire Setback put out their long awaited studio album in March, early into the pandemic, and it recieved a strong reception from fans despite their release party being forced into a virtual setting. This was a fun album from this prominent local band, but was this the most newsworthy item in the poll?

As It Stands posthumously release "The Lost Tapes": Another of last year' new album crop, defunct local hardcore quintet As It Stands surprised many fans when they finally mixed and released their 2011 Mississauga recording sessions for their planned EP almost a decade after the fact. This was a nice surprise, even minus the Blink-182 cover, but would it earn your vote here?

The Bear Hunters release "The Dead Testament": Winners of the above poll (using the release date tiebreaker), local death metal standouts The Bear Hunters finally released their sophomore album in a sudden Bandcamp posting in November, opting to just get it out in some form despite the pandemic. The improved production quality accentuated the brutality well, but would you vote for it?

The Borderline Internet Radio hits the airwaves: Back in February, a new locally-focused radio alternative debuted when The Borderline launched with a large rotation of Sault-area musicians plus a number of scheduled programs featuring live hosts. While not on AM or FM, The Borderline has already developed a good following, but was it's launch #1 of these choices?

Concerts resume on a limited basis in the summer: For obvious reasons, live concerts did not take place for much of 2020, but select bands returned to some semblance of a live schedule from July through the second Ontario lockdown in December, with artists like Fort Creek, Soundcheck, and Tym Morrison playing to multiple socially distanced crowds. Would the return of concerts get your vote?

Eric Martin from Mr. Big hits Kewadin Casino in February: One of three major venue headlining concerts we got in 2020 before things turned upside down, former Mr. Big frontman Eric Martin and Trixter alum P.J. Farley played a special unplugged concert at The Dreammaker's Theater one year ago. The biggest was yet to come for hair metal fans, but did this top 2020 for you?

The Hair Scare Live rocks Kewadin Casino in February: Just a week after Eric Martin's Kewadin Casino gig in Sault Michigan, Rock 101's Hair Scare and host Scott Cook helped bring a hair metal feast to the same venue, courtesy of Cinderella's Tom Kiefer, Kix, and Faster Pussycat. This was the last major hard rock concert before the pandemic, but was it your biggest news story?

The Inner City Surfers release their new single: Over a year after recording three new songs locally in conjunction with their 2019 reunion show, local punk veterans The Inner City Surfers released "Excess Express" on YouTube and major streaming platforms. Fans took to the bluegrass-influenced punk song like it was 2005 all over again, but was it the most newsworthy item of all included here?

Live-streamed & virtual concerts gain wider popularity: With normal concerts out of the cards from mid-March onward, many local bands and event organizers shifted their focus to the internet to continue performing for an audience, notably including Mike Haggith, Tarnished, and Tym Morrison's regular weekly at-home gigs. Did this emerging trend strike you as newsworthy?

Long & McQuade moves to MacDonald Avenue: Moving during a pandemic can't be ideal, but local chain music store Long & McQuade (merged from Northland Music & Thomas Walls School Of Music) opened in the former Northshore Sports & Auto site in July, giving local musicians a new larger location and inventory for all of their needs. Would you vote for this story?

Mike Haggith releases "If Ever Comes The Day": After opting to postpone his planned "Bridges" album, former Din frontman Mike Haggith released his 50th canon solo album and first in 5 years back in May, complete with it's own release party shoved to a digital format. This intensely personal concept album recieved many positive reviews, but were you among them?

Mikey & His Uke launch his quarantune video series: A surprise daily treat during the first lockdown came via Inner City Surfers drummer and prolific local/Toronto punk frontman Mikey Hawdon's increasingly popular series of short vocal/ukelele song uploads, which slowly grew in prominence and quality into their current far-flung juggernaut. Was this #1 for you?

The Rad Zone moves to Queen Street East: After two decades at the former Wellington Square Mall, local record/skateboarding/video games/etc. store The Rad Zone packed it's bags and moved downtown into the former Foch Cleaners location in February. The pandemic didn't make for an ideal first year there, but was The Rad Zone's big move last year's biggest news story?

Reggie's Place re-opens under new ownership: After being closed for a year, popular Queen Street East bar & concert venue Reggie's Place was bought by Randy Lapossie, re-opened in September, and became one of the few repositories for a concert calendar last fall, even booking more hard rock than they once did. Would you vote for the return of Reggie's here?

Room 21 closes after Acoustic Heartstrings concert: A venue closure that had nothing to do with the pandemic, Albert Street West acoustic nightclub Room 21 announced that they were shutting their doors in February due to their host restaurant Low & Slow's move downtown, ending their two year run with a three band Valentine's Day show. Is this your preferred choice?

