Ben Caplan is a crazy man…at times singing like a vodka soaked Russian Tom Waits with songs influenced by folk, jazz and gypsy melodies intertwined in an engaging blend that will have you singing along by the time it’s over and banging on the table for more. The performance in this video is without his band, The Casual Smokers, but the intimate setting in a small pub gives this great showman his chance to shine.
Here is the wonderful Ben Caplan performing the song “Stranger”…
Heather Russell is a 10 year old singing sensation from Toronto who has been compared to Mariah Carey, Joss Stone and other talented female singers. She was “discovered” on Youtube (just like Justin Bieber) and has recently gained the interest of American Idol heavyweight Simon Cowell.
Looks like she has a very bright future ahead of her and I think it’s really cool that she writes her own songs too, and, of course, that she’s Canadian! I’ve added 2 of my favorite music videos of her for your listening enjoyment, so here she is, Heather Russell singer extraordinaire with her composition “Can’t Please Everyone”…
…and “Every Step Of The Way”….
The Be Good Tanyas trio of lovely ladies combined a mixture of traditional, bluegrass, country and sometimes straight rock and roll to create the album Blue Horse, which is one of my favourite CD’s of all time. It’s impossible to listen to this collection of songs without becoming infected with a case of toe-tapping euphoria instantly. No kidding!
There isn’t a bad song to be found anywhere and it gets even better with every spin! While my personal fave is their take on the old tune “The Lakes Of Pontchartrain”, I present here, for nostalgic reasons, their first big radio single, “The Littlest Birds”. Yes, it was used in a Zellers TV commercial, but a gal’s gotta eat, right?
Even though the band hails from Vancouver, on the west coast of Canada, there are several scenes in this video shot in the southern U.S. area (New Orleans?). Great atmosphere! Crank it up and hum along!!
Corner Gas was a great Canadian comedy (“sitcom”) that ended recently and the theme song was as recognized by everyone as cool as the show itself. Performed by Craig Northey and Jesse Valenzuela previously of the band Odds, the version here is the full extended song rather than the 30 second intro to the TV show, as it’s rare and something a bit different for a change.
If you’re familiar with the original Corner Gas TV show theme, then you’ll definately notice the differences in the lyrics here, but, ya know, either way there’s still not a lot going on around here, eh?
Ok, so everyone knows that Robbie Robertson was in The Band back in the 1960′s and 70′s, but he also began a stellar solo career in the 80′s, that started with a self titled CD with this song on it.
The video for Somewhere Down The Crazy River was directed by Martin Scorsese (who also filmed The Band’s “Last Waltz” film) and features the lovely Maria McKee (from Lone Justice) as the seductress. The musicians were some of the top session players of the time (and Peter Gabriel’s regulars), including fellow Canadian Daniel Lanois, and one of my favorite bass players, Tony Levin.
A great song with lyrics like “I think I’m gonna go down to Madame X and let her read my mind…she said that voodoo stuff don’t do nothin’ for me!” and “sitting in the backseat listening to Little Willie John…that’s when time stood still…”
It sure did…
The Matthew Good Band emerged from the “geek rock” ashes of the early to mid 90′s, made popular mostly by Weezer, and became one of the biggest bands in Canada at the time. They eventually fell apart when the leader, Matt Good, went on to pursue a solo career after their last album, The Audio Of Being, was released in 2001.
This is the Hello Time Bomb music video that came out in 1999 from their huge selling CD, Beautiful Midnight, which had several hit songs on the radio. It was a time of stardom, but also of turmoil and Matt gained a reputation for being difficult in interviews and among his bandmates.
Matthew Good also happens to be one of my favourite musicians of all time. When I first heard his music I was amazed that it was EXACTLY what I wanted to hear in a song…the lyrics, the guitar hooks, and even the subtle flourishes in the background that most people miss. I thought “this is rock music AS IT SHOULD BE!”
As a solo artist now his music has matured, with words about war, politics and dealing with mental illness, and it’s even more meaningful. He’s been known to speak out about how much he hates what he wrote during his MGB days, and I’m sure this post would make him cringe, but in all fairness everyone starts somewhere in order to mature later on, so consider this video as one of the seeds that allowed him, and me, to grow on.
I will be posting his newer stuff as well, but I wanted to start with this one to form some context for later on. Enjoy it for what it is…GOOD ROCK MUSIC!!
Trivia bit: The bass player, Rich Priske, had just joined them at the time this was filmed and is seen in the vid wearing a white button that says “I’m New”. I met him after one of their shows and he’s a really cool guy!
This is the music video for The Pursuit Of Happiness “Hard To Laugh”. It’s got the rocking late 80′s vibe going on and TPOH in their prime with singer Moe Berg lamenting about his chick gone bad. Classic Canadian rock!!
“…but you’ve got to laugh to prevent yourself from cryin’…” Ain’t it the truth though??
The Crash Test Dummies Superman’s Song is a mournful tale about the death of the superhero and his funeral attended by a group of aging superheroes long past their prime. It won a MuchMusic video of the year award in 1991.
It was also the band’s first hit single of the cd “The Ghosts That Haunt Me”, written by the deep voiced singer Brad Roberts. Man, that guy has some low pipes!! Watch the Crash Test Dummies performing Superman Song and relive one of the best tunes from the early 90′s again…
The Cowboy Junkies are easily one of the most unpretentious bands in modern music. The sincerity in the voice of singer Margo Timmins and songwriting from her brother Michael is heartfelt. They’re here to tell a musical story and we are the captive audience.
In the Cowboy Junkies “Sun Comes Up, It’s Tuesday Morning” we hear the emotional tale of a woman who perhaps has had a rough life, but still seeks comfort in that which is familiar to her. She misses those things which reminded her of him, but she also likes being alone as well…
“Yeah, sure I’ll admit there are times when I miss you
Especially like now when I need someone to hold me
But there are some things that can never be forgiven
And I just gotta tell you that I kinda like this extra few feet in my bed…”
That last verse flows into one of the best lap/pedal steel guitar solo’s I’ve ever heard, played beautifully by Kim Deschamps, who later joined Blue Rodeo.
Listen now to the Cowboy Junkies – Sun Comes Up, It’s Tuesday Morning…
I’ve always liked Sarah Harmer’s sweet vocal abilities, ever since I first heard her when she was in the band Weeping Tile. While that band sounded more raw and rock oriented than Sarah’s folk and country influenced solo albums, anything with her singing in it is still worth listening to on a perfect day.
The music video for Sarah Harmer “Basement Apartment” features great lyrics and visuals about frustration and change, as well as old memories that never seem to let go. It was her first big hit as a solo artist and it’s still my personal favourite.
Take yourself back a few years and relive living in a basement apt. “below street level…barely alive…” again.