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A Tale of Sweat & Guitar Strings



The Rivoli: Saturday June 10th (w. David Hein, the Shoeflies and Janus)

This was a Stag-and-Doe for our good friend, Shoeflies drummer Clark Allore. He wanted a gig involving every former band member he ever played with; culminating with the 10-year reunion of our old band, Janus.

Once again, the Kindly Ones were called to open the proceedings, and I can safely say we rocked the joint. This was a double-debut for us: not only did we have a new song, "Here I Stand", but we added some different sounds with my Danelectro 12-string. I've always been a not-so-closet fan of the whole Byrds-REM thing, and "Casper" (so named for the shape of the pickguard) lets me indulge those textures. Certain audience members pointed out the obvious chemistry between myself and Sarah Ternoway. Gee, I didn't know we were that obvious! :P

David Hein is an old friend from York U., and his band features former Janite Dan Surman. Like me, Dan favours a Les Paul and more than a few effects. It's funny to see how we've influenced each other over the years. David's band (which also features Jeff Daze on drums) turned in a great set.

What can be said about the Shoeflies? Kooky Kountry? The redneck Barenaked Ladies? The 'Flies (which feature former Janites Clark Allore and Dave DeJonge) tend to mix in a lot of comedy with their tunes, not to mention dropping in Beatles and Twisted Sister covers at the drop of a hat. The standout was bassist Randy Doucette, who bounced around the stage while throwing out some pounding lines.

Finally, the moment everyone was waiting for, when Janus took the stage for the first time in about 9 years. Sarah filled in on bass, subbing for the absent Kristin Williams (the irony was palpable). The biggest thing about this reunion was seeing how the individual members had changed since the band's break-up in 1995. If anything, I have become much more aggressive in the intervening years, while Dave, Dan and Clark have slowed down some. Still, it was fun re-igniting old Janus tunes like "Oblivion Avenue", "Secret", "Final Phone Call" and "Flashback". A fun walk down Memory Lane.

Opera House: Saturday March 13th (w. Kevin Stock, Laura Fernandez, Noah Zacharin & Pat Kelly & SVO)

This was a milestone show for a number of reasons. Firstly, it was the biggest venue, and the largest audience The Kindly Ones had ever played to so far. Secondly, Sarah & I did the 'Iron Man (person?)' thing, playing with 4 out of the 5 acts on the bill. Exhausting, but very satisfying. Thirdly, this marks the first time that the headliner of a show (Pat Kelly and The Sweet Vibe Orchestra) covered one of our songs!

Spoken word artist Nik Beat was the MC for the night, and he kicked things off with some Velvet Underground-type songs, and some spoken word from Sandra DiZio. Cool, finger-popping stuff.

Our job was to wake up the audience, and I think I can safely say, "Mission accomplished"! 'Hamsters', 'The Sweetest Freak', and 'Freak' led the charge (we're thinking of calling that combination The Freak Suite!), with songs like 'Written Down' and 'Made to Love' showing our way with a melody. For such a large venue, I naturally used Sarah's wireless, which led to the now-traditional roam-through-the-audience during 'Made to Love' (Hi Motorhead). For this show, I borrowed an extra speaker cabinet with four 12" speakers, which added extra booty to my tone. Lookwise, I brought out my Johnny Cash t-shirt and a pair of leather pants; both presents from Sarah (she likes me in leather: I'm not complaining!). Sarah wore her usual droolicious backless velvet top, and Jeff did basic black with a new fedora. We debuted a new song: 'Shall I Lie?', which went over really well. Yet another new song that seems destined to become an audience favourite. With audience comments like "[Dominic] played his heart out . . . a ton of stage presence" and "the crowd just ate [The Kindly Ones] up", you can tell that we had a really good time.

Kevin Stock decided to rock out a bit more than usual this time (owing to the size of the venue). We added more aggressive songs like 'Loser to Lose Her' and 'Not Me' to the set, and gave them the ass-kicking they deserved. Kevin was quite animated tonight; if he keeps going like this, he might lose his rep of 'Stone-Face Stock' (jest kidding!). I had fun working in some different flavours: some deliberately atonal licks in 'Not Me', and ring modulator mayhem in 'Take It Back'. Blues harpist Michael Katz sat in on a few tunes as well.

We managed to get a quick change before Laura's set: I needed a fresh (ie: non-drenched-in-sweat) shirt and Sarah changed into a slinky black dress. Laura tried something different; a quiet start with 'Where Do I Go?', then pounding into 'Not All About You'. A great set, marred by my wireless crapping out halfway through (dead battery). I was tethered for the rest of the night. We were lacking a violinist tonight (Ken's working in Vancouver), so I was doing more melodic things to compensate (I'm not just Mr. Atmosphere!). I got to showcase some sweet licks in 'Mi Amor', and Michael Katz sat in on a couple of songs.

Noah Zacharin's set allowed Sarah and I a few minutes to catch our breath. Once again, he demonstrated why he is considered one of the best acoustic solo performers in the College St. scene. Michael Katz also invaded his stage, blowing blues harp alongside.

