Archive for the ‘Rock and/or Roll’ Category

Another year of Shazamfest, and another big success under the belt of owner and impresario Ziv Pryztyk. For those of you have have never had the pleasure of attending the festival, no number of words are sufficient to describe its level of grooviness. If it had to be summed up in one word, that word would be funkymusicwrestlingfreakshowburlesquecircusskateboardingenvironementalsummerfestival. That is to say, the lineup is as varied as your imagination can conceive. I couldn’t possibly go over every single act in this short space, so I’ll hit the highlights and link to other resources and articles to complete the picture.

Here’s the entire line-up:

FRIDAY:

The Garlics  In-your-face punk rock.

Les Tribal Roses Tribal fusion dance troupe.

Lack of Sleep  These Montreal-based rockers were the surprise hit of the weekend.

Black Snake Circus Conceptual  performance and contemporary freak show group.

Malajube  Juno award-winning Indie rock. 

Gasoline Straight up rock ‘n’ roll, heavily influenced by Led Zeppelin, RATM, SOAD, Beatles, STP, Pink Floyd. 

Bloodshot Bill This rockabilly legend graces the Shazamfest stage for his third consecutive year.

Tente Dj Tent With/Avec PEDRO, Bobby & High-C

 SATURDAY:

The Eastern Townships Laughing Championship and Laugh in with Albert Nerenberg, Laughologist.

Wrestling Show with/avec the ETWA The Eastern Townships Wrestling Association bring the pain.

Skateboard Competition on the Hager Half Pipe.

Dj Don Pedr Funky world beats.

Michelle & Sasha A groovy blend of folk, soul-full blues and reggae.

Dan Fiyah Beats Spreading peace, love, and unity through cool reggae. 

The Blue Mushroom Sirkus Psyshow An assortment of traditional Circus and Sideshow acts, dance, theatre, vaudeville, and burlesque.

Alaclair Ensemble Seven MCs and one DJ.

Capital Tease Ottawa’s premier burlesque troupe.

Dubtribe This legendary group has influenced a generation of electronic music makers and lovers for the last 20 years.

Tente Dj Tent avec/with JAXPRATT (Ottawa) & Bopp (Mtl)

SUNDAY:  

Chahut d’Ruelle A mix of blues-country-folk-punk-roots-experimental music. 

Seahags Old-timey country garage with a honkytonk/grunge edge.

Dirt Cheap Winos Folky-bluegrass tunes with a jug band feel.

David Francey  Widely regarded as one of Quebec’s finest singer/songwriters .

WORKSHOPS:

Skateboarding with Mike Townsend the Valoiz Boyz at the Hager Half Pipe. 

-All-day circus workshops with Michael Jensen in the Circus area.

 -Forging workshops with David McDonald.

-Mask making from 10am to 12pm @ the coffee house. For all ages.

-Musical instruments making from 10am until noon @ in the circus area. For 5 to 9 years olds.

-Song writing workshop from 10:30am to 12:30pm @ the Dj Tent. For ages 12 and up.

-Mystical Lantern Making workshop at 4 :30pm @ the Dj Tent.

Articles, Blogs & Stuff:

Dream.Love.Grow An interview with Shazamfest impresario Ziv Pryztyk by the Dream.Love.Grow artists group.

Instead Cinema’s full and complete round-up of all the artists and events.

Other Resources:

In addition to his annual Shazamfest duties, Mr. Pryztyk also runs Checkpoint Charlies Bistro Bar, where many festival regulars can be seen during the off-season.

The Department of Canadian Heritage supports Shazamfest!

Check out Sharon Ep1c, the artist who live painted the events as they occurred.

*Top banner photo courtesy of Claude Dufresne, all other photos courtesy of Shazamfest.

