Buckshot Bebee and the Secret Boyfriends
Lynn ‘Buckshot’ Bebee has been making music in Hamilton for two decades. She came to local fame fronting the Poisoned Aeros but as that band would self–implode, Bebee explored collaborating with Lori Yates and Chris Houston in the supergroup dubbed the Evelyn Dicks but seemed to be content with the irregular live gig, as she channelled her artistic bent into her burgeoning fashion career as co–owner of Blackbird Studios (with Kerry Wade). Fashion has offered many new experiences and artistic ventures but for Bebee, there was no getting away from making music again, and when she found some ‘Secret Boyfriends’ to make it happen, Buckshot Bebee was singing again. Three years in the making, Buckshot Bebee now returns with her most confident and competent recording to date, Merchants of Youth.
“I have to perform — I’m happiest when I’m on stage,” confides Bebee. “I love theatre and music, I’m trying to let it go but I can’t. I had taken a couple of years to get balanced with Blackbird and to figure out where I was going with that and now we know where we’re going but with idle minds, you start writing and the music just starts coming back.
“After a while, I had a lot of songs ready to record and I was looking for players,” adds Bebee. “I knew Andrew [Aldridge, Toronto transplant who had played with Sarah Slean, the Wild Strawberries and more until a few years ago relocating to the Hamilton area] was a really good guitar player and one day he showed up at Blackbird Studios and I played some of my songs for him acoustically and said I wanted to make them sound more like Queen, Thin Lizzy, Mott the Hoople. I wasn’t sure if he would be interested in something like that and then he showed me his Queen tattoo and we immediately connected. I was taking things more seriously, and I knew I needed really good players and I needed someone who was going to be able to bring it to a place that we could record and that was Andrew.”
Gathering Aldridge on guitar, Greg Brisco (Dinner Belles) on keyboards, Gene Champagne (Killjoys, Junior Achiever) on drums, and Paul Cameron (Race, Downboy) on bass, Bebee swirls Bowie and Blondie into her musical palette and paints a colourful take on arty ‘70s glam and kitschy ‘60s girl groups for the modern age with a distinctly dramatic flair all her own.
“I get all of those references but this album is a whole bunch of genres mixed together but it has some continuity as an album,” says Bebee. “I didn’t set out to make a conceptual record but you could see that. It is story telling for sure. I’m a songwriter first so these were tales from the street. It’s not as heavy as the Aeros. I wouldn’t classify it as a rock record but more of an Adult Contemporary Alternative record or even a pop record.”
Produced by Aldridge and mixed and mastered by Nick Blagona “Merchants of Youth” is thoughtful rock and often easy to dance to. Bookended with the ‘messed up suicide’ of the early ‘70s Bowie–esque “Mad World”, “Merchants of Youth” offers some punk tinges that harkens back to the Aeros in “Let Go Van Gogh” but channels Freddie Mercury’s high drama in “Final Farewell”, an Ian Hunter swagger on “Loveless”, the camp fun of the New York Dolls on the Darcy Hepner horn filled “Coma”, the modern femme fatale a la Debbie Harry on “Sorry Eyes” and more. Whatever colour she chooses, in the end it’s her inimitable style and grace that paints many a picture into a cohesive collage. With plans afoot to take the show on the road, Bebee promises long–time fans won’t be disappointed with the live show developed for the new songs.
“I am getting older,” reasons Bebee on the album title Merchants of Youth. “I’ve been in the music industry for a long time and I’m also in the fashion industry now so I know how both of those industries cater to the young. I just wanted people to know that we are merchants of youth but you have to keep in mind that we do get old and you will change from your high gloss photos. The whole merchants of youth theme is about a materialistic world but there is more out there.
