Thursday, March 30, 2017

LOCAL CONCERT ALERT (NLFB Meltdown), Plus More Weekend Concert Previews!!

Before we begin our second post of the day, here's a late lineup addition for TONIGHT'S AlgomA/Pillory concert at The New American Pub, as Autumn Roots guitarist Chase Wigmore has been named as a surprise opening act! No word on if this will share similarities with The Coyote Speedfreaks or another older project of his, but it'll be nice to see Chase up front again, so keep him in mind if you're at The New A! Now, let's tackle this weekend's remaining Sault Michigan concerts, plus LOCAL CONCERT ALERTS for next month and THIS SATURDAY, but check our more previews in the post below this one! (Updated at 6:19 PM)

The first ever Meltdown audition/battle of the bands in Sault Ste. Marie goes down THIS SATURDAY NIGHT at LopLops Lounge, where seven local acts will compete for a chance to play (and be paid for it) at this July's Northern Lights Festival Boreal in Sudbury! Apologies for the short notice, promoters did not confirm the full performer lineup until earlier today. The first local battle of the bands in over a year (even if officially considered to be a public audition), registered acts will look to win a slot on the annual indie/folk music festival in Sudbury, whose lineup includes such locally familiar acts as Rae Spoon, while musical mentorship program participation also awaits winners. Performers will apparently be judged in solo and band categories to determine two winners, and a judging panel including SooToday's Donna Hopper and NLFB representatives will score competitors, making this the first one-night local battle with judges in almost five years. Get more information on the event at the official Facebook event page!

In chronological performance order (with each band given a half hour timeslot), the lineup will include local folk musician M.D. Dunn, alternative/hard rock quartet Id Iota, pop rock solo artist Mike Mikus (both projects featuring Dustin Goodall), indie/folk trio The Autumn Roots, alt-hard rock trio The Din, local folk artist and Ears & Eyes promoter Jackson Reed, and progressive rock quartet Machines Dream. With the exception of four-time battle veterans The Din, all of these acts are playing their first ever local battle of the bands on SATURDAY, so the field is wide open! Of course The Din were the runners-up in both of last year's battles, but there is extra battle experience in the ranks. Notably, Id Iota's Christian Lemay & Dustin Goodall finished third in 2008's Skid Row Battle of the Bands as members of Free Beer, new Machines Dream guitarist Jake Rendell was a finalist in 2009's Kiss Battle of the Bands with Blues Harvest, and Mike Mikus was a guest performer at 2015's VM Radio Battle as frontman of The Pixo Control.

Despite the late notice for an official lineup announcement, this is shaping up to be a very intriguing battle of the bands (sorry, audition), and given the stakes, it'll be very interesting to hear who the judges send through to the Northern Lights Boreal Festival in July! A $5 cover charge awaits attendees for this 19+ battle, with M.D. Dunn opening at 8:30 PM. With two winners intended given the teased division between bands and solo artists, stay tuned to see if The Din can top last year's 2nd place runs, or which other acts win the top prize! To avoid favoritism given the nature of the event, we won't post a preview video here. May the best band and solo artist win!

Next up, let's address this weekend's remaining hard rock concert previews, all in the Eastern Upper Peninsula, starting with veteran local classic/hard rock cover quartet Highway 63's return to The Northern Pines Lounge at the Kewadin Shores Casino in St. Ignace TOMORROW & SATURDAY NIGHT! After playing three of the last five weekends at Dondee Lanes, the Monkey's Uncle successors will travel back to the St. Ignace Kewadin for (believe it or not) their first announced shows at this venue of 2017. It's great to see the Switzers and company back under the Kewadin umbrella to send out March and ring in April, so don't bypass their old school hard rock covers there tomorrow and/or Saturday night! As usual for Highway 63's Kewadin gigs, expect 21+ age limits, no announced cover charges, and 9:00 PM start times. Visit the above links for more details, and for a preview, here's a new video of Highway 63 live from earlier this month!

Apologies for the relative delay in getting this video on the site, which was filmed by attendee Tonya St. John & posted to the band's Facebook page on March 12th, following that same weekend's gig at the Dondee. This showcases Highway 63 and guest singer "Chet Michaels" (a.k.a. Rock 101's Scott Cook), and it actually captures Bret's cousin (complete with British accent?!) coming to the stage and introducing himself to amused fans, and noting that it was his wife Stephanie's birthday. The covered song here is Poison's classic ballad "Every Rose Has Its Thorn", and Scott handles himself well on vocals, so check out Highway 63 and "Chet" at the Dondee below!

Lastly for this weekend's known previews of shows with verifiable hard rock bands, local hard rock quartet Project 906 will return to The Rapids Lounge at the Sault Michigan Kewadin Casino for a pair of their own concerts TOMORROW & SATURDAY NIGHT! After taking last week off, this talented cover band will rock the Soo's Kewadin branch for the first time in over two months this weekend, and with their St. Patrick's Day bash in Brimley still fresh in the mind, this should be another solid showcase for Billy, Joe, Dustin, and Will this weekend, so don't miss out tomorrow or Saturday! Similarly to the aforementioned Highway 63 shows, expect 21+ age limits, 9:00 PM start times, and no announced cover charges for this weekend. Visit the official Facebook event page for more details, and here's Project 906 live earlier this month!

That's all for today, but stay tuned for more news and notes next month! Thanks everyone!

LOCAL CONCERT ALERTS (Soundcheck & Tym Morrison) And Sault Ontario Weekend Concert Previews!!

This is a busy weekend for concerts in the Soo area to send out March and ring in April, so we're breaking up our previews by border, with Sault Michigan area shows (and potential late notice gigs) coming either tonight or early tomorrow, so look for them then! Now, let's dive into this weekend's currently known Sault Ontario previews, starting with SHORT NOTICE LOCAL CONCERT ALERTS! (Updated at 12:35 PM)

Local classic/hard rock cover quartet Soundcheck will once again rock The Rockstar Bar for one night only TOMORROW NIGHT! Apologies for the short notice, the show was only announced via it's official Facebook event page earlier this week, and the band still doesn't have an online page to plug shows with. Marking their fourth straight weekend concert at a downtown venue (three of which being at The Rockstar Bar), the band could partially be picking up Mourning Wood's slack during their drummer search, but the former Nameus are continuing to carve their own name, so don't miss out TOMORROW! Also, keep in mind that at the stroke of midnight during showtime, singer/guitarists Terry Eaton & Travis Sharpe will both celebrate their birthday, so be sure to give them sufficient greetings for the occasion! As recently usual, this is a one-night-only event for Soundcheck, this time because of the The Rockstar Bar's participation in the annual Bunny Hop pub crawl, with live DJs performing on Saturday for it. 

As usual for Soundcheck's Rockstar Bar gigs, expect a 9:00 PM start time, no announced cover charge, and a 19+ age limit. Check the above links for more details, and in lieu of a public video of Soundcheck, watch their Billy Idol cover at Rednecks on personal Facebook accounts if you can!

Next up, prolific hard rock singer/guitarist Tym Morrison will return to The Barrelhouse Wine & Whiskey for a fifth time THIS SATURDAY NIGHT, joining his regular weekly matinee gigs at Gliss Steak & Seafood TOMORROW & SATURDAY! Apologies again for the short notice on the Barrelhouse show, it was only announced via it's Facebook event page yesterday. The newly announced nighttime show on SATURDAY will be Tym's second straight weekly gig at the downtown tapas restaurant, fourth in the past five weeks, and sixth total, but no finite word yet on if he has a new weekly concert arrangement there or not. He'll of course bring his acoustic rock covers back to Gliss tomorrow & Saturday evening, as previously announced, so if you want an earlier and more initimate setting, head down to The Quality Inn's restaurant! And yes, we'll touch on his April gigs on here when announced publically, almost certainly in time for next week's concert previews.

