Soul Warrior for the people

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First thing you find from a interview with Richard Fahl is the interconnected stories he brings.  A conversation with him, and indeed his songs that pour forward the many people he has connected with in his life speak to an artist who looks outside of the self.  This is the heart of one of the tracks “Soul Warrior” which you can hear on his popular Soundcloud page which I’ve linked below.

So it seemed perfectly fitting that when I met Richard for the interview about his debut cd Songs from the Other Side, released on June 25th 2016, friends were by his side, including a lady with a beaming smile named Rhonda, who was only too excited for me to interview her as well.  Not sure what to ask, I launched into the obvious of what she thought of Richard’s new product.

“I’ve heard Richard playing for years, so many years ago, but this is awesome!  The background music was amazing too!”

Getting Richard aside was actually pretty easy because as a writer I needed to get a lift, so climbing into his reliable old car with the guitar and copies of the cds in the back, I turned on the recorder and he signalled to pull out of the coffee shop as I started my little Sony recorder.

“I’ve been just going constantly, starting from the 9 and a half months that we spent in recording” he began, with the work clearly not stopping there, as Richard has been playing not only his cd release party but a variety of shows at locations like the Whistle Stop in Courtney.

The creation of his debut recording began in Victoria, British Columbia at Electric City Studios by Matt Gibbs who has credits ranging from “Tal Bachman to Onyx and everything in between”.  During that early part of the recording Richard managed to connect with drummer Ron Thaler, who has worked with such names as Alicia Keys, Moby and Sarah McLachlan.  The rest of the instrumentation, besides Richard’s 12 string guitar, was his long time friend Rick Salt, filling the rest of the soundscape with guitar, bass, piano and programming.

Jamming one night after the release in Courtney he had the chance to perform and talk with composer, conductor, music teacher and multi-instrumentalist Blaine Dunaway who got to talking about Richard’s style of music, something which Richard was curious about.

Describing it as “messenger folk” he explained how “every song has a messenger for people…it’s about love, it’s about peace, it’s how to live together.”

On my own person favorite “Can you Really Relate” he explained how Rick said that he should definitely record it.  The song speaks directly to the “messenger folk” style, which brings people together as one people, where there are not the shameless power mongers mentioned in the songs lyrics.  The additional strings were added by Douglas Rowed, a friend of Rick Salt’s who agreed by email to come up with something during a late recording session.  At 3am the email came back with a sound that got the two friends even more excited as they continued to work on the track until they simply couldn’t stay awake longer.

With “Love will Always Be Here” Richard drew from an image from Syria in which a father is holding his dead son, resonating with him to write about it.

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Inner Sleeve with images of James Bay in Victoria, BC

“Being a dad, I thought about my son.  I just closed my eyes and knew I had a song in me at that moment and just prayed for the help to write it.  The melody and lyrics came but it still took me a month before I played it live.  The audience gave me the standing ovation and when I went outside one of the audience told me it reminded me of John Lennon’s Give Peace a Chance.”

This was especially exciting for Richard who had always been a fan of Lennon, but the song’s accolades were far from over as George Millar of The Irish Rovers, who connected with Rick Salt and then Richard managed to hear the finished product and told Richard and Rick that the song had all kinds of potential and that the two of them definitely needed to come up with a working contract.

Rick and Richard have been friends since they were kids, so the idea was pretty foreign to them.

“We’re brothers” Richard explained “Rick challenged me to write my first song when I was fourteen and I haven’t looked back.  From my mom I got the writer side.  One of my things is trying to emphasize with other people.  It’s about feeling what they are going through.”

Discover Richard Fahl today at his soundcloud page at…

 

 

Solvent of Society – the Interview!

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Things are definitely heating up for this band!  Since it’s inception only a short time ago Solvent of Society and it’s blend of rock and punk with grunge is now a client of Island-based artist representative Rozner Management.  In the same short time they have also received well over 1000 listens and YouTube views online along with playing gigs up and down the island.  Formed by members of other long time Victoria projects, the four members Jaden Johnson (Guitar) Jake Sunstrum (Vocals) Bryce Gillis (Drums) and Tyler Swager create great hard hitting songs with lyrics that focus on political as well as social-political issues.

