All About Maggie Szabo
When I wrote about her first real Hamilton show back in April of 2010, little did I know that would be the real kick-start to Maggie Szabo’s career. The 20-year-old Dundas born singer songwriter was focusing on capitalizing of a lifetime of singing in high school by hunkering down in Nashville to develop her skills in writing songs. At that hometown debut two years ago, there were some industry people and as luck would have it – they were immediately hooked on the soulful pop music of Maggie Szabo. She’s spent the last two years developing her skills in singing, song writing and even social networking, collaborating with a variety of songwriters and becoming a popular internet vlogger. Maggie Szabo’s video blogs on youtube.com offering an assortment of covers including Taylor Swift, Michael Jackson and LMFAO with Burlington’s
Walk Off The Earth – have developed quite the fan base rabid to hear her debut full length on Linus Entertainment, Now Hear Me Out.
“I’ve had a lot of great people work with me these last few years,” offers Szabo on co-writing all of the songs on her debut with production by Tanya Leah (Melinda Doolittle/Wynonna Judd), Justin Gray (Joss Stone) and Gavin Bradley (Nelly Furtado). “When Linus Entertainment wanted to believe in me – I knew we’d be able to work together and get my music out to more people. And as soon as I got signed, I just spent three months writing every day.”
With an incredibly developed voice and a captivating personality, Szabo took on the moniker of All About Maggie and started readying her debut CD to reflect her own special loves in music and otherwise.
“I grew up with soul and being influenced by a ton of soul singers so I definitely wanted to come across in what I do,” reasons Szabo. “And going to Nashville and writing a lot there, a lot of the songs may have that Nashville sound. Lyrically, most music out there is about love and relationships – I think it’s the number one thing that inspires people – so most of the songs are about being in love and being out of love. There are a couple of songs I really wanted to write that weren’t about relationships but more about being positive and having fun like “Shining” and “Paint My Name”. Obviously girls can relate to it because I’m a girl singing about boys but I’ve had a lot of boys into the music as well. It’s not just a girl thing – it’s about relationships and anyone can relate.”
Slick and polished, Now Hear Me Out is a meticulously crafted pop album but Szabo’s voice adds a different sweet dimension to what could have been simply saccharine. Simply dragging the phrasing out of that single two syllable word ‘shining’ over a couple of measures for a chorus suggests in time, Szabo might be able to live up to that antiquated adage of singing the phone book and coming off incredible. At barely 22, Szabo has travelled North America assembling a team and the songs for her first album. She’s already played the Sound Of Music, the Festival of Friends and other bigger stages but this weekend Szabo offers her first local club gig.
“I haven’t been able to play many Hamilton venues in my life and I’m so excited to be playing the Casbah,” says Szabo. “Hamilton and Dundas are so in my heart and I’m so excited to be able to play here and have everyone from around here come out. I wasn’t as involved in the local scene as I am now, and I love collaborating with other artists and socializing with them. There’s such a great music scene around here so
I think it’s important to get involved with that.
“With my debut CD out, now my main goal is to have the opportunity to
continue making music,” adds Szabo. “If I could do this for the rest of my life and have people listen and relate to my music – that’s what I love and that’s what I want to continue to do. I’ve been working on this album for two years now – it’s my first full length, first time being on a label – so this CD release party is going to be a night about having fun and celebrating that my album is finally out. I love performing so I’m super-excited to be singing all of the songs from my record with my band. It’ll be a fun celebratory night of music and I can’t wait.”
All About Maggie plays this Friday Sept 21 at the Casbah with Ashley Sloggett and Brooke Nicholls. Doors open at 8pm and $10 gets you in.
Click on allaboutmaggie.com
The Responsibles' XXX
While individually they’ve been making music in Hamilton for probably close to twenty years the last decade has been all about being a Responsible for Wayne Crews (bass, vocals) and ‘Gentleman’ Jeff Andersen (guitar, vocals). They grew up in a different punk scene in the ‘90s but the pair still use the same ethic to their ska-tinged, punk-edged rock and roll music — and what might set them apart is their ability to pursue their love of the music with their responsibilities of maintaining relatively normal family lives and day jobs. With Paul Coombs (guitars, vocals), and latest addition Jeff Richardson (drums, ex of the Volcanics and High School Hookers), the Responsibles return after a four year recording hiatus with a new CD, XXX.
"We're back to a four-piece and no longer have the horn section and Jeff Richardson has taken over on drums,” notes Crews. “Unfortunately, life has gotten in the way of making music for [longtime drummer] Dan [Gruba] and he just didn't have any time available to devote to the band. Jeff stepped in for Dan a couple years ago for a few gigs and
this weekend will be his first show for the second time around. He's a great character and a solid drummer. He'll be bringing his own style to the band.
“Ideologically we're still the same, we have a four point system we like to go by,” adds Crews. “First, write a good song, second — record it, third — play it live and fourth — don't suck. We've already started on new material so we will continue with that credo.” The Responsibles’ XXX packs a harder punch musically and lyrically and whether it’s forbidden alcohol or imagery, the album title underscores these punks don’t dress like skate punks but they aren’t getting softer as they grow older.
“The album title is just classic marketing,” confides Crews. “Sex sells so we figured why be subtle about it? In fact we were going to just use the title "Sex Sells" but XXX also has some extra meaning as it also represents moonshine or hard liquor and it's our third full length CD, so three X's are like the notches on a bedpost or stamps on the cockpit of a fighter plane.
