Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Does Ottawa need MORE music clubs? Or does it need more SUPPORT for the clubs it already has?

It was great to see so many sold-out gigs on the Ottawa scene recently - a fact that was picked up and highlighted by Ottawa Citizen arts reporter Kirsten E. Endemann.

"Baz" sold out Bazmore's

Citing acts such as Coleman Hell and Ria Mae, who sold out Zaphod Beeblebrox on November 24, and Sebastian Bach 
who sold out Barrymore's Music Hall on November 26, Ms Endemann offered the opinion that these performances are "...evidence Ottawa needs more music venues, not fewer of them."

The nightclub at the end of the universe (or the middle of the Byward Market...)

Hmmm. My personal sentiment is that, we have plenty of Ottawa/Gatineau venues... we just need more of them to be sell-out shows. If we have clubs that are sitting empty on many nights, despite the fact that they are offering quality entertainment, I don't think we need more empty clubs. What needs to happen? More support for small business from the city? More support from art consumers? More grants for artistic enterprise?

Well I don't run a local entertainment business, so I don't want to speculate too closely ... instead, I'm interviewing some real local club owners who will tell us what is actually going on in and behind the scene, and what they think would make the Ottawa arts community more healthy and vibrant - with tons more sold-out shows. Coming up shortly, dear readers!

Saturday, 26 November 2016

Interview with Jumpin' Joel Flash!

As promised, readers, here is an update on what Jumpin' Joel Flash is about, is doing, and will be doing in the near future. Joel is a quadruple threat combo of vocalist, instrumentalist, actor and songwriter... and all-round killer entertainer. So I guess he's a quintuple threat? Anyway, math ain't SceneRazR's strong suit, hot local art scene is.

Please follow Joel on the links listed below to check in on his gigs and other happenings (especially you awkward first date aficionados >:] ).

SceneRazr: There is a lot going on in a Jumpin’ Joel Flash performance – not just musically, but in terms of performance art and improvisation. When you build your show, do you have a particular goal in mind in terms of what you want the audience to take away with them?

Jumpin' Joel Flash: Above all else, I’m looking to entertain. People could be doing anything else with their evening… other shows, movies, dinners, art, Netflix, etc... If someone has taken the time to leave their house, travel to the venue, pay cover, and wait patiently for the act to start, I think we, as performers, owe it to them to deliver something to remember. I want people to leave saying “wow”. It’s happened every time so far.

Joel Bringin' It
(credit Ryan Lindsey Photography)

SR: The cover tunes you play run a wide gamut of musical styles. This is true of your original music as well. Do you have a particular genre or style of music that influences or inspires your process?

JJF: I’ve always been a classic rock nut. It was actually Weird Al that got me into it… his “Hot Rocks Polka” turned me onto the Stones and it snowballed from there.

In college, I joined a local cover band called Barrelhouse. Playing with them changed how I looked at music, and for the better. I wasn’t afraid or turned off by things that sounded like they were recorded after 1980. We played a metric ton of Allman Brothers, but could also play full sets of Steely Dan. Intricate, complex tunes that gave me an appreciation for wildly different styles and grooves. At one point, we were playing the entirety of Abbey Road front to back. It was madness. But it all worked. And it was a stupid amount of fun.

Their influence remains with me. I like the southern crunchy jams and grooves of The Allmans mixed with fun harmonies and odd song structure of Steely. It all comes back to the Stones though. If my act could sound like Exile on Main Street then I’d be in a very happy place.

From left to right: Brad Cutler, Joel, Zoe Elizabeth and Robin Hodge
(as backing vocalists "The Ghost Lights")
(credit Ryan Lindsey Photography)
SR: In addition to performing in various musical acts, you’ve recently explored acting – and now you have also developed the score for an original musical – Phantom of the Opry – that will be staged in Ottawa in the near future. Could you walk us through how that evolved?

JJF: My wife began starring in a number of Local Director Brett Kellys films, including Homicycle, Raiders of the Lost Shark, and SpyFall. I began hanging around the sets and was eventually asked to try out for a couple of roles. Then I saw the open casting call for My Fair Zombie. My experience with musical theatre was absolute zero, but I dig zombies and I can sing, so I thought I’d give it a go.

