has been said people can be judged by the company they keep.
This is all the more reason to admire The Pursuit of Happiness.
They've been associated with some remarkable folks over the years.
Some have links elsewhere in the site, like when mentioned in an article or noted in the Other Links page.
This list here is for bands and artists that have developed some great creative associations with the people in TPOH. The catch is that they have to have some web presence (click on the name for the link), so that's narrowed things down.
It's also a catch-as-catch-can, purely subjective list, so no one should feel snubbed.
If you have any suggestions for Pals or links, send them here.
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First and foremost....
As he is the godfather of many things, so too is he the godfather of Pursuit Pals. His work was an influence on Moe Berg long before he produced Love Junk and One Sided Story; his craft and his sense of independence continue to influence today. Not surpisingly, then, two links are listed here. The link above is for the definitive fan site, The Todd Rundgren Connection. For the perspective of The Man Himself (and info on his innovative music-subscription program), head to TR-i.
Since leaving TPOH, Johnny Sinclair and Leslie Stanwyck haven't hung out much or worked at all with their old mates, but their place high in the minds of old fans earns them a spot here. Of course, they now have tons of their own fans, too, earned by a few albums of lovely, slightly trippy pop and lots of North American touring. The latest musical focus has been on a new solo album by Leslie, which you can learn more about on her myspace page.
Now for everyone else....
Okay, so they only have two demos, but c'mon! It's Renée and her sisters! The last and reigning TPOH "girl singer" went back home to Edmonton to real life - husband, baby, job - but she still kicks it with the other sweet-singing Suchys, Stephanie and Amber. Moe worked on the demos with them, and they're gorgeous and rife with wicked girl harmonies. Enjoy them on their myspace page and bother them to do more.
The title of one of her albums is Snarky Girlpop, a phrase that describes pretty well most of the music from this old friend of Moe's. Her most recent album was called Cut a Man's Heart Out, which her music can also do. She'll make you laugh, she'll make you cry and she'll make you nervous as she tours around Toronto and beyond, often with her beloved fellow Pursuit Pal Blair Packham.
She explains her music succinctly on her myspace page: "The resulting lovechild of a drunken summertime affair between Tom Petty and Emmylou Harris. Ring a ding ding!!" Anyone who's been at Moe's DJ nights at about 3am would know that's the kind of thing he can get into, and he did when he produced her debut album Carnation. He still does as her sideman when this cool and funny lady plays local shows in between her journeys to try to make her fortune in the jungle of Nashvillle.
Snakehouse may be the biggest album so far that Moe has produced, as this Toronto band has spent 2007 laying waste to all of North America, leaving major tours, tv appearances and stunned and slobbering critics in its wake. Ferocious yet cool, gender-fluid and unquestionably rockin', they're now taking their live assaults around the world.
Kris has wielded her axe in the studio and on stage with this singer-songwriter who seems as influenced by opera and modern dance as any sort of pop music. This site from Harmony Music also talks about Sarah Slean, who's opened for some of Moe's solo gigs.
Pursuit Pals from waaaay back, the Dummies of Winnipeg were also helped to stardom ("Superman's Song" in Canada, "Mmmm Mmmm Mmmm Mmmm" in the U.S.) by the amiable manager Jeff Rogers. More recently, Moe opened for the rumbly bass voice of front man Brad Roberts when the "Crash Test Dude" solo tour hit Toronto, and brother/Tap regular Dan Roberts (that smiling guy on the left in the photo) played bass in Moe's "power trio" solo show. After various projects and moves and recoveries, the Dummies returned with the album Puss'n'Boots.
To say she played on The Wonderful World of... is no big deal - it seems she's played fiddle and other instruments on everybody's records. But for a few years, she was Brad Barker's other musical boss, as our favourite bassist toured with her extensively, including for promotion of her most recent album of smart/perky/heart-tugging tunes, You Are What You Love. She's also worked with yet another fellow Nova Scotian....
She left TPOH after several months of service to get her own music and acting careers going. That she did; a couple years later, she had logged a ton of TV acting credits and the exhuberant album Speedyhead, with co-production by Moe and some playing by Moe and Brad. Moe and Renee Suchy have also backed her up onstage. She only got better with her most recent CD Fit For Mars.
