Discography is definitely not just another DJ night. Like a chef infuses into a culinary creation – choosing special ingredients, combining them in complimenting and contrasting ways and presenting them in such a fashion to create a delight to the senses, the deejay has as much to consider in their aural art, or at least they should. Since disco and house music helped create dance club culture decades ago, the availability of growing technologies of the last decade has made everyone think they can be a deejay – but like a true chef, there is an art to the beatitude of the beat and it’s that masterful presentation that the organizers of Discography hope to accent.
“The idea for Discography has been percolating in my brain for a year or two now,” explains Dr. Disc owner Mark Furukawa. “Since I was already a veteran DJ when Dr. Disc opened in 1991, I made sure the store catered to DJ culture from day one and it only made sense to have staff that were fluent in that realm. Fast forward to present day – looking at Dr. Disc employees, co–op students and hangers–on – both past and present – that were and still are involved with DJing brought about the idea for an event dedicated to showcasing their talents. Thus the idea of what was to become Discography was born. However, that remained sort of a passing thought until one day I walked in the back room of the store and Andy Inglis and Shannon Ramnarain (both ex–Dr. Disc employees and DJs) just happened to be visiting.”
“I was talking to Shannon (DJ Shan) and Aaron Sakala (DJ Realistic) about how many Hamilton DJs have worked at Dr. Disc at one point or another,” interjects Inglis, who has been working in record stores since ’94 and DJing since ’00. “Myself, DJ Shan, Realistic and Devious (Damian Mitchell) all worked at one point together at Dr. Disc and we’re all still spinning over a decade later. I’ve often boasted that I could play a party and also keep fairly current with my vinyl collection.”
“I think people are sick and tired of DJs who just press a button on a laptop and then just assume the ‘Jesus pose’ – two arms outstretched towards the audience as the computer does all the work,” adds Furukawa. “I told Andy and Shannon about my concept. They loved it; Andy christened the event “Discography" and we were off to the races.”
With Discography’s launch in July, the accent on the biweekly event at the Baltimore House is on the art of spinning vinyl and consequently the selection and presentation of the music for the event. Music retail has seen a marked resurgence in vinyl and Discography is a live showcase of the new old medium.
“We love the challenge vinyl gives us,” notes Inglis. “There’s no last minute downloading of a track. If you don’t own the record, you simply don’t have that song to play. You don’t have a BPM counter; you don’t have a wave map of the peaks and drops in the track. You don’t even have an elapsed time counter to let you know when the song is ending. You have to be far more intimate with the song. The fact that it’s a vinyl only night, I think, is more important and fun for the DJs playing the night than it is for the dance floor fans but I think what sets us apart from your average club night is our years of experience.”
“Discography is not about songs, it is about music and I think that is what sets it apart from other DJ–driven events,” adds Furukawa. “Discography is built around DJs that intelligently craft a set of eclectic music based on their own personal tastes and history – keeping in mind the needs and mood of a particular audience. Anyone can be given a list of 10 songs and play them, but only a good DJ can play those songs in a certain order and mix them in such a way that it gets a crowd moving and grooving.”
With a host of guest DJs over 8 sessions, this week DJ Dopey (Jon Santiago) will be Discography’s first non–local guest DJ for a special costume themed Halloween edition.
“The DMCs are equivalent to the Olympics of DJing and DJ Dopey was crowned DMC World DJ Champion in 2003,” offers Furukawa. “He has been a DMC competitor, musician, DJ and personal friend for well over a decade now. He has taken his time to judge many DMC regional mix–offs over the years, including in Hamilton’s for the last several years, and is a prime supporter of hip–hop/turntablist culture in Canada. DJ Dopey is also a virtual magician when it comes to playing and manipulating vinyl records and as great DJs do, he’ll be displaying his formidable skills while keeping the crowd jumping performing a club–oriented set versus a turntablist–style showcase.
“Discography has evolved since its inception,” adds Furukawa. “The event is basically an organic musical concept that is constantly in flux since the DJs rotate every session and as a result the vibe and musical selection change every time the doors open. Discography is for anyone who loves music – and loves to dance or just have a good time. If you do attend, and you should, be prepared to be very pleasantly surprised.”
