THE CANADIAN PRESS
While 16-month-old Alex Gelsinger was less than enamoured with those wild and wacky Sheepdogs at Juno Fan Fare prior to the 2013 Juno Awards in Regina this spring, Brandon’s Rock the Block audience will embrace the shaggy Saskatoon rockers when they headline the Rosser Avenue party Friday night.
The annual Rock the Block event designed to help usher in the new school year has a lineup that is a bit eclectic — much like the mix of tunes cranked out by Westman’s freshest new radio station. :)
Brandon’s 18 Rabbit, winners of the Battle of the Bands, will kick things off at this year's Rock the Block. (SUBMITTED)
Metal masters Helix will serve up a brew of old, new. (SUBMITTED)
There was nothing sacred about the red carpet for the Sheepdogs during this spring’s Juno Awards in Regina.
Helix frontman Brian Vollmer has a new project in the works — he’s part of a metal all-star lineup performing next month at the book release of “Metal on Ice”, written about Canada’s metal icons from the ’80s.
The event was created and launched by the Brandon University Students Union and various local media partners in 2006 when it featured two Winnipeg-based bands, The Waking Eyes and Novillero.
Over the years, it has morphed from the BIA Street Beat event to becoming one of Brandon’s biggest outdoor parties. In fact, last year’s RTB brought out nearly 3,000 people to see April Wine, Down With Webster and My Darkest Days.
This Friday night, Rosser Avenue will be jam packed full of live music fans who will either be positioning for a good spot near the stage or a better spot in the beverage line.
Yes, this year’s RTB falls on a Friday the 13th — but lucky you! You get four bands at a reasonable price: $30 for students, $35 for non-students. You’ll pay $5 more if you wait to pay at the gate.
Advance tickets are available at the BUSU office on campus as well as Forbidden Flavours on 18th street or in the Town Centre. Plus you’ll have one more chance to win a pair of On the Bob breakfasts with yours truly Friday morning!
The festivities kick off with a set from Brandon’s own 18 Rabbit, who were victorious in the recent RTB Battle of the Bands contest — which, I’m told, was an extremely tight race this year.
The rest of the lineup includes metal veterans Helix and rock-country singer Dallas Smith, followed by headliners the Sheepdogs, who will close out the event.
How loud is B-town’s core going to get when Helix launches into "Rock You"?
Speaking of Canada’s classic metal masters, Happenings on the Scene recently caught up with their frontman Brian Vollmer for this exclusive Q & A session:
FM: Hello again, Brian. It’s been a couple years since we last spoke but it sounds like you’ve been busy. I was quite happy to hear that Helix was included in the Rock the Block lineup. First off, are you ready to rock Brandon to the core with a show performed in its core?
BV: Helix is ready to rock at ALL times!
I knew you were going to say that!
Honestly, whenever we go and play, it’s a joy for us. We haven’t played a lot of dates this year, but all the dates we have played have been high profile ones: Monsters of Rock, Sabstock, Rock the Park and a string of casino dates through Alberta. I’m especially looking forward to seeing the Sheepdogs again. First saw them in Ottawa a couple of years ago. Great band.
I imagine Helix is still quite active on the road. How many shows do you guys perform per year?
Whatever dates are out there, we play. The number of dates varies from year to year. This year has been down because of the economy, but next year could be right up there again. You never know what’s around the corner. In any given year, we could do 20-35 dates.
You were part of The Monsters of Rock boat cruise earlier this year. Tell me more about that.
The MOR cruise is something you have to experience. Some of the greatest bands from the ’80s all on one ship — the SS Posia/MSC cruise lines — 1,600 cabins sold out. Some of the bands on the ship included Cinderella, Saxon, Queensryke, Great White, KIXX, Quire Boys, Loudness, Ron Keel, Stryper, Y&T, John Corabi, Lita Ford, and many more.
Must have been like a major reunion with all those ’80s rockers on the bill. Any cool collaborations or surprise on-stage guest appearances materialize out of it?
I got up onstage with my old friend Ron Keel. The year before I was up with some of the guys from Stryper and Black and Blue. Yes, it’s like a big family reunion, as I know a lot of these people from past tours.
Which of those artists had you toured with in the past?
Saxon, Y&T, Keel, Great White, KIXX.
There are many bands from back in the day that now find themselves ripping it up on the casino circuit, Helix included. Earlier this summer you guys did a mini-casino tour through Alberta — in fact, it was right around the time of that terrible flood in downtown Calgary. Can you paint the picture of what that was like? There must have been plenty of emotion running through the crowds and the bands during those shows.
We ended up playing Calgary on the worst day of the flooding. It was mayhem in the city and they closed down every casino except ours. Our audience that night was comprised almost entirely of Asians, who sat and clapped politely, and who stayed until the end of the show. I couldn’t write this stuff!
You’ve played many festivals over the years. The latest big one was Rock the Park earlier this summer in London. You guys shared the bill with Whitesnake and Journey. What’s it like to have to warm up the crowd for gigs like that?
By now we’re used to it. In fact, we toured all of the U.S. in 1984 with Whitesnake and Quiot Riot through 20,000-seat halls. It’s always a great feeling.
What is your favourite festival memory? First one that comes to mind but is safe to print.
Playing the CNE bandstand with The Scorpions. Close to 50,000 people and a great day all way round. My mom and dad came to see me that day. Special memories.
Later this fall you’ll be involved with something called Metal on Ice. Tell us about this initiative.
"Metal on Ice" is a book Sean Kelly has written about Canadian rock/metal from the ’80s. The book release is at The Phoenix in Toronto on Oct. 26. Also in the show: Lee Aaron, Nick Walsh, Russ Graham, Darby Mills, Carl Dixon, and myself. Check it out at: http://www.metalonice.com/
Sounds like a sweet sort of reunion featuring some of the best this country had to offer from the ’80s. Will you be taking that show on the road? It sounds like it has massive potential.
We’ll have to see what the response is. Coalition Management is behind this and they’re putting a lot of money into hiring a publicist and raising the profile of this show. Hopefully we can take it into more venues.
Speaking of new songs, bring us up to speed on Helix. Plug your most recent project and let us know if and when the next one might be in the cooker and or ready for public consumption.
I’ll be recording a solo CD called "Bastard of the Blues" later this year — nine cover songs and one new original. It’s to be released in 2014.
Looking ahead to Rock the Block here in Brandon, what can your fans expect from your set?
All the hits, plus some new songs and songs we haven’t played in awhile, such as "Danger Zone" and "Does a Fool Ever Learn".
Frank McGwire is a radio personality and booster of the music scene in Brandon and Westman.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition September 12, 2013