Roll The Bones – An Old School Motorcycle and Art Show in Montreal, Quebec. May 25 and 26, 2018 – “Bikes, Art, Gear, Music, Food, Beer, Whisky & the craziness of the custom motorcycle culture of the 70’s. The Roll The Bones Old School Motorcycle & Art Show is a first on the East Coast of Canada. An exhibition of motorcycles, art and media related to the motorcycle with indoor concerts in the atmosphere of the Artgang Plaza in Montreal.”
Revolution Motorcycle Magazine and I have been working together from a distance for the past two years. I first met their crew at Loserpalooza in Vancouver. Since then, they have sent me all over North America covering events, bikes and trips for the pages of their magazine.
This May, Revolution Motorcycle Magazine teamed up with One Land Magazine and Harley Davidson Montreal to create an old school motorcycle and art show in Montreal called Roll The Bones. They asked me to come out from Vancouver to cover the show and visit the city that Revolution is based out of. To me, this was such a cool opportunity. So here I am, sitting in a little French coffee shop in Montreal after a weekend of partying with a second family from across the country.
Learning about a motorcycle community in a new city is always something I love. Meeting new people, seeing their styles and influences, their taste in custom bikes and art, their music, the bars they go to etc. it’s all very interesting and influential on me as well. Roll The Bones was a perfect example of everything I look forward to seeing from another motorcycle scene.
I landed in Montreal on Friday, ready to experience the show right away. I knew I was getting picked up by Charles-Alexis Premont but I had no idea he was coming on a motorcycle. Right from the airport I was thrown into the hustle and bustle of the city on the back of a Harley. The rider, who I had just met seconds ago, took me to our first stop – a bar. It’s there where I realized I really didn’t know the language in this city.
From the bar (that I still don’t really know where it was), my rider took me to the dealership where he handed over the keys to a shiny Sportster and said, “have fun.” I drove it straight to the opening party of Roll The Bones.
The pre-party was hosted by Harley Davidson Montreal Underground. The band that played was called April Hate, a Nirvana tribute band that looked and sounded scary like Kurt Cobain and gang. During the whole weekend, the bands were sponsored by Harley-Davidson Canada and the bar was run by the new Montreal biker bar – MR250 Bar Salon.
The pre party was a blur after a long day of travelling and being in a new place. The venue was the same location as the show was going to be – a dynamic high-ceiling, new age bar and venue that had different rooms, lots of space, a stage and a patio full of people drinking beer.
The next morning was show time. I walked to the Artgang Plaza through the city. Outside the show, motorcycles were lined up everywhere. You could see that a motorcycle event was going on from every corner of that street. There were bikes ripping around and people everywhere. There was also outdoor vendor tents from the Harley Davidson Montreal dealership which offered demo rides of new bikes and a display of some of their show bikes.
Walking into the show for the first time was really great. The music was awesome, the people were interesting, the vendor booths were full of things people actually want to see and buy, the bikes were selected thoughtfully and the art matched the vibe perfectly. Bikes were brought in from all over the East Coast and the United States. Some that immediately stood out to me were Jason Parkers orange Panhead that came from Ontario, Christian Newman’s turbo Shovelhead that came from Buffalo, New York and the ClockWork Cycles Shovelhead chopper that is a local Montreal bike.
The whole back wall of the show was a showcase of Liz Leggett’s photography. She has worked with Revolution Motorcycle Magazine for a while and I have been looking at her photos for years online and in the magazine. It was nice to meet her face to face and her display was out of this world, showcasing photos from The Race Of Gentlemen and the Bonneville Salt Flats.
Another featured photographer of the show was Dan Lim from the Moto Foto who works for Revolution Motorcycle Magazine too. He travelled from Toronto to display his shots. He and I have done lots of work together for magazines, followed each other online, and we have tons of mutual friends but have never actually met in real life. Meeting people from across the country in the same industry was a common occurrence on this trip and it was awesome.
Timo from Mad Squirrel was an attendee that had a bike in the show, had art on the wall and also had a vending space for his leather working brand. He brought his partner along with their two kids – a 10-hour west from New Brunswick drive – with his art, bike and company in his 1987 boogie van. I asked Timo what he thought about the show and he said, “We had a blast at the show. Met so many great people, riders, builders, artists and photographers. Top that off with great music and cold drinks, what’s not to like?” Mad Squirrel is just one of the amazing East Coast brands that I learned about on this trip. They make handmade leather sissy bar bags and leather goods that help with long motorcycle trips and camping. Some other rad East Coast brands that were at the show were Les Loups Moto Company, Hyena Mfg., Drop Clutch Union, Tiger Distribution and more.
After I was done shopping away all my money, I spent time in the back room of the venue. It was a small, hidden away room all lit up under fluorescent blue lights. The room was jammed packed of bikes, art and decorated gas tanks. It was my favourite part of the show. There was Joe Roy’s 1954 Pan/Knuckle Police Special with an upholstered stingray seat, Scottie Porges crazy engraved AMS Panhead and the colourful Moteur Fucker artwork that is always a crowd pleaser. Along with everything else badass in this room, the Roll The Bones official gas tank was on display under bright lights for everyone to see. Move along through the show back into the main room and you see Allison Cordner’s display of tin type photos on the wall next to her vintage camera she uses to produce the shots. Each photo is a piece of artwork in itself. With her cool vintage look, she captures people on their bikes in a way that no one else can.
The rest of the show got blurry because of the Pabst and the Jack Daniels shots but before we knew it, the bikes were being pushed out (some were even rode out) and bands started warming up to play the after party. It was super easy to attend the Roll The Bones show because everything happened at the same location, the bar was cheap and easy and there was food and restaurants all over the area.
The after party was wild. If you were there you know. The opener band, Terry Savage and the Wonky Honkees, came from Toronto. They wore cowboy boots and sang about choppers. The main band was called “Thunderkok” and as we watched them set up we realized that we weren’t ready for this. They were chugging beers, changing into black spandex tights and setting up dick-shaped smoke machines. When they got going I knew it was going to be a perfect kick-off to an awesome night. They dedicated songs to “Crystal Meth” and “Jehovah’s Witnesses” and helped each other pour beers into each other’s mouths and into the mouths of innocent bystanders. Safe to say, they wrapped up the party perfectly.
That night, some of my new friends and I drank a couple of whiskey bottles at the MR250 Bar and they took me for my first “real” poutine experience that lasted until 3 in the morning. I extended my trip to Montreal for a couple days after the show just to check out more of the motorcycle scene, see the city and hangout with Catherine David who was one of the organizers of Roll The Bones. Catherine and I took our bikes and rolled around Quebec. We visited the Hard Core Cycles garage up the river towards Quebec City, hung out with Sam from ClockWork Cycles, stayed in a cool hand-build cabin in the country and raced back to Montreal to attend a Slayer concert. Montreal is a really cool city. People are friendly, prices are cheap, there are tons of young people doing cool shit and it’s easy to escape the city and ride beautiful country roads.
Many thanks to the organizers of Roll The Bones for continuing to progress and influence the motorcycle community in Canada. It’s so nice to see more and more shows popping up across the country, magazines that continue to put out new content and people who continue to build cool bikes that put Canada on the map.
Until next time Montreal! Oui oui au revoir!