As usual for Tym's gigs at these venues, expect no cover at any event, with the Gliss shows being 6:00 PM gigs with no age limit (though keep in mind the locale), and SATURDAY'S Barrelhouse concert being at 10:30 PM with a 19+ age limit. For more details, click here and visit the above links, and for a preview, here's Tym live!

Moving to previously announced concerts, we originally previewed TONIGHT'S Quiet Riot-headlined concert at The Machine Shop, but it broke this morning that the Los Angeles metal legends had to drop out of the show, forcing the event to be postponed to Thursday, May 25th. Rock 101's Scott Cook was the first source for many to hear this news, while promoters CSA International revealed on the Facebook event page that "reasons beyond our control" forced today's cancellation, though they nor the band have elaborated further as of this writing. Hopefully nothing bad happened, as I know how anticipated this show was, but make sure to circle May 25th on your calendars, as that's less than two months away! No word on if Sudbury's The Wring and locals The Din will still be able to open in eight weeks, but hopefully they're still available. Also, no word yet on the process to get ticket refunds if desired, but hopefully you can get refunds at point of purchase.

While I know that there are some jokes online regarding yet another lineup departure being the cause, at least the show has been rescheduled for May 25th, so keep the rescheduled date in mind whether you're a current ticket holder or want to try again for a couple of months from now! Stay tuned for updates on the postponement and new date when and if they come in!

Finally for today's previews, we'll head to The New American Pub TONIGHT, where local doom metal trio AlgomA and death metal trio Pillory will join forces for one night only! Positioned in advertising as an alternative to the now-postponed Quiet Riot show (complete with a Sex Pistols-inspired poster), this concert will serve as AlgomA's first of the year, and their kick-off show before heading to Europe for their first ever international gigs, even though the band hasn't publically plugged them on their Facebook page, but members' personal Facebook accounts note at least two overseas festivals for the band. Very exciting, hopefully the trip is a huge success! This will also serve as the de facto release party for AlgomA's split vinyl single with Hooded Menace, which finally arrived in physical stock locally two weeks ago, so bring a $20 if you want to pick up your own copy before the trip! While we've seen Pillory often recently, this will be their New A debut as far as I know, so don't be late!

You can take in this double whammy of extreme metal tonight at a start time of 10:00 PM at The New A, with a $5 cover charge and 19+ age limit advertised. For more details, visit the official Facebook event page, here's AlgomA live last year, and good luck on tour!

That's all for today, but stay tuned for Sault Michigan weekend concert previews and more next! Thanks everyone! 

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

LOCAL CONCERT ALERTS (The Old Wives & Deathsticks), A New Local Band, And More!!

Before we kick off our first news post in four days, just a heads up that today is reportedly the final day for HMV's liquidation sales before their Station Mall location closes for good in advance of Sunrise Records moving in. Last time I was there, everything was 70% off or more, so make use of the sales today if you can, and we'll be replacing them in our music store links shortly as well! Now, here's a stacked news post featuring a surprising lineup departure, LOCAL CONCERT ALERTS for the spring, and first, a new local band!

Over a month after their local concert debut, new local punk/alternative trio Handsome Sandwich have finally launched their own Facebook page, so what should you know? Comprised of Bear Hunters drummer Johnny Belanger, Winkstinger guitarist Jesse Cook, and Redundant bassist James White (with Johnny providing most lead vocals), you may have seen this curiously named band open for Gianni Gagoots live at LopLops Lounge last month, but that remains their only announced concert appearance. Despite the trifecta of past common band links for 2/3rds of the band (James & Jesse with The Elements, James & Johnny with Caveman Morrison, and Jesse & Johnny with Jack Spades), Handsome Sandwich will reportedly not sound like any of them, and will harbour more similarities with Johnny's solo concert sets that he played in the mid-2010s, some with Jesse playing alongside. An original song named "Signs" is in progress, but unless you missed their debut gig, there are no other hints about their sound yet.

A band with such well done (if bizarre) artwork can't be all bad, especially with such a solid lineup of familiar faces from recent punk and metal bands, and it will be very interesting to see how Handsome Sandwich fare into 2017! I know that Johnny had wanted to front a punk band locally for a while now, and if this is the realization of that goal, then look out, as there's a lot of potential to be had, even with such a curious yet creative band name! Stay tuned for more on Handsome Sandwich as it comes in!

Next up, here's some LOCAL CONCERT ALERTS, starting with the delayed local concert debut of Whitby, Ontario garage/noise rock duo Deathsticks, who will rock The Gore Street Cafe on Thursday, April 20th! Work commitments scuttled this band's planned New American Pub concert in October, but now, they're getting a second chance for local fans to see what the guys in AlgomA saw when the two played together in Peterboroigh last summer. Expect some minimalist but aggressive originals with a psychedulic spacey bent at times from Deathsticks next month when they headline at the laundromat! In place of the never-debuted Dark Garfunkel and Sleeping Together from October, the local opener is ex-Pixo Control frontman Mike Mikus, whose own rising solo pop rock originals continue to make waves, so keep him in mind for April 20th at well! Despite Six, Two, Oh.'s intended promotion of October's cancelled date, next month's show appears to be in-house through the venue, as is often the case there.

As usual for Gore Street Cafe events, this is an ALL AGES concert under the venue's usual "pay what you can" model, and an early start time of 7:00 PM is advertised. For more details, visit the official Facebook event page, and stay tuned for more from this intriguing concert as it comes in!

Also, we have one more new show to confirm today, but this one is indeed via Six, Two, Oh., as three touring punk bands from out west will hit The New American Pub on Sunday, May 14th for what is being called "The Alberta Intrusion"! The bands in question are Edmonton pop punk trio The Old Wives, fellow Edmonton punk rockers Worst Days Down, and Calgary punk quintet The River Jacks, so how's that for a solid lineup of hard hitting punk from afar? In particular, you may recognize The River Jacks from headlining at The Algonquin Pub two years ago, so if you've missed them since that Gonqshow concert series date, here's the belated sequel! The local opening band is newer local punk/metal trio Stegadeth, whose frontman Bill Bennett opened for The River Jacks here in 2015 with Stereo North, and they should provide solid support to the Alberta intrusion in May! This 19+ show has a 9:00 PM start time and $5 advance tickets, though the price jumps to $7 at the door.

Advance tickets are apparently now available at Northland Music, Case's Music, The Rad Zone and Big Guns Barbershop on East Street, so keep those locales in mind, and visit the official Facebook event page for more details! This should be a great concert for punk fans, with The Old Wives' skate punk sound, Worst Days Down's more alternative stylings, and The River Jacks' old school sensibilities a nice match for any taste, so check the above links to give all of the night's bands a listen, and get your tickets A.S.A.P.!

Finally, we have a surprising update from a veteran cover fixture, as local classic/hard rock quartet Mourning Wood appear to have parted ways with drummer Glen Thomas. A reason for his departure has not been publically announced, but singer/guitarist Terry Eaton revealed that they have a drummer vacancy via his post on the Musicians Wanted Facebook group yesterday. Glen has been a fixture with this frequently seen cover band since replacing T.J. Case in August 2015 upon their expansion to a four-piece lineup, and it was nice to see Glen back in a band that played some hard rock for the past year & a half, but hopefully things are amicable, and don't miss him with The Peace Vibe! Glen's departure may explain why Mourning Wood haven't played live in over a month (with Terry & guitarist Steven Flint's side project Soundcheck picking up the slack recently), but they are looking for a new "tub thumper"!

