While they were friends through their time at Parkside High and McMaster University, it was only once they realized they'd both left Dundas to live on their own in Hamilton's downtown that guitarist Nigel Tebay and drummer Kevin Delaney came together as Beard. Tebay had a history of playing in Undecided For Now and the Frontrunners while Delaney had previously only been a trombonist in high school but he had a hankering to bash the skins. Their combined passion immediately sparked some magic as they explored the high-octane fueled, swamp-laden blues that now captured their combined imagination.
“We found out we were both living in downtown Hamilton after school and decided to get together for a jam for lack of anything better to do,” recalls Tebay. “There were no plans at first but practices just became more often and songs started to come about and next thing you know I guess we were a band just trying to recreate that sound of the older blues that we love so much. This was two years ago.”
“The first song we jammed together we still play, it became Down and Out Blues”,” adds Delaney. “There were no lyrics or vocals though. Neither of us wanted to sing at first. We talked about bringing in a singer but decided instead to just suck it up and share the vocals. I don’t know that we’re adding anything to the genre other than our own personal take on it, but that’s almost beside the point. We’re not trying to reinvent the wheel; we’re just playing music that we enjoy.”
Recording a live set at a regular haunt with sound tech, Eric Minden, Beard released Live at the Baltimore House online in 2011 to introduce the live show outside of the bar. A solid listen, yet the duo yearned for a studio quality take.
“Nigel’s brother Shawn played with the Pull Start Rockets and he told us that their bass player, Eric Persichini, was getting into recording and had a set up in his basement,” notes Delaney. “He was onboard with our stripped down, live off the floor approach and aside from a few touches here and there, we tried not to mess with it too much.
“It ain’t perfect, but that’s the beauty of it,” adds Tebay. “Those old blues recordings aren’t flawless either, but they’re perfect, know what I mean? We decided why wait for a CD release party; let’s just get them out there and I’m glad we did. It took the pressure off of having a special night of it - just make them available and carry on.”
“We’re not virtuosos by any stretch of the imagination; we just love playing and pour ourselves into our live show - and that, I think, is the whole point of this band,” concludes Delaney. “It was our dream to start playing live shows in Hamilton, and everything has just kind of followed. I don’t know that we have any grand ambitions. We just want to play. Playing live is a blast, especially here in Hamilton. If we can just keep doing this, I’ll be a happy man.”
Beard opens up for Tongue Fu and Illusion Avenue this Friday January 11 at This Ain’t Hollywood for a free James Street North Art Crawl show. Doors are at 9pm and admission is free.
Click on dirtysleazyslidebluesgumbo. bandcamp.com
Ragged Bankers Capricornia
Steven Vincent started playing in bands at the age of 13 and by the age of 16 was gigging 30 weekends a year as a bass player in his father’s country band. By the time he was legally able to drink at the bars he was playing, Vincent would go off to the University of Guelph rebelling against all his country rock roots, with a band called What The Thunder Said, and play progressive jam rock.
But he admits his post secondary education was perhaps more geared toward truancy and building alcohol tolerance and eventually Vincent relearned a love for his country rock roots when he formed the Ragged Bankers with Mark Stutman (guitar) Matty Cooper (bass), and Todd Gemmill (drums).
“I describe the music as a return to those country-roots-rock type songs that were formative for me with some alt-rock leanings that make is somewhat more contemporary,” says Vincent. “Simplifying it as alt-country is fine by me. What is being offered as different I suppose is that a lot of themes are not fluffy or watered down and not common in some sense.”
When love struck Vincent, he would again follow his muse and so the home base has shifted and the music has followed to Hamilton.
“It is really important that I found a girl who listens to good music and that in no small part is due to her having grown up in the Hamilton area and having access to great bands like the Fat Cats or Doug Feaver,” notes Vincent. “There was an amazing community that grew out of her time as an underage drinker. These people sought out music, found each other, and comprise the foundation of the fan base in Hamilton for both the Ragged Bankers and the Baudelaires and a bunch of other acts I’m sure. They are die hard live music fans and that is a rare thing.”
Immersing himself in Hamilton’s local scene, this weekend Vincent has decided to offer a special party for his musical friends to celebrate his birthday and Capricorns everywhere. A full-fledged Hamiltonian, a busy musician with multiple projects and now event organizer and promoter, Hamilton has a welcome addition with Vincent.
