Tuesday, December 31, 2019

2019: A Look Back In The Year Of Local Metal, Hard Rock, And Punk

To end 2019, here is our annual retrospective post on the year that was, and there's a lot of ground to cover, as always! For the record, I am not doing a retrospective post on the entire 2010s decade, that would take research time that I don't have, but our year-end posts for 2010-2018 are all up to check out in our archives! Now, let's take one last look back at 2019!

As usual, we'll start with big headlining concerts at major local venues,  and the year got off to a good start when The Tea Party returned to Sault Ste. Marie on March 27th at The Machine Shop with The Proud Sons in tow! Yoopers had to wait until June 29th for their first major date of 2019 under the Kewadin Casino umbrella, albeit in St. Ignace, where Slaughter and Autograph gave fans a good old hair scare. Sault Michigan got spoiled on August 3rd when Pop Evil, Buckcherry, and Joyous Wolf rocked their Kewadin branch in a rare outdoor concert, but the biggest events came in November, starting with Muddfest on the 1st, where Puddle of Mudd, Saliva, Trapt, Saving Abel, and Tantric hit The Dreammakers Theater. On November 19th, Sault Ontario got a punk blast from The Offspring, Sum 41, and Dinosaur Pile-Up at GFL Memorial Gardens, while the year ended via local classical metal band Theatre of Night's Christmas tour stop at The Dreammakers Theater on December 14th. Look for more huge shows ahead!

Outside of these large venues, we had no shortage of notable concerts in the area in 2019. Sault Ontario was host to touring acts like Anvil, B.A. Johnston, Black Crown Initiate, The Cancer Bats, Cross Dog, Dave Evans, The Faps, K-Man & The 45s, The Killer Dwarfs, Michale Graves, Monster Truck, Random Killing, Striker, White Cowbell Oklahoma, and Who Made Who this year, among many, many others. Local concert festivals and annual events like Rotaryfest, Toystock, J.D. Pearce's Halloween Party, Go Skateboarding Day, and the Oh!No festival (in it's last installment in Leeburn) returned with heavier acts again, while The Rising Tide brought punk to the Go North Music Festival, 7 local bands played across both floors of the Joni Radford memorial concert in March, and The Apocalypse Afterparty made an impressive finals run in this year's The Soo's Got Talent competition. It was hard to sum up the entire year in a paragraph, but hopefully there's more big names on the way in the new year!

Sault Michigan had it's share of live hard rock concerts too, even if things weren't as busy as in Ontario. As usual, linked Traverse City hard rock groups Peril & Scarkazm came up north for numerous well received Kewadin lounge gigs, but otherwise, most of the heavier live performances in the E.U.P. this year were from local bands. Kinross' own Banned played their final concerts in the first quartet of 2019, before their successors Tarnished began their own busy slate of acoustic and full-band concerts this summer (including the Sugar Island Music Festival), while frontman Alex Traynor played a few solo gigs of his own along the way. Also this year: Project 906 maintained a reduced schedule for their live dates (including the Rudyard Musicians Festival), 415E reunited with a new lineup for scattered Kewadin concerts, and Highway 63 kept busy with their own gigs and the launch of their Mackinaw Trail side project. Here's hoping things are even busier in 2020!

The past year was loaded with major news and events relating to the local metal, hard rock, and punk scene, with notable bands like Coral Fang, The Guitar Gangsters, Jack Spades, Mike Haggith, Northwest, Parabol, Tarnished, Theatre of Night, and Treble Charger all hitting the road for notable gigs outside of the E.U.P./district. 2019 was a year of change for local music stores, with Northland & Thomas Walls merging operations as the local Long & McQuade branch, Crooked Music moving across the road, and The Rad Zone leaving the Wellington Square Mall, while live musical productions of Rock of Ages and We Will Rock You entertained local audiences at different scales. Readers mourned the passings of Joni Radford, Kayge Fowler, and Danger Cats alum Summer Stevens, while the Soo area also lost Reggie's Place, Studio 10, and The Tech, and concerts featuring Drowning Pool, Bobaflex, and Love 'n Revenge were all cancelled, as well as three different battles of the bands.

However, there were other good news stories in 2019, such as the return of the Northern Film Showcase, music video releases from A Dire Setback & Mike Haggith, Dryer Fire's two pop-up runs as a live venue on Bruce Street, Six, Two, Oh.'s re-branding as the Oh!No Collective, and don't forget about the launch of the Music City Sault Ste. Marie project and all of the ambitious plans that entails. I'm sure 2020 will be just as eventful as 2019!

This year saw a number of local metal & hard rock album releases, primarily from solo musicians, and none had a busier year than Chase Wigmore, whose extreme metal project Awokest put out their compilation debut "Enter The Nightlands" in January, followed by "Solving The Human Condition" in April. Later still, Chase's own folk/punk studio album "Songs To Punch Yourself In The Face To" came out earlier this month, with the surprise "One Last Act Of Defiance" following days later! Also this year: Crucify The Whore released their new album "Crucifiction Inquisition", while the soundtrack to the movie Ashes of K (featuring songs by Mike Haggith) also dropped this year. The Sault Michigan area saw Heavy Lies The Crown's debut album "Scatter Brain" & Tarnished frontman Alex Traynor's own CD "Crazy World" go on sale, while we unusually saw two 2019 releases (Mike McCleary's "Propaganda Model" & Black Cloud's "Abstract Sounds") pulled from online storefronts within months. Hopefully there's more new CDs to come soon!

A handful of notable local bands debuted outright or on stage in 2019, with none playing more frequently in the area than Sault Michigan hard rock band Tarnished, whose weekly Biggby Coffee matinees and assorted other electric and unplugged gigs have given them a solid profile in short order! The E.U.P. also welcomed Highway 63 side project Mackinaw Trail this year, while former Werehold Records head Jason Mills resurfaced with his new solo project X's & Y's, and the aforementioned Heavy Lies The Crown made their live debut, albeit downstate. In Sault Ontario, punk supergroup The Sick Sons got a big jump via major opening slots in late 2019, while Volbeat cover band The Guitar Gangsters stole the show at the Halloween Party, the online page-less Stoned To Deaf and the already-defunct Black Cloud played their first public gigs, and new southern hard rock quartet Fort Creek launched in their own right. Hopefully we hear much more from this talented rookie crop of bands in 2020!

