vendredi, février 08, 2013

Max - The Flying Dutchman / Run Run (1970; Trans-World TWS 1740)

Gerry Markman, 19 ans, guitariste de Max en prestation à l'Hotel Nelson (collection personnelle).

Je vous avais sommairement présenté ce mystérieux simple hard rock montréalais dans un article de 2010. Entre temps, j'ai pu retracer le guitariste de Max, Gerry Markman, qui a généreusement accepté de répondre à quelques questions qui nous brûlaient tous les lèvres depuis. Nous sommes toujours à la recherche d'une photo d'époque du groupe. Si vous souhaitiez partager quelque document, écrivez-nous ici

S.D. : You wrote earlier that the band included Ian Lebofsky (singer), yourself (guitars & vocals), Sam Borsuk (bass), Colin Jacques (drums) and Ed Borsuk (sound & lights). Where did you guys come from and how did you first met?

Gerry Markman : The band was formed in 1969 as a blues trio called Dawn. I had known Sam since high school where he played with The Kreatures. I had been living in Val David at Jazz et Cafe playing blues during the week. On the weekends the jazz band was The Peter Leitch quartet. I have been friends with Peter ever since. Sam had been living in New York for a while with a band whose name I can't remember. They recorded an album but soon disbanded. Sam came back to Montreal and wanted to play and knew Colin Jacques from another band called The Fyve. I was the blues guy, Colin was the hard rock/Stones guy and Sam just made it all work. Eddy was Sam's brother and he was into sound and lights. We made such lousy money dividing it into 4 didn't make much difference from dividing it into 3! By 1970 or 71 we were played out and needed something. Ian was intorduced to us by a friend (?) and we tried it out. His wonderful  Morisson-like baritone and stage presence was the last ingredient. My guitar playing freed up and the band's sound evolved.

Did Max performed regulaly on the Montreal scene or outside the province? If so, what other bands played with you on the same bill?
Dawn played mostly in Montreal and Quebec City in the Centre de Loisirs and played at McGill on the campus and in the big ballroom a lot. This was the era of liquid light shows and psychedelia. We also played at the Gallery Café in Old Montreal and the Hotel Nelson. Other bands I remember were Higgins Hill and the Mike Jones Group.

Jones (aka Michael LaChance) also engineered a session at Studio 6 for my future band, Dandy Batt for the song Play On, written by Ian and me. It that was produced by Frank Marino from Mahogany Rush.

Which songs would be played live (originals, covers) ?
When Tony Orlando and Dawn came onto the scene we had to change our name even though I had registered it exclusively in Quebec. Couldn't afford a lawyer and we were nobody. We called ourselves The Max Band after my cat. Ian and I were writing original songs that were folky in origin but quite dynamic when played live. Our sound was influenced by Led Zeppelin and The Who and Colin's drumming was awesome. The band collaborated on Run Run, Up The River, Young and Strong. Ian and I were the song writers for Flying Dutchman, Black Willow, Melinda, and Grey Havens. We covered Babylon by Blue Cheer, South California Purples by Chicago Transit Authority and had a long band-arranged version of I Can't Keep From Crying, sometime incorporating classical themes that Sam wrote and Colins 'heavy music' drumming style that later was known as metal. And we played blues.

How did you get to record your lone single for the TransWorld label?
We met Hilly Leopold through some mutual friends and he decided to produce the band. He was also our personal manager....sort of.

Where was this single recorded? Can you tell me who exactly was Hilly Leopold, your producer? I don't recall seeing his name on other 45s from the era...
We recorded The Flying Dutchman at Montreal's Studio 6 in 8 tracks. Hilly's neighbour was Lori Zimmerman (Sweet Lorraine) whose husband Danny was the bass player in Life. Lori's voice voice can be clearly heard in the background vocals although she was standing 6 feet away from the mic. What a voice. Hilly had made the Trans World deal without any of our signatures. I still don't know what the deal was or why Ian and I aren't credited as writers although the song(s) were registered with BMI (CAPAC). Hilly abruptly left us to pursue managing a band called Alabama (no, not THAT Alabama) and produced a country single called Highway Driving.

I love the bands energy on Run, run. It's raw and hits the spot! What was the medias response? Was your 45 played over local radios? 
We were another great band that nobody heard of....little or poor management, no agent, no prospects. We started to argue over the usual stupid things and the band just fell apart. I don't remember any newspaper reviews but we were featured in event promotions and somewhere there must be some posters of Dawn and The Max Band. The Flying Dutchman did get a little airplay overseas and earned a few dollars in writers royalties but it was always a popular song played live. Run Run was fun fun....lots of posturing and loud guitar....

