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What do you get when you cross 3 amazing saxophonists dressed in wacky clothes, a crazy dancing drummer and a killer upright bass player and have them sing songs about Buses, Roaches and Hockey and spend 1/2 their time playing in the audience? The Shuffle Demons, that's what!!! They were a band that captured the imagination of a generation with their antics and amazing no holds barred playing and stopped traffic on a regular basis. And now they're back!!
23 years later, the Shuffle Demons return to form with a greatest hits album, a DVD and a whole lot of demonic attitude. So get ready to sway in your seat, jump to your feet and dance to the Demon beat!
But who are these debonair ruffians, these satirical streetniks of stage, screen, and sidewalk... these Cartoon Hepcats with the cracked conviction of 5 Harpo Marxes? How did they start spreading shuffle ecstasy, only known antidote to seriousness in Canadian music? And is it really 23 years since the Demons first took the Spadina Bus??
The legend of the Shuffle Demons is well known to Canadians. Beginning in September 1984 with veteran street sax player Demon Richard Underhill pleasing the pedestrian multitudes at the corner of Yonge and Bloor in Toronto, the Shuffle Demons quickly evolved into an immensely popular street band. Drawing hordes of hipsters to their street gigs with their wild playing and exotic wardrobe, the Demons (Mike Murley, Stich Wynston, Jim Vivian, Dave Parker and Richard Underhill) next took their caustic collection of musical majesties and travesties inside and began pleasing bunches of boppers in Toronto clubs. Inspired by these fashion assassins and their original street hits Spadina Bus, The Shuffle Monster, Out of My House, Roach, and What do you Want? large delirious audiences began experiencing the early stages of shuffle rapture.
Looking to broaden their horizons, on May 12/85 the Shuffle Demons embarked on a 3-month whirlwind street tour of Europe. They played in clubs and music festivals in Germany (incl. East Berlin-close call with serious border people!), Italy and France and on the streets of 10 European countries.
Upon their return, these flagrant flag bearers of folly stormed the stages of the land, their newfound Gimi-wear (named after their Parisian/Gambian tailor) inspiring occasional attacks of ocular indigestion among the uninitiated. Their popularity continued to grow, and with it burgeoned the newly formed society of streetniks. With this support, the Shuffle Demons released their first album 'Streetniks'.
Then things got really crazy! In 1986, John Gunn and Rob Fresco directed "Spadina Bus", the video which turned T.V. into Demonsville.
'Spadina Bus' became a MuchMusic hit, and was quickly followed by the hilarious 'Out of My House, Roach' (directed by Joel Goldberg). The Demons caught fire, sold more independent albums than anyone up to that point (15,000) were nominated for a Juno, won 5 CASBY Awards, toured like mad and released their 2nd album (Bop Rap) which featured a very popular rendition of 'Hockey Night in Canada.' More touring and more albums followed and soon the Shuffle Demons were playing to packed houses around the world with a new line-up featuring Perry White and George Koller. And brand new demon duds by Kurt Swinghammer.