Reviews on Monte Nordstrom

Quotes about Monte - various North American writers
Nucleus interview - 12/08/05
'After All...' review by Barry Newman - Cosmic Debris Musicians Magazine. Apr, 2004
"ptarmigan" review by Jon Davis - Expose Magazine. Oct, 2000
"ptarmigan" review by Gordon Hamilton - Leader reporter. Feb, 1974
Review by Klaus Muenter, Nanaimo Daily Free Press, Mar 1974 180K GIF
Review (in French) from Mainmise, Quebec, 1974 170K GIF
Nordstrom solo performance 1984: Jerry Skowronski (Fort MacMurray Today)
"Nothin' More Better" CD review: Rick Dennis (Cowichan News Leader, Duncan BC)
"Nothin' More Better" CD review: John Kovacs, Staff Reporter (The Citizen, Duncan, BC)
"Monte Nordstrom" CD review: Barry Newman (Cosmic Debris Musicians Mag)
"Monte Nordstrom" CD review: The BluesHound (West Coast Entertainment Magazine, Victoria, BC)
"Monte Nordstrom" CD review: Doug Treadway (Nightflying Magazine, Little Rock, Arkansas)
"Monte Nordstrom" CD review: Rick Dennis (Cowichan News Leader)
"Monte Nordstrom" CD review: Tom Harrison (The Province)

Nordstrom solo performance review: Barry Newman (Cosmic Debris Musicians Mag)

"Northstream" CD review: Roger Levesque (Edmonton Journal)
"Northstream" CD review: Chris Sherlock (The Citizen, Duncan, BC)
"Northstream" CD review: Tom Harrison (The Province, Vancouver)
"Live At The James Bay Inn" CD review: Barry Newman (Cosmic Debris Musicans Mag) Feb/00
"Monte Nordstrom Trio" reviewed: Toby & Nikki Nilsson. May, 2000
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  after all
After All...


1974 LP on CD
CD Catalog
Articles By Monte
All images 2004 - Monte Nordstrom
Website by Barry Newman (Cosmic Debris Musicians Magazine)

'After All...' - CD review by Barry Newman (Pubisher), Cosmic Debris Musicians Magazine (Apr, 04)
As suggested by the CD's subtitle, "Songs of Fate & Mortality", 'After All...' embraces a wide range of introspective realizations and moods. Nordstrom's exemplary writing & performance skills throughout are trippy and unabashedly-sincere.
Bursting with catchy hooks & original melodies, the tracks frequently foray into cleverly-subliminal, split-second frames of arrangement or production style from pop hits of the 60's & 70's, which give this CD an amazing feel of timelessness. Momentary flashes of deja-vu amidst Monte's power ballads eerily-conjure Jim Morrison, Moody Blues, The Beatles... without treading on historical, artistic domain. Spooky!!
My favourite tracks include 'Champagne Sky', 'I See You', 'Abandoned Memories' and the jazzy instrumental 'Deep Green'.
Superb percussion by Pat Steward (Odds) and an amazing assortment of West Coast and International musicians throughout, which includes Doug Rhodes (sax, former keyboardist on The Association's hit 'Cherish'), Larry Blatchford (keys), Japan's Keizo Endo (bass), Sweden's Peter Gustavsson (guitar), and co-producer Edmonton's Jeremy Sagar (bass).
The package includes an immaculate, full-colour lyric/photo booklet.

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ptarmigan review: by Jon Davis - Expose Magazine #20, Oct/2000 - San Francisco
Ptarmigan-(Groovedigger GDR33 1974/1999, CD)

Well, here's a lost gem from a by-gone era! Ptarmigan was a relatively short-lived Canadian acoustic group. The core of the band consisted of singer & recorder player Glen Dias & twelve-string guitarist Monte Nordstrom joined by subtle percussion and not a lot else. The music is an unusual hippie acoustic jazz folk rock blend full of nature imagery and West Coast atmosphere, with a bit of Middle Eastern flavour for accent. No wonder they caught the attention of flutist Paul Horn (the jazz experimentalist who made a name for himself recording solo flute inside the Taj Mahal), who produced Ptarmigan's long-lost album.

Most of the album is taken up by multi-part songs like "The Island" (referring to their home on Vancouver Island) and "A Hymn to the Ocean and a Great Northern Lake". It was recorded 1972-73 and not released until 1974 on Canada's Columbia label, by which time Dias and Nordstrom had disbanded the partnership. The music is hard to describe, and somehow manages to be both timeless and very much a reflection of its times. This reissue also features a 16-page book with a detailed history of Ptarmigan and some bonus material recorded in 1978 by former members of the group. - Jon Davis

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ptarmigan: Musicians Produce Musical Landscape
by Gordon Hamilton - Leader Reporter

It may have been a while since you heard a new recording that really thrilled you; one that was unlike anything you have heard before, totally fresh and innovative yet familiar enough to be easily enjoyable. If so, lay back and listen to ptarmigan.