It was expectedly busy this year for lineup changes, additions, and departures in heavier local bands, with none seeing more upheaval than revived local Foo Fighters tribute The Soo Fighters, who replaced Jeremey Salatuk, John & Jonny Amendola with Wes Greco, Max Ambeault, and Jonas Gasperas in time for their Halloween Party set. Don't feel too bad for the Amendolas though, as they took over for Sean Berlinguette & Brian Egglesfield in the reunited Tripod the Dog this year! Meanwhile, Sault Michigan's 415E welcomed Brett Blackwood & Jason VanLuven upon their reunion, while Highway 63 parted ways with keyboardist Brian Drumheller and switched from Justin Lawless to Russell Mayer to Ron Suchey behind the kit. Also this year: Redundant split with bassist James White, Cameron Oliver replaced Travis Sharpe as Soundcheck's frontman, and second bassist Alice Rose joined the unmasked Apocalypse Afterparty, among other lineup changes in local bands this year!

This year largely a quiet one for local band breakups, with the most prominent arguably being Kinross, Michigan classic/hard rock trio Banned, who dissolved this summer, predicating the launch of Alex's new band Tarnished. We also saw the aforementioned Black Cloud suspend operations mere months after their album release, and Halfway Loaded appear to have stepped aside in favour of Fort Creek, but most of the other potentially defunct bands have just quietly fell into inactivity, and could be acknowledged as such in 2020. Among others: Stegadeth side project Poison Girl haven't been publically heard from since Tiffany moved out of town, the planned February reunion of This Is Your Band On Drugs never took place, and such groups as The Billy Bastards, Brutally Fatal, Destroilet, Handsome Sandwich, Id Iota, Rotopsy, and Winkstinger have not issued a new public update on band activity since the first half of 2019 (or earlier.) Hopefully everyone stays musically active!

As always, we end with reunions and comebacks, and we weren't lacking for those in 2019, with punk standouts The Inner City Surfers' first concert in 10 6½ years getting lots of attention back in August, and they have new songs in the works, to boot! They weren't the only reunited band on the scene this year, with Sailor's Tongue coming back for a set at Rotaryfest, Tripod the Dog permanently reuniting in their own right, Frightlight resurrecting for the Michale Graves show this fall, Late & Loud returning to support Benn's wedding, and both The Strange Coyotes & Sault Michigan's Tantrym Tyme surprising many with holiday season reunion gigs. Far-flung local acts like Shit Liver and Mike Haggith returned home for special gigs over a year after their last Soo dates, while a number of dormant bands returned to the stage after lengthy breaks, like 415E, The Apocalypse Afterparty, AlgomA, The Bear Hunters, Griphook, Pillory, and Telephone & Address, with hopefully more coming next year!

Hindsight is always 20/20, but looking back, 2019 was a solid year for the SMS, and here's to another big year ahead as we kick off a new decade! Thanks to everyone for your support, and watch for our annual forecast post on the year ahead tomorrow, with our first batch of weekend concert previews following on Thursday! Thanks everyone!

Monday, December 30, 2019

LOCAL CONCERT ALERT (Soundcheck) & New Year's Eve Concert Previews!!

Well, everyone, 2019 is almost over (as are the 2010s), so it's time to wrap up the year and decade with our last regular news post of 2019, focused on previews of New Year's Eve concerts from local hard rock bands! Due to holiday commitments and the extra time needed to compile our year-end retrospective post (which is coming tomorrow), this post is longer than normal, featuring previews of five shows taking place on the 31st. If you want some live hard rock action, you have a lot to pick from tomorrow, so let's begin with a SHORT NOTICE LOCAL CONCERT ALERT!

Local classic/hard rock cover quartet Soundcheck will end 2019 with a New Year's Eve concert TOMORROW NIGHT at The Water Tower Pub! Apologies for the short notice, this show was only announced via the venue's Facebook page on Saturday, with the band posting their own Facebook event page last night. This will be Soundcheck's sixth concert with new singer/guitarist Cameron Oliver, in his Water Tower Pub debut with the group, and this should be a huge showcase for him, especially with the usual New Year's frills on display! Pub advertising says that there will be a "midnight toast" as well as an appetizer buffet and party favours, so keep those perks in mind. New Year's parties are often treated as bigger deals than just another concert, and to that end, tickets apparently run for $50, and that's not even getting into the $260 "Party & Stay Package" for couples (click here for details on that front.)

Of course, this is a 19+ event with a 9:30 PM start time, at least as far as Soundcheck's set goes. The price may be steep, but given the New Year's party and festivities alongside the concert, the value does show itself more, and hopefully this is the perfect way to end 2019 with TOMORROW, in spite of the late notice! See above for more details, and here's Soundcheck live!

Next up, we'll head to a previously announced matinee concert taking place TOMORROW, as prolific local hard rock singer/guitarist Tym Morrison will play his final public gig of 2019 at his usual stomping grounds, Gliss Restaurant on Spring Street! Another successful year is almost in the books for his long-term weekly arrangement here, and while you can fully expect to see him back here in 2020 like clockwork, this rare Tuesday nighter should provide more of his unplugged classic & hard rock goods! Like at The Water Tower Pub, this is not just another night at Gliss, as patrons can expect a special New Year's Eve menu where $79.95 gets you your choice of the items on offer. I assume attendees are at least encouraged to have said meal for the holiday, so mind that when planning your night out. Otherwise, there are no advertised age limits, and a 6:00 start time is in effect for Tym's set as usual. Visit the official Facebook event page and the above links for more details, and here's Tym live in concert at Gliss!

