Friday, July 31, 2020

COVID-19 Pandemic Updates For The E.U.P., Plus More News & Notes!!

To end a quieter but eventful month, here's a new news post that mostly takes us to the Sault Michigan area for recent news, positive and negative alike. Here's what you should know!

Hopes of more indoor concerts taking place in Michigan's Eastern Upper Peninsula in the near term have taken a hit, as Governor Gretchen Whitmer has signed executive orders that will limit indoor gatherings to 10 or fewer people in the state as of today, including in the U.P. and Northern Michigan regions. As well, nightclubs and bars in the state are now restricted from indoor service if they earn 70% or more of their income from alcohol sales. Read more on the executive orders at this link or your preferred state news services. Obviously, this is a step backwards, but if you've been following local or Detroit news as of late, you will know that COVID-19 cases are rising in Michigan, so this is to try and slow the spread of the virus once again. Noting that this is the SMS, I won't comment further on the non-musical aspects of the pandemic, other than to remind everyone to stay safe, wear your face masks, and use common sense out there.

Given how the coronavirus pandemic has ravaged the local concert calendar, this news won't affect too much in the way of announced hard rock concerts, but we can confirm that the planned Spun-headlined concerts at The Northern Pines Lounge at the St. Ignace Kewadin Casino next weekend have been cancelled, as per their their Facebook event page. Publically, a reason wasn't given for the cancellations, but I do know that they were called off before Governor Whitmer's announcement, as they had announced on Sunday that they would be playing an outdoor benefit gig in northern Wisconsin next weekend. Also, note that the Marquette hard rock quartet weren't prior Kewadin regulars, but hopefully Spun come back when the time is right! As of this writing, Kewadin's entertainment page still says they will "tentatively" resume their live concert schedule next month.

Lastly, what does this mean for Tarnished's planned Rock The Block sequel in the Soo next month? A 10 person limit for social gatherings would theoretically wipe out any indoor crowd, but assuming they were planning to host it at Crooked Music again, would they try and chance it, given that stores are not affected by the executive order? Tarnished have not posted on their Facebook page since before their EP release, but if they confirm a cancellation, postponement, or relocation of the event, we'll let you know. Stay tuned for more relevant updates on the COVID-19 pandemic!

Next up, let's stay in the E.U.P. for the latest from St. Ignace progressive metal band Heavy Lies The Crown's Facebook page! On July 2nd, singer Brandon West was featured in this short video plugging an upcoming interview that he and guitarist Ted Olson would be doing an interview with an Instagram page named Everythingcore. Maybe I am missing something totally obvious, but I have yet to find the posted interview, so either this page isn't the one Brandon meant, or it was yanked after it's live airing. I'll let you know if it surfaces! Five days later, the band shared this 10 minute video of them working in studio on their forthcoming full-length album, though the visuals aren't great, and not because of the vertical camera angle. It almost feels like the video is constantly buffering, and it has a tendency to pause on itself, but the music you hear sounds promising. However, embedded below is the first formal teaser clip from the sessions!

Uploaded to Brandon's YouTube channel, this is set to a parody clip of Brandon as a western movie gunslinger (randomly in what looks like a home under construction), this has a 15 second instrumental segment from their new song "Dead Teeth", which should whet fans' appetites until the full CD is on sale! Give it a watch/listen below, and stay tuned for more updates from Heavy Lies The Crown in the near future!

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

  • Over six months after announcing the big move, the local Long & McQuade music store opened in it's new location at 647 MacDonald Avenue (the former Northshore Sports & Auto site) on Monday, July 20th. As well publicized online, Northland Music and the Thomas Walls School of Music merged operations last year in order to become the local branch of the national music/lesson store chain, and now they have a bigger (if more eastern) storefront. Be sure to check out Long & McQuade to see what they have to offer!
  • Reggie's Place will reportedly be re-opening under new ownership in the near future, as per their Facebook page! The popular 458 Queen Street East nightclub abruptly closed in September of last year (just four months after re-opening following the 2017 fire upstairs), and while Reggie Daigle himself has sold this location, it will retain the Reggie's name, and it has a new logo designed by Destroilet's Matt Waples. There are a lot of unknowns yet, not just because of the pandemic, but will concerts remain country-centric (Soundcheck aside) when they can host them? Stay tuned!
  • Local metal guitarist Shane Desjardins is again looking to jam with other musicians, as per his newest posting on his Musicians Wanted Facebook group from Tuesday. Readers there and here may recall his search for musicians to jam and write with in May 2019, and you can hear his old music recordings on his YouTube channel. He has clear talent, so message Shane at this link or above for details!

That's all for this month, but stay tuned for more news and notes on the site this weekend! Thanks everyone!

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Tarnished - "Down To The Wire" EP Review!!

