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'Spiritually aligned with The Ex & vintage Gang of Four, Jesus Was Gay is both maddeningly eclectic and exhilaratingly challenging' - Eye, Toronto

'Mordantly funny, wickedly smart & musically fascinating' **** - The Winnipeg Sun

'With its poetry, it's crazy violin & other surprises, this is an album to revive your spirits......RA is a group that inspires rebellious thoughts & leaves people smiling wherever they go' - ICI, Montreal

'Jesus Was Gay is bound to shake up the Catholic League' - Lesbian & Gay New York


Jesus Was Gay

A very rare, Rhythm Activism / The Ex double bill at Montreal's Salla Rosa recently. More photos by Konstantin Sergeyev at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/violentgrind



RHYTHM ACTIVISM (RA) is an internationally acclaimed, Montréal-based, 'rock 'n roll cabaret' ensemble of Luc Bonin (aka Urbain Dubois- bass), Sylvain Côté (guitars), Norman Nawrocki (words/violin) and Holland's Wilf Plum (drums). RA was also an ever-changing cast of other musicians, actors and performers, depending on the show. Their last public performance was during their Jesus Was Gay tour of 1998. Their first public appearance in 10 years will be in Montreal at the Sala Rossa, June 21+22, 2007, on stage with long-time friends, Holland's The Ex.

RA at the Cafˇ Commune, 1986 RA at Café Commune, 1986

Since 1985, when Norman and Sylvain co-founded RA as a simple poetry/music duo, the performance unit evolved into a surprise-packed 'rebel news orchestra,' and 'giant musical cartoon.' They charted on radio worldwide, performed highly memorable theatrical musical shows, and toured their issue-oriented 'resistance cabarets' across Canada, the USA, England, Holland, France, Belgium, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, Austria, Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic to rave reviews. They would perform a riotous brand of independent, theatrical, music and song in English, French, Italian and Polish, winning over fans everywhere. They appeared on stage as a duo, a four to seven piece band, or with a supporting cast of 50 dancers, jugglers, musicians, acrobats, clowns and actors in a madcap, Felliniesque, anti-poverty "community circus cabaret."

RA has played in theatres, punk clubs, poetry festivals, international jazz and folk festivals, on the barricades at demonstrations, or at traditional Ukrainian weddings. Their music is a cutting-edge, hybrid of folk punk, country and eastern, gypsy grunge, urban rat jazz, lounge core and infectious, East European dance tunes. They've also staged theatre musicals, 'a gothic urban legend,' and created shows with ex-psychiatric patients.

Always ahead of the news, RA has been known as a topical and provocative band whose shows made the news, national and international. Satirical and hard-hitting, they've taken on issues of the day using costumes, masks and vaudeville to turn serious politics into subversive but hilarious living theatre. Their targets have ranged from world fairs to Coors Beer, NAFTA to date rape, war, offshore banking and homophobia .

RhythmActivism1986 Rhythm Activism, 1986

Critics have hailed their work as " powerful", "stunning", "astonishing" and " brilliant", and compared them alternately to Chumbawumba, Tom Waits (with a butcher knife), The EX, Fugazi, and even 'the Brecht/Weill combo for the 20th century.'

The band's trademark versatility has meant they can entertain audiences of children and grandfolk, punks and nuns and can move people from laughter and tears to the dance floor or a giant sing-a long. Their informative and rib-tickling political "community cabarets" - produced jointly with hundreds of tenants and welfare rights groups across Québec - have entertained the poorest of the poor by the thousands, who packed church basements and soup kitchens for family RA shows.

During the 78 day armed standoff at OKA ,Québec, the Mohawk Warriors blasted the military with songs from an RA native solidarity album. Striking, Montréal post secondary students requested a picket-line song from RA and were handed a finished album four days later. RA released an anti-war album within days of the 1991 Gulf War. One of their CD's ' Blood & Mud' , about the roots of the Zapatista rebellion in Chiapas, Mexico, was considered by OPTION magazine as 'mandatory listening for members of Congress,' and reached #7 on American college radio charts. It even earned RA a personal thank you letter from the Zapatista Subcommandante Marcos, deep in the jungles. RA's work has been praised by the beat poet
Lawrence Ferlinghetti, impressed with their humour, and by welfare rights recipients thankful that someone is drawing attention to their precarious existence.

Their repertoire of 'news poems,' instrumentals and songs from their theatre musicals numbers over 1000 original pieces. RA's discography numbers 36 releases, including 25 compilations worldwide. In Europe, they appear on Holland's Konkurrel label ; in Canada on Winnipeg's G-7 Welcoming Committee Records. RA also has two documentary videos & films, and appear on the soundtracks of numerous films.