Pat Kelly and The Sweet Vibe Orchestra is a collection of about 11 musicians from vastly different styles, all thrown together into one gigantic gumbo. How else can you explain two piano players, a bassoonist, between three and five guitarists (with vastly different styles), five backing vocalists, a harmonica player, and Animal on drums? Pat organized the show, and he donated a portion of the proceeds to the Rouge Valley Health Care Center. Pat's son Dylan also donated his hair to The Canadian Cancer Society (to be made into a wig). Pat asked if he could cover 'Immune' in his set; we tried a more funked-up version of the TKO classic, which got people spontaneously clapping along (I love it when that happens!). Pat went with a Beatles-esque look, and alternated between piano and 12-string guitar for the night. 2/3rds of the way through the set, Grant Tilly came on (accompanied by a children's choir) to proclaim that 'My God's Bigger Than Your God'. He was soon followed by rock legend Roy Young, who did some boogie-woogie piano with the SVO ('Good Golly Miss Molly' was a highlight). We raised over $1000 for the Rouge Valley, had a great show, and I don't know if my fingers will ever be the same again :P. Thanks to The Opera House and Pat Kelly for having us. Whew!

Sneaky Dee's: Wednesday February 25th (w. Fresh Meat and Spookyhorse)

This was a last minute notification for a last minute show. Spookyhorse, featuring our drummer Jeff Kahl, needed an opening act, and asked us to jump in. We weren't planning on playing any gigs for the next little while, but it was another opportunity to add some gig muscle to our songs.

Fresh Meat opened the proceedings. Imagine The Distillers mixed with The New York Dolls and you get the idea. Okay, so the singer begged the issue by wearing her influences on her t-shirt (literally!), but I would've said that even so. Solid songs (a singer who sings!), and a tight groove made this band a lot more listenable than the usual punk acts. Will definitely catch another of their shows.

As was usual at the Dee, I borrowed Sarah's wireless unit (hey, she's not using it! :P). Once again, I roamed the stage and the club. All hassles with my guitar and amp were fixed up, and I could properly appreciate the crunch of the new Seymour Duncan pickups in my Les Paul (for all you guitar geeks: I have a JB in the bridge and a Seth Lover in the neck). The Seth Lover is a vintage-style pickup with the classic sound, while the JB is the original modified humbucker (rumour says it was originally designed for Jeff Beck). Needless to say, I was in hot-rod nirvana. Yum. A few difficulties off the top were worked out, and we settled into our set. Something tells me my flying days are over. It's not that I'm turning into a shoegazer, but I realize that I sing a lot better when I'm not jumping around! Energy versus good singing: the eternal paradox. Highlights: 'Kimberly', 'Made to Love' and quite frankly, most of the set! The group's tighter, and Jeff and Sarah's vocals are sounding better and better. If you haven't caught The Kindly Ones live, or it's been a while since you've seen us last, come check us out.

Spookyhorse was plagued by an AWOL singer/guitarist, which led to a late starting time. Spookyhorse played this show as a three-piece, which I feel made things a little sparse. Drummer Jeff needs no introduction, and bassist Brent played some pretty melodic lines, but this band needs a fourth member to really fill out the sound. Their harmonies were undercut by the fact that Jeff's mic had been switched off. This may, or may not, have had something to do with the pounding Jeff was giving his drumheads. Nice songs, but needs more instrumentation.

Once again, thanks to Spookyhorse and Fresh Meat, thanks to Shaun for doing sound, and thanks to Sneaky Dee's for having us.

Sneaky Dee's: Friday January 23rd (w. Floxology & The Peyote Kings)

Can you see the big grin on my face? Probably not, but it's there all the same. Yet another kick-ass Kindly Ones show on Friday. Floxology opened again. They've made great strides since our last show with them. They debuted the band version of 'The Casual Sex Song' (yes, that's the title!) to much acclaim. Floxy's voice was as big and powerful as ever. Keep going, guys.

We conquered a few technical difficulties (my guitar wanted to imitate a bowl of rice krispies!) and had another fun set. Because of the aforementioned technical difficulties, I used my Blues Junior instead of my usual Prosonic (I thought it was the amp's fault. Big mistake). Since it was Sneaky's, we rocked out a bit more. I also used Sarah's wireless (another Sneaky's tradition). We debuted a new song, 'The Sweetest Freak' (yeah, that's our second song with 'Freak' in the title. Gotta problem with that?). It's a keeper; we're already thinking of putting it in our next CD. Brought back 'Kimberly'; it rocked. I'm taking advantage of the new pickups in my guitar, which add extra meat to my sound. Happy, happy, until the damn thing started crackling again! Highlights? 'The Sweetest Freak', 'Kimberly', 'Written Down', 'Made to Love' (I roamed the club during that one!). We had an unexpected request for an encore, so we obliged with a run through 'Immune'. Kevin & Laura did back-ups.

The Peyote Kings conquered tragedy and attempted bassist disembowelment and turned in an interesting, multi-faceted set. I had never heard them before; they're a more jam-oriented band with the occasional nods to Zeppelin and The Doors (no, they don't sound like The Tea Party!), with some jazzy underpinnings. Lead vocals Mike was on various pharmaceuticals; apparently he needed them. Would love to hear them again, when life hasn't conspired against them.

