Living as a Mod in the 21st Century

Thursday, October 1, 2015

MODtreal 2015 - A Retrospective

MODtreal was a success because of all the people involved. We have momemtum and we are building upon it. The reason why I started this little venture was for the simple fact that I like to surround myself with passionate people. To be honest, it doesn't really matter about what, just that they are. You could be a butterfly collector for all I care (see The Jam song I just casually splipped in here) just as long as you speak about it with fervor. What initially drove me to start MODtreal is that a good mate of mine, Eric Colin, stopped doing MODchicag after a good 10 year run. It was the biggest Mod gathering in North America. Someone had to take over.

The idea, when you put on a weekender is to appeal to a wide array of musical taste and I think everybody was well served. We had some traditional Ska with the eight piece band, The Skatton Club, explosive Power Pop with Toronto based Blackdog Ballroom, very 60s oriented Beat with Les Gentlemen and Soul infused Garage with The Continentals.

Our main act, international Pop Modernist sensation
French Boutik was the perfect addition in a French speaking city like Montreal. They immediately felt like they were at home. Plus, the show was free. How many weekenders do you know have a band cross an ocean to give a free concert? If that doesn't show you our dedication to the Mod scene, I don't know how I'll be able to convince you. I have to thank my principal sponsor, the Maximum Rythm & Booze radio show for that.

I also believe it's important to showcase some local talent. Three of the four acts were from Montreal. This is how you support the local scene and keep it alive. Notice how they are all contemporary bands too? I'm not against booking a singer from the 60s or from the Revival unless I also have a place for newer bands. These are principales that I hold dear.

So here we go...

Friday, September 4th

Photo by Fred Eagle
The Skatton Club, with their infectious tradionnal old school vibe, started the 2015 edition of MODtreal with a bang and had arms flarring everywhere. Andre, the band leader, let me join the gang to sing (that migh not be the correct word) One Step Beyond with them. I was just glad that the room wasn't cleared after my participation.

The Skatton Club - Photo by Fred Eagle
DJ Mod Marty, Kurtis Powers and myself kept the party rolling late into the night. It was a very promissing start to a long weekend.

Mod Marty clearly enjoying himself - Photo by Fred Eagle
DJ Parka Pat - Photo by Fred Eagle
Dedicated followers of fashion - Photo by Melissa Walker
Photo by Melissa Walker

Photo by Melissa Walker

Photo by Melissa Walker
Photo by Melissa Walker
 Saturday, September 5th

While French Boutik was doing their sound check in the afternoon, the MODtreal Record Swap was in full swing at the
Atomic Cafe accross town. Deals were made, 45s were swaped and even a few left with top gear from the UK-Ave Boutique. Mood music was provided by DJ Mod Marty and DJ Parka Pat.

If you want to hear some of the best Soul and Garage 45s he picked up on that day, check out the On Target - It's What's In The Groove That Count podcast where Marty dedicates two shows to his finds. You can listen to part I here and part II here.

Just before the evening festivities, MODtreal attendees were invited to dine on a special menu of homemade pasta and authentic Italian dishes. Fellow Vespa rider, owner of Pasta Casareccia Resto-boutique and genuine good guy Mauro Petraccone has agreed to open his VIP room just for us. 

Ready for some pasta! Photo by Fred Eagle
French Boutik & friends approve the menu - Photo by Fred Eagle
Who ever said that French & Mod don't go together? French Boutik and last year's Les Envahisseurs certainly have proven us wrong. They set foot in the ol' colony to bring the house down! Nothing is more gratifying for a promoter to see people line-up after a performance waving colourful Canadian money in the air to buy records.

French Boutik - Photo by Fred Eagle
Serge - Photo by Fred Eagle
Zelda & Jean-Marc - Photo by Fred Eagle
Jean-Marc - Photo by Fred Eagle
Again, DJ Mod Marty, Kurtis Powers and DJ Parka Pat kept the feet shuffling and the hips shaking all through the night.

The MODcasters - Parka Avenue, The Face Radio, On Target & We Are The Mods! / Maximum Rhythm & Booze
Sunday, September 5th

You can't come to Montreal and not have poutine. It's our national junk food and the perfect next day hangover cure. La Banquise is a Montreal institution and the Mecca of poutine. You'll find every combination under the sun or if you want to play it safe, simply go for the traditionnal mix of fries, cheese curd and gravy. There's even a vegetarian option! No wonder there's a 24 hour line-up to get in. That gave us just enough energy to attack the evening festivities at the Atomic Cafe. 

