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Westrock: Whitesnake is back, and you need to listen

Ernest Skinner interviews Whitesnake frontman David Coverdale on the band’s new album.

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I think a more appropriate title would have been B Sides Tuned to A,or something of that nature.

What   …. am I talking about? I’ll put it to you this way. A lot of the tracks on the album are not well known to the average rocker. The avid Whitesnake fan will surely know them, but many will not. The songs I outline below could have very well charted just as high if they were released at the right time.

David Coverdale of Whitesnake has just re-released a mixed concoction of 14 previously released Snake tunes with a bit of a twang to salute the blues influences he grew up learning from and admiring such as Howlin’ Wolf, B. B King, Muddy Waters and others. 

The Blues Album features cuts from the albums Slide it In, Whitesnake, Forevermore, Good to be Bad, Restless Heart, and David’s 2000 solo piece, Into the Light.

Whitesnack’s ‘The Blues Album’. Photo credit: Whitesnake

Aside from the well known songs like Slow An’ Easy, Give Me All Your Love, Steal Away Your Love, and a couple of other top Snake classics, the listener also will appreciate the brilliance of David’s cast of guitarists over the years that bring other great tracks to the table to round out this release.

Former guitarist Doug Aldrich masterfully kicks your ass with a Robert Johnson and Ry Cooder-ish kind of fuzzy stringed and harmonic punch,in hardhitting tunes like Whipping Boy Blues (Good to be Bad) and A Fool in Love (Forevermore). The Drop D tuning is a signature move by Aldrich and these songs although blues influenced, are hard rock to the core.

A superior cut on the vinyl from David’s 2000 solo album features the six string genius of Earl Slick who is known in the A side musical circles from his work with John Lennon, John Waite, David Bowie, and many other notables. The track The River Song is as outstanding as its singer who slides in “baptized by muddy water” in the juice; and every blues fan will appreciate this one as you can hear a Stevie Ray Vaughn influence a mile away.

Rounding things out is Adrian Vandenberg and his wizardry from the Restless Heartalbum with Too Many Tears which has a Rolling Stones vibrato and feel. 

Also from that early album, the obviously Beatles-influenced song Take Me Back Again;with the chord progressions that scream of Canada’s Kick Axe with their cover of A Little Help from my Friends. 

Most that know the Beatles classic will hear it in this Whitesnake B side. 

David Coverdale. Photo Credit: Whitesnake

The Blues Album is part three of the trilogy three album release by Coverdale; red (Love Songs), white (The Rock Album) and (The Blues Album) blue.

Any rock fan will enjoy this gathering of odds and ends or A sides and B sides, if you will.

I did have the honor to speak with Sir Coverdale about the album, and due to some technical issues, it sounded like I “was on the space shuttle” he said.   

 Once we got things rolling, a smooth tongued Coverdale shot back with “Aaah yea, it’s like a sex call now darling” when I asked him if things were better and a bit clearer.

We talked about many things regarding the album that I summed up above. He also wanted me to tell you.

“I can’t wait to see my Canadian fans again.”

Long liveWhitesnake!

Ernest Skinner is the WestRock music columnist for the Western Standard

Ernest Skinner is the WestRock Music Columnist for the Western Standard. He has interviewed the likes of Bryan Adams, David Ellefson, Rob Halford, Adrian Vandenberg, and members of bands such as Motley Crue, Whitesnake, Buckcherry, Tesla, Styx, Cheap Trick, Genesis, the Scorpions and dozens and dozens more. He has been published in, Rocknation Magazine, MUEN Magazine, Montreal Rocks, The Rock Source Magazine, Wawa News, and many others.

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EXCLUSIVE: Pickton survivor tells her story for the first time

Lenore is one of three women known to escape killer Robert Pickton, and she’s telling her story for the very first time exclusively to the Western Standard.

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She was raped numerous times before she reached the age of 10, became a hard-core drunk and is one of the few women who survived an encounter with Canada’s most heartless serial killer.

All in all, Lenore said she feels lucky to be alive.

