Vol. 1 - Issue 2 May-June 2018
SUGARAY RAYFORD WINDSOR BLUESFEST
Staff Dan Savoie Publisher / Editor April Savoie Director of Sales Kim Cushington Art Director Contributing Writers and Photographers Kim Cushington Jose Ed Ramirez Jen Gurniak Dan Savoie April Savoie Cover Photo by Eugene Doe 341 Parent Ave. Winsdor, ON N9A 2B7 519magazine.com / YQGrocks.com Office: 226-674-4451 Award of Excellence 2018 Canadian Web Awards
U2 TRIBUTE FOR ROOTS 2 WINGS
IS #YQG READY FOR
519 Magazine is the official publication of YQG Rocks and is published mothly with print issues available in June, August, October, December, February and April. 25,000 copies of the print version are available at various locations in Windsor-Essex, Detroit, London, Sarnia and Chatham.
w o n K o t g n i Gett s ’ r o s d n i W Bluesfest .. . n a m s e u l B Resident
Last year, California bluesman Sugaray Rayford stole the show at Bluesfest Windsor. The 49-year old singer/ songwriter was a last-minute replacement for Carolyn Wonderland who was unable to attend the annual blues festival due to an injury. Rayford came in and captivated the audience with his soulful voice, stellar stage show and incredible showmanship. And for that one incredible performance, he was awarded a residency at this year’s Bluesfest with performances on the main stage Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights. He’ll be the only artist to perform on multiple nights. “It’s very strange how this all came about,” Sugaray explained to 519 Magazine. “We were touring through Canada for a month and we had just finished playing Ottawa’s Bluesfest with Pink and 50 Cent. We were on our way to Kalamazoo, Michigan when we got the call. The agency said ‘I know you guys haven’t had a day off and you’re trying to get to Michigan, but could you stop in Windsor and play this show because Carolyn Wonderland was hurt’. At the time I had
already flew a lot of my guys back, so I ended up bringing them back into Canada, in Toronto, picked them up and we went to Windsor to play the show. Once we played the show, the festival promoters were like ‘we want you guys back’, so literally that evening they booked us for this year.” Sugaray prides himself on his authentic take on the blues. He records his albums with vintage instruments, amps and microphones, while putting the sounds directly to tape rather than into the digital realm. On his latest album, “The World That We Live In”, he mixes his traditional blues riffs with a bit of R&B and gospel, creating a masterful old-school vibe. “It’s kind of a throwback to the old days of Otis Redding and Solomon Burke,” he said of the new album and its title song. “The feel was so warm, fluid and genuine, it made it very easy to write and get deep into my soul. I was hooked up with the Italian Royal Family, who are known for doing like old-school soul music, so when they approached me with the song The
By Dan & April Savoie
World That We Live In, I knew right away that this was where I wanted to end up.” The new sound is actually the most honest and deep-rooted music Sugaray has ever put out. It not only dives into the blues, but the gospel connection goes all the way back to his childhood to a time when he discovered the blues – a time when gospel was his inspiration. “You know the first time I ever heard blues, I was a little kid in Texas and my Uncle use to play it on 8-tracks in his old truck,” he remembered. “I never really got into it because at that time in my life, I was all about Gospel music. About 24 years ago, I made the transition to blues because it gives me that same feeling that I got all those years back when I was all about Gospel.” Sugaray is known across North America for his spirited live shows, which he describes as more of a party than a concert.
“I always tell people I don’t believe in concerts, I’m old school - I believe in a party,” he explained. “When you come to a show, you put on your clothes, you come out of your house and you’ve driven. The last thing you want to do is go somewhere to sit down and listen to music. You’ve come to enjoy yourself, dance and have a good time.” Along with keeping the party going off-stage for the fans, his band has to be well prepared on stage. Sugaray doesn’t use a standard set list and his band is required to know all the songs in his repertoire. “One of my biggest trademarks is that I don’t do set lists, so every night will be different because I go by how the crowd feels, or how I feel how this crowd feels,” he says. “We never follow a planned list. My guys learn all the songs that I love, as well as the songs that I’ve written and I will call one of those at any given time. It just depends on how I feel. So, every show will be different.” Fans can check out Sugaray Rayford at Bluesfest Windsor happening from July 12-15 at Windsor’s Riverfront Festival Plaza. Other performers include Extreme, Night Ranger, Colin James and a selection of 90s hitmakers like Vanilla Ice, Naughty By Nature and Rob Base. Tickets are available at bluesfestwindsor.com.