As you can hear from our SoundCloud audio clip, they have a benefit show coming up on April 28th with the Friends of Music Society and then more shows in future!  The guys are going back into the studio to work on some more tracks but managed to find time in their busy schedules to sit down and have coffee with me.

First thing that struck me right away was the dedication of these four young musicians.  They love the work they do and it comes through in the quality of the songs that are hard hitting but also well crafted sound with hooks you will have stuck in your head.  You can hear their tracks right now at their ReverbNation website, starting out of the gates with the blazing intensity of “Glory”.

Here’s the link for that!  Ok, I’m a little link heavy on this one, but it’s work the extra tabs!

https://www.reverbnation.com/solventofsociety

As I knew I probably wouldn’t get the names straight on the transcription side I decided to do something kind of new and post the interview as a first ever audio-clip interview.  Two things come out of this…yeah, I get to be a bit lazier but also you get to hear the great camaraderie the guys have!

So without further ado…here is me interviewing Solvent of Society on March 19th, 2016!

https://soundcloud.com/user-427790013/solvent-of-society-interview

Also, here is the link that they recommended (their Facebook page) where you can keep right up to date with anything the guys are up to, so definitely do yourself a favour and start following them by clicking below!

https://www.facebook.com/SolventOfSociety

 

Thank you for supporting independent music in Victoria!

Cheers,

Tom

🙂

 

Calling all Victoria bands and soloists!

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If you have something on Soundcloud that you would like to have people hear, you’re definitely in the right place!

I’ve been working on this project for a few months now and it’s all about bringing folks the  great indie music scene.  I would love to add as many tracks as possible to our playlist which I will then promote both here, and on our other social media sites.

There’s a few tracks there now from some of our interviewed artists but check it out and if you would like, I would be happy to add you!

Just that simple.  No money down.  No salesman will visit.  (Only stipulation is that you must be from southern Vancouver Island.  Other than that…go wild!)

Here’s the playlist so far…

Westsound Magazine Playlist – Click here!

If you’re interested in being added you can comment on here or send me a quick email of your name and the track name at westsoundmagazine@gmail.com

Cheers,

Tom

The interview with Victoria’s The Imperfections

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Where does the time go? Had so much fun laughing and telling stories back and forth with this group that it was easy to lose track. For me it was my first chance to interview a full band, which seems fitting considering that it was these three young artists. Probably showing my age there, but I came out of the interview just buzzing with ideas and lots of San Pellegrino which Stevie Guild graciously paid for.

The group is made up of brothers Phil and Steve, who come from very different sides of the musical spectrum. After deciding to venture into a project together they recruited vocalist Hilary Beckett, whose big, resonant RnB sound comes seemingly easily to this exuberant, young lady formerly from the Victoria High School Rhythm and Blues Band. The project is managed by local company Bunker Productions.

The sound of their newest album “Space Trails” is an exciting and varied blend of Hilary’s velvet sound with hip-hop and rock instrumentation that is as much experimental and exotic as it is wonderfully produced with a sleek pro sound. From the intense percussive sound of Speed of Life to bright groove of Galactic Funk to the electronic swell of the anthem-like Event Horizon, the production side comes courtesy of the background of Phil who brings his love of Hip Hop culture into the mix, with both brothers contributing to the urban rhythms. Underlying this is the musicianship of Steve’s rock background, which you may already be familiar with in his other Victoria band, Man Made Lake.

You can check out this adventure into the stranger galaxies of music at http://www.bunkerproductions.ca/artists/the-imperfections

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And now for a lively conversation with The Imperfections at Ceynote, Victoria B.C. on Feb 8th!

WM – So, here’s a basic one for a band. What are the roles in the group?

Steve – So I play the instruments mainly, and I do writing. Some of the raps in some of the songs. But mainly I’m the instrument guy, more than anything else.

WM  –   And for Phil?

Phil     –   Producing and writing would be my main two roles…performing some of the raps as well. But yeah, the main hat I wear would be the producer. I do some writing as well.

WM   –   And…

Hilary –   I get off easy! I just show up…I get to sing…it’s awesome! Sometimes we’ve collaborated on lyrics and stuff but for the most part they already have something in mind…

WM   –   So doing sort of a round table thing, how did each of you get started? Starting with Stevie…

Steve-    I was pretty much late bloomer when it came to music. I didn’t start making music until I was like nineteen. Seriously I didn’t really start learning to play guitar until I was like eighteen or something.

