Contrary to what some folks will have you believe, Windsor has always had a strong and creative underground music scene and while the exploration and creativity of today’s bands are mind bogglingly good, the Windsor music scene hit it’s most successful (at least locally) boon during the 1990’s. It was the era when, thanks to the good folks of Seattle, Washington and a little troupe of neo-post-punk rockers called Nirvana exploded on the alternative circuit, pushing underground stations like 89X to the forefront of mainstream radio and CJAM became a nurturing/breeding ground for all things new and unique. Like the national stage that local stages so often mimic, the hair band circuit that had dominated the stages of iconic landmarks like Rum Runners and California’s was now being replaced by cover bands that chose to cover Pearl Jam or Jane’s Addiction rather than Tesla or Motley Crue. The Spotted Dog, The Coach & Horses and The Pterodactyl Lounge showcased some of the downtown core’s most eclectic acts, while Buzz’s Bar & Grill did the same on the West side. The Green Arts Fest (a precursor to Phog Phest and FAM Festival) was a huge local arts festival held at Mic Mac Park that celebrated the city’s vibrant underground arts, crafts and music scene.
The music came from all sides and sources. Leading the charge of the 90’s was the immortal Luxury Christ (which housed former Butthole Surfer and current Citywide Vacuum leader Trevor Malcolm as well as current Citywide Vacuum and ASK vocalist Nancy Drew), whose infectius pop vocals over frantic experimental sounds combined with legendary live shows (it wasn’t unheard of to see members frequently naked on stage) made them the quintessential draw of the decade. Current frontman for Toronto’s Fjord Rowboat, Craig Gloster, was cutting his teeth in Soyl, Ten Indians were beginning to stake their claim as Windsor’s premiere rock and roll band, although that mantle arguable was held by the bad boys of The Scarecrows (whose members include Paul Loncke of The Locusts Have No King and Years of Ernest, and pianist/vocalist George Bozanich). The Lager Lads and The Posers were creating new waters in Windsor’s hardcore punk scene (essentially creating it), while the glam punk theatrics of TOAST (fronted by Jamie Greer of The Vaudevillianaires and featuring Richard Benson from High Mother on guitar) brought rock and roll sensationalism to the punk stage. Toronto’s acclaimed singer/songwriter Dean Drouillard was getting his feet wet in the indie pop band The Skin Thieves (later Racecar), The Waker Glass‘ Robert Earl Stewart was still belting out songs with elephant, Sewing With Nancie had yet to find The Reason to move to Hamilton, Problem To The Solution was owning the metal scene (while future members of fiftywatthead and Lodown were getting their own start in Brown Water), and the rock and roll spectacle that was Jimmy Bronco was packing show after show.
With the rise of the Loop as the premier alternative club in the city in the mid-90’s, no band commandeered the stage with such satirical majesty as when the outfit known as Big Daddy A & The Merves took the stage. These guys were a rag tag troop of seeming rock and roll goofballs, dressed in outlandish costumes, singing about ridiculous themes and engaging in antics that seemed to border on homo erotic. But beneath the drunken buffoonary, these guys could play. They disbanded shortly after their debut release, We Stole Your Wallet, in 1997, but they’d left an indelible stain on Windsor’s crotch, one that no amount of confession or bleach could abolish. Frontman James Brejcha would wind up temporarily replacing Nancy Drew in Luxury Christ by the decade’s end before relocating to the West Coast, while guitarist Ben Brandes would end up traveling the country before settling down in Montreal to create the amazing ensemble The Unsettlers (as well as become the commuting bass player for The Golden Hands Before God). And bassist Ted Dimoglou would trade in his four strings for six and co-found the theatric shock rock metal band The Vaudevillianaires.
While Brandes is unable to make the reunion show (he just left the area after three solid Windsor shows with The Unsettlers), Brejcha and Dimoglou are teaming back up with former Merve Mark Fleming on drums and guitarist Eddie James (who replaced Brandes causing the band to rename themselves The Flying Bears of Vengeance, and later played in Hogfat and briefly played in The Vaudevillianaires as The Milkman) for a special reunion show tonight at Phog Lounge (157 University Ave. West), playing crowd favourites from both Big Daddy A & The Merves and The Flying Bears of Vengeance. Opening the show is The Prophecy.
And if you want to familiarize yourself with their ridiculousness and awesomeness, you can download for FREE their 1997 album over at WindsorDIY, then come tonight for this FREE reunion featuring some real classic musicians from Windsor’s 90’s heyday.