SOUND SEEKERS: Hey Buster, Busting Out

Dad Band Moves from Domestic Sphere into Civics 101


Hey Buster, the band of Ottawa dads that makes catchy music for kids, has moved away from family life on their latest album I Like My Bike. Its focus is civics for little ones, with songs like “Community Begins With C” emphasizing the art of neighbourliness. The tune, sung by Hey Buster’s Slo’ Tom Stewart, underlines that while community begins with ‘c’ – it really starts with YOU and ME!c26eb7_174d7d2d211548f48c1b192d705c41d6.jpg_srb_p_1259_730_75_22_0.50_1.20_0.00_jpg_srb

Hey Buster formed in the late 2000s and released the album Bing, Bang, Bong in 2010. It documented the travails of family life with plenty of rhyming stanzas about poo, pee, pink eye, and getting lice.

Their 2013 release, Yeti Likes Spaghetti, moved away from bodily functions to household management with tunes such as “Go to Bed”, “Mom Eat Your Broccoli”, and “Without a Hat.”

c26eb7_34f52cc8ac0667294c195567a56bb8bc.jpg_srb_p_1259_730_75_22_0.50_1.20_0.00_jpg_srbTheir new album will be released Sunday, March 29 at an afternoon show at the Mayfair Theatre. I Like My Bike speaks to kids who are less concerned about poo and pee, and who are starting to open their eyes more and more to their surroundings.

The title track opens with a catchy little riff and pays tribute to a banana-seated, long-handled jobbie with a shiny kickstand. It’s a sweet ode to a hassle-free, two-wheeler commute. That ecological undertone carries throughout the album. The songs don’t come off as Jane Jacobs’-style blight-fighting agitations; rather this album is a jaunty introduction to the complexities of city life. Think of it as rumpus room urbanism for grade schoolers.

To carry that spirit forward, Hey Buster will offer lesson plans around recycling, public transportation, urban gardens, and sustainability to go with each song. (Check their website for updates throughout the year). The plans are aimed at kids in Grades 3 to 8, and have been organized by Hey Buster drummer Stephen Skoutajan, who is also a teacher with the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board.c26eb7_702b877b39944b8dbba1409815eadf72.jpg_srb_p_1259_730_75_22_0.50_1.20_0.00_jpg_srb

The band plays regularly at school events where kids join in when Hey Buster rips into their popular live hit, “Here Comes the Bus,” which sees the guys dancing around in cardboard cutouts of OC Transpo buses labelled with popular Centretown West routes.

The band launched as a weekend project of friends Geoff Paisley, Matt Young, and Sherwood Lumsden, and has since expanded its membership to include Slo’ Tom Stewart, Skoutajan, and guest musicians Al Bragg, Dave Kerr, Dave Draves, and Michael Ball. They play often at festivals, block parties, and at taverns during the afternoon. Hey Buster has a growing fan base of kids that like to dance while their parents get a beer in between their regular poo, pee, and lice-picking duties.

SOUND SEEKERS: Tara Holloway Nails It with Little Ghosts


Tara Holloway, the powerhouse vocalist with the perfectly raspy voice, has put together an album that showcases her many dimensions. On Little Ghosts she sounds pained, mischievous, whimsical, awesomely raging, sage, and saucy. The new album — recorded at Ottawa’s Bova Sound and to be released in late February on Vancouver label Light Organ Records — has a bit of blues, a bit of folk noir, and a ton of charm with plenty of top-drawer offerings.

Holloway, 34, has toured and couch surfed for years (she once claimed “the iPhone is my home”), frequenting B.C., Tennessee, and California. She has spent most of her adult life on the stage and as a result is a natural with the chatty stage banter. It’s fascinating to watch her go from being potty-mouthed and gregarious to plaintive and pained, as she starts into another tune with those killer pipes. At times she brings to mind another redhead who put the capital on the map. Holloway’s album has all the hallmarks to blow up big. Could it be another Failer?