WM   –   Yeah, same here (laughs)

Steve-   (laughs) I mean I was doing this…we did some stuff when we were younger…being brothers, but pretty amateur type stuff…and uh..

WM –     Yeah…”we met…” (laughs)

Steve-   (laughs) yeah…and I was playing in a band in town called Man Made Lake and I just sort of got into it via a bunch of different ways all around the same time. I started playing music at around eighteen. I always liked writing poetry so when I started playing music it was almost for that reason…so I could make my own songs…it all progressed from that. I became super obsessed with guitars (laughs)

WM –   Nice! (laughs) And now Phil!

Phil   –   Um…how did it start? Yeah, I guess I wanted to start really young. I wanted to rap, but we didn’t have beats, so I wanted to make them. I messed around beats just for a really long time, not seriously, just doing it to do it. And then, when me and Steve just reconnected later on, that’s when I more started to think seriously about producing…like how to make this song better and really thinking about it instead of just playing around.

WM –   The production was actually one of the first things I noticed from the tracks on Soundcloud…I was like…wow…the production level is really high.

Phil –     Cool…Awesome!

WM  –    And now…Hilary!

Hilary –    Yeah, I’ve been singing my whole life…I just remember sitting in the back of the car and listening to Whitney Houston and just going for it at like the age of four and just being like “Wow! That’s a lot of power! This is good!” So I always tried to excel at it through elementary school and choir. I was in the RnB band in Vic High.

WM   –     Yeah, that’s one of the things I noticed is that you have a very Jazz based sort of sound.

Hilary –   Yeah, it’s in the more RnB, Jazzy style. I didn’t grow up listening to a lot of Jazz. I was the youngest so I listened to a lot of, well, Whitney Houston…Mariah Carey…female singers…that was really the only training. It’s my passion and it’s great.

WM   –     So, now we’ve already done a bit of this next question, but how did you all connect? Now, obviously you guys connected way back…um..(laughs) so it was more like a reconnection?

Phil     –     (laughs) Yeah, it’s not like we weren’t friends or anything (laughs) we had a falling out…I loathed him for many years (laughs all around) No, we…

Steve-     We were always hanging out, but musically the style of music we like diverged quite a bit. I don’t really listen to as much hip hop as he does, I got really into the rock music and the jazz and the blues and stuff like that, so we actually more came back together when I had more kind of skills for writing music and playing and he had more ability to create the music as well.

At this point our drinks arrived including my San Pellegrino was this giant 750 ml thing I wasn’t expecting at all.

WM   –     Look how big it is! I was expecting..well…(laughs)

Steve-     (laughs) yeah

Phil   –     Take that home with yah! (laughs)

WM   –     Sorry to interrupt there…that, just kind of surprised me

Steve-     (laughs)…But that was about it, we’ve always been close as brothers and we realised that I had gotten a lot better at more of the musical aspects of it and he had advanced quite a bit in the production side. We just sort of magically came together and started making stuff.

WM   –     Cool and then (to Hilary) you came in…

Hilary-     I was pretty random actually. They just needed a female vocalist. So Steve got in touch with the director of the Midnights who I formerly sang with. He didn’t want to part with his current vocalist so he was like “I’m gonna give you the name of this girl that doesn’t sing with me now.” And it worked out really well. We just immediately hit it off.

Phil   –       Yeah, right from the get go.

Hilary-       Yeah, from the posters on the wall I knew we were going to be friends (laughs) If you saw the room you would have been, yeah…that’s hilarious.

WM –         What were some of the posters?

Hilary-         There was like Habs posters, kitten posters and just silly stuff like Southpark (laughs) It was like wow…we like all the same things! It felt really comfortable so yeah…

WM –           Cool…so tell us about Space Trails.

Steve-         So yeah…me and him…we’ve been producing now for a while, we’ve been produced a production of his and an EP of mine. We had these other songs, like some of the songs we had for quite a while, like a few years now…we started to think we wanted to do something kind of strange and different. We started talking about the space thing and how there is so much possibility when you’re talking about space. You can go totally spaced out or you can bring it down to like a minimal sort of thing. There’s also the metaphoric side of it where…we took the idea of space and the isolation you get from being in space and how it relates to the isolation that happens to people now when it comes to things like phones. Such as where your sitting with a table full of people and no one’s actually talking. We started spit-balling those ideas with late night recording sessions and it eventually came around. It was only going to be about four songs initially and then it was full out.

