No doubt on Thursday, many of Windsor’s Pubs and Taverns – such as Mick’s Irish Pub, The Manchester Pub, O’Maggio’s Kildare House, The MiLL Tavern and The Dominion House – will be packed to the rafters with what many people call “amateur drinkers”. These are the folks that generally don’t go out much and only really let loose on the Big 3 (New Year’s Eve, St. Patrick’s Day and their respective birthdays). They’ll all claim to be Irish for one day and will point to the fact that they are drinking “green beer” as signs of this authenticity (despite the fact that no self respecting Irishman would drink beer with green food dye in it).
They’ll also undoubtedly be harbouring all the musicians in town who play Irish, Scottish and Maritime Celtic music, so you’ll be inundated with several dozen renditions of songs like “Black Velvet Band”, “Barrett’s Privateers” and “Whisky in the Jar”, with a few Great Big Sea, Pogues and Spirit of the West songs thrown in for good measure.
But what about those of you who would like to go out and celebrate good friends rather than the idea of painting shamrocks on your cheeks or holding your friends hair back while they’re throwing up corned beef sandwiches at 3 in the afternoon?
Well, a few downtown music venues are offering something a little less Irish, but no less entertaining, as a musical alternative on the big Irish day out.
Windsor’s premiere roots rock outfit, The Locusts Have No King, are quietly holed up working on material for their next recording, a follow up to their 2010 EP, Come One, Come All, and their members are out plying the trades of their other musical ventures – David Dubois and Tara Watts are playing solo more often right now, while guitarist Leigh Wallace, bassist Paul Loncke and drummer Joey “The Wiseguy” DesRoches have hooked up with singer/songwriter Andrew MacLeod in the fantastic rock outfit Years of Ernest. But the Locusts Have No King are pulling it all back together with a special show at Phog Lounge (157 University Ave. West) on St. Patrick’s Day, with a taste of Canadiana instead of the Irish.
If you’d rather hear the thunder of Windsor’s metal scene rather than an Irish jig, then the legendary Coach & Horses (156 Chatham St. West, basement level) is where you’re going to want to end up on St. Patrick’s Day. Devilz By Definition, who have been finishing up their album and picking up some great slots on some out of town shows, lead a three band line-up that also includes The Kettle Black and Awake To A Dream.
One of Windsor’s most entertaining performers, Kenneth MacLeod, leads his revamped Windsor Salt Band – featuring Max Marshall on bass, Scotty “Shoes” Hughes on guitar, Aaron Stanton on drums and Damien Zakoor on percussion. A native Cape Bretoner, MacLeod, the brother of Years of Ernest’s Andrew, will probably have his fare share of East Coast Celtic in his set list when he rips up the stage at The FM Lounge (156 Chatham St. West, main level).
As for the pubs themselves, expect a full day of music at The Manchester Pub (546 Ouellette Ave.), O’Maggio’s Kildare House (1880 Wyandotte St. East) and Mick’s Irish Pub (28 Chatham St. East), with doors at 11am and the party’s going right to 2am. If you’re planning to hit either of these places, I’d get there early. They will most likely be St. Patrick’s Day’s premiere destinations for some Celtic revelry.
The Manchester’s Open Mic host, Clinton Hammond, kicks off the day at the Manchester, followed by Clusterfolk! (featuring Brian VanderPryt and Frank Edgley Jr., formerly of Celtic Cross). Original headliner Tartan Army had to recently withdraw due to a serious injury to member Kit McEvoy, but they’re being covered by Manchester regular Jamie Reaume (Foreign Film Star, The Golden Eagles, Dave Russell & The Precious Stones).
O’Maggio’s is throwing a two part party, with entertainment inside and outside in their tent. Sean Gillis opens the day outside, followed by Jamie Reaume, and then headlined by Alex Carruthers & The Rhythm Brothers. Inside, Chris Bollister kicks off the festivities, followed by Rick Rock and then The Mid Life Trio.
ReGael - featuring the two other former members of Celtic Cross, Mark Crampsie and Glen MacNeil – will be starting things off at Mick’s Irish Pub, with their unique blend of Celtic and contemporary, mixing original songs with classic East Coast and UK Celtic.
I’m sure just about every bar, pub or tavern in Windsor will have something going on on Thursday. This was just a quick direction as to what some destinations will have should you want green beer or black metal.
