Doug Leblanc Tremble Release Show Review…

Wilton Said played at the May Café Saturday night. It was to introduce the digital download release of ‘Tremble’, a three-song delight of brand new material from the band.
This was a bit different from other release celebrations, though. To start, he opened with a solo set on guitar, featuring a few surprises. He did ‘Sin’ from the early days, then did a few Beatle songs. Fortunately, for me, one of them was NOT “Why Don’t We Do It In The Road”. He has played this in the past, to my great chagrin. The Beatles songs he did do he did very well!
Then he did two sets with the band. Both were excellent! Wilton himself was in excellent voice, and at his entertaining best! The band was tight and strong. Chris Reid was excellent on guitar! He is an incredible musician, and in many ways is the engine that keeps Wilton Said on full throttle.
The bassist was, basically, excellent. He is the new old bass player, Frank Heisler. He had been absent for some time, but his return featured some very strong playing.
The biggest question, though, was on the drums. Richard Rizzo’s departure left some area for concern; after all, Wilton Said’s music is often long and extremely complex, with odd time signatures and difficult sections. However, there was no need for concern. Peter Karppi was superb! He had quite a few supporters in the audience, and they were treated to a tour de force of drumming! He fit into the music as if he’d been playing it all his life. I was truly impressed by his remarkable performance!
This show, however, was quite a bit different from other shows, thanks to a delightful lady named Paddy Aldridge. She added some wonderful visual effects, which added whole new dimensions to the show! Indeed, she made it a theatrical presentation, as compared to just a simple concert. I was delighted with her work, and look forward to seeing more of it in the future!
Which brings us to the audience. I realize that people are entitled to pay their admission, then completely ignore the show. WHY they would do that is a mystery to me, but it happens. Some of them last night seemed utterly oblivious to what was happening on the stage. Some great music and artistry was occurring on the stage in front of them, and they utterly ignored it!
Perhaps I am too deeply appreciative of the wonderful music being performed, and the incredible talent behind it, but I can’t help feel like visiting Oz while others are wondering how to fix the damn house after the tornado!

Jerry Lucky Wilton Said… Reviews

Wilton Said – The View (2006 Independent Release)
I can’t help getting excited every time I hear of a new Canadian progressive rock band. You’d think I’d be used to it by now, but recently I was contacted by keyboardist, vocalist and band namesake, Wilton Said asking if I’d like to check out his new band to which I said yes. They’ve released two discs; their latest will be reviewed here on the main page. This is their first release from 2006 featuring four players in the traditional instrumental slots. The band’s take on prog is equal parts Van Der Graaf Generator and a more contemporary Alt-Prog sensibility. Vocals are especially expressive in that Hamill or even David Bowie style, while that band are more or less all over with unusual, quirky starts and stops only every once in a while hinting at a symphonic approach. This music reminds me more of bands such as The Tea Club or Abigail’s Ghost. Most of the songs are actually quite short and yet still manage to offer many musical change-ups. The last three pieces form the album’s closer “The Empty Sky” which clocks in at just over 14-minutes. It’s a quirky, arty sound that holds plenty of promise. Check out

