Shake the Lake: The summer of rock.

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More rock outside than usual. Courtesy of Shake the Lake

Classic rock and shredded guitars make for a fun night

On Aug. 30 and 31Shake the Lake came and rocked Regina like Disturbed never could. The festivities were on full display as several acts took to the stage and made their mark in the Queen City. A unique blend of older and more underground acts, there was a little something for everyone to enjoy as they watched another summer come to a close in rather spectacular fashion. 

One of the acts that were part of the event were the wickedly talented band, 54-40. For those who don’t know, 54-40 is group that hails from Tsawwassen, British Columbia and has spent over three decades perfecting their craft. Known for such hits as “Ocean Pearl”, “I Go Blind”, and “One Day in Your Life”, the band is no stranger to success. Examples of their work include their reimagined acoustic album which was released in 2016, La Difference: A History Unplugged, as well as their most recent album from 2018, Keep on Walking54-40 bassist, Brad Merrit spoke about how performing at Shake the Lake was for the band. 

We feel real good about it [laughter]. We like playing in front of people, and we don’t discriminate as to what age they are, or what kind of music they like, or where they want to see it. We’ve done a few of this shows where we are playing with what are heritage acts, we’ll call them, and the vibe backstage is different from the it was 20 or 30 years ago. It’s relaxed, everyone seems to be appreciative of the opportunity and has a sense of gratitude. It’s really neat, we love the idea of playing Shake the Lake. 

Another band that played the event was rock and roll’s Styx. Their hits, that continue to blow minds, include  “Renegade,” “Come Sail Away,” “Mr. Roboto,” “Babe,” “Too Much Time on My Hands” and many, many moreStyx was the first band to achieve the unbelievable achievement of four consecutive triple multi-Platinum albums, which in the music industry means that they sold over 3 million units for four straight albums. Lawrence Gowantwo-time Juno Award winner and a Platinum single “A Criminal Mind,” said that part of the allure of the vent was that Regina isn’t somewhere they go to often.  

“Well it’s an area we haven’t gone to enough. My history goes back even further, I used to come to Saskatchewan pretty much every year when I was touring as a solo artist. But funny enough, just two years ago I was there shooting a movie called Wolfcop [laughter]. It was kind of a horror movie and I shot that, and just being their people were just asking, ‘Is Styx ever going to come here? Is Styx ever going to come here?’ and I said Yeah, eventually, so that made us really excited to come here, to hear that passion from people.” 

Merrit also spoke about how grateful his band is to play their tried and true classics.  

“. . . I remember one year we did nothing but 135 dates and just sort of circumnavigated North America a couple of times in concentric circles, and it’s just Motel 6 after whatever, and that gets to be a bit of a grind. Now, like last year, we did 51 shows, which is actually a lot for us. This year we won’t do that many, but the point is we play a lot less and appreciate it a lot more. It’s not like the early days where we’re practicing ‘Fire’ six nights a week and writing songs, you know, we all have separate lives and we get together and play these things live. Matt Johnson, the drummer, says ‘Brad, we get to play music tonight!’ [laughter], you know, he’s ecstatic about it. So to play ‘Baby Ran’ for the 3000th time is a privilege . . . So, the answer is absolutely no, we don’t get tired playing the same song over and over again, we’re so grateful that these songs mean so much to so many people.”

Other artists in the lineup included Jack Semple, classic rock group Loverboy, Canadian icon Burton Cummings, The Northern Pikes, and Toque. 54-40 also had another record to talk about, Keep on Walking.

It’s difficult to get attention for a new release, compared to how it was back in the day. But we have a very good record company out in Toronto. They’re releasing a focus track every three months kind of thing. We’ve done video, we’ve got a couple of videos we’re going to be doing over the course of the summer. So yeah, we’re getting lots of listens, we’ve also pressed vinyl and we sell those at shows, it’s also available on our website, and that seems to be quite popular again. And it sounds great, it’s a beautiful mastering job and a great vinyl pressing. Overall, I would say it’s a record we’re extremely proud of and it took us five years to finish.” 

Gowan talked about the band’s legacy as the event approached.  

I mean, this is a band that is closing in on five decades, we’re not quite at the fiftieth anniversary yet, but we’re closing in [on] it, just a year and a half away. And, you know, I’m in my 21st year with the band and I’ve been around the world many times with them. You know, last month we played a sold out show in England, and two nights later we did a sold out show in Norway, and then a couple of nights after that we played this festival in Sweden that we’ve done a couple times in the past and that had the biggest audience we had at 40,000 plus. Then we came back to America, and it’s just one string of sold out shows one after another. Our latest album called, The Mission, is still on the Billboard Classic Rock Chart after a year, which is really outstanding.” 

“It’s a band with such a legacy, that when you look at it, of course you would never imagine that, cause we were taught and learned growing up that rock music was a very temporary form of entertainment, that the shelf life of a band would be very limited. But what we’ve learned over the course of the years, is that rock music really is the legitimate holder of the grand musical statement of the last half of the 20th century. So, it’s far more revered and respected now than it once was. And there are maybe now a dozen bands touring now like we do that were born in the 70’s, and people are drawn to wanting to go and see that. And on any given night, half the audience now in the past 10 years, has been 30 and under in age, so they weren’t even born when some of the biggest classic rock albums were made.”  

Shake the Lake’s website marketed the event as a flashback to musical times gone by.  

Shake the Lake Regina features great Classic Rock groups performing the hits you loved back then and still do today.  [The] event goes rain or shine. Check the weather, bring your lawn chair, and plan for a great weekend of Classic Rock! 

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