Rotaryfest music lineup takes place virtually in September: Ensuring that our annual summer festival took place in some form in 2020, Rotaryfest was delayed to the early fall and held virtually, with a pre-recorded YouTube concert headlined by Crystal Shawanda. No hard rock bands played (cover songs aside), but did Rotaryfest's 2020 changes top last year for you?

Shit Liver upload their 2016 tour documentary: After a four year wait, local/St. Catharine's grindcore trio Shit Liver finally posted the video of all of their antics from their cross-Canada tour run in the second quarter of 2016, including highlights from their Oddfellows Hall sho that April. It was great to see this video at long last, but would you vote for it here?

Tarnished release their "Down To The Wire" EP: The only high profile album to come out last year from a Sault Michigan hard rock act, "Down To The Wire" gave fans a nice compact package of five upbeat and heavy original music, and it gotr some strong publicity in the area during the first lockdown! Was this EP last year's top story of these choices?

Theory Of A Deadman rocks Sault Ontario in February:A rare hard rock concert hit The Sault Community Theater Center last year when Canadian rock radio mainstays Theory Of A Deadman returned to the region for a well recieved headlining date alongside openers W3apons. As the last high profile Sault Ontario event before the pandemic, does it earn your vote?

We Will Rock You musical takes place in January: While not a concert in the traditional sense, the touring production of the Queen musical We Will Rock You made it's way to GFL Memorial Gardens last January, featuring Queen's classic songs in a jukebox musical format. Definitely an interesting way to experience Queen, but would you vote for it in this poll?

Other: Did we miss something you'd rather vote for? Was a specific unlisted concert or album more to your liking? Was there a pandemic-influenced event that struck you as more newsworthy? Remember, the question begins with "COVID-19 aside,". If, for whatever reason, we missed your own top news story of 2020, then "Other" is for you!

VOTE TODAY! You have until March 19th or so to cast your votes, and as always, it will be interesting to see what comes out on top here, perhaps more than ever given how screwy of a year that 2020 was! That's all for today, but stay tuned for a new news post tomorrow. Thanks everyone!

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

R.I.P. Henry Switzer

The Sault Metal Scene sends it's deepest condolences to the family and friends of veteran local singer/guitarist Henry Switzer, who suddenly passed away earlier today, according to numerous postings on Facebook from friends and family. A staple of the Sault Michigan music scene dating back to the 1990s (if not further) as both a musician and guitar instructor, Henry will be more familiar to current readers from his work fronting the 2014-2020 classic/hard rock cover band Highway 63 and their sister group Mackinaw Trail, but bands of his have been a staple of our E.U.P. coverage as long as I've been following Sault Michigan. You may have seen Henry live with local favourites The Mama's Boys, his 2006-2012 band Monkey's Uncle (née Jager), and their successors Sir Charge through 2013, with his son Nathan (now of Heavy Lies The Crown) a regular bandmate of his throughout the 2010s.

I don't feel comfortable going into great detail here about Henry's health battles in the past year or so, but he was candid on Highway 63's Facebook page in March about wanting to come back to live performances following a heart ailment (obviously before the pandemic began), and the band ultimately cancelled a planned Rudyard Days festival in June. Highway 63 would return for one more concert in August, when they played outside of Henry's automotive business Hank's Body Shop to send off Nathan before he moved downstate, and his last public music work was in a series of classic rock studio covers that you can check out above and on his YouTube channel. I never had the honour of meeting Henry, but the outpouring of condolences definitely paint him as a kind soul, a devoted husband and father, and a great music teacher, and his strong vocal range and guitar skills were apparent throughout his local music career.

As of this writing, details on services are not online, but I would keep tabs on The Sault Evening News' obituary page for further information. My kindest thoughts are with Nathan (I can relate to losing a parent) and to Henry's wife Kristina at this difficult time, but from everything I've read, it's apparent that he was a fighter, and he will be sorely missed. R.I.P. Henry!

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

LOCAL CONCERT ALERT (Tarnished), An Inactive Band Note, And A Full Concert Video From 2006!!

Three posts in five days, things are definitely starting to get a little busier around here, which can't be a coincidence given that the second Ontario lockdown is officially over! Fingers crossed that there won't be a third. Today's post features a nice long look a a full local concert set from 14 years ago, a note on a likely inactive local band, and leading off, a SHORT NOTICE LOCAL CONCERT ALERT?! Here's what you should know!