Lenore – who asked that her true identity not be revealed – is one of three women known to escape killer Robert Pickton, and she’s telling her story for the very first time exclusively to the Western Standard.

Robert Pickton Courtesy CBC

“I was so scared – I had no one to tell this to,” said Lenore, from her Cowichan Valley home on Vancouver Island.

Abandoned by her mother as an infant, Lenore said she was in and out of “one too many” foster homes and had been raped or otherwise sexually abused numerous times before she was 11 years old.

“I was told I would never amount to anything, I won’t be nothing,” she recalled.

By the time she was in her late teens, Lenore was alone, a hardcore alcoholic living on the streets of downtown Vancouver.

One night while in her late teens she said she became extremely intoxicated and ended up walking aimlessly in the Downtown Eastside, Vancouver’s notorious neighbourhood known for drugs, prostitution and the extremely high HIV rate of its citizens.

“I was very, very drunk,” she told the Western Standard.

It wasn’t long before  a “white old van” pulled up next to the wobbly woman and a lone male driver wearing a ball cap offered Lenore a lift.


The eyes of Lenore – lived to tell her story of an encounter with multiple murderer Robert Pickton. Photo my Mike D’Amour, Western Standard

She got in the van and said she noticed all the rear seats had been removed, leaving only cargo space.

Lenore said it didn’t take long for her street smarts to permeate her drunken state.

“I got in the van and almost immediately had a funny feeling,” she recalled.

It was already well known on Vancouver streets that women were disappearing, a fact that caused Lenore’s misgivings to become full-blown fear.

“He said he was taking me to a park or something but I just said ‘no I want to go home.’”

The driver asked where she lived.“I said ‘no,’ just drop me at Commercial Drive and I’ll walk from there.”

The man made it clear he was not going to stop.

“I grabbed the door handle and I don’t know how fast he was going, but I just jumped out,” Lenore said.

Uninjured, Lenore began walking, and noticed the driver circling to intercept her.

Walking into crowds and into alleys, she was able to give him the slip.

“I went home and just sat there – I was scared  ****less – I was scared to go outside at all,” Lenore said.

“I didn’t tell no one, not the police, not my friends or family.” 

The very next week Lenore said she learned yet another woman disappeared and was later found dead.

Much later, when Pickton was arrested and pictures of the murderer were widely seen, Lenore realized how lucky she had been.

She could have been Pickton’s third, seventh – or God knows what number – victim.

After his 2002 arrest, when he was charged with the murder of 26 women, Pickton was convicted five years later of killing six women, mostly prostitutes working the Downtown Eastside.

Pickton’s victims. Courtesy CBC

Twenty charges were stayed by the Crown because of the low possibility of convictions in those cases.

But the killer said the numbers were higher, much higher.

“I was gonna do one more, make it an even 50,” he told an undercover police officer as the pair sat in a jail cell while the pig farmer awaited his day in court.

“That’s why I was sloppy, I wanted one more. Make… make the big five-O.”

The pig farmer’s M.O. was that he preyed upon drug addicts and prostitutes whom he’d pick up in Vancouver’s red-light district before driving them to his nearby Port Coquitlam farm, where he had sex with the women before murdering them in a number of grim and ghastly ways, reportedly feeding some of his victims to his hogs.

Pickton was sentenced to life behind bars with no possibility of parole for 25 years.

Lenore is one of three women able to meet Pickton on the streets and live to tell her story.

In 1997, for the promise of a hundred bucks, a woman got into Pickton’s vehicle and ended up at his farm.

After they had sex, she testified at Pickton’s preliminary hearing, he came up behind her and slipped a handcuff onto one of her wrists.

The woman managed to grab a knife and cut the pig farmer’s arm and neck before escaping the farm.

A year earlier, another woman, said she found herself in Pickton’s trailer. 

She said he pulled out a knife and accused her of swiping his wallet before he drove her back to Vancouver.

While her encounter with Pickton never became a violent situation one, Lenore said she considers herself lucky.