It is now time for our 133rd monthly CD review at The Sault Metal Scene, as we're taking a look at Sault Michigan hard rock quartet Tarnished's debut EP "Down To The Wire"! Independently released to streaming and download platforms on Friday, this was recorded at Rock Hill Sound in Rochester Hills (outside of Detroit) in February with producer Matt Dalton. Tarnished are represented on the EP by singer/guitarist Alex Traynor, ex-Lift The Broken guitarist Nathan Webber, and Josh Fair on bass. Alex handles drums on the EP, as the sessions took place between the departure of drummer Tommy Korcal and the addition of his replacement Gary Croad. Tarnished have helpfully linked fans to most music services hosting copies of "Down To The Wire" on their Distrokid page, including new copies on Napster and Medianet, though it's Amazon sale page is curiously not listed as of this writing.

If you want to download the EP, it will run you $6.49 on Amazon or $7.99 on Google Play. A physical CD run of "Down To The Wire" has been alluded to, but as of this writing, it is strictly online only. With 5 songs running for about 20 minutes in length, let's begin this review with the opening song, "Cocaine Riot"! This one will be familiar to some readers, as it began life as an original song by Alex's prior classic/hard rock group Banned, which you can hear a live version of at this link from back in 2012. Compared to the Banned version, Tarnished's updated take is slightly longer, has more of a dramatic flourish, and benefits from having two guitarists on hand, but the basic structure is intact. This is a solid showcase for Alex's melodic yet aggressive vocals with solid guitar work and a good solo, but the sped up section in the last chorus felt unnecessary, and Alex's songwriting has gotten more technical with time. Solid opener, and a nice throwback for Banned fans!

Next up is "Cabin Fever", which has more of an ominous slower opening that suits the title theme, but Alex's vocal range is a much better fit to upbeat hard rock, and that slowly edges into frame as the song progresses. If anything, this song works better instrumentally, with an Ultimate Warrior-esque bridge between the second and third verses and a catchy drum beat, and Alex and Nathan really let loose on the guitar in the last stretch. I like where the song was going conceptually, and it's a fun listen, but the vocals don't mesh with the darker tone. Third on the EP is "Metalyn", and this one instantly reminds me of AC/DC in music (very 1980s essence) and vocals, the latter thanks to Alex's higher register vocals and very familiar pro-rock lyrics. It is a testament to Tarnished's talents that they can make this work as well as it does, and while it's not as original as "Cabin Fever", the assembled parts feel glued together in the right places, and Josh's bass work is definitely an asset!

The penultimate (and ironically, the longest) song is "Shortcut", which shows a bit more of their southern rock influence while still being decidedly harder-edged, and the guitar lines between the verses are particularly catchy! The song has a good forward momentum and pacing, and I like the enthusiastic performances, especially on guitar, but the vocals could be tuned down a little compared to the already upbeat song, and for a third straight time on the EP, the song ends a little too abruptly. "Down To The Wire" closes with it's shortest song, "The Path", which feels almost like a companion to "Shortcut" tonally, but with more of a straightforward hard rock sound and slower, more reserved verses. The drums get a nice moment to shine during the choruses, and the song has a lot of catchy qualities within, with Alex's singing a good compliment throughout! While not the riskiest song on offer, it hits the right notes throughout, and fans of Tarnished's brand of rock will be right at home!

So, what are my final thoughts on Tarnished's first CD? Overall, it's a solid first outing that showcases what the guys can do, and they inject the 5 tracks with enough variety to keep things interesting despite the short runtime! It's easy to compare "Down To The Wire" to Alex's solo EP "Crazy World" from last year, but nothing feels like a carbon copy, and these 5 songs are definitely heavier as a whole than on that release. Alex's vocals are upbeat and melodic throughout, and he and Nathan play off each other well on guitar, while Josh's bass work was reliably steady, and the drumming was always a compliment, though it'd presumably have been ideal had the sessions involved a permanent drummer. I liked all 5 songs on their own merits, as helped by all having their own distinctive sound, though I admit that none jumped out immediately as my absolute favourite of the bunch, and I do have some points to nitpick and recommend.

Despite Alex's capably upbeat vocals, they weren't always a great match to the tone of the songs (especially on "Cabin Fever"), the abrupt endings on most songs was unfortunate, and I'd like to see some more structural risks on these songs beyond just slotting in a different genre to take influence of. That said, I did enjoy "Down To The Wire", especially now that versions of these songs exist that aren't impaired by the audio issues from their acoustic live-streams, and I definitely recommend seeing what this rising young band can do! Give the EP a listen at the above links, and I hope you guys liked this month's CD review, but what's coming up in August? I'm not sure yet, but here's what I can say. Due to our 6 month anti-bias buffer rule, it will not be of an archive Inner City Surfers or Mike Haggith album, but the sky's the limit for anything unreviewed of a heavier persuasion. Ideally, I'd tie something in with a live concert next month, but yeah, we all know the odds there.

I do have some ideas in mind for an archive review next month, but I won't commit to anything just yet, especially as something could be released new in the month ahead, for all we know. In any event, stay tuned for more news and updates on the site in the near future! Thanks everyone!

Monday, July 27, 2020

The Rundown On Some New At-Home Performance Videos!!

Today's post is devoted to some overdue recent performance video content from some familiar local faces, so let's finally give a proper spotlight on them before things get further backlogged in this regard!!