Yes Zelda, there's vegetarian poutine - Photo by Fred Eagle
The Continentals gave us a stellar performance. The band tapped in our collective Mod conciousness and we want more! I couldn't believe how incredible the singer, Lorraine, was after only a week and an half with the band.

The Continentals - Photo by Fred Eagle
Next was Les Gentlemen. They are Mod personnafied. We need more bands like them in the scene. Without talented musicians like these guys, it ALL goes away!

Les Gentlemen - Photo by Fred Eagle
Daniel from Les Gentlemen - Photo by Fred Eagle
Blackdog Ballroom... What a way to close the 2015 edition! INCREDIBLE! They're the perfect exemple that Mod can come in different packages. They gave a performance like they were in a stadium filled with 100 000 people. If any of you missed them, sucks to be you! Up front and centre is Mike, the quintessential frontman. He has more presence, charisma, pizzazz, flair in his little toe than Liam Gallagher has in his whole body. There, I said it.

Blackdog Ballroom - Photo by Fred Eagle
With the weekender over, I finally had a little downtime. Just enough to bid farewell to life long friends and send messages to others saying that they were missed.

Oups! I forgot the word "were".
One of the upsides of hosting the MODtreal Weekender is that you get to hang out with the coolest people. So on Monday night, I had the honour of listening to French Boutik's new unreleased track. I had chills. Keep your eyes out for this one because it's their best yet.

Hope to see you all in 2016!

Friday, September 18, 2015

Profiles Of The Best 60s / Mod DJs in North America: Part VI

Your name / DJ

Tom Dechristofaro / dj ALR!GHT 


Cleveland, Ohio 

How would you describe your musical style?

Loud and Fun, I guess is my musical style. Which I'd say is a healthy dose of sweaty RnB, early Soul, Mad Mike Moldies, and primitive Rock n' Roll. 

What is your “go to” track? The one you will likely never get tired of spinning?

Hmmmm such a tough question really, but after quickly shuffling through my box I'd have to say maybe the Gardenia's - I'm Laughing at You / Houdini on Hi-Q. Been in there for years and hasn't left. It's just so wild and pounding. I've distinct memories of spinning at many of my gig's crazier moments too. But there's so many it's hard to pick and choose just one. Classics like Irma Thomas - Breakaway and Count Ferrell's - Wizard of Ahh's haven't lost any sheen after all these years. 

Regardless of price, name THE record that is missing from your collection.

I try to not have a huge, impossible "want-list" because in the end it just drives me bananas and I've noticed my favorite records have found me via luck or a friend, etc. And not vice versa. BUT, of course, there's tons of treasures out there I'd love to have if money was no object. Off the top of my head I'd say a nice juicy copy of the Yum-Yum's - Gonna Be a Big Thing. 

Where can we see you spin on a regular basis? Tell us about the night or an event you would like to promote.

I do a monthly night called Secret Soul Club with a few pals, which is almost 4 years strong now. It's always a lotta fun and it brings me much joy, as well as the occasional gigs opening for bands at the Beachland Ballroom. Plus, I'm always up for a trip to spin out-of-town. Have Love, Will Travel, Patrick.

Is vinyl the only acceptable format for playing your style of music?

For me, yes. I enjoy the physicality and the strange magic of 45s. But I guess as long as you and your audience are having fun it doesn't really matter. There's so much crap music out there nowadays, that it's silly to shame anyone for using different formats.

What is your favorite place to buy records?

I love going to Pittsburgh (Jerry's, the Attic) , New Orleans (Euclid), and Detroit (People's) for records. Plus those are awesome cities so it's a win-win.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Cocktail Corner: The Mod Club Edition

The Mod Club night is a Canadian institution. It has been filling up dance floors from coast to coast for more than a decade. Major cities like Vancouver, Ottawa, Toronto, Winnipeg, Edmonton and Montreal have all had a night running, using the same banner, at one point. Some nights have a wider view of the Mod spectrum while some are more purist. Take Mod Club Ottawa for instance, it has been hosting several hundred dancing kids, every Sunday, at the Babylon night club for more than 10 years now. You have to applaud DJ Gaz for that.

I've been very fortunate to have inherited the Mod Club night in Montreal and I've worked very hard at being a good steward of the brand. Our little weekly night is celebrating its first year in its current location. The Bar de Courcelle is a friendly neighbourhood watering hole that ended up being the perfect spot to spread musical joy at 45 revolutions per minute. At first, I was a bit skeptical that it was going to work because it didn't have a proper dance floor. It's more of a pub than a club. I love being proved wrong.