Ptarmigan (with a small p) is the music of Glen Dias and Monte Nordstrom, two Duncan musicians who have been involved off and on in the local music scene for five years now have produced a record album of their own compositions.

The album was produced by Paul Horn, the internationally-known flautist, who has played alongside such musical greats as Ravi Shankar and Donovan. And it has been released by Columbia Records, one of Canada's larger record companies.

Monte & Glen's compositons are not top forty oriented, and could not even be classified as popular music. Rather they are works of art, more like musical landscapes where shadow, light, coloration and technique are all integral parts; neither one a complete statement by itself.

Sometimes their music is jazz-oriented. Other times it is reminiscent of oriental or South American harmonies, but always it is a product of Vancouver Island and the contradictory moods of the surrounding ocean.

Ocean images dominate in the instrumentation and the lyrics of the ptarmigan album. Titles such as The Island, Night of the Gulls, and Vancouver all offer musical interpretations of the west coast-interpretations that will strike a familiar chord in the psyche of every Islander.

Vocals, 12 string guitar and recorder form the basis of ptarmigan's music, with Glen's voice being used almost like an instrument at times to complement his recorder. Monte's powerful guitar provides not only a strong rythmic accompaniment to the vocals and recorder, but also some interesting guitar techniques.

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"Monte Nordstrom" - on Groovedigger Records
by Tom Harrison - The Province Showcase - Thursday, June 1, 1995

Nordstrom has been a fixture of West-Coast pub-rock for some time but this is his first full-length CD and a kind of menu of the different music and wanderings that have shaped his writing. This starts with blues and extends to country and reggae influences. Every once in a while he pulls out a compelling groove or edgy performance ('Private Hell' and 'Grain of Salt') but this primarily is relaxed, goodtime music that probably goes down well in the bar.

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Monte Nordstrom: "Monte Nordstrom"
( on Groovedigger Records )
by BC Newman - Cosmic Debris Musicians Magazine - Vancouver Island. Aug/94

MONTE NORDSTROM"s new CD is out and it's going to turn a few heads. This self-titled recording offers a variety of styles and will appeal to a wide audience. Indeed, if it receives the marketing it deserves, I would expect it to go a long way.

The opening cut, "The Muse" is a very catchy wake-me-up with a nifty Bob Seger / Huey Lewis kind of riff & feel. For the past 72 hours, I haven't been able to get this song out of my head. Even spraying broom bushes with cold water (to hear the seeds explode in the mid-day heat) won't arrest this infectious tune. Powerful sorcery indeed.

My favorite track is "Buffalo Taxi". This is a cleverly-crafted reggae groove which lesser critics might perceive as a Canadian take-off of "I Shot the Sheriff", eh! Monte's lyrics however, his vocal delivery and accents, warrant a serious second listen to this witty tale of cross-cultural mayhem, "the man" and bovine-driven
"Old Joe was in the bar a little bit drunk, when up in his face come this uppity punk.
He boxed that rude boy, but it wasn't his fault and he got booked for common assault.
He got to ride in the Buffalo Taxi. He got to check in at the steel-rack hotel.
The mounties always get their man; He got to spend the night in the can..."

My next favorite song is "Ransom". It switches back and forth from the haunting lysergic textures inherent in old Country Joe & the Fish ballads; to the twisted and tormented ravings of ARTHUR BROWN. get the drift? No? Let's put a bunny rabbit in the microwave for 3 (three) seconds and see what happens!
"I'm being held against my will, I'm lost, I don't know why. What is this irony which causes no-one here to cry? Teachers(?) change with the season, without rhyme and without reason. I am lost but I don't know why. There's confusion in this involvement, No witness, no alibi. What is the cost? Is it too high? The casebook's closed (?) before the heading. The bride's been purloined from the wedding. What is the cost? Is it too high?"
My cats would have eventually tortured and devoured that bunny anyway...

Darlene's favorite cut is "You Got a Way". She probably got turned on by Monte's voice, which goes sort of baritone, like that guy from the Crash Test Dummies. I can never nail her on the reason she likes that song - she always goes for a cold shower.

Billy Winter (keyboards extrordinaire) co-wrote "Private Hell" with Monte:
"He's drinkin' again, dark demons at night. Too much thinkin' again, he"ll be weak by daylight. No flamy red devils, no sulpher-like smell, he just turns slowly in his private hell... ...court orders, couselling, weekends in jail. aspirins, alimony, conditions of bail, the bottle's a means to an end he can tell, to end this slow burning in his private hell."
I'd better list the credits before this bottle of vodak runs dry and I start tearin' the house apart:
Mike Harney and Damien Graham are on drums; Wayne Diggins and Pierre Komen on sax (very tasty sax playing, by the way); Steve McKinnon and Monte on bass; Bill Winter on keyboards and Monte on guitar and lead vocals.

