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The Change are Marcus Adrian – Vocals, Acoustic Guitar and Harmonica, Gregg McGean – Lead Guitar and Backing Vocals, Matt “Mars” Finbow – Rhythm Guitar and Backing Vocals, Kevin Pogue – Bass, Roy Bartell – Drums and Percussion. With influences as wide and varied as Aerosmith, Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, REM and Buddy Holly (to name a few), their sound is at once very unique and most familiar at the same time.
With one EP and one full CD of original compositions, under their collective belts the first year as a band has seen a lot of firsts for the Change. Most recently they played a showcase gig at one of Toronto’s prestigious rock clubs, The Horseshoe Tavern, a stage whose boards have been trodden by The Rolling Stones, The Police, The Ramones, Blue Rodeo, The Tragically Hip and Our Lady Peace (again, to name a few). That night, hosted by Toronto radio station 102.1 FM CFNY, also marked the release of their first full length CD, called “Roll Yr’ Tongue”.
This is a band on it’s way up folks, make no mistake. One of those rare instances when five distinct personalities get together, strap on their instruments and gel in a way that, if it was easy, everyone would be doing. But it isn’t, and so The Change are another comparatively rare instance.
I had the pleasure of catching them live in the kind of venue that you can only ever hope to catch a rising star in it’s infancy. An acoustic gig at a coffee shop, For The Love Of Jo’s in Port Perry; a location that had seen a number of the members performing solo as part of the usual open mike Friday nights. A kind of payback to Gabby, the owner to be sure. Call it The Change’s Cavern Club; the comparison would not necessarily be that far off the mark.
For an aging music aficionado such as myself the pursuit of new music that actually speaks to me in a meaningful way is not as easy as it once was. How can one claim to be a lover of music when the majority of new music just leaves one cold. I will be the first to admit right here and now that I have just never, ever gotten rap, hip hop or techno. Valid musical styles I’m sure; just never for me. To me that music just sounds unabashedly derivative.
While I do hear the seeds of a number of artists which I grew up with and grew to love in their music the thing which sets The Change apart is the fact that they wear their influences on their sleeve for all to see. Marcus Adrian’s vocals defy any kind of easy categorization. Kind of an unique amalgamation, if that makes any kind of sense. Marcus’s overall range is most impressive.
Gregg McGean, with his bone white Fender Stratocaster, adds tasteful, strident fills, while his solos hearken back to old Slow hand himself; not trying to flash with sheer speed (although he can when he wants to) but rather adding just the right kind of musical punctuation required to drive the song forward. Stratocasters have a very distinct voice, and Gregg takes full advantage.
While watching The Change on a small stage may not have given a true and accurate instance of their individual onstage personas I was still, none the less, drawn back to the energy that Matt Finbow consistently radiated. Playing rhythm guitar and singing backing vocals his energy was infectious. While I could sense the same kind of energy from the other band members, most demurred to the small stage which they occupied. Even Matt himself… but only for so long. Eventually he just could not contain the energy any longer.
There has never, EVER, been a band that I have admired that did not have a solid, killer rhythm section. The Stones with Bill Wyman and Charlie Watts, Aerosmith with Tom Hamilton and Joey Kramner, the mighty Led Zeppelin with John Paul Jones and John Bonham; a strong rhythm section does any number of things. They anchor the beat, giving it continuity and presence. They allow it to expand beyond the norm; all the while keeping up and keeping pace. They provide a solid bedrock to allow the lead vocalist and guitar players to stretch out and let loose.
Kevin and Roy are just such a rhythm section. When all else seems to be coming apart at the seams they are capable of bringing it all back in focus. Kevin plays bass guitar almost as a lead instrument. He put me in mind of Geddy Lee in that respect. While the coffee house show pretty much limited Roy to a pair of bongos, I none the less had to check from time to time that he had not somehow snuck a full set of drums in, such was the beat that he was able to lay down.
And their CD? I like it; very much. The tunes are catchy in a way that stays with you even after a single listening. The harmonies are as tight as any band with five plus years of history; never mind that The Change have had, pretty much, one year to hone their skills. All original tunes I might add; which takes a certain amount of hutzpah unless, of course, those original tunes can stand up on their own. Which, trust me, these songs not only can, but do.
A personal favourite of mine is “Her Revolution”; a tune which showed up both on theirdemo EP and their new CD “Roll Yr’ Tongue”. “Hit’s The Spot” is another fave.
“Citizen Of Grace”, “I Feel Fine” and “The Change” all resonate with the same, true energy. I hope that people who know me and know of my passion for music also know that I would not be touting these five young men if their music had not made me sit up and take notice. Trust me folks you owe it to yourself to check The Change out; you will not be disappointed.
The Change – Roll Yr’ Tongue is available on Amazon.com and iTunes (too name just two).
Don’t we all need a Change from time to time.
N.B. Sadly, since first writing this article The Change have disbanded, the members each going their own separate ways. Bassist Kevin Pogue was the first to leave. His job of holding down the bottom end was filled by Gregg’s brother Eric McGean. Eric lasted with the band right the way through to its ultimate demise.
Next to leave was Matthew James Finbow Following his departure from The Change Matt spent time with a new band, Sally and the Zebra, but other than playing a private gig, the band didn’t take off. Matt now finds himself quite happily at home playing with Chris Gostling & The Tempo. The band consists of Chris Gostling (Guitar, Harmonica, Vocals, Mandolin), Adam McNeill (Bass, Guitar, Harmonies, Keyboards), Mat MacDonald (Drums), Alex Nikolaev (Guitar) and Matt Finbow (Guitar).
The Change carried on as a four piece for a while but, ultimately, the group disbanded.
Roy Bartell and Kevin Pogue have gotten together with some friends and formed Chasing Jane, a band
that is trailblazing a completely new musical genre, Hip/Rock. The group consists of Roy Bartell (Drums),
Chase Dickenson (), Ryan Hargrave (), Colin Laing () and Kevin Pogue (Bass).
Gregg and Eric? Not sure that they are doingmuch of anything musically speaking at the moment, which is a shame since they are both damned fine musicians.
Honestly not sure what Marcus is up to these days, although I did hear something about him heading down to Nashville hoping to fulfill his song writing dreams.
And so, while The Change have become another rock ‘n’ roll casualty, at least a part of the wonderful spark they all shared has been carried forward in two other bands.
While I have yet to hear/see either Chris Gostling & The Tempo or Chasing Jane live yet, I sincerely hope to rectify that situation very soon. You can bet that, once I have, you can read all about my impressions right here. Given their pedigree, I am expecting good things.