Wednesday night, of all night, brought Mike and I to Maverick’s to catch Grady and company. For those of you who don’t know, there was this amazing band Big Sugar whose front man, Gordie Johnson went on to form the blues-rock band Grady. Can I also point out that Gordie Johnson is probably the best Canadian (if not…the world, dare I say?) guitar player out there and it’s a treat to see them.
When we arrived at Maverick’s we assumed we had missed the Spades as it around 9:15 but we were mistaken as the show started with Sal Piamonte at 9:30. Sal’s band had everything going for them. A killer lead guitarist, a bass player who moved with the groove and a great front man in the form of Sal. I couldn’t put my finger on who they reminded me of but the closest I could come up with were the Black Crowes…but even that isn’t hitting the nail on the head in terms of comparisons. Their melodies were catchy and I found myself singing along to the choruses after hearing them a few times. Two thumbs up for this band from Ottawa and I’ll make sure to check them out again. I did go to buy their album at night’s end but alas, they were all sold out. I ended up talking with Sal himself and he assured me that if I sent him a note, they could mail one out for me. They have gained a fan. Check out his website athttp://www.salpiamonte.com/. May I also point out that there was this one guy how had a Grateful Dead Tour 1990 shirt on and he was rocking out hardcore near the end of the set. I thoroughly enjoyed this fan and hoped that I would be this energetic when I grow that much white hair!
After a few bottles of Labatt 50, the Spades started around 10:45 and they were quite the energetic trio. The guitarist was frantic and I loved how the drummer had the simplest yet powerful drum kit going. Catchy tunes…indie style…frantic all over the place…they had this crazy cover of Penny Lane at the end of their set which (unfortunately) could have done without the screamo version in my opinion. But musically it was top-notch. If you’re looking for a good energetic band, look no further than The Spades!
Last but not least, Grady hit the stage around 11:50. I had a good chuckle as Mike was thinking that we would be home FAIRLY early tonight but in the end, we didn’t roll into bed until 3AM. Gordie Johnson and Big Ben (an Ottawa native) TOWERED over the crowd with their cowboy hats and their black attire. Nina Singh is quite shorter in comparison but managed the drumset impeccably. I found it odd to see her sit straight and appear to not be smashing the hell out of the drumkit like I see some many other drummers do, but at the same time have the kickdrum hit into my chest. Clearly, drumkits do not need to be thrashed upon to hit you like a ton of bricks.
I know no songs of Grady so it was all new to me, but I ended up buying both of their albums at the end of the night. This.was.a.rock.show. What an amazing guitarist Gordie is. I’m really loving the slide guitar and am thinking of sitting myself down for the next year to learn how to play it. The opening tune thundered into us and really got things going and it never really stopped. The two hours later were amazing and it’s been a long time that I’ve seen a rock show like this. Some highlights:
- Big Ben putting the shout out to his hometown of Ottawa and Gordie commenting that he never swore once in his speech. Big Ben explained that his dad was in the crowd.
- Big Ben busting a bass string. I’ve never personally seen that happen and he said it’s the third string he’s busted in his life.
- Covers of Sharp-Dressed Man, a little YYZ for good measure and Digging a Hole (of Big Sugar fame). Gordie had James of the Spades come up for a tune where he held his own and then Gordie’s brother (?) from a band called Flash Lightning joined them for a few songs at the end. I love how jam sessions just take over the event and they’re just having fun on the stage for 30 minutes. That’s what a rock band is all about.
- The awesomeness which is the 18 string, double neck Gibson. I wonder how much that weighs?
- Overall, the sheer force of the music coming out of the band.
I can’t really explain how much fun it was to see Grady but I’ll definitely make it a point to see them again. They are based out of Austin, Texas nowadays so I’m not so sure if they make it up to Canada all that much!
After the band ended, we shook Gordie Johnson’s hand letting him know he put on a good show and we headed for the door to grab a bite to eat.
McDonald’s called our name at 2AM on a Wednesday but unfortunately for us, we didn’t realize there were two schwarma joints open on York Street AND a new Dunn’s location?! There were also a dozen cop cars parked around the Byward Market and it wasn’t until the next morning that we found out that there a few guys involved in a shootout involving one of them perishing. Lucky for Mike and I, we were rocking out at the time.