Photograph by Patrick Doyle
Fun fact: Seal has eight studio albums. EIGHT! Forgive me if you already knew this, but I suppose this is why he so easily commanded the stage at RBC Royal Bank Bluesfest. He’s a legitimate international superstar and we were lucky enough to score an interview with him prior to taking the stage. (Another Seal surprise? He has to be at least 6’4. And built like a quarterback.)
After sitting down with Nickelback for a full hour in our recent “Nickelback In Sixty” special (which you can watch here), seeing them backstage at Bluesfest was something like a family reunion. And no reunion is complete without bear hugs, which drummer Daniel Adair voraciously threw upon Matt Wells when he first saw him, knocking the both of them over into a chair.
Matt spoke with Chad and Daniel at length about music, life, how the tour is going and what the deal was with that floating stage of theirs on the previous tour. The elaborate stage picked them up and carried them out and over top of the crowd and in Chad’s words, was powered by “the hand of Zeus.” Without going into too many specifics about dollars and cents, he also let us know that it cost well over SEVEN FIGURES to produce. That’s a lot of nickels. (Sorry.)
There have been a few interviews that we wanted to score during our time at Bluesfest that didn’t materialize, which is simply the way it goes at festivals. Unfortunately for us (but mostly Matt), Norah Jones was one of them. She did, however, partake in some of our Tornado Potatoes, which are exactly what you think they would be:
Norah took to the main stage to close the evening and sweetly serenaded the hearts and minds of thousands who showed up to watch her. As for Matt, although he didn’t get to interview one of his biggest music crushes, he can at least say that the two of them shared a salty snack.
RBC Royal Bank Bluesfest goes until July 15. For the full schedule head to http://www.ottawabluesfest.ca and be sure to follow us on Twitter @MuchMore for real time coverage of all our #Bluesfest antics.
- Sarah Dawley
Happiness Burns – Two Hours Traffic (2010)
I have always been a fan of Joel Plaskett. I think he is one of the finest songwriters in Canada, without question. I would go so far as to say that his 2007 album Ashtray Rock is still easily one of my favorite albums in the past 10 years. One fine day in Halifax a few years ago Joel slipped me a sampler of a band from PEI he was working with called Two Hours Traffic, which eventually turned into a full album he produced for them called Little Jabs. It was released in 2007, nominated for a Polaris Music Prize, and I would also put is as one of my favorites in the past 10 years. If you like solid, smart pop songs then it’s an album you should own. Knowing not to mess with a perfect musical connection the guys worked with Joel again on their latest album Territory. The track you should listen to now is “Happiness Burns”, if for no other reason than to fully understand what it would sound like if Wilco and 1994 Weezer made out.
Shampain – Marina and the Diamonds (2010)
Don’t be confused, this isn’t a band. It’s a solo artist from the UK and her name is Marina Diamond, but call her Marina and the Diamonds, if you please. The debut album, The Family Jewels, was already a hit in her homeland when it was released in North America earlier this year and now the media machine and critic circus has begun to do what they do best; compare her to other people. She’s gotten “The UK Gwen Stefani” because of her unique fashion mixed with synth pop, I guess, and has even been asked if her mum is Catherine Zeta Jones (because she’s part Greek). But she had me at “Drinking champagne, made by the angel, who goes by the name of Glittering Gabriel” from the track “Shampain”. I dare you not to like this song. It could easily have been on the Weird Science soundtrack. Remember when Wyatt and Gary put bras on their heads and tried to make another Lisa to impress Robert Downey Jr and that other guy but forgot to hook up a Barbie and ended up pissing off the Weird Science gods causing a perfect 80’s cheesy sci-fi house wrecking montage? Well this song would play perfectly over that scene….or ya know, in an Apple commercial.
Little Lion Man – Mumford and Sons (2010)
I can’t remember the last time I was so excited about a band. When I hear music like this on mainstream radio I feel like there is still hope. Ultimately, as Mumford and Sons become huge, the anti-mainstream will find things to hate about it, but at the end of the day the whole vibe of this band feels right to me and I think they are about to take over the world. Their North American tour is sold out, Ray Davies LOVES them and personally requested they be part of a Kinks tribute album that also includes Bruce Springsteen, Metallica, Billy Corgan and Lucinda Williams AND they’ve already had someone throw a bottle at them on stage. You know something is gonna be huge when people start to hate it enough to throw bottles (cough Nickleback, cough Bieber).
You also know something is going to be huge with the media comes up with a new genre to describe it; they are calling this band Nu-Folk. Here’s my advice today: don’t listen to media (present company excluded of course) but do listen to Little Lion Man by Mumford and Sons, buy their album, and then make it a perfect day and listen to the Pogues. Trust me.
Long May You Run – Neil Young (1976)
Caleb Followill from Kings of Leon told me a story once that involved a school bully, some cheerleaders and a little Pearl Jam coming from a car stereo. This was followed by how much he loved their album, Ten. Let me ask you this: Do you like Pearl Jam? Did you ‘rock’ a Nirvana smiley face t-shirt under your plaid in high school or have you been converted by the new radio rock and roll religion KOL are preaching? If you can answer yes to just one of these questions, then it’s time to thank the influence of Neil Young.