Steven noted in a comment on the aforementioned Musicians Wanted group post that "versatility is key", having singing ability is a bonus, and they just want "a skilled musician who's down to earth" that loves to play live, while Terry mentioned that Mourning Wood have gigs booked through the end of the year, including New Year's Eve (specific dates and venues not listed.) If you're interested in trying out for Mourning Wood, message Terry at this link or above, and stay tuned for updates on their drummer search and more general updates soon! Thanks everyone!

Monday, March 27, 2017

YouTube Channel Profile Series: MissOutDoors' Channel

Let's kick off the last week of March with this month's YouTube Channel Profile, as we continue our monthly spotlights of YouTube channels with posted content at least 50% centered around SMS-covered local bands and concerts! This month's randomly selected channel has a wide assortment of videos from a major concert 3 years back, so here's what you need to know!
MissOutDoors' channel (

Owner: YouTube user MissOutDoors (real identity unknown, but I believe she's from Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario)

Channel Timeline: Launched on June 27th, 2014; Videos posted from that day through the following month

Channel Summary: MissOutDoors visibly created her channel solely to upload videos from Alice Cooper's headlining concert at The Dreammaker's Theater at the Sault Michigan Kewadin Casino, which took place the same as day as it's inception. Of her 30 videos, 29 are from the Alice Cooper show, the sole exception (and last video) being of her entering the annual Spartan Race in Ottawa the following month, which has no connection to local music, but shows her endurance via the obstacle marathon.

Why You Should Watch: You should check out this channel if you love Alice Cooper and/or his most recent local concert appearance, especially as MissOutDoors filmed 46 minutes of this show, albeit scattered throughout 29 clips! It's extremely hard to do an Alice Cooper concert justice this way, but at least she got a lot of videos that were generally clear & well filmed! However, the fragmented nature of these uploads may turn off some viewers, with only one video exceeding 4 minutes in length, and nine running for under one minute, including two videos that only last 12 seconds. Also, while she did film most songs at this concert, a few notable songs did miss the cut, like "Under My Wheels" & "Poison", but click here & here or alternate footage from other attendees if you're curious.

Our Recommended Videos To Check Out

Alice Cooper Kewadin 2014 Video 1: Though partially uploaded out of order, a great place to start is the opening song from the shock rock legend's concert set, where he covered Judy Collins' "Hello Hooray", as previously seen on his "Billion Dollar Babies" album. The 78 second video captures Alice in full command of the stage, complete with dramatic introduction, and then-new guitarist Nita Strauss is in fine form as well! A late set-suite also included additional covers of The Doors (continued here), The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, and The Who, if you're so inclined.

Alice Cooper Kewadin 2014 Video 18: The longest single video filmed by MissOutDoors from this concert was of Alice Cooper performing his classic "The Ballad of Dwight Fry", fittingly featuring him performing in a straitjacket to represent the title inmate. Solid performance of what could be considered a ballad, but still eerily done, and complete with requisite theatrics at the end! To see what happened to Alice, check out the 12 second "Video 19" and "Video 20" (the latter of which segues into his song "Killer".)

Alice Cooper Kewadin 2014 Video 27: Even though this is the second portion of MissOutDoors' video of this song (see the first chunk in "Video 26"), her latter upload of Alice Cooper playing his classic song "I'm Eighteen" is by far her most popular on YouTube, attracting well over 2,000 views. This may partly be due to Nita Strauss' guitar solo in the clip, as praised in the comments, but it's a nicely filmed clip overall, even if it didn't need to be uploaded separately from #26! This was her final song filmed prior to the "School's Out" encore in Videos 28 & 29, skipping "Poison" in between.

I hope you guys liked this month's YouTube Channel Profile! Next month in this series, we'll be taking a look at 2 channels, as the first randomly selected channel only had one video, but the second had two distinct types, so things are rounded out sufficiently. Our next channels in this series will be the channel under the name of Quiet Riot drummer Frankie Banali (with a single video hyping up THIS THURSDAY'S show at The Machine Shop), and Noochy Lanterns drummer Amanda Brown's channel (featuring videos of related band The Apocalypse Afterparty), so look for these on or around April 27th! That's all for now, but stay tuned for more news this week! Thanks everyone!

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Stiffler's Mom - "The Demo" EP Review!!

Now is a good time to post our 93rd monthly CD review at The Sault Metal Scene, and with no new hard rock or punk releases to look at this month, we're dipping into the archives for a look at the only EP from veteran local hard/party rock trio Stiffler's Mom! As they played live just this past weekend, they're a perfect band to tie in a review for, so what should you know about their CD? Entitled simply "The Demo", this was independently released back in 2004, though surviving online details on it's original release are minimal at best. Stiffler's Mom's current and classic lineup is present on "The Demo", including singer/drummer Greg Simpson, guitarist Michael Davies, and bassist Jon Ferguson. This album is long since out of print now, and I doubt that Stiffler's Mom sell stock of it at modern concerts, but fan Alex Moore did upload the whole EP to YouTube last year, and song titles below are linked to his uploads of them. With four songs running for a robust 19 minutes, let's begin our review of the elusive Stiffler's Mom demo!

The opening song is actually a cover, namely their version of Gordon Lightfoot's classic ballad "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald". Aside from extra guitar flourish from Mike & some vocal harmonizing, this is a fairly faithful rendition of the original song for the first 2 and a half minutes, but after some ocean effects, the full band kicks into usual Stiffler's Mom gear with a heavier and faster pace. Musically speaking, I should prefer this, but it really takes away from the somber tone of the disaster, before the 6 minute track ends on a melancholy note. To me, the fast heavy stretch is really out of place, and it should have started the song, then became gradually more melancholy. Next is the album's shortest song "Yesterday", an altogether more fun and successful performance that shows Stiffler's Mom at their fun and lively best! Greg's melodic singing suits the tone, and his drumming also matches well, though Mike's guitar solo doesn't show his true abilities, and the song can be a little repetitive. Strong recovery overall though!

"Pearl's Necklace" comes next, and ignoring the obvious innuendo of the title, the song is a solid track, and at times, the vocals remind me of the verses on Inner City Surfers originals, so make of that what you will! The song has a catchy drum beat, Jon shines on bass, and Mike's guitar solo is way better and more diverse, adding up to the EP's most entertaining song yet, though I will say that the pre-solo break and it's near ska-sounding ambiance is too jarring of a shift, and the song ends way too abruptly. Still, it's my highlight so far on "The Demo"! This release ends with "Enjoy The Show", a song carried over from Stiffler's Mom's predecessor band Sin Stereo (their version linked here), and the new version doesn't alter much from Sin Stereo's, aside from the chorus, with the backing vocals sorely missed in this version's melody. You could argue that this is both bands' signature original, and it's hard to argue, especially with another solid guitar solo and catchy verses, but it's not quiet at it's predecessor's musical level.

So, how do I sum up Stiffler's Mom's 13 year old demo? Overall, it's a fun and high energy release that showcases the guys' skill as original songwriters, and might be of special note to fans who aren't aware of their original music background! Greg Simpson's melodic singing and solid drumming were a nice compliment, Michael Davies laid down some solid guitar solos, and Jon Ferguson's bass work was ever present, and things came together at their peak on "Pearl's Necklace", but there were points to address. I preferred the choruses of the Sin Stereo version of "Enjoy the Show" to the Stiffler's Mom remake, the guitar solo on "Yesterday" paled compared to the later ones, and most jarring of all, the heavy & fast section of the Gordon Lightfoot cover was not well suited to where it was in the song, and if you have to have it, I'd have started the song with it, before the disasters began. Overall though, this was a nice studio debut for Stiffler's Mom, and it would be interesting to see them release a second CD (perhaps with "Sweet Juanita"?)