“I don’t think you’re ever too old to rock and roll,” adds Bebee. “I definitely want to reach a larger audience. Touring is good for music because I like to perform. The record that you hear, I can do this live but I have to build a bit of a show. I just can’t get up on stage and just play. If you’re going to come and see my show, you’re going to see a show. I want to develop it and get bigger and just do it – I’m happy then. I’m really proud of what we’ve done so far. This is a killer record that’s really well produced and I think there are some strong stories that people will be interested in. This is who I am, an artist, at work and at play, and I finally feel settled with that. I don’t feel I have to accomplish anything more, I just have to keep doing what I’m doing.”
Buckshot Bebee and the Secret Boyfriends play this Saturday September 28 followed by Tongue Fu. Click on buckshotbebee.com
TV Freaks Two
With their sophomore full–length album, TV Freaks offer a tour de force embodied by the album artwork’s homage to Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. But fear not, this is no ’60s pop but pure TV Freaks — frenetic, angst ridden, full–throttle punk that pulsates like a reading of the song titles — “Rewind”, “Knife”, “Overreacting”, “Battle” — with an energy and style that is capturing the attention of many new fans. TJ Charlton (guitar), Nathan Burger (drums), Kevin Bell (bass), and David O’Connor (vocals) return with TV Freaks best album yet, simply entitled, Two.
“I don’t like to stick a name on a record because then it becomes whatever you call it and I would rather have it be just an album of songs,” offers O’Conner on the simple title. “None of the songs have a theme, they’re all written at random. It’s in the vein of classic punk, it takes elements of that but I’d like to think the end product is evolved from three chord punk. I think we were going for a sound on the first LP but I think we’re comfortable in our playing enough that we can venture off and do different sounds and songs.”
The energy and excitement is still there for the self–proclaimed spastic, treble loving freaks and with the new release, the band is developing some interesting hogtown fans. TV Freaks were recently asked to be a part of a special Toronto musical tribute with new bands covering important Toronto releases and they even recently got put on a very rare gig thanks to fan and friend Dallas Good of the Sadies. Good and Don Pyle of Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet had also come up with the novel idea to recreate Alice Cooper’s “Love It To Death” album for a one off Toronto show and were keen to include TV Freaks.
“The Misfits are one band that we all agree we were influenced by,” explains O’Conner. “So Ian Romano who produced our first record had given a copy of it to Dallas [Good] who then gave a copy to Don Pyle and they both liked it. Dallas had just joined Carreer Suicide and we were at the bar after one of their shows and they told me about this Alice Cooper thing. I really love that record a lot and we mentioned we’d done a Misfits set last Halloween, and Dallas became really stoked. That Dallas and Don would even know or even care about us, I really look up to those guys. It’s an honour. Just because they play in more country or surf bands, they know more about punk then some other so called punks.”
With more notable fans becoming TV Freaks freaks, O’Conner and company went all out with the Sean Pearson produced recording and the artwork they assembled themselves. With Two, TV Freaks offer a modern punk masterpiece from every perspective and they’re excited about taking the new music to the live stage.
“I wanted to do something crazy and grandiose but honed the idea down,” recalls O’Conner about the Sgt. Pepper homage. “It’s 80 percent an actual photo. TJ and I designed the whole thing. It was a big production but I think I’ve heard more complements on the album artwork then on the music itself. It’s probably all of our proudest moment in music so far, and we’ve all been playing in bands for ten or fifteen years. These are good songs and I’m really proud of them.
“Anybody can get into the TV Freaks especially when we play live,” adds O’Conner. “People seem to enjoy themselves. I used to get naked and get vicious because that’s what punk was but these are more complete songs so I get to focus more on the performance rather than just going crazy and knocking over beer bottles. I’m not getting any softer just bringing new elements to what we do.”
TV Freaks play this Saturday September 28 at Happy Hours with Born Wrong, Eraserhead and Nice Head. Doors open at 9:30pm and tickets are $5 in advance or $7 at the door. Click on teeveefreakzz.bandcamp.com
Andrew Amoah is a musician, television personality, promoter and blues music fan that has assembled a full day of activities for the blues music fan in an event he calls the Blues Explosion (not to be confused with Jon Spencer’s band of the same name).