EXPO HURTS EVERYONE - 7" ,1986, Sudden Death Records, Vancouver
- cass, 1988, Bad Newz, New York
- cass, 1988, Blurg Records, Bradford, UK
- cass, 1988, Technawabe Sounds, Ottawa
- LP, 1990, P.A.I. Paris
- CD, LP, cass, 1990, Divergo, Milano
- cass, 1991, All Genre, Waltham,
MA BRAIN BATTERY - cass, 1991, Broken Tapes, Limesay, France
- LP, 1992, 1 in 12 Records, Bradford, UK
- cass, 1992, Zwolna T & R, Metz, France
- CD, cass, 1992, Word of Mouth Records, Toronto
- CD, 1992, On a Faim!, Paris
MAIS OU EST PASSE L'ANE ARCHIE? - cass, 1994, Broken Tapes, Limesay, France
CRISES - CD, 1994, Broken Tapes, Limesay, France
- CD, 1995, Blackbird, Hong Kong
ZOOCOMPILATION - CD, cass, 1996, Trottel Records, Hungary
KING KONK 2 - CD, 1996, Konkurrel, Netherlands
- CD, 1997, MadÕs Collectif, France
KESKIDEEZ - EP, 1997, Broken Ear, California
- CD, 1997, Art as Hammer Records, Milano
LES MYSTERES DES VOIX VULGAIRES #3 - cass, 1997, Art as Hammer Rec, Milano
- CD, 1998, Tranzophobia, France
PASAZEER - CD, 1999, Pasazer Records, Warsaw, Poland
- CD, 1999, G-7 Welcoming Ctt. Rec., Winnipeg


RHYTHM ACTIVISM - cass, 1986, Les Pages Noires, Mtl.
RHYTHM ACTIVISM "LIVE" - cass,1987, LPN, Mtl.
RESIST MUCH - OBEY LITTLE - cass, 1987, LPN, Mtl.
LOUIS RIEL IN CHINA - cass, 1988, LPN, Mtl.
FIGHT THE HIKE! - cass, 1990, LPN, Mtl.
OKA - cass, 1990, LPN, Mtl.
OKA II - cass, 1992, LPN, Mtl.
TUMBLEWEED - cass, 1993, LPN, Mtl.
BLOOD & MUD - CD, 1994, LPN, Mtl / Konkurrel, Amsterdam, cass, 1997, Nikt Nic Nie Wie, Poland
MORE KICK! - CD, 1995, LPN, Mtl / Konkurrel, Amsterdam
BUFFALO, BURGERS & BEER - cass, 1995, LPN, Mtl.
JESUS WAS GAY - CD, 1998, G-7 Welcoming Committee Records, Winnipeg


Video & Films

ALIVE & KICKING - 1995, LPN, Mtl

THAT'S THE WAY WE TIE OUR SHOES - 1996, Unbend Films, Amsterdam

OVERDALE RAG - cass, 1987, Jelly Bean, Mtl.
I DON'T UNDERSTAND WOMEN! - cass, 1993, LPN, Mtl.
LESS ROCK MORE TALK - CD, 1997, AK Press, San Francisco
Summer 2007

Rythym Activism's 'Community Cabarets'

>> Le Cirque en Ca$h (1997- 1998)
>> Deux Femmes, Une Tcheque (1991-1992)
>> RA's CABARET P.A.L. (March 1991)
>> Un Logement pour une chanson (1990-1991)
>> EDDY: The Guy Over There (1989



 "Le Cirque en Ca$h" (The Money Circus) is an 80 minute long community circus cabaret comedy, in French, about the roots of poverty and how people can fight back.

   It's written, produced and presented by RHYTHM ACTIVISM (RA) - a Montréal-based, internationally recognized performance ensemble - in collaboration with local member groups of FRAPRU - a province-wide umbrella organization of some 60 welfare and tenants's rights groups.

   RA consists of the composer/musician Sylvain Coté, and the writer/actor Norman Nawrocki. They are directing and performing in the multi-disciplinary show with a cast of 50 other local actors, musicians, dancers and jugglers, technicians and artists. It will be a big show- RA's most ambitious to date- full of non-stop action, laughs, music and entertainment, and very high energy.  "Le Cirque en Ca$h"  will blend old and new traditions of both the circus and cabaret. A handful of representatives from the sponsoring community groups in the first three target neighbourhoods  also have stage roles.