Before his final pair of live-streamed concerts for July 2020 hit his YouTube channel this week, let's cover former Caveman Morrison frontman Tym Morrison's last two at-home shows on the site today! Unfortunately, external embedding of his live-streams remains blocked, but everything pertinent is linked to, as usual. We'll start with his 30th installment from last Tuesday, which begins about 3 minutes in with two Stone Temple Pilots covers ("Interstate Love Song" & "Plush") bookending Days of the New's "Shelf In The Room". Tym next moves on to renditions of Chicago's "Hard To Say I'm Sorry", Eric Clapton's "Tears In Heaven", Berlin's "Take My Breath Away", Frozen Ghost's "Dream Come True", Toto's "Hold The Line", The Who's "Pinball Wizard", Richard Marx's "Hold On To The Nights", Metallica's "Nothing Else Matters", and Billy Joel's "Piano Man", before playing 7 minutes of instrumental music. The covers wrap up with Pink Floyd's "Comfortably Numb", ...

...Kansas' "Dust In The Wind", Poison's "Every Rose Has It's Thorn",  and White Lion's "When The Children Cry", before Tym ends the stream 20 minutes early due to personal commitments. Solid show overall with lots of familiar tunes and some heavier bands strewn about for good measure, and with no major lag either, though you could tell it was hot in there, and his attempts at "Money For Nothing" could indeed use bass. Note that two songs ("Hold On To The Nights" &  "Comfortably Numb") were brought back from show #29 on the previous Thursday. As for this past Thursday's 31st live-streamed concert, this one did go the full 2 hours (plus!), and fully starts about 10 minutes in with covers of 10cc's "I'm Not In Love", Phil Collins' "One More Night", Radiohead's "Karma Police", Cheap Trick's "The Flame", Cutting Crew's "(I Just) Died In Your Arms", Yes' "Owner Of A Lonely Heart", Jim Croce's "Time In A Bottle", The Beatles' "Eleanor Rigby" ...

...Ludwig van Beethoven's "Piano Sonata No. 14", Bryan Adams' "(Everything I Do) I Do It For You", Imagine Dragons' "Radioactive", Amy Holland's "Shootin' For The Moon", Fleetwood Mac's "Never Going Back Again", and Simon & Garfunkel's "The Sound of Silence", before playing a snippet of his original "The Number of The Beast" (not to be confused with the Iron Maiden song). The covers resume with The Who's "Behind Blue Eyes", Cheap Trick's "I Want You To Want Me", The Beatles' "Here Comes The Sun", Amanda Marshall's "Trust Me (This Is Love)", Lonestar's "Amazed", The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band's "Fishin' In The Dark", Journey's "Open Arms", The Bangles' "Eternal Flame",  Billy Joel's "She's Always A Woman", and finally, Kim Mitchell's "Patio Lanterns". Another fun selection of tunes (with no repeats from that Tuesday), and Tym's vocals and guitar work were strong as ever, but the video was getting laggy a bit late.  Give both episodes a watch at the above links, and look for episodes #32 & #33 as the week progresses!

Let's close today with a video that I can embed, namely a new cover performance by Guitar Gangsters bandmates Erik "Buzz" Boissineau and Tiffany Stocco! Uploaded to Buzz's new YouTube channel two weeks ago as it's second posting, this features the ex-Garden of Bedlam frontman and Stegadeth frontwoman covering The White Buffalo & The Forest Rangers’ “Come Join the Murder”, which you may have heard on Sons of Anarchy. A much lower-key, alt-country tune compared to what we typically hear from Buzz and Tiff, this is still well done overall, so give it a look below!

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

Sunday, July 26, 2020

YouTube Channel Profile Series: Theatre of Night (Official)

It's now time for this month's YouTube Channel Profile, as we look at another randomly selected YouTube channel whose content is at least half devoted to local metal, hard rock, and/or punk musicians & concerts, in order to spotlight their videos for current readers and potential subscribers. This month's selection will give us a little Christmas in July via one of the most prominent metal bands in the Eastern U.P., so here's what you should know!
Theatre of Night (Official) (
Owner: Theatre of Night keyboardist Craig Harrison, also known from his work in local bands like Integrated System of Machines, End of Existence, and Dust 'N Bones

Channel Timeline: Launched on July 2nd, 2014; Videos uploaded from that day through March of this year

Channel Summary: The official YouTube channel for the Sault Michigan classical metal project, it was launched to replace their prior channel after the departure of drummer Greg Giles in early 2014, who completely overhauled that channel for personal use. Theatre of Night's current channel features 37 videos, including studio rehearsal footage, audio tracks, solo performances, recording session content, and videos from their recent live concerts during their three Christmas tours from 2017 through 2019.
Why You Should Watch: This channel is absolutely worth checking out for fans of Theatre of Night's more recent Christmas-centric performances, and you also get a nice sampling of Craig's solo pursuits and their somewhat ambiguous ongoing studio projects as well! Assuming they can do a Christmas tour in 2020, more content would likely follow here then. That said, pre-2014 content is only sparingly included on the new channel, and direct references to their Reverbnation-exclusive albums like "Darkness Falls" & "Guntower Democracy" aren't as common as you'd think. Also, note that some content here is shared with Craig's personal YouTube channel, and more exclusive videos can be found on the band's Facebook accounts.

