Tom Wilson Shares a Stirring Story of Family Secrets Mixed With Songs
H2O Quenches Headbanger Thirst
Damon Fowler Has Earned A Big Reputation Among Guitarists
Scott Merritt Emerges From The Cottage
All You Need is (The David) Love (Band)
Pantychrist Rages On
Multi-Artist Collaboration Inspired By Original Songs
Rockin’ For The Food Bank 2017
Honeymoon Suite Rocked The Eighties

Damon Fowler Has Earned A Big Reputation Among Guitarists

by Bill Monahan

Blues fans can find respite from the frigid winter weather this weekend, warming up to Southern Blues sounds of young blues phenom Damon Fowler, performing Saturday with his power trio at the Simcoe Street Theatre in Collingwood.

As a genre, authentic blues is in good hands these days with a cohort of young players who have the knack of infusing this venerated music with a respectful blend of its roots and personal feeling.  In this area just this past year, we’ve enjoyed exceptional blues from young artists Conor Gains and Jenie Thai, and now Damon Fowler brings another exciting performer to watch.

A Florida native, Fowler began playing guitar at the age of twelve.  One of his earliest influences was Jeff Healey.  He quickly developed a style that is equal parts tradition and originality, applying it to acoustic and electric guitar, dobro and lap steel, with an emphasis on slide work.  He began gigging as a support act and attracted enough notice that his first, self-released album was produced by Rick Derringer.

As a solo he opened for artists that included several blues legends such as Delbert McClinton, Buddy Guy, Johnny Winter, Edgar Winter, Jeff Beck, and many more.  His reputation spread.

Scott Merritt Emerges From The Cottage

by Bill Monahan (photo courtesy of Randy Sutherland)

If you are someone who recognizes the name Scott Merritt as a songwriter of promise from the 1980’s who toured with Jane Siberry and recorded with Daniel Lanois, then it’s as if you’ve been let in on a special secret.

Despite releasing only three albums in the past twenty-five years, Scott Merritt is still considered one of Canada’s best and most underappreciated singer-songwriters.

After some commercial airplay of his early songs, he was signed to Duke Street in Canada and IRS Records internationally.  Unfortunately both labels folded not long afterward.   A legal mess with IRS prevented him from recording for several years but he wasn’t entirely frustrated with the situation.  He hadn’t been particularly comfortable being marketed as a commodity.

“Yeah, my hands were tied, but I wasn’t in much of a mood to raise a stink to be honest,” he explained to Innerviews, “I had become SCOTT MERRITT in capital letters and it didn’t feel real anymore. There was a toxic feeling to it at an artistic level. So, I.R.S. had me in a position, but I wasn’t in any position to record anyway. I didn’t want to go back into that factory. I had really got to a place where it wasn’t fun and I had to promise to myself — something most of us do, but never keep — when it’s not fun to do, do something else for a while. So, at the time, the idea of a career wasn’t very attractive. I lost my taste for it.”

Since those early days, when promising record deals bloomed and withered with the vagaries of the business, Scott Merritt has spent most of his time working as a producer in his Guelph studio that he calls The Cottage.  Artists like Suzie Vinnick, Stephen Fearing, and others have made their pilgrimage to The Cottage for his producing services.

While he has released relatively few records in his career what they have in common is that every one has been greeted by effusive critical praise for an artist whose music and lyrics both come from a unique and moving place.

When he was young and riding high, Scott Merritt had a reputation and something of a guitar and effects wizard which stood alongside his reputation for evocative and poetic lyrics.  He never thought of himself as a commercial artist.  It took him by surprise when his second independent album “Serious Interference” in 1981 ended up on some commercial radio playlists and labels came calling.  The tours and awards were short-lived and strangely unsatisfying.

All You Need is (The David) Love (Band)

by Bill Monahan

Saturday, Jan. 13, The Harbour Street Fish Bar in Collingwood welcomes back the David Love Band with what they call “Power Pop For Baby Boomers,” promising, “Absolutely no blues whatsoever. Just happy, shiny songs. “

The trio, consisting of Love, Darrell McNeill, and Kevin Mulligan serves up a long list of pop songs from the sixties and seventies.  While he has played guitar with some heavy hitters (Randy Bachman calls him “my first choice for super solid guitar playing and vocal back up on any rock band I put together”), in this combo, Love takes on the bass, with McNeill on guitar and Mulligan on drums.  All three of them provide vocals.  They cover the British Invasion and the Summer of Love along with some classics from the likes of Tom Petty, ZZ Top, and The Byrds.  This trio, along with an acoustic duo he has with Brian LeBlanc, allows Love to spend more time at home with his family after almost forty years of touring the world with a variety of bands.

In the seventies David Love began his professional career with a band called Titan and two years later moved on to Dodger, touring Ontario and Northern Quebec.  After a ten-year break from the music business from 1979 to 1989, he formed a quartet called The Intenders and was back on the road. Four years later, he joined The Carpet Frogs, a gig he stuck with for eighteen years.  With them and on his own, he served fourteen years as a member of The Burton Cummings Band, on guitar and harmony vocals, and when the two principal members of The Guess Who reunited for five years to form the Bachman/Cummings Band, he was on board.

He continues to perform as part of Craig Martin’s stellar group of world-class musicians create concerts with note for note reproductions of Classic Albums Live, an assembly that frequently plays Meaford Hall.  Anyone who attended The Beatles No. 1 Hits this past summer at Meaford Hall saw him in that show.

He notes on his Facebook page: “I love playing that music and to be with so many other talented performers recreating it note for note is very fulfilling.”

While his power pop trio can’t hope to reproduce these classic songs note for note, they can elicit great memories and, as he says, “deliver Pop Rock with a melodic sound and high-energy beat, leading audiences to tap their toes, snap their fingers or jiggle their bones on the dance floor.”

So jiggle your Baby Boomer bones over to the Fish Bar on Saturday night.  There’s a $5 cover and the music starts at nine.

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A Show To Catch:

This Saturday, Jan. 13th, The Vaudevillian will be at CROW Variety in Collingwood.  This great little band performs a very authentic version of Jug Band music which was popular in the 20’s and 30’s.  Read about the band in this archived article from early last year:

Jumping Jive with The Vaudevillian Tonight