“I’ve resigned myself to serving local music arts, whether rich or poor, it’s the thing that gives me pleasure,” notes Amoah. “Whether it’s singing or promoting, I’m at my most happy when engaged in the arts. I’ll always love the blues. I had a very successful blues concert in 2008 presenting blues harp legend, James Cotton. The overwhelming positive response convinced me to do a future even bigger show. To be honest, I’d contact managers of some well known blues legends and months later find one blues legend or the other in the obits columns. I felt an urgency to do something quick, while we had some of these icons still around. i wanted to present a complete, ‘true’ blues show.”
Assembling a host of musicians with associations to the Rolling Stones, the Blues Brothers, Chuck Berry and otherwise, Amoah includes a local component as well as a vendors expo for his Blues Explosion.
“Matt ‘Guitar’ Murphy was a legend way before playing Aretha Franklin’s husband in the Blues Brother’s movies,” reasons Amoah. “He had played with blues icons Howlin’ Wolf, Memphis Slim, and James Cotton – a virtual living breathing history of the blues. His jazz blues fills and guitar runs, legendary. Eric Clapton worships the ground that he walks on as can be witnessed by the ovation Mr. Murphy received at 85 years young at a recent Clapton’s Crossroads Guitar Summit. A 2003 near fatal stroke had left him virtually unable to play and 10 years later he is back in fluid exceptional playing form confirming his enduring legacy. Sugar Blue’s harp wizardry is perhaps most evident in his association with the Stones. His trademark harp riff in the Stones song “Miss You” ranks as one of the greatest harp riffs in Rock music history. His participation in four subsequent Stones albums and sessions with Bob Dylan, Stevie Wonder and headlining festivals around the world, makes me proud to have him on the Hamilton stage. Lester Smith (local harp whiz) has ventured to Mississippi to engage in Sugar Blues’ master harp classes and is more than thrilled to grace the stage with him. The line up of the acts was deliberate. The veterans – Matt ‘Guitar’ Murphy, Sugar Blue, Eddy ‘the Chief’ Clearwater (Magic Sam, Buddy Buy) – share the stage with established younger artist (Alvin Youngblood Hart–Grammy winner and acoustic blues guitarist/singer genius and future blues great to watch out for Rachelle Coba who Matt Murphy has handpicked as a protégé, guitarist/singer phenom from Kansas City.
“I was blown away by Six Nations Blues heroes Pappy Johns blues band, after seeing them at a recent festival, and guitarist/singer Josh Miller is one ‘heavy’ musical tour de force. I truly believe that Hamilton has some of the finest musicians in the musical planet. The Hamilton All Stars Blues crew are a virtual cornucopia of versatile musicians that belong on, and have played on the international stage, matching toe to toe with any heralded musician anywhere. Danny Lockwood (drums) Brian Griffith (guitar) Neil Nickafor (bass) Chris Chambers (guitar) Lester Smith (harp) and sweet music will ensue, while backing Matt Murphy.
“I’ll forever champion the small local business. 1pm till 8pm is a free festival in the Hamilton Place lobby,” adds Amoah. “We are highlighting local scrumptious food, arts, dance, psychic booths, face painting for the kiddies One of a kind antiques, legends autograph signings over 35 vendors, workshops, demos and local music from Sara London, Katie Bulley, James Anthony and more. If you are a music fan of any genre, come out for an evening that true blues aficionados can’t fathom. All have never performed in Hamilton, A few, never in Canada, and definitely they haven’t shared the same stage ever.” V
The Blues Explosion happens this Friday September 27 at Hamilton Place with Matt ‘Guitar’ Murphy, Sugar Blue, Eddy “The Chief” Clearwater, Alvin ‘Youngblood’ Hart, Rachelle Coba and more. Click on biggysoundsentertainment.ca