Montreal’s The Holds are a band inspired by the greats and their local contemporaries. Frontman Ryan Setton cites classic R&B artists like Otis Redding and Stevie Wonder, classic rock acts such as The Animals and Led Zeppelin and  local acts like John Jacob Magistry and The Damn Truth among the band’s influences.

“When we approach what we do,” Setton said in a telephone interview, “we’re influenced by the past but we’re not thinking about it. We’re definitely in the moment of what’s going on now (on the Montreal scene). The result is The Holds.”

Setton feels that the scene that influences them is also one that gives back.

“Montreal’s always been a very supportive scene, a lot of people are supporting the bands,” he said, adding that “it can be tough, though, at the same time because there are a lot of bands. So it can be intimidating sometimes as an artist to find out just where you fit in.”

The Holds is Setton on vocals and guitar, Justin Wiley on drums and percussion, Eric Hein playing lead guitar and André Galamba on bass. That was the same lineup I caught at their EP launch two years ago, shortly after the band’s formation.

“We are lucky enough to have the same lineup for years,” Setton observed, “building chemistry and having a good band chemistry and interaction between the musicians is super important. With the first EP it was more like ‘Hey, let’s do this!’ We didn’t really know where it was going to go. But doing this second record it was clear we’re all on the same page…There’s no confusion as to what direction we’re headed in as a band.”

While The Holds are a band that sticks together, they also tried living together for four days in the country. This was in order to record their first full-length album Juke, featuring songs they had already written over the course of a year and a half.

“We had recorded many times in the city,” Setton remembered, “and at the end day everyone would go home and we’d have to come back in the morning and get back into the flow. That’s why I thought if I get everyone together, we’re in one place, we’re stuck there…and it was totally worth it because it all worked out for the best.”

You can hear for yourself this Saturday when The Holds play live and release Juke. In the meantime, enjoy this video from their first EP:

* The Holds Juke Album Launch with special guests Celina Wolfe and Lea Keeley is Satuday, August 25 at 9pm (doors 8pm) at le Petit Campus, 57 Prince Arthur Est. $10 (includes a dropcard with a download code for the album)

Sometimes it’s hard to pigeonhole a band’s sound. That’s usually a sign that the band really has something new and interesting to offer. Montreal’s The Holds is one of those bands.

The five-piece hailing from NDG (my old ‘hood) launched their self-titled debut EP Friday at O Patro Vys on Mont-Royal. A download of the EP was included with the price of admission.

Opener Joshua Carey of Po Lazarus kicked things off with a very intimate set. Alone with his guitar and mandolin until the last tune, he welcomed the crowd with some of the Po Lazarus repertoire and even a new original tune, setting the stage perfectly for the explosion that was to follow.

Blues and More

From the moment The Holds took the stage, they were in show mode. The light instrumentation that served as a backdrop as frontman Ryan Setton introduced the show and got the audience to count down from ten gelled into the first song when the countdown was done. From there on it was all energy.

When you listen to The Holds, the first thing that comes to mind is the blues. This musical genre permeates every tune they play, but it’s never alone. Their songs are also rock songs, and quite a few of them are borderline or outright psychedelic, too.

vintage projector

I’m not just saying that because of the live projections done with vintage projectors courtesy of Daniel Oniszeczko that gave the show its visual feel. There’s something trippy in the music, too.

Very Montreal

The band is made up of Setton, Andre Galamba on bass, Eric Hein on guitar, Justin Wiley on drums and Alex Lebel on keyboard. While the presence of keys in a blues rock band, or a psychedelic blues rock band may have you thinking Blues Traveller or The Doors, there is something else at play when it comes to The Holds and it starts with the crowd.

O Patro Vys was packed. Taking a look around the room, I got the feeling that I was at an Indie Rock show, something Montreal is known for. Admittedly, the fact that Dan Moscovitch of First You Get The Sugar produced their EP may have had something to do with that, but there was more to it.

the holds o patro vys 2

From the little card with free download instructions to get the EP to general atmosphere the band created in the room, the event was very tech-aware and very indie. And all this to go along with generally longer blues-infused tunes. A very Montreal experience.

It’s one you should hope to experience for yourself if you missed out last Friday and one the people who were there most likely want to experience again. We have that chance on Saturday, March 12th at Turbo Haus in St-Henri. Until then, you can enjoy The Holds at home or wherever you are by downloading their EP from iTunes via their site You’ll be glad you did.