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By Dan and April Savoie
Local Bands to Play at RiseUp TV Filming at Rockstar Music Hall on May 28 include: Madelyn Stein Malia Afonso Ava May Melissa Scott Ritt Theme Bigpoppanutt Rick Labonte Dead River Kings Kildare Trio Disaster Strike Ignore the Evidence The Feedbacks Love Razer
Windsor’s RockStar Music Hall has been selected as one of 12 locations for the upcoming television program RiseUp TV. The program, hosted by hypnotist and magician Roger Boucher, will be coming to Windsor on May 28 to film more than two and a half hours of footage. “I’m actually musically illiterate - I know very little about music,” Bouche told 519 Magazine in a phone interview from his home in Saskatchewan. “The interviews that I’m going to be doing in the TV show and at the live events are going to be very different from the general interviews that they’re used to - and it’s a little scary cause this is big! I mean its 12 cities across Canada and there’s going to be 50 different bands that I’ll be getting to know.” RiseUp TV is a globally distributed TV show, introducing the world to the personalities, sights and sounds of artists of all genres and ages from Canada, the US and Europe. The 12 episodes will be largely constructed from footage obtained during the massive undertaking of a 12-city tour starting on May 20, in Victoria, B.C. and ending in Montreal, QC on June 2. The Windsor date on May 28, is actually the first Ontario stop on the tour. “The last time I was in Windsor I was at a convention for magicians, so unfortunately I spent a lot of time at the hotel,” said Boucher, who’s looking forward to spending a bit more time seeing the sights. “We didn’t do a whole lot of outside stuff at the convention, so I’m really looking forward for the seeing with what the city has to offer and meeting the people, because I think that buildings are one thing, but it’s the people who make the city.” On the RiseUp TV tour, the artists will be travelling in a chartered bus together and going coast to coast, performing at the shows along the way. The footage collected from the shows, bus trip, hotels and adventures will be assembled into 12 episodes, with the goal highlighting each city in its own episode. “I love experiencing anything live and I’m really excited to see what Canada has to offer,” Boucher added. “To meet all the different artists on the tour and getting you know the personalities behind them is really exciting. Hearing people express themselves musically is going to be absolutely phenomenal and getting to hear the back stories makes it all the more real.” Along with the local and touring bands performing at the television taping, Boucher will treat the audience to a selection of tricks and illusions in-between performances and as needed. “I’ve been performing for 16 years now and a lot of the magic I do is very interactive,” he adds. “My show involves a lot of crowd participation - getting people up and having fun with them. I’ll have some props on me if I need to break out the magic and I’ll be ready to keep everyone entertained if we need that few extra minutes between bands.” Rockstar held auditions for performances for the television taping and will feature 12 local artists and bands performing on May 28. Admission to the show is free. For more information on RiseUp TV, visit their Facebook page
Leah Harris is a bit of a cosmopolitan. The Windsor-born singer-songwriter loves to travel and explore the boundaries of not only her musical abilities, but also the borders of the world. Having visited countries like Cyprus, Tanzania, Portugal, and Estonia, Harris takes those experiences and merges them into a giant melting-pot of music just waiting to bust out. She was in Windsor this month for a special one-off concert at Phog Lounge before she left for New York City. It served as a triumphant hometown gig and as the release party for her new single Better Than the Truth which is now available on her website and streaming through Spotify. Harris sat down for a lengthy interview with 519 Magazine.
Windsor is your old hometown, but you actually have rarely played here, so when you do, itâ€™s actually a pretty special gig. Yes, itâ€™s really special to come back and play here. I have a lot of appreciation for the Windsor music scene and all of the inspiration it gave me growing up. The most special thing about my last Windsor gig was that my parents got to hear me play live for the first time in 5 years. Youâ€™re a bit of a world traveler. Where has life taken you so far? My first big move was to Boston in 2008 to study at Berklee. Five years ago I moved to Stockholm to teach Science, and from there I made my move to Finland to join the Yousician team. I spent the last year working remotely from
Interview by Dan Savoie
13 countries, but Dublin was my main base. Some of the favourite countries I’ve visited are Cyprus, Tanzania, Portugal, and Estonia. Have you learned anything from your travels? Travelling is great because it opens your mind so much. You are constantly in that mindset of being ready to adapt, which helps you to better understand people and their reasons for living the way they do. I’ve also learned which parts of myself matter the most to me - the ones I wasn’t willing to let go of. This helped me understand myself better, and I think it made me stronger, since fighting for them requires a lot of commitment when they’re outside of the norm. Are there times you’ve really missed Windsor? Yes! I definitely took for granted the unique musical influence we get here in Windsor. I really didn’t understand it before. For one thing, I’ve had multiple moments where I’ve been in another American city, played a lick on the piano, and had people I don’t know ask if I’m from Detroit – just from hearing a very basic blues lick! Obviously there is something unique about the Detroit style that we don’t notice having grown up with it. I think that Windsor specifically allows us to combine the Detroit influences with Canadian ones, and even with our own unique, Windsor-specific style as well. I can’t always explain it, but I definitely notice something special in the Windsor music scene that I haven’t heard anywhere else.
