Category Archives: #tbt

#tbt: ’tis the season with the sam roberts band

you guys! happy holidays! i am so glad we’re together again, gushing over our beloved sam roberts band just in time for christmas next week. are you ready?! is your tree up? presents wrapped? did you drink exactly eighteen beers from your beer advent calendar, and eat alllll the christmas cookies? i hope so.

let’s start this week’s #tbt of random christmas-related SRB goodness with a gorgeous photo of sam wearing THE best winter hat ever, because it’s christmas and i love you guys.

sam roberts wearing john varvatos - photo courtesy of mark elias and moxie media & design

our very most favourite everyman rock star is ready for anything: a polar expedition, an SRB show at santa’s workshop, or just the runway at a john varvatos fashion show. mark elias of moxie media & design took this beautiful photo three years ago in hamilton, when he spent the day filming a press video for the american designer, and the SRB stopped by to check out john varvatos’ fall 2011 collection.

when i emailed mark to ask if i could use this photo, he responded almost immediately, and later sent me a dropbox link (!?) to all the photos from the session, just because he’s an SRB fan who supports the band. a dropbox link, guys. wow. how great is mark? so very, very great. if i sent christmas cards, he would be top of the list. thank you, mark! if you’d like to see more of mark’s work, check out his website.

here’s an awesome SRB group shot mark captured, because christmas is all about gluttony, and there can never be too many awesome group shots of the SRB.  if you need to take a minute, please do. you’re in the right place for that kinda thing. i won’t judge.

photo by mark elias of moxie media & design

every year, quebec musician andy kim organizes a christmas concert fundraiser, and this year’s first-ever concert in montreal raised money for the starlight children’s foundation. sadly, i couldn’t find any videos of sam’s recent appearance with andy, but keep your fingers festively crossed they’ll be posted by this time next year. until then, here’s a video from the 2011 show in toronto. don’t walk away eileen becomes feliz navidad – total christmas magic.

last and most definitely not least, here’s a 2009 video of sam and friends – including kathleen edwards, dallas green, ron maclean, and the SRB’s very own james hall – performing the gambler at the holiday jam benefit for the sick kids hospital in toronto. because your brain can only process so much awesome at once, i’ll point out sam’s incredible fringe jacket and cowboy hat now, ’cause this video also features an appearance from an especially lovely dave nugent (wearing a dress). merry christmas, everybody!!!

Sam Roberts performs the Gambler from NOW Magazine on Vimeo.

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#tbt: got soul (but no money) and the brother down ep

do you ever wonder about those ten copies of the brother down ep sam burned fourteen years ago, using his brother’s computer?

i do. like, where’d they go? does sam still have one? does eric? is there one kicking around in a stack of old cds in someone’s basement? is there a shadowbox? if the ebay gods smile and i find one up for grabs online, i would remortgage my house to add the ultimate jewel to my SRB shrine.

just kidding!

for the record, and in case my dad is reading this, i would never remortgage my house to win a cd off ebay, because that’d be just crazy (when i could use rrsps instead).

if you, like me, aren’t one of the lucky ten with a copy of this insanely rare set of mostly unreleased demos, don’t worry. you can find most of the brother down ep on youtube, and you can also stream sam rarities on cbc music.

back in the day, the SRB’s myspace page went behind the music with the man himself sharing stories of his songs. these days, you’ll only find these musical retrospectives on a sadly defunct fan blog, and occasionally here at the bootleg saint, where we shined a light on northstar and the tale of sunny lemon tina a few throwbacks ago.

today’s #tbt is the song got soul (but no money). in 1999, northstar burned out, and the SRB we all know and love today rose from the ashes. sam tells the story way better than i do – hang tight. first, here’s got soul (but no money) . . .

take it away, sam . . .

Allow me, if you will, to vault ahead to the year 2000. We have spent the past two weeks wallowing in the 90’s and I feel like it’s time for a break. Now, this sudden move away from the Northstar Ep before its completion is inspired, in part, by Bob Dylan’s book Chronicles Volume 1. In it, you imagine he is just about to get into the nitty gritty of his rise to stardom – his first few classic albums, what was he thinking when he wrote Highway 61 Revisited, Freewheelin’… before you know it, you’re in New Orleans in the mid 80’s hearing about how Oh Mercy! came into being. So here we are, the year 1999 and the demise of Northstar following one of the worst gigs I hope to ever play. The venue – “Vox” – in downtown Toronto. The crowd – unsympathetic, uninterested, unimpressed. The band – completely lost, dragging-on a version of a song called “Sweet Love” (in my top five worst attempts of all time) for a very uncomfortable amount of time. The result – ten years of music-making and comraderie disintergrates. It was a blow unlike any other I had ever experienced. It was more than just a band breaking up, it was a loss of identity. But maybe it was what needed to happen, maybe it was the catalyst for a shift in our creative direction and a better future. After four months or so, I couldn’t take it anymore… I called up Eric Fares and asked if he thought we could start something new, something different. “It would make my heart full of joy,” he responded, and we decided to see if George Donoso would sit in on drums. He recorded 17 tracks in a couple of hours, laying the rhythmic foundation for what would become the album “Brother Down.” For the next few months, Eric and I went in every day to work on it, recording on the ever-popular 12 track Beta machine. As for the sound quality, our mantra was “it is what it is.” It was more about trying things with songs I’d never tried before. This week’s song, “Got Soul (But No Money)” was, for me anyway, a big departure from my usual approach to writing. A drum machine for the love of god… We never performed it, in fact, outside of a few close friends, no one had ever heard it. Years later, however, my compadre K-os asked me collaborate on song with him. He came up to Montreal on a cold winter’s day and we headed to the studio with no particular plan. I played him a few odds and ends and he latched on to this song. I spent the day recording vocals and guitars, remodelling the original, all the while K-os slept on the sofa. Eight or nine hours later, it was done. My collaborator woke up, looking very refreshed and said “don’t worry, I’m going to flip that shit…” Nothing I’d ever done had been flipped before, so I waited with great interest and some fear for his take on it. The finished product is a song I love, but never expected, called “Dirty Water,” on K-os 2nd album Joyful Rebellion. See you next week when we dig up another dirty little secret together…

