More music this week

Colleen Brown.
Jello Biafra and the Guantanamo School of Medicine.


Colleen Brown is a young woman with an old soul.

The Edmonton singer-songwriter has received much critical acclaim for her retro brand of folk-pop including receiving the Alberta Emerging Artist Award, and being a finalist on CBC Song Quest.

Brown grew up studying dance, piano and musical theatre, and studied vocal performance at Grant MacEwan College. She also has two side-projects – rock band The Secretaries and retro show band The Kit Kat Club.

Brown released her first album A Peculiar Thing in 2004, followed by Heart in Foot in 2007. She just recently re-released Heart in Foot on Dead Daisy Records in March.

She says the biggest difference between the two albums is that the music has been simplified.

“More of the original material that we’re doing now is a little more poppy and less folky, we’re kind of moving away from that,” Brown explained. “More a full band instrumentation for a lot of the new stuff.”

“For this tour, which is just a duo thing, I play piano and the guitar and I’m with my electric guitarist.”

Brown is going across Canada with the Crash Test Dummies, and then going into the studio in November and December to record a new album.

You can see her Saturday, Oct. 9 at the Burton Cummings Theatre. Visit

—Robin Dudgeon


Jello Biafra found fame with the Dead Kennedys as their lyricist and singer, but since the Kennedys’s dissolution in 1986, Biafra has taken on a host of other recording and touring projects including spoken word albums and collaborations with The Melvins, NoMeansNo, DOA, Mojo Nixon and Lard.

His latest project, Jello Biafra and the Guantanamo School of Medicine, pairs him with Ralph Spight (Victims Family, Freak Accident) and Kimo Ball (Freak Accident, Griddle) on guitar, Andrew Weiss (Rollins Band, Ween, Butthole Surfers) on bass, and Jon Weiss (Sharkbait, Horsey) on drums.

Their debut album, The Audacity of Hype, was released in 2009 by Biafra’s own label, Alternative Tentacles. The album, on which Biafra gets producer credit, pairs him with engineer Matt Kelley (Tupac, Digital Underground, Victims Family).

Inspired by Iggy Pop’s 60th birthday celebration, for which he reunited the Stooges, Biafra planned his own 50th birthday gig and gathered Spight, Jon Weiss, and Billy Gould (Faith No More) to form Jello Biafra and the Axis of Merry Evildoers.

They played two sold out shows at San Francisco’s Great American Music Hall June 16 and 17, 2008, before going into rehearsals for nine months.

But before going into the studio they recruited Ball and changed their name to Jello Biafra and the Guantanamo School of Medicine. Gould returned to Faith No More in February 2009 and was replaced by Andrew Weiss.

You can catch Jello Biafra and the Guantanamo School of Medicine at the Pyramid Cabaret on Monday, Oct. 11. Visit

—Robin Dudgeon


The idea of a punk band singing about the plight of farmers sounds like a pose, but Vancouver punks Carpenter practice what they preach.

Bass player Kelly Burnham had to bow out of the band’s current North American tour because he’s busy working on his family’s 10,000-acre farm in Oklahoma, and singer-guitarist Dan Sioui bought a farm of his own two years ago in southern Ontario.

“I’m finding it super rewarding,” Sioui said by phone last week of the farm, which includes 60 head of cattle, 60 apple trees, vegetables and herbs.

“It’s a lot of hard work, and it’s a different life … But, I think it’s been healthy for my body and my mind, so I really enjoy it.”

Rounded out by guitarist Ryan Howlett and drummer JJ Heath, Carpenter gained national attention in 2008 with the release of its first full-length, Law of the Land, on Winnipeg’s Smallman Records. They dubbed their Hot Water Music meets John Mellencamp sound “farmcore.”

The band’s second full-length, Sea to Sky, came out last month.

“It’s a little more upbeat and probably, to be honest, a little bit more punk in a way,” Sioui said. “I just found that there were so many bands jumping on the Americana-rock, punk-rock vibe that I wanted to separate (us) from (that).

“We really wanted to get back to our roots and have the record be a little more upbeat and a little more aggressive, while still maintaining that sing-along, anthem feel.”

See Carpenter live this Tuesday, Oct. 12 at the Royal Albert. Visit

—Aaron Epp

Published in Volume 65, Number 6 of The Uniter (October 7, 2010)

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