Sound Seekers by Fateema Sayani is published weekly at OttawaMagazine.com. Read Fateema Sayani’s culture column in Ottawa Magazine and follow her on Twitter @fateemasayani
Say welcome back to the band Friday when they return to Ottawa after an extensive summer tour. They’ll hit the Babylon stage once again — it’s the same place where the band jammed their tunes into a blissful blast of (as the name says) soul and jazz so many years ago. That sound brought them thousands upon thousands of fans and took them to many festivals this summer. We asked keys player Pierre Chretien for some hilarious and momentous stories from the band’s travels:
Le Festival d’été de Québec
“We got to open up Stevie Wonder. Man, that was such a mind-blowing concert. He was so inspiring. We then took off for Europe for the rest of the summer where we played with bands like Kool & the Gang, Manu Dibango, Horace Andy, Seun Kuti, Julian Marley, and others.”
“We hit up France, Belgium, Italy, the U.K., Czech Republic, and Austria. We got the biggest crowds we’ve ever had.”
“Italy was a lot of fun, but I was driven to an interview on the back of a Vespa by a promoter who drove like a complete maniac, squeezing between cars and blowing red lights. Then no one at the TV station spoke English, so we did an interview with them speaking Italian, me speaking English, and both of us pretending like we totally understood everything, even though neither of us had a clue. I think that was for one of the national RAI stations too, geez.”
“The Czech Republic was fun too. They still have a lot of the old Soviet-era trains there, where you can basically hang out the window completely. No one seems to mind. We all looked like puppy dogs hanging out of the train and even snagged a bunch of apples from trees hanging over the tracks. It saved us some dough on lunch.”
“In Belgium, we were playing this big festival on the grounds of an old medieval abbey. It was scorching hot and we were just dying in that muggy, continental heat. As soon as the shy lady promoter showed us to our “dressing room”—which was really a part of the abbey cafeteria cordoned off with little curtains—most of us immediately stripped down to our underwear. We couldn’t take it any more. The poor lady immediately walked back to talk business, and then let out a scream of surprise when she saw all of these half-naked guys in the abbey. We tried to act normal about it and told her not to worry, but she ran off pretty quickly. We did finally take care of the contract details, but she never looked me in the eye after that for some reason.”
“We got back to Canada in September to close the night after Pharoah Sanders at the Guelph Jazz Festival, and then the week after we got to play the live battle suite for the b-boy finals at the House of Paint hip-hop festival.”
“We have a brand new album coming out in 2014 called Inner Fire again on UK-based Strut Records. We’ve been hard at work on it for the past six months or so. It’s an interesting mix of various Afro and Latin styles, combined with spiritual big-band soul-jazz and a touch of hip-hop. A bit like Coltrane meeting Ebo Taylor and Willie Colon, with Madlib producing the whole thing, to give you a vague idea. We’re also showcasing the vocalists in the band this time, rather than relying on guests. Marielle (Rivard), Ray (Murray), and Phil (Lafreniere) will get prominent features. For what it’s worth, I think it’s my favourite record so far. I love it so much.”
Friday, November 15. Babylon Nightclub, 317 Bank St. $12. 10 p.m.
New Timekode EP
Timekode, that good-time monthly dance party, has been taking place for the past eight years. In celebration of that milestone, two of the event DJs, Zattar and Memetic, have released a five-track EP covering the various influences and styles heard at Timekode over the years (soul, retro, house, dance, the gamut). The EP — the first of original material from the duo — is available here.The Eri Café. Music starts at 10 p.m.
Friday, November 15. The Eri Cafe, 953 Somerset St. $5. 10 p.m.
Cloud of Rock features members of The Hammerheads, Starling, and nearly every other major Ottawa rock band from the past two decades. The six-piece — Dave Bignell, Tim Devries, Fred Guignon, Mike Fenton, Don Cummings, and Peter von Althen — play Irene’s Pub Friday. https://www.facebook.com/events/642023735836410/