Once again, big thank-yous to everyone who came out. Also thanks to Floxology and The Peyote Kings, thanks to Junior for doing sound and Sneaky Dee's for having us.

Holy Joe's: Sunday December 7th (w. Floxology & MIT City)

It's like that Beatles' song: "It's getting better all the time!" A real surprise, given how long a break we had in November (myself & Sarah backing Laura Fernandez in NYC, recording another Christmas CD with Ryan Ayukawa, and all that). This was a triple-bill with Floxy (her first band gig), and MIT City (a more-emo-than-core acoustic duo {guitar/keys and bass}). Thanks to sound dog Lucy for some last minute surgery on my amp pre-set. We hit the stage running with 'Freak' and 'Hamsters' leading the charge, then cooled things slightly with 'Written Down' and 'Made to Love'. This was a more melodic, less balls-to-the-wall set, though the energy felt good. All the songs felt great on this end, the crowd was really responsive. Sarah tried out her new Big Muff fuzz pedal, sounded pretty freakin' cool. LFB band violinist Ken Cade was on-hand to record the set (we'll be going over that with a microscope) and former (and current SMV) drummer Jamie Tanner took pictures. A sign of how comfortable I was onstage, and with the music: at several points I was able to take my hands off the guitar! Not a minor consideration, with a trio. Once again (I know I sound like a broken record, but it's true), our best gig so far.

This was Floxology's (the name of Floxy's new band) first ever gig. They played a covers-heavy set: Bruce Cockburn ('Lovers in a Dangerous Time'), The Animals ('House of the Rising Sun') and Johnny Cash/NIN ('Hurt'). Congratulations on your first show!

MIT City had a rough go of it ending the night (the usual crowd disappearing act occurred). Bass was way-heavy in the mix (you know you're loud when the bassist in another band says it's too much!). Lead singer jumped between acoustic guitar and piano: more successful with the former. His songs had touches of other people's material folded in (Ani DiFranco's 'Untouchable Face', and some show tunes). A low-key ending to an evening. Thanks to the other bands, thanks to Holy Joe's for having us. See you next year!

B-Side: Saturday October 11th (w. Torn Down Units, Tenth Planet & Leviride)

Leviride invited us to play this show with them because they had never actually heard us play before. It had been a very busy month for us, especially myself and Sarah, so we were ready to throw down. We opened the night with a powerful, 35-minute set, heavy on the slammers ('Lighter than Air', 'Hamsters', 'Freak', 'Kimberly'), with 'Shoggoth's' and 'Made to Love' added for depth. Those who were there were impressed with how powerful we sounded (at least one person commented that we should position 'Freak' as our single. That one's turned into a real monster). Jeff's gotten heavy with the backups, which has added new dimension to our sound. Sarah's experimentation with fuzz bass was less successful, but we're going to work on that (it's too cool a sound not to use!). This was probably the tightest we had ever sounded; one observer (a long-time veteran of the TO music scene) asked me how many years I had been playing with Jeff! He was most surprised when I said, three months. A very satisfying show, musically speaking.

Torn Down Units are a four-piece from Burlington with an almost garage-rockabilly sound. Great style, especially on their cover of the Velvet Underground's 'White Light, White Heat'. I'd definitely like to see them again!

I've been hearing a lot about Tenth Planet; I somehow managed to get on their e-mail list about a year ago (not a problem, I merely added their address to *our* list!). They put in a very polished set. Tenth Planet has a very radio-friendly sound. I have a feeling that if these guys manage to keep it together, they'll go far.

Leviride headlined the show, and they rocked. This is the second time I've seen them live, and they're getting better. Leviride has a distinctive post-punk sound, that meshes really well with ours. Liam (or Paul, depending on when you meet him) writes great songs, 'Big Black Limousine' stuck in my head. They already had mucho points with me, since they're one of the few bands with a female bass player (Jody Applebaum, she of the flying helmet). They recently came back from a two-week American tour and it showed. Great energy, great songs, nice bunch of people. Check them out if you get the chance.

Overall, a great show. Highlights included being attacked by a wandering Cat in the Hat (hi, Christian!), along with cohorts Thing 1 and Thing 2. We'd like to play again with Leviride sometime in the New Year (February, perhaps?). Thanks again to Leviride for having us, thanks to B-Side. Gigging for the rest of this year could be doubtful, but we'll keep you posted. We'll be looking to record in the New Year, and also trying to get gigs outside of Toronto. Cheers.

