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40 Sons conquer the west

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Hamilton rock band 40 Sons are starting to make a name for themselves. They won  the national Bodog Music  Battle out of 7,000 bands  a few years ago, have toured across southern Ontario and Eastern Canada and have released two EPs and even had an opening slot in Ozzfest in 2006.
 They are  getting their feet wet in western Canada on their latest tour, which brings them back to Lethbridge for the second time in six months, this time at the Slice on Wednesday, Nov. 25.40 Sons Photo by Paul Turgeon
“We played at Henotic last time, it was kind of a last minute gig our agent got us. We ended up going to the Slice after because they had an open mic, so we brought out our guitars and played a few songs,” said bassist Graeme  Hawkins adding  repeat visits to the same venues are already starting to pay off.
“We‘re starting to see some of the same people and they’re telling their friends and bringing them,” he said adding winning the Bodog competition has also helped increase their profile.
In between touring over the past seven months, they have been working on their first full length, nine song CD with producer Dale Penner in Winnipeg.
“He’s worked with people like Nickelback. It was interesting being in a studio atmosphere. It was amazing. He’s very hands on. He’s very good at what he does. He definitely knows his stuff,” Hawkins said adding the CD is in the mixing and mastering stages  and should be ready  in time for the band’s next tour, Jan. 22.
Their Nov. 25 show will include three sets, the first of covers from the likes of  the Beatles and Led Zeppelin, the second will be all original and the third will be more covers.
— By Richard Amery, L.A. Beat Editor

Rod Davis remembers playing with John Lennon

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Not many people can claim they were replaced in a band by Paul McCartney and played with John Lennon, but Rod Davis can.
Davis met  the nucleus  of the Quarrymen (who would eventually morph into the Beatles) — Pete Shotton, Nigel Walley, Ivan Vaughan and Geoff  Rhind and Lennon while at St. Peter’s  Sunday School.
“ I actually knew John when I was five or six years old because we were in the same class at Sunday school, which doesn’t do a lot for his image. And various other people were in the same little class,” said Davis who is opening for New York bluesman Guy Davis on a three week North American tour including several Canadian dates, including two at the Geomatic Attic, Nov. 24-25. Both shows begin at 8 p.m. Tickets, which cost  $35 in advance, $40 afterward can be obtained by  e-mailing Mike Spencer at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . It’s actually due to the original Quarrymen reuniting that Rod Davis is touring with Guy Davis. The two Davis’ met through Guy Davis’ manager, who ran into one of the Quarrymen and brought them over to  the United States to tour. Guy and Rod hit it off so when Guy toured England he kept in touch.Rod Davis
“He knows I enjoy a lot of blues and Guy stayed with me a couple times, so we’d do a lot of back porch picking and we got on very well indeed. I did a short  spot for one of his gigs in New York and it went over very well, so he said why don’t you open for me  on this tour of Canada, so here I am,” Davis said adding  he got into a lot of different music since leaving the original Quarrymen, especially traditional bluegrass and folk. Some of the band’s repertoire remains in their set list. They have been touring pretty regularly since reuniting in 1997 with the original line up other than Lennon. They reunited at the fortieth anniversary of the Cavern, where the Quarrymen and lots of other bands got their start.
 “I didn’t know John terribly well until I went to school at the 11ths, a secondary  school at 11, because John lived on the other end of the hill and I had plenty of opportunity to get up to mischief on my side of the  hill without going over to his side, so it wasn’t until we went to Quarry Banks school, which is of course where the name the Quarrymen came from, that I got to know him better,” Davis continued adding  like many British youth in the mid ’50s, he was inspired by popular skiffle musician Lonnie Donegan’s version of an old Leadbelly  song, “Rock Island Line” to pick up  an instrument. In his case, the banjo.
“They were actually difficult to get hold of because they were in such demand — banjos and guitars. I turned up on the Monday morning and  there was my friend  Eric Griffiths … I told him ‘I reckoned I got a banjo yesterday.’ He asked if I wanted to be in a  group. I mean he knew I couldn’t play it  because I just admitted I bought it the day before and I asked if  who else was in the group. He said Shelton on the washboard, Bill Smith on tea chest bass, me on guitar, and John Lennon on guitar. So I said ‘ oh yeah that sounds good’ so fine I was in. They were only  three chords ahead of me so I soon caught up an there we were and that’s how I joined the Quarrymen,” Davis continued, adding he is only bringing a guitar for this tour, though he may borrow a banjo from Guy Davis.  Rod Davis will be opening the shows with a half hour set then join Guy after his set for a couple numbers together.
Davis played with the Quarrymen during all of the members’ fifth year of school before they parted ways. But he has fond memories of John Lennon, though he didn’t really recognize the budding talent in the 15-year old Lennon.

