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Neo-opsis Review

          The Authentics: Concert

March 18, 2016


Ray Ayotte, Skip Prest , Al Harlow, Rocket Norton, Ab Bryant, and John Hall.


          I had the privilege of seeing The Authentics perform before they were The Authentics. Several musical performers attended Rocket Norton’s 65th birthday party, and many various groups of them took turns performing on the stage at the party. For several of the songs the group on stage was Ray Ayotte, Ab Bryant, John Hall, Al Harlow, Rocket Norton, and Skip Prest. They sounded great together, which is likely why they decided to form and perform as the group The Authentics. See photo below.

Left to right John Hall, Skip Prest, Rocket Norton, Al Harlow, Ray Ayotte (behind Al), Ab Bryant. (July, 2015)

The Authentics:

Ray Ayotte (drums). Famed drum maker and percussionist. (Ayotte Drums.)

Ab Bryant (bass, lead vocals, back-up vocals): Jet, Prism, Chilliwack, Headpins.

John Hall (piano, lead vocals, back-up vocals): Prism, Seeds of Time, Jet, The Rocket Norton Band, HUNN.

Al Harlow (lead vocals, back-up vocals, guitar, slide guitar): Prism, Seeds of Time, Harlow, Jet, The Burner Boys, Segment 41.

Rocket Norton (drums, guitar, vocals): Seeds of Time, Prism, The Rocket Norton Band, HUNN.

Skip Prest (lead vocals, back-up vocals, guitar). Sweeney Todd.


The concert was at Cottage Bistro, 4468 Main Street, Vancouver. My sister-in-law and I shared an order of fish and chips and a Greek salad. Both were good and added to the enjoyment of the evening. The venue was packed.

With both Rocket Norton and Ray Ayotte playing full drum sets, so I thought it would be cool to hear The Authentics play the Ventures’ “Theme from Hawaii 50.” Maybe at a future concert.

          The Authentics played Barbara Lynn Ozen’s song “You Got a Good Thing Going,” with a heavy rhythm and blues feel. Several Authentics members played this song back then they were The Seeds of Time. The photo below of them playing “You Got a Good Thing Going,” isn’t from the Cottage Bistro concert, but is also from Rocket Norton’s birthday.

Left to right John Hall, Skip Prest, Rocket Norton, Ray Ayotte Al Harlow, Rocket Norton (behind Al), and Ab Bryant. (July, 2015)

          Jim Vallance (writing as Rodney Higgs) wrote “You’re Like the Wind,” for Prism. The Authentics did an instrumental version, starting with John Hall doing the main melody of the song on the keyboard, followed by Al doing the melody on a slide guitar, then the two of them playing back and forth with the melody. The bass and percussion background was subtle and helped carry the song well.

          Dual guitars gave a cool sound to the Prism song “Mirror Man” (written by John Hall and Lindsay Mitchell). As is common at Prism concerts, Al Harlow did a talk box / guitar solo for part of the song. Rocket Norton followed up with a drum solo.

          Al Harlow did a down & dirty slide guitar solo, leading into a similarly down and dirty version group performance of the song “Supergirl,” which he wrote during the Seeds of Time era. Al commonly does a slide guitar solo at Prism concerts. The solo at this concert had a similar sound and style to what he does with Prism, but he managed something unique for this one.

          John Hall seemed quite into the song “Little Joe from Chicago,” (written by Mary Lou Williams and Henry Wells) as he sang lead and played his keyboard.

          The Prism song “Take Me to the Kaptin,” (by Jim Vallance), is a song that can sound great in a number of performance styles. The original studio recording is amazing. The ‘garage band’ sound version done before the studio release version (available on Jim Vallance’s web site) is good, if a bit raw. Kaptin sounds great hammered out live in a large venue. The Authentics showed it’s also great when played not quite as intensely to a smaller live audience.

          The concert finished off with another Jim Vallance / Prism song, “Spaceship Superstar.” John pulled off a great version of the synthesizer solo that finishes off the song. “Take Me to the Kaptin” and “Spaceship Superstar” were originally a single song, but Jim Vallance split it into two songs before Prism released them.


          Different members of The Authentics took turns on lead vocals and doing solos, and everyone gave each other their time to shine. The team clearly enjoyed doing the performance (see the photo below), and clearly enjoyed working together. I hope they manage to play together again. Whether they do or not, I felt quite privileged at the opportunity to see this combination of talent play.

          (I found out after writing this that The Authentics will be playing in North Vancouver on May, 5, 2017. This site has information on the May 5 concert: http://www.fnlnorthvan.com/winter-2015-guest-performers/ Check out The Authentic’s home page listed below for information on other possible dates.)


Review by Karl Johanson

Ethical Disclosure: Karl Johanson is friends with Al Harlow, but he was a fan of Prism for roughly 30 years before meeting him.


Update January 4, 2020. A 6 song EP by The Authentics is available at http://authentics.ca/



Home Page: http://authentics.ca/

The Authentics on FaceBook: https://www.facebook.com/The-Authentics-Vancouver-227637490913044/

Prism’s web site, including touring info: www.prism.ca

Rocket Norton Theatrical’s web site: www.rocketnorton.com

John Hall: https://ca.linkedin.com/pub/john-hall/88/b59/a0b

Headpin’s web site (Ab Bryant): http://www.headpins.net/home.html

Sweeney Todd (Skip Prest) http://www.canadianbands.com/Sweeney%20Todd.html


Similar Reviews:

Prism / Jet / Seed of Time Concert: http://www.neo-opsis.ca/PrismReunion.htm

“I Here a Voice from Long Ago” Interview with All Harlow: http://neo-opsis.ca/prism.pdf



Prism “Take Me to the Kaptin” Vancouver, BC 2012: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zSE1Z-3Ay-8

Prism “Mirror Man” Vancouver, BC 2012: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=25Mz2m0KhJk

Prism “Take Me to the KaptinSooke, BC, 2007: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xiP1uZMmgQE

“See The Authentics at Cottage Bistro on Friday, March 18th, 2016https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QTEi7ET-OHI





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