B-Side: Thursday August 28th (w. Sibling Nortwin & Lukas)

Wow, this has been a strange month! First, our gig at The Gravity Club in London was cancelled due to a power outage across Ontario and parts of the eastern United States, and then our show at The Havana Club was rescheduled (then later cancelled) because the club didn't know we were playing that night! Thank goodness we got to play at least one TKO show in August. This was a last-minute request from our friends in Leviride who were unable to play, due to gearing up for their American tour. Just for the hell of it, I'm going to let new drummer Jeff Kahl detail his POV of the show. So here goes:
"First band: Sibling Nortwin
Interesting name. This band had three guitars (!) (a Strat, a Jagmaster [a cross between a Jaguar and a Jazzmaster, think Kurt Cobain] and an Epiphone Noel Gallagher 335) put through delay pedals and other FX. Sounded like a cross between the Cure and Catherine Wheel with a touch of the Smiths. They only had one vocalist. Some of you who know me know how much I'm big on harmony vocals, and Sibling Nortwin didn't have them. It's a shame cos I think that might've made them a little more musically interesting, and set each song apart.
Second band: Lukas
Pretty much the same guys only with a different drummer as well as a keyboard player (and only one guitar). The drummer from Sibling Nortwin now played guitar (and a damn fine job he did). They were very soulful, ranging from a Wide Mouth Mason-type sound to Park Life-era Blur. I also seem to recall them doing a ska/reggae tune. They also did a Hendrix cover (the name escapes me). The proficient keyboard player played the usual Hammond organ sound, a Rhodes/Clavinet type tone as well as your standard piano sound. It certainly filled out the band and made for interesting textures. I was impressed with Lukas' tightness and their songs. An interesting aside: the guitarist and the bassist have also worked with songstress Lindi Ortega.
Third band: The Kindly Ones
My first ever gig (unless you count three songs at the Free Times open stage) with TKO. Considering the fact that we went on last I was pleasantly surprised that some people stuck around and seemed to dig us. Despite the fact that I was forced to play on (what we in TKO land have dubbed) "a Pee-Wee kit" I made lemonade. Overall we played relatively well. Some other members may think otherwise but had I been an agent, or promoter of a club I'd book us again (that's not sunshine blowing, we put on a damn good, energetic show). Unfortunately due to the lateness of our time slot we had to cut a couple songs but the songs we did play were fast and furious (well, those that were meant to be fast and furious ;-) ) and tight. The only problem being the bartender was miffed at the fact that we gave out stickers as people came into the club. Apparently, people kept sticking them to things they shouldn't have. A lesson learned and a mental note made should we ever play B-Side again."

Thanks, Jeff. My personal notes: debut song was Made to Love. Highlights: Made to Love (one person at the club said he thought it was a CD playing, we were so tight), Kimberly, Over You (Over Here).We got a CD burned of the show, and if it works out, we'll be posting mp3's online. Thanks to Leviride for offering us the show, thanks to the other bands for loaning us their gear, and thanks to B-Side for having us.

Free Times Café: Best of the Open Stage, Tuesday August 12th (w. David Contin, David Charles & Sarah Burton)

FTC booker Ryan Ayukawa asked me to perform (and act as host & sound dog) for the monthly series Best of the Open Stage, spotlighting artists who have distinguished themselves at the weekly open stage. For me, it was a chance to try out some new material on solo acoustic, and do some Kindly Ones material in front of a new crowd. It was a big crowd (for Free Times standards), it was also David Charles' birthday. I kicked off the night with the obligatory "Happy Birthday", then did four tunes to warm up the crowd (Who's Your Daddy; a new ballad, Watching Venus Rise; Shoggoth's and Made to Love). David Contin did two songs on keyboard, then moved on to a Strat through a "modified" Pod. He was extremely nervous, but the crowd was appreciative. He has a very garagey-punky style. His biggest problem was that he lacked confidence. David Charles went on next; he has a powerful, deep voice and some interesting guitar work. He had recently come back from doing his undergrad at UBC, so he had a number of songs about Vancouver (which I appreciated!). In return, I unleashed another new song (also an ode to the 'Couver) called Stolen Moments. Well-received. I then shifted gears and played Hamsters, and then Immune (with backups from Kevin Stock and Sarah on the na-na-na's). Sarah Burton made a nervous debut in front of her very enthusiastic fan club. She had some topical songs about date rape, sleazy guys (aimed at one poor audience member's moustache!), and eating disorders. One song, Chubby's In, was so well-received that she was asked to play it again as an encore. The audience was still willing, so I played a few more songs, starting with Name in Sand. I then followed it up with yet another new song, a suggestive ballad called Lost in Your Hair (heh-heh-heh). Then I finished it up with Kiss the Flame and Nick Drake's Pink Moon. Thanks to Ryan for booking me, and thanks to the other performers. It was a great night.

Sneaky Dee's: CD Release, Thursday June 5th (w. Brave Delusion)

Weee're baaaccckkk!!! Our CD "Edge of My Skin" was unleashed on an unsuspecting world in fine style. Things got off to a strange start when we found out that Dwayne was no longer the sound man at the Dee, and that there was no third band that night. However Brave Delusion was more than up for the task; playing their usual brand of heavy garage-rock (maybe too heavy: their set was plagued with strings & snare drums breaking!). Still, they've noticeably improved from when we saw them last. Great guys, great group. We hit the stage around 11:15. I was in flames, Sarah wore a red, velvet backless top, and Animal was pounding out the beats. Sound dog Shaun later said that Animal was probably the hardest-hitting drummer he had seen in a very long time. Sarah & I have tuned down a whole-tone, for vocal reasons. It helps with my singing to have the songs down there (and the extra wallop doesn't hurt, either!). Once we get used to playing some of our songs in 'different' keys, it'll be a great thing. Certainly, Over You and Shoggoth's felt great taken down a step. For now we're still working on it. This night was a night for technical issues: my pedalboard had some volume problems, and Sarah's bass amp died at soundcheck (thanx to BD bassist Ryan for the loaner). However, we had lots of fun; I tried Sarah's wireless unit again (the Beast is unleashed!). Debuted Hamsters. It f*****g killed!!!: muchas gracias to Johnny Westgate for singing harmonies on it, and rocking his ass off. Highlights: the aforementioned Hamsters, Lighter Than Air, My Baby Loves Me (a new musical direction for you, Laura!), Immune & Kimberly. A great night. Thanks once again to Sneaky Dee's for having us, and Shaun for doing sound. We're taking July off, but we'll be back in August.