Band: Wilton Said
CD Title: Half Life

Band Website:  
Label: Independent Release
Label Website:
Release Date: 2011

It’s never totally clear if the band is called Wilton Said after its namesake founder or if Wilton Said is a solo artist with three musicians helping to craft his musical inspiration. It could be either…or neither…in the end it doesn’t really matter. Here’s what we know for sure; vocalist and keyboard player Wilton Said has been playing in bands in the Greater Toronto area since the early nineties and this is his latest musical incarnation. Consisting of Said (lead vocals, piano, keyboards) along with Richard Rizzo (drums), Frank Heisler (bass) and Chris Reid (guitars, ebow) and this is their latest recording entitled Half Life and it’s an odd collection of prog inspired pieces that never seems to land where you expect it to.
Half Life is a mere 37-minutes long, which in these days of 70-minute releases seems a bit light, until you remember that many of us were raised on vinyl where 40-minutes was the norm. It’s an eclectic set of tunes that’s easy to listen to in one sitting. There is quirkiness about the music of Wilton Said that comes from both the vocals and musical structures. The vocals hearken back to the heightened expressive style of David Bowie or Peter Hammill. While the music will meander along in one direction before taking unexpected twists and turns to wide up somewhere you wouldn’t expect. Its part symphonic prog and part Alt-prog. For example the opener, “Half Life” [9:50] begins with a series of distorted guitar riffs that build into a simple structure and then at the 3:00 mark the song transforms into something symphonic, then after a minute of that we’re treated to a long synth solo that hints at Rick Wakeman’s style. Then we’re back to the symphonic portion only played in a heavier fashion with more emphasis on guitar. Some songs like “Endorphin Crash” [3:35] tend to be more straight-forward rock pieces while a track like “Simple” [14:35] becomes more epic in scope taking us into more traditional prog territory.     
The music of Wilton Said is quite unique, both in terms of composition as well as performance. As I say it never goes where you expect it to and that’s really what we like about the prog genre, isn’t it? If you are looking for something that’s a little out of the ordinary and yet manages to touch on some familiar proggy notes you’ll want to investigate Wilton Said. Half Life has much to recommend and it quite an enjoyable listen.

Wilton Said: Prog Rock Indie Music Review
The Noise Beneath the Apple

What makes modern prog so unappetizing for so many people? Is it the fear that the cheesy synth solos will arise? Is it the concern that anything even distantly related to Iron Butterfly should stay forever encircled in the 70’s? Is it just that top 40 music is so darn good nowadays? (It certainly could not be that). No. It must be because they are lacking imagination and are intimidated by songs longer than they can count. Or it must be because they have not listened to ‘Wilton Said.’ Naturally, we will be going with the latter.
‘Wilton Said’ is modern prog-rock done weird. If this seems repetitious, then you have been listening to prog-rock entirely too safe. The group’s EP ‘Half-Life’ is a sprawling collection of oddities and musical casualties, tearing apart and reconstructing various sounds through a wide variety of genres. Just like any great prog-rock sensibility, Wilton Said seems to manipulate these sounds into a grand mosaic (some, of course, lastly upwards of 10+ minutes).
If you forgot why people dislike prog, the synth solo on the opening title track is a great reminder. It goes on a minute too long and a nearly insufferable 2 and half minutes, the song is just bookended by what ended up being a detour into the annoying. The exit from this passage is beautiful, not just in it finally being over by how the song was constructed seemingly around this distracting synth respite. Ultimately, it gouges the song.
Fortunately, Wilton Said shows slightly more comedic restraint on the following tracks. The surprisingly short ‘Bydlo’ contains a grandiose sound that was ironically cut a bit too short, acting as more of an interlink between the first half of the EP and the second. The EP is designed around ‘Simple.’ This 15 minute adventure reminds me wholeheartedly of Space Oddity-era David Bowie. Other influences arise with a little bit of Robert Smith crooning and Supertramp-level bizarreness- aside from the hook-friendly ‘Logical Song.’
Just like any excelled prog-rock musician, the respective front man of the group, Wilton Said, holds a degree from York in composition. You can hear it. This is no punk rock jam session, as the songs are constructed in brief passages, and the shorter songs go through just as many passages- just at a shorter length. Prog rock is about relishing the excessive, and in that, Wilton Said succeeds. The group pens together a multitude of puzzle pieces, changing the dynamic enough to keep the schizophrenics happy but still holding true to the genre’s main sensibilities- for better or worse.
Ryan Merkel