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This weekend, July 27th-29th, I make my now annual trek east to Shazamfest. For those of you who don’t know, Shazamfest is Quebec’s most unique summer festival, running the gamut from live music to circus acts to burlesque to professional wrestling.  This year’s musical lineup includes San Francisco funk/soul legends Dubtribe, Quebec’s own Malajube and rockabilly supercat Bloodshot Bill. The three day extravaganza also includes Capital Tease Burlesque, the Blue Mushroom Psyshow Sirkus (a must see for fans of the bizarre!) and heroes and villains of the Eastern Townships Wrestling Association.

If you’re anywhere near Way’s Mills, Quebec and you’re looking for a completely different and chill way to spend your weekend consider making the drive. I’ll have a full report posted here upon my return next week. In the meantime, check out these links for further info:

The Official Shazamfest Site!

Join the party on Shazam’s Facebook page

*or*

Follow them on Twitter

Read this very cool write-up by Damon Cox of Instead Cinema

See you there!

Over the weekend of July 29th-31st I had the pleasure of attending the sixth annual Shazamfest, perhaps the most diverse and unheralded summer festival in Canada.   While the proprietor, Ziv Pryztyk refers to the event as an open-air music festival, it far exceeds the narrow confines of the term.  The bill includes acts guaranteed to draw out even the most suppressed inner freak.

Situated on the Pryztyk organic farm in Ayer’s Cliff, Quebec, the venue itself is a marvel of nature.  Nestled in a crook on the Niger River, the festival grounds sit at the bottom of a natural amphitheater.  The farm is currently home to three generations of the Pryztyk family, but its history goes much deeper than that.  Local legend has it that Abenaki First Nations peoples have been using the site as  summer gathering site for untold generations.  In keeping with the spiritual significance of the site, Shazamfest is guided by principles of respect for the earth and strives to draw together people of all backgrounds, languages and ages.

The Rasslin’:  I’ve been a professional wrestling addict since I was six years old and this is a big part of what drew me to the show. Donnie “The Boss” Myers has been promoting wrestling shows since the early 70s and his company, the Eastern Townships Wrestling Association (ETWA) has just hit its 20th year in business.  The ETWA is at a crossroad as Donnie “The Boss” attempts to stave off a hostile takeover by Wallstreet Ziv and his crew (Joe Eclypse, T Payne, Jobz, the Wrecker and Donnie’s turncoat son DJ “The Buzzard” Myers).  The Boss is slowly building a resistance movement with his other son D-Fresh Myers, Aaron Fire, and The Jaba King.  Did I mention the guys from the ETWA invited me to referee the entire card?  Many thanks for allowing  me become involved in such a great show.

In the cutthroat world of pro wrestling the ETWA is an anomaly in as much as it’s a non-profit organization.  ETWA workers put their bodies on the line for the love of the game and local communities of the Eastern Townships benefit from that.  Proceeds from many of their shows are put towards worthy causes such as local sports arenas and children’s hospital charities.  Just because they donate to sick kids doesn’t mean they’ve gone soft.  Inside the ring they’re 100% badass.

The Music: The musical choices were perfectly suited to an outdoor eco-conscious, family friendly show.  The mixture of reggae, folk, bluegrass, rockabilly and funky jazz set the proper mood for a carefree weekend.  Headlined by Montreal hip-hop/reggae/funk collective Nomadic Massive got the crowd dancing so fast I thought the grass was going to start on fire.  Mike Goudreau (who boasts a record eight appearances at the Montreal Jazz Festival), the dynamic duo of reggae Mello G and Jah Cutta, Gasoline, the LennoxVillains, Bloodshot Bill and Mononc’ Serge rounded out the bill.

Burlesque!: Not content with a mere single night of burlesque, Shazamfest features the talents of two separate troupes of dancers.  Four performers from Ottawa’s Rockalily Burlesque strutted their stuff Friday night during ETWA Wrestling.  They even escorted uber-heel Joe Eclypse to ringside, helping him obtain a somewhat tainted win over fan favourite Aaron Fire.  Saturday night belonged to the Capital Tease duo of Koston Kreme and Allura Hindsight.  I could go on for ages about the sheer entertainment value of their show.  Instead of listening to me drone on for the obligatory 1000 words, I’ve included pictures.  Check them out:

The Freakshow: There was so much funky weirdness going on it’s hard to know where to begin.  The evening’s entertainment was provided by the lovely freaks of The Blue Mushroom Sirkus Psyshow.  The show opened with strongman Reverend Carl Nickerson bending, ripping and generally smashing his way through a stack of solid re-bar and phone books.  From there on in it was a non-stop carousel of sword swallowing, broken glass walking, nail bed sitting, cinder block smashing chaos.  An act lovingly referred to as the “Human Dartboard” was enough to make most in the audience squirm and cringe.  I’m reasonably certain at least one person vomited when Rev. Carl drove a four-inch spike into his nasal cavity with a ball peen hammer.  MC/dancer Bonbon Bombay provided the showstopper by showering the crowd with draught beer issued forth from two strategically placed taps in her bustier.

The SK8ing:  Saturday afternoon featured a skate competition on one of Quebec’s largest outdoor ramps.  Made famous by their exploits at Montreal’s Jarry Park, the Valoiz Boyz skate crew tore up the ramp and put on a clinic for the youngsters.  Held together by the love of the sport, the Boyz have been together since 1986.  Now in their mid-30’s the Boyz are a Sunday afternoon fixture at the concrete jungle of Jarry Park and have shared their skills with countless admirers.

The Workshops:  The weekend was about more than just having a good time.  Organizers set up a separate kid’s area, complete with play structures and on-site babysitters.  Unlike many other festivals, Shazamfest can lay genuine claim to being kid and family friendly.  There was plenty to keep the youngins’ busy, with workshops featuring juggling, unicycling, diabolos, devil sticks, African percussion and metal forging.

If you haven’t had the pleasure of attending a Shazamfest do yourself a favour and keep an eye out for next summer’s festivities.  Shazamfest Wow!  You’ll be saying wow every time.

*Shazamfest logo courtesy of Shamzamfest

*All photos courtesy of David Strange of  http://www.davidstrangephotography.webs.com/ and Stephanie Postigo.

Last Friday, March 25th I had the pleasure of witnessing one of the most unique, thrilling and entertaining spectacles ever put on.  In my life, I’ve attended plenty of rockabilly/punk concerts, more than my fair share of professional wrestling events and even a burlesque show or two.  I can convincingly say this is the first time I’ve attended all three at the same time.

Did I mention I reffed the first three matches?  Thanks to Wallstreet Ziv and the head booker Derek for giving me my big break in the pro wrestling world.

Cabin Fever, held at Montreal’s Theatre Plaza, is the brainchild of Wallstreet Ziv, proprietor of Quebec’s rapidly growing ShazamFest summer carnival.  Although the burlesque/rasslin’/rockabilly combo may seem like a lot to process at first, it proved to be a marriage made in the hippest and coolest neighbourhood in Heaven.  The show attracted a crowd of over 200 people, far more than I typically see at independent wrestling shows.  Everyone in the place was hyped and the wrestlers, musicians and dancers put on a five-hour extravaganza I won’t soon forget.  Let’s break down the show act by act:

Theatre Plaza: The venue could not have been more perfect.  The Theatre Plaza boasts a great balcony, plenty of floor space and an absolutely stunning vintage decor.  While most indie wrestling shows end up in the traditional Legion Hall or high school gymnasium, promoters opted for a proper show bar.  In operation since 1922, the Plaza comes complete with chandeliers and carved wooden mouldings.

DURT Loader: Opening up the show was DURT Loader, a really heavy sounding surf/rockabilly band that’s rapidly gaining popularity on the Montreal scene.  A great fit for Montreal’s sophisticated urbanite looking for a grungy good time.

