Slack Bridges play Rainbow Bistro on Nov. 11. Photo: Laura Mueller.
Reading Time: 2 minutes

Local music collective releases funky, soulful Joy of Joys

Slack Bridges, the six piece soul/funk/R&B collective from Ottawa, is looking to get some soul into this city. The sextet’s debut full-length album, Joy of Joys, will be released on Nov. 11. After helping set up Bangers and Mash, Ottawa’s first soul music festival—which was an overwhelming success, completely selling out—at House of Targ last March, they are trying to help grow the scene throughout the city.

“If we can help to kinda (elaborate) now that Ottawa’s getting kinda funky, getting some kind of interest in hip-hop and things that are outside of just punk, garage, indie rock, then that would be considered a big success in my eyes,” said Garett Barr, the band’s bassist.

Barr aspires for younger people to begin following Slack Bridges into the scene. University of Ottawa graduate student and singer, Matt Gilmour, says that not only does the talent already exist within the city, but so does the infrastructure for a successful music scene. The issue, however, lies in connecting them together.

“It’s hard to find access points to discover these things if they aren’t immediately presentable or if the existing musical structure doesn’t acknowledge them,” said Gilmour.

For their debut LP, recorded entirely at drummer Paul Ross’ house, they not only built on the experience of playing such major festivals as Ottawa Bluesfest, but also the band members’ differing musical backgrounds. Barr came from ska and Gilmour from punk, as just two examples, adding an element to the music that allows them to sound different than your typical soul band.

“A friend of ours said, it’s like soul music written by hardcore kids,” Barr explained.

As Barr puts it, Ottawa was run by the hardcore punk scene until very recently, but the musical attitudes have begun to shift, perhaps in the favour of bands like Slack Bridges.

“The same guys that used to hate anything but punk are now running Beyoncé’s Lemonade,” said Barr.

This shift has come at the right time for Slack Bridges, as they began recording what was intended as an EP but became their debut full-length. After they had finished recording the 10 songs, they received a grant from the Ontario Arts Council. This allowed them to include trumpet parts from “the (trumpet) man in town,” Ed Lister, additional vocals from Mackenzie Di Millo, and allowed for it to be transformed from a total DIY project to a professionally mixed and mastered album, done by local legends Jason Jaknunas and Phil Bova, respectively. It also allowed for Joy of Joys to be pressed onto vinyl.

As final advice for university students wanting to start playing music, Gilmour and Barr agree that the key is to leave the university bubble, and to get into the Ottawa music scene.

“Look up venues, resources, show listings, and promoters, and ultimately these people are relatively friendly, and although sometimes people have differences of opinion and differences of taste, but generally speaking, they are all well-intentioned people who want to be inclusive and give exposure to new acts,” Gilmour said.

Catch Slack Bridges at the Rainbow Bistro on Nov. 11 at 9 p. m. for their LP release party, supported by Mushy Gushy and DJ Zattar.