Give Stiffler's Mom's demo EP a listen at the above links, and I hope you guys liked this month's CD review! As for our April CD review, I am not 100% sure what we are reviewing next month, but here's what I can tell you. A new CD release will take precedent, and while both The Apocalypse Afterparty and Skeyes of Seven have complete EPs in the can, neither have seen a paid public release yet. If one comes out by late April, they'd be next, but check out our next "Where Are The New Albums?" post for more clues! However, if a Telephone & Address album comes out soon, it will not be next month's review topic, as we only just reviewed their latest album in December. Given bands playing live next month, our next review choice could easily be an album from A Fall From Innocence (tied in with A Dire Setback's Larry Babic) or Haggith (tied in with Eclipse members), but time will tell if either is up next.

In any event, look for our next CD review at some point in April, and stay tuned for more news and features next week! Thanks everyone!

Friday, March 24, 2017

LOCAL CONCERT ALERTS (CKY & Nova Rex), Plus A New Din Video!!

On this Friday evening, we have a new video to share, but first, let's tackle two recent LOCAL CONCERT ALERTS featuring notable American headlining bands, including one in particular that's gotten tons of local buzz since it was announced yesterday! Here's what you need to know!

Pennsylvania alt-metal trio CKY will make their local concert debut at The Canadian Nightclub on Thursday, June 8th! Yes, the band best known for songs like "96 Quite Bitter Beings", "Flesh Into Gear", and "Familiar Realm" will rock the Soo in a few short months, and even without longtime frontman Deron Miller in their current lineup, their energetic punk-influenced originals are sure to get a huge reception in their local debut! After all, they're the namesake of and a huge part of the old CKY DVDs that begat the Jackass series, so keep that angle in mind too! A stacked local openers lineup will include the return of hardcore quintet As It Stands to the stage for the first time since 2012 on June 8th. Though A.I.S. only formally broke up in 2014, we've been waiting well over 4 years for a new show from the guys, and with John Mignacca back home, they're primed to reclaim their spot in the local scene! Also slated to open are punk/metal favourites Jack Spades, in the public debut of their new lineup!

No word yet on who's joining J.D. and Justin in their new lineup, but this will mark Jack Spades' first show since opening for SNFU in September, and this will be a great way to welcome them back after over 8 months away! The current opener lineup is rounded out by newer alt-punk quartet A Dire Setback, who should be in fine form following their own recent Canadian gigs, so don't be late for their set either! Notably, this is the first announced concert promoted by Jack Spades frontman J.D. Pearce since his annual Halloween party last year, but what a way to get back into the swing of things, and keep posted in case he has anything sooner to announce! This 19+ show currently lists an unusually early start time of 6:00 PM, and tickets are now on sale at this link for $20, though in-person local availability has not been publically noted as of press time. As a long-time fan of anything to do with the CKY name, this is a huge deal, and it will be awesome to have Chad, Matt, and Jess in the Soo come June 8th!

J.D. has noted that this show has seen the fastest online sales on the first day of any of his promoted concerts, so get your tickets A.S.A.P. just in case by clicking here, as who knows when and where they'll be available in person, especially with As It Stands and Jack Spades both returning that same night! Stay tuned for continued updates as they roll in, and As It Stands are back in our active band links, hopefully this isn't a one-off!

Next up, here's one more new show announcement for later this year, as Florida-based hair metal veterans Nova Rex will hit The Rockstar Bar for a headlining concert on Wednesday, August 30th! A familiar band to glam metal diehards, Nova Rex have been active since the mid-1980s, and while they never achieved the mainstream superstardom of other contemporary acts, they have a solid following that carried them to their own Netflix documentary in 2011, and they should light things up at The Rockstar Bar to help send out the summer! Returning local classic rock cover quartet Nikkfitt (featuring Browbeat and Redundant alumni) will open this show, and this will be a nice showcase for this talented local outfit who don't play live often enough, so keep them in mind as well! Admission for this 19+ event is $8, with advance tickets likely to be available at The Algonquin Hotel's front desk, and an oddly early start time of 8:00 PM is advertised. Visit the official Facebook event page for more details, and stay tuned for updates on this Hair Scare-worthy concert!

Finally, we were going to close with a new Facebook video from the aforementioned A Dire Setback, but that video was quietly deleted today for unannounced reasons, so we'll cover it if it's re-posted later. Instead, here's the latest clip from local alternative hard rock trio The Din, as uploaded to their Facebook page yesterday! Another in The Din's long line of comedic Facebook videos, this is a "public service announcement" on how not to headbang, a direct nod to Quiet Riot, who will no doubt play "Bang Your Head (Metal Health)" on THURSDAY at The Machine Shop, with The Din opening the night's lineup! Needless to say, the headbanging demonstrations in the video aren't "traditional", and while the guys recuperate, drummer Brandan Glew hypes up the Quiet Riot show, especially as tickets are almost sold out. Click here for full ticket details while they last, and give The Din's new video a look below, as it is funny, and sound effects may be employed!

That's all for today, but stay tuned for more news and notes over the weekend! Thanks everyone!

Thursday, March 23, 2017

LOCAL CONCERT ALERTS (The Din, Soundcheck, And Tym Morrison), And Weekend Concert Previews!!

Another weekend is soon to commence, so let's tackle this weekend's hard rock concert previews today, plus the first news on a returning all ages concert event later this spring! Before we get too far, yes, I do know about the huge concert announced for this summer at The Canadian (click here for early details), but I want to give it proper emphasis as a headline story, so we'll tackle that in our next news post, 100% guaranteed! Now, let's kick things off today with LOCAL CONCERT ALERTS, most on SHORT NOTICE!

Local classic/hard rock cover quartet Soundcheck will return to The Rockstar Bar for one night only THIS SATURDAY NIGHT! Apologies for the short notice, the show was only confirmed via the official Facebook event page on Monday, and the former Nameus still don't have an online page to plug concerts with. This is the third show in as many weeks for this newer veteran band, whose 1980s-centric covers should entertain attendees once again on SATURDAY, so don't miss out on their next gig! Also, we can at last confirm the identity of their new fourth member, that being Lucky 13/ex-Thin Ice guitarist Robin "Bones" Lee, who appears to be taking over the bassist role, leaving Terry Eaton and Travis Sharpe to focus on guitar. Robin has guested with Terry & Steven's other band Mourning Wood in the past, and he played with Terry in a (one off?) band named The Jukebox Junkies a while back, so he's a fine fit with Soundcheck, as you hopefully saw last week or the week before!

Our source for the above information is The Rockstar Bar's Hayley Warnock on the event page. FYI, I have no idea what Soundcheck's busy schedule means for Mourning Wood, who haven't played live in over a month, but if we hear anything, we'll let you know! A one nighter due to tomorrow's Stiffler's Mom show that we're previewing later in this post, SATURDAY'S Soundcheck concert has no announced cover charge, a 10:30 PM start time, and a 19+ age limit. Check the above links for more details, and if you know where to look on Facebook, see if you can find a personal video of Soundcheck covering Billy Idol at Rednecks with guest guitarist Mike Muto!

