Wednesday, July 1, 2015

B is for: Breau, Broken Social Scene and Bahamas.

     Wow!  When I embarked upon this little musical journey through the Canadian musical scene, I had no idea how vast the talent ran.  There are a ton of excellent musicians from all genres that have names that begin with a "B".  So many so, that it was difficult to know where to begin.  So, here is what I decided upon......I took an influential "B" performer from the past, a "B" band that ranks among my top five favourite bands of all time and, to end, a "B" performer who happens to be sizzling hot right now on the music charts across Canada and the U.S.   No disrespect intended toward all those who will merely get a tip of the old hat at the end of the post; there is simply too much talent in this great country.

     I will begin with one, Lenny Breau.   Lenny Breau is a guitarist extraordinaire!   Technically speaking, Breau was born in the United States but, he and his family summered in New Brunswick and, eventually, he moved to Manitoba in his teenage years, where he lived the majority of his life.  Lenny Breau has been indicted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame and for good reason.  He began his career as a member of his family's band.  They played country and western style music.  Lenny was quite accomplished, even as a young player and soon caught the attention of big names such as Chet Atkins and the like.  But, while in Winnipeg, Breau came in contact with an iconic Canadian "B" performer by the name of Randy Bachman.  At the time, Bachman was just a young lad looking for musical mentors. He found one in Breau.  The two formed a fast friendship and, as a result of Breau's willingness to teach Bachman all that he knew, Bachman developed the skill and confidence to form two of Canada's most famous bands, The Guess Who and Bachman Turner Overdrive.  Breau began as a country and western guitarist but, over time, he began experimenting with different styles of playing and, as a result, ended up as well known for his Jazz work as anything else he managed to do in his long and illustrious career.
    So, because of Breau's virtuoso-type talent and for his role in helping Randy Bachman become who he eventually did, I give you the master, himself, Mr. Lenny Breau.

     Broken Social Scene is one of my favourite bands. Period!   The mainstays of the band are Kevin Drew and Brendan Canning but, to say that these two guys are BSS would be misleading.  The cliched term for this band is that they are a "collective", meaning that it is a loose association of many members who come and go, as side projects and touring demands.  Musicians such as Leslie Feist, Emily Haines (Metric) and the band members from Stars, have all contributed to the success of records and live performances from time to time.  Broken Social Scene first came to my attention when a friend our my wife's and mine, who was moving from Ontario to San Fransisco, raved about a new show called "Queer as Folk".  On his recommendation, we checked the show out and, sure enough, it was, essentially, a "gay soap opera".  We ended up becoming hooked on the show. Aside from the storylines and the humour woven into the plots, my favourite part of the show was the excellent music!  Everyone from Pete Townsend, to techno rave pieces, to gospel and soul was sprinkled throughout the course of each episode. But, for me, my favourite scene was when the two main characters, who had been having an on-again/off-again, decided to admit their love and get married.  As they loved, Broken Social Scene's, "Lover's Spit" played and I was hooked on the band from that moment until today.  Please enjoy a great song from a great band!

     I will wrap up my "B" list chat by shining the spotlight on one of Canada's rising stars, Bahamas.  Now, Bahamas is really all about one man, the lead singer/songwriter named Afie Jurvanen.  Jurvanen was born in the big city of Toronto and has played with many of the main players in the Toronto indie scene such as Feist, Jason Collett, etc.  He won the Juno awards in 2013 for Adult Alternative Album of the Year called "Barchords".  He, also, won the Juno Award for Songwriter of the Year, too.   Jurvanen is an excellent songwriter and a lovely balladeer, as you shall soon see for yourself in the video to come.

    It is not always advisable to read the comments section for any artist's videos because of the extreme views that are shared so liberally. However, the comments with the Bahamas video are instructive because, person after person, is lamenting the fact that he is more popular and more widely heard.  Exactly!   Maybe now, with my little bit of push, a few more people will be aware of this great Canadian talent and will give his music a listen.

     Hats off to these other "B"-list Canadian performers who did not make my cut but who are, just the same, deserving of a pat upon the back:

Country music legend, Carroll Baker, the legendary The Band, Clever popsters, Barenaked Ladies, Ruby-throated singer/songwriter, Basia Bulat, Alt-rocker, Billy Talent, Funky Bedouin Soundclash, Rockers Big Wreck and Big Sugar, Classic hitmakers, Blue Rodeo, Gospel/soul superstar, Salome Bey, some kid from Startford, Ontario named Justin Bieber, Queen of the classical guitar, Liona Boyd, Country star of modern times, Paul Brandt, Opera star, Measha Brueggergosman, Crooner Michael Buble, Rapper and radio personality, Buck 65 and alternative pioneer, Moe Berg.

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