“I just wanted to play music on my birthday,” reasons Vincent on his Capricornia event. “I am really not much for reading into planetary alignment as a means of assessing a person’s personality, but goats are hilarious to put on a poster for an event and getting some new faces into Cannon 205 felt like a good thing to do. Having a chance to have seemingly disparate groups of players to collaborate during the jam at the end of the night was in the, What The Thunder Said days, the ethos of my musical approach. That has waned somewhat due to the practicality of marketing such events, the difficulty of improvisation as an art form, and my personal songwriter trajectory, but it’s my birthday and I do what I want.
“This show embodies much of what I am about à music that moves you and musicians that feed off of that - more specifically players and audiences who aren’t afraid to express themselves unabashedly, too,” adds Vincent. “Moments of serenity and chaos will definitely be experienced. People who like well written songs and don’t necessarily need a late night should attend this show - people who are interested in different types of well executed music, people who can endure the performance art aspect of jamming, even when it gets a little dodgy or the presence of mind to show up early if they don’t. Oh and they have to be able to be in the presence of cake.”
Capricornia happens this Saturday January 12 at Cannon 205 with the Ragged Bankers, Rebel Rebel, the Baudelaires, Toad House and more. Show gets underway by 9pm and tickets are $10 in advance and $12 at the door. Click on theraggedbankers.com
For the last eleven years, Jeremy Alexander Gilbank, or Jag, has been making music with Sailboats Are White, Low Frequency, Royal School Series, Pneumatic Transit, Gasoline Gathers Hands Gathers Friends and more but this weekend offers up a special 7-inch release with his latest project, Wtchs.
“The fall of 2011, Wtchs began,” offers Jag on the band begun with David Richard Mater, Matt Junkin, and Tori Tizzard. “Junk, as I like to refer to him, we were sitting around, we’ve been friends for years, why don’t we just start a band? We were of the same musical minds so we said let’s start a band. And invited some friends that we felt comfortable playing with.
“I also play with David in Gasoline Gathers Friends Gathers in the live respect not in the recording of the record we just put out this last year,” adds Jag. “David’s in the Royal School Series, too. He’s been a long time friend. And Tori, is part of the scene, is part of Sequin Kit with Brendan Orange. When she came to Hamilton, she’s just a wonderful person and was very fitting and a fantastic drummer, too. We all love what we do and we’re all serious and committed people and it’s nice working with a bunch of people.”
Being inspired by a scene and inspiring others to join in has been a driving force behind everything Jag has done in Hamilton. Name origins and specific notes aren’t as important as tones and feelings. Wtchs most recent cassette release, Wet Weapons, is a hissy, drone-laden onslaught of an experience and Jag and the band hope to gather with like-minded music aficionados. Jag and Junkin recently started up their own zine, Perdu, meant to better reach out to similar souls and are achieving their goals. A four way split with some bands from London and Guelph on Out Of Sound is what Wtchs features this weekend.
“I wanted to play a lot of shows and I saw it as a way of connecting with a lot of other people on a bigger scale,” explains Jag. “The people I’ve met and the connections I’ve made – it’s fantastic. We’re all going to do this, share shows, none of us are making money so we help one another and that’s exactly the premise behind it. That’s why we do zines, make music and just create. It’s about getting everyone involved behind it, and it’s a lot more fun. We played some shows, made some friends and then those friends invited us to put out this record with them.
It doesn’t matter where the name Perdu might have originated or why the band name has no vowels. Not unlike impressionism, it’s more related to how you feel when you see, hear or witness it.
“Yes, I don’t think too much about it, we just do it,” says Jag. ““Wtchs is just a word and I didn’t feel like putting in any vowels in the name itself, It doesn’t mean anything; it just looked nice to my eye at the time. We make art, we love playing live, using big amps making big sounds. There’s nothing else that feels like that. All the Wtchs and Perdu art is courtesy of Matthew Junkin one of my favourite artists in town, responsible for all the artwork and cool poster art around town, we just want to make things as visual as possible and we use art to do that, in its many forms.”
“People call the music have called it post rock, cave pop, stoner goth – I don’t know,” adds Jag. “I know we’re very particular with how we record things, the gear we use, we’re a bunch of gear whores and we’re very particular about sounds. Why do we like these sounds? Why do we like anything? Porn, drugs, booze - It’s something that pleases your soul. I could sit in my jamspace and just look at all my fucking gear all day long, and I do. It’s just something that I’m interested in. It’s the only thing in life that makes sense.”
Wtchs play this Saturday January 12 at This Ain’t Hollywood with I Smell Blood, Wild Domestic and Bleet. Doors are at 9pm. Click on wtchs.ca