Category Archives: Hit the Spot
Reviewing live music in Brantford and area.
Manny’s Place hosts many of the greatest bands in the city; with a top-notch sound system, a flashback inducing light setup and plenty of space to get your groove on while the entertainers entertain; there’s no shortage of talent taking the stage. Manny designed his Place to cater to live music, and his attention to detail shows.
Knee Deep proceeded to play a plethora of prime picks from the 1990’s, with just enough modern hits mixed in to keep the party going all night long.
They say if you remember the 90’s, you probably smoked sh**ty weed. Regardless of whether or not you recall the 90’s (or were even born yet, you young whipper-snappers) the undeniable truth is that a lot of wicked music came out of that particular era. Whether it was grunge, alternative rock, punk rock or hip-hop, the 90’s were a time when some of the greatest songs ever were presented to our eager ears by bands who transformed the music scene.
How doth one of the modern era go forth and enjoy the live experience of such a wide selection of great music? Knee Deep is the answer.
(bonus question: where in the world is Carmen Santiago?*)
Knee Deep took to the stage with a fervor and proceeded to burn the damn building down.
(metaphorically burned it down: no Colborne Street insurance “accidents” here).
Singer Eric Mills brought a raw intensity that rode magnificently upon duel guitarists Jay Cutaia and JM Singaram’s pure power, with Vinnie Milosevich’s precision percussion and Chris Kowalsky’s deep melodic bass providing the perfect stream to keep the flow flowing and the crowd dancing.
The musicians of Knee Deep have a deep rooted respect for music and it shine’s through in their cut-for-cut reproduction of great songs such as Lenny Kravitz’ Are You Gonna Go My Way, Finger 11’s Paralyzer or The Clash’s London Calling.
Knee Deep in talent and head over heels in love with playing awesome live music to entertain the people. But don’t take my word for it, check out their facebook, their ReverbNation page, or just get off your keister and watch Knee Deep live the next time they take the stage in a venue near you.
Head over to BrantfordBands facebook page for some more great shots of the band captured on film
(hah, film, there’s a pain in the rear we’ll never have to deal with again).
Two keyboards and a microphone (where it’s at) plus a set of drums, a guitar and a bass; not to mention five musicians looking for a good time; bibbidy-bobbity-boo you’ve got yourself a Pardi Gras.
Recently BrantfordBands was down at Take a Break to catch a great band in a great new venue.
“But wait,” I hear you object, “Take a Break isn’t new, and since when do bands go there?” Since new owners Bill and Lisa took over, that’s when. Renovations have transmogrified the inside of the bar into a brand new place; with league quality pool tables
(for those of the billiard ball smacking persuasion: there’s also free pool on Friday nights)
a new clean sports theme and an open stage area for bands to ply their trade;
Take a Break just ain’t what she used to be – It’s better.
Pardi Gras took full advantage of the new-and-improved Take a Break and proceeded to lay down some smooth rock, funky blues and a little bit of Wu-Tang Clan (for the ladies).
No genre is safe; hide yo blues, hide yo rock, hide yo pop, cause Pardi Gras playin’ everything out here!
Their style transformed the sports bar into an old saloon; dueling pianos (keyboards, same difference) faced off within the confines of the four yellow walls, not fighting each other but working together to create a wonderful musical barrage of sound-bullets which fire off rapidly to compel you to dance.
Whether belting out classic rock hits or getting down with some bluesy New Orléans flavored rock, Pardi Gras is a force to be reckoned with. Three lead singers take turns at the helm of the rock-it ship; each with their own distinct sound and style; and it allows the band to journey across a vast musical landscape. The juicy bass and rambunctious drums carry each song forth like Valkyries in the night. Pardi Gras is a group of five talented musicians who meld into one massive group with a singular mission: get you Pardi-ing.
Like Pardi Gras! Do it now! It will fill your facebook with shiny happy rainbows and kittens will shoot forth from the bowels of the internet into your fb feed whence joy will spread like peanut-butter on your face. Or it will keep you updated on upcoming Pardi Gras shows and the latest Pardi Gras news. One of the above will surely happen if you Like Pardi Gras on the book of faces.
On Thursday, June 11th I strode into B●Doggs Fine Street Foods and quickly saw the creative local entrepreneurial spirit continuing to thrive in Brantford.
Serving up deliciously elegant “street food” alongside craft beers from the area with some smooth live music for desert.
The patio, or “beer garden” is a great place to enjoy some live acoustic jams. It’s split into sections with greenery all around. There are plenty of tables and benches that surround the perimeter with a clear view of the performance area from any angle.
