Blues Arcadia EP review


Blues Arcadia’s debut EP by the same name is seven original songs running the gamut of the blues.

These musicians are the real thing with nothing to hide.

Recording live to tape meant absolute commitment to every moment of the songs. Blues Arcadia

Songwriters Alan Boyle (vocals) and Chris Harvey (guitar) make our world a better place. Listen to Blues Arcadia and they will take you on a blues train, riding shades of rock, country and Motown. On tracks “Take The Money”, “Rockin’ Chair”, “Miss Lonely” and “Operator Please”, Boyle’s upbeat and raunchy story-telling is sometimes interspersed with stabbing horns, and plenty of blues-infused instrumental conversations from guitar and keys.

“Here Comes The Rain” is a timeless ballad. Boyle’s voice almost cracks painfully over Harvey’s gentle guitar; simple, honest, beautiful. Pianist Parmis Rose joins with clear, proud chords, and they take us to a space where everyone has been, in the quiet moments of a life. Here comes the rain, I feel it fallin’ on my face.

Rose opens “Time and Again” with Boyle, her open modern chords presenting all sorts of possibilities for this song, before Harvey’s guitar paints a rhythm ‘n’ blues hue over it.

“Corner Girls” is the lackadaisical blues of dusty roads, wooden shacks, Southern Comfort and the anticipation that comes with ice in a glass. Boyle sings of bitterness and the need to move on, his whiskey-laced tones underscored by honky-tonk keys and the plaintive wail of Harvey’s lead guitar.

You’ve got to be on the same page, musically speaking, when you’re writing songs. I think as a band within the blues genre, we have something different to say. We’re not trying to sound like everybody else, and we are finding our own voice, which is where the songwriting comes into it. We draw on all kinds of music. Our new EP’s not necessarily a blues album, it’s got all kinds of stuff going on. Chris Harvey

Find Blue Arcadia here and buy the EP.

About the band

Based in Brisbane, Blues Arcadia was formed by Alan Boyle (vocals), Chris Harvey (guitar) and Jeremy Klysz (bass), together with Parmis Rose (keyboard) and Steve Robin (drums) in early 2016.

The songwriting partnership of Boyle and Harvey began with a previous project The Bella Reunion, whose debut release “Introducing…” went straight to number 1 in the Australian Blues and Roots Airplay Chart in 2015.

The Blues Arcadia EP was recorded by Mike ‘Beachy’ Wild at The Barn Studios in rural Queensland.

In 2015 the band received an Australian Blues Music Award as Best New Talent and a Queensland Music Award nomination, and they have performed at many festivals in Australia including the Byron Bay Bluesfest.

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Iron Maiden Voyage, Valtozash EP review

Cardboard Sleeve

In the late eighties, my mind was deliriously shot to pieces by the maniacal brilliance of a group of London jazz musicians called Loose Tubes, under the mirthful goading of their band leader, enfant terrible Django Bates.

Today, I am listening to Iron Maiden Voyage, the new EP by metal jazz big band Valtozash, and am again reminded of what skilful jazz musicians can create, when called to walk that tightrope of surgical precision and uncontained expressiveness.

Iron Maiden Voyage is a 4-track EP. It’s a kaleidoscope of glorious jazz and deafening metal. Andre Bonetti (bandleader, composer, vibist) writes with largesse: he keeps the orchestration tight, yet individual musicians escape into an ether of their own, like effervescence spilling from Bonetti’s mischievous cauldron.

The first two tracks are covers: Iron Maiden Voyage and Moanin’. Followers of the band will know these arrangements with fondness. Valtozash (named loosely around the word váltóz, the Hungarian word for change) has a huge sound, and the musicians stay true to the beauty of the original tracks, despite an onslaught of metal distortion. It’s a terrible beauty.

The other two tracks are originals: Smokey Dokey Whiskey Cat Yazz Yeah and The Nihilist Agenda.

Smokey Dokey Whiskey Cat Yazz Yeah opens like a classic LA gumshoe soundtrack. Sure enough Bonetti’s rhyming narrative begins, his tone is blithe and completely at odds with the macabre tale he is telling. Musicians bleed horror into the music, then clean it all up…almost. It is gorgeously nauseating. At first I could barely listen to it but now it’s my favourite track.