Q-Bar: Thursday May 1st (w. Marcus Walker)

This was the follow-up to the February 27th show. Marcus Walker was a late addition to the bill. We all knew his bizarre take on various cover tunes, and we were looking forward to hearing his original material. This night was also unusual because this was our first gig with Animal manning the skins. Marcus played two guitars: a lightly-strung (maybe too lightly) Yamaha acoustic and a Jasmine 12-string tuned to open-D. Some great tunes there: I'm surprised Marcus doesn't perform them more often. The Kindly Ones hit the stage with a vengeance. It was great having Animal on the back line. Highlights: Who's Your Daddy? Freak, and Over You. Re-introduced Name in Sand into the set; it went over great. Debuted Lighter than Air (actually, this is one of the oldest songs I have, but it's still a goodie) with The Kindly Ones. Animal's drumming has given this song a more tribal feel; a new twist on a very aggressive tune. We had a great time. Thanks to Frygirl and the Q-Bar, and thanks to Animal for joining us. Next stop: CD release!

The Wave Bar (University of Western Ontario): April 11th (Battle of the Bands)

This was the semi-regionals for COCA's Campus Music Explosion. This was originally supposed to occur on April 5th, but was postponed due to the lovely blizzard. We had a nightmare of a time getting down to London, due to the traffic. What was originally supposed to be a two-hour drive turned into a three-and-a-half hour trek. We didn't enter this with high hopes, mainly because we knew the competition would be much stiffer. However, we hoped to meet other bands, give out some stickers, and maybe line up a show in Western next year. There were seven bands on the bill; ranging from Caught in Thought (a Dave Matthews/Grateful Dead-style jam band) to Poindexter (a hardcore punk outfit). Things were a little tense; technical difficulties were rampant (the stage was littered with broken strings). We had hassles with the hi-hat stand (muchas gracias to The Hitch who kindly loaned us theirs). We decided to go for broke and have a high-energy show. Highlights: Freak (performed at warp nine!), Shoggoth's (special mention was made for my "sick" guitar licks), Kimberly (also played as fast as humanly possible). One person said that I reminded him of Mike Ness of Social Distortion (a compliment). How did we place? Third. Not bad, since there's a very good chance that we'll be playing shows with some of the other bands, and under consideration to play the Wave next fall. So, even though we didn't win, we still did well. Special shout-outs to everyone who caught our set, including Curtis (we'll be back!).

Q-Bar: April 8th (w. Signe Miranda's Veranda)

They don't come more last-minute than this. Jamie and I were there already, as part of SMU, when we were informed that the other band (from Montreal) couldn't make it. Tendinitis was the cause, apparently. At which point, Signe asked me, "Do The Kindly Ones want to play a set?" Sarah was still at home, so I told her to grab her bass and come down quickly. We didn't have time to make a set list, so we took requests (any requests for Lyrnrd Skynrd were treated with the contempt they deserved). Highlights; a Hendrixy version of Immune, and a reggae Little Bird Said (complete with ring modulator solo). A completely warped and wonderful way to play a show. Things got even more bizarre when SMU hit the stage, since this was bassist Dietrich Sider's last show as part of the Veranda and we had to give him a suitably twisted send-off. Highlights: flamenco riffs on Happy Now, flying wigs on Lyrical Condensation, and assorted mayhem, destruction and random acts of wanton kissing. Signe will never forget having my lips imprinted on her forehead (mostly because we have the photos).

The El Mocambo: April 7th (w. Spookyhorse, Paul McCann)

It's official: blizzards suck. Specifically, blizzards in the second week of April *really* suck. Spookyhorse offered us this show a couple of weeks ago, and we were looking forward to seeing how the "new" El Mocambo compared to the old one. First off, it's much larger; they took out the rear kitchen and replaced it with the stage. Yes, the obnoxious pillar is still right in the center of the room, but at least it's not two feet from the front of the stage. The stage is much taller, and a lot bigger. There was plenty of roaming space, and the stage is carpeted, so the kick drum won't walk around as well. The only downside is that there's too much brick and plaster reflecting everything, so the upper mids are accentuated. It's not as ugly-sounding as the 360, but the (very good) sound system has to compensate for the poor acoustics. Some more wood on the walls would help. Paul McCann was first up; he played a mostly solo, acoustic set, followed by a couple of songs backed by Spookyhorse. Good songs, good voice: he needs a backing band to bring out his tunes more. Surprise James cover (any guesses which one?). We played second. We had an 'interesting' night: my straplocks decided to go on strike at odd moments. We mixed things up a bit: Written Down made a return and was well-received, so we added some lighter fare like Shoggoth's. Ended with Little Bird Said, threw a piece of Smashing Pumpkins' Cherub Rock in the middle. Spookyhorse is a Sloan-type band (sometimes a quartet, tonight they were a trio) where everyone in the band sings. Their three-part harmonies ranged from the awesome to the dodgy; I don't know how well they could hear themselves and each other. They did The Beatles' Don't Let Me Down vocal justice. Would like to hear how they sound on CD. Special mention goes to Mike's sister, who placed one of our stickers in a "special place". She said it felt great (what to say, what to say . . .). Thanks to Spookyhorse for having us, despite the weather (see above) we had a good time.