I auditioned and got in, which was both a wonderful surprise, and a dreadful feeling of doom. I’d never acted….let’s say ‘theatrically’ before. Luckily, I was surrounded by such an amazing group of people that were happy to answer all my questions and guide me through the process. I was awed by their talent every time I saw them. I’m happy to call them all friends.  

After My Fair Zombie was over, Brett asked if I had any interest in writing the score for Phantom. Having never composed for theatre before, and having no musical director experience, I of course said yes.
SR: As well as being an insanely gifted singer, you play guitar in Jumpin’ Joel Flash, and play occasional trumpet in Fuzzy Bunny Slaughterhouse – also in Barrelhouse, your erstwhile blues lineup. Any other instrumental talents you haven’t told us about?

JJF: I can beatbox, but I haven’t yet figured out how to channel it into a performance. I also do a great impression of Stuart MacLean. Maybe they should be mixed? Vinyl Cafe R-r-r-r-r-remix?

Joel manifesting some of his multi-instrumental talents in Fuzzy Bunny Slaughterhouse (Ottawa's premier rabbit-themed rock band)

If i could get my hands on a keytar, I bet i could play that as well. Only if it’s hot pink though.
SR: That kerfuffle in the House of Commons where one MP made a fart simile during Question Period, and another MP said she was out of line: are you on “Team Fart,” or do you fall firmly on the lines of observing the timeless traditional courtesies of parliamentary procedure?

JJF: (insert ‘hot air in parliament’ joke here)
SR: What’s next for Jumpin' Joel Flash? Recording? More gigs? Let SceneRazR readers know when and where to find you  :)

JJF: More gigs fo’ sho’... I’m hoping to play around town as much as possible in 2017! The band is growing and is currently made up of some insane talent: The guitar stylings of Brad Cutler make everything we do all the more ethereal and epic and insert another ‘e’ word here. And I can’t go on enough about the vocal and performance stylings of The Ghost Lights… Zoe Elizabeth and Robin Hodge give our act a major dose of energy... their theatre background shines brightly in everything they do. They sound incredible and put on a show you won’t forget.   

And definitely people should come and check out Phantom of the Opry at The Gladstone this February!  The actors are wonderful, the script is hilarious, and the 10 original songs I’ve composed will get stuck in your head!  Lord knows they’re stuck in mine.

Also looking to record my first album! There is more than enough material… it’s just finding the time at this point. Also will need to get a few session players… or permanent band members perhaps?  Always interested in applications!  

So yeah…. Whew…. A busy 2017!  Can’t wait to share it with Ottawa!

SR: Thanks for taking the time to talk with us Joel, and please continue to keep SceneRazR looped in with your future projects and performances. Our esteemed readers can find Jumpin' Joel Flash updates at or contact him at In terms of band auditions, Joel is currently looking for keys and horns, so all you keyists and hornists should get in touch with him without delay!

Little Rebels Stick it to the Big Kids

Can I just say how COOL it is that Ottawa once again has a "real rock" station? And may I emphasize how HELLA-COOL it is that they're independently owned and operated? This is major. What Rebel 101.7 calls "The Evil Empire" (monolithic media giants) have been eroding the quality and integrity of journalism, reporting and media content for decades now. It is so bloody refreshing to hear Rebel voices on the air, bringing real rock back to the NCR.

Rebel's tune selection is very refreshing if you get tired of hearing the same old hits people have been spinning over the last 40 years or so. Not only do they play cuts that I haven't heard on mainstream radio ever in my lifetime (Butthole Surfers? I've never heard them anywhere outside my own record collection!), they also play local talent and are diligent about plugging local artists' music and shows. Just because. This is something that other so-called rock stations (sorry, if you play Neil Young at me you're not a real rock station) - the ones owned by the corpulent big-media companies - are not well known for.

If you don't already tune in, please dial up Rebel 101.7, and help them fly their freaky flag for all time.

Thursday, 24 November 2016

Rushin' (Russian?) with Jumpin' Joel Flash

Hey Maniacs, I have a must-see for you if you want crazy vox, belly laughs, and a feast for the ears and eyes. I'm talking about Jumpin' Joel Flash, a musical act that is taking the acoustic pub circuit by storm - and that will soon be moving to bigger and louder venues as the band's lineup expands.