Next up, here's one more late notice confirmation, as local hard rock solo singer/guitarist Tym Morrison will return to The Barrelhouse Wine & Whiskey for his fifth announced solo date there THIS SATURDAY NIGHT, joining his usual Gliss Steak & Seafood matinees TOMORROW & SATURDAY! Again, apologies for the short notice on the Barrelhouse gig, Tym only just announced this show via it's Facebook event page yesterday. With the spring now officially begun, you could always warm things up after a long winter by checking any of Tym's three concerts this weekend, including his first gig at the downtown tapas restaurant in two weeks on SATURDAY, or via his regular weekly gigs at The Quality Inn's restaurant, so keep all three in mind for acoustic hard rock cover action! The Gliss shows remain 6:00 PM affairs with no cover or age limit (but remember where they're being held, this is a formal restaurant, not your standard nightclub.)

As for SATURDAY'S Gliss show, expect a 10:00 PM start time, no announced cover, and a 19+ age limit. For more details, visit the official Facebook event pages linked here & here, and for a preview, here's Tym live!

Lastly in new show announcements, remember the Sky's The Limit mental health awareness concert from Algoma Family Services that took place at The Tech last May? Well, it is coming back for a second go-around on Thursday, May 4th, and local alternative/hard rock trio The Din are headlining this year! No audition required this time for Mike, Tammy, and Brandan, who will succeed the defunct Pixo Control as this year's top billed act at The Tech's W.W. Baldwin Auditorium, as part of Algoma Family Services' Children’s Mental Week activities. The Sky's the Limit serves to bring awareness and raise funds for mental health programs at A.F.S., which is a great gesture, and kudos to The Din for offering their services once again! The opening lineup will again be filled out via live band auditions, which will be held at The Tech on Wednesday, April 19th & Thursday, April 20th at 6:00 PM both evenings. Like last year, auditioning musicians must be district residents between the ages of 14 & 29, and these are private auditions, not public concerts, so keep that in mind just in case.

To book audition times or get more details, call (705) 945-5050 (extension #2301 or 2318), or submit a video for consideration by e-mailing footage to! For reference, last year's Sky's the Limit fundraiser also featured such acts as Electric Church, Aldous, rapper White Noize, and at least three other youth groups. This ALL AGES event has $5 admission or $20 for family groups of 5 or more, and a 7:00 PM start time is advertised. This should be a fun night of rising young talent for worthy local causes, so hopefully there's a great turnout once again, stay tuned for updates, and visit the official Facebook event page for current details!

Finally, we'll close this weekend's currently known hard rock concert previews, we'll return to The Rockstar Bar for the return of local hard/party rock trio Stiffler's Mom to the stage TOMORROW NIGHT! Announced with surprisingly long notice earlier this month, this one nighter will be Stiffler's Mom's first show since playing the same venue over a month ago, and it'll serve as a rocking way for fans to help Greg, Mike, and Jon ring in the season, so keep tomorrow's show in mind to check out some Stiffler's Mom action! Remember, this is a one-night-only event, Soundcheck are playing at this venue on Saturday. As usual for Stiffler's Mom's trips to The Rockstar Bar, tomorrow's show has a 10:30 PM start time, no announced cover charge, and a 19+ age limit. Visit the official Facebook event page for more details, and here's Stiffler's Mom live!

That's all for today, but stay tuned for some big news regarding today's major concert announcement tomorrow! Thanks everyone!

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

LOCAL CONCERT ALERT (Easter Bash), New Video Uploads, And Much More!!

After two days of Battle of the Bands Rewind Profiles, we're back with a new news post on this Wednesday morning, so if you're wondering where coverage of the LOCAL CONCERT ALERT toplining this post was, here's your answer! We also have some new videos and assorted notes to round things out, so here's what you should know!

Local concert promoters Live705 will host their previously teased Easter weekend concert on Saturday, April 15th when they put on their first ever event at The Rockstar Bar! Breaking from their bi-monthly scheduling for their fourth concert, this show will feature giveaways ranging from band merchandise to concert tickets to even some type of items from A&W, which is a unique attraction for the holidays, so keep the added incentive in mind! Young local blues/hard rock trio Electric Church will headline on Easter Saturday in their Rockstar Bar debut, while new local pop/hard rock trio The Noochy Lanterns (featuring Apocalypse Afterparty & The Fury alumni) will co-headline in their public concert debut and first gig, private or otherwise, following their recent break, so come to see how they do on a big stage! Live705's flagship alt-punk quartet A Dire Setback are also lined up for April 15th, alongside indie rock quartet K.I.C.K. (fresh off of their LopLops show on the 14th) and newer local punk/metal trio Stegadeth.

Remaining acts include folk rock solo artist Shit Creek Survivor (listed on event promotion under Jacob Quarrell's initials J.Q. for unannounced reasons) & Deejay Elementz, a veteran local DJ from Underground Empire Records, whom featured A Dire Setback at their YouTube Party last year. Strong & diverse lineup with Live705 favourites and newcomers alike, so don't miss out! This 19+ show has an 8:00 PM start time on April 15th, and while admission is $10, Live705 is again utilizing vouchers for $2 off admission rather than selling $8 advance tickets, so contact performers if you want a voucher. This should be a fun concert, so check the official Facebook event page for ongoing details!

Next up, here's the latest installment of local alternative/hard rock trio The Din's ongoing cover video series (now no longer labelled as being monthly), as posted to their YouTube channel on Sunday! The cover choice won't be surprising for fans who've seen The Din's recent concerts, as this is of their version of The Tragically Hip's "Blow At High Dough", as recorded at Mission Control Studios, where The Din have done studio work at. The wide angle shot of the band isn't optimal, especially as the table the camera is on eats up a lot of that view, but the cover is solid and familiar for fans of The Hip and The Din in equal measure, so check it out below!

Also, here's a new YouTube find from former No Arrow drummer and Faithless Sin guitarist Joe Falco, who appears to have begun work as a solo musician once again! Apart from his former Joe Falco Experience solo project, he has recently been posting acoustic blues originals to his new Reverbnation page, and while his singing voice could be a little rangier, he has talent and adapts well to bluesier tracks, especially on "Malevolent Moonlight", which is asking for full band accompaniment. Over on his new YouTube channel, he's mostly focusing on outlining the specifications of and reviewing his Gibson Les Paul guitar, plus this video where he chats about songwriting, but he did upload one solo performance cover there, where he tackles Live's "Dolphins Cry". Not a bad cover, if very reserved, and Joe should project his voice a little more to improve on his clarity. Give Joe's recent solo material a look above & below, and hopefully he keeps at it!

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

  • I have switched the link for local musicians union The American Federation of Musicians, Local 276 from their now closed website to their information page on the A.F.M.'s website. The local union can be handy to help work through legal red tape and paperwork for copyright and playing out of the country, so keep it in mind if your band aspires to do anything that requires paperwork!
  • A local rhythm guitarist named Eric Rosset is looking to join a local band that plays rock, punk, metal, or alternative genres ideally, though he'd play anything other than country, and he can do backing vocals too. I'm not familiar with Eric musically, but if you're interested in trying Eric out, message him at this link or via his Musicians Wanted Facebook group post from yesterday!
  • Cheboygan, Michigan rock radio station Rock 105 (which gets fringe reception in the Soo) has re-obtained it's former Glen Arbor signal at 95.5 FM, and the station broadcasts as Rock 105 & 95.5 now! This mirrors the then Real Rock two station network from 2009-2013 before 95.5 (then WJZJ, now WGFE) became a simulcast of Onaway adult contemporary station Easy 106.3 as WQEZ. This won't directly affect local coverage of Rock 105 aside from on-air naming, but keep WGFE 95.5 FM in mind if you're driving out to Traverse City!

That's all for today, but stay tuned or weekend concert previews next! Thanks everyone!

