The Madison pub is the type of place I normally try to avoid -- jam-packed with the post-alt-rock, attention-deficit generation trying to get into one another's fashionable yet casual pants. But it's also home to one of the most popular piano bars in town. There, you'll find Ryan Luchuk of up-and-coming (they hope) band Gooder tickling the ivories and leading massive sing-alongs. That's why I'm here.
Summer of 69. Free Falling. Come Together. Wonderwall. It's classic rock hell! Luchuk is a talented rock cover pianist and engaging performer. He played my Boomtown Rats and Elvis Costello requests extremely well, but seemed to be losing his audience a bit, so I did him a favour and shut up.
Joining Luchuk as a guest on Wonderwall and Come Together was his long-time musical partner and fellow Gooder, Shelby Nelson. The two have been playing together since elementary school in Regina, when school officials rounded up kids who could play music and asked them if they wanted to be in a band. The result was the Want Ads.
"We played 60s covers like the Beatles and the Stones at elementary school dances," says Luchuk. "For our age, we'll say we were damn good. At the time, we thought we were shit hot."
The Want Ads did put out a full-length record of originals, "a mixture between punk and rock," says Nelson, but that was pretty much the end of the story.
Luchuk and Nelson went their separate ways and regrouped recently to form Gooder. They've launched a debut indy EP and are now joined by Bruce McQueen of See Spot Run (remember, they had that hit Weightless?) on drums. The current goal is to build a fan base.
"Not many people come out to see live music these days," says Nelson. It's a curious statement, made twice over the course of our conversation. I go to a lot of shows and am usually in plenty of company. But yes, I'm sure it can be difficult for new bands.
Gooder's self-titled six-song EP showcases promise, talent and energy, drawing on 90s rock with flashes of funk.
"Some of these songs were written when we were both teens," notes Nelson, who penned the melodic electrogrungy Connection Number Zero at the age of 17.
According to Luchuk, McQueen, who wasn't part of the writing process and is not on the CD, brings added energy to the live show.
"The live show is like the CD plus a lot more energy. Check it out," he says before leaping up to go play his piano.