The show was conceived over a period of several months with the help of the participating community groups. RA formed a consultative committee of interested group members - people basically unemployed and on welfare -  and determined the issues people wanted addressed, the kind of first person stories to relate, and the range of solutions and alternatives people wanted presented on stage. The result: a circus based on real life experiences, the day-to-day economics and politics of being poor.

RA has pulled together an eight piece band, "L'ORCHESTRE DES ELEPHANTS"to perform an original score of circus music for the show.

A local choreographer has created several modern dance numbers with the six dancers. RA is also working with other actors and community representatives all playing different characters. A local troupe of jugglers, and various technicians (sound and light) and backstage personnel (costumes, make-up artists, etc.) rounds out the cast.

Despite a zero budget, this will be a free show targetting the poorest audiences imaginable -  people who normally couldn't afford to attend any kind of live performance that required money. It will also be a family show suitable for children and parents alike>

As with most RA productions, the show is intended to help inform, inspire and ultimately encourage audiences to become active in local community action groups, to get organized, stand up and fight for their rights, for dignity and social justice. Using song, dance, sketches, slapstick, slides, video and audience participation games, the show hopes to empower people through informed, critical perspectives on the state of the economy and the need to take control of our lives. "Le Cirque en Ca$h" will demystify "the deficit", the "debt", and government rationalizations of cutbacks. It will examine the disparity between rich and poor, political promises and official doubletalk, government and corporate propaganda, and the reality of a growing number of impoverished, suffering, frustrated and angry citizens struggling to survive in the shadow of record bank and corporate profits.

The show will be hardhitting, but funny, analytical, but lyrical, satirical and provocative, suggesting it's time for mass, grassroots, radical community actions to correct long-overdue injustices. It will detail examples of this kind of popular action. At the same time, in the tradition of RA it will be entertaining and stimulating, fun for almost everyone.   RA has a history of similar "community cabarets," sponsored by dozens of community groups. Thousands of Quebec's poorest citizens have already seen and heard RA's 1990 tenants' rights show, "Un logement pour une Chanson." Thousands more saw the 1992 cabaret "Deux Femmes, un Tcheque" that helped inform welfare recipients of their rights in the face of the harsh welfare reforms of Bill 37. The "circus cabaret" project takes RA's work to another logical level, considering the despair and suffering of the past decade.  In meeting after meeting, during the research of this show, the refrain was the same: people are starving, going homeless and without medications, desperate for work, desperate for solutions, and prepared to do whatever is necessary to overcome the despair and change the reality of poverty. They are also tired of "charity."

RA has responded with what we believe is a timely and socially relevant cultural project that will serve as a mobilizing tool. The community groups are demonstrating their faith in the usefulness of this cultural approach to pressing social problems by sponsoring the show.

Hopefully, it's contents and spirit will help them and other local citizens take the steps to revitalize poverty-stricken communities and begin to rebuild them on a basis of hope, dignity and social justice.

- Rhythm Activism,
20/10/97, Montreal

"LE CIRQUE EN CA$H: la ou rien n'est caché!"
    RHYTHM ACTIVISM (R.A.),  c'est "l'orchestre rebelle" montréalais composé de Sylvain Côté et Norman Nawrocki.

   Depuis maintenant 11 ans, les membres de R.A. collaborent ensemble pour élaborer des oeuvres qui sont destinées autant pour la scène que pour le studio d'enregistrement, tout en gardant un lien actif avec la communauté en présentant des "cabaret communautaires" réalisés grâce à l'implication directe d'organisations populaires.

En 1990, R.A. présentait "Un logement pour une Chanson", un spectacle pour le droit au logement social co-présenté par le FRAPRU, tandis qu'en 1992 le public avait droit à "Deux Femmes, Un Tchèque" un cabaret de sensibilisation sur la loi 37, la réforme de l'aide sociale.  Les deux productions sont présentées partout au Québec.
R.A. présent maintenant d'un autre cabaret communautaire, celui-ci inspiré de la grande tradition du cirque: "LE CIRQUE EN CA$H: LA OU RIEN N'EST CACHE!"

Ce cirque populaire et gratuit serait un instrument de sensibilisation sur les grandes lignes de l'appauvrissement et qui démystifierait les questions comme : pourquoi on a pas d'argent ; pourquoi on pas de job ; pourquoi il y a des immeubles vacants ; pourquoi les coupures des services sociaux ; c'est quoi le déficit et pourquoi que dans cette situation économique dite "difficile" il y a des entreprises qui font des profits records.

Ce sera un cirque qui parlera de la réalité, des conséquences de toute ces  coupures et comment on pourrait arriver à une prise en charge pour lutter contre l'appauvrissement.