* Photos by Steve Walsh

Montreal-based blusey rock band The Holds are launching their self-titled debut EP this Friday. FTB’s Hannah Besseau had a chance to speak with lead singer Ryan Setton and ask him about the upcoming show, the band and making their recent video:

* The Holds launch their at O Patro Vys, 356 Mont-Royal Est, Friday January 29th. Joshua Carey of Po Lazarus opens and the show starts at 9pm.

* For more:

* Featured image by Steve Gerrard.

Folk, country and blues singer-songwriter Oh Susanna put on a hell of a show this week at Toronto’s The Great Hall. It was extra special because she invited some friends along to play, and she has some very spectacular friends indeed!

Andy Maize, Ben Kunder, Sarah Harmer, Jane Siberry, Justin Rutledge and Colleen Brown were among those privileged enough to be called up. Coming up one at a time, these gems performed their songs with Suzie and her band.

Suzie performed many of her own songs as well. What a voice! Such strength and clarity of tone. The show concluded with a melodious group encore, where Suzie re-wrote the lyrics to Go Tell it on the Mountain and we had a good, old-fashioned sing-along.


The event was in keeping with her album Namedropper, a collection of songs written for her by many of her musical friends, including Ron Sexsmith, Jim Cuddy, Amelia Curran, Melissa McClelland, Luke Doucet and several others. What a brilliant idea for a record.

As such, the record boasts variety in subject material and tone, but Suzie made each song her own and is the cohesiveness that keeps this wonderful collection of songs together. My two favourites are Oregon (Jim Bryson) and Mozart For The Cat (Melissa McClelland).

Oregon is magical. It boasts a delicate, childlike innocence. There’s a reverent quality to it, both in the lyrics and in the simplicity of the song, plus the way Suzie sings it. Jim Bryson does such a wonderful job with the lyrics that it paints a vivid picture of lazy afternoons and the simple pleasures in life.

Mozart For The Cat is quite a contrast to Oregon;it’s sassy! It’s fun and punchy and Suzie’s delivery is bang on.

Namedropper was actually in the works in 2012 and almost finished by spring 2013 when Suzie was diagnosed with breast cancer. She took time off for treatment, and released the album in October 2014.

Suzie proved last night that she’s back, sounding and looking stronger and more confident than ever. Hats off to her and her band, and her obviously supportive and caring friends.

Here’s a video for Goodnight, performed last year at The Great Hall:

• 1998 – Genie Award for Best Original Song “River Blue”

• 2003 – Juno Nomination for Best Roots and Traditional Album for Solo Artist For Oh Susanna

• 2007 – Juno Nomination for Best Roots and Traditional Album for Solo Artist for Short Stories
• 2007 – Canadian Folk Music Award for Best Songwriter in English

• 2007 – Canadian Folk Music Award Nomination for Best Album Short Stories
• 2009 – CBC Great Canadian Song Quest winner
• 2011 – Juno Nomination for Best Producer for Soon The Birds
• 2015 – Canadian Folk Music Nomination for Solo Artist of the Year
Photos by Stephanie Beatson

The Revival was the scene of the hottest show in Toronto last weekend.  The Justin Bacchus Collective held their CD release event at this swanky downtown joint, and quite honestly, I’ve never been to an album release that hosted as many guests before.

Bacchus and the band drew on its fans from their years of residency playing at the famed Rex Jazz and Blues bar, a musical mecca in the heart of downtown Toronto.  It was at the Rex that this group of musicians, who were all at the top of their game already, were able to jam together and fall into their Collective groove.

They have honed a sound that is very obviously influenced by Stevie Wonder and his contemporaries, but each song has been given the “Collective treatment” which is uniquely theirs; a blend of funk and jazz, with some soul and R&B in there too.  There are even gospel inspired harmonies in some tracks.


Yes indeed.  The music is colourful and engaging.  Every band member is in the top tier of the city’s pool of talented musicians.  They’re make-a-deal-with-the-devil good.

Seriously.  Bacchus fronts the band with his powerful pipes and wrote or co-wrote most of the tunes on the album.  The music director of the group, Sam Williams, who also plays keys/synth and bass and co-wrote many of the tracks, has done some truly outstanding work arranging the tunes on the album.  Elmer Ferrer performs electrifying solos more skillfully and tastefully than most musicians I’ve seen; he’s an absolute monster on the guitar.  Larnell Lewis masterfully provides the rhythm section.