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SOUND SEEKERS: The New Year’s Edition

Lefty McRighty

Lefty McRighty


To ring in 2015, Sound Seekers polled a few music scene notables for their wishes, resolutions and cat selfies. Herewith, the big plans of half a dozen O-town bar owners, guitar slingers, podcasters et al.

My Name Is: Lefty McRighty

I: sing and promote country music. I play a decent lead guitar and I DJ at CKCU.

I resolve to: actually pick up my guitar and play more than once a week.

I wish: not to be blacklisted at certain venues anymore.

My Name Is: Yogi

I: co-own the mighty House of Targ with Mark McHale and Kevin Birger. I also record and produce records at Yogi’s Meatlocker studio and play guitar in Metal Patrol and Blackbread.

Yogi with son Felix

Yogi with son Felix

I resolve to: bring Rush to Targ, acquire a Spy Hunter and Joust arcade machine, secure a private island with a secret bay for our submarine, and introduce the world to our delicious handmade pierogies by serving them in international waters!

I wish: for an explosion in the Ottawa music scene that will be felt worldwide. Oh wait, that’s already happening!! Okay, how about bell bottoms for everyone? Ha! This city is bananas and the support keeps growing — never give up.

My Name Is: (stage name) Master Cameron Eric Leon

I: perform as a drag king around Ontario, which basically means I get to shatter people’s ideas of gender and sexuality in the most fun way possible.

I resolve to: better represent drag kinds at the local, national, and international level and to support the LGBTQ+ community on whatever scale I can.

I wish: for a bigger closet so I can use my living room again.

Master Cameron Eric Leon. Photo by Angela McConnell

Master Cameron Eric Leon. Photo by Angela McConnell

Kevin McGowan

Kevin McGowan

My Name Is: Kevin McGowan

I: co-created with Ben Yung and Steve Fouchard, which grew out of my old Ottawa Citizen blog. It was a simple little idea for a local music site, but has grown to be pretty massive. I’m currently the admin guy, but hope to do more writing in 2015.

I resolve to: get out to see some of the bands I’ve been listening to and writing about. I’m as old as the hills and have little kids, so late nights are a real pain in the ass. I also resolve to check out Targ and eat a big plate of pierogies and see if I still have my mad Pac-Man skills.

I wish: that the new owners of Zaphod’s will keep their early gig schedule. It’s pretty much the only way I can see a show, be home by midnight, and still be physically able to make breakfast at 6 a.m.

My Name Is: Lynne Hanson

I: write songs that sound like I’m from way further south of Ottawa. I just released my fourth album River of Sand this past fall. I’ve got tours out west and in Europe this winter and spring, in between surgery and rehabbing the knee I destroyed playing touch football this past summer.

Lynne Hanson

Lynne Hanson

I resolve to: stick to the set list — or at least let my band know which song I’m playing if I do decide to stray off course; remove ALL guitar picks from my pockets before putting jeans in laundry; limit binge Netflix viewing to only three episodes at a time; learn how to dance.

I wish: someone had told me bionic knees had not been invented yet. Had I known, I would have been considerably more careful with the ones I have while running around chasing quarterbacks.

My Name Is: Jason Andersson

I: am the singer-songwriter and guitar player in Cooper MacLaren. I also play mandolin in Ray Harris & the Bastard Sons of Bitches. I busk a lot and I’m also going to play electric guitar in a brand new project that we don’t have a name for yet.

Jason Andersson

Jason Andersson

I resolve to: keep not making resolutions.

I wish: for continued collaboration and good vibes from those I know (and don’t know) in our community.

SOUND SEEKERS: 2014 Ottawa Mix List (A Present Just for You)



It’s Sound Seekers’ annual tradition! Call it our Blogged 50 — but it’s more like a Blogged 7. This is our EP-length list of hot tunes released from Ottawa artists this year.

Stream the tunes here and read about the songs below. Find our 2013 and 2012 mix lists here.

For 2014, we asked each artist to reflect on the year that was and the year to come.

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SOUND SEEKERS: Mercury Lounge — “live long + prosper”


Trevor Walker by Alex Vlad

Photo: Alex Vlad

A number of changes are planned for the tri-level building at 56 Byward Market that houses The Collection (retired), Overkill, and The Mercury Lounge.