Monte's singing is powerful and pleasing to the ear. His guitar is effective...but this CD is not really a platform for guitar solos... instead, the voice and the sax take care of the solo arena. As a consequence, ALL of the musicians (and the actual songs themselves) share the bright embers of this brilliant recording.

The record was recorded at Bagel Boy studio and Desolation Sound, with Damien Graham (engineer), Rick Salt (tech), Craig Arnatt, Monte Nordstrom & Wayne Diggins on the mix.
According to Monte, ..."the album was re-mixed at Desolation Sound using their wide selection of tube-pre-amps, plate reverb, and a huge RCA ribbon mic. A lot of high-tech gear was available and we did the editing on computer using the Turtle Beach program...recording, mixing and manufacture were all done in the digital domain, so we used tube amps to warm up the signal where things were too brittle."
The cover was done by Cowichan Valley artist TOBY NILSSON, by VISIONQUEST and BLACKBIRD GRAPHICS.

For many years, Monte Nordstrom has led "THE BEAUMONTS" and has hosted the Sunday jams at the Brigantine in Maple Bay. Other projects have included "Ptarmigan" (1974) and a recent sojourn to Austin, Texas, Nashville, New Orleans, Memphis, Jamaica and Beale Street. He also hosts the monthly Song-Writer's Cabaret at the Cowichan Comminity Centre.

How do I rate this CD? I love it! ...normally you get a recording and actually end up digging only one or two trracks. Like most of my old STEELY DAN records though, half of the tracks on the MONTE NORDSTROM CD are the kinda songs I like to hear in any given frame of mind. And Darlene likes the other tracks.
Well, if I don't find something else to drink tonite, I'm gonna have to nuke some debris in the microwave and switch-on the late night TV news... see how Jupiter dealt with those comet impacts... find out how many Italian soccer players were blasted to smithereens for losing against Brazil... maybe I'll stagger 'neath the hydro lines in my back yard and squint at black holes...
"The stumbling fool, he walks alone, wrestlin with the Muse just tryin to figure out which words to use. To encode his message, deliver it by voice; and who's to say if he's right or wrong, now that he's made his choice."

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Muse Alive and Well on Polished Project
by Rick Dennis - Cowichan News Leader - January 25, 1995

"MUSE" - Webster's defines it as "the spirit regarded as inspiring a poet."
"Muse" is also the title of the opening musical ode to artistic inspiration which opens Monte Nordstrom's sleek new self-titled CD. Listen to the song's impassioned lyrics and you'll pick up on the fact that this is more than just a word in the dictionary for the popular Cowichan Valley singer/songwriter. It's part of his personal musical religion.

"I first heard your voice way back in '68", Monte sings with gritty authority, "I see your eyes even now when I'm walking in the rain."
Urged on by an insistent rhythm section, sympathetic sax and percolating keyboards, Monte confesses that after all these years he's still "wrestling with the Muse / Just trying to figure out / Which words to use." Judging from the ten tracks on his latest collection of originals he is definitely winning two falls out of three.

Artfully channeling his rock, blues and soul roots into an honest and individualized sound, Nordstrom has come up with a set list of thoughtful, ambitious lyrics fitted to a variety of dancer-friendly melodies.
"Get What;s Mine" is a ballad which cruises along at an appealing moderate tempo as Monte sings with heartfelt conviction about "hitting that long hard road" to personal fulfillment.
"Ransom", on the other hand, is an ambiguous little devil which starts out slowly with almost Kafkaesque lyrics ("I'm being held against my will / I'm lost. I don't know why") and then metamorphoses: into a steamrolling chorus chased down with a sinfully catchy syncopated horn riff. The song is already a dancefloor hit at the Brigantine Inn in Maple Bay, site of the weekly Sunday night jam hosted by Monte and the Beaumonts.
"You Got a Way" is a slow-burning tribute to a special lady ("You got away with murder / Baby, you kill me every time you smile") set to a slinky 60's Memphis soul groove while the chorus of "Catch the Brass Ring" has the nostalghic feel of an old Cream number with Monte's vocals sounding uncannily like Jack Bruce in his prime. (Nordstrom also plays bass on this track.)
"Private Hell" is a moody, midnight blue meditation on human frailty co-written with keyboardist, Bill Winter. Listening to the somber lyrics recalled the famous line of poetry by Henry David Thoreau about "men who lead lives of quiet desperation." (Now here's a song I can identify with.)
A busy travel schedule over the past year has provided additional fuel for Monte's muse. The rockabilly-flavoured "Long Lonely Night" was written after recording an instrumental session at Sun Studios in Memphis (home of early recordings by Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis and Johnny Cash.)
The bluesy ballad, "Grain of Salt," another audience favorite at Monte's live gigs, was actually penned in a bar in the legendary Storyville section of New Orleans.
"Life is but a Dream" seems to have been inspired by a restless sleep during a Greyhound bus trip.
A sun-splashed reggae workout, "Buffalo Taxi," is a by-product of a recent trip to Jamaica.

