Posts by Jeff Stychin

Daniel Romano – Streaming Cafe

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Another amazing concert happened last night at Streaming Cafe. . . Daniel Romano with Grey Kingdom performed and you should’ve been there. Spencer Burton (Grey Kingdom), not only has a great stage presence of humour and sarcasm, but his vocals and folk melodies will move you. . . check him out and buy his album here.
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The Streaming Cafe has great sound and the small venue makes for the perfect audience experience. You become fully absorbed while in an intimate live setting. Daniel Romano and band played amazingly well and I was surprised to see such well crafted country/western songs. Romano played all of the set electric as well which is something I’ve never seen before, so that was a nice touch. Romano’s vocals pierce the soul with a deep range that drawls on with highs that can leave you heartbroken. His songs tell stories of relationships and heartbreak that make you yearn and reflect. If you haven’t heard of Daniel Romano before, please do yourself a favour and check him out.
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After the evening of music was over, I stuck around and got to talk to Daniel for a few minutes outside and conversation ensued.

What are your opinions on alternative country, indie, folk and pop country music?

I think that those probably exist, genres like “alt country” or “americana” because there’s such a disconnect with the origin of country music and what is now considered country music. I don’t know if it helps any, but if it helps people decipher one thing from another I guess that’s a good thing.

Do you think it’s getting better or worse for country/western music?

It’s hard to tell right now, I know that the “americana” scene is flowering and that’s good I think. That’s pretty broad that category though, there’s a lot of styles of “americana” and that can be confusing.

What’s your favourite venue so far in Canada?

Oh you know what, there was this festival on Wolf Island in Kingston, Ontario. We were supposed to play on the back of this dock looking back at this bar. Minutes before our set time we moved inside because there was torrential down-pour. So we crammed inside this little bar and moved some chairs aside and did a show, it was so much fun. We had weird adrenaline from being confused and having no P.A system, that was a memorable show.

What’s your favourite show in the USA?

Actually, we just played a chili cook off in Portland that was awesome.

What’s your opinion of downloading and social media?

Uhm, whatever. It’s inevitable, it’s going to keep happening.

How has it affected your career?

There’s just no money to be made. It sucks because you can’t sell records and that’s what you want to do, but right now bands basically make their money off of merchandise.

How has it felt to transition to playing country music and changing your image?

I mean my image hasn’t really changed so much, but I would say that it’s a lot more comfortable for me.

Follow Daniel Romano on Facebook and check his website to learn about tour dates. His next show is coming up on the 13th of October, where he’s playing at Mercer Tavern in Edmonton.

Daniel Romano

I was lucky enough to briefly chat with former indie vocalist now turned country/western singer Daniel Romano, while he was gearing up for his Canadian tour in Portland, Oregon.

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Hey Daniel, how are you?
Not too bad.

Where are you right now?

We’re in Portland, we have today and tomorrow off then we play Seattle.

So that’ll be the starting of your tour then?
Yeah exactly.

And you’re playing with Spencer from “Grey Kingdom”, how’d you two meet?
We used to be in a band together called “Attack in Black”. We met in high school, he actually grew up in Kelowna and later moved to Welland, Ontario where I’m from.

So this tour is for your new album Come Cry With Me, how’s the reception so far?
It’s been great.

Where was that album recorded?
Oh, at my house.

Who else played and recorded with you on this album?
It’s pretty much just me, Erin plays lap steel and a friend of mine named Natalie sings on it as well.

So transitioning from Attack in Black and the more indie side of Dallas Green’s work, how has it been putting out your own country albums?
It’s been great, makes more sense for me.

How was playing with Dallas Green?
It was fine, was a good job.

Any plans once this tour is over?
I’m actually currently making a new record so I’m probably going to work on that a bit.

What does the songwriting process look like for you?
Um, it varies. Usually it’s find a good line and work around it kind of thing. I haven’t found anything that works better than anything else.

I’m excited that you’re playing at St. James Hall in Vancouver before the show in Kelowna, I went there to interview Gavin from The Wooden Sky and the venue is beautiful!
Oh yeah our friend raves about that place, I’m glad to hear it’s a good venue.

I’ve read you listen to punk rock so I’d like to ask you what some of your favourite records are?
Hmm ok, let me think about that for a second here. I’m going to go with this band called The Regulations, then there’s a band from my hometown called Keep it up they were great and The Ramones “It’s alive” was the best punk record ever.