Jumpin' Joel Flash took the stage at the Avant Garde Bar last Friday as the second of three bands, playing to a very packed house. In fact, it was so packed that the only pictures I could take were of the back of other peoples' heads.

I need to be taller

I love the Avant Garde Bar. I'm a major Russophile, and Avant Garde is a Russian-themed cafe/bar that has a very hammer-and-sickle art vibe going on with lots of pre-perestroika era propaganda posters on the walls. The bar is small but well-stocked and there was a large and thirsty population crowding about it when I arrived. Ochen' kruto! (Russian for: Very cool!)

Because Kandinsky

Jumpin' Joel Flash consist of the eponymous Joel handling emcee, guitar and lead vocals, Robin Hodge and Zoe Elizabeth as the backing vocal group Ghostlights, Brad Cutler on second guitar and as Head Fall Boy for a few comedic setups, and Kim Valentine on ukulele. 

 Joel plus Robin and Zoe

As the performance rolled out, it struck me that this band is the PERFECT act to see if you are going on that awkward first date - the one your brother/sister/best friend/(god forbid) MOM set you up on because "I know you don't know him/her very well but you two would be PERFECT together" and so you meet up with mister or miss Perfect and find out that you have NOTHING TO TALK ABOUT and spend the first three quarters of the date in agonizing attempts to find common ground so you can actually have a conversation. Or that first date you set up yourself where you feel very triumphant but are dying with anxiety, hoping that all goes well, and are second-guessing yourself because you are worried you won't be smart/funny/entertaining enough. Well, problems solved, dear people: make a Jumpin' Joel Flash gig your first date destination of choice. Here's why: there is so much going on during the show that you will a) be so entertained that you will not have to make conversation; b) be able to laugh together at the genuinely hilarious byplay onstage (laughing together = raised endorphins = major attraction); c) be so blown away that you will have plenty to talk about after the gig. 

Don't be like these people! Go see JJF!

Joel starts off with a wickedly entertaining takeoff on a classic Johnny Cash tune, and segues into pop tunes, Disney tunes, original tunes, all peppered with frequent jokes, improvs and audience participation sequences - propped up with entertaining interplay with his backing vocalists and musicians. Make no mistake: to really appreciate it, you HAVE to see it.

With this in mind, SceneRazR managed to catch up with this very busy dude after the gig to get more info on who he is, what drives his shows, and where to stay on top of his performance schedule (awkward first daters take note!). Interview to follow, dear readers. Meanwhile please visit to get up-to-date on Joel's latest and greatest events!

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Ottawa Rockers BIG JEEZUS TRUCK open for legendary DIAMOND HEAD at the Brass Monkey

Hunt up your earplugs for this one, Maniacs  >:]

This Wednesday, November 23, local rock icons BIG JEEZUS TRUCK will be winding up the crowd at Ottawa's Brass Monkey for none other than Brit metal legends Diamond Head.

Slim Reaper of BJT

If history is anything to go by, this will be a ripping show. >:]

Over the past year, the Brass Monkey has been under new ownership and has undertaken some amazing renovations to the stage setup and the audience space. The vibe is cool yet laid back, there is still a large pool and darts area plus a private party room, and the owners remain committed to bringing in classic rock acts in a classy space. Make sure you friend them on Facebook and bookmark their events so you don't miss a trick in the Monkey cage!

Welcome to SceneRazr - Spotlight on the Baddest and Raddest Entertainment in the NCR!

Welcome to SceneRazR, Maniacs  >:]

To paraphrase an infamous person who inhabits the country south of our green and pleasant land: it's time to make things "great." With this in mind, SceneRazR will shine a huge spotlight on the spiciest, sparkiest, shiniest and darkest music, art, writing, film, theatre and performances/entertainment in the Ottawa-Gatineau area - with a major focus on LOCAL talent.

Follow us here at SceneRazR for links to primo events, interviews, and overviews of local artists and shows. Contact us at if you have anything you'd like us to promote in your local arts scene.

Looking forward to kicking it up!

-- Editor