 Our Recommended Videos To Check Out: 

Studio Sessions 4 Some of this channel's first uploads were studio session clips of Craig and guitarist Steve Giles (then the only official band members) working on new material, and these capture a more traditional, raw look at their creative process before later videos loaded on post-production colour filters and more ambiguity. Former Clownsack guitatrist Fran Blackwood shot a few videos of the guys and guest guitarist Eric Demaray working on some well done (if ominous sounding) material at Sault Realism in July 2014, and these are definitely an interesting watch to see where things were going at this time!

Hallelujah cover - by Craig Harrison: By an 8 vote margin at press time, Theatre of Night's most popular YouTube video is actually this solo vocal cover of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" by Craig, as uploaded in July 2017. Filmed in black & white, it's oddly framed with the camera shooting him from the side, but it's a solid rendition of this emotional classic that showcases Craig's underrated vocal range that old Dust 'N Bones fans will recall! A few other solo covers, some including him on live keyboard too, can also be found on his YouTube channels and the band's Facebook accounts.

Epic Christmas Music Live, Park Theatre show, Christmas Night Tour: The most substantial concert footage on Theatre of Night's channel comes from the December 23rd finale of their 2018 Christmas tour, when they rocked The Park Theatre in Holland (40 minutes west of Grand Rapids). The band was represented by Craig & Steve alongside their ex-I.S.O.M. bandmate Rachel Mender on vocals, plus bassist Scott Andringa & drummer Erik Sales. Assembled fans got to hear live versions of "What Child Is This", "Carol of the Bells", "The Little Drummer Boy", "Away In A Manger", "Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy", "Silent Night", "O Come All Ye Faithful", "O Holy Night", "Hark The Herald Angels Sing", "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen", and "We Three Kings", plus some instrumental aria sections dotted within. Filmed on a stationary camera from the crowd, the conceptual nature and very strong performances are well captured here, even if out of season!


I hope you guys liked this month's YouTube Channel Profile! Next month in this series, we'll be looking at multiple channels due to our first random selection only having two distinct types of SMS-relevant videos, so a second channel with only one video was added. That said, we'll be looking at the channels of users JoeNiemi17 (featuring solo performance videos and some live 10 Years clips), and AlexsGuitarCovers (featuring one surviving solo cover.) Look for all of this on or around August 26th, and for more news and notes on the site this week! Thanks everyone!

Friday, July 24, 2020

Tarnished Updates, Plus A Look Back At An Old Favourite Local Band Of Mine!!

I'm hoping the site will see more updates and content as we enter the home stretch of July, and fingers crossed that starts with today's post, which has something new from a prominent local band who you may have seen live on stage(!) recently, but we also have something old for local metalheads who frequented live events in the mid-2000s. Here's what you should know!

Sault Michigan hard rock quartet Tarnished have indeed released their debut EP "Down To The Wire" earlier today! Despite not promoting the release anew on their Facebook page, you can now buy or stream it on Spotify, Apple Music, Google Play, Deezer, and iHeartRadio, all as helpfully linked on the band's Distrokid page. On Google Play, the album costs $7.99, though no word as of yet on if it will turn up on other platforms, not to mention it's presumed CD copies ahead. "Down To The Wire" features five songs, including "Cocaine Riot", "Cabin Fever", "Metalyn", "Shortcut", and "The Path". The opening track may interest fans of frontman Alex Traynor's prior group Banned, who first played "Cocaine Riot" live in concerts back in the early 2010s, as seen here. With "Down To The Wire" now on sale, I should confirm that this will be our monthly CD review for July 2020, so look for it at some point in the week ahead, and buy or stream the whole thing above!

While we're on the subject of Tarnished, let's get back to their Rock The Block concert at Crooked Music this past Saturday night, and despite the social distancing guidelines and restricted attendance, it was a hit! So much so that Tarnished are planning to host a second Rock The Block show near the end of August (perhaps on Saturday the 29th?), and they are looking for musicians interested in playing. If you're chosen to perform, you'll receive $25 and get a 45 minute set, and if you are interested, e-mail or message the band on Facebook. Of course, the fluid situation with the COVID-19 pandemic is very much a concern, even if left unsaid by the band, so hopefully things don't get any worse in the next month. Finally for today's Tarnished topics, the guys quietly deleted the two live performance videos from Saturday that had faulty audio (from their own and Letters From Abel's sets), but one of the two has new video footage on the band's Facebook page!

Our first full look at Tarnished with new drummer Gary Croad (and working audio), this sees them cover Queen's "Another One Bites The Dust", as filmed by Crooked Music co-owner Christy Crook for her personal Facebook page, before being publically shared by the band. Despite a vertical camera angle, the video is nicely shot with solid audio, and the lively performance of this Queen classic is well done across the board, so give it a watch below!