Wilton Said… Live at The Black Swan Feb 16th 2013

WOW!!! Wilton Said's show at the Black Swan last Saturday was incredible! They just keep getting better and better! They have improved after every show, but this was amazing! Delightful playing by the band, especially Chris Reid on guitar. He was at his clever best, subtle when he needed to be, but fiery and powerful when the music called for it! Also making a strong performance was Deb Ray. The last time he played with the band he was still new, and obviously struggled a bit with Wilton's complex compositions. This time, though, his playing was strong and powerful!
On drums is the always enjoyable Richard Rizzo. He brings so much to each performance, soft and melodic at times, thundering and exciting when called upon!
However, the big star of the performance was Wilton himself. His voice is stronger than ever, his ability to entertain was nothing short of dazzling! He always puts on an enjoyable show, but his showmanship is better than ever. He really seems to enjoy playing live, and puts so much into his shows. The light-hearted songs were delightful, although I must admit to being a bit disappointed that there were no costume changes during `Pretty' . I thought a bit of frockery, maybe even a wig, would be in order. Nope, all we got was a feather boa. A very nice, pretty red feather boa, but just a feather boa all the same. At one point Chris was adorned with said feather boa, but it simply ruined his Harry Potter look. Eventually it found its way off stage, hopefully to go on to lead a fulfilling life that feather boas aspire to. We can only wish it well.
However, Wilton Said at their most serious side were awesome! The classic `Empty Sky' was perhaps a shade understated compared to past performances, but the finale of `Half Life', the title track from the latest album, was nothing short of utterly magnificent! I was blown away by the passion, the fire with which they performed this powerful song.
A great show, again orchestrated by Wilton himself. The band definitely benefited from a longer set, and hopefully this is the start of bigger things for them. There was also a sizable crowd this time, which was a delight to see, for a change. We can only hope this will not be the last of such shows, because they bring prog music alive.
Doug Leblanc
Just How Pretty Is Wilton Said?

Right, well, Wilton Said has created a video for his song `Pretty' from
his album `The View'. Now, I can make a pun about this, but I won't. Not me.
For those of you unfamiliar with Wilton's song, a bit of an introduction might
be in order. `Pretty' is about a man who goes to a particular salon, and there
dons clothing and accoutrements normally associated with the female gender.
Yes. So, in this video Wilton is a man who does just that. The lighting is
effective, the sound is perfect, and the direction is wonderful. The outfits,
well, I'll leave that to your own personal taste.
What this video does do is demonstrate Wilton Said's remarkable ability to
entertain and delight, as well as, in this case, amuse. His is a different
point of view; a different look at life. He does it well, and with panache.
By the way, the title refers to a man who makes himself look pretty. Wilton
does not claim he actually is pretty in the video. At least, I don't think he
does. No, I'm sure that's not what he's saying. I hope I am not hurting his
feelings, or anything, but he's not. At least, in my opinion. Your opinion may
As for the video, it was done with style, taste, and humour. And at no time
could it be said to be a drag. Oops, sorry, I said I wasn't going to say that.
You can view the vid at:

Doug Leblanc
Review of NUANCE Show on Dec 2nd 2012

Sunday night's Nunace show was, once again, a big hit! We enjoyed the evening, and had a great time! Here are the reviews:

Ken Baird put on an excellent solo show at Sunday's Nuance show. He opened the evening, and played a variety of pieces from his career. He opened with the wonderful `Brave Anna' which is also the opening track of "Martin Road' his most recent album. He used two keyboards, and played both very well. He is an excellent keyboard artist, and his songs are powerful, emotional and evocative. One of the difficulties with a solo performance is that the album tracks are usually elaborately arranged with multiple instruments. In this case, though, Ken managed to capture the true spirit of his works, even using keyboards. He may not have the strongest voice, but he does put on a powerful performance. Definitely worth checking out!