Lastly for hard rock shows in Sault Ontario TOMORROW, let's go to The Whiskey Barrel, where local acoustic hard rock trio The Wyld Stallyns will cap off 2019 with another headlining set! The Elements' side-project has made the Gore Street bar & restaurant their favourite venue in the past year, so they're a fitting choice to send 2019 out with, and their varied but often heavy covers should provide the ideal soundtrack! The Facebook event page's cover photo features Elements drummer Jonas Gasperas, a frequent live guest with The Stallyns, but it's unclear whether he will be on hand tomorrow or not. If you are looking for a cheaper night out, this may be what you're looking for, as the event page says that "there are no tickets and no cover charge". There may be less frills than elsewhere as a result, but it's a lot less pricey! Of course, this is still a 19+ event. Visit the above links for more details, and here's The Wyld Stallyns live!

Moving across to Sault Michigan next, we'll start there at The Rapids Lounge at the local Kewadin Casino branch, where sporadically seen local hard rock quartet 415E are scheduled to return to the stage TOMORROW NIGHT for their New Year's bash! Despite their talented lineup and extensive experience in past local bands, this will just be 415E's fifth advertised public concert of the year, their first anywhere since July, and their first at the Soo Kewadin since January. It's a shame that Dave, Chris, Brett, and Jason don't play live more regularly, but what better time than New Year's Eve to shake off the rust? Of course, Kewadin Casino is not lacking for New Year's festivities, both for gamblers and music fans, so visit their official Facebook page for full details on all of that. Regarding 415E's show directly, I have read nothing to indicate that this isn't the same as usual, so expect a 9:00 PM start time, 21+ age limit, and no cover at the lounge. See above for more details, and here's 415E live (original lineup still though.)

Finally for tomorrow (in hard rock terms), we'll wrap up these previews at Moloney's Alley, where local hard rock cover band Tarnished will play their last show of 2019 TOMORROW NIGHT! After a successful debut at the 227 West Portage Avenue nightclub three weeks ago, the Banned successors will be back for an encore tomorrow, albeit short-handed due to drummer Tommy Korcal's absence (if it's due to a Project 906 gig, I haven't heard about it at press time.) As a result, Alex, Nathan, and Josh will play a special acoustic trio set TOMORROW, which will shock no one familiar with Tarnished's "every Thursday" run at Biggby Coffee, so they should acclimate themselves well here! As best as I can tell, the concert proper has no cover charge, a 21+ age limit, and a 9:00 PM start time, but a dinner-for-two special for $50 is in effect for those wanting a meal, so click here for details on that front. Visit the official Facebook event page for more details, and here's Tarnished live!

Lastly, for friendly reference, Moloney's Alley is a 2 minute drive down the road from Sault Michigan's annual New Year's Eve ball drop at the corner of Ashmun & Portage, in case that's any extra incentive to going there tomorrow night. That's all for today, but stay tuned for our 2019 retrospective post on the site tomorrow! Thanks everyone!

Sunday, December 29, 2019

The Ghost Of Chase James Wigmore - "Songs To Punch Yourself In The Face To" Album Review!!

It's now time for our 126th monthly CD review at the Sault Metal Scene, and final one of both this year & the 2010s, as we're taking a look at prolific local folk punk/experimental solo musician Chase Wigmore's debut (non-demo) full length solo album "Songs To Punch Yourself In The Face To"! The first and best hyped of his two December 2019 releases (both as billed to "The Ghost of Chase James Wigmore"), this was independently released to his Bandcamp page on December 7th, and while a hyped CD release show on Devil's Night never occurred, the possibility still exists for the album to see a physical release in the future. Featuring Chase on vocals & acoustic guitar, you can buy this album for $7 at the above links, and while you can stream it for free there, consider buying it to support his work! Note however that "S.T.P.Y.I.T.F.T." has been heavily condensed from it's originally planned length of 23 songs, with his 25+ minute "Stray Dog Howl" among the dropped tracks.

Featuring 10 songs for about 38 minutes in length, many of which having previously heard on prior demos, let's begin this review with it's opening number "Feelings Over Minor Chords"! Featuring a very cheerful guitar melody, the lyrics take on a blatantly sarcastic vibe, presumably making light of indie and folk rock musicians with overly upbeat and happy songs. This track is amusing in this regard, and it slowly gets a little more aggressive and intense as it goes along, but the song's title is sung a little too often for my liking. Still a nice showcase for Chase's humorous side with strong guitar work! Second is the first outside cover on the album, his rendition of local doom metal trio AlgomA's song "Reclaimed By The Forest", which we have heard Chase tackle previously in his techno project The Black Lodge Masters. This version is a dark acoustic track that dramatically builds into the verses with a lot of intense guitar strumming, and it has a haunting minimalism to it.

This cover would presumably be a great fit with a full electric band, but it's a great showcase of Chase's darker musical side on it's own, and it's an early highlight! The song does end abruptly, but it segues right into the third song (if heard back-to-back), namely the album's longest, "St. Marie Revisited". The lyrics obviously have a local relevance, but they are honestly hard to make out for much of the song, which maintains the dark intensity of the prior cover. Instead, this one has but more projected vocals and varied emotion, complete with Awokest-style shrieking late and even more relentless guitar riffing. Shame this is just audio, imagine how this performance looks live! Very entertaining song for what it is, and it too runs right into the fourth song, "Rites of the Wendigo", a stripped down and condensed version of a song from Awokest's April studio album "Solving The Human Condition". The Awokest version, to me, was overly long and relentless without clear vocals, but does it work better here?

Structurally, it does, with the song having more focus and variance despite the vocals/guitar-only setup, and it allows Chase to flex his folk/punk muscles with another dose of extreme metal intensity in the back half! That said, as a metalhead, I would like to hear the Awokest version edited to match Chase's solo arrangement of the song, as I imagine that would work well, but as pure music, the solo redo is better. This runs into the fifth song, "Live To Work", which is the album's first track that I wasn't familiar with from prior demos. Ostensibly about the endless cycle of employment, this song is entertaining enough with a relatable tone from prior tracks, but the levels aren't as strong here, with Chase's vocals often buried in the guitar, and when he gets more intense and aggressive late, the song can crackle a little bit. The song's on-brand for the album and Chase's solo work, but the mix could have used another pass. As best as I can tell, the string of songs directly running into each other ends here, for what it's worth.