Finally for today, with news remaining slow right now, I wanted to give a long overdue spotlight to one of my favourite Sault Ontario metal bands from my teenage years, albeit one who never had a known online page, namely thrash metal quartet Soldiers of Misfortune. This way, they can have some collected literature online. Featuring frontman Mark Kulmala, guitarist Jesse Cook, bassist Alex "Xander" White, and drummer Jonas Gasperas, Soldiers of Misfortune were active from circa 2004-2007, and were mainstays of the local metal scene in the mid-2000s, with many of their concerts still featured in local news articles of the time. Commonly seen sharing the stage with Gates of Winter and Fitswitch in 2005 & 2006, readers may recall S.O.M. opening for out of town bands like Burn The 8 Track, Lights Below, and Sunday Night Cruise, and taking part in major events like Gates of Winter's debut EP release party, Heatwave 2005, and Hempfest 2006, while they did have at least one battle of the bands win.

Soldiers of Misfortune's last documented concert was when they and The Crossed opened for iT and Gates of Winter at The Oddfellows Hall on December 29th, 2006, and they were not still playing live concerts when The Sault Metal Scene launched in July 2007. Jesse & Jonas have continued playing together in metal/hard rock bands like Operation: Killdozer, Winkstinger, The Elements, and The Wyld Stallyns, while Mark and Alex have largely diverted from metal in their succeeding music (like My Father's Son and Cowboys & Indians respectively), and both have furthered their musical pursuits since moving out of town. I was too young to see Soldiers' nightclub shows, but when I got to see them at all ages events (primarily at The Oddfellows Hall), they were reliably a highlight with their hard hitting cover attack, and in my circle, they were a big reason to attend certain concerts!

One of the first local bands I ever saw live in 2005, I fondly remember Soldiers of Misfortune covering songs like Pantera's "Shattered", Van Halen's "Hot For Teacher", and Ozzy Osbourne's "Mr. Crowley" (to one old friend's chagrin), and their enthusiasm, talent, sense of humour, and Jesse's occasional costumes were always a welcome sight even back then. Unfortunately, no public video or audio clips are known to exist online, and the guys may not mind given how they've progressed as musicians in the past 14 years, but I do miss Soldiers of Misfortune, and it would be great to see a reunion show if the cards fell the right way!

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

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

The Return Of Skeyes Of Seven, Plus A New Live-Streamed Concert!!

Here's a new news post to check out on this Wednesday evening, and it is devoted to two topics relating to veteran local musicians: A new live-streamed at-home concert, and a surprise reunion from a talented band who are throwing their hat into a contest ring. Here's what you should know!

Local hard rock quintet Skeyes of Seven are back! Almost three years removed from their last public update and live concert, the guys have entered the $20,000 Summer Song contest being held by Corus Radio, as well advertised on many of their active radio stations, which is open to Canadian musicians and bands looking for their big break. Prospective acts have until Tuesday to enter via a video performance (performers don't have to be in the same room in the video), and a panel of judges from Corus Radio stations will pick the top 10 performances, before ultimately determining the $20,000 winner, plus a fan-voted $2,000 prize. Full disclosure, Corus Radio does not have any stations in Northern Ontario, but their closest ones to the Soo (source here) are the London rock station FM 96 and the Barrie top 40 station Fresh Radio 93.1. As best as I can tell, Skeyes of Seven are the only local band to enter at press time.

A couple of groups familiar from past local concerts have entered, like The Fortunate Losers and The Killin' Time Band, but there are dozens of entries that you can check out on the contest's YouTube channel, and all genres are welcome, as evidenced by the contest being hyped on rock, top 40, and country stations. You would think that being in a market 6 hours removed from a Corus-served city would be a disadvantage to Skeyes of Seven, but as of this writing, their video is the 15th most viewed in the Summer Song contest, so maybe that's a good sign? As for their video proper, this was filmed remotely due to social distancing (one assumes), and it features their entire 2017 lineup (Cory, Ron, Kyle, Al, and John) before they went on hiatus. The guys entered their (new?) song "Detonate" for the contest, and it has a good heavy sound with some progressive flourishes, including very solid guitar work and nice raspy yet melodic singing from Cory!

With the pandemic raging onward, it's anyone's guess when we'll see Skeyes of Seven in a proper public concert again, but it's great to see them back performing together in any fashion, and hopefully their return isn't just for this contest! Give "Detonate" a watch below, visit the above links for much more on Corus Radio's Summer Song Contest, and Skeyes of Seven are definitely back in our active band links!

Finally for today, local hard rock singer/guitarist Tym Morrison hosted his 29th live-streamed concert on his YouTube channel last Thursday, and after show #28 was cut off after only a couple of songs due to technical difficulties, fans will be glad to know that the run-time of this one is back to his usual 2 hour length! Unfortunately, Tym is continuing to block external embedding of his live-streams on both this one and yesterday's (which will be covered on the site very soon.) After about 6 minutes of setup and the "Starting Soon" card, Tym's set from Thursday begins by covering Tom Petty's "Free Fallin'", Ed Sheeran's "Perfect", 10cc's "I'm Not In Love", Phil Collins' "One More Night", Radiohead's "Karma Police", Cheap Trick's "The Flame", Guns 'N Roses' "Patience", The Traveling Wilburys' "Handle With Care", Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble's "Pride & Joy", Cat Stevens' "Wild World", ...

