The real on Busty & the Bass

Ale House hosts Queen’s favourite from Montreal

Busty's brass section is a favourite for Queen's students.
Credit: 
Supplied by Jackie Li

It was around this time last year, when I first set eyes on the McGill-bred band, Busty and the Bass. I’d never listened to them before and didn’t know what to expect but one year later, I was back for more.  

This time around, I didn’t have to wait in line with a hundred other Busty fans. As I opened the doors to the bar and put away my headphones, I was immediately greeted by the live version of the same song I was just listening to. 

Busty and the Bass’ brass collaborative transcends the commonplace label of a student band. I would describe the band as a colourful funk orchestra.

I was there for a look at their soundcheck, along with about seven other people. The nine-person band played for their tiny audience with the same amount of charisma they showed later that night when I awkwardly danced among a much larger crowd.  

After what I’d like to pretend was my private pre-show, I sat down with Busty’s Nick Ferraro, (alto sax and vocals) and Chris Vincent, (trombone) to talk about their story.

The band’s various members are mostly from Montreal, with some hailing from other Canadian cities, but they all came together at McGill. 

Our guitar player was having a jam session and invited all of us and then we did it again the week after that and then again the week after that,” Vincent said with a shocked look as he thought about how long ago they started, in their freshman year.

“There’d be people hanging out and there’d be a drum set, some amps and people playing. We’d do that and jam and then we just continued playing,” Ferraro added.

“Within our first two years, we probably played two real events. Everything was either a house party or the basement of a residence and then we got one or two bar gigs in that span.”

Playing in Kingston takes the band back to their college days — a small venue coupled with a young and rowdy crowd ready to embrace the music.

“I remember visiting when I was 15 and coming to Ale with a fake ID,” Ferarro admitted. 

With so many members in the band, each song they write ends up being a collaborative effort. For instance, the song ‘Miss Judged’ from their latest EP, Lift,  started out as an idea recorded by the trumpet player, Mike  McCann. From there, everyone took turns playing around with it. 

“It’s often rare that the same person who writes a verse writes the chorus or the bridge, it’s funny that way,” Ferraro said.

The group prefers playing live as it allows them to mess around and play material they wouldn’t necessarily record, such as a compilation of Disney songs — including, but not limited to ‘Hakuna Matata’. 

Unfortunately, the crowded Ale House wasn’t graced with a Timon and Pumba rendition that night. 

The band kept the crowd cheering throughout two encores, which included their cover of Macy Gray’s ‘I Try’.

 All nine-band mates were dancing, playing their instruments with enthusiasm and sweating profusely throughout their performance. 

Their energy caught on with the audience, who didn’t stop dancing until the final encore was played, the horns were packed up and the lights were turned on. 

For the band, coming back to Queen’s is a trip down memory lane, Vincent said. 

“Kingston is definitely a spot on the map for us, especially in terms of Busty history.” 

 

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