Eastern Township Wrestling Association: These guys put on one H-E-Double-Hell of a show.  The ETWA has been in business for over 20 years, and it’s easy to see why.  All of the talent punched, kicked, brawled and bled – to the uproarious delight of the crowd.  The promoters were kind enough to let me referee the opener (D-Fresh vs. JOBS), plus matches between Joe Eclypse vs. Jaba King and T-Pain vs. Aaron Fire.  The battle royale that closed the show was a true barn burner and featured an orgy of blood.  The wrestlers engaged in a wild brawl surrounded by a bevy of costumed burlesque dancers.  If that wasn’t enough, DURT Loader offered up a breakneck soundtrack and rocked Surfin’ Bird until the matches climactic finale.  I felt almost like I was witnessing the final fight scene in a Robert Rodriguez flick.  If you like your wrestling a little more rasslin’ and a little less sports entertainment, ETWA is for you.

Bloodshot Bill: I’ve been waiting years to see this guy and he certainly lived up to the hype.  Bill, a one-man band (in the rockabilly tradition of Link Wray and Hasil Adkins) yelped, hiccupped and growled his way through an impressive set of original tunes and familiar honky-tonk standards.   Bill hosts a fair number of MP3s on his site, but see him live for full effect.  The outfits and hair-flipping antics alone are worth the cover charge.

Capital Tease Burlesque and Rockalily Burlesque:  As much fun as the rock ‘n’ wrestling was, the icing on the cake was definitely the amazing talents of the Capital Tease  and Rockalily crews.   Because one group wasn’t enough, Wallstreet Ziv brought in girls from two Ottawa area troupes. After a night punctuated with vaudeville-era outfits, fire-breathing and hula hopping I really couldn’t have asked for anything more.

Further References:

ShazamFest: Anyone within driving or carpooling distance of Quebec’s Eastern Township’s should do themselves the favour of checking out this year’s ShazamFest.  Held between July 29th-31st, the festival features dancers, extreme sports, skateboarders, pro wrestling, dancers, workshops on circus arts, crafts and a fair sized dose of rock and/or roll.  Keep tabs on their website for future events and festival details.

Dufresne Photo: All photos in this post courtesy of Claude Dufresne.  Claude’s website boasts an impressive collection of pics from a wide array of live shows and events.

Although I somehow managed to miss it when it showed at the Toronto International Film Festival, I was granted a second chance to see Grant Gee‘s Joy Division documentary.  It seems the good people at the Images Festival thought highly enough of it to bring it back for one night.

In spite of having to navigate through sketchy alleyways and construction zones to find the unmarked venue, the theatre was nearly packed.  The atmosphere was more akin to a cocktail party than a film showing, as patrons milled around sharing their best Joy Division memories.

The Images people are gearing up for the April launch of their 23rd annual festival.  I urge you to keep an eye on their website here: http://www.imagesfestival.com/

For those of you not familiar, the band Joy Division broke out of the late 1970’s Manchester punk scene.  While they never achieved the massive fame they so richly deserved, their bleak, haunting melodies laid the foundation for decades of popular music.  After only two albums, and on the verge of their first North American Tour, lead singer Ian Curtis was found dead by his own hand.

For the full history lesson check out: http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=11:gbfuxql5ldje

For those of you already initiated into the genius that is Joy Division, I hope my selected, annotated bibliography is of some use.

Further References

Corbijn, Anton. (2007). Control (Film). New York: The Weinstein Company.

  • A dramatized version of Curtis life, based on the book by his widow.  Considering the tragic opera that was Curtis’ life, this might not be an easy one to sit through.

Curtis, Deborah. (2007). Touching from a distance: Ian Curtis and Joy Division. Faber and Faber.

  • Written by Ian Curtis’ widow, this book offers the only truly intimate portrayal of the enigmatic singer’s personal life. Includes a full set of Curtis’ lyrics.

Gee, Grant. (2007).  Joy Division (Film). New York: The Weinstein Company.

  • A gritty and touching documentary, this film features interviews with nearly every important living (and some dead) figure in the band’s history.  While it may not serve as a good entry point, it’s an absolutely stunning piece of work for the aficionado.

Luck, Richard. (2009). The Madchester scene: the pocket essential. Pocket Essentials.

  • A quick guide to all things Manchester, the music scene which gave birth to Joy Division, New Order, the Happy Mondays, The Stone Roses and Acid House.

