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Concert Review by The Keefster
 
THE REVERB SYNDICATE at Dancing in the Streets, fundraiser for Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation, August 19, 2007
The syndicate
Ottawa loves music outdoors. There’s the Bluesfest (Van Morrison, George Thorogood, White Stripes, Steve Miller etc.) - OK maybe our definition of the blues is as liberal as our marriage laws; then the Jazz Fest (John McLaughlin, Conga Kings, and more), then the Folk Festival (Buffy Sainte Marie, Arrogant Worms, Kristofferson, and on, and on) and for those rainy days, the Chamber Music Festival. Then a whole pile of free one-offs.
Tonight, it’s Ashley MacIsaac – enfant horrible (pire que terrible) du cap Breton – and the stage is right at the end of my street, so why not walk down and listen as the savage fiddler tortures the neighbours? There’ll be complaints in Monday’s paper from the same people who bitched when Bob Dylan – yup the real Robert Zimmerman one – kept them up until 10:30 on a work night singing songs practically under their windows as they tried to drift off to sleep.
Arriving a few hours early – hey why not grab an Americano on the street – the sounds of Jaguar twang bars and Fender Super Reverbs draw me down to a campy (can you still be camp?) quartet of neo-Ventures playing spy tunes as two Sovietesque go-go girls do the frug. No matter that these kids have no clue who Denny Faulkner or John Russow were to the Ottawa music scene of my day, nor that they’d never believe that once-upon-a-time the city’s only venue for original music probably held 125 standing, refused to sell drinks when the band was on stage, and was called Le Hibou, probably because it didn’t really wake up until after midnight. No, Ottawa’s become a new music incubator: these twango spys may be playing to a beer-swilling street crowd but they are just a-rockin’ and I’m glad I came early.
Reverb Syndicate they call themselves, and I learn Operation: Jet Set, their obligatory CD, recorded at Paul Granger’s The Meat Locker, (bands these days do CDs the way we used to do posters), has already yielded a radio hit and music video – I Am The New Number Two. So much for their mission of ridding the world of mind-numbing Top 40 tunes, or is their hit just a nefarious decoy to lull us into dropping our guard, then they nail us, unsuspecting, with a real underground sleeper? But no, they’re anything but mind-numbing and each tune is just as infectious as Number Two. If these guys are underground it’s not the music. Reverb Syndicate
Their set, mostly guitar instrumentals, draws heavily on the Ventures, with their signature Pipeline/Wipeout riff thrown in more than once. Tunes are of the 60’s/70’s secret agent genre, reminiscent of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. Theme (which they cover), but they have gone beyond covers, adding originals that stand up to their forebears, at least when you’re in the middle of Bank Street, in the blazing sun, beer in hand and all around you people are bopping.
Reverb Syndicate
But more than musicians, Reverb Syndicate are single malt fans. Now I know the band is from Ottawa, land of the notoriously abysmal LCBO (poor selection of malts, but a great selection of failed politicians sitting on their well-paid board), but I also know they maintain their Cold War spy characters on and off stage, so maybe they have a source of malts I can tap into if I just present myself the right way. I know; I’ll tell them I know Serge and pretend I’m writing a review of their show, then once I get them talking, I’ll subtly slip in a few leading questions, using proven techniques from Espionage for Dummies, and bingo! They’ll spill their guts and I’ll have a couple of hundred new entries for The Monitor.
Gogodancavich
Nastya and Ivana
Gogodancavich

Growing up in small-town Ontario, as bassist Jeff Welch, aka Agent Ampeg, aka Reginald Goodthrust did, can be pretty dull with not a whole lot to do. Perhaps that’s why small town kids so often turn to music to entertain themselves. Like many folks from the boonies, Reg isn't unfamiliar with the odd day of drinking in the park , but nowadays it’s Glenfiddich and not JD in the paper bag. Ahh… still so much to learn.

Lead guitarist, Victor Tremolo is a little further along in his malt journey, being a sophisticated aficionado of Laphroaig 10yo, not just for its smoky sweetness, but partly because the name has three vowels in a row. “You don't see that every day.” Being the older and wiser musician and drinker, sometimes I discern that these guys aren’t totally serious all the time.

Serge likes to ask musicians to compare tasting whisky and listening to music; enhancing the enjoyment by deconstructing the palate as one deconstructs a song, but when I run this one by the guys they only comment that “Well the Syndicate does believe there is a connection between drinking whisky and making music. Unfortunately that connection is that we don't play that well after we've drank a couple of bottles of it.”

Well they must not have been dramming this afternoon because they’re spot on. “As for our musical career,” Welch adds, “we will go wherever it takes us. Hopefully it will take us to some amazing go-go lounges with free-thinking individuals who enjoy dancing. If that’s the case, we'll pretty much be happy.”

The Reverb Syndicate is James Rossiter aka Casanova Red on guitar and keyboards, Mike Bradford aka Victor Tremolo on lead guitar, Jeff Welch aka Reginald Goodthrust on bass and Mike Rifkin aka The Fixer on drums.
Live from Ottawa for Whiskyfun this is The Keefster signing off . . . (photographs taken at the gig by Kate Rossiter - not our 'official' Kate)



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