In light of Neil’s brand new album Le Noise, which was produced by the excellent Daniel Lanois, and Neil’s recent set at the 25th annual Farm Aid concert (which he helped create in 1985 with Willie Nelson and John Mellencamp) I’m listening to his classic track right now called “Long May You Run” for a few reasons. First, it’s just an excellent song. Second, it came from a 1976 album of the same name, which was a collaboration between Neil and Stephen Stills as they were trying to relive some of their old Buffalo Springfield days together. However, in a year full of musical reunions here’s the third and best reason; this year the Springfield will reunite on stage for the first time in 42 years. Without the seeds planted by Buffalo Springfield there would have been no Crosby, Stills and Nash, no Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young and who knows what musical path Neil Young would have taken…but it might very well have caused that Nirvana shirt of yours to disappear from all of your high school photo’s, Back to the Future style.
Going Back to Cali – LL Cool J (1988)
Can we just agree that the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame represents a way to acknowledge the influence and contributions of people on the topic of music, and that yes, sometimes they miss the boat? Wonderful. The nominees for this years Rock and Roll Hall of Fame have been announced, but as always, remember that these are just the artists nominated to MAYBE, possibly be inducted. They haven’t been inducted yet. That decision comes later. So far in the 25 year history of the Hall only two hip hop acts have been inducted: Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five in 2007 and RUN-D.M.C in 2009. This year there are 2 more hip hop possibilities: The Beastie Boys and LL Cool J.
Let it be known that I lurve the Beastie Boys, but my money is on LL this year. Any artist you listen to today or in the past 20 years who has had success finding a meeting place between hip hop and the basic formula of writing a pop song knows that LL Cool J was one of the first. When you hear Drake or K-OS singing and rapping on a track that crosses over to AC radio, you KNOW that they have a LL Cool J album or two. Even Eminem recently said “LL made me want to rap”. From the 1989 album Walking with a Panther, this is me telling you to check out the track “Going back to Cali” by LL Cool J.
A Change is Gonna Come – Sam Cooke (1963) covered by Seal(2008)
Big big news my friends: Heidi Klum is hanging up her brassiere (I get 10 points for using the word brassiere, I guess that’s 20 points now). Anyway, Heidi is retiring as a Victoria Secrets model. Yes, it’s a dark day for lingerie, but change is a good thing and strangely, it made me think of the excellent version of Sam Cooke’s “A Change is Gonna Come” by her hubby, Seal. Not the best segue or mention of this powerful song, I admit, but an amazing version of this Sam Cooke classic and worth a listen. Hopefully, this will throw you back to the original version as well by the late, great Sam Cooke who wrote it after hearing “Blowin in the Wind” by Bob Dylan. By 1963 Cooke was already a soul and R&B legend, but after hearing Dylan sing that song he famously said “a white boy writing a song like that?”. Lucky for us, the result was A Change is Gonna Come.
Space Oddity – David Bowie (1969)
Six years ago David Bowie went on a musical hiatus. Since that time there has been his amazing singing cameo in the TV series “Extras” and a handful of surprise onstage performances with people like Alicia Keys, Arcade Fire and David Gilmore of Pink Floyd, but don’t get too excited because he says he has no plans to release any new music. However, he DOES have a new book on the way if that makes you feel any better. It’s called Bowie: Object, which is filled with photos of 100 fascinating things on the topic of…David Bowie.
In a recent interview with NME magazine in the UK, Brandon Flowers of the Killers said “David Bowie changed my life” and it’s not hard to tell when you listen to his new solo album and check out the videos from it. I have to be honest, I’ve never been on the Killers train but I do kinda dig his solo disc, but maybe it’s because I double dig DB…I’m still trying to figure it out. Of all the excellent Bowie tracks out in the universe might I suggest you listen to the one that made him famous in 1969—”Space Oddity”.
All My Dreams – Jill Barber (2008)
When I was living in Halifax and part of a MuchMusic show called “Going Coastal”, I met a relatively unknown Canadian artist by the name of Jill Barber who was dropping jaws all over the city every time she strummed her guitar and started to sing. She has moved with ease between genres evolving from a solo folk artist to a woman fronting a band and writing songs that would make Emmylou Harris proud, and most recently her music has given us a Patsy Cline or Etta James type vibe that is NOT easy to pull off. The reason she is able to successfully release album after album of different styles is simple: she means it. It’s truth that is missing the most in music today and somehow Jill has managed to find a connection to an era when making music seemed much more simple and honest. Since that first meeting in Halifax I’ve watched Jill win East Coast Music Awards, receive Juno nominations, record a duet with Jim Cuddy and find a fan in some dude named Kris Kristofferson!! She is currently working on a new album and this year released her first book (Baby’s Lullaby) which is perfect for the hardcore fan who needs to own EVERYTHING Jill Barber or, ya know, for anyone out there with kids. Go listen and thank me later. “All my Dreams” by Jill Barber.
Shark in the Water – VV Brown (2009)
The problem with the business of music, unfortunately, is that for the most part the music presented to the masses is at the mercy of the tastes and agendas of a handful of people sitting on the top floor of some building. Let’s call them “they”. “They” influence who gets played on the radio, who graces the covers of magazines and who (for better or worse) is getting jammed down our throats. Yes kids, the music industry is a teeny tiny place that doesn’t always promote the most talented, unique or inspiring. However, music is a matter of opinion and it speaks to or connects with each of us differently, so I will say that sometimes, SOMETIMES “they” get it right (in my crusty opinion). VV Brown is an example of them getting it right. The album you should own is called Travelling Like the Light and the tune that proves it is “Shark in the Water”.
Posted: November 8th, 2010 | Category: Matt Tracks | Comments: No Comments
Tags: jill barber, Joel Plaskett, kings of leon, LL Cool J, Marina and the Diamonds, Matt Tracks, Mumford and Sons, Neil Young, Sam Cooke, Seal, VV Brown