Blue Montegos
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Blue Montegos

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When faced with a media celebrity in a band expecting to be taken seriously, some observers cross their arms and frown and say things like “OK, Mr. Bigshot, this better be good.” It comes from the feeling of the unfair advantage that all non-musical celebrities have: an already established name airlifted into a comparable level in the music business without having to pay certain necessary dues.

In Edmonton, it turns out that media celebrity Mark Scholz – who made his fame as the host of the Big Breakfast morning show back when Citytv was the A-Channel – is a Berklee-educated drummer. The guy can play. His rootsy-rock band Blue Montegos hosts its debut CD release party at the Yellowhead Brewery on Saturday night. The album was recorded “live off the farm” during a sojourn at Hayloft Acres East of Edmonton, which accounts for its “rustic” sound.

The band is getting tons of attention for its impending coming out party, which is already sold out: They win the broadcast triple crown of being on Breakfast Television, CTV and CBC, at least, and then there’s all the press.

OK, Mr. Bigshot. This better be good.

Judge for yourself, Scholz says. Having pre-existing fame can help one break into the music business, he says, but adds, "it always comes down to what you do musically.”
The roots of this band are deeper than mere media celebrity. Scholz grew up in Nova Scotia with guitarist Rod Were, whose father owned a 1964 blue Mercury Montego that carried impressionable passengers down the back roads of Nova Scotia while blasting music by bands like CCR and the Band, seatbeltless, of course. A formative memory. Rounded out by Albertan Tim LaRiviere on vocals, and guitars, the band – and many others like them – have commandeered the term “Canadiana” to refer to any music that sounds like “Americana with a Canadian theme.”
It all started with music for Scholz. After Berklee, he worked improv stages and dinner theatres in Halifax, and started his TV career on the local station, including a stint on a children’s show. He “wound up in Edmonton” with buddy Steve Antle and in 1997 they became one of the greatest buddy-comedy duos ever seen on Edmonton television. After his time on original Big Breakfast ended (not before spawning the Big Breakfast Boogie Band, which still gets the occasional gig), Scholz did three years with CBC and is now on his own as a freelancer. How full circle of him: Music brought him here, and now he’s going back to music.

Scholz sums it up, “We started a band and we will see where it leads us. We are looking forward to the journey” - Gigcity


For the recording of blue Montegos' debut album, but also became a guest instrumentalist. Tim lariviere, Mark Scholz and Rod Were spent 12 uninterrupted days at Hayloft Acres in Strathcona County on the Prairie Rose stage, which stands amidst a concert bowl that was hand-dug out of the field by the farm's owner. Lariviere put his sound engineering skills to work, and through strategic placement of amps and microphones, the stage was turned into a giant outdoor studio, incoporporating the sounds of their surroundings on the final cut. What lariviere was after in particular through this method was capturing an organic drum sound that can be difficult to achieve in studio recordings. "Despite the weather, which was miserable, we not only captured amazing natural drum sounds, but we also captured the human element that I find missing in a lot of modern recordings," he explains. A closer listen to tracks like "Mercer's Pride" will reveal sounds like coyotes howling and the wind blowing through the field. Were

Adds that they even captured the sound of the vintage tractor the farm's owner still uses. The group says all of these extraneous sounds contribute to the Canadiana themes and story of the recording. "We were up for an adventure to try to find really good, natural sounds, and I'm confident we achieved that," Scholz says. "I think it was an adventure that turned out really well. From the recording side, it was great. From the camaraderie side it was fantastic."

The result of blue Montegos' outside-thebox recording efforts is a collection of blues, roots and the band's own brand of funkytwang. Scholz describes the unique genre as a mishmash of the group's musical influences, which range from soul to country to the Beatles. "We approach it with a little funk mixed in with some old-world music," he says, adding it could be best described as Canadiana. "A lot of it I'd say is influenced by certain memories of growing up," adds, Were who, along with Scholz, grew up in Halifax. "When you move away from a place, as Mark and I did, you gain a new respect and depth of appreciation to where you're from."

MeaGhaN Baxter

// MeaGhaN@vUeweekly.CoM - Vue Weekly


Discography

Blue Montegos - 2011 - Funkytwang Records

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Bio

Blue Montegos (mon-tay-goes) is an Edmonton AB/New Westminster, BC based band. Mark Scholz and Rod Were hail from Halifax, Nova Scotia. Tim LaRiviere was born and raised in Alberta. Our collective experiences living and working from Coast to Coast to Coast have been a great source of inspiration to us. The places and people from our old stomping grounds and other parts of this country inhabit many of our songs. Dockyard taverns, river boats, fadding industrial towns, old hockey rinks and dusty record shops.

We have played in various bands over the years and we formed this band in the winter of 2008 to write, record and perform orginal roots music. Our sound is a stew of blues, folk, traditional country, old R&B and Rock & Roll stirred up in an old cast iron pot and left to simmer.

While the three members are the core of the band, we generally record and perform with a keyboard player, David Aide (AKA Rooster Davis), who enhances our live and recorded sound.

Over the past two years we have performed at festivals with the likes of Kathleen Edwards, the Skydiggers, Fred Eaglesmith and the Road Hammers.

We recently finished recording our debut album recorded on a outdoor covered stage on a farm in Strathcona County Alberta. The project was then master by Peter Mew at the famed Abbey Road Studios in London and was released in November 2011.