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Battle Of The Bands Rewind Profile: The 2016 Speak Easy Battle Of The Bands

At last, let's tackle our final installment (until a year after the next battle) of our Battle of the Bands Rewind Profile Series! One day removed from our look back at last year's second VM Radio Battle of the Bands, let's reflect on the other March 2016 battle of the bands that also entertained local music fans during this busy month. Like our prior installments of this series, this is strictly an informational feature with trivia, facts, and results, and no personal criticism or reviews of the competing bands. Now, here's what you should know on last year's second local battle of the bands!
The 2016 Speak Easy Battle of the Bands (March 10th, 2016)

Background: Following the success of the Battle of the Bands at Algoma University's campus bar The Speak Easy on March 5th, 2015, organizers at the Algoma University Students Union indicated plans to hold further battles on at least a biennial basis, announcing a planned second installment for November 2015, though it was postponed due to unspecified "sponsorship issues". Instead, the second battle took place on March 10th, 2016, just over a year following the previous event. Like in 2015, seven competing acts played 15 minute sets each, and results were determined by a fan vote with no formal judging panel.
Prizes: Winnings were identical to 2015's Speak Easy Battle, with $400, $200, and $100 respectively going to the first, second, and third place bands.

Competitors: Two of 2016's competing acts were returning from 2015, those being alternative/hard rock trio The Din (who dropped "Mike Haggith &" from their name over the winter) and local/Toronto indie rock musician Jesse Merineau. The other five bands were all newcomers to a local battle of the bands, and they included alt-electronic project Aldous, former Coverfly bassist Bryan Brown in  a rare solo set, modern hard rock quartet Eclipse, punk/metal quintet Jack Spades, and reunited death/thrash metal trio Pillory. Impressively, all of the confirmed bands from the original November date were still able to compete in March.

Results: Fans at the battle selected Jesse Merineau to win the 2016 Speak Easy Battle and the $400 top prize. The Din came in second place to win $200, while Eclipse claimed the $100 third place prize.

Aftermath: Jesse Merineau rode the momentum of his battle victory to work on his upcoming solo CD (scheduled for release this summer), while he also returned home for a handful of notable concerts last year, including one with runners-up The Din opening at LopLops in September. The Din and Eclipse would both go on to finish in identical spots in that month's VM Radio Battle of the Bands, with The Din releasing their debut CD in the summer and continuing their upwards momentum well into 2017, and Eclipse playing steadily until suddenly disbanding for four months in November, though they will return to the stage next month. Pillory and Jack Spades remain familiar sights on local concert stages, with the former in pre-production of their second CD, and the latter teasing their new lineup's debut and first gigs since the fall in the near future. Aldous remain active in studio, but haven't advertised a live show since August, and Bryan Brown hasn't been publically advertised since as a musician, though both have indicated that they're now based out of town.

Some Notable Performers' Newer Bands (Metal/hard rock in italics, ex-members noted with an *):

The Bear Hunters (Justin Lam & Johnny Belanger from Jack Spades)
The Elements (Jesse Cook from Jack Spades)
Great Chamberlain (Anthony Marcello from Jesse Merineau's backing band; Based out of Ottawa)
Handsome Sandwich (Jesse Cook & Johnny Belanger from Jack Spades)  
Heavy Head (Jesse Cook & Johnny Belanger from Jack Spades and Daniel Horton from Eclipse) 
Project 421 (Curtis McKenzie, Daniel Horton, and Chris Thompson from Eclipse)
The Steeltown Girls (Tammy Hill from The Din)
Stegadeth (Tiffany Stocco from Jack Spades)
Winkstinger (Jesse Cook from Jack Spades)  


  • New local hard/pop rock quartet Heavy Head were advertised to compete at this battle, just one night after they finished in third place in the first VM Radio Battle semifinal, but they dropped out the day of this event due to scheduling conflicts for frontman Mike Gaetano. However, the remainder of the band still competed as members of Jack Spades or Eclipse.
  • As was the case in 2015, the second Speak Easy Battle was held one day after the first semifinal of last year's second VM Radio Battle of the Bands at The Canadian Nightclub, which again differed by being a multi-band event over multiple nights, though the performer lineup actually fell from 11 competing bands in 2015 to 5 in 2016. The Din (who competed the day before) and Eclipse (who competed the following week) made the finals and finished in second and third place in both events, while Jack Spades played a non-competitive guest set on night #2 of that battle due to frontman J.D. Pearce's promotional involvement. The winner of the second VM Radio Battle was indie rock quartet K.I.C.K..
  • After missing the podium in 2015 with a strictly solo set, Jesse Merineau recruited local power pop/glam rock trio Caroline Divine to serve as his backing band for his Speak Easy Battle return last year, which apparently did the trick, giving him some "divine" intervention for his first place victory. While the set was entirely comprised of originals from Jesse's upcoming CD, this was technically Caroline Divine's last publically advertised concert before singer/guitarist Anthony Marcello moved to Ottawa, though his old bandmates joined Jesse & guitarist Mitchell Nielsen when he headlined at LopLops in September.
  • Similarly to Jesse Merineau's reversal of fortune from 2015 to 2016, The Din and 3/5ths of Project 421 (in their side project Eclipse) also moved from missing the podium to claiming top 3 placements in 2016, foreshadowing similar improvements in the VM Radio Battle later that month, which they also didn't place at in 2015.
  • Pillory's set at this battle marked their return to the stage after a nearly two year hiatus following their final shows as a thrash quartet in mid-2014. The band debuted new bassist Jordan Leach, their trio lineup with no rhythm guitarist, and a heavier, death metal-influenced sound at this event, completely abandoning their older originals from their debut CD "Cringe At The Cross".
  • Jack Spades' all-original set at the Speak Easy Battle was filmed by Shaw TV Sault Ste. Marie personality (and VM Radio Battle guest judge) Christian Lemay for a feature that aired on channel 10 in mid-late 2016, interspersed with interview footage taken from an Oddfellows Hall concert around that same time. This can be seen as a precursor to Shaw TV's recently-debuted series OnStage, featuring full concert sets from recent local events.
  • Twin City Sound & Entertainment were on hand to provide sound for the duration of the battle. Notably, Twin City Sound co-owner Steven Flint was a former bandmate of Eclipse's Curtis McKenzie and Daniel Horton in the short-lived hard rock band Punch, who were the 3rd place finishers in November 2013's Viva La Battle.
  • The most notable band from the inaugural Speak Easy Battle to not return for year #2 was defending champions Gnaeus, who won both of 2015's local battles. The post-punk quartet are believed to have missed both events due to the departure of drummer Brendan Garlick over the winter, with his replacement Alex Proulx not debuting with Gnaeus until their Ontario tour run that April.
  • While then-Haggith bassist Jordan Leach and experimental musician/Gore Street Cafe co-owner Sam Decter had promotional involvement in 2015's Speak Easy Battle, neither were publically involved with the event's return last year. Jordan did compete in the 2016 battle with Pillory, but as he wasn't promoting anymore, there were no concerns regarding a potential conflict of interest.
  • Despite prior hopes to hold further Speak Easy Battles of the Bands at least twice a year, there has been no official public word on a third installment from the A.U.S.U. since last year's event, be it this month or at a different date. A third VM Radio Battle of the Bands also did not occur in March 2017.
  • The Din later performed at Landmark Events' Showcase Festival in Toronto in January 2017, which was a competitive event to feature rising young bands to  music industry executives who would judge bands and select ones to get music industry grants. It's not known if The Din progressed any further in this showcase, but they did praise the event and the oportunities it brought afterwards.

