marching through the snow

Last Thursday, when winter was doing its best to hold off spring in Edmonton, Bohemia was holding a cozy local show. The Choir and Marching Band and 77 Superstars warmed things up for all the folks who braved the weather, and made it well worth the trudge through the snow.

The 77 Superstars started the show and immediately brought the audience back to the mid-70s in New York City. Fronted by Aaron Vincent, the sound, style, and attitude of the three piece harked back to the heyday of glam rock and early punk. Very importantly, the guitar solos were killer too.

Just in case that wasn’t enough, they even played the, uh, classic heroin addiction song first performed by the Heartbreakers, “Chinese Rocks.” I kept expecting Dee Dee Ramone to walk through the door. Or at least Richard Hell.

Another highlight of the show was when Vincent invited the audience to get closer to the stage, and even before he finished his request, Grant Stovel, the drummer for Choir and Marching Band, zoomed right up front.

Stovel was at the back of the stage once Choir and Marching Band were on it, helping launch into an ethereal set led by Trevor Rockwell.

The band’s newest release Superhot Body Only One Light Year Away debuted #2 on the CJSR charts a few weeks ago. Taking 5 years to make (which might have had something to do with Rockwell completing his PhD in Soviet History), it’s exciting his music has finally taken off like Sputnik.

Melodic and spacey, Rockwell weaved the audience through songs both new and old, and across genres. Funny enough, this distance was reflected in the movies screening on the Bohemia television during the gig- first it was Serenity, and then the Norwegian film Dead Snow. 

If you didn’t make it to the show last Thursday, Choir and Marching Band have a couple upcoming shows with great line-ups in May:

Saturday May 3rd – Filthy McNasty’s with Braden Gates.

Saturday May 10th – Starlite Room with Spoons, D. Trevlon Band, and Cygnets.

And stay tuned for the official album release in the early summer!

1 note

Hip-Hop in the Underground City

The music you are introduced to growing up can have a big influence on your life.

What music your parents or older siblings play for you in your impressionable years can set your musical path. If they make you listen to, say, John Denver, it might inspire you to become a country boy. Or,  it might inspire you to only listen to speed metal and NEVER visit the countryside. You never know, it can probably go either way.

One person who wasn’t influenced much by John Denver (so far anyways) is Jason Tait. As he relates, he was “introduced to Tupac and Biggie by family members” and “started rapping at 12 years old.” It was fun at first, but through writing gangsta stuff, his involvement with music was “disconnected from life trying to live up to the gangsta rap image.”

By the time he was 16, he was seriously involved in hip-hop – meeting other rappers and writing music with them. Despite the gangsta image, participation still offered community. Around that age, Tait met a friend in Winnipeg who was in a program concentrated on rapping – shooting videos and performing live. Finding an official group that was focused on hip-hop motivated Tait to do it as well. The friend became Tait’s mentor, and taught him “how to write bars and how to count – all the ins and outs of hip-hop.” Before this, he says, his rapping was “out of touch with real life. My friend asked me, ‘why are you rapping about stuff that isn’t relevant?’”

This changed Tait’s direction. Inspired by his talented mentor, Tait was encouraged to push his limits and reach his potential. Tait’s friend helped him recognize his abilities and focus on subject matter that was really important. Through this mentorship, Tait was introduced to inner-city and youth hip-hop orientated programs. Overall, conscious hip-hop offered him a more positive community than the image of gangsta rap ever could.

Moving on his own to Edmonton, Tait found iHuman and started doing shows for them – he participated in the inner-city hip-hop scene, and represented it in the wider community, performing all over Edmonton.

Last winter Tait was back in Winnipeg, and was told about an employment program focused on various elements of hip-hop – graffiti and b-boying, for instance, but no rapping. Tait decided to fill this gap, and proposed to the program that he become a mentor. So, for several months, Tait worked as a hip-hop facilitator. He organized writing workshops. Freestyle workshops. Open mics. As he says, “it was pretty awesome. It was fun.”

Now back in Edmonton, Tait is still heavily involved in the local scene. He has performed with Collective ConsciousKriypleOne Deep, Brandy J., and lots of other local acts, as well as solo as Metatait. He is focused on conscious hip-hop – “what’s relevant about today.” This includes personal stuff, and allows him a positive outlet to express himself. “Writing a song or verse,” he says, “is a therapeutic way of dealing with challenges.” It also includes issues he sees around Edmonton. “Poverty. Drug use. Oppression. Marginalization by mainstream society.”

At the recent Truth and Reconciliation National Event in March, Tait performed at the TRC Talent Showcase. This was important because he used his generation’s music to express how he feels about residential schools to an inter-generational audience.

It helped him take what he has learned, and bring the issues to light in his music.

Tait also sees the impact he has as a mentor in the inner-city community. As a hip-hop youth worker at Boyle Street Community Services, Tait has seen firsthand what hip-hop can do:

"More confidence in youth. Stuff that’s relevant. How they’re growing and changing.  When they rap about what’s going on – they don’t want to talk in an uncomfortable situation with a therapist they don’t know. They’re getting what’s inside them out – personal expression is therapeutic – subconsciously. Counseling in a way. Participating in a music community they care about matters to them and inspires them to deal with challenges and keep going."