I’m sure Windsor and Detroit played an important role in your musical life. Detroit radio exposed me to styles of music I may never have heard if I grew up in any other Canadian city. Aaliyah, Aretha Franklin, Anita Baker – but also lesser known artists that I ‘ve heard through the years. I also used to be in a Detroit band called Foundation of Funk, which taught me a lot about funk and Motown styles. Windsor is where all of my real training and performance experience happened though. I remember my first gig at Ozwald’s when I was 15, and my regular performances at Foia and Teka. If it weren’t for these opportunities, I wouldn’t have been able to grow at the same rate. I also had a lot of support from local people who helped me get started, like Brett Humber at Sound Foundry studios who I started recording with when I was 9. Windsor still plays an important part in my musical life. I get really inspired when I come back and hear bands like the Coffee House Combo (who play every Sunday at Phog), singer/songwriters like Max Marshall (every Monday at the Orwell), and up and coming vocalists like Natalie Culmone and Madeline Doornaert. One of the coolest things for me is hearing the way some of my old students, like Carson and Kaia Reaume, Kat Moscone, and Sofia Asprakis, have grown into incredible artists with their own careers. Aside from music, how did growing up in Windsor shape
you as a person? Growing up in Windsor, I met SO many different types of people – people who were very different from myself. I always loved to learn about our differences and would get really excited about their stories, where they came from, what their interests were, and what we could learn from each other. I went to Walkerville High School too, which is such an amazing environment for this. When I was living in Finland, one of my friends asked me why Canadians are so nice. I honestly had no idea, so we looked it up on Quora (lol). The number one answer basically said that Canadians are nicer than most people because we have so much diversity here, which helps us to develop tolerance and openmindedness from a young age. Whether or not this is true, I do feel like there’s a lot of potential for this in Windsor, if people just take the time to check out all of the cool, unique things that are happening here. Now you’re off to New York. Why New York? To be honest, I think it’s meant to be! I was actually aiming for Toronto, since I’ve heard great things about the music scene there, but somehow New York just came together naturally. I have always loved NYC, and I’ve been going the last few summers to record my new album there. I knew I loved it and that I wanted to move there someday, but I wasn’t sure exactly how or when it would happen. But here we are!
I spent the last few years developing skills I could do remotely, and I did it because I saw all of the doors it could open for someone in the music business. This is also what opened the door to New York for me. I work full-time doing content creation for Yousician (a music education app), and it can be done from anywhere. I figured, why not New York? You’ve recorded in New York. Was there a vibe you had recording in the Big Apple? What I love about New York is that there are so many creative entrepreneurs there. I’ve often felt like I don’t fit into one group, in terms of right brainers or left brainers. I love being there because there are so many people
running their own businesses based around music, photography, online marketing, startups, or other random things I would never even think of. It’s also very inspiring as an artist, as I believe it’s so important for musicians to be empowered in the business, rather than feel they always need someone else to take care of the business side. Going back to the recording, it was this exciting energy coming from every person that I worked with that made it so incredible. I felt like it brought out the best in me as a musician, especially for something like recording where you really need to be in a good place with your energy. Speaking of New York and recording, Systems Two is a bit
of a legendary studio for jazz. What was that like? It was beautiful. Stunning. I didn’t realize until after the fact that the Steinway I recorded on used to be in Carnegie Hall. I recorded my first EP there too (‘I Don’t Believe in Love’) in 2013, and my biggest regret was not getting videos of that place! So when we went back for the new album, I had everything recorded. The YouTube video for my last single ‘Don’t Blame Me’ is all footage from our actual recording session. The owners of the studio were so nice and accommodating too. I would definitely recommend this studio to anyone looking to record in New York! You recorded everything
with your own money. That must have felt like an accomplishment knowing you did it yourself? I’m very proud of this because of what it represents. I am big on owning my own masters, and on owning myself overall. Every musician in the industry struggles with this on some level, but it’s especially challenging for women. I came from a family with a very strong, career-driven mom, and a dad who is extremely supportive and morally grounded. I always knew the importance of empowering myself within the industry and sticking to what I believe in. As someone who had such incredible guidance, I’m committed to setting any example I can for early-stage female artists who are trying to choose their paths in this business – to show that full independence is possible. I’m lucky to be a part of this generation where the services labels used to (exclusively) provide are gradually shifting to things that can be done independently. I have worked hard to self-fund all of the steps of the artist funnel – musical development, branding, recording, marketing (in progress), and hopefully others with time. I’ve invested a lot of time and energy into my Instagam over the last year – despite my true hatred for selfies – because social media support takes the marketing power away from labels and gives it back to the artist. I’m really excited to see what kinds of opportunities and systems will be in place for the next generation of musicians. Some of your original songs centre around relationships.