In addition to assembling an impressively unified body of songs, Nordstrom has cleaned up the garage band sound which plagued his last project (1992's cassette-only "Nothin' More Better"). Recorded at Nanaimo's Bagel Boy Studios and Desolation Sound in Vancouver and released on Nordstrom's own Groovedigger label, this impeccably mixed CD release has clarity, punch and presence.
In addition to Monte on vocals, guitar, GR1 and bass (on some tracks) and log-time associate Bill Winter on Keyboards, the list of session credits include top-flight Island players like Wayne Diggins (alto sax), Pierre Komen (tenor sax) and Steve McKinnon (bass) with Michael Harney and Damien Graham splitting percussion duties. The package includes complete lyrics and liner notes and it's all served up with some striking "Rene Magritte meets Frank Zappa" cover art from local brush master Toby Nilsson.

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"Nordstrom Creates Fine Blend Rootsy Ideas"
by Roger Levesque - The Edmonton Journal, Friday, January 17, 1997
Re: "Northstream" GDR962242

The sub-title sounds like the archetypical singer-songwriter album: "songs and stories of people and places". It's just a hint at the rootsy, rich musical observations that hang within this new disc from Monte and Kelly Nordstrom, who call their project Northstream (that's their name in an English translation).

Singer and multi-instrumentalist Monte Nordstrom is a veteran of the Canadian roots scene and one or two songs on the album even date back to the late '70s, but the collaboration with his nephew/bassist is just less than a year old. Hard to tell for a musical partnership that works so well - and gets a record out so quickly.

New material and old is on the bill when they bring a variety of stringed instruments to the City Media Club today at 9 p.m. with a guest percussionist (tickets are $6 for members, $8 for non-members). For Monte Nordstrom it's a chance to revisit his old haunts given that he lived down in Riverdale for the first half of the '80s.

He was born in British Columbia's Fraser Valley and makes his home in a small Vancouver Island town called Crofton which explains much about the rural themes of his songs. Still, Nordstrom says his chief inspirations come on the road and that staying open to spontaneous encounters in his travels triggers all kinds of song ideas. His disc brims over with rural images, characters and stories, inspired by both personal experience and observations. "I think "North All Night" is a song I wrote on a paper bag as I was driving from Edmonton to Fort MacMurray for a gig, and a lot of songs come in different ways. I had some other notes from a trip on the coast that I put together in "Ghosts on a Halfmoon Night" while I was between sets at a gig in Nordegg. They come to you wherever you are and they come from different directions, either from a seed of an idea that suggests a chord sequence: or I get a melody or rhythm and then the words come later."

Nordstrom says the Celtic flavored tune "Doubloon and the Stranger" was a "bonus tune" that came almost like automatic writing from start to finish. It's even creepier that a song about a big explosion which rocked Halifax years ago came from a guy who had never been to Halifax at the time. A more deliberate new number called "Crisis Line" was penned for a crisis centre benefit and the song will soon be released as a video and single.

Monte Nordstrom says a couple of stringed instruments were collecting dust in his parent's house, calling to him when he was growing up, but he has been playing a guitar seriously since about age 12. Gordon Lightfoot inspired him to write lyrics and Beatlemania pushed him to the electric guitar. Before the end of high school he was in a sextet called "ptarmigan" that won brief critical notice and airplay via Paul Horn's label.

Along the way Nordstrom appeared with the likes of Lenny Breau, Leon Redbone, Syrinx and Downchild, among others, before he founded his own Northstream publishing company in Edmonton in the early '80s and worked all over the prairies with this berg as his home base. He's happy to be living back on the coast, but he sounds even happier to be back on the road playing his own music.

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"Guitar Stylings of Monte Nordstrom Worth a Listen"
Review by Jerry Skowronski - Fort MacMurray Today - Friday, January 27, 1984

Crisp, clean instrumentals flow from Monte Nordstrom's six-string Guild electric guitar. The sound, at times, is intoxicating. This guy is good.

Nordstrom is so good, in fact, that it is a rare treat listening to him play at Mingler's Lounge in the basement of the Nomad Motor Inn. The young guitarist-singer is playing there for two weeks; he started Monday.