Last Updated ( Sunday, 22 November 2009 12:16 ) Read more...

The Browns are back in town

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About 10 odd, really odd,  years ago, came a band called the Browns who donned ski masks and proceeded to tear up the Calgary music scene with an delightfully twisted brand of horror punk music.
 Along the way since starting spreading their special brand of masked mayhem and punk rock in 1998, they  have gone through about 20 band members, have traveled all over the world, got in a couple fights challenged Jebb Fink to a wrestling match on  live television, and got a man  fired from  the A-Channel after receiving complaints for being too “loud and scary.”
 But the Browns have been laying low  since releasing their last CD in 2004. altThey’ve relocated  to Medicine Hat, had songs placed in not only a horror movie “It Came From Trafalgar” and  another song, “American Werewolf in Calgary,” in Tony Hawk’s new skateboarding video.
“They actually contacted us and said they wanted to use the song, so they gave us a bunch of money and that was all right,” said Browns singer Charlie Brown adding they also had songs placed in a  reality TV show about hairdressing.
“The Trafalgar movie is the only one that we actually pursued,” he said.
The band has also been busy been breaking in two new Browns — drummer Big  Beautiful Baby Brucie Brown and bassist Kimbo  Brown.
“Calgary’s too expensive. The only one wealthy enough to live in Calgary is Downtown Freddie Brown and he lives downtown, ” said Brown on the band’s relocation. Plus three of the Browns are from southern Alberta. Charlie Brown and Brucie Brown  are from Medicine Hat while  Kimbo Brown is from Lethbridge, which is why their first shows in two years with the new members were in Medicine Hat, Nov. 14 and  in Lethbridge at Henotic with the Spastic Panthers , Nov. 21.
Last Updated ( Thursday, 19 November 2009 01:12 ) Read more...

Crowd swells with enthusiasm for Swollen Members

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Vancouver Hip Hop group  the Swollen Members brought a crazy party to a sold out Blarney Stone with an insane party, Nov. 14. I only caught the end of the show, but the party was in full swing and showing no signs of stopping.Swollen Members at the Blarney Stone. Photo by Richard Amery
 Smoke clouded the stage and the enthusiastic audience frothed in front of and on top of the stage (before  a burly security guard guided them off) joining  the Swollen Members party as   snowboarding videos displayed on the bar’s big screen TVs. The volume was intense and the audience cheered, chanted and danced along. “We say Swollen, you say members… Swollen … Members…” the rappers exhorted the crowd, who chanted back and sang  along with every word they knew.
 The group also premiered several new tracks from their brand new CD, “Armed to The Teeth.”

— By Richard Amery, L.A. Beat Editor

Last Updated ( Tuesday, 17 November 2009 14:36 )

Shaela Miller and the Uncas excellent

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The Slice had a great show with Red Ram, featuring former members of the Uncas who entertained approximately 40 people, Nov. 14. They  took the stage around 10 p.m. with an exuberant set of roots rock which featured an Uncas cover, some material from their new CD which won’t be released until next year and  some older material.Shaela Miller and the Switchmen’s steel guitarist. Photo By Richard Amery
 The Shaela Miller Threesome were up next with a special surprise — Sean Brewer and the Switchmen’s steel guitarist who added a few extra textures to Miller’s unique country roots music. The addition of pedal steel also added a whole different traditional element to her music.
 She was in fine form and held the stage like a pro, but the band really came together  during the last half of the set which  included Miller favourites like “Vicious Bitches,” “ Lonely” and “A Friend In You,” plus her song which won the South Country Fair songwriting contest, “Loving Me.” She also played a couple Johnny Cash classics including “Cry,Cry,Cry,” which kept the crowd dancing.
— By Richard Amery, L.A. Beat Editor
Last Updated ( Saturday, 21 November 2009 13:24 )
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