    Shaw TV's video of Jack Spades' set
    (No other public videos known; Videos of the top 2 acts from 2015 featured to supplement this section)

    Sources/More Info:
    Official Facebook event page
    Event press release from SooToday
    I hope you guys liked this month's Battle of the Bands Rewind Profiles, and hopefully this series will return next year, saying that someone holds a new local battle later in 2017! That's all for today, but stay tuned for more news and previews as this week rolls along! Thanks everyone!

    Monday, March 20, 2017

    Battle Of The Bands Rewind Profile: The 2016 VM Radio Battle Of The Bands

    There may not be a battle of the bands this month, but we haven't forgotten about our Battle of the Bands Rewind Profile Series, which finally returns today with a somewhat overdue look at one of last March's battles! As in our past profiles of recent local battles, this serves as an informational feature to look back at the events, setup, results, and trivia of this battle, and features no personal criticism or reviews of the competing bands or their future activity. This was a fun event with lots of talented musicians throughout, so read on below for our first profile of last year's battles!
    The 2016 VM Radio Battle of the Bands (March 9th-23th, 2016)

    Background:  Following the success of the inaugural VM Radio Battle of the Bands in March 2015, local concert promoter J.D. Pearce came together once again with VM Radio (and parent company Village Media), Tidal Records, and sponsors Case's Music, The Rad Zone, Maxx Graphics, and Labatt Breweries to hold a second installment of the multi-night battle of the bands, originally intended four consecutive Wednesdays again at The Canadian Nightclub. Unfortunately, only 5 bands (down from 11 in 2015) officially registered to compete, forcing the removal of a planned March 2nd semifinal, but the format of the battle was the same as in year #1, with the winner of the March 9th & 16th semifinals (plus the highest scoring runner-up band as a wild card) returning for the finals on the 23rd. Judging criteria was the same as the previous year and 2013's Rockstar Bar Battle, with scoring based on musical ability, chemistry, stage presence, and crowd engagement (among others) for out of 100 points a judge, 300 total, plus additional individual awards metered out based on category.

    Prizes: The first place band received $500, while no specific additional prizes were announced in terms of band ranking, unlike in 2015. A $100 Rad Zone gift card awaited the winner of the Best Vocal Performance award, while Case's Music prize packages went to the Best Guitar and Bass winners, and the Best Drummer would receive a custom drum skin from Maxx Graphix. As for the Best Song, the winning band would receive recording time at Tidal Records' own Mission Control Studios.

    Competitors: The March 9th semifinal saw the battle's only returning bands from 2015, namely alternative/hard rock trio The Din (who had since dropped "Mike Haggith &" from their name) and punk quartet Stereo North, who competed against new hard/pop rock supergroup Heavy Head. March 16th's semifinal round was a head to head affair between hard rock quartet Eclipse and indie rock quartet K.I.C.K., with prominent punk/metal quintet Jack Spades performing a guest set to round out the evening's lineup.

    Results: The two semifinals were won by The Din & K.I.C.K., while Eclipse were the highest scoring non-winners & moved on to the finals as the wild card. Stereo North finished in second on the 9th, with Heavy Head in third, but specific nightly scores were not announced. In the finals on the March 23rd, the Keep It Cool Kids won a closely contested final, edging out The Din for second place by just three points, averaging out to one point per judge, while Eclipse weren't far behind to round out the podium. Individual awards went to Eclipse's Curtis McKenzie for Best Vocal Performance, The Din's Tammy Hill for Best Guitar, Eclipse's Fred Dunn for Best Bass, and his brother Aaron Dunn of K.I.C.K. for Best Drummer. Meanwhile, K.I.C.K. claimed Best Song for their original "Wanted".

    Aftermath: K.I.C.K. have remained steadily active since their battle win, playing at numerous concerts as headliners and openers, such as Rotaryfest and the Northern Vibe Festival, and have recently been working on their debut EP at Mission Control Studios, presumably using time won at the battle. The Din released their debut studio album "Give Into The Din" that summer, and have found their own profile rising with many concerts of their own, even heading out to Toronto for a gig in January. Eclipse were a frequent sight locally through October 2015 before suddenly breaking up, though they have reunited after four months and will return to the stage in a few weeks. Stereo North only played live a few more times that spring before going on an indefinite hiatus in June partly due to guitarist Matthew Anich becoming a father, while Heavy Head played sporadically into the summer, but haven't issued a public update in months.

    Some Notable Performers' Newer Bands (Metal/hard rock in italics):
    Andrew Pucci (Andrew Pucci from Stereo North)
    The Bear Hunters (Johnny Belanger from Heavy Head & Justin Lam from guests Jack Spades)
    The Elements (Jesse Cook from Heavy Head) 
    Handsome Sandwich (Jesse Cook & Johnny Belanger from Heavy Head)
    Project 421 (Curtis McKenzie, Daniel Horton, and Chris Thompson from Eclipse)
    The Steeltown Girls (Tammy Hill from The Din)
    Stegadeth (Bill Bennett from Stereo North & Tiffany Stocco from guests Jack Spades)
    Winkstinger (Jesse Cook from Heavy Head)


    • The judges for last year's VM Radio Battle of the Bands were all returnees from 2015, including Tidal Records owner & Rising Tide frontman Dustin Jones, Elements frontman & Village Media repesentative Rob Speers, and Sault Metal Scene owner Rob Figures, while Id Iota frontman, Shaw TV personality, and Tidal Records skate team member Christian Lemay was a late fill-in for Dustin as guest judge for the second semifinal. Promoter J.D. Pearce again served as MC for the duration of the battle.
    • Despite battling a cold during his appearances, Eclipse frontman Curtis McKenzie won the Best Vocal Performance award for a second straight year, after previously winning as Haggith's frontman in 2015, making him the only repeat winner of an individual award. In another coincidental note, Tammy Hill (who replaced him in The Din the previous year) won the Best Guitar award that same night.
    • This battle did not see a return of three awards handed out in 2015, namely for Most Energetic Band, Most Enthusiastic Fan, and Fan Favourite Band. The latter was planned to be given out in 2016, but with a virtual tie among the bands in that regard, the award wasn't given out at all.
    • At least two bands debuted new original songs at the battle, including Eclipse ("Crywolf") in the semifinals, and The Din ("Differences") in the finals. Both bands also played songs familiar to fans of members' past projects, with Eclipse playing some Punch and later Haggith originals, and The Din playing a handful of songs from frontman Mike Haggith's solo career.
    • Though no award existed for Most Improved Band, The Din would have won it had it existed, as the band didn't even finish second in their 2015 semifinal, but improved and overcame in the following year to finish just three points out of first place a year later. Though they didn't make the finals again, Stereo North also improved their standing from 2015, as did 3/5ths of Project 421 in Eclipse.
    • Notable among the night's performers was Heavy Head, a new supergroup union of Suicide Kings, Bear Hunters, Haggith, and Winkstinger alumni, all of which being bands that won or placed second at recent local battles. Despite their impressive pedigree, their set received mixed responses, and they dropped out of the next day's Speak Easy Battle (though keep in mind that the VM Radio Battle was just their second public concert together.)
    • Jack Spades' guest set during night #2 of the battle mirrored that of The Pixo Control's in 2015, serving to even out the band lineup due to uneven nightly totals. Jack Spades couldn't compete themselves due to frontman J.D. Pearce's promotional duties, but members Jesse Cook & Johnny Belanger did compete as part of Heavy Head. Jack Spades remained a frequent sight at local concerts through September, though 3/5th of the band left the group throughout the year, and a teased return with a new lineup is forthcoming.
    • Despite the expanded coverage and video features for 2015's VM Radio Battle, SooToday didn't give the same attention to the 2016's battle, possibly due to the lower band totals, with only this article on K.I.C.K.'s win substantially covering the event. Plans for a third VM Radio Battle did not come to fruition for March 2017, though it's not clear if it's done for good or being retooled.
    • Conspicuous by their absence last year were 2015 battle winners Gnaeus, believed to be at least partly due to the departure of drummer Brendan Garlick from the band following their last show with him in December 2015. The post-punk quartet did not publically confirm Alex Proulx as his replacement until April 2016, debuting with them during their Ontario tour run that month.
    • As they had done in 2015, Algoma University hosted the second annual Speak Easy Battle of the Bands on March 10th, 2016, just one day after night #1 of the VM Radio Battle once again. The Din, Eclipse, and VM Radio Battle guest performers Jack Spades all competed in the Speak Easy Battle, with The Din and Eclipse placing second & third in that event as well, winning $200 & $100 respectively. The fan voted event was won by indie rock musician Jesse Merineau, with backing from Caroline Divine.
    • Stereo North frontman Andrew Pucci (who has been focusing on solo music during their hiatus) competed in a Tidal Records-sponsored songwriters competition at LopLops Lounge on October 15th, where he and 9 other solo artists played two originals and a cover for a chance to get recording time at Mission Control Studios and a digital release package. The winner of that event was Thin Ice frontman Nathan Albidone, and it's unclear where Andrew placed.
    • Though not advertised as a "battle of the bands", The Din played at Landmark Events' Showcase Festival in Toronto in January, with music industry executives judging bands and choosing select acts to win music development grants. Though The Din visibly praised the event, it's not publically clear how they did compared to other performers of if they moved forward in the showcase.

