Sound Seekers

SOUND SEEKERS: John Allaire and the Confederation bring strings and sticks and other skills to Irene’s Pub

Sound Seekers by Fateema Sayani is published weekly at Read Fateema Sayani’s culture column in Ottawa Magazine and follow her on Twitter @fateemasayani

Songwriter John Allaire put on his photo-hacking hat and did this stitch job for me. It’s a pasted-together pic of some band mates he’s corralled for a weekend gig. It was a quick-and-dirty deal (the photo, not the band-herding, natch). We here at Ottawa Magazine needed a photo to run with this column and the task of rounding up musicians rarely squares well with tight web deadlines.

Four players and one twirler. (That’s a drumstick. He’s not flipping you the bird). Photo by John Allaire

This banner image is a poor replacement for the real thing; it lacks all of the characteristics of a live setting: the vibrancy and sizzle that boils over when those with six strings and salty humour gather for a show.

That’s set for this Friday at Irene’s with Allaire at centre stage with a band of O-town all-stars. The band is called The Confederation and comprises Anders Drerup, Lynne Hanson, Kevin “Breeze” Smith, and Dean Watson.

Here’s a primer, from Allaire, on his band The Confederation:

Anders Drerup (pedal steel and guitar, vocals)
Anders has played with just about everyone in O-town at one point or the other. In the Confederation, Anders will be adding the colour to the songs with his eclectic leads and his incredible vocals. Anders will take centre-stage on a song or two and will be featured in most songs performing the lead instrumentals.

Lynne Hanson (guitar, vocals)
Lynne is a road warrior, spending much of her touring time in the UK and Europe. The Confederation will be playing a few of Lynne’s whiskey-soaked Americana songs, where Lynne will be featured up front and centre. She will also be providing her rich trademark vocals as part of the big vocal sound that will define the Confederation show.

Kevin “Breeze” Smith (drums)
Breeze has been keeping the rhythm in John’s bands since the early days of The Town Cryers in the ‘80s. Currently a member of Ottawa’s BushPilots and The Campistas, Breeze’s ability to “play to the song” made him a natural choice to keep the backbeat for this project.

Dean Watson (bass, vocals)
Dean is at the forefront of defining the O-Town sound through his production at Gallery Studios. Producing dozens of albums annually out of his Glebe studio, as well as playing bass for Shannon Rose & The Thorns, Dean will be dropping the bottom end for the Confederation’s rhythm section.

The Confederation will open for Bill Toms. Toms is a Pittsburgh singer-songwriter invested in the rhythm and blues whose style is complementary to Allaire’s.

Allaire is a strong storyteller on and off the stage. I still laugh when I think of an interview we did way back. We got onto the topic of artist’s bios with their standard-issue info and Allaire told me of a slip of a keystroke he once made that saw him issue dozens of releases that claimed he had “a Bachelor o fArts.”

On the topic of troubadour’s travails, Allaire’s song Trails in the Sand is about playing cover gigs to pay the bills. Those gigs where you spend a night playing classic rock for the inebriated may not be your career high, but it’s a means to an end.

Lately, Allaire has been improving the format of the standard pub show with a weekly Saturday gig at Quinn’s in Old Ottawa South. It’s called The Allaire Show and it’s where he sharpens his storytelling, while welcoming an array of songwriters from the Ottawa scene and out-of-town guests for an afternoon of music and brews. He’ll welcome Toms to the stage this Saturday (3.5 p.m.). Next week, it’s Tony D.

John Allaire and the Friday, May 3. Irene’s Pub, 885 Bank St.