Wilton Said put on another superb performance on Sunday. Wilton is a powerful front man, and adds strong keyboards to the mix. He obviously loves to perform, and does so very, very well. I have seen him perform many times before, and he keeps getting better every time!
However, his band is the real strength here. Chris Reid was again magnificent on guitar, and Richard Rizzo really shone on drums. Newest member Deb was also superb on the bass guitar. They provide the backbone to Wilton Said's amazing songs. There were a few technical glitches that were a bit annoying, but otherwise it was another great show by these tremendous performers!

The final band to perform were the oddly-named Zanzo. An instrumental quartet, they feature two guitarists, as well as bass and drums. They are a relatively new band, but you certainly could not tell that from their performance! The songs featured thundering bass and drum work, complimented by strong rhythm guitar and soaring lead guitar work! I know the name of one member, Peter Albrektsen, one of the guitarists. As I sat and listened, I could imagine myself soaring far above the clouds, racing across the sky in pure delight. A wonderful performance played by excellent musicians! I am sure we have not heard the last of this terrific band, and I look forward to seeing future performances, as well as recorded work.
Once more we have had a magnificent NUANCE show! All three artists were delightful and entertaining! There were a few technical glitches, but overall a great show! I know there are time constraints, but I can't help but wish for longer sets from the artists. Our deepest gratitude goes to Wilton for organizing this, as well as making it a toy drive for Christmas! I wish we could have larger audiences, though. The few of us that were there had a great time!

Doug Leblanc
Prognaut Review for Half Life

It‘s been 5 years in between the last Wilton Said album, The View (2006) and Half Life (2011). The evolution from album to album continues to better it‘s already wonderful slice of progressive & art rock music. I would say Half Life is a high point in the career of Wilton Said. Depending on who you ask, it‘s either a short album or just the perfect length at under 40 minutes. I would have preferred another 10 minutes, maybe in the form of one song but that’s just me.

The album is primarily made up of tracks under the 4 minute mark (“Endorphin Crash” (3:35), “Bydlo” (2:40), “Down” (3:40) and “City on the Water” (2:47)). Along with two long songs, the title track “Half Life” (9:50) and “Simple” (14:35), which in my opinion shows the music output in a more expanded form. Maybe on the next album, Wilton Said can explore this more.

In previous album reviews, I mentioned that there’s a Geoff Mann/ Freddie Mercury vibe coming from the vocal performance. Musically there’s a more DIY art rock vibe but more polished than previous efforts. If this peeks your interest, I would recommend Half Life as an entry point into the world of Wilton Said, and from there you can collect the other albums to fully appreciate the wonderful music they’ve put out since 1999.

Reviewed by Ron Fuchs on September 22nd, 2012

Review of Half Life

So, this is Wilton Said's new album. If you're looking for happy prog,
something to hum to whilst burying bodies in the garden, this is not for you.
If you're looking for toe-tapping melodies to help while away the hours until
the next serial killer's trial, forget it. Background music for your next big
cannibal barbecue? Not this one.
However, if you're looking for heavy prog music that grabs you by the throat
and make you think and feel, then you've come to the right record. This is not
for the faint of heart. Easily Wilton Said's best work to date, it is powerful
and challenging.