Caps Pub, Humber College: March 19th (Battle of the Bands)

Caps Pub is the sole pub at Humber College. We participated in their yearly Band Wars because Sarah is going there for journalism. This was an invaluable opportunity to play to people who haven't heard us before. If nothing else, we'd pick up a few fans and spread around a lot of stickers. Caps Pub is a medium-sized venue; concrete with posters on the walls. While we were waiting, Jamie, Sarah & I played a game of "Which poster would you steal?" My faves were (in no particular order) a poster from The Clash's Give Them Enough Rope tour, a Ramones poster and a photo of Jimi Hendrix. There were five bands on the bill; each band got to play for half an hour. The bands ranged from Whisk (a singer/songwiter who also played a few instrumentals. His first show) to Fake Reality (a nü netal crew whose singer faced the drummer a lot. Possibly the dumbest band name I've ever heard. They were bitter over the results). We hit the stage, ready to rip. Our energy was up and we wanted to blow the audience away. However, we hadn't rehearsed in a while, and so our set rode the edge of the catastrophe curve. However, we've been doing this for a while, so the feeling of incipient trainwreck added some adrenaline to our set. Highlights: Who's Your Daddy, Freak, Over You. Last up was Brave Delusion, a kick-ass garage-rock crew. I grabbed a copy of their CD; if it's anything like their live show, it'll be a motherfucker. We're definitely playing another show with those guys. So what were the final results? First runner up was Brave Delusion. And the winners of Humber College Band Wars were . . . The Kindly Ones! We won $500 and a chance to compete at the semi-regionals at either Sheridan College or Western University. We'll also be appearing on Humber's campus radio station, as part of their indie program. Details to follow.

Q-Bar: February 27th (w. Henway)

Q-Bar is a smaller venue, just across the street from Healey's. Sarah and I have performed there before, backing Laura Fernandez. Rosina (AKA Frygirl) ran sound. It had been a long day, and we were ready to rock. We flipped things around a bit; starting with Shoggoth's and placing Who's Your Daddy in the middle of the set. This also marked the welcome return of Little Bird Said, a song we haven't been able to perform for some time. We stretched things out a bit more; putting both Immune and Little Bird Said made this show a bit epic-heavy, but the crowd liked it. Another rip through Jeff Stone's ode to platonic love, You See Stars. Pelayo Matute took pictures (thanks, bro). Depending how they turn out, we'll post some on our site. Henway headlined with their unusual brand of pop-rock. An absolutely kicking rhythm section, but their guitars weren't loud enough (a guy with a 100 watt Marshall DSL and he wasn't loud enough? What the fa?). A lot of fun to see them strut their stuff. Thanks to Frygirl and Barbara at Q-Bar for having us. We're returning to Q-Bar on May 1st.

The Rivoli: January 31st (Emergenza Festival)

Definitely one for the books. Never played the Riv before, would love to again. Possibly the best sound we've ever had live. Got to use some different gear; I played through a Crate 100 watt stack, Sarah used an Ampeg SVT (the bassist's equivalent to a Marshall JCM 800 series), and Jamie played a drum kit with (horrors!) Sabian cymbals. Had 25 minutes to show our stuff so, needless to say, we played our songs quick and dirty (the less said about the opening of Freak the better). Highlights: Noonweh, Kimberly. We played the tightest we have ever been live, the crowd was responsive, but that didn't translate into sufficient votes for us to make the next round. We burned the set onto CD; we'll upload one or more live mp3's as soon as we can.

The Cameron House: December 5th (Stage/D Productions fundraiser)

This one came at short notice (Christy Heath e-mailed us three days before the event, asking us if we could help out). Originally, it was supposed to be a 15-minute set, so we decided to just make it an acoustic Dominic/Sarah thing (dragging out an entire drum kit, just to play for 15 minutes?). We ended up doing about a half-hour because the prior act (a dance duo) cracked their CD five minutes before going on. We kept it loose and relaxed (not much audience interaction: wasn't really a rock show crowd in any case). It was fun to strip some of our songs back to a guitar strumming/vocals kind of thing. I managed to reconnect with some of my songs in a way I hadn't been able to in a long while. Surprise, surprise: spoken word artist Louise Simpson was the other performer that night. We happily heckled her. She was great. Thanks to Stage/D productions for asking us to perform.