Phil   –       Yeah, just sort of expanded it. Just from the concept of it we got around to thinking “wow…we can talk a lot” (laughs around table)…exploring ideas and pushing the envelope. I think the technology is such a big one right now. It’s becoming such an ingrained aspect of our lives so it was just an interesting way of sort of exaggerating. I mean you can’t go full on with Iphone sixes and hope they are affecting our lives. That would be sort of artistically like…ok, why do we care? But if you take that and exaggerate it, then you can have a discussion about it.

WM –       Cool yeah, tell us more about the songwriting involved with so many styles coming together…

Phil   –       I think that’s like a melding of our minds (laughs) It really is…it’s like our influences are really diverse. For myself I grew up on rap music but after a while my listening became way more diverse when I hit my teens so that expanded my world and then Steve was really into rock but then he started to go in multiple directions. Then Hilary comes in and sings in a style that is completely different from what we envisioned but like better than anything that we could have done.

Hilary-     I just do whatever I hear…usually they send me the beats that doesn’t have any vocals on it so I can just sit in the kitchen and listen to it. When I’m there I can just think…sing a line and find something melodic. Then it’s like, ok, I have something that I hear so let’s record it. We usually go with that first recording because that’s usually the best one and then it’s like “ok, let’s put some harmonies on that!” Then we layer it up and I usually come back maybe a month later and the vocals are on it and by that point it sounds great!

Steve-     It opens up possibilities…I think some musicians bringing in a singer from the outside would be more inclined to say “Ok we wrote this, this is what we think would sound great…this one would sound more RnB,” and give all these specific guidelines so the outcomes already determined, whereas if Hilary feels like singing more sultry or a ballad and we were envisioning something more low key, but she sings a ballad and it sounds great then we have no issues there…it can change the dynamic of the song for the better.

Hilary-     Yeah, if it works it works. I don’t really see myself as a writer but I think I have a good ear so I can listen back and think “that sounds good!”

Steve-     There’s no single way that we write songs. I know lots of people that have a certain way that they write and it works for them, whereas with us it can be so different. We put stuff out there that is under our name but I didn’t really have as much to do with it (all laughs) Or there’ll be another where I played most of the instruments.

Phil   –       Yeah, in that way, it’s sort of like Steve’s baby. I remember I made one beat and Steve came in and, this is after we had already done a lot of work together, and he said it sounded like something that he would do. We added a keyboard line and he was like “yeah, that sounds like something I would do!”

WM   –       You start to rub off on each other’s style…

Phil   –         Yeah, he totally rubbed off on that one…then he came in and added guitar on it and it just sounded amazing! Sometimes he’ll come in with the whole song structure thing and we can go off of that. That starting point can always be really different. It’s sort of a positive and a negative but I love how varied our music can be…we can go just the whole spectrum. In terms of marketability it makes it a bit tougher (laughs)

WM    –         We talked a little about this before…any other artists that inspired you with the project?

Hilary –         Yeah, those were more general. I have lots of other influences such as Motown in general…lots of Neil Young and Pink Floyd…Zepplin…I don’t really listen to much stuff that has come out in the last fifteen years unless it’s Sharon Jones. That’s basically it.

Steve –         I listened to a lot of funk music like Parliament…Bowie…Bowie’s my main influence of all time…

Hilary –        Anything good really (laughs).

WM   –         Cool. Anything else coming up you want people to know about?

Phil   –         We have lots of different things we’re working on. I want to record some RnB songs with Hilary…just straight up RnB. That’s one that we have been talking about for a long time. I’m also working on this project that’s like a “Listen local” which will be a stand that stores will have that promotes local artists. I’m getting the stands made right now and I plan on talking to stores and stuff like that. That’s the challenge for any musician other than for the 1% that’s at the top is that people don’t really buy as much music anymore. I buy music and I’m like the only person I know doing it.

WM   –           Yeah, last time I bought a cd it actually came with a little thing inside that actually thanked me for buying the cd!

Steve –           Yeah like when you go into HMV now it’s like a weird circus of all kinds of gifts and other stuff and it’s like…where’s the music section?

