Big Sugar’s Gordie Johnson picks Black Sabbath over Led Zeppelin

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, SEPT. 27, 2001 By Steve Newton The cover of the new Big Sugar CD, Brothers and Sisters, Are You Ready?, features a classic hard-rock image of a skinny, longhaired fellow flailing away on a doubleneck Gibson guitar. If you didn’t know the guy was Big Sugar singer-guitarist Gordie Johnson, … Continue reading Big Sugar’s Gordie Johnson picks Black Sabbath over Led Zeppelin

That time “Mess” Messal of Flies on Fire told me that the Tragically Hip were the best band in the world

By Steve Newton Back in July of 1991 the Tragically Hip played five straight sold-out nights at the Commodore Ballroom in Vancouver on its Road Apples Tour. The band was smokin' hot--at least on the night that I saw them--but also impressive was the opening act, Flies on Fire, a little-known guitar-rock band from L.A. … Continue reading That time “Mess” Messal of Flies on Fire told me that the Tragically Hip were the best band in the world

The Lowest of the Low’s Ron Hawkins thinks the Weakerthans’ John Samson is the best lyricist in Canada

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, MARCH 10, 2001 By Steve Newton After releasing just two albums—1991’s Shakespeare My Butt… and ’94’s Hallucigenia—Toronto guitar-rockers the Lowest of the Low called it quits on a career that was fast making them one of Canada’s most popular club acts. The breakup was sudden and acrimonious, and partially … Continue reading The Lowest of the Low’s Ron Hawkins thinks the Weakerthans’ John Samson is the best lyricist in Canada

Jesse Cook thinks the best of Crowded House is right up there with the best of the Beatles

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, NOV. 16, 2000 By Steve Newton Jesse Cook is the first to admit that Celtic music isn’t his forte, but that doesn’t mean he won’t give it a shot. The Toronto flamenco-pop guitarist got the opportunity to sit in with one of the genre’s legendary groups recently when he … Continue reading Jesse Cook thinks the best of Crowded House is right up there with the best of the Beatles

Bill Priddle says Treble Charger had a mandate to rock with Wide Awake Bored

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, OCT. 12, 2000 By Steve Newton Treble Charger’s current record-company bio states that for its latest CD, Wide Awake Bored, the Toronto power-pop quartet was “united with a singular vision: to follow in the footsteps of the old masters of the true rock song—bands like Cheap Trick, Steve Miller, … Continue reading Bill Priddle says Treble Charger had a mandate to rock with Wide Awake Bored

The Carson Downey Band proves that the blues are alive and kickin’ in the Maritimes

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, NOV. 2, 2000 By Steve Newton The Carson Downey Band has been plugging away on the Maritime blues scene for more than a decade, but things are starting to pay off for the group with the release of its debut CD, All the Way. The Nova Scotia threesome—which plays … Continue reading The Carson Downey Band proves that the blues are alive and kickin’ in the Maritimes

David Wilcox lauds the atmosphere Colin Linden created on Rhythm of Love

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, OCT. 12, 2000 By Steve Newton In the booklet that comes with David Wilcox’s new CD, Rhythm of Love, there are 34 inch-high pictures of the Toronto rocker striking various wacky poses with his trusty wood-grain Telecaster. See Dave stand on one leg and make a goofy face. See … Continue reading David Wilcox lauds the atmosphere Colin Linden created on Rhythm of Love

Jet Set Satellite connects with high-octane hit “Best Way to Die”

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, MAY 11, 2000 By Steve Newton Kids these days. They rarely seem able to deliver the kind of energizing tunes needed to get this jaded guitar-rock junkie’s blood apumpin’. But Winnipeggers Trevor Tuminski and Dave Swiecicki, aka Jet Set Satellite, are another story. Their three-minute blast of high-octane riff … Continue reading Jet Set Satellite connects with high-octane hit “Best Way to Die”

The Rockin’ Highliners get a big boost from Duke Robillard on Oh My!

