Daniel Lanois Greenbelt Harvest Picnic 2013
Daniel Lanois’ time in Hamilton was very influential and while his mom still lives here, there was a time where it was a little more difficult to chat with the internationally renowned and much in demand producer and musician. But with the third annual Greenbelt Harvest Picnic, we get to chat on a yearly basis now.
A host of stellar talent — including Emmylou Harris, Whitehorse, Trixie Whitley, Rocco DeLuca, Pegi Young and the Survivors, Basia Bulat, Arkells, Harlan Pepper and Ohnia:kara – is set to join Lanois this year for the harvest festival that celebrates great music and the surrounding farming communities.
While it was big news to have Lanois old friend scheduled to headline this year, Neil Young and Crazy Horse cancelled the North American leg of its current tour including their Hamilton performance last week after Crazy Horse's guitarist Frank Sampedro injured his hand. The GBH festival carries on with an apropos replacement.
“In terms of involvement, I’m more of a figure head but I’m there in full force with Emmylou and I’m prepared for across the board involvement for anyone that would have me in their set,” smiles Lanois. “Unfortunately, a member of Neil’s band hurt is hand and he had to cancel, and so there we were left with a festival to put on. Thanks to J.P. [Gautier, GBH Festival organizer], he gave Gordon Lightfoot a ring and Gordon said he would help us out. How great is that – that we could have another Canadian icon taking the stage?”
A late ‘60s era Canadian folkie that made massive headway in the American market with the Billboard number one “If You Could Read My Mind” and more — and one that continues to perform and engage today as a musical icon, and even one that has ties to Lanois as well, Lightfoot offers the best possible replacement — given two week’s notice.
“I played guitar on one of his records and he presented me with a lifetime achievement award a few years back,” says Lanois on Lightfoot. “I have a star on the sidewalk somewhere in Toronto and Gord gave me that. I think we’re very lucky to have Gord and it’s very sweet of him to help Neil and the festival. As I said to JP, if we’ve got a beautiful day, we’ve got a lot of great talent and now we’ve got Gord – I feel pretty good how well we’ve pulled it together this late in the month.”
Many of the musicians involved end up having a musical relationship with Lanois — Trixie Whitley sang in Black Dub with Lanois and Rocco DeLuca has one of the latest production credits for Lanois.
“Trixie has her own band and promoting her new record,” clarifies Lanois. “I’d love to have her as a guest in my set later in the night if she’d grace the stage with her presence. Rocco DeLuca is someone who I’ve just mixed. Not a lot of people might know of him but I hope they do after this recording. He’s going to be rocking the joint. He’s a blues based Los Angeles artist. Someone I have a high regard for musically and philosophically. There are days I wish I were Rocco DeLuca, he has a better life — he doesn’t have a mortgage.”
Lanois recently also produced the Killers latest album, “Battle Born”, but has spent more time making his own music of late. With a recent tour of Japan and one planned for Scandinavia later this year, Lanois is excited about a new album of his own.
“I am performing more,” confirms Lanois. “That’s going great and I think my guitar playing is better than ever. That’s the nice thing about the road, you get stronger. I have a very adventurous record pretty much finished. It’s a very laboratory [what Lanois calls his recording studio] driven record and I’m very proud of it. It might have some of my best sonics. It looks like we might be releasing that record with a label called Vanguard out of LA and we were thinking of calling it Vanguard. These sonics we’ve gotten on this record, I’ve never heard them before, certainly not from me.”
With a new album on the way, Daniel Lanois is performing at the top of his game, is a top in demand producer, in love with his life’s work and excited about coming back to the Hamilton area to celebrate the place where it all began for him.
“I’ve still got the bug, I wouldn’t wish it upon anyone else, but it does mean a lot of work,” admits Lanois on his passion for creating, performing, and recording music. “And I’ve always had fond memories of Hamilton. From the industrial part — where I’d go and park by the factories and just sit there, that was my idea of meditation — to the outer limits where we grew up having terrific foods available on the roadside out in the country; tomatoes, corn and further north, blueberries. You can take it for granted as a kid but after some time away, you realize how special it is. It’s nice to be coming back to those values.
“That’s what the Greenbelt Harvest Picnic is about,” adds Lanois. “I really enjoyed the temperament of the entire day last year and how people embraced the mass of it. It’s not driven by any given act, it’s about the day and we still stand beside that this year. I’m excited to do my own set and it’s always a pleasure for me to get to play with Emmylou. For my set, I’m hoping to have a few guests come up. Trixie, Rocco, Harrison Kennedy maybe and even Tom Wilson perhaps. We’re all disappointed that Neil couldn’t make it, I’m sympathetic to other people and their disappointment but we’re moving on and doing the best we can and I think we’ll hold our heads up just fine and it’s time to party.”
The Greenbelt Harvest Picnic happens Saturday August 31 at Christie Conservation Area. Tickets are available for $99.50 plus service charge via ticketmaster.ca
Monkeys With Machetes
Featuring Colby Simms (rhythm guitar and vocals), Keith Anderson (lead guitar and vocals), Eric Baldry (bass and backup vocals) and Marcus Perry (drums), Monkeys With Machetes have a band name you might not soon forget. But with their minds set on becoming memorable in Hamilton and beyond, the young quartet are hoping to gain a lot of new fans for their experimental rock music with their debut CDEP set for release this week.
“We started in high school with the name A Bunch of Nubes and then changed to Metaphysics to Serotonin and then from a weird discussion and a weird viewing of the Planet of the Apes movie, to Monkeys With Machetes,” recalls Simms on the band name origin. “We started laughing about it because it was so ridiculous but then you laugh less and start to like it a little bit more.”