WM   –           Yeah…finding ways to still make money outside of the music with things that can’t be just downloaded.

Steve –           It’s going to be interesting the next ten, fifteen years of music, because the more people get out of the habit of buying music the more things favour the top of the music industry machine because Adele will sell millions of copies but that is the only cd they’ll really sell that entire year. Whereas when everyone is in the habit you might take a chance here and there and that’s just not really happening anymore. Streaming seems to be the thing that’s taking its place. Nobody’s making money off of that…not even the people that are creating the streams. It will be interesting to see. Something’s going to change but it’s hard to tell what.

WM   –         Yeah and there’s also the upside where the material available for musicians now is so much more.

Phil     –         Oh yeah the sheer quantity of music out there now is just…insane.

Hilary –         You almost have to sell your song to someone in advertisements.

Phil     –         Oh yeah, I think licensing is the big way to go.

Steve –         Yeah, I think that’s the biggest way that band’s make money now.

Phil     –         You get a song in a movie right now and you’ll make more with that movie than you will even with gold records sort of things.

Steve –         I have some friends in Colorado and about five years ago or something like that they managed to get one song into one commercial and two movies. It was the same song and they said that they made more that year from those placements than ever other thing they did that year combined and they would tour for just months. It also doesn’t help that there is pretty much no cost associated with it. It’s pretty much pure profit so I was just like “wow…that’s how you made all your money?” With touring you do make money but it’s expensive. You pay so much money when you’re on tour.

Phil     –       I knew one guy who toured as opener for, I think it was ZZTop and he did this big national tour, came back to Victoria and he said he had like twenty-five dollars in his bank account. It’s like they were paying him but there’s also the cost of the whole thing.

Steve –       Yeah, they were opening for bands like Billy Talent and playing these huge shows but the truth is opening bands really don’t make that much money.

Phil     –        So they pick bands that are really hungry and are like “yeah, let’s get out there!” Musicians are just excited to play music so they know they can pay them less. Musicians are very susceptible to abuse (laughs)

Hilary –         So true (laughs)

Steve –         Yeah…sorry what was the question? (all laugh)

WM   –           So, anything else you’d like to mention to all the folks out there?

Phil    –           No…I think that’s about it…but I would like encourage people to get out there and look up a couple new bands. That’s what it’s about. Buy a record!

WM   –           Actually, speaking of where can folks buy Space Trails?

Phil    –           It’s on Itunes, Spotify, band camp…and when I get those stands out in will be on there too!

WM  –           Cool

You can also check it out now at

http://www.bunkerproductions.ca/artist/the-imperfections/

Thanks for reading!

Cheers,

Tom Pogson

LukeFest and More!

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Not only is great fun to head out and enjoy some live music but it’s that much better when you know that the program is going to a great cause!

This exciting evening showcase of local talent came together in memory of Luke Rachwalski, a Victoria resident and musician who was lost due to a tragic house fire in Montreal in 2014.  In memory of his passion for music, Luke’s family established the Luke Rachwalski Memorial Fund and in 2015, Rachwalski’s family started working with the Chwyl Family School of Contemporary Music at the Victoria Conservatory of Music to raise money for scholarships called Luke’s Gift and songwriting workshops called Luke’s Legacy.

Before the main even begins, guests will feel like a rockstar at the backstage VIP reception hosted at Wood Hall.  Enjoy fine foods provided by Charelli’s, along with handcrafted local wine from Domaine Jasmin’s Thetis Island Winery.  For those who prefer hops, a selection of beers from Vancouver Island Brewery will also be provided.  Mix and mingle while Lloyd and Myles English of 13 Strings, and founders of MyGuitarPal.com entertain with their dynamic father and son Canadian jazz guitar duo followed by a short set from jazz pianist, Jimi James Fraser.

After that comes the main event which features the long time Victoria artist Daniel Lapp and the LukeFest Houseband.  This is followed by some exciting collaberations from the Students from the Chwyl Family School of Contemporary Music with will feature students playing live with their instructors!

LukeFest takes place on February 13th at Alix Goolden Perfomance Hall, 907 Pandora Ave in Victoria B.C.

The reception opens at 6pm!

You can find out more about this exciting event at www.LukeFest.ca

Also coming up for us in the next week is our interview with Westsound Magazine’s next artist in the spotlight…The Imperfections

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Stay tuned for that interview with this exciting new artist with Bunker Productions!