Track #6 is another cover, this time of "Beyond The Sun" by British crust punk band Amebix. Featuring some of the clearest and most passionate singing yet on the album, Chase adapts this song well to an unplugged setting, and while we don't really get any metal screaming here, he makes up for it with intensity and purpose. I wasn't familiar with Amebix before Chase covered this song in a Facebook video earlier this year, but it's a strong adaptation that matches the original's shifts in tone and emotion, and it's another fine choice for this album! That's followed by "Wear & Tear", which I wasn't familiar with either, but it delivers more of the same solo action you're used to from earlier originals. He shifts from his distinctive clean vocals to primal screams with surprising ease, and it's nicely showcased here, with his fast-paced, relentless guitar riffing also put to good use. Nothing overly shocking (comparatively), but fans will be right at home!

Eighth up is another new one (to me, at least), entitled "Millions & Billions Of Dollars". More of a guitar exhibition than some earlier songs, the vocals seem to be building towards a huge climax, complete with evil-sounding spoken word,  but it never comes, instead ending on a (vocally) softer folk punk note for it's final minute or so. Chase's picking and riffing comes through well, but structurally and vocally, there is better on the album, at least for what I'm looking for. Solid track as it goes! The penultimate (and shortest) track on "Songs To Punch Yourself In The Face To" is it's last cover, that being of Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Proud Mary". Don't go into this expecting a faithful rendition though, as Chase sings the whole song in a black metal-esque shriek, contrasting with the acoustic guitar work (anyone else getting Impaled Northern Moonforest vibes here?) It's an amusing take with good guitar, but be warned what's on offer before you check it out.

The album closes with "Running Out Of Beer", which takes about as much of a 180° turn as you can get without changing any of the personnel, as this is basically a classic country ballad, complete with added piano work for extra variance. You get a little bit of Chase's prior anger and intensity in the back half, but it mostly stays in it's genre lane. It's a well done change of pace with a strong lyrical narrative, but the keyboarding doesn't help the song, and it often crowds out the guitar and vocals as it goes. Solidly done closer, especially for outlaw country fans, but the piano isn't to my liking here.

So, what are my final thoughts on (The Ghost Of) Chase's first official album? Overall, if you like his brand of intense, in-your-face, metal-tinged folk/punk, this will do the job quite nicely! Despite recording this as a solo singer/guitarist (piano on the closer excepted), he doesn't approach these songs as a coffee-shop indie act, and delivers some angry and irreverent material that showcases his strong musical abilities without compromising an inch. This doesn't feel like a studio release, and it has the immediacy of his live shows, which is a good thing, even down to the unpolished production. The high amount of covers is surprising, especially given how cut down "Songs To Punch Yourself..." was from original hype, and a lot of these songs would probably lend themselves better to a full band electric presentation, but on tracks like "Solving the Human Condition" and "Wear & Tear", he proves that a full band isn't 100% necessary.

As an extreme metal fan, I tend to prefer his Awokest material, but Chase delivers the goods in this stripped down setting without hesitation, and if you love his live shows, you would be well advised to check this album out at the above links! I hope you guys liked our last album review of the 2010s, and as for January... St. Ignace, Michigan metal band Heavy Lies The Crown in the drivers seat for their debut album "Scatter Brain", but could another new album swoop in to get 2020's first review? Find out next month, and stay tuned for New Year's Eve concert previews next! Thanks everyone!

R.I.P. Summer Stevens (1989-2019)

The Sault Metal Scene sends it's deepest condolences to the family and friends of original Danger Cats frontwoman Summer Stevens, who passed away at Sault Area Hospital on Wednesday at the age of 30, as per this obituary on SooToday. Summer is survived by her mother, four brothers, two sisters, and her other extended family. A passionate fan of music and singing, Summer will be best known to SMS readers for her stint in the inaugural lineup of the all-female hard rock/punk band The Danger Cats, where she took on the stage name Summer Snow-Leopard. She would sing lead for most of their late 2013 gigs, notably including K-Man & The 45s' headlining date at the former Roosevelt Hotel that October, before amicably leaving the group in February 2014 for health reasons. Outside of the band, Summer parlayed her singing abilties into high profile performances at her Grade 12 graduation, a Soo Greyhounds game, and at numerous local karaoke nights in the 2010s.

A come & go service at her family's Rankin home was held yesterday, while services (entrusted to the Arthur Funeral Home) will take place tomorrow morning at 11:00 AM with Elder Willard Pine officiating, and the family has asked for memorial contributions to Diabetes Canada in lieu of flowers. I didn't know Summer personally, but I know she was a kind and friendly person with real musical gifts, and losing a loved one on Christmas Day is unfathomably sad. There aren't a lot of videos online from her brief run with The Danger Cats, but here she is in (I believe) her last show with them, covering a Ramones classic at LopLops that December. R.I.P. Summer!

Friday, December 27, 2019

YouTube Channel Profile Series: Shit Liver

It's now time for our final YouTube Channel Profile of 2019, and we're ending this monthly spotlight series for this year on a high note, courtesy of one of the biggest local extreme metal bands of this decade! As usual, this month's channel was randomly selected from our YouTube subscriptions, all being channels with content at least half devoted to local metal, hard rock, and/or punk artists and/or concerts. Now, here's what you should know!
Shit Liver (http://youtube.com/givershitliver)

Owner: A member of local/St. Catharines grindcore trio Shit Liver, exact identity unclear (though my guess would be singer/guitarist Josh Penno)

Channel Timeline: Launched on January 29th, 2011; Videos posted from that day through April 2018

Channel Summary: The official YouTube channel for Shit Liver, it has seen continued but sporadic usage for the majority of their 9+ year run. At present, the channel features 16 band-relevant videos, including four live clips, free postings of all three of their studio albums, various teasers and live concert promotion, and their "Wait" music video. The channel's other three videos relate to their St. Catharines-based comedy metal projects Gnarwail & Gizzard.