On retrouvera dans le cirque des musiciens, des comédiens, des animaux (humains), des danseurs, des clowns -  un total de 50 artistes en piste.  Le cirque sera interactif grâce à l'utilisation d'un mélange vidéo/diapositives. Ce sera un évènement hilarant conçu pour toute la famille. Nous voulons que notre spectacle puisse servir d'outil de mobilisation pour les groupes populaires.  Nous aimerions l'entrevoir comme un vrai "happening" avec une foule d'activités périphériques comme un bazar, de l'animation pour les enfants, des tables de littérature, des kiosques de nourriture, etc.

"The audience screams with joy.....is on its feet again, gasping at the abilities of Les Grands Balais Canadiens, a tightly choreographed group of cleaning ladies who dance ballet while wielding brooms. It claps along with the funky 'No Cash Polka,' cheers 'The Throw Ups.' a burlesque acrobatic troupe, and dances along as giant Kraft Dinner boxes sing 'Do the Macaroni' to the tune of Macarena."
- The Globe and Mail

("With the show, RA underlines the natural need of people not to let themselves get ground under....the show is a call to start thinking and get involved.")
 "The hall erupted in hoots and cheers when... a clown described his experiences working at a fast-food restaurant."
- The Gazette

"The circus, as entertaining as it is, is primarily an organizing tool, a way of reaching out to those who don't belong to organized groups. The local community hall bursting at the seams...features a disproportionate number of single moms and scads of children."
- the Globe and Mail

"Subversive joy & defiance...biting satire....with local kids squealing with glee in the aisles, their parents nodding in agreement with the lyrics."
- HOUR, Montréal

" A grand parody of life"
- Le Devoir, Montréal

"A circus with a conscience....combines clowning, singing & acrobatics with hardhitting questions"
- Global TV News, Montréal

Comments from some of the community groups who co-sponsered the show:
* "Pour nous, le Cirque en Ca$h est un événement de sensibilisation et d'éducation populaire, qui va sans doute laisser des traces."
- Nathalie Ménard, d'alerte Centre-Sud, une coalition d'organismes communautaires qui ont participé à la naissance du projet.

 * "The aim of the live musical show is to educate poor people about the ramifications of a global economy....  Every neighbourhood has it's own hopes and dreams. It's what this show is all about."
 - Louise LaRue, Comité du Logement Centre-Sud, one of sponsoring community groups.

"An unbeatable success...raised the roof"
- Le Monde, Montréal

"An astonishing political cabaret....blends agreeable rock music, songs & sketches with pointed political demands"
- L'Humanité Hebdo, Paris


Deux Femmes, Une Tcheque (1991-1992


'Deux femmes; un tcheque'( Two Women & a Cheque)
In 1991, while City and Provincial officials turned their backs on Quebec's poor and unemployed, the agit-pop trio, Rhythm Activism, hit the road to rock the public laugh meter and draw attention to the problem.

During a two month tour of the province, RA - in drag - performed their free welfare rights cabaret, 'Deux femmes, un tcheque' (Two women & a cheque) dozens of times from Montreal to the furthest outreaches of Quebec.
The 60 minute, all-French show traced the mad-cap, but true life adventures of two man-sized heroines - Dolly Ouelette & Cecile Dion - who took on the Church, Welfare Police, a giant workplace clock and a stripped down premier of the province (the late Robert Bourassa), and Prime Minister of Canada (the despised Brian Mulroney), as they tried to survive public opinion and the new welfare reforms of the time. Using popular Quebecois music from the 1950's, 60's and 70's (rearranged lyrically), and over a dozen costume changes, the RA trio of Sylvain Coté (guitar, accordion & vocals), Norman Nawrocki (violin, kazoo & vocals) and the mysterious Monsieur LeTcheque (Elaine Stef, on organ & percussion) sang and go go danced their way through 16 funny and tear jerking songs and sketches.
The result was a stinging but sensitive musical romp through Quebec's revamped welfare system - a veritable Alice in Wonderland Chamber of Horrors for over 600,000 of the province's poor. Since it's inception three years earlier, the reform was denounced by civil liberties critics and human rights activists as 'draconion, inhuman and intolerable.'
RA's cabaret exposed the contradictions and hypocracy of the law and argued why it should have been scrapped.
The show, "DFUT" was co-sponsored by 'La table nationale contre la loi 37' - a coalition of over 40 Quebec trade unions, women's groups, welfare rights and community organizations.
RA spent an entire summer researching the show with members of local welfare rights groups, predominantly women. Several thousand people saw DFUT from Shawinigan to Joliette, Maniwaki to Témiscamingue, in church basements, town halls, elementary school gyms, and in soup kitchens.
In 1992, RA toured a bilingual version of the show.
* It was an all-French production, the collective effort of two anglophones and a Quebecois working with a provincial francophone coalition. Unlike previous RA shows where Norman handles most if not all the vocals, in DFUT, Sylvain performed about 85% of the dialogue and songs;
* As a 'cabaret rock band,' RA straddles theatre and musical boundaries. DFUT was RA's fifth piece of 'musical theatre,' their third in a series of 'community cabarets':
- March 1989 - 'EDDY, the guy over there,' was a romantic, dreamlike musical about the life of a very ordinary man;
- Spring/Winter 1990: 'Un logement pour une chanson,' was a french housing rights cabaret that toured Quebec twice;
- March 1990: 'Cabaret P.A.L.' was a bilingual cabaret about welfare rights for ex-psychiatric patients in Verdun, produced with their participation;
- October 1990: 'The Legend of the Rat King' was an urban gothic rock musical in English;
* This cabaret played venues off the beaten path for 'underground' bands.