This is a must-see live band if you like jazz and funk music.  Their spirit is contagious.

That said, it’s always an extreme challenge to capture the energy of a live show in a studio recording, especially when you’re accustomed to performing to fans who obviously love and adore you, because players feed off the audience and vice versa.  Time of Your Life comes pretty damn close to a live show.  Listening to the album, it’s so obvious that everyone in the sessions is having fun, and that’s what funk is all about.  The Justin Bacchus collective brings a refreshing modern flare to music that any fan of Stevie Wonder or James Brown would truly dig.

Hopefully some footage from the CD release will be posted, but in the meantime check out a video of the band performing John Mayer’s hit Waiting on the World to Change at one of their regular gigs at the Rex a couple years back.

At this point in time, only one of the album tracks, What It Is, is available on iTunes as a single.

Photos by Stephanie Beatson

Chose Bottine

Joel Larocque takes the Chiac colloquialism Chose Bottine as his moniker for his new album Les Moyens du Bord. When I asked him what the hell Chose Bottine meant Larocque replied:

“It’s a phrase that my father used to use when referring to someone whose name he’d forgotten. He’d say, ‘Do you remember when chose bottine fell and cracked his head open on the ice?!'”

At which point I was like, oh, it’s the Chiac equivalent to what’s his face— it was also at this point that I thought, Chose Bottine is a super fresh name for a band.

The album features songs in both French and English, which reflects Larocque’s Acadian roots. Larocque moves between the two tongues as only those who hail from New Brunswick can. The lyrics are nuanced and yet accessible; all these tunes are grounded in the experiential, in life’s twists and turns. The character(s) depicted are often sympathetic and recognizable: the underdog, the disillusioned, the heartbroken. But it’s not all maudlin gloom, Larocque himself sings that: together we can change the world, which in a different context may seem cliché, but not here as thread of redemption woven into a tapestry of hard luck.

Musically this album finds its roots in American folk and Blues. I often catch a hint of Cajun spice in Larocque’s strumming patterns and in his ability to make a song swing by playing with time signatures.

Larocque has enlisted some pretty sharp players for this project: Steve Aitchison on drums, Sean Madden mans the standup bass, Maxime Racicot playing smoking lead and Jesse Ens is as smooth as a suede shoe on the banjo and pedal steel.

Larocque said the title of this EP really reflects its creation, that Les Moyens du Bord is a collection of songs about marginalization and how the collective effort of a community can make something out of nothing. Larocque said:

“A lot of people pitched in to make this happen, mixing was pro bono, recording and cover art was pro bono… this was very much a coming together of the disenfranchised. There’s a whole community behind what’s his face.”

Chose Bottine

Chose Bottine perform Saturday, June 14 at Grumpy’s Bar, free.

Photos by Jesse Anger.

Definitely not the new kid in town, but last Friday I had the chance to see this blues whiz for the first time at the stellar Pearl Company in Hamilton. When I noticed the band was playing again at Toronto’s Cameron House on Wednesday night, I grabbed the chance to see them again. Twice in one week?  Hell yes!  They’re that good.

In 2013, Paul Reddick was nominated for five Maple Blues Awards (several of which he has already taken home in previous years) for his most recent album Wishbone, including Recording of the Year. Quite an honour! Wishbone was also ranked #3 best blues albums of 2013 by Mojo Magazine. His reputation is growing both nationally and internationally, and it’s no surprise why.


Reddick’s harmonica playing echoes the legendary Hamiltonian King Biscuit Boy. I’ve never seen moves and sounds like the ones he’s got, certainly not in person. Not only that, but his voice is silky smooth, like a cup of lemon tea on a sore throat. Like a glass of Bailey’s and coffee on Christmas morning. Like the sun’s rays soaking into your skin on a hot summer day. OK, you get the point.

It’s the whole package that make his shows so damn good. An award-winning songwriter and performer, Reddick is backed up by a band of excellent musicians at the top of their game. Greg Cockerill on guitar, Kurt Nielsen on bass and Daniel Neill on drums complete the tight band, filling in some of the solos and keeping the groove going all night long.

The band is playing a residency at the Cameron House on Wednesday nights through January. If you’re in town, I strongly recommend you check them out. Here’s a video of the band performing at the Toronto Waterfront Blues Festival last summer:

The tune above doesn’t feature much of Reddick’s exceptional harmonica playing, so here’s a short clip of an older show, to whet the palate:

Photos by Stephanie Beatson