“It is definitely easy to remember,” adds Baldry. Recording their debut CDEP at B–Town Sound, Monkeys With Machetes offers a hard rock sound that veers into different sonic territory with every song, an idea that was by design.
“We consider ourselves experimental metal,” offers Baldry. “Our songs have metal at the root but with this album specifically we did a lot of work to blend in other genres to see what we could get. Our next recording will be more typical metal but with this one we wanted to showcase the different sounds we could get out of the group. It was more of an experiment.”
“We definitely have a song for everyone on this CD,” interjects Simms. “There may be someone that likes classic rock or progressive rock and you’ll find that on one of the songs on our new CDEP. But if you come to the live experience that is Monkeys With Machetes, you’ll find that we’re very diverse where we might be playing something really smooth and then just start screaming our brains out. That’s where the experimental part comes in. When we started this band two years ago, we knew we didn’t want to play the exact same song every time. I don’t want to play the exact same thing every time I play the guitar. I want to be able to feel the art and do whatever might come to mind.”
“We play our sound and then try to pick the genre that fits it rather than thinking about playing a genre,” adds Baldry. “We don’t want to limit ourselves and that’s why we call the music experimental metal, we write the songs without being tied down.”
While it’s meant to push the boundaries of predictability, the music is also meant to offer an escape for listeners. For the live shows, MWM just want to entice people to have a party with them and their CDEP release party this week is meant to underscore that fact.
“This album is just the appetizer — that’s why it’s only a few songs before we release the full length album,” says Simms. “We’re getting ready to get back into the studio the week after we release this disc. We’ve got a list of shows coming up. But for this show — right from the first song we ever made — whether it’s more metal, rock or even jazz/pop — we just play to have fun. We just want to have a really good time.”
“That’s why we made the CD release party a no cover show,” adds Baldry. “We don’t want people to think, ‘do I want to pay cover for these guys I haven’t seen before?’ We just want people to come out and have fun, listen to our music, drink some beers and have a good time.”
Monkeys With Machetes plays this Thursday August 29 at the Casbah Lounge with Good God Damn, Amber Damned and the Tracks. Doors are at 9pm and there is no cover. Click on facebook.com/MonkeysWithMachetes
D–Toxx’s Tha Hangova
You can only be known as the Alcoholik MC so long before matters come to the fore. For D–Toxx, otherwise known as Dave Fawcett, being the Alcoholic MC lasted nearly two decades but his last album marked a question of conscience and things getting more serious. With his latest full–length recording dubbed Tha Hangova, we learn of the aftermath of a lifetime being a hip hop party animal and mark a new phase in D–Toxx’s career.
“After “No Turnin Back” was released, life became bittersweet for me,” explains D–Toxx. “Although I got positive response to the darker, more real life based music, and that spawned tons of shows and opportunities musically, financially I needed more than the music was providing. I put music aside for a bit, and focused on work, between trying to juggle 3 children, and a 50 hour a week work schedule. It left little time to write, let alone record. Then fall last year my engineer Quentin [Brillinger] came to me about the idea of doing a new album, even it was my last, he suggested “Tha Hangover” kind of a what– happens–after–the–partying–was–done kind of record. It got me thinking about ideas and concepts, next thing I knew I was back in the booth.
“Although this album has a few Alcoholik MC party tracks, it's called Tha Hangova because a majority of the songs are more representative of situations you'd encounter in a more day to day basis after the party is done,” he continues. “The party thing was fun, but life isn't quite the lights and glam it used to be in my younger days. This collection of songs covers such a wide variety of topics, from love, parenthood, partying, bullying and the list goes on. I wanted this record to make people think, and to stand out, I find a lot of what is coming from Hamilton blends together, I wanted this record to be different from anything else out right now. Anyone who is getting bored with the “bling bling, pop–a–molly, look how much money and woman I got” type of music that seems to be the primary focus of mainstream hip hop music will find some musical relief listening to Tha Hangova. It's like lyrical Advil for the commercial headache hip hop has become.
“A lot of my fans have been with me for years, some right from the beginning, and a lot of the people listening to me are in similar situations, working full time, supporting their families,” adds D–Toxx. “Although we all like to party from time to time, as I get older I feel a need to touch on topics in a way that will connect with people my age, as well as send a positive message to the younger audience, if we can party and learn something at the same time, it's a win win situation.”
With slick production and sharp rhymes, D–Toxx is at the top of his game on Tha Hangova, perhaps less hindered by the alcohol that once so inspired. But while this might be his greatest work, Tha Hangova also brings word of D–Toxx taking on a different role in Hamilton hip hop.
“This will be my last full length studio album release,” confirms D–Toxx. “I will still be doing some features for other artists, and maybe a single here and there. We are currently going though everything from all 8 D–Toxx releases and plan to release a greatest hits CD next year entitled Last Call, but aside from that, all my time put towards music will be used to help younger, new artists establish themselves in the music scene. Over the years, I’ve gained an enormous amount of knowledge in different areas of music; from recording, beat selection, CD duplication, promotion, the list goes on. I want to give that back to the up and comers who need it.
“I plan on staying closely tied to our urban community, though, shows, networking, and presenting new artists to the scene,” adds D–Toxx. “If we can help youth pursue a passion for music, it gives less time for negative influence to take their lives in a different direction; I guess you could say we are offering a D–TOXX program that helps them to never get into a situation where they need an actual one.” V
D–Toxx plays this Saturday August 31 at Sam’s Place (623 Barton St. E.) with Hamilton’s Finest, Mena Steel and Mr. Burns. $5 gets you in; $5 gets you a disc. Click on www.facebook.com/dtoxxhipop