Tiny Bill Cody is a Charlatan
Tor Lukasik-Foss could be the poster child for the burgeoning arts scene on James Street North. It’s right he’s lived only a few blocks away from that strip for decades now. He’s brilliant, creative and talented in so many disciplines including physical art, writing and even as a musician. But while we haven’t seen much recent recorded product, it might be because Lukasik-Foss has been dealing with being a charlatan. His alter ego is at least, or so he suggests. Grappling with the concept of what makes a performer, songwriter and singer is a cerebral exploration that Lukasik-Foss has tackled this past year. With four upcoming live performances, Lukasik-Foss shows typical novel ways to showcase the subtleties of his explorations in different settings; including the Incredibly Quiet show, Incredibly Fraudulent show, Incredibly Dark show and even a Song Workshop for Charlatans.
“For me, the thought of doing four smaller events is exciting because it diffuses some of the preciousness I usually feel about gigs,” reasons Lukasik-Foss. “This notion that I have to get the show perfect or I won't like what I've done. Doing multiple shows opens up more space for me to improvise, refine, retool, etc. Doing the shows at James North Studio and Artword Artbar, I can really explore the intimacy of the settings, explore the fact that people are prepped for a performance as opposed to a concert, and try to establish myself with people who straddle the music and visual art cultures as I do. Again, I also just want to change the circumstance of the performance so that it feels fresh, makes the audience behave differently, allows me to behave differently.
“These gigs have also come up as part of an invitation by Lisa Pijuan-Namura, an actor and visual artist who is currently programming the space at James North Studios,” adds Lukasik-Foss. “She has a keen interest in the nexus between songwriting and 'one person shows', things that can be theatre and music at the same time. She has been helping me think through my own work a little. I am very pleased to have her help for this series of shows, use them as ways to move towards something that is half concert, half theatre, half performance art.”
In signature style, the math adds up – at least for Tiny Bill Cody, and with these special performances, perhaps fans can be part of the process towards refining just what best makes a charlatan sound on record.
“It's all strategies to get me to perform in slightly different ways,” notes Lukasik-Foss. “Quiet, dark, fraudulent are all filters, things that change how the audience behaves and how you behave toward them. Each has a potential to create an intimacy I think. Each also allows me to frame different pieces of spoken word, different ways to meditate on the overall subject of charlatanism.
“I don't expect to have people signing up for the Grand Tour, but if they do, I think it should pay off,” adds Lukasik-Foss. “Some of the material will repeat, none of it will be done the same way though, and there will be lots that's specific to each show. My hope is to distill 'Tiny Bill Cody is a Charlatan' into both a recording and a kind of polished one-man performance piece. Those are the baby steps before it morphs into a Broadway spectacular, and its own line of self-help cassette tapes.”
Tiny Bill Cody is a charlatan at the Incredibly Quiet show (Thursday March 21 at James North Studio, 328 James N., 8pm $10), the incredibly Fraudulent show (Saturday march 23, Artword Artbar, 15 Colbourne St., 8:30 sharp, $10), the Incredibly Dark Show (Thursday April 4, James North Studio, 8:00, $10) and the Song Workshop For Charlatans (Thursday April 18 James north Studio, 6-9pm, $20). Click on www.tinybillcody.com
Independent Music Festival 2013
A new four-day festival happens this weekend that hopes to showcase music from around the world in a very Hamilton setting.
Promoter Steve Denyer began in the Toronto scene and over the last nine years has gradually been moving westward with his company North Shore Entertainment, starting as a restaurant manager and slowly gravitating into a music promoter six years ago, finally bringing live music to the Underground, off and on, beginning a little over three years ago. Recently, Denyer has returned to the Underground and focused on promoting live bands regularly on Friday nights.
“Essentially, we’re just looking for an element of sustainability,” explains Denyer. “I’ve been busy, I’ve recently gone back to school, but I was finishing up and I thought it was a really good opportunity to stay and focus on this. We’ve decided to do Friday nights rather than going full blast and walk before we run. There have been some good bookers and talent buyers that have gone through there but I’m not going anywhere now and we’re going to make it work this time.”
Bands have again performed at the Underground over the last few months, but Denyer quickly decided to break his own rules and ramp things up for a weekend of entertainment.
“I got in there, got a few shows under my belt and then I got the itch,” reasons Denyer. “I’ve been involved with some really great festivals and events over the last four years, like Toronto’s Indie Week. I realized this is something I’ve wanted to do for a really long time in Hamilton, so I thought why not? I’ve always supported local and independent music, it’s always been a passion of mine and essentially that’s where the name came from. I think it’s a great opportunity for the local artists; it’s like a measuring stick to put their talents up against world-class independent acts.
Denyer has fostered many a relationship with Hamiltonians, which has been the mainstay for his current bookings at the Underground, but he’s also developed friendships with the people behind Toronto’s Canadian Music Week. With that event attracting hundreds of bands to Hogtown, it was reasonable to think that perhaps a smattering should also visit Steeltown.
“You build up friendships and there is a lot of community with musicians,” offers Denyer. “Robin Benedict, Dawn and Marra, Dawn Before Descent, POE, Re-Wind, Katie Bulley – the list goes on and on and this is an exciting time for me, to get them the opportunity to play with these other bands from all across the world. So I got in touch with Toronto’s Canadian Music Week Festival and found out about some of the acts applying early on and worked out which bands were going to be in the area and give them an opportunity to do a couple more shows while they were already in the area.”
Artists from South Africa, Australia, Iran, Sweden, Luxembourg, Greece, England, the US and Canada all gather for IMF 2013 over four nights this weekend at the Underground intermingled with a strong Hamilton contingent.
“I’m so excited with every night,” smiles Denyer. “For a number of years, and this is just my perception, the Tiger Cats or anything, we’re always comparing Hamilton to larger cities, to strive to the next level. We’re very proud of our city but I don’t think we really need to step up to that level. We’re already at that level in terms of music and the arts community. I don’t think there’s a person that would argue that. I don’t feel the need to make this event bigger than it is. It’s just an opportunity for Hamilton to showcase to the world that this is something that we can do.
“I want to provide something a little bit different that’s going to excite Hamilton but bottom line, I want the bands to be happy and the fans to be happy,” adds Denyer. “That’s how I gauge success for any event. We’re having a lot of things coming up, we will continue doing Fridays at the Underground and there will be lots more to come.” V
The Independent Music Festival 2013 Happens at the Underground (41 Catharine St. N) with Robin Benedict, Dirty Names, Georgia Murray, Son Of A 1000, Let’s Buy Happiness on Thursday March 21 (8:00pm); Re-Wind, Jonny Debt, Bad Captain, Blackchords, My Excuse, and Blackboard Nails on Friday, March 22 (7:00pm), P.O.E, Anne Chaplin/Stefan Guy, Drew Leith and the Foundation, Frantic Sunday, Katie Bulley, and the Rabid Whole Play Saturday March 23 (1:30pm) and John Kirby, Rend, Rebel Hero and Silvergun and Spleen playing Saturday March 23 (8:00pm) and Dawn and Marra, Dawn Before Descent and Angel At My Table on Sunday March 24 (2:00pm). Tickets for each show are $8 in advance or a weekend pass is $20 via ticketscene.ca or $7 at the door.