Sault Michigan hard rock band Tarnished (well, frontman Alex Traynor & bassist Josh Fair) will play a special acoustic matinee concert at Crooked Music at 539 Ashmun Street TOMORROW! Apologies for the short notice, this show was only announced on their Facebook event page yesterday, in conjunction with a show there yesterday as well. That was announced on only 90 minutes notice, which isn't ideal, but it's great to see Tarnished playing live again! Apologies again, I would have plugged yesterday's show here had it had more reasonable notice! That was Tarnished's first publically advertised concert since the Rock The Block event at the same venue in July (blame the pandemic on the delay), but yesterday's & TOMORROW's shows are two-man acoustic jams with no drummer or Nathan in sight, a'la their live-streamed concerts from last year. If you can't make it out, Tarnished have promised that videos from these gigs are forthcoming.

These bookings make me wonder if last week's "Crooked Jam" video (embedded as a preview below) was either an unadvertised first gig here in their return to live performances or just a private warm-up, but given the absence of any kind of audience, I'd assume it's more the latter. TOMORROW'S show (as was yesterday's) has a 12:30 PM start time, no age limits, and no cover charge, but be respectful of Crooked Music's capacity, social distancing, and mask-wearing regulations. Visit the above links for more details, and stay tuned for more from Tarnished soon!

Next up, I will likely (and reluctantly) be moving Sault Ontario funk/hard rock quartet The Elements to our inactive band links tomorrow due to a year's inactivity. The band has not issued a public update since quietly posting a studio track from their unreleased debut album on their Facebook page one year ago tomorrow, and while the ongoing pandemic could be a huge factor as to their lack of activity, their sister band The Wyld Stallyns have updated social media & played a couple of live-streamed concerts in the interim. Debuting at the former Roosevelt Hotel back in February 2014, The Elements would become a steady fan favourite sight at concerts over the ensuing six years, including the occasional headlining gig, a few turns as tribute acts with themed sets & fake names, appearances at Rotaryfest, Hempfest, and Toystock, and sets opening for the likes of Saving Abel, Random Killing, and K-Man & The 45s.

I wouldn't be shocked at all if The Elements return when normal concerts get the go-ahead, but if this is it, they had a solid run with a fun live presence, never taking themselves too seriously despite proficient covers and strong original material! They could easily fit in with metal and punk shows with their diverse yet aggressive set, and most of the band have honed their unplugged chops with The Wyld Stallyns in recent years. Best of luck to Rob, Jesse, James, Jonas, and Alex in the future!

Finally, here's a surprise find, as a 14 year old video of Toronto-based AC/DC tribute band Thunderstruck live at The Canadian Nightclub was posted on YouTube two weeks ago! This was uploaded onto bassist Pete Dove's YouTube channel as part of a recent spree of full concert videos he's uploaded from this and various other bands of this, but this is the only Soo date, which took place at The Canadian (back when it's host hotel was still The Knights Inn) on December 27th, 2006. AC/DC fans will be more familiar with fellow tribute bands Who Made Who and Hells Bells from their more frequent local dates since, but Thunderstruck remained active through at least the fall of 2019, pandemic acknowledged. Pete gave some insights into this video in the description, noting that it was his second concert with Thunderstruck, their first in a four date swing of Northern Ontario, and his first proper full-concert video that he had filmed of one of his bands.

If you want blood, you've definitely got it here, as Pete's video runs for over two hours, so what AC/DC classics did Thunderstruck tackle on this night? In the first set, they covered "Live Wire", "If You Want Blood (You Got It)", "Shoot To Thrill", "Shot Down In Flames", "Rock 'N Roll Damnation", "Sink The Pink", "Sin City", "Givin' The Dog A Bone", "Dog Eat Dog" (which is not credited in the description's setlist), "T.N.T.", "Rock 'N Roll Ain't Noise Pollution", and "Whole Lotta Rosie", before taking their break, which Pete did abbreviate here. The second set features renditions of "Hells Bells", "Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap", "Who Made Who", "Jailbreak", "Back In Black", "It's A Long Way To The Top ("If You Wanna Rock 'N Roll)", "Girls Got Rhythm", "Have A Drink On Me", "Highway To Hell", and "You Shook Me All Night Long"...

...before returning with their namesake song "Thunderstruck" as an encore. Intriguingly, the last seven minutes of the video features the band hanging out in their rooms at the former Knights Inn after the concert, and seeing this VCR camcorder video of them watching a CRT TV makes it feel even older than it actually is! Very solid set of AC/DC classics from a band with the requisite chops, especially with Blair Briceland & a very energetic Rich Trevor nicely channeling Brian and Angus respectively, and the audio quality holds up well after 14 years! Give Thunderstruck in the Soo a watch below!

That's all for today, but stay tuned for last month's poll results and our new poll on the site on Thursday, and with the recent uptick in news, we shouldn't be waiting until Sunday for a traditional post! Thanks everyone!