Why You Should Watch: While it is a shame that this channel didn't see more regular use, this is a must watch for fans of Shit Liver's brutal work this decade, both locally and abroad, and you get a nice sampling of their career here! The Gnarwal & Gizzard uploads are also amusing listens if you've ever wanted to hear whales or chickens singing in a metal band! However, note that this channel did not see any uploads between it's first day online and March 2014, and no videos have been posted here in over a year, coinciding with their public hiatus since the spring of 2019. As well, the channel features no content from Shit Liver's folk/bluegrass side project Dirtfight.

Our Recommended Videos To Check Out:

Shit Liver - Pennotration/Shift Liver - Live at the Temple: Of the surprisingly few live concert videos on Shit Liver's channel, this March 2014 video from their first gig in their then-new hometown of St. Catharines is the best, especially compared to their early Rosie metal night clips. Co-headlining this private concert at "The Temple" (click here for details), you can see them playing "Pennotration" & "Shift Liver", ironically in reverse order from their placement on their debut album that same year. Featuring Josh alongside bassist Mike Kyle and drummer Matt Baic (with all on vocals), this captures their ferociously crusty original attack very well from a nice and close camera angle, and hopefully this won over lots of new fans in St. Cats!

A Long Grinding Road (FULL DOCUMENTARY): By far the longest and most viewed video on Shit Liver's channel, this documentary compiled footage from the band's Northern Debauchery Tour of Canada in the spring of 2015, including looks at the entire tour from start to finish. While there is some live footage of Shit Liver here, most of it relates to the actual tour, such as the band's life on the road, mishaps and joking around, "the Calgary counter", screaming while driving across bridges, their issues getting a show in Victoria, performances from other bands, and testimonials from Josh, Mike, Matt, and friends. There's a lot of ground to cover here, far too much to briefly summarize, but it's a great and in-depth look at this D.I.Y. tour, and highly worth watching for fans! Scroll to the 4:30 mark for a 6 minute segment on Shit Liver's trip to Sault Ste. Marie for two dates that April, including footage of The Bear Hunters at The Rednecks Saloon. Also, click here to see the blooper reel from the footage shot for the documentary.

SHIT LIVER - WAIT - (OFFICIAL VIDEO): In the lead up to the release of their second studio album "Hitting The Fan" in March 2018, Shit Liver posted their first (and to date, only) music video onto their channel, for their song "Wait". Filmed by "Cannibal Cam" in conjunction with Josh's own film company Spacebag Productions, the video features performance footage mixed in with a depiction of a peaceful protest being responded to by police using excessive force. They cram a lot into this video, and the song suits it thematically, with blistering grindcore and a doomier home stretch for both tastes, so fans won't want to bypass it!

I hope you guys liked this month's YouTube Channel Profile! We'll begin 2020 in this series with two channels, as our first random selection only had one video period, and the second had 10 videos, albeit all from the same concert, so that'd fill things out sufficiently. As such, we'll be looking at the YouTube channels of defunct local punk band The Small Town Rivals and of YouTube user Chitamo (featuring videos from a 2006 Inner City Surfers concert.) Look for that on or around January 26th, and for more news and updates on the site soon! Thanks everyone!

LOCAL CONCERT ALERT (The Apocalypse Afterparty), Punk Rock Xmas Preview, And More!!

Before we get this month's YouTube Channel Profile on the site, let's wrap up this weekend's concert previews, with a LOCAL CONCERT ALERT, a solo project's new updates, and some local news articles to round things out. Just as a heads-up, our New Year's Eve concert previews will hit the site on Sunday or Monday. Now, here's what you should know!

Local party metal trio The Apocalypse Afterparty will play their first public show of 2020 on Friday, January 31st when they join other competitors in this year's The Soo's Got Talent competition at The Machine Shop to help kick off the Bon Soo Winter Carnival! Quietly announced via this image on relevant Facebook pages on Sunday, this special concert will not take place on the official opening night (which is on February 1st), but this will be a fine appetizer before all of the action fully begins. Four of this year's finalists will take the stage, including all three podium finishers, they being singer/guitarist Adrian Sullivan, vocalist Juliana Regan, and The A.A. themselves, while fellow finalists The Dancing Divas will get their own encore on this night too. While not credited in the image, a comment from The Soo's Got Talent's own Facebook page indicates that the women's vocal group The Lock Cities Chorus of the Sweet Adelines will also perform on the 31st.

They weren't in the competition, but they are a talented veteran ensemble! Note as well that The Apocalypse Afterparty did launch a search via the Musicians Wanted Facebook group earlier this month to find a temporary fill-in for either Paul or Alice (the member wasn't specified) on bass due to apparent health problems. I have no idea if they found a replacement yet, let alone if they'd still be needed by January 31st, but message the band above if you want more details! A start time and cover charge are to be confirmed, but I assume this will be all ages. Visit the above links for more details on this talented musician showcase as they roll in!

Next up, here's this weekend's last remaining hard rock or (in this case) punk concert preview, as online page-less punk quartet The Cover-Up will return to the stage TOMORROW NIGHT when they headline the "Punk Rock Xmas" show at LopLops Lounge! Last seen at this venue a year ago, this will be this supergroup's first show anywhere since Go Skate Day, and it sees them take on the moniker You First & The Givee Givees for the night. I still hope that's a temporary name to reflect the punk covers theme tomorrow, but regardless, the music will be top notch for genre fans! New local punk cover quartet The Sick Sons will play their second LopLops date of the holidays with an opening set here, and with their own stacked lineup of prominent local punk musicians, you know they'll set the tone nicely! A $7 cover is in effect for this 19+ show, which has a 10:00 PM start time. Visit the official Facebook event page for more details, and here's The (former?) Cover-Up live!