What makes one patio better than the next?
We believe it’s in the vibe, the tunes, the greenery and the name.
Doesn’t a “beer garden” sound much more inviting than “a patio?”
Ours is certainly worth a visit, or two or three.
Don’t be surprised if our play list jumps from a reggae one-drop to 80’s yacht rock or indie top hits.
Cory Mercer delivered some awesome original songs, along with a slew of great cover tunes.
Flowing through the genres, effortlessly switching from rock to folk, pop to alternative, again and again.
His melodic voice lent itself perfectly to any song.
Cory took a number of requests during his performance, including more Paul Simon than you could shake a stick at.
Unless you had a fairly large-sized stick, of course.
Cory had fun with the crowd, always friendly and engaging.
His bohemian style and attitude were perfectly aligned with the general vibe of the venue, very free-spirited.
His originals were beautiful hand-crafted songs straight from the heart, with plenty of hooks to keep the crowd grooving.
A great time, a great place, a great band. It was a damn great time for everyone.
It was also quite tremendous, wicked, exquisite, copacetic and excellent.
But mostly, it was great.
Every Thursday from 6pm – 10pm: live local music & fresh local cuisine at B●Doggs Fine Street Foods.
From June 3rd – 6th, 2015, Manny celebrated the first anniversary of his haven for local live music.
Opening in 2014, Manny’s Place has been consistently showcasing local bands from Brantford.
From Open Jams (every Thursday) to rocking Saturday nights (and often Friday nights as well), this has quickly become one of the best venues in the area to catch some great live music.
If you haven’t made your way down to the corner of Grey and Stanley yet, you damn well should.
Gone for good is Goodfellas, in fact it’s barely recognizable as the same place. Completely renovated from the get go, Manny has continued to make improvements to an already great setup.
Manny has poured his soul into every aspect of the establishment, the awesome stage and PA system, the custom-made tables and chairs, the lighting system and smoke machine, and every detail in between.
Manny Capinding has had a long tour in the music scene, from DJing to running nightclubs, but his true passion is live local music. All of the performers I spoke with agreed that he is one of the most helpful and caring hosts, always making sure that the bands are happy and doing all he can to improve their experience, while always working to make sure the crowds have a fantastic time out.
This year saw a number of upgrades and changes, but Manny isn’t done yet. He already has plans to continue to improve, always taking the suggestions of his patrons and performers to heart.
On Friday night we caught the reunion of BrAiN jAmMaGe as part of the ongoing Manniversary celebrations. As soon as I saw the unique (and ever-evolving) stand-up drum set that Rich Wilkes set up I knew this was going to be a great set, and they did not disappoint. With Chris Brown’s killer guitar work on acoustic and electric guitar, Chris Mulligan smacking out the deep bass riffs and Rich smashing out the drum lines (so violently in fact that he managed to break a couple pieces of his kit), BrAiN jAmMaGe delivers favorites from a wide variety of rock genres with a passion that had me floored.
The bass lines are consistently tight, the guitar solos are awe inspiring, the drums are energetically booming, while Chris’ vocals are rich and full. Occasionally, Rich took the vocals into the deep guttural bowels of hardcore for their excursions into the world of punk, which gave the audience an idea what to expect from the next band.
Against the Grain is a decidedly harder musical offering, presenting metal legends in their thrash and burn entirety. They rocked. Hard! Bringing out the headbanger in all of us.
Their driving force changed the dance floor into a veritable mosh pit, with plenty of deep bass lines, rapid drums and epic guitar work. They held back nothing, and delivered a smashing show for those of us who love some hardcore rock.
Saturday started off early, with the sun still shining outside as Chris Strei climbed up on the stage with his acoustic guitar and delivered his brand of smooth rock to the masses filtering in from Brantford’s crooks and crannies.
Chris Strei‘s originals are crowd favorites, soulful experiences that he shares with the world.
Delivered in his crooner meets pop-star style, he transports you into a beautiful meadow of sound where he gently takes your hand and puts it on his heart.
Carl Mulligan was next to rock the crowds, initially alone with his guitar and soothing voice but soon joined by John Lama on guitar and Mikie Bray on conga drum. They presented a number of beautiful renditions of their favorite songs, all superbly executed.
Carl’s energy and excitement was consistent as he strode about the stage, at times hanging from the rafters while delivering his uniquely masculine and sonically superb vocals. Mikie kept up a steady pace on the drums, perfectly accenting the fervent style of John’s guitar.
Up next on Manny’s Stage was the crowd favorite McTease.
With Trevor Cobb on acoustic guitar and singing while Mick Montgomery bashed out the feverish drums lines on the conga drum, their unity and passion had everyone stomping along with them.