“The CD contains classic Responsible songs, in that it covers a lot of genres as we usually do,” adds Crews. “We're never afraid to try out any style of music. The writing goes is pretty much the same as it's always been; a bit of everything. The album sounds a bit harder as it is more stripped down with just two guitars, bass and drums and not a ton of overdubs. We recorded the beds by lunchtime and did the overdubs over a longer stretch than we normally would. It was also at a new studio with a new engineer, Richard Elliott (ex of The Wish, Panic Zebra).”
With their CD release party this weekend, the Responsibles take things out of the practice space and the recording studio to where they and their music thrive – it’s that hope of connecting with fans both old and new and sharing their music that might best fuel their collective muse.
“I think everyone in the band is compelled to be creative and come up with something interesting and entertaining and when we do, we want to share it and hope people will get it and appreciate it,” says Crews. “Playing live is a chance to get real time response to our songs and it also provides the money to finance our next recording project. Jamming in the garage is fun in itself but the immediacy of having people in your face and hearing your music and providing feedback is a critical part of the creative process.
“Even though it's been a long time to put out this CD, there's a lot of new energy with Jeff behind the kit,” he adds. “We plan on having an energetic stage show and we're looking for any fans that enjoy high energy rock and roll, that's creative yet fun. A lot of our songs do have a message, but in the end we never take ourselves too seriously. We have a lengthy set planned with the entire album stuck right in the middle. If anyone wants to check out a cool band of seasoned musicians that can play almost any type of music and know how to write a song, then the Responsibles at This Ain't Hollywood is the place to be.”
The Responsibles play this Saturday September 22 at This Ain't Hollywood with Wiggler?! and the Tiny Humans and the Agents of Destiny. Doors are at 8pm.
Click on www.theresponsibles.ca
Refinement and beauty perhaps tempered with a little more grit – or at least road dirt, the band name sums it up for Betty Supple’s latest musical outing. The Dundas high school graduate (also known as Beth Hayley Stupple) is probably most inspired by feeding her wanderlust, travelling the road and meeting like-minded creative types along the way. There's something particularly special about this earthy performer and many musical friends usually want to sing along.
Dirty Grace – featuring Supple (vocals, mandolin, guitar, piano, beat boxing), Marley Daemon (vocals, piano, guitar, accordion, beat boxing), and Jesse Thom (vocals, guitar, electronics, percussion, bass) - offers a diverse collection of offbeat rootsy tunes on their new CD, Snow Into Fire. The never-ending Supple touring machine stops down in Hamilton this weekend to let you have a taste. "I was in Hamilton last year for six months but alas my heart got all itchy again, or my feet perhaps, and I headed back west and have been traveling ‘round the country since, making lots of music and memories," notes Supple. "I found Marley on Vancouver Island, feral and unschooled, save her refining at the conservatory of music in Victoria, and she found Jesse playing for another band at a festival after party, and lured him in for the greater good. Something larger than any of us is telling us to making music together. It’s kind of loud and persistent so we obey. The band name is intentional. Grace is a beautiful experience but a touch too tidy on its own to encompass the feelings that pass through us into this music.”
“Dirty Grace also refers to our observation that grace is often delivered to the human being in a painful way,” adds Thom. “That what is ultimately good for our soul evolution is often a direct challenge to the ways in which we have made ourselves comfortable in life. We have old ideas of who we are and what we’re doing — of who others are and how they play in to our own personal melodrama — all of this is pulled away from us; what is left is the grace of spirit: an opening in which we can actually experience the unknowable mystery of simply being. Being intriguing and outstanding is something Supple was on her own but with this recent collaboration, that magic might be slightly magnified.
“The band is collaboration between three songwriters so as such, our material is quite diverse,” offers Thom. “We all contribute our own style to one another’s songs. The result is a kind of miracle that continues to surprise us. The CDEP is two songs from each of us. We recorded it in the quiet of a small island off of BC’s coast. We built a musical orgasm into each track using dynamics and genre bending (elements that exist include folk/hip hop/jazz/electronic/rock /swing). We play piano, mandolin, electric and acoustic guitars, bass, percussion accordion, and the elements. We’ve been called indie rock, spirit pop, folk fusion, carnival after-party music, amongst other things.”
Lush three part harmonies intermingle with beat boxing, ballroom pianos, acoustic guitars, clinking cans and a kaleidoscope of musical colours with Dirty Grace’s new disc and the CD release should be as vibrant.
“On stage we try and play with our clowning backgrounds which doesn’t necessarily mean that we’re funny as much as it means that we’re honest,” says Supple. “We connect with each other, the moment, the crowd and co-create and epic experience that can’t be repeated ‘cause it’s magic and its components are only just so just then. "We might be doing pushups in preparation for this CD release, and we may take another trip to the thrift store for some more ridiculous costumes,” smiles Supple on the hometown tour stop for the band. “Our shows across Canada have been quite diverse, everything from ridiculous clown shows with costumes and dancing to intimate acoustic house shows, stripped to the bare bones and soul, so we’ll ask the wind when we wake up that day, but we promise the good people of Hamilton our best.”
Dirty Grace plays this Saturday September 22 at Homegrown Hamilton with Jmusic of K-W. CDs will be for sale for $10 or download cards by donation. Show starts at 9pm. Click on dirtygracemusic.com V