Musically, it is the best work so far. The songs are intricate and evocative,
the playing is sharp and superb. They meet their own high standards for
performance, and surpass them. But that is not what makes this work so
superb. No, not even Wilton's usual aural gymnastics make this music so
outstanding.  The subject is what makes this record so powerful. Most artists would shy
away from such topics such as mental and emotional distress. Wilton embraces
it. In `Half Life', the title track, he describes the pain of mental anguish,
and how it can rip a person apart. Often the person's personality splits apart,
and creates a half life, in which a person can barely survive. The agony one
lives with is described perfectly.
The song `Endorphin Crash' is the closest thing to a light song on the album.
Endorphins are chemicals in the brain that block pain. They can create a
feeling of euphoria, but the aftermath can bring severe depression. Not an easy
song to sing along to, but the temptation to run up behind someone and yell
"ENDORPHIN CRASH!" is a bit overwhelming. It reminds me of Pink Floyd's
`Careful With That Axe, Eugene' where the title is whispered, then follows with
a scream. As teenagers we would sing along with it, to the great annoyance of
the neighbours, and anyone within earshot. Scared the crap out of the locals.
Not that I would ever do such a thing. Perish the thought.
`Down' is a hymn to failure, and society's expectations of personal failure.
Success is always welcomed, but failure is not socially acceptable. Failures
have few friends, and no one really cares about you. Such people are
tolerated, and when necessary, looked after. In nature, such creatures are
eaten. In our society, they are frowned upon. Kept out of sight. Hidden away.
Suppressed. This song captures the feeling perfectly.
`Simple' is anything but. It is a complicated song about trying to keep life
simple. In the concept, it is about trying to take control of one's life.
Trying to regain some measure of control in your life. It is an idea that
rarely works. In fact, it often leads to even greater depression, because we
really don't know how to simplify our lives. Indeed, Wilton's song is a very
powerful description of the failure to do so. The struggle is an old one, and
one many of us have to face at one time or another in our lives. The winners
survive. The losers… Well, there's always medication.
`City On The Water' is a gentle denouement – a song about relaxing. Is this
the solution? Or the result? The guitar work is remarkable here, very wavy and
slightly distorted. Sort of like what it's like to live in some sort of half
life. It's alright. You think. Hope. But you're not really sure, are you?

In all, a brilliant album. I believe it is Wilton Said's best to date.
However, as a person who suffers from severe depression, I wish he could have
chosen a better topic. However, it does show a progressive band in the depths
of its power. It also bodes well for the future, for if Wilton Said can tackle
such a sensitive topic, there is almost nothing they cannot articulate about. I
look forward to such future endeavors.

Doug LeBlancCanadian Progressive Music Society
Read my writing at:
Wilton Said... Review
CD Release November 26th 2011 at The Black Swan.

Wilton Said appeared last night at the Black Swan on the Danforth. It was the CD release party for his new work, `Half Life'. I was a bit concerned with things; after all, there has been a long layoff between shows for them. However, there was no need to worry. The band was as great! Chris Reid on guitar was as sharp as ever, blazing through solos with inspiration, and adding to the pieces with masterful precision. Nothing you wouldn't expect from this master craftsman.
Richard Rizzo on drums was superb, as well. Perhaps the most fiery of Wilton's band mates, he played with power last night, accentuating the songs where needed, and adding flare where wanted. He is a delight to watch, and a pleasure to listen to.
On bass the usual member Frank Heisler was missing in action. I suspect he has been kidnapped by aliens who have demanded Wilton perform songs from the `Sound Of Music' during the second set. Wilton has refused, thanks in part to artistic integrity, and thanks in part to a threat from Frank to place his bass guitar in the same position as the name of one of Wilton's earlier albums. This could be understood if one could imagine Frank's alien abductors to be gorgeous vixens with no moral inclinations whatsoever.

Actually, I have no idea why Frank wasn't there, but whatever the reason, it can't be as much fun as my explanation. However, his replacement was Debashish Ray. He had to follow along by using sheet music, and, at times, seemed to be lost in Wilton's extensive and elaborate arrangements. However, his playing was strong and supportive, as a good player must be. In fact, his playing was excellent, and brought some nice bass lines to Wilton's music.
Wilton himself was his usual delightful stage persona. His voice seemed to be a bit weak at times, especially early on, but by the end he was singing as well as ever. He told his usual delightful story at the start of `Pretty'; and I've always thought the album should have had the introductory story at the beginning.
As for the sets, he played a few surprises. Of course, a few of the songs included things from the new album. For me the star of the opening set was `Endorphin Crash', a masterpiece from `Half Life' that is delightful. He also played an odd piece, `Bydlo'; one of the songs from Mussorgsky's `Pictures At An Exhibition'. He felt, (rightly so, I must agree) that Emerson Lake and Palmer were remiss in not including in their famous prog work of so many years ago. Richard's drumming on this one was superb!

