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L.A. Beat

John Borra explores early punk and Alt country roots in new show and Cassettes in Common

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Toronto musician John Borra explores his roots  on his new CD, “Cassettes In Common.”

John Borra plays the Slice , Tuesday, Nov. 22. Photo Submitted

 Borra has a long history playing in the Toronto punk and roots rock scenes including a stint playing with Ian Blurton in Change of Heart in the ’90s.

 He noted it has been a while since he played Alberta.


“We opened for bands like The Tragically Hip and the Odds in Alberta . I’ve always been a fan of Alberta,” Borra said, adding the pandemic gave him to look back on some of his influences. So he put together “Cassettes In Common and took the opportunity to work with people like original Toronto punk band the Demics and Handsome Ned guitarist Steve Koch and  Michael Timmins of the Cowboy Junkies,  Blue Rodeo keyboardist Mike Boguski, original Blue Rodeo drummer Cleave Anderson, Doughboys/Rusty guitarist Scott McCullough, fiddler extraordinaire Miranda Mulholland, and Borra’s longtime friends and collaborators Sam Ferrara and Johnny MacLeod.


They worked on tracks by the Demics, The Hacks and renown solo artists like Ron Sexsmith, Kyp Harness Bob Snider and Art Bergmann’s ‘Sleep”.

“ I’ve known Art for a long time when he was living  in Toronto, though he’s in Alberta now. A friend gave me  a cassette with Art Bergmann’s Sexual Roulette on one side and John Cale on the other,” Borra recalled.

“I’ve know all of the guests on the CD for a while. All of the people playing on ““Cassettes in Common” have a personal connection to the songs. That’s how I chose them,” he said.


 He will be stripping everything down to guitar and vocals when he visits the Slice with Calgary roots musician Emily Triggs, Tuesday, Nov. 22.


“I’m used to playing solo,” he said adding he hosts a weekly Sunday afternoon jam at theToronto bar The Communist’s Daughter which is where he met a lot of his collaborators including Miranda Mulholland and  Emily Triggs, who will be joining him on Seven Albertan tour dates.

“I just met Emily at North by Northeast in the Spring. I met her briefly and she played a guest spot at the Communists Daughter. I’ve never toured with her before but I’m looking forward to it,” he said.


 He still works with Ian Blurton, who is  working on a new The Neon Rome project, which Blurton and Borra formed in the mid ’80s.

“ I’m actually going to his studio to record some bass  with him today,” he said

Borra is looking forward to touring Alberta.

“It will be a nice break. So we’ll see you next Tuesday at the Slice,” he said.

— By Richard Amery, L.A. beat Editor

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