...The Flys' "Got You (Where I Want You)", Nazareth's "Sunshine", and Collective Soul's "Shine" (reprised from last Tuesday), before playing two original songs. The first one is not titled and I'm not confident in guessing it's name, but I have heard Tym play it before, while the other is "Nadine RIP My Friend", which Tym wrote and released online in 2013 in honour of his late friend Nadine Dowding (hear the original version here). Afterwards, Tym covers John Fogerty's "The Old Man Down The Road" and Richard Marx's "Hold On To The Nights", before tackling two more original song, namely his older cut "The Reason Why" and his more recent live staple "Say That You Care". The covers return to end the show, including renditions of Gary Wright's "Dream Weaver", Pink Floyd's "Comfortably Numb", Extreme's "Hole Hearted", Mr. Big's "To Be With You", and The Beatles' "Blackbird".

Fun show overall with lots of familiar and somewhat deep cuts for his regular at-home concerts, and fans of Tym's original material will like the run of four songs out of six in the back half! The video was somewhat choppy early on, but it leveled out for the majority of the stream, and Tm performed strongly as usual, so fans will want to check out the whole thing below at the above links! That's all for today, but stay tuned for more news and notes on the site in the next few days! Thanks everyone!

Monday, July 20, 2020

Rock The Block Fallout, Plus New-Ish Maxx Entertainment Concert Videos!!

After a quiet weekend, we are back with some new news and updates from both sides of the border, including a lengthy look back at three linked favourites of the cover bar circuit, but leading off, here's some fallout from the first major hard rock concert locally in four months!

As well advertised online, Sault Michigan hard rock quartet Tarnished and local music store Crooked Music helped end the metal/hard rock concert drought locally by hosting the Rock The Block event at the Ashmun Street music store on Saturday night, and we definitely have fall-out from the festivities! Tarnished's Facebook page kept fans up to speed on everything going down on Saturday, including videos of all four acts, which also showcase how the stage was setup in the store (very Coch's Corner-esque, if you need a Sault Ontario reference.) This won't be an ideal look at Crooked Music's current locale if you want to see it as a music store, but the venue staging looks good! The first video shot on Saturday is of  St. Ignace solo artist Austin Graham (a.k.a. Grayham Entertainment), who is seen covering "Goons (Baby I Need It All)" by the indie/alternative band Mona. A little shaky, but Austin definitely has talent, and I like that he picked a locally atypical song to cover! Hopefully he keeps at it!

And yes, note that Tarnished frontman Alex Traynor was behind the camera at this point in the show, and he was wearing a face mask (they were available for attendees upon entry.) The next video was of local singer/guitarist Kevin Blakeney covering Buffalo Springfield's "For What It's Worth", and this very spare rendition is well done, though the very monotone, Tom Waits-esque vocals may not be to everyone's taste. As for the succeeding videos of Detroit hard rock quartet Letters From Abel and Tarnished themselves, despite likely doing heavier songs, I will refrain from sharing either on the SMS. This is not out of any intentional effort on their part, but both videos only output a high frequency tone that is mildly unpleasant if heard for too long, and I have no idea what happened on these, especially as the opening solo acts sounded fine. No, this is not the same issue that plagued the audio quality on Tarnished's live-streams, you could still hear those.

I don't know if it is possible to fix or re-upload those videos, but hopefully something with working audio surfaces in some form. As best as I can gather, Rock The Block was a hit despite the obvious social distancing concerns (and 50 person maximum capacity inside Crooked Music), and hopefully this will help guide the way for further concerts of this nature in the short term, assuming no one got sick! Visit the above links for more on the show, and look for Tarnished's debut EP to go on sale this Friday!

Lastly, here is a new-ish video from his allegedly 1,000th YouTube upload from April 2nd, SaultOnline correspondent Mike Caruso's YouTube channel, as while he hasn't had any concerts to film at lately, he has kept up posting new videos! We'll have more later this week, but this comprises of footage of three linked local bands, namely country rock cover quartet Bone Yard and their side projects, blues trio Mojo and acoustic country duo The Bearded Lounge! If you're gonna combine bands like this, these are the three to do so with, especially with their (Choose) Maxx Entertainment ties! The video starts with Bone Yard covering April Wine's version of Hot Chocolate's "You Could Have Been A Lady" at Reggie's West on Halloween last year, and while this was previously uploaded on Mike's channel, that version featured added Halloween graphics in post, so if you want a clean look at this performance, here you go!

Other songs on offer include The Bearded Lounge covering Roger Miller's "Me & Bobby McGee" and their slowed down version of Kiss' "Rock & Roll All Nite" at the Reggievelt in November, followed by Mojo covering Santana & Rob Thomas' "Smooth" at The Esquire Club in October. The rest of the video focuses on Bone Yard, including their cover Dire Straits' "Sultans of Swing" outside of Reggie's West during the Ride For ARCH festivities in August 2017, followed by their version of Billy Edd Wheeler's "Jackson" at The Rednecks Saloon in June 2014 (notably featuring Alex on lead vocals rather than Greg), and their version of J.J. Cale's "Call Me The Breeze" outside of the Memorial Tower on Queen Street East during the 2018 Queen Street Cruise (cars are a heavy focus of the video.) Bizarrely, the video ends with the exact same rendition of "You Could Have Been A Lady" from the beginning of the video, only this is the version with the Halloween post-production effects!

