Wind Up Radio Sessions’ Bird Eyes
Dan and Marc Kiely began their recorded musical adventure back in 2001 in Dundas when they performed under the Ewok Folk Sessions moniker but by 2007 decided to find themselves outside of where they grew up. The pair took the music they were making to Montreal for a change of scenery and return under the new name, Wind Up Radio Sessions, with a new album called Birds Eyes.
“We decided to try Montreal out because we thought it was a good place to play music. It was a chance to explore a new place, a big city that was a little further away than Toronto. Where you’re from often makes up how you express yourself but we were looking for new experiences, new people, new friends and I think we found a lot of that in Montreal. We took a little time off from music but about three years ago regrouped with Matt Lazenby. When Matt joined up, it was a new group fundamentally. The majority of the music was all new as well so we just wanted to get a fresh start so we decided to change the band
With one album as a trio released back in 2010, Red Brick House, the band has even recently added Dave Crosbie (another former Hamiltonian) to expand WUPS to a quartet.
“None of us are native to Montreal,” smiles Kiely. “Matt’s actually from the UK and he married a Quebecois girl. Dave ended up coming to Montreal to study history and English at Concordia. I knew him back in Hamilton but we didn’t hang out. I ran into him two years ago, we were looking for someone to round out the band, and he seemed to fit. It made sense since he was from Hamilton as well but he’s also a great guy and musician.”
With Ewok and folk in their original name choice – you knew you were getting guys that liked more acoustic based music and Star Wars references but without the name? Wind Up Radio Sessions are probably a little more confident than quirky these days, taking a more serious approach to their indie-bred folk tunes and offering a clever and concise bunch of songs on Birds Eyes. The results are gaining them praises across the country.
“Folk is kind of like the base that we try to build from,” reasons Kiely. “The album incorporates songs from Matt, Marc and myself so there’s that element of shared creativity and personally for me, it’s a more developed sound and less quirky than our previous music. We tried to make a more poetic album and you can take that as you may. We developed our sound and figured out what we are and how to work with it.”
While most of their scholastic endeavours are completed or at least wrapped up for the year, the band is set to spread the word of Bird Eyes with a stop in their hometown.
“We’re all currently off for the summer, none of us have commitments,” says Kiely. “We’ve been planning this tour for a while and excited about it. This is what we made as our goal and I think we’re going to continue with it. We want to keep it realistic, we all have our own things going, but we all want to make this a priority as much as we can. The summer allows us to do that.
“We’ve talked about relocating to the Hamilton area – three of us in the band are from there now – but it all depends on if we all wanted that,” he adds on the possibility. “Right now, things are progressing well in Montreal and we’re going to be on the road across Canada for the next while. We come back home this weekend. It’s always good to do that. We have a lot of friends and a lot of family that come out to the shows in Hamilton – it’s a good chance to reconnect – with them, with our roots maybe. I’m looking forward to coming back to Hamilton.”
Wind-Up Radio Sessions play this Friday May 25 at the Casbah with Jonny Porter. Doors open at 10pm and $5 gets you in.
Click on windupradiosessions.com
A Local Tribute to Jeff Buckley
A variety of tribute shows paying homage to the Beatles, the Velvet Underground, the Who, the Kinks, Nirvana and the Clash have caught the imagination of local musicians and fans alike over the last few years.
But this weekend, an artist a little more off the beaten path is celebrated by some Hamiltonians In the early ‘90s, singer songwriter Tim Buckley’s son, Jeff, showed a lot of promise when he released his sole full length CD, Grace. The younger singer songwriter enlisted a band to showcase his wares for the next two years and developed a solid fanbase with rigorous touring. Sadly, as he was working on his sophomore disc, My Sweetheart the Drunk, Buckley mysteriously died due to misadventure in 1997 - his body fully clothed found after he presumably drowned during a spontaneous evening swim. Jeff Buckley’s posthumous popularity grew over the years, and many artists and filmmakers have paid homage to the heartfelt singer. There are regular annual Jeff Buckley tribute events happening in New York, Chicago and Australia but with a special anniversary of Buckley’s passing looming, some locals felt compelled to offer their own tribute in Hamilton.
“The idea was conceived by myself and my best friend and fellow Jeff and Tim Buckley enthusiast, Cody House,” explains promoter Carl Mahoney. “We figured that we have never seen a tribute for them and with being such huge fans of their music we wanted to give a chance for other local musicians to put their own twist on Jeff and Tim's music and let the local music and Buckley fans a chance to hear it. It is also three days before the day of Jeff's untimely death fifteen years ago on May 29.
“He has helped me through a lot in my life,” adds Mahoney. “Buckley is also a huge inspiration to my friend Cody's musical and vocal stylings. We are such huge fans and believe that not enough people around know enough about either Jeff or Tim's music and we want it to be spread about in Hamilton and hopefully further in the coming years.”
House (ex-Paradox Hotel) is joined by a small collection of locals including Devon Bristo (ex- Beyond a Wonderland), Geordie Stewart, Tim Busa, and Ben Schillaci but while their numbers might be small for Hamilton’s inaugural Buckley tribute, they’ll make up for it with the heart in their performances. And while they celebrate everything Buckley, Mahoney has also made the event a fundraiser.