Are you a proud single or is there someone in your life? Haha, single 100%. The truth is, my songs about relationships closely follow my journey as a female musician, and a careerfocused woman. I have multiple songs about having to choose between certain sides of myself to try to make a relationship work. One of my new songs ‘If I Never’ really questions whether or not it’s possible for a woman of this generation to reach her full strength without having to sacrifice it for a relationship. Things are clearly moving in the right direction for women, but I’m not sure we’re there yet. I live a pretty extreme life with a lot of travelling, and I have to be tough working in a male-dominated, sometimes cutthroat industry. I do find it hard to naturally fall into relationships. Shy Man Blues is a cute song about men in Scandinavia. Compare dating there to dating in Windsor. Oh, God… haha. It was so, so different. Scandinavian culture is not based at all around connecting with strangers. If you smile at someone or talk to a stranger, you will be viewed as intrusive and strange. Small talk is not built into the culture, so people just think it’s weird. Over time, I came to really respect and appreciate this perspective, as people have a lot of respect for each other’s space. It’s also very gender neutral compared to most places, so I really do value where people are coming from. I wrote this song about one specific situation that happened. I was waiting for the elevator at work and this guy walked
in wearing a really nice outfit. I said to him “I like your outfit.” He stared at me with total panic and horror and said nothing. We rode 9 floors on the elevator, and I thought he was going to pass out from the stress. That about summarizes my dating experiences in Sweden and Finland. Tell us about the new single. ‘Better Than the Truth’ is a bit different from my other songs. On the upcoming album, this is the only one that’s just piano and voice. It’s very intimate, expressive, and I’m not actually sure which style it is, other than just a ballad. The lyrics are about the chemistry you can feel for someone you barely know, and the importance of differentiating between your emotional and rational sides. I will be releasing it on Spotify and on my own web store (leahharrismusic.com/shop), and I’m so excited to hear what people think! R. Kelly took a bit of a shining to your cover of Bump N Grind. That’s a huge compliment. That was so surprising. The notification first came through Twitter, which I never use, and I assumed it was some R. Kelly impersonator. I couldn’t believe it when I realized it was actually him and that he posted it on all his channels. I’m a perfectionist by nature but, in the spirit of trying to grow my Instagram over the last year (and the tech Learn Startup influence), I’ve made an effort to put out a lot of regular, imperfect content, rather than overanalyzing everything. The ‘Bump n’ Grind’ video was one of these that I just recorded quickly, with-
out a lot of thought – or even a mic! It was intimidating to know a lot of people would see something so unpolished, but I also think it’s important to be real and to accept that media can be created for different purposes. When you do a cover like Bump N Grind, you bring the core of the song out – is it fun to strip a song down? Yes, It’s fun to strip songs down! I think I also just hear music differently from what it is. I’ve been a solo artist and songwriter for so long. I tend to hear a whole band or orchestra when I play. I try to turn the piano into a whole band and utilize its wide range of keys, the ability to build dynamically, and the percussive element. The percussive element is very underrated in piano! There are so many ways to hit one note, and I really try to find the right voice or tone for each style or instrument I am trying to replace. The intro to ‘Makin’ Whoopee’ by Ray Charles is the perfect example of speaking through the piano. As much fun as covers are, I bet you’d much rather record your own music. There are a few covers that I absolutely love to play, that feel somehow authentic for me. Sometimes I hear a cover and just connect with it and know I can make it my own. I felt this way with ‘Don’t Look Back in Anger’ (my version is inspired by Carleen Anderson), and ‘Saving All My Love for You.’ Most of the time that is not the case and I’m playing covers for someone else, to get people’s attention. Music has always been much
more for me than a hobby or a career. It goes so much deeper than that. I write music to help me get through difficult times, or to try to make a difference. I would prefer to play my originals, but I think the environment is also important. They can’t be played interchangeably. Pulling out my original songs at a bar gig with a hockey game on above my head is the equivalent of my soul dying.