At best it is difficult to describe or even place Nordstrom's style into any one musical slot. He's a rare bird in a smoke-filled room and some of the people are actually listening to the music. Earlier this week, while resting behind two tequila gold & a club soda, I stretched my legs and listened intently to this Nordstrom fellow.

He's been in the city many times before and has played the Tamarack Club at the Syncrude Ltd. camp on four occasions. He has also played at various lounges in the city.

And while working on those tequilas, Nordstrom performed a most interesting rendition of Gordon Lightfoot's Bitter Green. Lightfoot himself would enjoy this version.

Nordstrom then shifted into a medley of fast-paced "Rock-a-billy" versions of Blue Moon of Kentucky, Wabash Cannonball and Folsom Prison Blues. He affects a strange and interesting voice characterization of Johnny Cash on the Folsom song and makes that Kentucky Moon just a little bluer and the Cannonball a little grittier than the originals. Most interesting to say the least. A fellow nearby says to his girlfriend: "That guy can play." And that's putting it mildly.

When he started picking-he's equally adept at finger style and flat picking styles and sometimes mixes both on any given song- 18 years ago, Nordstrom had picked a guitar from his uncle and hasn't looked back since. He describes that first guitar as "an awful machine", but it wasn't long before he coerced his dad into buying a 12-string on sale for $75. He still owns that pre-mass production Japanese model, only now it's a 10-string which he plays with carefreee abandon. Nordstrom, who "hated weeding", had to work in his father's garden the entire summer 15 years ago, but that old guitar has survived.

Besides his impeccable instrumental styling, Nordstrom's voice has a wide range that carries him through soft, sentimental ballads, hard-core rock and roll, grinding country tunes and even the odd Monte nordstrom original. He has more than 500 songs at his command on any given night and doesn't mind if someone in the room shouts for a favorite or two. He likes that close rapport with the crowd-sometimes large and sometimes a mere handful of bar-room high - and low rollers.

It makes no matter if there are 300 as at the Tamarack Club or 10 at a local lounge, Nordstrom loves his work. He enjoys it so much that the time slips by without notice and a set can go anywhere from 50 minutes to more than two hours before he breaks. The last time I listened to a singer play that long was when blues singer John Hammond was in town, and then I was drinking club soda on ice.

Nordstrom hales from southern BC, around Hope, Chilliwack and Vancouver Island, where he intends to return to live this summer with his wife and daughter. During the past four years, Nordstrom has played 45 towns and 20 rooms in Edmonton and still he returns to Fort MacMurray. He patterns himself after the internationally famous Canadian guitarist Lenny Breau, with whom he played back in 1972. So much of that fleeting improvisational style shows through in Nordstrom's work, too.

Ask him about playing for $80 a week, his decision to become a professional msusician, his early album release on Columbia of Canada-it was entitled Ptarmigan-and working on the railroad, as a welder, in a music store and the numerous good times he's enjoyed. Nordstrom has more stories than time or space will permit. Suffice it to say that if you enjoy a good timey, in-the-kitchen-at-3 a.m.-with-friends atmosphere, then make it a point to listen to Nordstrom while he's in the city. His version of Whiter Shade of Pale will blow you away.

Monte Nordstrom is playing at Mingler's Lounge at the Nomad Motor Inn Monday through Saturday til Feb. 4.

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Northstream / Monte Nordstrom - Groovedigger Records):
"Howe Sounds" review

by Tom Harrison - The Province - Take a Break! - May 15, 1997

Monte Nordstrom writes for the music monthly Cosmic Debris and seems to be playing every club or participating in every jam on Vancouver Island. 'Northstream', a collaboration with his nephew Kelly, takes him out of that working musician's enviroment to tell stories "of people and places" in a mostly acoustic setting that functions as a springboard for the interplay of bluesy guitar and harmonica. The story-songs tend to meander - suggesting the Nordstroms could have used an editor or tightened the arrangements - but this is the most focused yet natural and worthwhile of Monte's recordings. (Three stars - out of 5).
Note: This rating was up against major label releases from Warner, American, Attic, MCA and Asylum. Support independant label releases!

