Slave to the riddim

Montreal’s Osmosis Unlimited launch a record at their annual Porchfest gig in the Alley Cat Gallery.

As the title of their 2017 local mini-hit states, Osmosis Unlimited founder and frontman truly John Jordan believes “It’s All Good in NDG.”

This Saturday, as the well-loved West End district greets spring with its annual outdoor, grassroots and sponsor-free music celebration, Porchfest, his band and their invitees rock for peace in the hood with Jordan’s annual contribution, a series of shows at the Alley Cat Gallery.

“Porchfest is a wonderful celebration of music and community that serves to get us all together and united in the spirit of creativity,” says Jordan. “I believe it inspires people to connect and share their talents freely, and I wish it happened more often.”

Jordan, sax man for institutional Montreal ska outfits Me, Mom & Morgentaler and the Kingpins, founded Osmosis Unlimited in 2003 and has taken the project to new heights this year with an official debut LP, Music for Cool Cats, while also writing 60 new tracks in the past 12 months.

The Alley Cat Gallery, meanwhile, pays tribute to our furry friends through visual art in the alcove outside his Sherbrooke West apartment, adjacent to landmark grocery store Esposito. Once left for dead as a graff-covered shooting gallery, Jordan and his friends challenged the broken window theory by turning darkness to light and inviting local artist to showcase their pussy paintings.

“Both (Osmosis Unlimited and the Alley Cat Gallery) are my humble attempts at improving my community through sight and sound. We’ve been fusing the two with performances at ACG during Porchfest and Arts Week for the last four years,” says Jordan.

“This year, on Saturday, we’ll be joined by jazz trio the Kim Beyea Band at 1 p.m., and the Rocket 88s, a ’50s-ish swing/rockabilly combo. Osmosis Unlimited performs at 3 p.m. If the weather is good and it is anything like previous years, I expect to also have my hands full accommodating many musicians as well as the crowds of spectators.”

The band hosts a revolving door of members and contributors over Jordan’s reggae-fused riddims, including Kali Hayes of Kali & Dub, Tim Dub of Planet Smashers, NDG multi-tasker Paul Cargnello and many, many more. A new single, “Dollar in Your Pocket” features the suave bounce of singer Leesa Mackey, At the end of the day, both ACG and Osmosis are about celebrating friendship and community.

“I will be 50 this year and what matters most to me is improving my community by working slowly outward from my heart and seeing how far my reach extends,” Jordan says.

“I’m close with my neighbours near and far and spend a great deal of my down time meeting them as they pass the gallery in its well-trafficked location. My cat (and one-time Montreal mayoral candidate) Humbert also hangs out in the gallery and through him I’ve met even more interesting people.” ■

Porchest-Balconfête takes place throughout NDG on Saturday May 18 and Sunday May 19, with Monday May 20 reserved for raincheck. All events are free. See the festival’s website for more details.

Osmosis Unlimited’s albums are available here along with projects from Jordans’s solo work, Bipolarizers and Me Mom & Morgentaler