Was there any plans to record some more?
No. We couldn't agree on much anymore and Ian and I wanted to try working as a duo but that didn't get very far.

How long did the band last? Where are your fellow musicians right now?
The band split up around 1972 or 73 and by then nobody noticed but us. Ian is a respected voice teacher, singer/performer and choir master. He lives in Hudson Quebec and we're still in touch every few years. I heard that Colin had moved to England but I don't know if he continued playing music. Sam lives somewhere in Ontario and I don't know what became of him. Eddy stayed doing sound and lights and was a member of another of my bands called Dandy Batt (nee Sunrise) with Danny and Lori Zimmerman.

Thanks for your time and for setting the record straight on Max.
Thank you for your interest. It's wonderful that you are doing this. I still have our original single... the only record I made as an artist.

La carrière musicale de Markman ne faisait que commencer lorsque Max publia son unique simple. Au cours des décennies suivantes, il participerait à de nombreux groupes canadiens (Dandy Batt, The Cameo Blues Band, The Lincolns) en plus d'accompagner des artistes tels le groupe Tapestry ou les chanteurs Jeff Healey et Alannah Myles, notamment. De nos jours, il réside en Ontario et performe avec son plus récent groupe, The Sensations (à droite, dans la vidéo ci-dessus) Rock on!

dimanche, février 03, 2013

Les Vibratones (1960-1967)

Les Vibratones à la Salle des Loisirs de Rimouski, vers 1964 (Collection personnelle de André Jean).

Dans la foulée d'un récent article sur le groupe Les Fanatiques et la scène rimouskoise des années 60, le guitariste André Jean (à ne pas confondre avec le chanteur du même nom pour le groupe montréalais Batman) nous a écrit pour partager quelques informations à propos de son groupe, Les Vibratones.

Les Vibratones (Collection Hughes Albert; Rétro Rock 60).

Le groupe, sous plusieurs moutures, anima les salles de spectacles de Rimouski et des environs entre 1960 et 1967. Lorsque leur premier chanteur, Jean-Louis Côté, quitte la formation pour rejoindre Les Céciliens (un groupe du Bic), le quintet compte alors parmi ses rangs Gérald Arsenault (chanteur), Marcel Marquis (saxophone), André Jean (guitare solo), Jacques Deschamplain (batterie) et Marc Blanchet (guitare rythmique). Deschamplain quitterait le groupe vers 1965 pour se joindre aux Fanatiques; il serait alors remplacé par Raynald Côté.

Tout de gris vêtus! Les Vibratones en 1965 (Collection personnelle de André Jean).

Acclamés comme de «véritables vedettes» au Manoir St-Laurent de Luceville, les musiciens affectionnaient aussi l'Hôtel Victoria de Trois-Pistoles. Ayant délaissé leurs uniformes des débuts (vestons rouges et pantalons bleus) suite au départ de leur saxophoniste, les Vibratones réinventent leur image vers 1965 en s'inspirant librement de celle des Classels. On arbore maintenant de chatoyants complets gris pâle et une chevelure tout aussi nacrée. Les deux groupes monochromes se croiseraient même lors d'un spectacle à Trois-Pistoles. Marc Blanchet raconte:

Nous étions nous aussi vêtus de blanc, avec les cheveux blancs qu'on se teignait au «spraynet». Un soir, nous jouions à l'Hôtel Victoria et les Classels se produisaient au Centre Récréatif. Nous étions justement en train de jouer «Avant de me dire adieu» des Classels. Qui ne voit-on pas arriver: Gilles Girard accompagné du bassiste du groupe. Éberlué, je regardais André; je n'osais pas le croire. Gérald, lui, tout concentré, chantait comme si de rien n'était; je me demande s'il s'en était aperçu. À l'entracte, Girard est venu s'assoir avec nous et il nous a félicité. Il nous trouvait très bon vocalement. À la reprise, il avait fait deux chansons avec nous. [...] Il voulait nous inviter à Montréal pour nous présenter à son gérant. Cependant, il aurait fallu entrer dans l'Union des Artistes, ce qui s'avérait assez dispendieux. Je passais déjà pour le p'tit gros des Classels...

Les Vibratones à l'Hôtel Victoria de Trois-Pistoles, juillet 1965 (Collection personnelle de André Jean).

Merci à M. Jean ainsi qu'à Hughes Albert, journaliste et biographe émérite de la scène musicale rimouskoise des années 60. Quelques précisions sont d'ailleurs extraites du cahier spécial qu'il a réalisé dans le cadre de la première édition du festival Rétro Rock 60 de 1989.