In August, a soda machine gasket came undone on the mezzanine of the Mercury Lounge. With the pressure of a hose, water came down on all levels leading to damage of the floors, drywall and electrical. Insurance covered most of it, but it meant the bar had to close for eight weeks.

During the down time, owner John Criswick and staff planned for some major upgrades. Here’s what to expect in the coming months.

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SOUND SEEKERS: Rotter’s Club Nee’wollah Revival


Winston Smith

Winston Smith. “Soma Holiday” appears on the Rotters Club 35th anniversary CD, released on Nee’wollah (Halloween) at Zaphod’s.

Three-and-a-half decades ago, Ottawa punk sounded like this — that’s the Reverbnation link to a 1979 compilation album called Rot ’n’ Role, which features such bands of the era as the Bureaucrats, Vendetta, and Winston Smith.

Originally pressed on vinyl on a limited run of 500 copies, Rot ‘n’ Role has been remastered with six new tunes and is being reissued as a limited edition CD on Friday at Nee’wollah, a celebration of the ‘70s-era Rotters Club. Nee’wollah (that’s Halloween backwards) was an annual theme night at the club, which stood at the corner of Bank and Frank Streets from 1977-1980, and later moved down the street beside Barrymore’s, where it became — under the same ownership — The Eighties Club.

The anniversary party happens on Friday, Oct. 31 at Zaphod’s with a host of players from the era. Ted Axe of The Action brings his band Sister Hyde to stage, and comedian Mike MacDonald — a former Rotters Club playbill regular — will MC the event. Blackshirt Highwaymen — featuring Rotters Club co-founder Carl Schultz — and Arson are also on the bill. Tickets are $35 and include a swag bag.

At the show, expect an audio tour of the punk scene of the era along with a collection of archival footage and photos from the day, some of which appear here, below.

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SOUND SEEKERS: Waxing nostalgic about Souljazz Orchestra


Photo credit: Luna Begin

The band in the basement of Babylon in 2005, a year before their first album was released. Photo credit: Luna Begin

The Souljazz Orchestra hosts a Vinyl Reissue Party on Saturday, Oct. 18 at Babylon with guests The Goods Sound System and DJs Andy Williams and Scott C. Expect a top-shelf dance party with a nostalgic spirit inside the club where the band first launched its live soul-jam get-downs nearly a decade ago — 10 p.m., $15.

The group is celebrating the release of their back catalogue. You can now get all five Souljazz Orchestra albums on heavyweight 180-gram wax. Expect to hear all the textures and warmth that comes across in those records. It amplifies the balmy feel of the tunes, which have drawn sold-out audiences across Europe where the band tours frequently. (Check out this archived Souljazz tour diary for a few laughs).

To mark the occasion, Sound Seekers picked its favourite Souljazz tunes from over the years. Chime in on Twitter (@ottawamag) with your top tunes from each album. Use the hashtag #souljazztoptracks.

Here’s my picks:

Freedom No Go Die (2006)
The catchy “Mista President” got everyone moving, including BBC DJ Gilles Peterson who added the track to his Top 10 list of Worldwide Best songs for that year.

Manifesto (2008)
“People, People” puts a cry for solidarity to a heady beat with call-and-response plea to keep on keeping on.

Rising Sun (2010)
“Serenity” is exactly what it sounds like, a calming eight-minute interlude that shows the band’s expansive range and talent that takes them beyond their afrobeat origins.

Solidarity (2012)
“Conquering Lion” has a regal sound. It’s got snaky, cascading horn lines and a seductive beat that follows a hot heat of sweaty, clubby tracks.

Inner Fire (2014)
“Celestial Blues” is a soulful hip-hoppin’ cover of the 1971 Andy Bey track. The band filled out the originally sparse song with a bumpin’ arrangement of trumpet, trombone, flute, alto sax, bass clarinet, vibraphone, piano, upright bass, and percussion.