This is still a nice collection of performances, if very Bone Yard-heavy given the video's title and information, but Mike has filmed much more of all three bands that you can watch on his YouTube channel. Aside from the clean take of "You Could Have Been A Lady", all of these were previously uploaded on Mike's channel, but the songs are still effective, especially if you like Bone Yard's non-country cuts, so give this one a look below!

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

Friday, July 17, 2020

Tarnished Updates, Some Shorter News & Notes, And More!!

Before we begin today's post, I wanted to offer our deepest condolences to the family and friends of SNFU frontman Ken Shinn, better known as Mr. Chi Pig, who passed away last night at the age of 57. A mainstay of the Canadian hardcore punk scene since co-founding SNFU (short for Society's No Fucking Use) in Edmonton in 1981, Chi Pig achieved wide acclaim for his songwriting, captivating live performances, and his kind and outgoing nature, as has been attested to by fans and friends across social media today. Readers will be very familiar with SNFU from their numerous tour stops in Sault Ste. Marie, including at The Grand Theater in 2009, at The Rockstar Bar in both 2015 & 2016, and in many shows that predate the SMS at venues like Centennial Lanes and Club Princess. SNFU's influence was also felt in the setlists of local punk bands like Jack Spades, Stegadeth, and Talk Shit, who all covered their songs live.

Given the known health issues that Chi Pig was going through in the 2010s, I made sure not to miss SNFU's last local date in September 2016 (read our review here), and while his voice was quieter than in the past, his stage presence and enthusiasm were off the charts. He lived a difficult life, as documented in the 2009 documentary Open Your Mouth and Say... Mr. Chi Pig that I definitely recommend tracking down, and you can also see Donna Hopper interview him for SooToday at this link. He was a true original, and will be deeply missed across the hardcore punk community. R.I.P. Chi Pig!

Now, today's post is reflective of the continued slow news cycle during the pandemic, and while we do have some big news from a recently prominent local band, this post does end with some assorted shorter stories of recent note. That said, let's start by heading to Sault Michigan, where local hard rock band Tarnished will end the heavy concert drought locally by headlining the Rock The Block event at Crooked Music THIS SATURDAY NIGHT! I apologize for erroneously promoting this show as taking place last night in our last post, wires were crossed earlier this week, but at least I caught my error early! Our preview of the show in Wednesday's post has been updated with the correct date. Now that everything's accurate, Tarnished's Facebook page revealed yesterday that this concert is getting a local radio push, but not on the station you would think, as Paradise classic hits station Eagle Radio 95.1 has been giving away tickets on air!

In the lead-up to the concert, frontman Alex Traynor and guitarist Josh Fair were guests on the Eagle's morning drive show this morning with DJ and new station owner Tim Ellis, where Alex & Josh promoted Rock The Block and performed an original song. I didn't catch it, but hopefully it went well and served as good promotion as we ease back into having live music in the area! This may have also filled the void for Alex & Josh's on-hiatus live-streams, especially if you had audio issues on those. Lastly from the Tarnished camp, the guys have revealed the cover artwork and release date for their debut EP "Down To The Wire", which will be released on Friday, July 24th (next week), way sooner than I expected! Part of me is surprised that Rock The Block isn't a CD release party, but alas, social distancing would limit the attendance. The EP will initially go on sale or for streaming on digital music platforms.

As well, it will go on sale "everywhere very soon after that" (presumably meaning physical outlets.) Visit the above links for further details on "Down To The Wire", but I am thinking we have a CD lined up for this month's album review! We'll let you know more details when the album is on sale, but it's great to see everything progressing so well for Tarnished despite the pandemic, so stay tuned for updates, and don't miss Rock The Block TOMORROW NIGHT at Crooked Music if you're in the E.U.P.!

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:

  • Barring a sudden sign of life, I'll be moving Sault Ontario classic/hard rock cover quartet Griphook to our inactive band links on Monday due to a year's inactivity. The band has not issued a public update since July 20th of last year, when they thanked Facebook fans for attending their Rotaryfest Stage 1 set the previous day. After falling inactive in 2017, Griphook reunited to open for Kiss tribute band Destroyer last March, but these were their only two shows since their return, ongoing pandemic acknowledged. Hopefully we see Joel, Brian, Dan, and Anthony back on stage together down the line!
  • If you're wondering why we haven't covered Mike Haggith's fourteenth #LockdownLive concert (advertised for this past Monday) on the SMS yet, it's because it didn't take place at all. Mike acknowledged on his Facebook page that extensive renovations at his place stretched into the window where he would have been able to film the live-stream, and the episode will instead take place in early August, specific date to be announced. Disappointing, but life can get in the way sometimes, it's totally understandable. We'll let you know when more comes in on episode #14!
  • Former Bear Hunters guitarist/Skull After Betrayl frontman Mike Vincent is again looking to get back into the local scene via two separate posts on the Musicians Wanted Facebook group in the past week. One was regarding him and an unspecified bassist looking for a punk/rock drummer, while the other one was more open to Mike just jamming with like-minded musicians, perhaps towards starting a genre-variable band with him on guitar. I guess it depends what you're looking for, but if you're interested in playing with Mike or getting more details, message him at this link or above!