The Cameron House: November 28th (w. The Rafferty Bros., SMV)

An interesting gig, considering our headliner had to bow out a week in advance, due to a family tragedy. The Rafferty Brothers (featuring Graydon from The Friendless Youngsters) opened with a mixed bag of songs; some performed on acoustic guitars, some on drums & bass. Nice to see Graydon do the Dave Grohl thing. We started the set with Name in Sand. Sarah loaned me her wireless unit, so I got to try different things with it (starting Name in Sand at the back of the club, running around during guitar solos, etc.). I had way too much fun with that thing. The Beast is unleashed! Highlights: Kimberly, Noonweh, Immune. Sarah wore a backless, red velvet top, inspiring much drooling in male members of the audience (wild horses will not drag Ken's name from my lips!). Jamie went retro-grunge with his knit cap (Touch him! He's sick!). An energetic, fun set marred only by my guitar's strap pin working loose (inspired much rock-style mayhem). Signe Miranda's Veranda headlined, and punked out. The band went for broke (and occasionally broke) and threw themselves around with complete abandon. Highlights: Signe lying on the floor, Signe going out into the audience for impromptu backing vocals. All in all, a fun night. See you next year!

Recording Diary#2: November 24th

On Sunday November 24th, Sarah & I were asked to contribute to the recording of a limited-edition Christmas CD. All the songs were public domain titles. Uncle Seth recorded two Christmas carols (Come All Ye Faithful and Through the Night) as a self-contained unit. Then I dusted off my (very dusty!) German and recorded "Stille Nacht" (I played acoustic while Sarah played bass). Jay Moonah of Uncle Seth joined in on keyboard sitar while Kevin Stock sang back-up and played "hand-flute" (don't ask!). "Stille Nacht" is a special song for me, because my family used to sing it just before unwrapping presents on Christmas Eve (Germans traditionally celebrate Christmas on the 24th). I then tortured my acoustic with an E-bow while Kevin sang the same song in English. Ken Cade played violin while Jay jammed on accordion. The result was a very loose, Tom Waits-ish interpretation of this classic. Kevin recorded a sparse version of his own song "Take It Back." I grabbed my Les Paul and delay pedal, running it direct into the board via an ART tube pre-amp (I love those things!). Once again, Ken played violin while Jay played harp. Laura Fernandez recorded her own "Arms of Grace". Jay demonstrated his percussion chops, and Ken dropped some violin solos. For the hell of it, we recorded a very Arabian-sounding "Little Drummer Boy" with Kevin singing lead, myself on E-bowed acoustic guitar, Sarah on bass and everyone else on percussion. Jay, Sarah and myself finished off the night with an impromptu instrumental jam on "Three Ships." These songs will be placed on a limited edition CD that Open Concept Productions will be offering for sale shortly. Details to follow.

Thanks to Ryan Ayukawa for setting it all up, and Dietrich Sider for running sound. If this CD interests you, contact either Ryan Ayukawa at Open Concept Productions or myself through this web site.

Recording Diary: October 8th-16th, 2002

Between October 8th and 16th, the Kindly Ones went into the studio to record our six (sick?)-song CD, tentatively titled "Edge of My Skin". The sessions were produced and engineered by Jamie, with Dominic running tape-op.

Here's the methodology for all you gearheads:

We're recording our CD in our rehearsal space, into a TEAC four-track reel-to-reel. I'm singing into a rented Apex 430 large condensor microphone while Sarah sings into a Shure Beta 58. The Free Times Cacophonic Orchestra sing into Laura's Apex 430. These are submixed into Track One. Track Two is a direct out from Sarah's Trace-Elliot bass head. It's run through an ART tube pre-amp to warm up the tone before it hits tape. Her speaker cab is covered with a blanket to cut down leakage into the other mics. My Fender Prosonic guitar amp is miked with a Shure SM-57 (hidden under "The Tent of Doom"), then through another ART tube pre-amp into Track Three (have I mentioned we like vacuum tubes in our signal path?). I'm using my Gibson Les Paul Studio and Sarah plays her Fodera NYC Empire bass. Jamie's drum kit is picked up by two mics: an SM-61 for the snare and kick drum, and a rented Rode NT-2 (switched to the omni position) overhead to catch the cymbals and toms. These are submixed into Track Four. Needless to say, signal leakage from the other instruments is massive. But, as Lenny Kravitz likes to say, "Isolation equals sterility."

So what does all this techno-babble mean? First off, we cannot do overdubs, so what we play together is what you get. Secondly, we're all recording together, live to tape. No overdubs, no punch-ins. If one of us screws up a take, the track is lost. This was the same method used on Signe Miranda's CD, and it has its disadvantages. I lost some amazing guitar solos on Signe's songs because someone else messed up. Conversely, other takes died when I suffered from finger dementia. But the resulting vibe, when we all get a magic take, is more than worth it. And, unlike many demos out there, it's an accurate representation of how we sound live. Thanks also to the Free Times Cacophonic Orchestra (Laura Ferrnandez, Signe Miranda, Kevin Stock) & Veranda bassist Dietrich Sider, who gave me a much-needed kick in the ass.