What about some of your favourite singles from some country and western singers?
Roy Acuff’s “Crash on the highway”, George Jones’s “I can still see him in your eyes” and any side that Hank Senior ever cut.

Romano’s new album titled “Come Cry With Me” was released on January 22nd and should be played on the nearest porch with a glass of your favourite alcoholic beverage. He’s playing this Friday the 11th at Streaming Cafe so get ready for beautifully crafted folk/country and stay tuned for the show review this Friday!

Larry, His Flask, a Wild Son and a Canyon Rose Outfit

I caught the great Larry and His Flask last night along side them played Wild Son and another band originating from Edmonton, called The Canyon Rose Outfit.

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All three of these bands were great, it’s been awhile since I’ve seen Wild Son perform and remembering their talent was a perfect start to the evening. Being a Wednesday night, I was surprised at the turnout of excited fans that showed up.

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After a short tear down, The Canyon Rose Outfit came on stage and brought the energy on. This band consists of: Christan Maslyk (Guitar,Vocals), Justin Perkins (Guitar), Matt Harrison (Bass,Vocals), Jesse Gauthier (Drums) and Alex Pelletier (Trumpet). Their sound was different and I liked the trumpet solo’s that Alex pulled off towards the end of their set.

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This band was good, I liked their blues style and the energy was amazing for a mid-week show. Anyways check these guys out, they’re worth a listen.

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Next was Larry and His Flask and this was when the night got pretty rowdy. Dancers everywhere, spilled drinks, the venue was packed and the band was: loud, powerful and extremely talented. They had people buzzing, and grooving along to all their songs — it was awesome.

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If you haven’t heard of these bands before, get out from behind your rock and get involved. Click any of the band names above to be directed to their respective websites and do yourself a favour by listening to some great new music!

Until next time, support your local artists!

Joey Ryan of The Milk Carton Kids Interview

After being caught in an awkward introduction I met Joey Ryan last Friday evening at The Media Club in Vancouver, which is on the corner of Cambie and Georgia. After coaxing the bartender to letting me stay before the doors opened, I was invited backstage to chat and drink a beer. Ryan is a really nice guy, who seems to know a lot about the music scene — or at least the scene of americana and folk. I wasn’t able to get a conversation with Kenneth, but I met him as well and briefly passed the other members of The Barefoot Movement, who were also playing that same evening. Ryan and I talked briefly about Kacy and Clayton a band he’s really been digging lately, we then got into a conversation on Orwell and Melville and of course his band The Milk Carton Kids.

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So, tell me about the tour so far
Ryan: It has exceeded all our expectations and it’s very encouraging. Musically it goes up and down still, we struggle some nights and some nights are incredibly inspiring and inspired. All we can ask for is a nice room full of quiet fans and the rest is on us.

What’s one place you’ve wanted to play that you haven’t yet?
To answer truthfully there’s two venues in the US that I’ve wanted to play at. The Ryman in Nashville and the Greek Theatre in Berkeley California.

Tell me how you started playing guitar?
My dad taught me how to play The House of the Rising Sun, and after that I kind of picked up guitar when I was around fifteen. Not taking it too seriously as I still do.

What’s next for you guys as a band?
Well, I’d like to release another album and see where it goes from there. I mean, I want to stay with what we’ve done so far and keep things as simple as possible.

Favourite authors?
Right now I’m doing all the Melville short stories. Over the years I’ve had infatuations with Vonnegut and Huxley, José Saramago’s “Blindness” was great too.

Have either of you had vocal training or music lessons?
Neither of us has had vocal training, but musically Kenneth is trained as a cello player, and I’m not trained in either respect. But that really shapes the way Kenneth plays and hears music which brings a good quality to our process.

What is it about music that you find appealing?
In the very beginning, when I was deciding to play music right after college, which was a really conscious decision. I thought to myself, if I could create for somebody else just one time, the transcendent revelatory experience that I’ve had with music, then it would be worth while. Realizing that one truth or something about yourself, some emotion that’s felt, is what draws me to music.

Most beautiful city you’ve played in?
I love Amsterdam. We just went to Europe for the first time and that city feels like no place else. Cobblestone streets and canals, the downtown area is shaped like a semi-circle, it’s charming and enchanting.