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

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Rock The Block Concert Preview, Kewadin Casino Concert Updates, And A New Video!!

The slow stretch at the SMS continues today, but we do have some semblance of normalcy returning to our coverage today, as alongside a new live-streamed video and upcoming concert updates, we have a preview of an actual, real, honest-to-goodness local concert that is actually taking place on Saturday night! Here's what you should know!

Four months after the local concert calendar ground to a halt due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a hard rock concert will take place on SATURDAY NIGHT at Crooked Music at 540 Ashmun Street in Sault Michigan, where local hard rock quartet Tarnished will headline the Rock The Block concert event! Long planned and rumoured, this concert will take place inside of the downtown music store despite ongoing coronavirus measures, but as the state government is allowing for indoor gatherings of up to 50 people in Northern Michigan (source here), this presumably gives an all-clear for a concert with a small attendance if the proper steps are taken. As such, organizers are strongly recommending that attendees wear face masks and practice social distancing. As for the music, this will be Tarnished's first full-band electric concert of 2020, and their first non-acoustic gig since Gary Croad replaced Tommy Korcal on drums. How much of their upcoming debut CD will fans hear on Saturday night?

Detroit hard rock quartet Letters From Abel (featuring ex-Midnight Logic drummer Kade Desarmo) will make a surprise trip north as the co-headliners in their local concert debut, and their alternative throwback sound should leave a good impression on gathered fans! The other scheduled performers are local solo artists, including Rudyard Musicians Festival regular Kevin Blakeney (replacing Illinois blues project Concreteslim), who does have some heavier covers in his back pocket, while the opening act will be St. Ignace solo artist Austin Graham, performing under the handle Grayham Entertainment. Very intriguing lineup, and it will be interesting to hear how this concert goes! Assuming it's not cancelled, postponed, or moved on short notice, Rock The Block goes down Saturday at 6:00 PM, this looks to be an all ages event, and tickets run for $10 at the door and at this link, though remember that attendance will presumably be limited due to the 50 person restriction on indoor gatherings at this time.

While it is great to see a true hard rock concert taking place locally again, I hope this goes well as both a music event and as an example of what fun events can take place if social distancing measures are enforced. So far, the Eastern U.P. has been fortunate to not have many COVID-19 cases (just 30 in Chippewa & Mackinac County combined) and zero deaths as of this writing, but you can't assume it's completely gone. Fingers crossed all goes well Saturday night, so visit the official Facebook event page for more details, and for a preview, here's Tarnished live!

Next up, we'll go from bad news to good in the Sault Michigan area, as Kewadin Casinos have announced that all remaining 2020 concerts (presumably referring to major ones at The Dreammakers Theater in the Soo and the St. Ignace Event Center) have been postponed into next year due to the pandemic. SMS-wise, this means that the rescheduled Black Label Society concert in Sault Ste. Marie will no longer take place on August 8th, as unlikely as that was looking. Tickets bought for any postponed Kewadin concert this year will be valid for the rescheduled dates, which will reportedly start being announced next month. Refunds are available on request by contacting or presumably in-person at one of the casinos, though refunds will only be given until August 12th and the 2 weeks following the announcement of rescheduled dates, in case the new date doesn't work for your schedule.

Full refunds will be issued if a show is cancelled outright, and click here for more details on the above information. The above information does not appear to reflect the schedules at The Rapids and/or Northern Pines Lounges, which will allegedly resume hosting live entertainment next month, and those events largely don't need tickets anyway. Kudos to Kewadin for keeping everyone informed, and hopefully 2021's calendar goes off without a hitch, but stay tuned for rescheduling info when it rolls in!

We'll close today's post in Sault Ontario, where local hard rock singer/guitarist Tym Morrison hosted his 28th live-streamed concert on his YouTube channel yesterday! External embedding of this episode was turned off again for unannounced reasons. This video doesn't actually have much in the way of full covers, as Tym spends the majority of the video tuning his guitar, playing a lengthy soft instrumental, and working out the kinks of his new pedalboard, even acknowledging 20 minutes in that "not much is working right now". He does briefly attempt a cover of The Tragically Hip's "New Orleans Is Sinking" early, but you do get to see him do a full version of Collective Soul's "Shine" before he called the show off due to issues with his pedalboard and backing drum tracks. While not directly related to the abbreviated runtime, the video was getting laggy at points, leading to the dreaded slideshow effect at points of the live-stream.

Perhaps it's not a bad thing that this particular live-stream's embedding priviliges were removed, given the technical issues, but "Shine" and the instrumental were well done! You could hear more distortion on the percussion though, and Tym will know way better than I if his setup is having issues.  Time will tell if he does another live-stream tomorrow after skipping last Thursday, but give the whole show a watch above, and stay tuned for more from Tym's camp when it rolls in! That's all for today, but stay tuned for more news and notes on the site soon! Thanks everyone!