Funky southern fried originals and an eclectic mix of cover songs temporarily transformed Manny’s Place into a big ol’ bonfire party, Mick’s rapidly pulsating beats along with Trevor’s impassioned vocals and guitar work feeding the fires ever higher.
The Tryst took the stage for the grand finale, their devoted Tryster-Sisters in the crowd screaming in excitement and the rest of the audience soon joining in.
Those who hadn’t yet witnessed the epic female-powered rock show that The Tryst consistently delivers were blown away.
Every member of the band is dedicated to bringing the rock to life, with more than enough talent and passion to get the job done. This is obviously more than a job for these ladies, this is a passion that they transfer into each and every note of their classic rock and pop tributes.
It was a fantastic weekend full to the brim with excited local music aficionados celebrating the first year of Manny’s Place. After having already built up a great venue for local artists, we’re excited to see what the future holds.
We’ve added a few photo galleries taken at this year’s Manniversary
to the BrantfordBands on facebook.
- Photos of the One Year Manniversary
- BrAiN jAmMaGe live at Manny’s
- Against the Grain live at Manny’s
- Chris Strei live at Manny’s
- The Carl Mulligan Experience live at Manny’s
- McTease live at Manny’s
- The Tryst live at Manny’s
Watch the BrantfordBands youtube channel for upcoming videos from the event!
An awesome new series debuted at The Station Coffee House & Gallery on Saturday, March 7th.
The first “Intervals a Songwriters’ Showcase” featured local acoustic singer songwriters performing (primarily) original material in a relaxed atmosphere, surrounded by fans and fellow artists. Organized by local music aficionado and performer Chris Strei, Intervals is a wonderful monthly series that encapsulates the thriving creative spirit of Brantford.
Down at the train station might not be one of the first places you think of when you want to check out some great live music, but it should be. Since 2008, The Station (it’s the building on the far left, not the main train station building) has been allowing travelers and locals a place to enjoy various cultural arts. Beautiful art adorns every wall inside, most of which is available for purchase. Monthly updates bring a fresh collection of photographs, paintings and various other art forms to dazzle the eyes. March brought us the wonderful madness of Dean F. Ellis and his eccentric paintings, pen and ink, photos and sculptures.
The space is not vast, but there is a plethora of seating available. The building allows an unique sonic connection to each artist, as the entire space fills with lucious sound, allowing you to experience subtle nuances of the music you may have missed at a larger venue. The occasional passing train really adds to the mood, as though we were riding in the back of a boxcar with a menagerie of songwriters free to openly express their craft. Fortunately this train ride had a well stocked bar area, with libations and coffee served up by the friendly co-founder / bartender Jeff Sauble.
The first performer of the night was Andrew Bradbury. Andrew has a strong vocal presence and great skill on the guitar. He played along with a backing track which may not have been necessary, as his songwriting talent shone acoustically. His original songs spoke from a place of passion, and his love of music was displayed quite proficiently. We were able to make a recording of Bradbury performing his original song No Regrets (the video is embedded at the bottom of this post), which sounded even better live. Andrew is an artist to keep an eye on, and we can’t wait to see how his talent continues to evolve.
Intervals was set to feature hour long sets by each artist. Due to a last minute change in performers, there was also a ‘free jam’ which allowed everyone a chance to perform a few additional songs.
The ‘free jam’ brought us some great songs performed by Chris Strei, a solo performance by Jason Inberg, and an extra Innersha performance. Trevor Cobb performed a fun little freestyle acoustic performance before being joined by Mick Montgomery and jumping into a great Mctease performance.
Mctease had not expected to perform tonight, but it was a happy little accident that allowed BrantfordBands to witness their unique and thoroughly entertaining set. Trevor Cobb is a welcoming and charismatic guy and this comes through brilliantly in his music. His husky voice, energetic strumming and humourous nature make him seem like the long lost third member of Tenacious D. That same vibrant energy and love of music are apparent when Mick Montgomery starts walloping his conga drum. During softer moments Mick played the tambourine in a building credsendo which would inevitably lead back into the massive conga rhythms. Mctease played a blend of rock, country and generally upbeat tunes. Whatever genre they flowed through, Mick and Trevor made each song seem completely theirs, even when they jammed a few covers. Their original songs are wonderfully frivolous, with lyrics that cause bursts of joyous laughter and a rousing cadence that makes it impossible not to stomp along to the beat. While we can’t share too much of the lyrical content from songs like ‘Pig’ and ‘Pu**y’, it’s safe to say that McTease pushed the all-ages content to the limit (and beyond).