Childcare was sometimes provided at shows; community suppers or tea and cookie sessions followed performances; there were open exchanges with RA members and organizers answering questions in post-show public discussions; RA's dressing rooms were sometimes in a church pew;
* The show was 'family friendly,' attracting children, adolescents, silver haired men and women, ex-cabinet ministers, nuns in full garb, priests and others;
* The show was part of an educational campaign launched by provincial community groups that included the gathering of
37,000 signed post cards demanding that the new law be rescinded.


RA's Cabaret Project in Alternative Living (March 1991)

     The 'Project in Alternative Living' (PAL) is a 400 member-strong self-help organization of ex-psychiatric patients in the south-west neighbourhood of Verdun, near Montreal. RA spent several months hanging out with the members, getting to know them and their concerns, in order to produce a cabaret with them -'CABARET PAL,' about their rights on welfare.

     As one of the member groups of the larger coalition fighting the new welfare reforms, PAL had special concerns about how to best inform their membership about changes in the welfare laws. RA worked directly with them to mount a lively comedy cabaret/poetry show that translated the complicated new laws into language the members of PAL could understand. The show covered subjects like: how to keep the welfare police out of your home; how to claim legitimate benefits owed; how to support each other in the welfare office; how to fight for the right to have one's medications covered under the law; etc.

     The cabaret also played for the community at large, outside the doors of PAL, to explain the special needs and concerns of PAL members. There was often a lot of ignorance and distrust of PAL's work by local residents who didn't know much about the organization, but who were uncomfortable with the concentration of ex-psychiatric patients in their neighbourhood. Because of re-organized government programs, the streets were filling with ex-psychiatric patients discharged from a local institution. Through the RA cabaret, local residents, PAL members and performers had an opportunity to come together to share a good time, and some understanding.

     Once again, RA used its winning combo of guitar, accordion, violin, song, humour and funny costumes to get the messages across. During their research for the show, they conducted creative workshops with PAL members to help interest them in participating in the cabaret. The result: several PAL members formed part of the cast of the final show. One of the songs, 'Cabaret Pal,' written by a PAL member, appeared on an RA release, 'Perogies, Pasta & Liberty.' *


Un Logement pour une chanson (1990-1991)
('A House for a Song')
A housing rights cabaret by Rhythm Activism
     'See live vampires attack! Hear giant cockroaches talk!
Bring your landlord! And get a rent reduction1'
RA's hilarious 1990 two-man housing rights cabaret, 'Un logement pour une chanson' was meant to reach unreachable tenants across the province of Quebec and help them get organized. It was a joint production - the first - between RA and a Quebec-wide coalition of over 40 community groups called FRAPRU ('People's Rights Over Urban Development').
     The 'vampires' were 'Condo Vampires' who sucked the lifeblood out of once affordable neighbourhoods - until the residents kicked them out. The giant cockroaches - the favorites of kids in the audiences - told stories about how cockroaches survive: they meet behind the kitchen stove, the fridge, in cupboards, as a co-operative federation, with self defence groups and co-op housing.
     A pair of clown 'housing experts' explained the ABC's of real estate and how people can resist evictions. Syvlain and Norman used a guitar, an accordion, a violin and a trunk full of costumes to sing about housing rights and get audiences to join in. The show,  'about the reality of being a tenant in Quebec today,' toured the poorest neighbourhoods across the province to rave reviews, from the media and the public.
     As well as being entertaining and humorous, the 'resistance cabarets' educated the public and got audience members to sign up at the end with local housing action groups. It also helped bridge the gap between what the band called'marginal culture and marginal community groups.' And the show gave tenants an unusual forum for discussing housing issues in their own communities.