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Snapshots of Rural Canada Featured on Nordstroms New CD

by Chris Sherlock - The Citizen - Duncan, BC. Feb 23, 1997

MONTE NORDSTROM's new progressive folk rock CD entitled "Northstream (Songs and Stories of People and Places)" is a wonderful collection of snapshots of Canada, full of poetic rural imagery, from its colorful characters to its mountain peaks, rivers and valleys.
The use of the acoustic guitar as the foundation for the arrangements lend a timeless and almost historical quality to lyrics that encompass vast vistas of the Canadian landscape.
Recorded over a period of six months on a hard disc workstation studio, a Roland VS-880, the CD features Monte Nordstrom on nylon string guitar/synth and harmonica and nephew Kelly Nordstrom on electric bass, guitar and vocals.
"I've been watching Kelly's development for years," said Nordstrom. "As he just graduated from the music program at Selkirk College in Nelson, BC, I invited him to join the band and his background was a great addition to making the CD evoke, especially with things like recording technology. The Roland is pretty user friendly as long as you undrstand the terminology, and Kelly really does.
Backing musicians on the recording also include the ever-talented Donnie McGillivray on drums, Bill Winter on piano and accordian, and Dave Allen on fiddle. While the foundation may be acoustic in character, Kelly Nordstrom's searing electric guitar solos keep the genre in the 20th century, and the reverb on Monte's lead vocals add a haunting quality to the lush arrangements.
"As many of the songs are about geographical situations that are very large, the reverb on the voice portrayed the spaciousness I wanted," said Nordstrom. "One of the things that came about in the production of the CD was the evolution into something like a photograph album of Canada. That's why I included 'songs and stories of people and places" in the title."
Having just returned from a promotional trip through the West, Monte and Kelly Nordstrom put on a lot of miles and made connections in Saskatoon, Regina, Winnipeg, Calgary and High Level, Alberta.
"It was a good tour. We ended up doing alot of travel by bus, as we were originally booked with Air BC, who went on strike the day after we got there," said Nordstrom. "But even though the strike complicated things, it was well worth it. It's given me a data base for media contacts from Winnipeg to the West Coast, and hey, if you're going to promote your own music, you've got to get out there and perform it."
Nordstrom's Northstream CD is available at many retail outlets in the Valley including the Studio Bookstore, and Duncan Music. Monte can be seen live every weekend at the Brig in Maple Bay, where he and the Beaumonts host the ever popular Sunday night jam from 9 'til midnight. Monte will also be featured at the Brig on Saturday, March 8. On Wednesday from 6 p.m., he plays lounge classics at Asta Pasta. On March 21 and 22, he will play an unplugged concert at Just Jake's and on March 28 and 29, he's scheduled to play the James Bay Inn in Victoria.

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"News of Record"
Monte Nordstrom: "Monte Nordstrom" (on Groovedigger)

by Doug Treadway - Nightflying Magazine - Little Rock, Arkansas. 1994

I almost didn't review this one because I didn't really like it at first (and still don't like all of it), but Dianne likes it and so we listened to it a few times and it sort of grew on me. It has a subtle way of getting your attention.
Nordstrom and Nightflying came to each other's attention via SxSW '93...

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by John Kovacs, Staff Reporter - The Citizen - Oct 7, 1992. Duncan, BC, Canada

Cowichan Valley musician Monte Nordstrom and the Beaumonts have released an adult contemporary album for the "boomer" generation. The new album is called Nothin' More Better, and is a self-published effort that took three years to complete. This is Nordstrom's own album with back-ups by his band The Beaumonts.

"It's written by adults for adults, and varies in style from topical to party songs", Nordstrom said. On side one are studio songs recorded on 16 tracks at Lisen studios in Duncan. On side two are live songs recorded at the Brigantine Inn -- where Beaumonts' fans are used to seeing Nordstrom play every Sunday at the open jazz shows.

Nordstrom says each member of the band is a seasoned studio musician who keeps himself busy. He says self-publishing is both a chioce and a reality in a very competitive industry. Waiting for a big record label, he explained, is not the way to go because companies are reluctant to take a gamble on an unknown artist.

The 400 cassettes Nordstrom has produced are being distributed to various radio stations as an independant recording. He believes it's a more realistic way to get his original songs to the people.

Nordstrom describes "Nothin' More Better" as an up-tempo pop rock album with a "Cajun spice" flavor or southern influence to it. One of the songs, Down Santa Maria, is like a postcard from the edge, Nordstrom said. "It's a song about nightlife." Another topical song is Sherry's Jubilee, which deals with teen pregnancies. With the exception of these two message songs the album is primarily upbeat. "music should be fun," Nordstrom said. "Not necessarily vacuous but fun." However, the album does relate to people universally too -- with pssychological factors popping up in songs like Deception, Sobriety Blues or Out of Touch. Nordstrom has been writing music since 1968 and has penned about 150 songs, recording about 40 per cent of these. "I won't run out of ideas," he said reassuringly. "I've got enough material to record about 5 albums." "Nothin' More Better" can be purchased through Northstream Music, Box 196, Crofton, BC Canada, V0R1R0

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by Rick Dennis, Cowichan News Leader, September 23, 1992

The Sunday Jam Service at the Brigantine Inn in Maple Bay has become a colorful local custom in the Cowichan Valley. Now you can enjoy all the fresh, infectious energy, airtight harmonies and impeccable chops of Monte and the Beaumonts in the privacy of your own living room as well.