Check out No Cash (Trevor’s now-defunct country band) on soundcloud for a taste of the unique flavour inherent in Trevor and Mick’s music. Viewer discretion is advised.
Sporting a slightly disheveled dedicated artist look, Chris Strei‘s smooth and vibrantly melodic voice lends itself beautifully to his pop-tinged folk rock originals. Chris eats, sleeps and breathes music and it certainly shows. His commitment to the craft comes through in each composition, musical expressions of the vast tapestry of emotion and life experiences. His driving song ‘QEW’ cruises down the highway of life on a bright sunny day, with breezy traffic full of happy commuters waving and smiling as you pass them by. Each song has a similar spirit, of triumphantly overcoming adversity, staying positive even in the bleakest moments.
For a brief look into the artistry of Chris Strei check out his profile on ReverbNation.
The final set, Innersha‘s acoustic set, was the cherry on a guilt-free sundae. Huge sultry vocals and soaring guitar lift the listener to new heights. Jason Inberg and Kristen Bezemer are both passionate singer/songwriters. After hearing Kristen’s soft speaking voice it’s a shock when she starts singing. She has a true country diva sound, filled with authentic emotion and charm. Her voice embraces like a warm hug on a cold day, with a range that lends itself to any genre but really shines on boot-stomping country tunes. Jason is no slouch himself, as not only does he play a mean guitar but also has a wonderful voice. Deep, rough and contradictorily gentle, bringing to mind a soulful Matthew Good.
Innersha‘s original songs are buoyant and uplifting, and catchy in a way that has you singing along the first time you hear them. It’s impossible not to clap and stomp along to the infectious rhythms. Their newest release, ‘Know Where Your Heart Is’ makes the crowd eager to answer, “Our heart is in your hands!”. ‘Chills run down your spine‘ indeed, as this is a song that calls you out to the dance floor to embrace your sweetie, thanking the heavens for the chance to experience life connected with another person. Any cover songs they perform are transformed, creating brand new Innersha songs. When Jason and K-Bez join together for duets there’s a definitive unity and shared passion for music that carries the songs to new levels of greatness.
For a preview of the driving tempo and stimulating nature of Innersha head over to their youtube channel.
from Chris Strei:
I want to thank everyone who came out for #Intervals last night. Trevor Cobb & Mick Montgomery of Mctease, Andrew Bradbury, and Jason Inberg & Kristen Bezemer of Innersha did a great job on stage. Jeff Sauble at the bar always makes the night complete. Our audience made all our efforts worth the time we put into our music. Last night also gave me some good ideas for next month’s instalment of the #intervalsSeries.
We can’t wait to see what next month’s Intervals brings to the Station, and we’ll be sure to keep you posted when more details are released!
We’ve created a gallery of photos from the event on 500px.
Please note that the original red lighting has somewhat distorted all of the images. We attempted to colour-correct the photos, but as a result everybody looks like they had sever sunburns in early March.
We sincerely hope that we’ve not offended any performers by posting these photos,
contact us and we will remove any unwelcome photos immediately.
As promised, here’s the video we recorded of Andrew Bradbury performing
his original song No Regrets:
A great night was had by all who made it out to Club NV on Friday, March 6th. Two great bands made the end of winter feel that much closer, despite the chilly weather.
Situated in the heart of downtown Brantford (or is it the spleen of downtown? it’s been awhile since my last biogeography lesson) Club NV is a uniquely engaging venue to catch live music. And it’s still open. I swear. They could perhaps use a nice sign indicating when they are open, but I digress.
The sound system they have in place is great, penetrating throughout the building beautifully. The lighting is very nightclub, dancing around like an inebriated break-dancer (in a good way). There’s a sparkling fountain of joy that welcomes you to the bar area, where great food and cold drinks are served at very reasonable prices.
A fantastic row of couches directly in front of the stage (pretty much a part of the stage) provide a very immersive experience.
The night opened with North Bay rocker’s Break the Trend who tore it up with their rambunctious attitude and tight musical fortitude. Though the band has only recently re-formed after a hiatus of several years, they have an awesome unity that is wonderful to hear. Settling comfortably somewhere between hard rock and alternative, it’s hard not to love Break the Trend. Patrick Pharand, on bass, was especially energetic throughout their set, jumping around with a contagious enthusiasm that was felt in their music.
The driving rhythms set down by Alex Lajambe’s wicked drumming and Patrick’s funky bass lines are the perfect setup for John Fournier and Lucas Mullins killer guitar riffs. John Fournier’s voice sends chills down the spine, especially on softer more expressive songs. There’s a great harmony between lead singer John and back up vocals from Alex and Lucas, and in general a strong unity amongst the band that makes all of their tracks sound fantastic.