Also today, here's the latest (and admittedly overdue) updates from local extreme metal solo project Awokest, who have largely taken a public back seat to project leader Chase Wigmore's eponymous music in recent months, but what's new under this name? Well, in late July, Chase said that he was planning to include Awokest material in an unidentified 7 inch vinyl split release, though as the image reveals, his contribution was way longer than the alotted space. We haven't heard any public follow-through on that since, but on October 17th, Awokest released a free "album" to their label Blood Shed Productions' YouTube channel, entitled "With Focused Psychosis I Wrote This". The 80 minute collection of songs does not feature any credited song names or a track order, but this 4:27 preview video from August features the first two songs, and his half hour long track "Anima Sola" is on the final product. The music on offer has a heavy dose of death metal, techno influences, samples, and noise rock, so fans of Chase's heavier output will be right at home. Give the free album a listen below!

Finally for today, here's three assorted shorter news items, all related to recent SooToday articles with an SMS relevance to the topics, which are all courtesy of newer contributor and veteran local musician Chris Belsito. As usual, these are in alphabetical order by artist or business name:

  • Cover-Up/Rising Tide frontman Dustin Jones is featured in this new article (posted yesterday), which heavily focuses on his personal struggles and rehabilitation in recent years, with the musical talk largely revolving around his Toronto punk supergroup The Conspirators, who have a new album nearing a release. Very informative look at Dustin's life and evolution as of late, so definitely give it a look above, and give The Conspirators a listen too!
  • Last month, Chris also spotlighted local concert promoter Elise Nelson of Girl Friday Productions for this article on her work putting on shows and what she's done in the community in the late 2010s. Girl Friday have put on a handful of shows featuring SMS-covered acts, including this year's B.A. Johnston show and prior concerts headlined by Dany Laj & The Looks, FYI. Elise is doing great work locally, and the article is effective at outlining all of the relevant bullet points, so check it out above as well!
  • In October, Chris posted this article about the local music store Mister Disc and the popular Facebook group it spawned, which features reminiscences by store/group owner Todd Gordon about his time as a local business owner and music aficionado, which carried into the group, which Todd has expanded far beyond a meeting place for store regulars into a group where music fans can interact and discuss the music they love. The Mister Disc group is a great spot to hear new songs and meet like-minded fans in a safe space, so give it and Chris' article a look above!

That's all for now, but stay tuned for this month's YouTube Channel Profile on the site next! Thanks everyone!

Thursday, December 26, 2019

LOCAL CONCERT ALERTS (Tym Morrison & Tarnished) And Weekend Concert Previews!!

I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas yesterday! We are back with previews of the last hard rock concerts of 2019, but we aren't done here, as due to the amount, I am holding our preview of Saturday night's Cover-Up show at LopLops for our next formal news post, hopefully coming by tomorrow. Don't worry, it;'s coming! Now, here's what you should know to start this weekend off, including some attached LOCAL CONCERT ALERTS!

We'll start in Sault Michigan, where local hard rock band Tarnished are expected to continue their "every Thursday" arrangement at Biggby Coffee with another matinee concert TODAY! Remember, Boxing Day is not an observed holiday in the United States, and neither band nor venue have confirmed any break, so the coffee shop should be open as usual. While we're on the subject, let's add Tarnished's likely January 2020 gigs there to our calendar today, so unless someone says otherwise, look for Alex (and Josh or Nathan?) there on January 2nd, 9th, 16th, 23rd, and 30th. Fans of this talented group's acoustic incarnation should be glad to see more of them on Thursday afternoons in the new year! As usual, expect 12:00 PM start times today and next month, no cover charges and no age limits, while their last show of 2019 (at Moloney's Alley on Tuesday) will be covered on the site in the coming days. See above for more details, and here's Tarnished live!

Next up, let's head back to Sault Ontario, where local acoustic hard rock musician Tym Morrison will play his third and second-last shows of the year TOMORROW & SATURDAY at Gliss Restaurant! Like Tarnished, Tym will be back at Gliss on Tuesday for New Year's Eve (separate preview forthcoming), but if you prefer his earlier supper-time matinees on the usual days, you can expect more of the same at the Spring Street restaurant this weekend, so don't miss out before 2020 rolls around! Speaking of which, we might as well add Tym's own January dates to our calendar also, so look for him back there on January 3rd-4th, 10th-11th, 17th-18th, 24th-25th, and 31st-February 1st. For what it's worth, Tym's new Facebook event page for Gliss gigs only goes until January 4th, but given his busy long-term scheduling, I wouldn't worry beyond that date unless given reason otherwise. His wide setlist and strong talent will be on full display this weekend & next month!

As usual for Tym's many, many Gliss matinee concerts, expect this weekend's and next month's to have 6:00 PM start times, no cover charges, and no age limits, but remember that this is a formal sit-down restaurant, not a nightclub. Visit the above links for more details, and here's Tym live!

Also this weekend, local classic/hard rock cover quartet Soundcheck will return to The Esquire Club for previously announced concerts TOMORROW & SATURDAY NIGHT! While not their last booking of the year (stay tuned for details on their late notice New Year's Eve gig), this will be their last regular concert weekend of 2019, and their first at The Esquire Club in two months. Also, these will be their fourth & fifth shows with new singer/guitarist Cameron Oliver, following Toystock and the Reggievelt gigs two weeks ago that the band didn't publically promote anew at the time. The Facebook event page says that "a few changes have been made", so beyond Cameron, what are they getting at? New covers, or are other things afoot? Find out tomorrow and/or Saturday! These are 10:00 PM gigs with no entry fee and 19+ age limits. See above for more details, and here's Soundcheck live!

Finally for today's previews, let's head to The Rockstar Bar, where reunited ska-punk/hard rock band Tripod the Dog will return to cap off 2019 TOMORROW & SATURDAY NIGHT! It's hard to keep track of T.T.D. updates when they don't have an actively maintained online page, but as far as I can tell, these will be Mark and the Amendolas' first public gigs in three months, and first at The Rockstar Bar since April. We don't see the new look Tripod the Dog often, so their concerts are even bigger deals as a result, and they should put on a good show as usual this weekend! Note that bassist John Amendola's personal Facebook page revealed that they will be joined this weekend by a special guest, namely Piero Tucci, a friend of John's who has been a steady presence in jazz and R&B circles for over 15 years, and plays the saxophone, keyboard, and accordion. Given Tripod the Dog's ska roots, Piero playing the saxophone makes a lot of sense!