To get a taste of the band’s entire catalogue, check out this mini-mix on Soundcloud.



Photo credit: Luna Begin

SOUND SEEKERS: New Amos the Transparent, best enjoyed start to finish



Amos The Transparent plays their new album, This Cold Escape — which was released this past Tuesday — in its entirety at Neat Café in Burnstown on November 15

The new Amos the Transparent album is best enjoyed from start to finish. The 11-song album called This Cold Escape was released Tuesday. It’s an art-rock extravaganza that plumbs the depths of songwriter Jonathan Chandler’s mind summarizing anxieties, questions, outlooks and perspectives into short songs that are like chapters in a book. Those songs are put to orchestral-like arrangements that are at once delicate and dramatic. It paints a shipwrecked, lost-at-sea feel for the listener.

Stream the entire album here.

The album’s story is about life paths and about what happens when you choose your own adventure, or as Chandler puts it, “With every decision, another decision is left behind.”


This Cold Escape is the fourth album from the Ottawa sextet (or fifth if you count their double EP). It’s a loosely biographical tale that stemmed from a time a few years back when Chandler had a Kathleen Edwards moment and decided he didn’t want to play music anymore.

His band mates — Chris Wilson, Dan Hay, James Nicol, Mike Yates and Olenka Reshitnyk — talked him through it, and from those conversations they realized there was enough substance to build an album.
There are songs about reflection (“Out the Window,” “Big City Lights”); others about cold realities (“Death & His Certainty” and the title track, “This Cold Escape”); and songs that offer closure on the album’s subjects (“Bury My Bones,” “Build A Home”).

So what life did he choose? Well the answer is rather complex if you listen to the album in its entirety, but by way of conclusion, Chandler offers, “If you still have love for whatever you do in the end, you’re okay. Anything you pour years and years into won’t be so quickly let go.”

In other words, Amos the Transparent is still a band and they’re still making music, but now you’ll hear fewer stabs at making a massively hooky radio single, as was the case on previous albums such as on My, What Big Teeth You Have (2009) or their debut Everything I’ve Forgotten to Forget (2007) with stick-in-your-head tunes such as “The M.O.B. Catalogue” or “This Town.”

The band made a conscious effort not to use too many big guitar sounds on This Cold Escape, but rather to layer things with vocals. “There was one day where I was in the studio and sang just oohs and ahs for a day to fill spaces,” Chandler says. “We focused on the intricacies.”

At their live shows, the band is playing all the songs from the new album, in the same order, accompanied by projections to underscore the story. See them at the Neat Café in Burnstown on November 15.


SOUNDS SEEKERS: Shannon Rose Finds Gold — and Marrow


New album, new name, new feel — it’s all coming together for Shannon Rose. The Ottawa singer-songwriter and her band, The Thorns, have changed their name to Gold & Marrow, a reference to that in-the-bone inclination Rose has for songwriting, as well as all the tweaking that’s done by her band to make them gold. That band consists of Rose’s spouse and producer Steve Matylewicz on guitar, Dave Edwards on bass, Arturo Portacarrero on drums and Cal Cheney on keys. Together they have released a third album called Forever, which follows their debut, Sing Me A Song (2008) and the Seasons series of EPs Rose released throughout the latter half of 2013 and on.

On album three, Rose has found the perfect balance of all her expressions. She blends her melancholy, sensuality, folk lustre, and roots background into 10 songs that explode with desire and ferocity. She is at once powerhouse pop artist and entirely tender in the video for the song Striking Gold (shot by Matylewicz), a tune representative of all the sentiments that soar throughout the album.

By the end of the album, the mood shifts to a sound that’s more down-tempo, but the subject matter is no less weighty. The songs on Forever deal with time, existential crises, jealousy, intensity, and life changes. “Time is on a lot of the songs,” says Rose. “I’m thinking of things that concern me on a day-to-day basis.”

The album is intense, both sonically and thematically, which was intentional according to Matylewicz. “There’s a trend to go toward singles instead of albums, so people don’t give albums a chance,” he says, “[As the album’s producer] I really tried to ignore that — hopefully not to our detriment.”