The second set included a few new songs. The song `Half Life' itself was incredible! I may have to rethink my favourite Wilton Said songs list! Another stand out was `City On The Water', a piece Wilton played by himself, and did extremely well. He also, unfortunately, played the Beatles song `Why Don't We Do It In The Road?', which he kindly dedicated to yours truly. Admittedly, the song is about as popular with me as itching powder in an athletic supporter, but that's just me.
However, there is one thing I must take umbrage with. There is a song in this world that is just plain evil. He played it on kazoo, of all things. The name of this Hymn To Horror, this Anthem to Angst, is `Manaha Manaha'. I say unto thee, such an evil little ditty has been heard during Black Masses, human sacrifices, and The Muppet Show. Of all the songs to get stuck in one's head, it is the most insidious. It has no lyrics to speak of, and has the effect of going around and around in the mind until insanity is the only possible result. Thank you, Wilton. I'll get you for it.

Which brings us to the difficult point of the day. For his final number, Wilton played `Empty Sky' the opus from `The View'. In introducing it, he dedicated it to the victims of 9/11, saying they died because of the U.S. government. Dead silence followed this announcement; a very uncomfortable silence. I can't help but wonder if this was wise. It may have had the effect of alienating possible fans, a course which is anything but wise. To my mind letting the songs do the expressing is adequate, but you certainly cannot question Wilton's musical integrity, so your mileage may vary. I vehemently disagree with him; but then, I think `Manaha Manaha' was written by Satan's hairdresser, so each to their own opinion.
In all another great night of music, as always, extremely enjoyable, and, as always, very, very entertaining.

By Doug LeBlanc
Canadian Progressive Music Society
Review of Wilton Said...'s "The View"

You know, part of the problem in doing a review of a progressive rock CD is that as a prog fan, you're almost certain to like at least parts of it before you even give it a fair hearing. It’s like asking a child what part of a chocolate bar he or she likes best. So, in doing a review of "The View" by Toronto’s Wilton Said... I must admit to a certain prejudice before I even gave it the customary three listenings.

The temptation is to roll out the usual list of superlatives in describing this work. Instead, I will list the faults with it. To start with, those who do not like progressive music are gonna HATE this. It drips progressive music, strange time signatures, lyrics that evoke feeling, music that is not at all easy to get into. If Mantovani and Lawrence Welk light up your day, give it a pass. If you’re looking for top ten material, songs that would sell soda pop, er, no.

But if you're looking for musical challenge, this album is for you. If Peter Gabriel and Fish are in your catalogue of prog, then add this one, and quickly. The music is powerful and evocative, the lyrics are startling in their clarity, the concepts challenging. "The View" literally gives you a different view of different aspects of life. The album opens with "Carnival?" with its carnival music, and the note "the wrong side of me". An excellent opening, and it only gets better. “Heavy Motion" gets things moving with a thundering bass line, followed by Wilton’s singing, changing from the heavier tone set earlier. The song is difficult with the time changes, but the band is more than equal to the task.

Which brings up an interesting point. Why is it that prog artists seem so much more talented, more capable, than there rock counterparts? Is it the music that brings out their abilities, or is it that the more talented musicians are drawn to the more demanding art form? Or is it various combinations thereof? At any rate, this work is a prog fan’s delight. Wilton himself is a master at stage presence, presenting different aspects of the music like a magician pulling a rabbit out of a hat. The songs presented on ‘The View’ capture that same quality. Again, you have to wonder why a band with this much talent, presence and entertainment can be so overlooked.

Incidentally, you might not want to listen to this if you’re nursing a hangover. I think you’ll find it can be quite disorienting. For those who like musical kaleidoscopes, it's a trip not to be missed!

By Doug LeBlanc
Canadian Progressive Music Society