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, NOV. 18, 1999 By Steve Newton One of my favourite things about the new Rockin’ Highliners CD, Oh My!, is the rip-roaring interplay between guitarists Clayton Sample and Alex Herriot. So when vocalist Robert Tycholis calls from Toronto and explains that Herriot quit the band recently, my enthusiasm drops … Continue reading The Rockin’ Highliners get a big boost from Duke Robillard on Oh My!

Finny McConnell says Johnny Fay couldn’t take the pay cut if he quit the Hip and joined the Mahones

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, JUNE 17, 1999 By Steve Newton When you’re the drummer in Canada’s top rock band, there are quite a few perks available—and I’m not just talkin’ free flats of Labatt’s Genuine Draft. For Tragically Hip skin-basher Johnny Fay, the prestige of his position also gives him the chance to … Continue reading Finny McConnell says Johnny Fay couldn’t take the pay cut if he quit the Hip and joined the Mahones

Jesse Cook puts a captivating nouveau-flamenco spin on Sting’s beautiful “Fragile”

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, SEPT. 10, 1998 By Steve Newton During my formative years as a rock-obsessed reader of Circus magazine, my teenage world revolved around heavy ’70s bands like Aerosmith, Montrose, Alice Cooper, and Blue Öyster Cult. I’ve adored riff-driven guitar-rock ever since, but lately I’ve been opening myself up to mellower … Continue reading Jesse Cook puts a captivating nouveau-flamenco spin on Sting’s beautiful “Fragile”

The Gandharvas give special thanks to Teenage Head’s Frankie Venom

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, SEPT. 18, 1997 By Steve Newton Many kids just out of their teens are still unsure of what path they’ll take career-wise, but Beau Dick isn’t one of them. The 20-year-old Hamilton native wants to make rock pay the rent, and he’s chasing that dream as the newest member … Continue reading The Gandharvas give special thanks to Teenage Head’s Frankie Venom

Treble Charger’s pop sensibility won’t let it be an indie guitar band like Pavement or Sebadoh

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, JUNE 19, 1997 By Steve Newton Treble Charger singer-guitarists Greig Nori and Bill Priddle are huge fans of indie guitar bands like Pavement and Sebadoh. When it first started out, Treble Charger even wanted to be an indie guitar band like Pavement or Sebadoh. That just wasn’t in the … Continue reading Treble Charger’s pop sensibility won’t let it be an indie guitar band like Pavement or Sebadoh

The New Meanies’ Damon Mitchell got the guys in Deep Purple to sign his copy of Made in Japan

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, FEB. 12, 1998 By Steve Newton For the past couple of months I’ve been getting advance promotional copies of Three Seeds, the debut CD by a Winnipeg quartet called the New Meanies. At least three copies came across my desk at different times, making me think that either Virgin … Continue reading The New Meanies’ Damon Mitchell got the guys in Deep Purple to sign his copy of Made in Japan

The Killjoys’ Mike Trebilcock does love the C, G, and F chords

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, MAY 7, 1998 By Steve Newton Armchair rockers who fear that making records is too much like work should take encouragement from Mike Trebilcock of the Killjoys. The singer-songwriter-guitarist recorded three tunes for the Hamilton power-pop trio’s new album while reclining slackerlike in a leather La-Z-Boy! “It just kinda … Continue reading The Killjoys’ Mike Trebilcock does love the C, G, and F chords

The Barstool Prophets’ Graham Greer hopes to model his life after producer Joe Hardy

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, FEB. 5, 1998 By Steve Newton Last month’s ice storm back east took no prisoners, but Barstool Prophets singer-guitarist Graham Greer got off pretty easy. The native of Cornwall, Ontario, was residing in “the fortunate end of town” when the storm hit, so he only lost power for three … Continue reading The Barstool Prophets’ Graham Greer hopes to model his life after producer Joe Hardy

Sandbox guitarist Mike Scott says the band’s perceived connection to Anne Murray is kind of a drag

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, MARCH 28, 1995 By Steve Newton Nova Scotia guitar-rockers Sandbox were nominated for a Juno Award in the best-new-group category this year, and considering the critical and commercial (near-gold) success of its Bionic debut, the band had a decent shot at the prize. Then there’s the fact that Sandbox … Continue reading Sandbox guitarist Mike Scott says the band’s perceived connection to Anne Murray is kind of a drag