Break the Trend have a great sense of humour which bleeds into their set-list, following up their hard rocking track “Cocaine” with their cover of Bad Company’s “Feel Like Making Love” did make perfect sense admittedly.
Every track they played was awesome, I especially enjoyed the previously mentioned “Cocaine” which evoked a rush of energy similar to…a nice cup of coffee. Alongside softer melodic tracks such as “Fight Another Day” they really showcased the diverse musical spirit of the band.
Here’s hoping that Break the Trend will make their way back to Brantford soon, but in the meantime check out their website, their facebook, and their youtube channel.
Finishing off the night was Brantford’s own Waking Life. While they may be new on the scene, Waking Life already performs at a level that blew me away.
In spite of having a last minute replacement bass player (Lukasz Gralewicz, former member of Gag Order, who had to learn a selection of 20 songs in less than two weeks!) they displayed a rock-solid musical cohesion that some bands only dream of achieving.
Not only musically wondrous, Nikole and Dan also dress to impress. Nikole’s heelless heels (apparently called gravity heels; you learn something new everyday) were the cherry on her impressive heroine look which melded well with Dan’s urban cowboy take on a rustic classic. This not only occurred visually, but audibly their vocals were also a wonderful combination of rocking female edge and soulful male attitude.
Dan Taylor was a charismatic showman, using comedy and audience interaction to let us know the band was here to rock our metaphorical socks off and tickle our toes. His strong vocal style lends itself well to various genres and his guitar playing is absolutely on the mark no matter what he’s playing.
Lukasz Gralewicz more than filled the bassist vacancy tonight, he brought his energetic style and laid down some fat grooves that rolled out of his bass in a tsunami of thick luscious sound.
A true lyrical vixen, Nikole Taylor throws her heart and soul into her singing. From soft and sensual to rough and wild, she sings with a fiery passion throughout.
On drums Eric Davis rolled out the beats harder and faster than an octopus on steroids. He drives the tempo out from a bottomless well of talent and effortlessly holds up the wall of sound created by Lukasz and Dan.
The harmony of Dan and Nikole is breathtaking. There’s a chemistry that can’t be faked, a feeling that we’re almost invading their privacy just listening to them sing such beautiful melodies together.
Tonight marked the public début of Waking Life‘s new original song “Hate Filled Heart.” Unfortunately, due to a bit of a SNAFU regarding ride arrangements, I had to cut out early and was unable to hear it live. Having listened online, I’m even more disappointed to have missed out on such a dark and emotional yet upbeat and harmonic song. Hopefully we’ll be able to see them live again soon to experience more of the unity and passion that is Waking Life.
from Waking Life:
We guarantee to make you feel the feels of nostalgia!
We’re currently looking to book at events and with other bands, if you’re interested or looking, make sure you check out the recordings we posted in our videos section.
We are looking to start playing outside of Brantford too! So if you aren’t from our hometown, and are looking for a band to play, contact us!
To hear their new song “Hate Filled Heart” check out their reverbnation page.
To hear some of the great harmony of their cover songs go to their facebook.
And don’t forget to like Waking Life to stay updated on any tour dates, new songs, appearances, and related Waking Life news!
We had the opportunity to catch Peeler live at Zander’s on Saturday, February 28th. Although we didn’t get a chance to hear any of their original material such as Half Past High or Woo Hoo, we did watch them preform a number of impeccable covers.
Zander’s Fire Grill and Brew Lounge is a fun, intimate setting with great atmosphere. Fanciful decor touches such as a chandelier made of guitars and two full-sized motorcycles bring a flurry of whimsy to an elegant venue. The acoustics tonight were very clean and loud without being overpowering. With a number of booths and tables Zander’s is a comfortable place to watch live music.
Peeler was firing on all cylinders tonight. Craig Peeling evokes a strong vocal resemblance to Bono, especially during their covers of U2 songs. Whether he is singing lead or backup, Craig has an amazing vocal range which allows the band to cover a variety of eras and genres.
Renditions of greats such as the Tragically Hip, Franz Ferdinand, the Beatles, David Bowie, the Police, Tom Petty, the Black Keys, the Rolling Stones and many more were all delivered flawlessly, with the three-piece band occasionally switching rolls as needed to bring out the spirit of each song.
Peeler was also outstanding at engaging the crowd, at one point Craig even joined in for with the crowd for a dance.
We look forward to catching more of their upcoming shows and highly recommend picking up their debut album.