“We tried to get as many as possible musicians but with it being the first one and not being as well known as the others tribute artists, it was quite a lot more difficult to get performers,” confides Mahoney. “We are hoping with this show that it is successful with getting the word out and hopefully next year it will be even bigger than this one.
“The music of both Jeff and Tim is amazing and all the musicians involved, I believe, will do them justice,” adds Mahoney. “It will be a wonderful night of beautiful music and the money raised will go towards buying food, clothing and toys for a local food/clothing bank called The Living Rock that has helped me out in times of need in the past. I am also asking people to bring out food, clothing and toys as donations as well. As someone who is a strong believer in being charitable to local charities, I urge people to donate to local food banks around town as in the summer time they have an extreme shortage of supplies and need as many donations as possible.”
A Local Tribute to Jeff Buckley happens this Saturday Mat 26 at the Casbah Lounge. Doors are at 6:30 and it’s a $5 or pay-what-you-can event.
Sarah Beatty's Black Gramophone
McMaster University has helped attract a wealth of musicians to the area but few that might be dubbed singing scientists. For Sarah Beatty, the pursuits of music and science are inextricable in her life and while she's been focusing on getting her Masters and now PhD in soil physics and hydrogeology at McMaster, she's also been wood shedding her original music over the last few years. This week, Sarah Beatty offers her debut CD, Black Grammophone.
“Life, science, and my musical pursuits – for me, they’re all kind of inseparable,” notes Beatty. “I love learning and I love being creative. School happens to be one forum where I can do those things and music happens to be another. Hamilton is one of the most creative places I’ve lived – if not the most. When I moved to Hamilton, my approach to song writing changed and so did my sense of who I was as a musician; it made me a better songwriter. It made me think about how good songwriters become good. I saw too, how many good acts and technical folks were making really cool, original music here; they inspired me to make my own creative contribution.”
Recorded live off the floor for a very intimate and sparse performance, Black Gramophone features a snapshot of the singer and songwriter with a focus on just her voice and guitar. The song is given full focus and Beatty's roots in roots music shine brightly.
"I like all kinds of music, but I am probably most moved by roots music,’ explains Beatty. “Blues, folk, and old jazz has so much emotion in it. I think it just has to do with the expression of simple, yet profound truths. Generally too, I hear emotion in roots singers more than I hear it in other forms. Technical prowess is one thing, conveyance of the soul or human condition is another.
“I think a lot about how life is complex, complicated, and not always easy to figure out. So, that comes out in my song writing,” adds Beatty on her lyrical content. “I also like to sing about characters – real and imagined. Strength, struggle, nature, sexuality, relationships, and complexity are themes that keep me most preoccupied. I make music because it’s just part of my make-up. I want others to enjoy the creation. I play music live and record it for others, because my music isn’t just about me. If I can make a person’s day even just slightly brighter with my music, well, that’s where it’s at.”
Beatty's music evokes a passion of old and her penchant for the music of another era seemed to inspire the name and artwork chosen for this special release. A gramophone itself harkens back to the way music was recorded and shared a century ago (later called record turntables) and the name itself offers a glimpse into the music and mindset of Beatty.
"The title and artwork came to me somewhat randomly/organically,” offers Beatty on the Black Gramophone name. “I don’t recall the particular circumstances, but it just kind of made intuitive sense. After that, the idea expanded and I saw the artwork in my head, and how it represented visually, what I was trying to communicate with my music. My music is old, and new, natural, and made with my hands."
With her official debut complete, Beatty offers a release party in her adopted hometown with hopes of taking those songs to a newer regional and national level. Rest assured, while Beatty has spent years meticulously crafting her art in private, her creative muse, in music and science, will now be much more in the spotlight.
“I see this CD as part of a musical body of work that I plan to develop over my career,” says Beatty. “I also want to develop a body of work within my field of science research. Right now, I feel like it’s possible to do both things. How I manage to balance those two things will probably be a bit challenging at times, but my head and my heart are very connected, and operating in two different fields benefits both. Knowing very little of his life in whole, if I had a career like Greg Graffin of Bad Religion – being a prof, touring, supporting musicians through building a label – that would be awesome. Right now, I feel like learning is my key to developing as a person, musician, and scientist. I’m ambitious and I have goals, but I don’t want those things to distract me from focusing on and building a solid foundation as a singer songwriter and as a scientist. This recording for me, turned into something much more than I ever thought at the outset, and that’s a good thing.
“For the last couple of years, my focus was on production, whereas now, it’s shifting more towards performance,” adds Beatty. “At its core, I try to create an experience [on stage] that has both serious and light-hearted moments, and is fundamentally entertaining and engaging. My goal for each performance is for an exchange between me and the audience to take place, because if it doesn’t, they probably haven’t had a good time. And my task is to foster that exchange, because the audience has showed up in their finest form to be a part of a shared conversation. So I need to do the same.”V
Sarah Beatty plays this Wednesday May 30 at the Artword Artbar with Trio Arjento and Jessica Speziale. Doors are at 8pm and $5 gets you in.
Click on sarahbeatty.ca