One instrument you’ve always wanted to own or play or both?
Just yesterday, I got to pick up Noah Wall’s fiddle from The Barefoot Movement and got her to teach me a scale and a melody, it sounded terrible, but felt so good. I guess being able to play all the string instruments would be nice.

What’s the songwriting process look like for you?
Usually for me, if I’m by myself the lyrical idea inspires the creative outburst that becomes the song. I’m not somebody that wakes up hearing a melody or is struck by a progression that imposes itself. I’m usually struck by an idea that I need to express or a problem that I need to solve, it always comes out in words. For Kenneth it’s the complete opposite, sometimes he listens to a song thirty times before he hears the lyrics. That’s just one of the many ways we fill each others negative space.

Studio or home recordings and why?
We’ve never done home recording, neither of us is a professional recording engineer ha ha. We’ve had the good fortune to work with some great people.

The Milk Carton Kids & The Barefoot Movement

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I was introduced to The Milk Carton Kids only a few months ago and it all happened so fast after that. I was home from work and checked their tour dates, found out they were playing in Vancouver and was lucky enough to do a phone interview with Joey (on the left in the photo above). I then got a chance to see them perform live at The Media Clubon Friday night. Currently touring with The Barefoot Movement, which are an outrageously talented group of bluegrass, americana inspired folks.

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The venue was small, simple and really dark — which created a warm atmosphere for the music to take hold. I really appreciated the dialogue in between songs that was shared between both Joey Kenneth and this laughing lady. Their solemn take on music which combines simplicity with gracious undertones of careful execution, creates something really special. Something that you all should go check out if you get the chance — their music is bringing something back to the olden ways of performance and there’s something about that raw quality, that pureness which pushes their music into a new reality.

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Before I leave you to ponder, listen to both of these bands. I’d also like to let you all know that I was a bit courageous after I arrived at this venue. It was about an hour before the doors were to open and I snuck in and caught up with Joey Ryan, got a free PBR and went backstage for an off the cuff interview — so stay tuned for that, it’ll be in the next post.

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For more information on these two acts, click their names above — and discover some new talent. Both bands are making one last stop in New York on May 19th at The Bowery Ballroomand the Milk Carton Kids join up with Melody Pool for a spring tour of Australia which starts on June 4th.

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I was extremely privileged to call Joey Ryan of Milk Carton Kids and talk to him in Denver, Colorado. The band consists of both Ryan and Kenneth Pattengale. Both growing up in Eagle Rock, California this acoustic duet each keep true to their nature of playing with only their guitars and voices. Right now these songwriters are headed across North America with: Aoife O’Donovan, The Barefoot Movement and Molly Tuttle, keep reading to see how our conversation went.

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Hey Joey, how are you?
Can’t complain, it’s a nice day in Denver.

How’s the tour going?
It’s wonderful, better than expected. But we never have very high expectations… No, we showed up to an unlikely spring blizzard in the Rocky Mountains and it was nice to wake up this morning to blue skies. The tour has been really good, so far we’ve had larger audiences and we’re getting along with each other too which is nice.

Are either of you reading or listening to anything right now?
Not for inspiration directly, but we do read and listen. I’m sure it all gets in there, I’m on a Melville kick right now—for a long time I was in a battle with Moby Dick.

How was meeting Conan O’Brien?
I was so nervous when we were there, I almost didn’t have any fun. We actually had a show that night at Largo in Los Angeles, during the three hours of downtime we had to go to sound check. So it was kind of a crazy day, we only got to meet Conan for a few minutes after the show. He talked to Kenneth about his guitar a lot and I talked to Andy Richter, who is a really funny guy and I appreciated that.

Can you tell me what inspired the song “Michigan”?
We avoid saying what inspiration yielded this song. I don’t want to limit what it means to people, by saying what it means to us. A lot of it is personal and it cuts deep into some themes of loss and regret that resonates with people, in a really powerful way.

How was playing at Tiny Desk Concerts?
That was one of those things, that was like a landmark for both mine as well as Kenneth’s careers. It was something we had aspired to and was also a lot of fun. Those people are really appreciative of music and have a nice environment for performing, they engage with you and it’s really great.