'EDDY: THE GUY OVER THERE' (March, 1989)

This was RA's first, full-length, two-man, original musical. It was also RA's first foray into the world of real theatre. Written, directed and performed by vocalist/violinist Norman Nawrocki, and avant-subversive guitarist/percussionist Dem Stink (aka, Sylvain Coté), 'EDDY' represented a new theatrical direction for the duo. The band wanted to produce something other than the usual RA combo of 'news poems' and untuned guitar. 'EDDY: THE GUY OVER THERE' was, unlike all previous RA work, more introspective and dreamy. A one-act musical, in French and English, 'EDDY' was the story of a very ordinary dead man (played by Norman) who didn't want to attend his own funeral. He argued this out with his mirror image, his 'soul' (played by Sylvain), and in the process, re-lived his entire life: his loves, his jobs, his fantasies, his defeats, his victories.
The music was like turning the pages of an old photo album: melodic, nostalgic, with dream-time waltzes and prairie tangos. It was the kind of show anyone could bring their mother to, and people did, and their mothers left smiling.
'EDDY' took the audience back in time, across the country, from the 1919 Winnipeg General Strike to the 1950s industrial Montreal, to a major anti-gentrification battle of Overdale in Montreal in 1988. It covered attacks on working people throughout history, the Free Trade discussions of the late 1980's, the new era of 'downsizing' and 'privatization' schemes, and the tarnished dreams of the poor, still alive in the streets and alleys, still cherished in the pockets and memories of friends and neighbours.
The 80 minute production that played Montreal's Centre Culturel Calixa Lavallee, in Parc LaFontaine, received a thumbs up from CBC Radio who called RA, 'the Brecht/Weill combo for the 21st century.'

<<back to top

1. In the Darkest Hour *listen
2. Jesus was gay   *listen
3. Barn Again
4. Helen Armstrong
5. Jack Daw
6. Hopak
7. Sam the Yarder
8. Serb
9. Ronald Fucking McDonald
10. George
11. Arkan
12. Mike Swystun

  'Spiritually aligned with The Ex & vintage Gang of Four, Jesus Was Gay is both maddeningly eclectic and exhilaratingly challenging' - Eye, Toronto

  'Mordantly funny, wickedly smart & musically fascinating' **** - The Winnipeg Sun

  'With its poetry, it's crazy violin & other suprises, this is an album to revive your spirits......RA is a group that inspires rebellious thoughts & leaves people smiling wherever they go' - ICI, Montreal

  'Jesus Was Gay is bound to shake up the Catholic League' - Lesbian & Gay New York

Jesus Was Gay

Topical and provocative, RA's 16th and newest release is a smorgasbord of bizarre tales including an aniti-corporate junk food circus story, a rib-tickling country/gospel song and a haunting, soul-stirring lullaby.

Some biblical scholars have suggested that Jesus could have been androgynous, or even gay. Of course, this is nothing new to the gay/lesbian community. Lesbians already know God was a woman. And God herself has often said 'Some of my best servants (on Earth) are gay.'

On the 'JESUS WAS GAY' album, the band, Rhythm Activism attacks homophobia in the catchy title song. The refrain: 'Jesus was Gay/& moved to Alberta/Opened up a bar/for all his friends/Bought a pickup/Got a tattoo saying/'Love your brother, Amen/ Love your brother Amen.'

The album shot to #9 on the Canadian alternative radio charts.


JESUS WAS GAY' is the provocative 16th release from Montreal's veteran 'rebel news orchestra/rock 'n roll cabaret', RHYTHM ACTIVISM (RA) .

   The  48 minute CD shows how these ever topical, irreverent, anarcho-musical chameleons - active since 1986 -  can whip up a smorgasbord of bizarre tales, truth and 'rhythm magnetism ' to capture the imagination of fans worldwide. Critics often compared RA to CHUMBAWAMBA, THE EX, DOG FACED HERMANS, FUGAZI and 'Tom Waits with a butcher knife.'