The Gold & Marrow album release party takes place October 4 at the Black Sheep Inn with guests The Visit.

Joining the Pack
Alex Cairncross was part of the Ottawa live music scene for years, known for his band photography and membership in groups such as Sleeping Pilot and As the Poets Affirm. He joined the band The Golden Dogs on bass since decamping to Toronto in 2009. Cairncross will reunite with the capital when his power art-pop band plays pinball palace House of Targ on October 3 with Taylor Knox and Orienteers. The Golden Dogs is led by spousal duo Dave Azzolini (vocals, guitar) and Jessica Grassia (vocals, drums) along with Stefanie McCarrol (keys, guitars), and Cairncross. He met the couple while hanging around the studio space they share with the band Zeus. Cairncross took some publicity photos of The Golden Dogs in their previous incarnation and joined the band in 2012. The Golden Dogs’ fourth album, Surf Music for the Non-Swimmer, is due out in 2015.

Gigs! Gigs! Gigs!
Soul band The Split will hold a video release party for Doo Wop, the second single off their debut EP Can’t Get Enough, October 3 at the Black Sheep Inn. The video was created as part of a collaborative process called Crowded Room, a concept that brings bands and fans together up close and is the brainchild of production house Gallery Recording Studios, video makers Dan Rascal Productions and design company Log Creative Bureau (an OM office crush). The Split’s video is the first yield from the Crowded Room collaboration. Watch a trailer of the video here.

SOUND SEEKERS: Top 5 for O-Town Hoedown


Danny Duke and the Norther Stars by Chantal Levesque

Danny Duke and the Norther Stars play at the Rainbow Bistro on Oct. 3 as part of O-Town Hoedown. Photo by Chantal Levesque

“Ottawa’s longest running and least shady country music festival” kicks off tonight. The subtitle of the O-Town Hoedown is a provocative nod and lightly veiled reference to another country festival that used to take place in these parts.

A while back, O-Town Hoedown head-man Greg Harris (who goes by nom-de-twang Lefty McRighty) took to the blogosphere to detail his concerns with the Capital Hoedown, which made headlines during its existence. The man who runs that festival read Harris’ blog and took umbrage, which led to a libel claim and much consternation between the two parties.

The lawsuit has been settled out of court and Harris says he’s glad he can get on with his life and that he wasn’t bankrupted by the ordeal. Settlement details mean that’s pretty much all Harris can say about the matter, which is uncharacteristic as anyone who follows his lively Twitter feed will know (He’s rather open about everything in his life, i.e. read OTTAWA Magazine’s Sex Issue April 2014.)

With the legal matter settled, Harris is back in the saddle as head Hoedowner. Not only does he organize the festival, he’ll perform in various bands and he’ll DJ the closing party on October 5.

There are a dozen of alt- and country-etc. shows in each of the two weeks of the Hoedown. Get tickets at the door for each gig. Cover ranges from free to $10.

We picked our Top 5 Gigs for the O-Town Hoedown:

  • Toronto’s Doghouse Rose is a rebel country duo that blends sweet and sorrow. Oct. 3. Rainbow Bistro.
  • There’s a newish country band in town and we like their style. Cooper MacLaren and the Mean-Eyed Cats is led by a fellow named Jason Anderson who took a country-esque handle from two well-known Ottawa city streets — a la Greenfield Main. Sept. 30. Rainbow Bistro.
  • Tilda submitted their tunes to the O-Town Hoedown festival this year. Harris dug their songs and put them on the bill. We’re glad he did. We like their atmospheric take on folk. Oct. 4. Atomic Rooster. 
  • The kick-off! A big ol’ Hoedown get-down party takes place tonight (Thursday, Sept. 25) with Uncle Sean, Lefty McRighty, Ray Harris, Standup Steve, Peter Pritchard, Karolyne Lafortune and Ryan Barwin. 9 p.m. Lunenburg Pub.

The O-Town Hoedown runs Sept. 25 — Oct. 5. Visit here for the full lineup.