That's right. The new cassette release by Monte Nordstrom and the gang, "Nothin' More Better", is now officially on the street and side two is completely devoted to live recordings of the band in its native habitat.

Local sound wizard Jim Kent also slaved over a hot console at Lisen Communications to produce some prstine studio sides. The result is a radio-ready, dancer-friendly collection of sizzlin' originals guaranteed to clear the cobwebs out of any tapedeck.

The tasty set list comes in a variety of musical flavors ranging from the rousing big band R'n'B of "Take a Chance" and "Stay Awake" to the gently swaying Latinized country feel of "Down Santa Maria" (Imagine Marty Robbins hanging out with Los Lobos in East L.A. for a weekend). Tracks like "Sherry's Jubilee" combine the propulsive beat of an FM rock car radio hit with a writer's eye for lyrical detail. Setting the scene for a tale about a young girl's high school graduation night, Monte notes the women "wrapped up like birthday presents" and "the young men with thier rented suits, cigarettes and bootleg booze."

Tracks like "Sobriety Blues" and "Rock'n'Roll Husband have become staples of the band's live repertoire over the years. "Coming Home Again" received extensive airplay on CKAY in demo form. Other tunes like the bouncy title track ("inspired by a late night Cajun Cooking Show") are less familiar but equally as funky.

"There are no sequencers or computer tracks," Monte notes proudly. ":This is all 'real' music." Delivering the authentic goods: Monte on lead guitar and vocals, longtime musical ally Bill Winter on keyboards and vocals, Will (Call Me Mister) Cardinal (bass, vocals), Wayne Diggins (alto sax, clarinet) and drummer Mike Harney. Dave "the Duck" Rowse (baritone sax), Brent "Blind Watermelon" Hutchinson (alto sax) and Keith Washington (bass) provide some musical garnishings on selected tracks.

The band's first batch of cassettes sold out in two weeks. A new shipment has just arrived from Vancouver and is available as we speak at Earwhacks, Sound Station, and the Brigantine Inn (or just stop Monte on the street). The price is a bargain concious 12 bucks. "That's a dollar a tune," Monte laughs.

If you're "Out of Touch" with the local music scene, there is "Nothin'g More Better" to clue you in so "Take a Chance" and pick up a copy today. Monte and the Beaumonts are "Ready, Willing and Able" to pump up a jam designed to make you "Stay Awake."

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by Barry Newman - Cosmic Debris Musicians Mag - #28 - April, 1996

   As I recall, the first time I saw Monte Nordstrom was at a Hallowe'en dance around 1985. Monte's band was playing at the Shawnigan Beach Resort. My wife and I were cruising with another couple that night. I was flat broke and the only one without a costume (mandatory at the door), but my battered Princeton Reverb Amp was in the trunk...

   So I casually strolled in with my amplifier and said to the door person, "I'm with the band..."

   I probably shouldn't be admitting to the dastardly deed, but I'm glad I cheated my way in, otherwise I would have missed Monte's show and hung around outside on the icy dock... slipped in the lake... and been shred to pieces by its' venemous, eclectric eels...

   Many moons have since passed. It's been interesting watching Monte's performances over the years... each show has been totally different, not just in the musician line-up, but often in the entire format or musical genre. I recently caught a couple of Monte's solo presentations at Asta Pasta restaurant in Duncan.

   Monte's songs deal with love, fate, mortality & the human condition. Using his weathered & expressive voice like an instrument, Monte pours his soul into his music. Nuances of Jazz, Blues, Middle Eastern & Jovian influences flavour the heady Cascadian brew of this Adult Contemporary Artist.

   Monte uses a "Godin Multiac" nylon string guitar with a Roland GR1 synthesizer & accompanies himself on the harmonica. His guitar style combines right hand agility with a "hammer-on / pull-off" left hand technique. The synth gives his improvisational finger-picking an "other-worldly" aura. I found this particularly effective in his renditions of the Door's "Spanish Caravan", Pink Floyd's "Grantchester Meadows", Hendrix's "Voodoo Chile" and in some of his haunting blues & jazz based originals.

   I wasn't expecting such delightfully diverse (and impeccably-executed) material at a quiet dinner setting. Monte is a master at volume control and mic technique. Where rasp and rawness are required, it doesn't leap out of his songs and knock your wineglass over (though it can if he wants it to, at noisier venues)! Monte is also extremely melodic and accurate (no easy feat) on his rack-mounted blues harp. Few performers can match Monte's overall caliber of intensity AND control.