Originally from Owen Sound, Ontario, Graham Playford travelled throughout Canada and the U.S. before finally settling on Montreal as the locale to work on his music. His voice and arrangements are reminiscent of the kind of Canadiana that usually finds home on Six Shooter Records – it almost has an Alberta feel to it. He definitely has the confidence and weight of a troubadour that has seen a great many places and probably seen his share of heartaches and triumphs.
As Canadian as Playford feels, his Montreal travelling partner Shane Murphy sounds like the epitome of Americana – he sounds like every honest part of Bruce Springsteen, Steve Earle and John Prine. It’s a working man’s roots, country that stopped short of heading into the malls and becoming new country, or the farthest ghost town in the old West that rock and roll would stick it’s dirty boots into without actually becoming country.
The local on the bill is Alex Carruthers & The Rhythm Brothers, fresh off a high octane closing set last week, opening for another set of Montrealers, Random Recipe. If last show was any indication, they do well with folk from Quebec. If these guys end up closing out the night (which I would expect may be the case as the other two are playing solo from what I understand) it will be a great compliment and release. Two very sincere songwriters pleading their lives through melody and song followed by a dirty Windsor rock and roll dance party.
Graham Playford, Shane Murphy and Alex Carruthers & The Rhythm Brothers, Phog Lounge (157 University Ave. West), Saturday February 12, 9pm
Until very recently, I had no idea who Random Recipe were. But Phog Lounge (157 University Ave. West) usually doesn’t fail when it comes to bringing in some of Canada’s finest independent artists and history has proven that many of these bands who seem unrecognizable at the moment end up becoming huge national or international acts down the line (Tokyo Police Club, Holy Fuck, Great Lake Swimmers and Yukon Blonde are prime examples).
With artists like Janelle Monae bringing back true soul & R&B and integrating it with hip-hop beats and culture (thanks in many ways to Big Boi), as well as the influx of artists like MIA to the underground hip hop community, it has given hip hop room to breathe again and not take itself too seriously (like Jay-Z ) or not seriously enough (Ludacris) – it can bounce around the vibe of the music and provide the party again, without having to resort about smacking up “bitches”, showing off it’s bling or waving it’s gun around the room wondering who was going to lick it’s barrel.
Random Recipe seem to draw more from the Bedouin Soundclash meets Cibo Matto (with a hint of Erykah Badu) end of the spectrum more so than harder edged hip hop, but that is okay by me. Sometimes you just want to dance and have fun with music (wasn’t that the point in the first place?) and not have to sit at the bar and ponder the deeper meaning of it all. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
Opening the show will be the eclectic rock stylings of Alex Carruthers & The Rhythm Brothers, following their show at The Manchester the previous night.
Random Recipe with special guests Alex Carruthers & The Rhythm Brothers, Phog Lounge (157 University Ave. West), Thursday February 3rd, 9pm
In just a few short months, Alex Carruthers & The Rhythm Brothers have begun to assert themselves as one of the top fresh faces on the local music scene. Alex is by no means a new comer – he’s the drummer in the explosive and popular instrumental band Red Rows as well as the experimental improv outfit Star Trek: The Band. But he’s making a louder impact away from the skins – as the frontman for Alex Carruthers & The Rhythm Brothers (his seat behind the kit is filled by the more than capable Adam Bombardier from Surdaster).
Drawing on a wide array of influences, Alex and his Rhythm Brothers create music that is at once recognizable (there is one song that gets dangerously close to “Five to One” by The Doors before going off in a direction that is anything but Doors-like) but fresh and hip, with an infectious energy that enthralls whomever is in the room at the time. They were added last minute to December’s FunnelFest line-up after an impressive live debut not a month prior, and immediately turned a lot of fickle heads with their charisma and musical passion.
This Wednesday, they’re taking their show from some of their usual comfort zones – such as Phog Lounge and The FM Lounge – to The Manchester Pub, for a showcase all their own. There is no cover at the door, so this is a great chance to check out one of Windsor’s latest bands on the rise. And make no mistake – these guys are not only passionate about their craft, they are true students of the game as well. They get better with each performance and convert new ears every show, to the wonder that is Alex Carruthers & The Rhythm Brothers.
Alex Carruthers & The Rhythm Brothers, The Manchester Pub (546 Ouellette Ave.), Wednesday February 2nd, 10pm, No Cover