But those moments where people are completely engaged, and they came to the venue to feel something… that’s what I live for. Dublin was actually amazing for this. For more info on Leah, visit leahharrismusic.com.
Using The Music of U2 to Help Roots 2 Wings By Dan Savoie The band for this year’s We Will Rock Blue might just be “The Sweetest Thing”. Desire, an International tribute to U2 will perform at the Chrysler Theatre on June 16 to help raise awareness and funds for Roots 2 Wings, a local service organization offering programs for youth and young adults living with a disability. The Hamilton based band has been performing across North America and are scheduled to play at the 2018 Caledonia Canada Day festival on July 1. Desire celebrates all the iconic songs that have made U2 one of the most legendary rock bands of all time. They perform such hits as A Beautiful Day, I Will Follow, New Year’s Day, Mysterious Ways, Sunday Bloody Sunday, Even Better
Than The Real Thing and With or With Out You. “We all grew up with their music and saw the effect it had on our generation,” says Tim Shaughnessy, who takes on the persona of Bono during the shows. “As adults it becomes a nod of respect to a band that has transcended success to become a cultural phenomenon. You can count on one hand the bands that have achieved that level of success and fame. When we see we’re about to play for a ten thousand or even a hundred U2 fans, the memories of where we were and who we were with come flooding back inciting passionate performances without fail.” The band began as a totally different high school unit, but it took
two years to assemble an authentic lineup before it set out to offer the premium U2 experience they are known for. Shaughnessy’s Bono is joined by Dave DellaValle as The Edge, Gord Sobota as Larry Mullen Jr. and Justin Faragher as Adam Clayton. They have been known to use screens, back lighting and LED boards to make the experience as U2-like as possible. “Our success took a lot of hard work,” explains Dellavalle. “We spent two years of work to try and ensure the U2 experience was perfected, while continuing to learn and research what U2 is doing currently - to make the concerts sound and look as authentic as possible. During the two years prior to our first performance, time was spent first learning the
individual instrument parts, then we began the journey of sourcing and buying the massive collection of gear required to replicate the soundscape. Lastly the visual presentation was difficult as well, finding clothing and instruments that were as close to authentic as possible. Our passion for music combined with our friendship that has lasted from high school, has been a huge key to our success. The other has been our quest to make the concerts sound as authentic as possible.” The Windsor show is a funsraiser for the Roots 2 Wings organization, as part of a growing annual event called We Will Rock Blue. Funds raised from the event will directly go to the organization. Roots 2 Wings mission is to provide youth and young adults living with a disability the opportunities to grow and
develop skills to enhance their independence, social skills, and quality of life. It began in 2013 and has now grown to 50 clients with staff and co-op students from St. Clair College, University of Windsor, triOS college, and three local high schools. “My daughter was diagnosed from an early age with Asperger’s syndrome,” Shaughnessy reveals. “She is currently going to classes with the Transition to Employment staff in co-operation with the District School Board of Niagara. I live with her and see what she struggles with on a daily basis. Like all of the young adults in the Windsor area, she is someone who puts our own lives and struggles into perspective. The simplest things give great pleasure to them. Anyone directly involved in their lives cannot help but be changed for the better. It’s
obviously a cause we are familiar with and proud to be supporting.” The band is looking forward to its first appearance in Windsor and is excited to hit the stage at the Chrysler Theatre on June 16 with their familiar looking stage show. “It is an extreme pleasure to be able to play these incredible songs in front of an audience every show.,” adds Dellavalle. “A major key to our success on tour is the amount of audience interaction U2 Desire brings to the event. It’s not just the four of us on stage playing to the crowd right from song one, band members, particularly Tim as Bono, are out among the audience. There’s no line between the band and the audience. It makes people feel like they’re part of the show.” Tickets start at $22 and are available at the Chrysler Theatre.