        The 12 tracks include a stirring new version of RA's classic, pro-feminist ballad, 'Helen Armstrong,' about an unknown heroine of the 1919 Winnipeg General Strike  ( Bob Wiseman said this song "should be the new Canadian national anthem"); the rib-tickling, anti-homophobic,  jazz/ country/gospel sing-a-long 'Jesus was Gay;' ' a true-life, Prairie love song about a Canadian legend, 'Mike Swystun, once billed 'the world's strongest man;' an anti-corporate junk food circus tale, 'Ronald Fucking McDonald;' a farmer vs the banks, macabre, revenge-fantasy folk tale, 'Jack Daw,' a vodka drenched, rocking, traditional Ukrainian dance, 'Hopak;' and the haunting, soul stirring, adult lullaby, 'In the Darkest Hour.'

    'JESUS WAS GAY' features RA co-founders Sylvain Côté (guitars/accordion) and Norman Nawrocki (vocals/violin) with Wilf Plum (drums), Luc Bonin (bass), Claude Dion (sax) and Minda Bernstein (violin).   It's been released by Winnipeg's G-7 Welcoming Committee Records.

Buy this now!



Buffalo, Burgers & Beer

A retrospective cassette compliation of 13 of Rhythm Activism's most popular earlier hits from previously long-unavailable releases. Includes "The Black Flag;" "7-11 heaven;" "America;" "Polski Fiat" and more.

Imagine 400 people, from 6 to 76, packed into a steaming soup kitchen in Montreal's impoverished East End (80% unemployment), laughing, stomping their feet and clapping their hands for a "community cabaret" about welfare rights, while on-stage, members of a band in drag, alternately go-go dance, change costumes, and roll our '60s Quebec hit rock songs, all rewritten to get the audience smiling and psyched up to fight for their rights. This is Rhythm Activism.





Buy this now!

a 10 year retrospective
1. Americaca
2. Polski Fiat
3. Winnable War
4. 7-11 Heaven
5. Tumbleweed
6. 500 Years of Waiting
7. The Black Flag
8. Louis Riel
9. Krakow Noire
10. Pacific Ocean Blues
11. Tatra Tumble
12. Quando L'anarchia Verra
13. Leo Lachance



Live in Europe

1. Introduction
2. Broom Dance *listen
3. Coal for Mike
4. Tommy Two
5. Venimos a la guerra
6. On Grandpapa's knee
7. Roll Call
8. Bandura Waltz
9. Kolomeyka (from Oakburn)
10. Leo Lachance *
11. Soldiers for Jesus: Get lost
12. Bella Ciao
13. Louis Riel

More Kick!

MORE KICK! RA's 14th release. Recorded live on tour in Europe. Full of high energy from actual shows. 12 songs, old & new, half instrumentals. Includes Ukrainian wedding music.

"MORE KICK!" they cried as the convoys of caravans crashed through the borders, passport-free. "MORE KICK!" cried the homeless and the refugees as they marched into the empty buildings and claimed them for their own. "MORE KICK! and out of our way!" yelled every man, woman and child as they danced in time, singing and laughing down cobblestone streets heading for a gathering beyond anyone's control.

All roads met where bigotry, intolerance, fear and indifference were only passwords of the past. Where food and drink were plenty and free and the drums roared with abandon. Where the warmth of friendship and solidarity burned brightly in the shadow of an anarchist moon. Where "MORE KICK!" brought voices and heels together in the air defying anyone to stop them. Where the idea took root, and grew.




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1. Venimos a la guerra *listen
2. In the Free Zone  *listen
3. They fucked us
4. Blood & Mud
5. Les corneilles
6. Dancing 'round the grave
7. NAFTA love song
8. Margarita Ortega
9. On Grandpa's knee
10. Roll Call
11. After the rain
12. The Magon Brothers
13. We are the prologue
14. Despues la fiesta

Blood & Mud

A fast-paced &moving Mexican theme CD by RA about the Zapatistas uprising in Chiapas, Mexican anarchists, NAFTA, and "Day of the Dead" celebrations. Reads like an aural history or travelogue, tracking the roots of Mexican rebellion through stories & musical landscapes.

In 1994, in one of Mexico's poorest states, Chiapas, starving, indigenous people grabbed guns & masks & staged a spectacular armed rebellion for justice, dignity & freedom. They called themselves Zapatistas, & their brave & daring revolt captured media headlines around the world. This was the first popular, mass armed resistance against the injustices of globalization. It inspired millions internationally to raise their voices in protest & solidarity.

Rhythm Activism's CD, 'BLOOD & MUD' traces the history of this rebellion & its anarchist roots. The band was thanked personally by Zapatista subcommandante Marcos for supporting the fight of indigenous people in Chiapas Mexico. The CD reached #7 on American alternative radio charts.

