The New and the Old, Times Two


I've announced this elsewhere, so here's the news for you faithful blog readers: my new covers EP, Favourites, Popular and Otherwise, has now been released in mp3 format. Nine songs in all, guaranteed to warm your heart and soothe your soul, recorded right here at The Grinning Zone from December 2019 to July 2021. And the best news? It's free to stream and download. Be sure to check out the cover art and booklet, too. Just click on the cover above to access the whole package. And here's the old within the new: some of these songs go back a long way. In fact, the earliest dates from 1957! And for you oldies fans, no track is more recent than 1988. Fans of (mostly obscure) classic folk and rock will find plenty to dig into here.

I'm also pleased to announce three new shows from my old band, Sour Landslide. We've been asked to open for our friends Lowest of the Low at their three Lee's Palace shows on December 14, 15 and 16. A reunion? Why, yes, even though the three of us were together in a later band, The Benvereens. But Sour Landslide as such will be playing its first shows since June of 1998. That's a lengthy spell away, is it not?

Back in the day, we described our music as "speedy pop mayhem." At our advanced ages I'm not so sure about the speedy or the mayhem, but I can guarantee the pop. Rehearsals are just beginning, as we narrow down the list of songs and figure out whether we can still play that fast (and indeed, if we want to). As befits punks in their 20s, some of the tempos suggest we were playing as if our hair was on fire. A couple of tunes are so fast they make Husker Du's Land Speed Record sound like Perry Como.

For a band that stayed resolutely obscure despite our best efforts, we were quite a productive lot, releasing four LPs and one EP in a nine-year span. Our repertoire consists of songs that maybe four people in the December audiences will know, and songs off the early albums that absolutely no one will know. Including, in some instances, us. As I've been getting reacquainted with the material, I found several songs where I have recorded proof that I played and sang those parts all those years ago, but zero memory of the song. It was like I was hearing them for the first time.

Anyway, to celebrate the occasion—and because I needed it or something like it to play bass live, which I've not done in years—I purchased a new pedal: the Zoom MS-60B, a multi-effects stomp-box for bass. It comes with 142 effects and its own learning curve, but I'm getting the hang of it. Last night I created several custom presets specifically for the Sour Landslide shows, and I think they'll work well. I'm miffed that the graphic EQ is missing what I consider critical frequencies for a gritty bass sound, between 800 Hz and 4.5 K. Oh, well; I'll sculpt my tone using the controls on the amp and my bass. Minor complaints aside, it's a rip-roaring little unit filled with high-quality effects. Great value for the price, too: the MS-60B sells for $160 Cdn., $175 if you throw in the AC adapter. And it's coming soon to a Palace near you.