Click here for more about Piero, who currently lives in Great Britain, but is home for the holidays, one assumes. As usual for Rockstar Bar-hosted local cover band events, this has a 9:00 PM-ish start time, no cover charger, and a 19+ age limit. Visit the official Facebook event page for more details om this talented group's latest gigs, and while we wait for a public video of theirs, here's Tripod the Dog's song from "Local Steel"!

That's all for now, but stay tuned for our newest YouTube Channel Profile next, with our Cover-Up preview and more to follow! Thanks everyone!

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Theatre Of Night Christmas Tour Video Showcase!!

Of course, it is Christmas tomorrow, so what better local band to feature on the SMS today than Sault Michigan classical metal project Theatre of Night? I have intentionally held our coverage of their out of town concerts and related videos in the past two weeks in order to give them the Christmas Eve spotlight. These videos were all posted on or shared to the band's Facebook page and/or group. One (shared by keyboardist Craig Harrison) is a holdover from their Holland concert at Great Legs Winery on December 8th, and it's of guitarist Steve Giles warming up for their set by playing the opening of "What Child Is This?". Short but well played, so give it a look at the appropriate link! I can't embed videos from the venue's Facebook page here. Despite a teaser on December 14th indicating that they would live-stream their local show at The Dreammakers Theater at the Soo's Kewadin Casino branch, I can't find any evidence of that occurring, at least on a public page.

However, we do have one video to share from the local date, courtesy of Roadhouse/ex-Power Slug guitarist Chris Leask, who shared this clip onto their Facebook page the day afterward. The 47 seconds-long video features Theatre of Night playing "Away In A Manger", and while the short length and over-exposed lighting do it no favours, the performance itself sounds great, and Rachel's vice still hits all of the right notes! Check this video out below, and also check out the post he made above it, where he positively reviewed the concert, which was also his daughter's first concert, and they even got a photo of her with Rachel. Looks like everyone had a good time!

Today's other new videos come from Theatre of Night's return trip to Holland (a half hour southwest of Grand Rapids) on Saturday night to end their third annual Christmas tour, this time at The Park Theater. Unfortunately, these are not from the set proper, and one doesn't even have any musical performances. That video (shared by Craig onto the band's Facebook group) is just 17 seconds of them setting up for the show, and the other, which Craig shared to their Facebook page, is 29 seconds of Steve and bassist Scott Andringa (on drums) jamming Black Sabbath's "Into The Void". Didn't expect that, but they make it sound good while it lasts, so give it a look below!

To end this post on a festive pre-Christmas note, especially as the Kewadin live-stream has not surfaced at press time, here's the 1:46-long live-streamed video from last year's local date, so you can relive Theatre of Night's whole stage show in all of it's glory. I don't think a lot changed year-to-year, for what it's worth, but it's always fun seeing Craig, Steve, Rachel, Scott, and Erik metallize Christmas carols on the big stage like this. Give last year's local date a look below!

That's all for now, but I wish all of our readers a very Merry Christmas, and I will see you guys back here on Boxing Day with weekend concert previews, plus our next YouTube Channel Profile will follow as well. Thanks everyone!

Saturday, December 21, 2019

LOCAL CONCERT ALERT (Tantrym Tyme), A New Local Band & Album Release, And More!!

Now that the equinox has passed, here's a stacked new news post for your Saturday night delectation! Along with a new teaser video, we have a SHORT NOTICE LOCAL CONCERT ALERT, a new album release, and leading off, a new band to add to our listings, so here's what you should know!

We have a new solo project to add to our Sault Michigan band links, and they are X's & Y's, the new musical venture from Werehold Records founder and ex-Life's Eclipse/et al. guitarist Jason Mills! The launch of their Facebook page marks the first new public update concerning his music career since Moss' final online posting in March 2018, so this has been a long time coming. Don't take this as a sign that Werehold is back in operation too, as their Facebook page was quietly deactivated during his musical hiatus, and has been removed from our links on the SMS as such, but we'll let you know if the label returns down the road. Jason revealed last month that he is working on a release named “Þe Obsidian Sömnen”, which roughly means "The Black Sleep", though I do not know yet whether this will be a single, an album, or both. In any event, Jason's ex-Shatterhand bandmate Mitchell "Barph Blahgo" Wells will mix, master, and co-produce the new material.

There are a lot of unknowns yet regarding X's & Y's, including specific genres we can expect Jason to tackle here, but remember that his past Werehold acts (Moss aside) all tended to play a form of extreme metal, often sans vocals. I'm very curious to hear where Jason has planned for his new project, so visit the above links to stay in the loop!

Next up, here's that LOCAL CONCERT ALERT, and it's very surprising, as defunct local metal trio Tantrym Tyme are back for a special one-night-only reunion concert on MONDAY NIGHT at Bird's Eye Outfitters! Apologies for the short notice, this show was only announced via the official Facebook event page on Friday. We haven't seen Tantrym Tyme on stage (in an event with public online advertising, at least) since Downtown Days in 2016, after which they quietly dissolved, but it looks like Jacob's back home in the Soo for the holidays. Despite the odd Monday scheduling, it'll be great to see Tantrym Tyme back after 3 or so years! This is also a rare non-Project 906 hard rock concert at Bird's Eye Outfitters (the outdoors store/venue on the site of the former Bird nightclub), so if you've missed seeing heavier bands there, head to East Portage Avenue on MONDAY! Expect a 7:00 PM start time, 21+ age limit, and no announced cover charge.

Tantrym Tyme (née Aux, Abstract, and Tantrum) were a welcome sight locally in the early-mid 2010s with their steadily improving skill set and impressive cover selection, especially given their young ages, having launched the band when the members were all 10-11 years old. Fingers crossed that this show is a huge hit, so see above for more details, and here's Tantrym Tyme live in Sault Ste. Marie back in 2015!