Roberston, Matthew. (2006). Factory Records: the complete graphic album. London: Chronicle Books.

  • A complete collection of every graphical item Factory Records ever produced.  Includes album covers, records sleeves, club flyers and gig posters.

Wilson, Tony. (2002). Twenty-four hour party people: what the sleeve notes never tell you. Trans-Atlantic.

  • Chronicles the somewhat true/somewhat mythological tale of Factory Records, Joy Division and New Order.  See the eponymous film starring the sublime Steve Coogan.

Selected Discography

In their brief history together, Joy Division released but two proper studio albums, Unknown Pleasures and Closer.  This hasn’t stopped the market from being flooded with compilations, concert bootlegs and box sets.  In addition to their “real” albums, I’ve included several of the finer collections.

Closer. By Joy Division (Musical Group). London: Qwest, 1980.

  • Though no one realized it at the time, Closer may well have served as Ian Curtis’ lyrical suicide note.

Still. By Joy Division (Musical Group). London: Qwest, 1981.

  • Primarily a collection of leftovers, odds and ends, Still is a worthwhile pickup for the completist.

Substance. By Joy Division (Musical Group). London: Qwest, 1988.

  • Easily the best Joy Division compilation on the market.  Chock full of alternate versions, B-sides and rarities.

Unknown Pleasures. By Joy Division (Musical Group). London: Qwest, 1979.

  • This album proved that not only could punk rock be touching, intelligent and poignant, it also sounded pretty damn good when you slowed the beat down just a little.

Warsaw. By Warsaw/Joy Division (Musical Group). London: Movieplay Gold, 1994.

  • This was originally intended to serve as the band’s debut album (before a legal scuffle forced them to abandon the name Warsaw).  It’s from a time before the band settled on their distinctive sound, but bristles with the raw energy, speed and anger that punk rock is best know for.

*Cover art image created by Peter Saville

Considering this is my maiden voyage  into the blogosphere, it’s fitting that I start with something dear to my heart.  In this case, the finest rock band ever to grace the third rock from the sun – Social Distortion.

With a few notable exceptions, Social D is the last band standing from the late 70’s Southern California punk rock explosion.  Thirty-plus years of living the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle would have killed most people. Lead singer Mike Ness and his coterie of band-mates are still touring like madmen.  Three decades haven’t dulled the band’s trademark rockabilly/punk twang or the pain soaked emotion that permeates every gravelly syllable.

Their now mythic live show is equal parts punk, rockabilly and dirty jokes.  Ness has a lifetime’s worth of war stories and is easily one of rock’s finest tale tellers. With eight full length albums under their belt, they can afford to pick and choose their live sets.  I’ve seen them perform just about all of them at one point or another.  They tend to save their best for last and cap off most nights their two all-time greatest tracks – underground classic Story of My Life and a searing rendition of Johnny Cash’s Ring of Fire.  Experiencing these two songs alone was worth the price of admission.

The attached photo was taken February 17th, 2005 at Club Metropolis in Montreal. Photo by David Strange.

For those of you unfamiliar with the band, be sure to check out www.SocialDistortion.com

Selected Discography

Social Distortion. By Social Distortion (Musical Group). Los Angeles, CA: Epic, 1990.

  • Contains the band’s most iconic tracks, including Story of My Life and Ring of Fire.

Somewhere between heaven and hell. By Social Distortion (Musical Group). New York, Sony Music, 1992.

  • Widely regarded as Social D’s finest album.  Perhaps the band’s deepest foray into pure rockabilly.  Worth it for the twangy guitar solos alone.

Live at the Roxy. By Social Distortion (Musical Group). New York: Time Bomb Recordings, 1998.

  • Social D must be seen to be truly appreciated.  If you can’t see them live, this is the next best thing.

Sex, love and rock and roll. By Social Distortion (Musical Group). New York: Time Bomb Recordings, 2004.

  • The band took a slight step back from their cowpunk roots and headed towards a more traditional rock sound.  Still, some of the most poignant, introspective and heartfelt lyrics Mike Ness has ever written.