Cootes Paradise Debut is World Class
Pretty much everything about the self-titled debut album of Dundas band Cootes Paradise screams ‘world-class’. From the beautiful look of the CD art to the phenomenal production and, of course, the astonishing music – it’s all impressive.
It’s no wonder since Cootes Paradise is a super-group. Members include:
- Sue Leonard (lead and background vocals)
- Wayne Krawchuk (guitar, lead and background vocals)
- Lily Sazz (keys, lead and background vocals)
- Amy Di Nino (drums, percussion, background vocals)
- Ian Taylor (bass)
- Mark Volkov (multiple instruments)
“This bluesy band with a difference comes out of the Hamilton, ON. scene, named after a local conservation area. Several differences actually, as the group is loaded with lots of local indie talent with multiple skills and styles. There are three lead singers sharing the tracks, four of the band write, there are three men and three women in the group and tons of experience. Lily Sazz, keyboard player, singer and songwriter, started the group looking for like-minded folks rather than those rooted in one style, and the result is a set that goes from soulful ballads to rockin’ and funky R’n’B.
Sue Leonard handles the gutsiest of the tunes, with a bold, strong voice. No surprise she delivers, as she’s a veteran of tours with k.d. lang, her go-to backup singer for a few years, now living back in her hometown. That means the rest of the group had to have chops to match, and guitar player Krawchuk certainly matches up on his tracks, Leonard sounding great on the backing vocal there as well. Sazz’s piano is a big part throughout, along with a tight rhythm section and surprising colouring by Mark Volkov, adding violin, flute and sax. The songwriting is upper-level throughout, Krawchuk’s When You Come Around delivering a fine New Orleans groove, and Sazz’s closer Wake Up a call to all of us bothered and bewildered at the Twitter-news each night.
The disc is out and available at the group’s website, and those in the area can check out the big launch show coming up at Hamilton’s venerable Corktown Pub, on Jan. 14, in the year 2018. Wow, first time I’ve had to write that, feels weird.”
– Bob Mersereau (A veteran Canadian broadcaster, Bob Mersereau specializes in popular music writing. He’s been with CBC TV and Radio since 1982, and regularly reports on the arts. Bob is the author of the Top 100 Canadian Albums, a national best-seller published in 2007, and The Top 100 Canadian Singles, published in September 2010, both from Goose Lane Editions. His music column appears each week on CBC Radio 1 in New Brunswick, on the program Shift, and he has written music articles and reviews for such publications as The Coast Magazine, The Telegraph Journal, and The Globe and Mail. He’s also the recipient of the 2014 Stompin’ Tom Award from the East Coast Music Association.) [direct link to review]
“Cootes Paradise is a brand new group that features a diversity of musicians and a diversity of music. Entitled Cootes Paradise, it’s a knockout of a CD featuring six established musicians who’ve come together to create a marvellous collection of songs. With powerful vocals, tasteful guitar, sweet keyboards and a rhythm section that stops at nothing, Cootes Paradise is unique. And make no mistake about it, Cootes Paradise is a band in the classic sense. A band that knows how to play off each other, create songs that make you listen to the lyrics and get your toes tapping. One of the year’s best new groups to explode onto the music scene!“
– Ken Wallis host of Blues Blast on 101.5 The Hawk Fm and Blues and Roots Radio.
“Been enjoying Cootes Paradise in the car and really enjoying it. Especially Wake Up – a real call to arms and SO welcome in the dearth of ‘protest’ music we’re seeing, despite the conditions being so ripe for it!!! Congratulations and thanks so much for sharing it with me, an honour to be included in your orbit. Long may you SHINE!!” – Denise Donlon
John’s Blues Picks (December 2017): “Named after a conservation area around Dundas ON, this new grouping of like-minded individuals was created at Lily’s Pad. Lily Sazz, the keyboard player in the Women’s Blues Revue Band lives nearby and her basement is the focal point of the group. Joining her are five veterans: Sue Leonard and Wayne Krawchuk on lead vocals supported by Mark Volkov on flute, sax and violin; Lily on keys; Amy Di Nino on drums and Ian Taylor on bass. Krawchuk plays guitar as well. They call the result a ‘groove-based sound with a mix of blues, roots, soul and r’n’b.’ That they are ‘like-minded individuals’ is immediately apparent, the electricity obvious from the get-go. And they have the original songs to match. Ms. Leonard’s powerful vocals propel her rocking opener, “Are You Ready (to accompany me)”. A funky tribute to that basement is Krawchuk’s “Lily’s Pad”, with Krawchuk on vocals and everyone else joining in on background vocals – that pad obviously had a big impact on this band. New Orleans rhythms dominate “It’s True”, a gorgeous Leonard co-write with a fine vocal. “Better Stop” is a Lily Sazz co-write, beautifully constructed and with a relentless groove. Krawchuk supplied the rocking “This Time (I’m Playin’ To Win)” and takes the bluesy vocal. There are two covers, Lula Reed’s “What Makes You So Cold”, with a vocal from Lily and Bob Dylan’s “Everything Is Broken”, a bit of social commentary with Krawchuk doing the singing. Lily’s somewhat more traditional “This Train Is Rollin’” gets a solid blues vocal from Leonard with some fine violin from Volkov. The concluding “Wake Up” is their own take on social commentary, written by Lily and her partner Paul Fayter. This anthemic plea to get up and make something happen uses a full choir, The Grand River Voices, to great effect. Not a traditional blues album by any means but completely blues-worthy and thoroughly enjoyable. Master producer Nick Blagona was behind the glass helping make this is one fine debut disc. Check out the web site, www.cootesparadiseband.ca.”
– John Valenteyn, MapleBlues Magazine, CIUT.FM Radio Host
“This first CD from Cootes Paradise was more than worth waiting for. As a musician and an internationally-known Indies DJ, my passion is for Indie Music and CP more than satisfies. From the electrifying opening of the first track “Are You Ready” to the last note of the final track “Wake Up,” my ears drooled over what is to me, The Perfect Collaboration of some of Canada’s finest Indie Musicians. These 12 tracks of vocals and music weave such exquisite and soul-grabbing experiences that this is truly one CD you will listen to over and over. These musicians are at the top of their respective musical fields. They want to heal you, energize you, and they have serious fun doing just that. Their music is capable of great things. They don’t run with scissors and they play well with others. In three words: “Wowsa, They’re Good!” Please, Cootes Paradise Band, keep on making music for the world; We Need You.”
– DJ Toby Chicago, Bumps Radio England, Kingfisher Radio Group