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Ottawa band The Town Cryers recently reunited after 25 years, perform Thursday night on the Blacksheep stage at Bluesfest. Photo: Terry Steeves/Apt613.

Bluesfest Concert Review: The Town Cryers reunite on the Blacksheep Stage

By Terry Steeves on July 13, 2018

Local band The Town Cryers took to the Blacksheep Stage that was illuminated by the sizzling 6 o’clock sun, and stirred up the crowd with their brand of British punk meets good old fashioned, guitar-fuelled Rock ‘n Roll. A double frontman line of guitarists John Allaire and Jeff Tanguay, shared lead vocal duties, while Rick Dixon (bass) and Kevin Breeze Smith (drums) made up the band’s rhythm section. The four reunited last summer after a hiatus of 25 years. Apt613 talks to John Allaire about what ignited the band’s reformation:

“I was literally going through some boxes at the house and I found The Town Cryers master for this album that we didn’t put out back then because the timing just wasn’t right. We didn’t break up in any kind of dispute – it was a period where priorities like jobs and families took over and we were just ready to move on with our lives at that time. So then I started doing the math and realized it had been 25 years. So we decided to get it remastered, brought it up to today’s standards and put it out.”

The dynamic frontman combo of Jeff Tanguay (left) and John Allaire that make up The Town Cryers. Photo: Terry Steeves/Apt613.

The result is their now third album entitled, Stanley’s Cup (2017), and a rekindling of their huge fan base that had never left. A little older, but no less bolder, the lads came out with guitars a-blazing and a steady slamming beat in “Never Bin Hurt B-4”, which set off dance vibes from the get-go. Driving rhythms backboned every song and I enjoyed the contrasting vocals of Allaire’s smooth vs. Tanguay’s grittier tones.

One called “Hometown, Let Me Down”, surged with guitar rhythm energy; while “Let Him In” came in with a snare-hopping, note-bending electricity. One of my favourites was an attitude-laden, two-stepping piece of fun entitled, “Mack Truck”. In no time, I found myself joining in the bobbing movement of the crowd, which had thickened up midway through the set. I also loved their heavier punk rock version of “Tainted Love”, laced in Tanguay’s angry vocals, dramatic stop/starts, and power chorded muscle.

After 25 years of spending time in their own individual projects, The Town Cryers have returned sounding better than ever. Their onstage antics, brothers-in-arms stage chemistry, and shared humour with the crowd added to the total entertainment factor this band oozes.


RBC Bluesfest runs from July 5–15, 2018 at LeBreton Flats. Visit ottawabluesfest.com for the lineup and schedule. Keep checking back for more of Apt613’s Bluesfest coverage and follow us on Instagram for the latest photos.