Lenore, exults in the knowledge she survived foster homes, sexual abuse and an encounter with one of Canada’s most prolific murderers. Photo by Mike D’Amour, Western Standard

“I quit drinking and started a job,” she said.

Now Lenore has been clean for decades, has steady work and loves her life on Vancouver Island.

“I really am grateful.”

Mike D’Amour is a former investigative reporter for Sun Media, and the Western Standard’s B.C. bureau chief

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WESTROCK: ‘Crown Lands’ the next big band to break out of Canada

Ernest Skinner interviews Kevin Comeau of the up-and-coming Canadian duo Crown Lands. Check it out for a special preview just for WS readers.

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Crown Lands are a two-time Juno nominated duo based out of Oshawa, Ontario. In a short time, the lineup has received accolades from many of the music industries toughest critics.

Rolling Stone Magazine had this to say; “The multi-part, three-years-in-the-making suite ‘Context: Fearless Pt. 1’ may well be one of the most overt Rush tributes ever, and last year’s self titled debut album from the hirsute young Canadian rock duo Crown Lands, is an accomplished, chops-heavy take on blues-rock, produced by roots mastermind Dave Cobb, which won them critical praise and two Juno nominations.”

Kerrang Magazine raved, “familiar musical motifs blended into something fresh and distinctive, delivered with a combination of indignation, intelligence and forest-dwelling spirituality. It’s also a hell of a debut.”

The list goes on and on, with Guitar World, the BBCCBC, and Hockey Night in Canada, which we’ll get to later.

The band consists of Kevin Comeau on guitar, bass, and keyboards while Two-Spirit (Cody Bowles) takes care of the vocals and drums.

A friend of mine and one-time skeptic Mark Kniahnicki told me, “I was blown away when I saw them live a few years ago. I didn’t think you could get that kind of full sound out of just two guys.” 

With three medium length plays (EPs) to their credit since they formed in 2015, they finally released their self-titled debut album in August of 2020.

The obvious Rush and Zeppelin sound will make you look down at your bell bottoms while you are enjoying the psychedelic trip these two bring you on. 

End of the Road is a deep song about the missing and murdered indigenous women along the infamous Highway of Tears (Yellowhead Hwy. 16 in British Columbia.) This song showcases their mature songwriting and intelligence, and the video for this track is downright haunting. Go and check it out via YouTube.

Early last year, these (hopefully) soon-to-be Juno recipients teamed up with three former Rush producers (Terry Brown, Nick Raskulinecz, David Botrill) to record Context: Fearless Pt.1, which was released alongside Right Way Back, penned as a tribute to the late Neil Peart.

Upon arrival in Nashville to cut and mix these songs, producer Raskulinecz stunned the band by bringing out the drum kit that the late Peart used on the 2007 Snakes and Arrows album for Cody to use.

According to Cody“This was one of the most spiritual experiences in our lives.”     

Both songs can be listened /to back to back on YouTube. 

I was lucky enough to chat with Kevin on Friday. He was down to earth and very humble for an up-and-coming international musician. 

I mentioned that my favorite song of theirs was End of the Road and would be in the article.

“Our band mission statement is about talking about these kinds of things and how the indigenous are being treated.”

I also asked them how they became affiliated with Hockey Night in Canada

“Our label Universal Music Canada and our rep Allison Phillips, are so great and they have a tight relationship with the NHL. In the past they have played a couple of our songs during the intro of some playoff games.”

If you are curious about Kevin’s guitar style and main influences growing up, he offered this up.  

“As a slide player, Duane Allman, he was the master. No one before or after him measures up; and then you have Lindsay Buckingham of Fleetwood Mac who is another hero of mine with his right hand technique.” 

Instead of working on recording a full album, the duo is doing something I think will be catching on. 

“We are going to focus on releasing a of couple songs at a time so we can really spend a lot of time making them masterpieces”, said Kevin. “These days, a lot of albums have three great tunes and the rest are just fillers. We want our fans to love everything we put out.”

Get ready Canada. These two from Southern Ontario are going to break out internationally through Universal Music Canada, and you’ll know why after listening to their new material. 