Let's head north to Sault Ontario now, starting with the latest from prolific local folk punk & experimental metal solo artist Chase Wigmore, whose public activity slowed down over the fall, so what's new to report? Well, on November 20th, he revealed that he was "sort of taking a vacation" due to positive changes in his personal life, though he did hint that his forthcoming true debut solo album "Songs To Punch Yourself In The Face To" was largely complete. In spite of mixed messages about the planned release date and issues therein, Chase posted the apparent final copy of the album on his Bandcamp page on December 7th for $7 (or more if you are so inclined), so now it is finally on sale digitally. He did leave the door open for a physical release down the line when monetary concerns are met, but this is better than nothing! As it currently stands, the album has 10 songs, down from the previously advertised 23 songs on a double album.

I'm unsure whether he made huge revisions to the final product or is shelving the other 13 tracks (including the 25 minute-long "Stray Dog Howl") for a separate release, but Chase has went through a lot to complete this album, and it's nice to see him get it on sale! As for when we might review this album on the site.... how does this month sound? Stay tuned!

Finally, here's a new video from Chase's ex-Strange Coyotes bandmate Mike Haggith's Facebook page earlier this month, and while it doesn't feature him on camera or performing, it is relevant to his upcoming studio album "If Ever Comes The Day." The 17 second clip features Justin Fuciarelli, Mike's bandmate in the Thompson, Manitoba pop rock cover band Between The Ditches, playing some solo guitar for what will be one of two guest spots on the CD. This has a bit of a country twang, but Justin's a solid guitarist, and it'll be interesting to hear how he fares on the final product. Check it out below!

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

Friday, December 20, 2019

LOCAL CONCERT ALERT (The Wyld Stallyns), More Weekend's Concert Previews, And Oh!No IV Updates!!

As promised, let's wrap up this weekend's concert previews today, specifically concerning two punk-featured shows downtown tomorrow night, but we also have some big updates to an annual concert festival, and leading off, here's a LOCAL CONCERT ALERT for year's end!

Local acoustic hard rock trio The Wyld Stallyns will end 2019 with a New Year's Eve concert at The Whiskey Barrel on Tuesday, December 31st! This show was quietly announced late in the band's latest Facebook page post from Monday, largely spent thanking everyone from their guest performer-laden gig at the same venue this past Saturday. FYI, they were joined there by Crossroad Magdalenes bandmates Greg MacLachlan & Aaron Dunn, Guitar Gangsters drummer Derek Turner, and prolific local singer Jackie Fuller, so they definitely had some talented friends helping out. It makes sense that The Stallyns would return to their favourite venue for another go-around in 11 days' time, so don't miss all of the action then! Despite the expected New Year's frills, this remains a cover-free event with a 19+ age limit and a presumed 8:00 PM start time. Check out the above links for more details on The Wyld Stallyns last show of the year!

Next up, let's conclude this weekend's pre-Christmas concert previews with two big punk concerts TOMORROW NIGHT, starting with local Celtic punk quintet Dustin Jones & The Rising Tide's last show of 2019! Returning to the site of their St. Patrick's Day concert in March, this will be The Tide's first public show since their festival gigs in St. Joseph Island and at Rotaryfest in July, with recording sessions for their planned fourth studio album taking up much of the year in their camp. Might we hear some more new songs for the upcoming CD tomorrow? Either way, it's great to see Dustin, the Jaaskelainens, Liam, and Chris back for another go-around! Local funk/hard rock quartet The Elements (featuring 2/3rds of The Wyld Stallyns) will open in their first live show since Halloween weekend, and while they're not LopLops regulars, their high impact originals and covers should set the tone, so don't be late for their set!

This concert has a special $10 cover charge, a 19+ age limit, and a 10:00 PM start time. Visit the official Facebook event page for more details on what should be a great night of punk rock action, and here's The Tide live!

Lastly for this weekend's publically announced hard rock or punk concert previews, we'll head to The Rockstar Bar, where local promoters The Oh!No Collective will host their Oh!Noel fundraiser concert TOMORROW NIGHT! Primarily a fundraiser for next year's Oh!No concert festival (more on that in a bit), this will be another genre-hybrid event with a little something for everyone, with alt-punk trio A Dire Setback filling the SMS coverage-void on this night, and their original attack and new material should bode well here tomorrow. Surf rock instrumental trio The Dynowaves and rappers Rick E and Kodex will round out the bill for Oh!Noel, and don't sleep on them, all will bring their own talented and diverse sounds to the table for the occasion! Admission for this 8:00 PM and 19+ event is $10, but if you bring canned good donations for The United Way's Harvest Algoma food resource center, you can knock up to $5 off of the cover charge ($1 off per can, 5 maximum.)

Also, note that there will be an ugly sweater contest tomorrow night, so bring your best (or worst) sweater to see if you can win a prize! This sounds like a fun event for a couple of worthy causes, and there's a bit of punk, rap, and surf rock to go around for the holidays, so visit the official Facebook event page for more details, and here's A Dire Setback live!

Finally for this post, let's talk about the Oh!No collective's namesake concert festival, which will be moving from Robbie Adamson's church in Leeburn to Sault Ste. Marie proper for it's fourth annual installment next year, as per this Sault Star article by journalist Brian Kelly earlier this month, which also features interview remarks by Oh!No representative Alex Moore. The move into city limits will reportedly be to make it easier to attend while also giving extra promotion to booked acts, which all makes sense to me, as not everyone was able or willing to drive/carpool to Leeburn, especially with the 2 day model this year. Most of the rest of the article concerns Oh!Noel tomorrow, but one line gives some interesting information, namely that "Oh!No will run in late August at various venues downtown". The past three festivals have been in early September, but a move into the summer season alone may help overall exposure.

As for hosting Oh!No IV at multiple venues, this had been a rumour since even before this year's festival, and the idea of a multi-venue festival like this isn't locally foreign. Remember the Algoma Hope4Haiti fundraiser in January 2010, which had live entertainment at 7 nightclubs simultaneously? Time will tell how ambitiously scheduled things will be for this event, but it'll be interesting to find out how things shape up come the summer. Visit Oh!No's Facebook page for continuing details, and stay tuned for more news and notes on the site in the coming days! Thanks everyone!