Nothing is more satisfying, as a DJ, then seeing people spring up from their seats and start dancing between tables or at the bar. It has a basement party type of atmosphere. Picture the home party scene in Quadrophenia.

I owe the success of the night to a long line of passionate guest DJs and the nicest staff and management I ever had the pleasure to work with. Aside from being friendly and professional, they do know their cocktails! Trust me, I'm speaking from experience. So I decided to dedicate this third installment of the Cocktail Corner to them.

Here are some of the staff's favorite intoxicants. Some of these are classics that have stood the test of time, while others are a "modern" concoction. They all have one thing in common. They're an attack on your taste buds!

Meet Arnaud, a true master mixologist. He blends flavours and alcohol with as much ease and expertise as the best Mod DJ mixes the tunes for the dance floor. I have the pleasure of being his guinea pig and every week I gladly volunteer to test out new recipes. Here are some that made the cut.

First and foremost, I'm very proud to officially introduce you to a collaboration between Arnaud and I  that was specifically created for the Mod Club. Here's a new twist on the classic Tiki staple, the Mai Tai. I present to you the Mod Tai. Can you think of something more refreshing on a hot summer night after spending an hour doing the Boogaloo and dancing the Watusi?

Mod Thai

1 oz Bicardi Oakheart Spiced Rum
3/4 oz Cachaça Leblon
1/2 oz Triple Sec
1/2 oz Orgeat syrup
2 drops of cardamon bitters
1/2 oz fresh lime juice
A dash of fresh orange juice

Pour all ingredients in a shaker. 

Shake. Strain. 

Serve with ice in a high ball with orange wheel, cherry and umbrella. You'll thank me later.

The Garden Groove is the ideal refreshment to accompany a good dose of sweet Funk on the Bar de Courcelle terrace.

Garden Groove

1/2 oz Galliano
1/2 oz Chartreuse
1 3/4 oz Zubrowka (Bison Grass Vodka)
1/2 oz Orgeat syrup
1/2 oz fresh lemon juice

Pour all ingredients in a shaker.

Shake. Strain.

Serve over ice with lemon wheel. Make sure to leave the scooter at home.

If you enjoy varying tastes, from sweet to sour, but also like different textures then the Pisco Sour is for you.

Pisco Sour

2 oz Pisco
1/2 oz simple syrup
1 oz lime juice
1 egg white
6 drops of Angostura bitters

Pour the egg white at the bottom of the shaker. Add the Pisco, lime juice, simple syrup and dry shake (no ice). Add ice, shake again. Use fine strainer and poor into martini glass. 

Add 6 drops of bitters and swirl with a toothpick.

Enjoy while listening to some gritty RnB.

Next up is Guylain, the friendliest barman you'll ever meet. If smiles could be bottled, you would find an once in every one of his drinks. His style of bartending contrasts with Arnaud's. He's more of a "fly by the seat of your pants" kind of guy. This is his own creation.

The Summer Stroll

1 1/2 oz Dark Rum
1/2 oz Triple Sec
1/2 oz lime juice
1/2 oz cane syrup
4 basil leafs
1 large strawberry
1 slice of orange
1 slice of lime
2 cucumber slices
Splash of 7up

Put a few ice cubes in a highball. Add cucumber, strawberry, basil leafs, orange and lime. Squeeze lime and muddle. 

Add Rum, Triple Sec, cane syrup. Fill with ice, add soda and top off with a splash of 7up. Garnish with cucumber slice.

A Parka Avenue Cocktail Corner wouldn't be one without a classic drink. And it doesn't get more classic than a Manhattan.


1 3/4 oz Marker's Mark Bourbon
1/4 oz Red Vermouth
2 dashes of Angostura bitters

Fill Old Fashion glass with ice. Add 2 dashes of bitters.

Add bourbon and vermouth.

Garnish with 2 cherries. Simple enough for ya?

If this doesn't put your taste buds in overdrive like Pavlov's dog then I don't know what will. If you're ever in Montreal, then by all means hit me up and I'll make sure you'll get the VIP treatment. To keep abreast of all the Mod Club activities, just follow the link to the Facebook page here.

Last but not least, I invite you to press play on the latest Parka Avenue Podcast on Mixcloud while leisurely sipping one of these divine elixirs.