This past Saturday I had the divine pleasure to attend a show at the Back Alley with four excellent local indie bands - Hybrid Monster, Howzat, Abandoned Souls and Damn Pigeon. I knew with the calibre of talent (and most of them being good friends of mine) that I was going to be treated with a night of great music – I had no idea!
The Back Alley Bar and Grill (Venue)
This venue is by far the best live music venue in St.Thomas, Ontario. Tracy Calder and her Dad Rodney have built a #1 venue for live bands to go and perform in and for bands to want to play in front of a large crowd with all the amenities that come with it. Flying Bob Taylor is the house sound man and being a musician himself, knows exactly what is needed to make a band sound great. The best sound men are always the one’s who are musicians themselves – they inherently know what is needed and what drives an audience (such as the kick drum needing to be a force of a nature, not buried in the mix).
The venue has a big stage, house lighting from all angles, in-house PA and monitors supplied by The PA Shop in London, Ontario, so you know going in that you have the best gear a band could ask for to play live. Load-in is a side door a mere 20 feet from the stage on ground level from parking lot.
Capacity for the venue is 300+, there is a couple of pool tables, numerous sports screens and the washrooms are as clean as a whistle. Greg Allen and his colleagues are the security and have the perfect temperament for the job – and Ladies, you will feel safe within the confines of the bar.
Everything about this bar is a winner so if any bands have a legion of fans they can sell a lot of tickets to one of their show, this is the venue to book in.
Howzat is a well-known London area indie rock band. With Kevin Rudy on Lead vocals, Greigg Fraser on Guitar and vocals, Dave Buland on bass, Dan Ransom on Keys and Vocals and new comer J-Rad Sterling on drums – this band delivers it all from hooks to thunder. Having opened for such big-league heavy weights as Nazareth and Uriah Heep an a favorite at Toronto’s Rock Pile – the bands songs continually get air play across the U.S air waves. Great vocals, catchy hooks, well structured songs and killer musicianship live – Howzat never disappoints when you go out and see them, their stage show is laid out in such a fashion to take you on a sonic ride from beginning to end and all the gentlemen can play their respective instruments with ownership of them. Kevin Rudy is a great front man and just has that instinct to get an audience on their feet and having the time of their life.
To sum up – this was a spectacular night of live original rock music by four naturally gifted bands. The musicianship made a musician feel honored to be in their presence and to a fan – well, it was an absolute treat all night long.
The four bands work like demons on stage and are well worth any cover charge to see them live, and they each have the utmost respect for the patrons who attend their shows.
All these bands have EP’s, CD’s online on all formats, so go their pages and support them by buying their music – it will be well worth the money you spend I assure you.
- Jim McCormick