The Nihilist Agenda climbs like a spiraling staircase, the horns stab and cross over like angst in a deranged mind. A groovy bass and trumpet is disco in a madhouse, and a frenzied saxophone completes the work of lunacy. At the end of the track, I believe I can hear John Stefulj saying “nom nom” and other human utterances.

Valtozash will make you laugh, shudder and be amazed.

The album details are below, you can listen to the tracks, and order. (Make sure you scroll down where you can hear all the tracks.)

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Blues Arcadia @ Lefty’s Old Time Music Hall review Aug 28 2016


Originally published in Scenestr.

Blues Arcadia guitarist Chris Harvey said before the gig, “At Lefty’s, they’re there to party, and we’re there to help them. So that’s what we do. Bang bang, it’s quite electrifying. We’re there to work the audience. Get them to that bar, get them on to the dance floor. So it’s all gonna be real pumped, right?”

It sure was. Lefty’s Old Time Music Hall has chandeliers, red upholstery, and moose heads draped with hanging bras. Everyone’s got drinks and there isn’t a wine glass in sight.

Blues Arcadia opened up with their own song, “Sort It Out”, (think John Lee Hooker’s “Boom Boom”). Patrons were on the dance floor in no time as the band played originals “Bullet”, “This Ain’t Love”, “Rockin’ Chair”, “Big City Lights” and “Take The Money And Run”.

Cath, a close friend of the musos said, “I call their music dirty, soul-infused blues”. Blues Arcadia played dirty, played soul, played funky, played Latin, played Texas shuffle, played rock ‘n’ roll.

“We’re mainly an originals band,” said Harvey. “The more songs we write, the less covers we play. But our songs – it’s like people almost know them; they’re familiar. So we play gigs where people are dancing, and we say: By the way, you are dancing to our original song. And they go, Oh really!”

The drinks flowed, the people danced. Patrons upstairs leaned over the banister to get in on the party.

Blues Arcadia did dedications and covers too: “Hound Dog”, Freddy King’s “Big Legged Woman”, The Fabulous Thunderbirds’ “One’s Too Many (And A Hundred Ain’t Enough)”. In BB King’s “You Upsets Me, Baby”, keyboard player Parmis Rose dealt out a mean hand of Monk-esque licks.

In a get-up-and-dance night, a rare concession was the band’s sublime original ballad, “Corner Girls”.

Alan Boyle at Leftys

Vocalist Alan Boyle’s voice held the pathos in the balance as he sang his minor key story. He was whimsical and liquid, and we swayed to his lyric. He raised the pain a little and we were gazing at him through the bottom of our apple whiskey glasses. We wanted more whiskey and more Al. Harvey’s guitar held a long note, bending and suspended, like the strings of our aching hearts.

Parmis Rose sepia

Oh it was SO the blues! Parmis played a perfect honky tonk piano, she took us to a place of sepia light, wooden shacks and dusty, dirt roads. We were feeling no pain.

More originals, “Shuffle Street” and “Miss Lonely”. More rocking covers, “Big Bad Blues” (Carl Perkins), “She’s Into Something” (Robert Cray), “Wish You Could See Me Now” (Ronnie Earl),
“Driving Wheel” (Al Green), “Lonely Avenue” (Ray Charles).

Blues Arcadia gave us a passionate performance and great music, and hammered home the argument that live bands are simply the best entertainment there is.

After much whooping and hollering, they closed out the Saturday night party at Lefty’s. Next time they’re playing, make sure you see them.

Piano recital for my students!

Our very first piano recital
Our very first piano recital

This week, at the Gold Coast school where I teach, my students performed in a piano recital. Actually there were two recitals, as I teach at two campuses. Although there are several instrumental music events at the school each year, the Director of Performing Arts said this was the first ever piano recital at the school (in its 30+ year history).

Did you hear that kids? We made history at the school! Yay!

This recital came about because I asked whether my students, all of whom are beginners, could experience the excitement of performing to an audience. After all, a challenge and a little healthy stress is a good thing; it’s character-building!

Continue reading “Piano recital for my students!”