Ernest Skinner is the Westrock Music Columnist for the Western Standard

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When pacifists become fighters

Herbert Hildebrandt, son of Church of God pastor Henry in Aylmer, Ont., said his dad and the congregation showed that kind of leadership when confronted with the pandemic lockdowns.

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Canadian economist John Kenneth Galbraith once said: “All of the great leaders have had one characteristic in common: it was the willingness to confront unequivocally the major anxiety of their people in their time. This, and not much else, is the essence of leadership.”

Herbert Hildebrandt, son of Church of God pastor Henry in Aylmer, Ont., said his dad and the congregation showed that kind of leadership when confronted with the pandemic lockdowns.

“My dad’s preaching going, ‘Something feels off, but I don’t know exactly what it is,’” Hildebrandt told the Western Standard as he recalled steps taken by the Ontario government a year ago.

“And then, it’s week one and then week two, and week three, and then the narrative changes, and it’s week four. And then people were like, ‘Okay, hold on a second.’”

The congregation was ready for their pastor’s defiance long before four weeks became fifty.

“There was a grassroots driven push, like if you’re going to step out, we will back you up,” Hildebrandt recalled.

“The vast majority of the congregation was ready for him to take a step, and they have been consistently pushing him to keep doing that. He’s not acting as a lone wolf by any means. He’s providing leadership, but it’s also leadership that is being fostered through the congregation.”

Few Canadian clergy have openly defied the lockdowns and Hildebrandt believes he knows why.

“Instead of leaders leading, they’re doing the same thing in many churches that they’re doing in politics, which is governing by poll. So it’s polling your congregation going, yeah, they’re kind of 50-50. And I know this because I’ve spoken to some that have said that… And they’re like, ‘I don’t really like what’s going on, but we need to just sit this out for a bit. Now is not the time.’”

Some believers have opposed the church instead of the government.

“Some of our largest pushback outside of the political sphere is coming from churches that either disagree or do not want to get involved…a large group that is more than happy to do nothing besides criticize those that do. And some of that may be out of ignorance. And some of that may be because they simply just prefer to not have to do the heavy lifting right now.”

In an old Bible story, Queen Jezebel threatened Elijah’s life for unjust reasons. In his distress, he told God he was the last true prophet standing, but God said he counted 7,000 other faithful people.

“That same analogy goes for us and my dad uses it a lot. It’s that, you know what, God still has his 7,000,” Hildebrandt said.

“We’ve met so many wonderful new people that we never would have known without this [pandemic who] have really stepped out…from across this region, the province, Canada, and the world that we are now in constant communication and fellowship with, that has just made it worthwhile.”

A holy rebellion may be underfoot, he said.

“The government is just so far out of their lane; they’re not recognizing any sort of sphere of sovereignty in the church,” Hildebrandt said.

“Other pastors have risen up and said, ‘Enough’s enough,’ and they’re seeing the same thing. They’re shedding some people, they’re losing people. But at the same token, there’s many new people that are coming in and going, ‘I was looking for a godly leader. Thank you.’”

Aylmer Church of God has faced off against the government before. Twenty years ago, child protective services took the seven children from a couple in their congregation for a time because they spanked their children using a switch or paddles. Some families went to the U.S. as a result, and four families went to Chihuahua, Mexico where Herbert’s brother Peter pastored a church.

More recently, Hildebrandt has thought about his family’s journey to Canada.

“My family came early, right? When the first rumblings in Russia were going on in the Ukraine back in the 1870s, they went to Manitoba, and then Saskatchewan and other places,” Hildebrandt said.

“My wife fled the Soviet Union as a German expat with her parents at six years old in 1989 and was able to get an exit visa and get out…My wife’s grandmother spent time in the work camps. Her grandfather was taken to the Gulag for some time. They know all this. And I’m not saying Canada right now is where the Soviet Union was in the ‘60’s or ‘70’s, but it’s a scary, scary proposition to see how quickly we can get our heading in that direction.”

Harding is a Western Standard correspondent based in Saskatchewan

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