The History of Punk, Class #23

The History of Punk
Monday 7 April 7:00PM
Location: Humanities Centre 1-14, The University of Alberta
All-Ages & All-Welcome


One day in the summer of 1983, a band called The Melvins  put on an impromptu event called The Them Festival in Montesano, Washington. This was near a place called Aberdeen, a town of 17,000 people 108 miles from Seattle. The ‘festival’ consisted of a free performance in the parking lot of a Thriftway supermarket. A teenager from Aberdeen was in the audience, and later wrote in his journal that “the stoners were bored and kept shouting, ‘Play some Def Leppard,’” but this was “what [he had] been looking for.”

In this class, we’ll take a look at the legacy of this teenager, Kurt Cobain, who felt isolated in his hometown - from mainstream society, other youth, and his family. We will trace his participation throughout the underground music community in Washington, from Aberdeen to Olympia to Seattle, while examining his influences and values.

Finally, we will discuss Cobain’s lasting impact 20 years after his death, and why he still resonates with a generation that found what it had been looking for, in Nirvana.

"Nirvana Photographer Charles Peterson Reflects On Kurt Cobain’s Life & Legacy"
"Notes from Seattle: 20 years later, what is Kurt Cobain’s legacy?"
"Kurt Cobain’s overlooked legacy: Guitar teacher for a generation"
"Kurt Cobain’s hometown no ‘nirvana’ 20 years after death"
"Here We Are Now"
"Kurt Cobain, Seattle 1993 Complete Interview"
"Kurt Cobain’s Interrogation of Hegemonic Masculinity"

The Melvins - ”live-in-the-studio, circa 1984
Beat Happening - ”Our Secret”
The Go Team- "Scratch It Out"
The Go Team - "Bikini Twilight"
Nirvana - "Smells like Teen Spirit" (first time live)
Nirvana - "Live at Reading, 1992" (full concert)

The Benefits of Music

Are you one of those people? You know, the type who used to go to a lot of local shows, but now there are kids to raise, house upgrades to worry about, and, most importantly, a new series of Cosmos on television.

So nowadays, maybe you’re one of those people who needs a really good reason to get out of the house and go to a show. You want to enjoy music like always, but also gain the sense of accomplishment you feel when you get the kids to bed on time, fix that leaky socket, and watch Carl Sagan’s protégé Neil deGrasse Tyson stick it to the creationists.

Luckily, a concert that will do EVEN MOREthan that is happening in Edmonton on April 5th. Five amazing acts, F&MThe Gibson BlockTwo Bears NorthJesse Northey, and Bombproof the Horses are ALL performing at the wonderful Avenue Theatre. Normally, that should be enough to get the biggest couch potato bolting to the gig, but wait: there’s still that really good reason to tell you about!!!!

All of these bands are getting together to raise money and awareness in support of the fight against Friedreich’s ataxia (FA).

Joel Kleine, from Bombproof the Horses, has been living with Fredreich’s ataxia for seven years. Although it has taken away his ability to walk and restricted his balance and coordination, it hasn’t stopped him from performing music. Nor has it prevented him and his wife Amanda from raising nearly $30,000 for the Friedreich’s ataxia Research Alliance (FARA).

“When something like this is so rare, and has such a strange name, it’s difficult to get momentum outside of your own community circles.” says Kleine.

That momentum, however, is vital to helping folks with FA.  

This event on April 5 will help support grow. It is bringing together bands across genres from folk to pop to rock, in one of Edmonton’s nicest venues. It’s not just connecting great music to the wider community, but also to a disease everyone should be helping to cure. Especially when helping can be so fun!

All ticket proceeds from the concert will go to FARA. You can also find out more, and donate at the FARA website:

And join the Facebook event and spread the word about the show!

3 notes

The History of Punk, class #21

The History of Punk
Monday 10 March 7:00PM
Location: Humanities Centre 1-14, The University of Alberta
All-Ages & All-Welcome


In this class, we will be looking at the characteristics of punk communities. This includes the elements that shape scenes, such as geographical location,  to the local institutions that exist, such as venues. We will also examine the factors involved in  a community’s development, such as marketability and innovation.

From New York City, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Prague, Vancouver, to Edmonton, we will discuss the ebb and flow involved in a scene’s existence, and why communities eventually hit a crescendo.


Dr. Hook: 1. Drake: 0

Recently, the former Degrassi: The Next Generation actor turned rapper Drake decided to vent on Twitter. And with over 14 MILLION FOLLOWERS, whatever he has a problem with is going to get noticed. Now, did he take to social media to point out the dangers of climate change, poverty, or war? Did he bring up something all his YOLO followers could relate to? Was it an issue that could unite all humanity?!

Well, no. He was mad he didn’t get on the cover of Rolling StoneEVEN THOUGH he was supposed to. But then an actor died and he was relegated to just being the feature interview in a magazine read by millions of people, some of whom don’t even follow him on Twitter yet. For most, such a slight is unimaginable, but then again most folks didn’t have a friend whose dad happened to be an agent and could get them on a television show at age 15. Being upset that the media, which created his success, could limit his rise to the top in any way must be a real blow to the ego. It’s like missing an easy slam dunk!

Or…is that why he was angry? Could it actually be for the following two reasons?

1. When Joey Ramone passed away, Rolling Stone kept Destiny’s Child on the cover. 

2. When Joe Strummer passed away, Rolling Stone kept Justin Timberlake on the cover. 

Obviously Drake was aware of this. And when you look at it that way, it’s gotta hurt!

2 notes