hey everyone! here's some current

news from the land of cabbage

Table 'O' Contents:

Career Milestones
The Official Bio
The people in the band
Fellow Travellers on the musical road.
Side Cabbage: them other bands we play in


The official bio:

Black Cabbage are an eight-piece configuration of musicians from the town of Guelph. They released their 14-song debut album on DROG records in late August 1995, and have received national airplay on CBC and campus radio. Since their incarnation in early 1993 they have:

  1. become one of the most entertaining, dynamic, passionate and eclectic live bands in Ontario;
  2. recorded their debut album with the legendary Lewis Melville, the lovely Dave Clark (Rheostatics, Inbreds), and the luscious John Oliveira (Skydiggers, John Bottomley);
  3. were told after one of their first gigs that they had that "pan-Canadian sound," whatever the hell that might be;
  4. had their hometown daily rag define what they do as a mix of "rock, folk, punk, Motown, blues, African, Celtic, country, and gypsy influences"... which is about as specific as comparisons get;
  5. rented an accordion from none other than Grammy-winning polka superstar Walter Ostanek one starstruck evening in St. Catharines;
  6. played softball against Change of Heart and King Cobb Steelie at the 1994 Hillside Festival (and got their folkie butts kicked - watch out for CoH's John Richardson on second base!);
  7. appeared on the nationally acclaimed Guelph Happens compilation (it spent six months on the national campus radio chart; Black Cabbage's tracks were also played on CBC's Brave New Waves, Night Lines, and Real Time);
  8. posed for the cover of the Guelph campus paper (The Ontarion) with Elvis Costello.
So what are they about, anyway? They play with a lot of soul during sets that can last up to two and a half hours. Unlike other eclectic bands (who might play rock and country! industrial and thrash!), a typical Black Cabbage set will range from a funk workout to a raging Rock Experience, followed by a Latino fiddle tune, segueing into a solo electric guitar ballad, chased by a chaotic musical beast with sixteen legs.

If you want ready-made comparisons for lazy media types (just add water!), may I suggest the following: Sly and the Family Stone get picked up by The Band hitchhiking along the 401; the Pogues challenging Parliament to ice hockey on a frozen lake in the Canadian Shield; Ani DiFranco and Michelle Shocked take David Lowery and Daniel Lanois out on a double date to see the Rheostatics and the Bourbon Tabernacle Choir.

But seriously, folks, they use a lot of folk instruments like acoustic guitar, accordion, violin, and tin whistle alongside electric guitars and your standard rock and roll line-up. In case this all makes them sound like yet another hippie jam band, let me shamelessly appropriate the word punk (even though their music doesn't fit into the traditional definition - hey, if you've read Greil Marcus' Ranters and Crowd Pleasers, the definition can get a little stretched) because:

  1. their anarchic live shows bubble over with energy;
  2. that's what a lot of them grew up listening to, and in some cases, playing;
  3. they believe firmly in DIY; and
  4. it's a word you have to drop these days for any shred of credibility, and they're well versed in media manipulation.

So sit back, lower your expectations after the shameless promotional material you've just endured, and enjoy the debut recording by Black Cabbage.
- Billy Shears, September 1995 (updated in Jan '96)

The People of Black Cabbage are:
Michael Barclay (accordion, organ, alto saxophone),
Mark Agnew (drums)
Nick Craine (ac. & e. guitar, vocals),
Sheila Gruner (violin, ehru),
Michael O'Connell (ac. guitar, vocals, bass, e. guitar, percussion),
Tristan O'Malley (bass, guitar, vocals, tin whistle),
Kate Richmond (vocals, percussion, e. guitar),
Dave Withers (e. guitar, vocals, bass).

Some wonderful Guelph musical friends of the Cabbage you might not have heard of: Aaron Riches, Corduroy Leda, Backdrop Theory, Minnow, Troll, House of Velvet, Vicki Fraser, Zamboni Jiver, Maxine For Now

Some you might have heard of: Lewis Melville, Jeff Bird, King Cobb Steelie.

Cabbagehead side projects:

The band will be touring out west in June and July at festivals and in clubs. If you're interested in the band and can help us get some gigs there in any way, shape, or form please drop us a line.

The band is currently in an intense writing period (spurred on by new rehearsal space) and hopes to start recording their second album by the end of the summer.