Ralph News, baby!

Aug. 2nd, 2008
Vancouver, BC

On Aug 9, 2008, Bongo Beat will officially be a Montreal based record label.
We will be a part of the fabric of one of the most exciting musical centres on the planet.

I am originally from Montreal and our new office will actually be in the house where I grew up; where my parents first began their life in Canada. Talk about going home, this will now be the start of our adventure, back to the wonderful neighbourhood of my youth.

It is a decision which has been ongoing for several months and finally, various factors tipped the balance into making it a reality. As more and more of our activities shift to the UK and Europe, the costs of travel and shipping from Vancouver are becoming increasingly prohibitive. Vancouver is a fantastic city, in may ways unaffected by the usual pressures and scrutiny of the music industry at large and therefore an incredible ground zero to re-invent yourself artistically and develop your craft. Look at me - I arrived here as an ex-major label guy and re-emerged as a beat poet performer, fanzine publisher, label owner, cd designer and god knows what else.

But that was over 17 years ago. The playing field has changed drastically. The music industry is both collapsing and re-inventing at the same time. The very idea of a record label is in flux. Many many labels and distributors (Festival in Vancouver, an institution) are closing up shop. Good luck finding a record store. The major chains that initially decimated the indie stores are now themselves disappearing from the landscape. With all this talk about "product mix" - everyone's forgotten about the music.

But the music is alive and well. The indie stores that remain have always been about the music and that's why they will weather the storm. There's no other feeling like walking into a record shop that's ALIVE, blaring music, staff running around re-stocking and loads of new releases right there.

For a label, it's about the music first and foremost; a level of quality and craftsmanship - the ability to constantly travel an adventurous road but not relinquish the reins of the artistic bar you've set. We make no bones about citing our inspirations; Elektra, Island, Atlantic, Verve, Reprise and others (all pre-70s consolidation when they all became one big mush of bloat).

We (Bongo Beat) are now back in the vortex of a music industry that is eastern based but we have sidestepped Toronto and New York and gone home to Montreal - an even more exciting centre. Unless you have been there, it is pointless to even try and explain it - maybe by saying what if New York and Paris were actually one city? Would that be an over-simplification? Maybe, but the point is made.

As a musician, you can have your butt kicked both in French and in English. The energy to move forward, evolve, rise to the occasion - is contagious.

It is an exciting new chapter for us and I look forward to contributing to the Montreal landscape and now being closer to all our European partners.

Some upcoming things:

POP MONTREAL- Bongo Beat had a great showcase at the St Laurent Main Madness Street Festival on the Pop Montreal stage, Thursday, Aug 21; 5pm (Plunt - with Kevin Komoda); 4pm (Ian Ferrier); 6pm (Franco Proietti Morph-tet)

we are publishing Treat Me Like Dirt by Liz Worth - an oral history of the 77-78 Toronto punk scene (and beyond) that will be the definitive work on this little documented area of Canadian musical history (Diodes, Viletones, Teenage Head, etc). Also on the schedule is Trouble At The Camera Club, a monograph of punk and related photos by Don Pyle. And somewhere later on down the road, a collection of my 77-78 writings and photography. Bongo Beat Books is for music books.

The return of the RALPH band - yes, yours truly finally performing again (right now, you can only ever see me perform in England... how weird is that). That is the other advantage to being in Montreal - the whole eastern touring circuit.

Bongo Beat will be at Popkomm this year (part of this trip will include visiting our partners in Hamburg, Paris and the UK).

Lots of them (Diodes, Kimberley Rew, Bedsit Poets, Ari Shine, etc etc etc)

In addition to being the initial management contact for most of the Bongo Beat roster, we also represent the interests of The Diodes (yes, Action Reaction et all coming soon!), Paul Hyde and The Payolas (look for a new album and national tour soon).

Yes, it's coming. MP3s directly from us. We are testing the beta version of the store right now.

We represent a wide assortment of tracks (including a LOT of instrumentals in all genres).

More news soon - it's an exciting time.

And oh yeah - Boulangerie NDG Bakery is on the corner of our street - EXCELLENT Italian foods, including the best tomato pizza bread ever!

Bongo Beat is proud to be a part of NDG. Glad to be home.

To our friends in Vancouver, thank you for 17 years of love, inspiration and support.
You already know we'll miss the weather.

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