Check them out here!

Thank you for supporting local independent artists!

Cheers!

Tom

Chantal Fabre – The Interview!

Happy New Year to everyone! And what a great way to bring in 2016 but to discover the joyous creativity of independent Victoria artist Chantal Fabre! Our now third installment of Westsound Magazine would like to welcome you to this bright light who is continuing to not only work on her extremely prolific writing but a variety of other projects that are about making life that much better for everyone.

You only have to listen to the tracks on her self released first cd “Chantzy Q & Jammin@chya Including All Shades” to hear that. The tracks are a mixture of spiritual, francophone and English, roots, country and rock that have a wonderful sing a long quality. The use of percussion and harmonies only adds to the material, provided by family and friends for a wonderful warm quality. With a voice that reminds me of an early Mae Moore, her influences of Gordon Lightfoot are also apparent and she moves the melodies along with her leading 12 string in interesting and inventive ways. From the gang singing and bright fun of Special Friend to the slow build of Loving Guidance into its large anthemic pulse the album is an absolute treat or like a gift from Chantal’s family to you.

You can check out more of her at

http://www.jamminatchya.ca

or have a listen to some of her YouTube clips right now at…

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCPbh5DOU9foqfkgEEmYYQyw

 

And now, here’s the interview I had with Chantal Fabre on January 12, 2016!

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An Interview with Richard Fahl

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With a long history of playing open stages around Victoria and street performing Richard Fahl is on the threshold of his first cd release. It was fun meeting up with Richard because truth be known I have actually known this singer and songwriter since back in about 2000 when he was performing and hosting the open stage at James Bay Coffee and Books. Always very friendly with an interest in politics and social reform his songs reflect the desire for things that must change. It probably helps that he is a lifetime fan of the late John Lennon whose attempts at peace are the stuff of legend.

The tracks which you can check out online speak to this connection for Richard, the spirit of togetherness and facing the problems head on which are subjects that he has a long history of being passionate about. Recorded at Electric City Sound, which some folks might know as the exciting reincarnation of Zero Gravity Studios and under engineer Brendan Marshall and with the help of long time friend Rick Salt, the ambience of the tracks both boosts Fahl’s natural backyard acoustics with the update of a sleek pro recording.

The one thing that has always stuck to me about Richard has been his fascinating style of playing which is primarily rhythmic to support the songs but also seems melodic, opening up the palette for the other instruments and vocal harmonies on his albums like wide sun-drenched canyons where supporting artists can find their voices. Songs like the very Lennon-esque “Love Will Always Be Here” stays in your head as Fahl’s songs often do, the track finishing in pure Beatles style and a touch of Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour with it’s near minimalism and the use of the Hammond organ. Fans of Nick Drake might also find something familiar in the style of recording with Richard’s guitar and vocal leading the track in it’s own path which is perfectly fine in it’s stripped down essence but then fuller and more dynamic when fleshed out in the studio.

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You can check out links to Richard’s music after the interview clip posted below.

And now, the interview with Richard Fahl!

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Dream of the 90’s (in Victoria, BC)

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We’ve got a couple great folks to interview coming up!  With other projects and illness it’s been slow, but I was talking with a friend and the subject of Victoria in the ninties.  It’s not Portland (Check out the Portlandia clip! ) but we definitely had a lot of fun in those days!  This world of devices and blogs was in its infancy and it certainly wasn’t all perfect but while we wait for the next interview here is the Westsound Magazine Top Twelve of Victoria’s Nineties!

12 – Red Rock City Billards

This was a wonderful pool hall that was eventually replaced by a nightclub and then street link (which is fair enough) but it was a wonderful place to have a beer with friends and play the classic game in a building that looked out over the blue bridge and the inner harbour.  There was also Peacock’s in it’s old location over on Johnson.

11 – Steamers

Auto mentioned that and we both waxed nostalgic.  One of the few places you wanted to play back then with a great staff, food and stage set up it was located just west of Government and Yates.

10 – Pluto’s Open Stage

Along with the Milky Way and Java (the latter run by bass player Rick May) Pluto’s on Tuesday nights was one of the places to be if you were trying to get your sound out there.  So much so that two compilation cds came out called “Pluto’s Open Stage” volumnes one and two.

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