Openers for Moe's "power trio" solo show in the summer of 2000, these guys consider Moe a mentor - this mentorship seems to involve phone machine messages or something. Fitting for a band that has always been a little ahead of their time; practically elder statesmen in the punk-pop-ska genre and for years at the cutting edge of providing mp3s and video for their fans. They forge on internationally with their latest, Blue.
Okay, this is now the FOURTH photo we've put up of this band, now Scooby Steve (2nd from left...uh, with the "Steve" belt buckle) is safely ensconced - we think - with his Small Sins-mate Kevin. But the constant is the dude on the right with the 'fro, Mr. Barry Walsh, who stays classy and keeps cranking out glam grown-up rock for supermodels to strut to. Moe produced their current album Amplifier.
With rock that's open, smart, romantic and straight-ahead, these guys crossed paths with Moe during an epic journey that began with their win at the prestigious Vancouver’s 99.3 The Fox Seeds Competition in 2005. He co-wrote (!) one song with them and produced their new album Roses Aren't Good Enough. Safe and sound back on the left (ahem) coast, they're prepping a new rehearsal space while they await your patronage at cdbaby.
Kleiner Power Trio
We noticed Moe had this band's stuff in his pile of CDs at his Saturday night DJ gig at The Tap. Makes sense Philly-born Mark (centre) is a kindred spirit. He comes from a religiously conservative background, has spent most of his life in western Canada (bouncing between Saskatoon and Vancouver), has Todd as a hero and a quiet fascination with hair metal. When Moe jammed with the trio recently, Mark called it a "career highlight." The music? Full-on historically-rich power-pop, or as Brian Pascual said in his ChartAttack review from NXNE, "Kleiner is what Bryan Adams would have been like had he not gone pussy on us." Look for the CD Love to Night.
One year, around North By Northeast time, NOW Magazine asked Moe what bands he'd be seeing at the festival and why. He named this band for "the guitar stylings of Dr. Craig Browne." He knows those stylings well from playing occasionally with the wiry kid from Sault Ste. Marie (on the left over there) and his phone-wielding compatriot Frank Guidoccio (standing next to him). With their own band, the Gooch and the Doctor make noise/pop/rock for people who don't really like noise/pop/rock: loud, graceful, laced with pathos and maddeningly endearing. We bliss out to their album Litany and Lethargy and await the next episode.
Pursuit Pals most likely to have their own Saturday morning TV show, which is why I couldn't resist including the cartoon here. But don't be fooled - Moe has said they could beat the crap outta B.T.O. in a fight. Still, it was likely this Moncton band's '70's rock literacy that attracted Moe to the point of producing their Galaxy of Stooges album. We in Central Canada miss them since they went back to Moncton, but you can download tons of fine MP3s that make it feel like you're there (and if you are, go see 'em when they play). Btw, you can dig PJ's current heavy band Iron Giant here.
The Grace Babies are dead; long live the Grace Babies! Er...and National Anthem itself, now it is no more. :-( Pursuit Pal Emeritus Kevin Hilliard (he's opened for them, sold shirts for them, had records produced by Moe, has played in pickup bands with him, roadied for Monteforte...need we go on?) fronted his very own band with the help of fellow former Baby Chris Loane - who Moe once subbed for at a GB gig. That band's smart power pop tradition was carried on, but without the slightest fear of being goofy. As Now magazine says, "By the time you realize what's hit you, you're grinning and bouncing like a Slinky." The début album, Sing Along If You Know the Words, dropped into the music world like Pop Rocks into your mouth; and Moe took the production reins for the follow-up Radio On.
The hearts of many smart music lovers around the world were broken when this Vancouver band announced a "permanent hiatus" in the spring of 1999. But the spirit lives on in various incarnations, like Craig Northey's fine solo work. And we still have the memories of TPOH's "acting" in the "Eat My Brain" video (like Moe acting like someone who can drive a car) and the bands covering each other in a raucous performance at Kumbaya years ago. But wait...are there "New Odds" lurking?