So why did you and Kenneth start Milk Carton Records?
We thought it would be cool to have our own label and well the whole thing has been self-funded for two years. We were doing all the work that a regular label would, we didn’t have employees, we hired a few people to promote our stuff for radio and oversaw the operation ourselves. I do think there’s something there and we’ve talked before about releasing other artists records in similar fashion to our own. At some point we might make Milk Carton Records into a label that exists beyond our own personal releases.

What are some of your guys biggest influences?
That’s a common question and I never have a good answer. There is a lot of music that has been important to us personally. None of it seems to rise to the surface on a conscious level, there isn’t a lot of thought put into how we should sound or what we should sound like. It all comes from how we set off together, with two guitars and two voices and to also write from as true and honest a place as possible.

Tell me your thoughts on genre designation and labels?
I think it’s a common experience when you’re deep into something, to feel a concise label in someway misses something about what you’re trying to do. At the same time, it’s a valuable short-hand to discuss something when you’re not trying to discuss it in depth. The labels do have their place, we would consider ourselves some type of folk or americana and we don’t shy away from those labels at all.

What’s your opinion of the “pay what you want” model on websites like BandCamp?
Well we did our own self-contained thing without the option to pay what you want.

What’s the main reason you released your albums for free?
The main reason we did that was to find an audience as quickly as possible. Philosophically, we wanted to have our music be non-transactional. Instead of having the choice to pay, giving it away for free allowed people to receive the music on a more pure basis. It was very important, because we made the music and expected the listeners to give their time and attention and engage with it on whatever level they wanted to. Removing any element of marketing or commercialization from us and the people receiving it, I think it’s a powerful statement.

What’s your favourite on the road food?
Oh there’s so many, we can stand the spectrum. I can get a Cracker Barrel craving and every now and then I’ll crave a chicken fried steak with mashed potatoes and collard greens from there. That and we love tracking down a really nice cocktail bar and some gourmet tacos for after a show. We learned a lot of good places from the Punch Brothers. We don’t go lower than Cracker Barrel though, no fast food or anything like that.

If you’re going to be in Vancouver over the 17th of May, buy tickets to see this band play at the Media Club. An intimate venue and the show will be phenomenal. If you haven’t heard of this band yet, visit their website here to download their first two albums free! Definitely worth checking out, these guys are what true, honest music is all about.

Drunk Punk

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Let’s start with a song from The Ramones, “Bop Till You Drop” which describes last night quite well… So put that song on and let’s get started. I was on my way to a punk show at Kelowna’s downtown venue, The Habitat. The bands playing this night were: The Wild, Shithawk, Dayglo Abortions and The Casualties.

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The only band worth mentioning to check out would be Dayglo Abortions who I sadly missed play. This band has been around for ages, so if you’re a diehard punk fanatic, they’re a good place to start for a Canadian born band. Mind you, if I was going that route, I’d start with D.O.A, who played months ago at Doc Willoughby’s Pub. But anyways, Dayglo Abortions formed in Victoria, Canada in 1979 and released their first album by 1981. For more information on them, visit this link: http://thedaygloabortions.com/bio.html

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Taking photos is difficult because the lighting in this venue is tantamount to a dark alley lit by a distance streetlight. That being said, I went back later in the evening and snapped a few shots, witnessed the intense stage dives, rioting, headbanger fans and allover chaos — the epitome of punk as I shot through waving arms, spilled liquor and a raging mosh-pit. The evolution of punk hasn’t changed much and  seemed really stale to me.

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For me, punk music has always been about expression which is something I felt was lacking from last night’s bands because their styles felt too generic for my taste. That being said it was nice to be around like-minded people even if they were: stoned, drunk and pissed off. Which is usually how I like them anyways.

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All in all, it was another run of the mill punk showdown, in a nice venue. If you had “better” things to do I guess there’s always next time so until then, keep listening to this dying genre and support your local artists!

“Deaner” from FUBAR Interview

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It’s funny how days can get turned upside down, this happens especially when you get a chance to call one of Canada’s biggest headbangers… the Deaner a.k.a Paul Spence from FUBAR

I was able to catch him and his band Nightseeker for a phone interview, while they’re taking time off in Montreal, gearing up for a few shows and working on new material.