in a bizarre twist, i actually heard k-os’ dirty water before i’d ever heard got soul (but no money), and after hearing both, it’s obvious k-os made good on his promise to flip that shit. here’s dirty water by k-os . . .

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#tbt: inside your threads with sam in mexico

if the sam roberts band wore a uniform, it’d be a canadian tuxedo. obviously. this is a no-brainer.

if you watch this borderline related, kinda relevant (stay with me, folks) clip of sam and dave’s visit to toronto’s indie 88, sam declares their devotion to denim near the end, and dave is appropriately head-to-toe. 

let’s throwback to 2004, when sam went to mexico with muchmusic to film the documentary ‘inside your threads’ to help raise awareness about the conditions in sweatshops, and the lives of people who work endless hours making jeans for north american consumers.

if i wore a uniform, it would be an SRB t-shirt. exactly one-half of my closet is SRB t-shirts. (the other half, non-SRB band t-shirts). an SRB t-shirt paired with a cardigan is office wear, and don’ t let anyone tell you otherwise.

if you were wondering . . .  the last SRB t-shirt i added to my collection is american apparel. this is cool because a) american apparel brand t’s are easily the most awesome of all the band t’s, and b) no sweatshops.

‘inside your threads’ also features jully black and hawksley workman. the soundtrack features ‘no sleep’ and ‘the canadian dream,’ and you can stream the whole documentary right here.

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#tbt: sr and jt at SARSstock

it’s the eleventh anniversary of SARSstock (aka molson canadian rocks for toronto) this month. to celebrate one of the SRB’s most important performances ever- their late-morning, fifteen-minute set at the biggest concert in canadian history – let’s throwback to 2003 and this lovely photo of sam (aka sr) and justin timberlake (aka jt) i found online t’other day, courtesy of fanpix

sr and jt

sadly, the internet let us all down, ’cause there appears to be NO footage of the SRB’s actual performance anywhere and believe me, I looked.

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#tbt: sunny lemon tina

We are throwing wa-hey back this Thursday, all the way back to Northstar and Sunny Lemon Tina.

It’s we, rather than me, ’cause i’m not doing much today. The man himself is throwing back Thursday for us. I’m gonna add a You Tube link and hit publish. Sam will take care of everything else.

If you reach the last page of the internet (aka page nine million and three of google search results), you’ll find a now-defunct Sam Roberts Band fan blog. Despite the heartbreaking amount of dead links (why must you hurt me so, internet? why!??!), the blog is an oldie and a goodie, and includes a few entries from SRB’s old myspace page – the stories of Northstar rarities from Sam himself.

obviously, because you’re here right now and we’re friends, you know northstar (formerly william) is the almost-srb before the srb, and included sam, jimmy, and eric. northstar broke up in 1999. they released one ep. this ep is crazy rare, collectible, and almost impossible to find. note i said ALMOST. that was a hint, ’cause there’s good things brewing at the bootleg saint these days. you should come back again, and we’ll talk more.

until then! take it away, sam . . .

The story of Sunny Lemon Tina is a tumultuous one, winding its way through the past twelve years, a song looking for both a home and an identity. In fact, I’ve never written a song that has had a tougher time establishing exactly what it wants to be. Even the ill-fated “Sweet Love” (see episode 3) was more assertive, despite its devastatingly soporific effect on the crowd. It was back in 1995… Ivan had been reading a “Toilet Seat Classics” book, based on commonly misheard song lyrics and suggested that “Sunny Lemon Tina” would become the Feminine Anti-Hero/Muse who would lead our band to great heights. But first, she needed a song, which seemed simple enough at the time. The words were the same as those you are listening to now, however, the melody, chords, everything else were different.

According to our friend Dave, this first incarnation, now forgotten, sounded like a band we were into, called The Boo Radleys. He liked it so much that he offered to manage our band. We agreed, although we were suspicious of Dave’s motives and therefore decided that we would completely change the song. If he stayed, despite the subversion, he must mean business. We kept the same words and set them to an entirely new tune. Dave stayed, but after a few months we decided the song had still not reached its fullest potential and scrapped it again.

And so on… over the course of the next few years, this process was applied to poor Tina more times than was decent. You might be asking “Why not just start a new song? Why not just leave Tina be?” “Valid imaginary questions,” I’d answer, “and ones to which I do not have a reasonable reply.” The North Star EP version (the one your hearing today), is the form which has had the most staying power, although we recorded versions for both the Brother Down LP and We Were Born In A Flame (didn’t make the cut).

In 2002, we opened almost every show with Sunny Lemon Tina on our first tour with the Tragically Hip and we still pull it out of the bag once in a while. In a way, Ivan’s prediction was right, she has been both a guide and a muse, her refusal to be defined a constant thorn in our side, but also a reason to keep looking for new ways. Talks are under way for another version. THE VERSION….

ladies and gentlemen, may i present to you . . . sunny lemon tina. enjoy!

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