This long-time friend of Moe's has a most recent album called Could've Been King, but to many area songwriters, he is. First known for his clever work with his band The Jitters, he's remained a strong force on the Toronto scene because of his own smart pop-rock songs and his support of other composers (like his beloved fellow Pursuit Pal Arlene Bishop) as an active leader for the Songwriters Association of Canada.
Indomitable but not invulnrable, she was touching herself onstage before Madonna even got out of high school. With Kevan Staples, she led the band Rough Trade, who wrote the template for sexual politics in rock songs that many bands and artists would employ - including TPOH. Not strange, then, that Moe performed at a Rough Trade reunion, and Kris has played guitar for her at a couple notable solo gigs. You can read about one of those gigs in Ms. Pope's autobiography Anti Diva and see the other in streaming video at PrimeTicket.net.
Anyone lucky enough to catch TPOH for Reunion Tour Week at the end of 2005 will remember these guys as the opening band, wailing away with modern music that has strong echoes of blues and classic rock. They got there after touring incessantly with Edmonton favourite Mike Plume, so it makes some odd sense they hook up with that other Edmonton favourite (er...Moe) to produce an album that's finally on the way...we think.
To some, that guy in the middle has been an arrogant, snot-nosed, hedonist asshole, which has kind of been his intention. To others, including Moe (who co-produced his album Planet: Fame and various demos), he's a good, thoughtful, wise-cracking guy from Winnipeg who's damn proud he's determined that discipline can be applied to more than whips and PVC, but to being a better songwriter and a real rock star. So now the decadent glam pop-rock he's been cranking for years is no longer catchy almost despite itself, but legitimately catchy. The evidence is the album Instant Classic.
From Prince Edward Island comes these purveyors of scruffy, eccentric pop/rock/folk. They'll even play spoons live although the guitars drown them out - that's commitment, baby. After thoroughly conquering the Maritimes, they moved to Toronto to find fame and fortune - and they got Moe. He produced their third album, Checkin' For Squirrels.
She's been compared to Britney and Avril, but she's the one who most assuredly acts her teen-age and has always written most of her own songs. From the wilds of Bolton, closer to Hamilton than Toronto, this power pop prodigy already has Moe to thank for doing musical arrangements for her first promo tour and recruiting her backing band. Her gum-cracking, lipgloss-slicking style progresses with her upcoming follow-up to Noise From the Basement.
You gotta like a band where the name came first. Not long after breaking with Pursuit Pals the Grace Babies, Stewart Whitehead (2nd from left) decided whatever he came up with next, it had to be named after the legendary Alabama NASCAR speedway. Living up to the name is rock sometimes casual, sometimes dark, and with equal parts melody and noise. Find out for yourself by checking out their latest, Up From Beneath.
These guys fought through adversity and worked their asses off to develop a distinct brand of power pop with a big slab of rawk and a delicate soupçon of death metal (yay!). Not surprising, then, that Moe signed on to produce their début EP A Momentary Misfortune (a very Moe-like title...), which is available to smack your head around.
Tim Mech's PEEP-SHOW
Previously known for his guitar tech work for TPOH and the Rheostatics (he's featured in Dave Bidini's book Down a Cold Road), Tim (right) and his combo are all about the pleasures of the flesh - or at least the pleasures of their blow-up doll Geraldo. With Hawaiian slide guitars leading the way, their blues-art-pop-rock got them a Musician Magazine Best Unsigned Band prize in 1997. You can get their 2nd album, Topless, exclusively at Zunior.com.
This Saskatchewan-born band won over most radio formats with a flawless cross of power pop and roots rock. When they played "Gretzky Rocks" with Moe at Kumbaya, it was a perfect fit. Also, that fine-looking dude on the left, Sean Bryson, is an old pal of Brad's from Coal Harbour who plays with Moe and Kevin on occasion (like, respectively, in Moe's "power-trio" and the band Galore) and has also worked with Talladega. A live album is available from Maplemusic, as is the long-awaited solo album from front man Jason Plumb.
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