For those that haven’t heard, the hit mockumentary film FUBAR, came out in 2002 and was filmed on a shoe-string budget in Calgary, Alberta. It follows the lives of two lifelong friends Dean and Terry, who are headbangers and general misfits. I won’t give away more details, if you have yet to see this hilarious film — go check it out along with the sequel FUBAR 2: Balls To The Wall, which was released in 2010. More information here: http://www.fubar-themovie.com

So back to the phone interview, as I impatiently waited until 12:30PM, I finally got to call and heard a hell raising “YEAH?”, as I asked “Hello? Is this Deaner?” “Yeah, who’s this?” I told him I was from Kelowna and about to ask him some questions. “Hi Jeff, you’re from the Okanagan eh? That’s great, I’ve got fond memories of that place.” I’m glad he knew where I was from or this conversation might have ran a bit short.

I went on to ask him how growing up in Calgary was. “Calgary is a real sweet place to be man. There’s a little bit more money there now from when I used to live there, but I got really good memories of growing up there. I remember when a six pack was four or five bucks. Life was deadly back then, there were prides of bangers everywhere, it was sweet. The place where I grew up in the Northeast, people would see us coming and give us extra space on the sidewalk… we kind of ruled the place and it was awesome.” I like that this guy has serious dedication to his lifestyle and old stomping grounds.

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My next question was about his new “Warlock” bass guitar, which he recently picked up. “It’s like a wizard staff, it just kind of came to me. I was in a pawn shop one day and I started hearing this song, they were playing some crappy AM radio and I heard a song beneath that song — came up to a shiny, metal object and it was the Warlock. I literally couldn’t look away, I ended up buying it. I guess some guitars are meant for certain people and the Warlock and I were meant to be, there is no doubt about that.That’s awesome, finding a gem like that in a pawn shop is hard to find and would be for me since I play left-handed.

Changing gears from that I wanted to get to know Spence’s inspiration for his character in the films, so I asked him how the Deaner persona came to be. “That’s a hard question, I don’t really know. I’m pretty much the “Deaner” all the time. You know, the “Deaner” is in all of us. Once you have a couple of beers you’re just back to natural really.” Again a great answer, this guy keeps true to who he is and isn’t afraid to show it, that came across very well during this interview.

Wanting to know more, I asked Spence about working up North and his opinions of the oil sands in Alberta now. “I worked on the pipelines for a couple of years, just to make money. It wasn’t like what it’s like today, I was making $14 an hour, pretty good money. But nothing compared to the kinds of money people are making nowadays, they don’t know what to do with all the money they make. Unless they find another way to put gas in the tank, they don’t got too many options either way and I like driving around as much as the next guy.” I definitely agree to some extent, personally I feel that we should find better alternatives, but it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen anytime soon.

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Moving on to the musical side of things I asked Spence about how he got into music, his first guitar and what some of his biggest influences are, this is what he had to say. “Music has been in my blood ever since I first started listening to it. You start to write tunes similar to stuff you like and you’re over at someone’s house, pick up a guitar and just get into it. My first guitar I stole, which is not good but it was a piece of shit anyways. Yeah, I just started jamming on it, so I’d write my own songs and that’s how I started playing. Some of my biggest influences would definitely be Iron Maiden, AC/DC, Black Sabbath and Van Halen for the lyrics, I really like their lyrics.” Who doesn’t like these bands! I’ll always have an affinity for Black Sabbath and Iron Maiden respectively. They’re classic rock icons…  enough said.

I finished the interview with a question asking Spence about his opinions on the North Korea missile crisis. At first he thought I was talking about Paul Kariya the hockey player, but once we sorted that out, he had quite a lot to say. “Oh yeah with Kim Bang Sang, or whatever. Ha ha, I don’t know it reminds me of sitting in your backyard having a beer and you get hit in the face with a spitball. Some next-door neighbour that is trying to rile you up. But it’s like, oh are you going to go fight him? No, because there’s too much hassle. If it were me, I’d probably try to humiliate him, make out with some super hot chick in front of him and say ‘You happy over there with your spitballs? You can’t even buy beer.'” I laughed out loud at this and couldn’t agree more. The idea of threats in this day and age, seem age-old and redundant.

I just hope nothing happens between now and the concert these guys are playing on April 26th at Flashbacks bar in Kelowna. If you’re around, stop by and get ready to give’r!

For more information on the Deaners band check out this link: https://itunes.apple.com/ca/artist/night-seeker/id394007449, see you at the show!