Random Thoughts

Return to The Studio Formerly Known as the Sauna (now fondly referred to as the Fridge) . . . Genius Dominic giving Jamie the wrong keys and locking self out of the space (at least I had all the take-out!) . . . "Too much guitar, Dominic!" "There can never be too much guitar!" . . . Flashlight Morse Code . . . Piece-of-S**t rented mic . . . Kompressor crush Paul Simon! . . . fun with strap pins . . . What's Indian Chinese Food? . . . "Less Talk, More Rock!" . . . "Less Talk, More Smoke!" . . . Scarborough good-ol'-boys (with requisite Satan tattoos) throwing bottles around and giggling maniacally . . . "Must kill cowbell!" . . . another Saturday night, the Scarborough good-ol'-boys take another weed-soaked run through 'For Whom the Bell Tolls' . . . "Too much bass!" "There can never be too much bass!" . . . late Friday night with TFTCO, Signe realizing that yes, Virginia, there is a working thermostat in here . . . "Warning! Warning! Kevin's running out of beer!!!" . . . long afternoon with Who's Your Daddy, finally catching fire around 4 p.m.

November 7th: Sneaky Dee's (w. Uncle Seth, The Formula)

Weeee're baaack!!! Once again, we had a great gig at the Dee. After a stress-filled week, we were ready to RAWK. Jay, Jeff and Tara from Uncle Seth opened the set with some acoustic tunes (along with some Dylan and DiFranco covers). Much bouncing around ensued. The Kindly Ones hit the stage firing on all cylinders; we wanted to rock out and Ryan Szulc was there to take pictures. Highlights: Freak (a 3-person mosh pit), Over You, You See Stars (Sarah's bass was later found, smoking a cigarette and looking at peace with the world), Name in Sand came together beautifully. Immune marred by an accidental unplugging (note to self: invest in a wireless!), Kimberly revved up to almost breakneck speed. Once again, The Formula headlined with a very cool set, Mike making like a caucasian Barry White at points (Would that make him the baby harp seal of love? Jest kidding, Mike), giving the audience some very groovy, horn-driven funk. Once again, thanks to Dwayne (and his Misfits pin) for his usual great job on sound, and everyone for coming out. Serious fun was had.

October 19th: Reilly's Third Floor (w. Jimel, Uncle Seth)

This was a new venue for us. We were invited as part of Uncle Seth's "Discount Rock n' Roll Emporium" happening every month at the club. Nice space: big but not a cavern like some other clubs. Lots of wood: helps the sound. Jimel opened with some acoustic singer/songwriter stuff: a shame his (otherwise nice-sounding) Seagull guitar imitated Rice Krispies (snap! crackle! pop!). We eased up on the heavier songs in our set and went poppy. Highlights: Over You (Over Here), Immune. New song: Name in Sand. Sarah conquered a cold and sang really well, Jamie let his hair down (woo!). We went over well: good sound by Gary. Uncle Seth had a good time: wreaked much mayhem when Tara (their singer) had to go to the bathroom. Uncle Seth demonstrated their jam-band chops, guitarist Jeff Jones demonstrated his two effects pedalboards (Long & McQuade must love you, bro!). A great night. Thanks to Jay Moonah for having us. We've been invited back to Reilly's sometime in the new year. Stay tuned for further details.

October 16th: The Free Times Café (w. Friendless Youngsters)

Johnny Cash Tribute Night (AKA "Petty Cash"). The Friendless Youngsters played tribute to Tom Petty (with Laura on keys). Ilia Avroutine from Kübzavod sat in on electric, got to play through FY's Tom Gibson's old Kalamazoo amp. We were all the Men (and Woman) in Black, except for Ilia (much disapproval). Sarah feeling like the ballad of what's-his-name ("Root-5th, Root-5th . . ."). We goofed on various JC tunes (rappin' and rasta-Cash were crowd faves). We also got our new stickers, which we'll be plastering all over unsuspecting spaces. Thanks to Ryan Ayukawa for having us. We will never hear Johnny Cash lyrics quite the same way again (Where he got into a fight over a Cajun queen . . . :P").

September 10th: The 360 Club (w. Mysterio, Water to Go)

A day. Couldn't get a soundcheck (and paid for it later!). The 360 has been refurbished and has a much better stage and sound. Debuted Freak and covered Jeff Stone's You See Stars. Tentative set, mostly because Jamie couldn't hear what we were doing! Mysterio came with a ߬øå of gear, one of their guitars was worth my guitar and amp! The guy played the hell out of it, though. Water to Go (from Raleigh, North Carolina) played a short, but great set. Shame nobody stuck around to catch it. Would love to do another show with those guys in the future.

August 21st, 2002: Sneaky Dee's (w. The Formula)

We're baaaaccckkk!!!! Three days of intense rehearsal paid off in a tight, powerful set. Raincoat and Little Bird Said played on electric; once again LBS kicked ass! Jamie declared his allegiance to the KISS Army, Sarah proved you can look sexy and rock like a m*th*rf*ck*r. Dancing on speaker stacks during Immune (nearly put my fool head through the ceiling!). Even the staff dug it, and it's hard not to like a sound man who spins Hüsker Dü and the Pixies between sets (thanks, Dwayne). Great Chicago (the band, not the town)-style funk from The Formula, augmented with a vintage Rhodes electric piano (you're drooling, Jamie!). Mike Hopkins & Co. got the crowd dancing. Will return on November 7th.