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Backwater Blues with the Blueshound by Dave Gordon

Thanks to Paul of Paul's CD Exchange in Duncan, for letting me borrow his copy of Monte Nordstrom's new self-titled CD on Groovedigger Records for a couple of days. I can tell you a bit about it.

Nordstrom is one of the Valley's best kept secrets.

Monte and the Beaumonts have been area mainstays, and they host a Sunday night jam at the Brigantine Pub in Maple Bay. They also released an album in 1992 entitled, "Nothing More Better". Monte decided to do this album as a solo effort, but The Beaumonts are there, especially Wayne Diggins who lays down some fine solos himself on this recording. This well produced, nicely packaged CD is an excellent showcase for Nordstrom's considerable songwriting talent. As the liner notes say, it is a rootsy collection of Soul, Blues, Rock-a-Billy, Reggae and Contemporary Rock".

The album's opening uptempo psychedelic hymn is a call to the muse. "The Muse" is a song about keepin' on keepin' on, and doing what you do for the love of doing it. It starts with Diggins blowing his heart out, and the tight, full arrangement is carried along by some nice organ work by Bill Winter.

Occasionally, Monte sings a bit like Bob Seger as he does on the next song "Get What's Mine", a road song for the one left at home. There's some Memphis style horns in there with his soulful, earthy, earnest vocals.

"Buffalo Taxi" is a tongue-in-cheek reggae tale, where Monte shows off a bit, playing his most solid lead solos on the CD. However, my favorite tune here is "Ransom", a sixties kind of piece that shifts from its spacey lazy opening to a big downtown horn sound. "Private Hell" is also very good, a blues ballad about loneliness and rumination, and a brain that behaves like a rat in a cage hitting the wheel. Once again, Wayne Diggins' sax work lifts the song up.

Simply stated, Monte deserves a great deal of credit for putting together one of the best locally produced CDs in quite a while.

I'm headed down to the Brig for a beer now, so it's time to tie down the old Olivetti...until next time!

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Monte Nordstrom: Live at the James Bay Inn
by Barry Newman - Cosmic Debris Musicians Mag #63 - Dec, 1999

When performing as a solo act, Monte Nordstrom stands out as one of Vancouver Island's most diverse and powerful artists.
"Live At The JBI" nicely captures his dynamic vocal stylings and expressive jazz / blues / gypsy guitar playing (embellished with occasional synth). 18 tracks include mostly originals from his previous CDs, with a couple of 60's classics by The Doors, Emerson, Lake & Palmer. Also included are 3 bonus tracks (engineered by Jim Kent in Duncan) featuring percussionist Charlie Wade. This gem was produced by Monte.

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By Nikki & Toby Nilsson - May, 2000     photo: barry newman

click photo for more stuff I suppose one could hurl superlatives and cliches around when one describes the music of the Monte Nordstrom acoustic, slightly-electric trio. But that would be dishonest especially after listening to two performances of the his group. One at Providence Farm and one at Coffee On The Moon. I find this trio of Monte on guitar, vocals & harmonica; John Wade on bass; and Donny McGillivray on percussion (sans drum kit) extremely pleasant to listen to.
Monte has a knack for building and weaving elaborate visual soundscapes around a melody and overlaying it on occasion with a gentle veneer of thoughtful poignant lyrics. He does this with a precise control over the tone and timbre of his warm and sparkling guitar work occasionally augmenting it with a soulful and direct working of his harmonica.
This is backed by some fine bass playing by John Wade, either on standup bass or fretless electric. John's bass playing is precise and measured, running close and tight to Monte's artistic guitar noodling, without being obtrusive. The two of them create delightfully surprising aural landscapes.
Add to this some creative percussion work by Donny McGillivray, congas, hand drum, various shakers or tambourine, one gets the impression of listening to an aural lava lamp. Something one could do for hours and slip into another dimension while doing so.
This trio of Monte's is tailor made to his freeform creative side. He draws upon his vast repetoire of original songs going all the way back to his early roots with Ptarmigan and up to the present date.
Don't be fooled. This is not muzak but highly-original exploratory music of the kind one realizes is much missed in the bars and clubs up and down the Island.
The group beguiles and draws one into them and at the same time one can opt not to listed and easily converse with others. But by doing so, one feels one is missing something important here!
This is honest stuff from a talented original trio led by Mr. Nordstrom. Each of the musicians have had at least 25 years in the music business and have a great understanding of what works and what doesn't work in such a combo. They're easy to listen to but not loud, mellow but not sleepy, hypnotic but not flashy. This definitely works and I feel will age extremely well.

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  after all
After All...


1974 LP on CD
CD Catalog
Articles By Monte
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Website by Barry Newman (Cosmic Debris Musicians Magazine)