Today, the Zapatistas are holed up in the jungle, in their 'Free Zones,' trying to fend off the encroaching Mexican military. They still need our support.

--Click here for lyrics & more--

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1. Leo Lachance
2. Milton Born with a Tooth
3. Leonard Peltier
4. Tumbleweed
5. 500 Years of Waiting

Tumble Weed

A five song musical documentary about North American natives (Leonard Peltier, Mohawks, Leo Lachance), neo-nazis & wild west justices. This release marked a departure from RA's electric style by using mostly acoustic instruments & lush string arrangements.

We're dedicating this cassette to our friends at CKHQ 101.7FM, a nonprofit, community Mohawk radio station outside Montreal at Kanehsatake.

Thanks to the dedicated and hardworking staff at CKHQ, who kept the entire outside world informed of the "Canadian crisis at Oka" during the tense 78 day armed standoff in the summer of 1990. CKHQ continues to serve its community and others, broadcasting music and news unavailable elsewhere.


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That's the way we tie our shoes:
a film by Isabelle Vigier & Andy Moor
Video, colour, 48 minutes
English & French
Produced by Unbend Films, Netherlands

That's the way we tie our shoes

Filmed & produced by Isabelle Vigier and Andy Moor from Holland's THE EX. From UNBEND FILMS, Amsterdam

This is a film about perogies, Ronald Fucking McDonald, Zapatistas, vodka,
Polish drinking songs, cabaret, wild Ukrainian folk tunes, ridiculous wigs, contemporary electronic troubadours, serious political commentary and nose picking guitar solos.

It is also an adventurous, many-sided portrait of Montreal's premiere 'cabaret rock 'n roll' orchestra, Rhythm Activism. It includes a detailed recipe and cooking demonstration on how to make a
'Perogie'( a Polish/Ukrainian equivalent of ravioli, but tastier), involving Norman Nawrocki, vocalist & violinist, dressed in his 'Baba' outfit, giving full instructions on potato mashing, vegetable & cheese grating. It's full of vodka swilling, loud singing, & wild, wild Ukrainian folk music played by all members of RA: Luc Bonin on bass, Sylvain Coté on guitars, Wilf Plum (ex-Dog Faced Hermans) on drums, and Guy Boulanger on sound and potato peeling.

   The film's predominant subject, though, is live footage of several of the best performances by the band during their Spring 1995 European tour, filmed in Berlin, Paris, Amsterdam, Budapest and Tabor, with  in depth interviews & some ludicrous, 'on the road' clowning. It is a warm, open but critical portrait which succeeds in a direct manner to give a personal definition of what this band is all about.

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Six 'revolutionary new men's products'
from the show!

1. Love Potion #10 Mouthwash
2. 'Alternatives to Fucking' Video
3. Men's Ear Enhancers
4. Humanizing Eye Glasses
5. Male Sensitive Basher
6. 'Hi! I'm Horny' Signaler

I Don't Understand Women!

A cassette featuring 6 "revolutionary new men's products" taken from Norman Nawrocki's provocative & internationally acclaimed anti-sexist comedy cabaret, I "Don't Understand Women!" Includes "Alternative to Fucking Video;" "Humanizing Eye Glasses;" "Male Sensitive Basher" & "Men's Ear Enhancers." Ideal for the boyfriend in your life. These excerpts are lighthearted cartoon-like "commercials."

The colourful disguises have been put aside, the music turned off. Entertainer Norman Nawrocki picks up a chair, carries it to the front of the stage and sits down to address his audience. For the past hour he has brought laughter and tears to a lunchtime gathering of University of Calgary students.

Now it's time for reflection on the solemn message - a time to think about Nawrocki's fast paced, 60 minute presentation on human relationships in this constantly changing world. About the way men relate to women in the '90s. About how they treat them.

"Every guy at least once this week has said, 'I don't understand women,'" Nawrocki says. A few heads - both male and female - nod in agreement.

Nawrocki, straight-backed and hands folded on his lap, explains to the crowd that the performance dealt with "the kinds of things we as men don't usually talk about - we don't make the time to talk about ... All I ask is go home, talk to your buddies, talk to your boyfriends, talk to your women friends. Don't be afraid to talk about this stuff.

There's nothing to feel guilty about. There's nothing to feel paranoid about. It's all simple everyday stuff. Every guy in the audience knows exactly what I'm talking about. We've all been through this. "The reason it's important for us to talk about this is because we all want this world a more secure and safer place for all of us men and women.

Ultimately that means us, as men, are going to have to be able to work with women together to change things and make this world a better place. I encourage every guy here to take that up as a responsibility.

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