    The Din playing "In Search of The Perfect Moment" in the finals
    Eclipse covering two songs in the semifinals
    The Din's promotional videos for their sets
    The Sault Metal Scene's videos of each band's opening songs

    Sources/More Info:
    Official Facebook event page
    SooToday's coverage from the finals
    I hope you guys liked this profile of last year's VM Radio Battle, and we will profile last year's Speak Easy Battle in the coming days, so stay tuned for that and more news and updates soon! Thanks everyone!

    Sunday, March 19, 2017

    LOCAL CONCERT ALERTS (Eclipse & Id Iota), New Sault Michigan Videos, And More!!

    With weekend concert previews and our new poll now taken care of, here's a full news post for your Sunday morning delectation! Below, you'll find some assorted recent notes, more videos from a recent Sault Michigan-area benefit concert, and first, here's some LOCAL CONCERT ALERTS!

    Local alternative/hard rock quartet Id Iota will play their first public concert of the year when they open for indie rock quartet K.I.C.K. at LopLops Lounge on Friday, April 14th! Originally planned to be on Saturday the 15th before being pushed back one day, this show will be Id Iota's first appearance on a public stage (last month's garage show doesn't count) since November, and it'll be a good chance to see Christian, Dustin, Dan, and Blair in their element at a familiar downtown venue as they take a brief break from recording sessions for their second CD! Similarly, K.I.C.K. have been in studio lately towards their debut album, and it'll be good to see the Keep It Cool Kids back with their skilled indie rock originals, so don't miss the 2016 VM Radio Battle winners either! A Facebook event page has not been posted (yet?), but a 19+ age limit, $5 cover charge, and 9:00 PM start time are all likely for this event, so check the above links for more details on K.I.C.K. & Id Iota's LopLops return!

    Next up, reunited local hard rock quartet Eclipse and funk/experimental quintet Gianni Gagoots will return to The New American Pub on Sunday, April 23rd when they open for Montreal stoner rock trio The Hazytones! Yes, Eclipse are officially back together after a four month breakup, which is very surprising given how public and messy things became at first, but their reunion will surely be welcomed by fans and friends alike, so be there for their return to the stage at The New A next month! No word yet though on the April 1st show that they had teased, which doesn't appear to be an April Fools prank. Gianni Gagoots' creative instrumentals should continue their own upward momentum for their first show since headlining at LopLops last month, so don't be late for their set! As for The Hazytones, this will be deja vu in many respects, as this talented outfit just played at the same venue with Eclipse opening in August, just with K.I.C.K. as the second openers (and more advance notice.)

    The Hazytones' psychedlic and deep originals should find another willing audience next month, and while they're not a metal band, they're well worth checking out! Promoted by Six, Two, Oh., though uniquely courtesy of Lion Ride alum/punk rock bingo caller Brenton Ellis rather than the guys in AlgomA, this show has a 19+ age limit and 9:00 PM start time, and while an admission fee hasn't been announced yet, last year's Hazytones show had a $5 cover. Visit the official Facebook event page for more details, don't miss out on this near-encore 8 months later, and Eclipse are back in our active band links (no word yet though on Project 421's next moves!)

    Also today, here's a new video of Sault Michigan's current masked metal band, Stoned Ape Evolution! Filmed at last month's Bay Mills Bands Together fundraiser at Pickles Bar & Grill in Brimley, this video was uploaded by band member John Napoletano to his personal Facebook page and shared to the B.M.B.T. Facebook page shortly after the concert. The clip features Stoned Ape Evolution covering Metallica's "Seek & Destroy" and Megadeth's "A Tout Le Monde" to close their set, and  this gives us our best look yet at the band (who appear to have expanded to a quintet), so what can I say now? I think the band is largely sound musically, as best seen on "Seek & Destroy", but the vocalist is trying way too hard to sound evil, particularly on "A Tout Le Monde", a classic ballad which the band turns into a groove metal song. I applaud the creativity, but the performance is shaky and I don't find it works well for their style.

    John also uploaded four more videos (all from similar corner-stage camera angles) to check out publically, including the Project 906 video we covered on here two weeks ago, and three of the night's cover rock bands, including The Whole Shabang covering Bryan Adams' "Summer of '69", The Brooks Band covering The Eagles' "Love Will Keep Us Alive", and Absolute Magnitude covering James Brown's "I Got You (I Feel Good)", so check out those if you want to hear some other bands from this fundraiser. Stoned Ape Evolution have clear potential and a cool look, so hopefully they continue to progress forward, and give their video a look below!

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

    • Local doom metal trio AlgomA finally have physical copies of their new split single with Finland's Hooded Menace available for local fans! The news was revealed on their Facebook page on Friday, though they don't have any copies of the limited-run orange vinyl records. This means that the split should be available (likely for $20) when AlgomA headline at The New A on March 30th, making this the de facto release show, so keep that in mind for month's end if you want the split for your collection!
    • In the biography on the aforementioned Eclipse's Facebook page, it notes that drummer Chris Thompson was a former member of Garden of Bedlam. This is not an error, he was briefly the band's drummer in 2007, but Derek Turner replaced him prior to their debut public concerts in 2008. That wasn't really a secret, but I don't think we ever addressed Chris' brief run with them on here before, and I just wanted to give that an overdue public acknowledgement! Also, it does seem odd that Garden of Bedlam are credited for Chris over Fitswitch, Frightlight, or Half Past, all of whom he did far more with.
    • Local punk/metal band Jack Spades revealed on their Facebook page this morning that they will soon be unveiling their new lineup and single (maybe "Kingdoms"?), plus announcing their next concert shortly as well! The band hasn't been seen since opening for SNFU in September, after which Jesse Cook & Johnny Belanger departed the band, while frontman J.D. Pearce hasn't promoted a show (with or without Jack Spades) since his annual Halloween party. It's great to see that Jack Spades are still alive and readying their return, so stay tuned for updates!

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