The Halloween edition of Discography happens this Sunday October 27 at the Baltimore House with DJs Dopey, Andy, Mark and Donna Loveless. Music starts at 10pm. Click on facebook.com/Discography
The Fat Cats Return
The Fat Cat’s have been Hamilton’s premiere jam band for the better part of two decades. Fans knew when the Fat Cats played live, it was time to party. With the release of Shine Box last year (their third album and their first in 14 years), fans believed the Fat Cats were stepping up their game for the future but suddenly last summer, word came down that the Fat Cats had hit turbulent waters and were calling it quits after their performance at the Come Together Festival. But after a line up change, fans can breathe a sigh of relief with the Fat Cats return this weekend.
“I think after 20 years the guys were simply tired,” offers founding drummer Adam Bernstein. “Everyone has jobs and some have families of their own. It’s difficult to juggle home life and the band. A decision was made to pack it in and it’s interesting because the guys had just released their third album and were nominated for a Hamilton Music Award.”
Bernstein grew up in Dundas in the ‘90s, attending Parkside High School while playing in a band called High Times, but when that band broke up, he and bassist Dave Hill would start the Fat Cats in 1992. After 17 years apart, he was excited about getting a call from his old friends recently.
“I’m lucky to be part of a legacy of Fat Cat drummers,” offers Bernstein. “Myself, Joel Stouffer, Jeff Cowell, Adam King, and most recently Eddie Max have all manned the kit and contributed to the band’s sound. I played drums with them for just over 5 years until I left when I had the opportunity to move overseas. I lived in Seattle Washington for 5 years where I switched my focus to playing guitar and writing. I spent a long period without my drums.
“While they were tired, I think that music courses through their veins so after a short hiatus they decided to play a small acoustic show,” adds Bernstein. “They contacted me to do the show and we all thought it would be fun. We then decided to do the show electric and it felt really good. So here we are with a show this Saturday. It just kind of happened. I am living in Oakville now and I must say that being reunited with my drum kit and the guys that I spent some of my most formative years with recording, touring, and having a hell of a lot of fun feels pretty good.”
Long time fans will note a subtle difference with the latest incarnation of the Fat Cats featuring Bernstein (drums), Dave Hill (bass), Chris Gatchene (guitar and vocals) and Todd Gillies (guitar and vocals) and while the future of the band may still remain tenuous at best, Bernstein confirms, the love of the music and the fans is always a huge motivator for these musicians.
“We’re really playing this Saturday night but it is difficult for us to say what the future holds for the band,” confides Bernstein. “We’re enjoying our time now and I think the quality of the music reflects this but we are down to four members. The keyboards are definitely missed, as is the most recent player, Josh Williams. He’s a dear friend of the band but it is easier to get four busy guys together than five though. Also, if there were to be a positive, the absence of the keys does create open spaces for the guitars to be heard in other ways. Simple chords that would have traditionally fought for space now ring true.
“The band has a catalogue of three albums on iTunes plus many songs that were never recorded so we also have some new songs ready for performance and Todd and Chris are actively writing more but really if we’re going to speak of the music of the Fat Cats it is the live shows that stand out,” adds Bernstein. “This is a band that has known each other for a long time and always strives to take advantage of the relationships to make each song new each time it is played both through interpretation and improvisation. This show will be four guys looking to put on the best show possible, which for us means staying in the moment and trying to make things happen during jams. I hope it is, in a way, a reprieve of the good old days but just not only that.”
But will the good ship Fat Cats now stay on course?
“That’s the big question,” shrugs Bernstein. “I don’t know what being on course looks like but I think we’re all enjoying the ride.”
The Fat Cats Halloween Party happens this Saturday October 26 at This Ain’t Hollywood with Toadhouse and more. Doors are at 9pm and $10 gets you in. Click on cdbaby.com/Artist/TheFatCats
63+73 – A Celebration of the Music of the Beatles
With a couple of special anniversaries looming, Christopher Clause returns offers a return to the Beatles tributes that had so spiced up James Street South. Much has changed for Clause in the last while; he recently released his latest full–length vinyl recording and he and his congregation vacated James Street Baptist Church, the venue that had housed many a tribute over the last decade and he’s recently focused on family life more than the Fab Four but it’s hard to shake the Beatles bug. With a slew of local talent Chris Clause celebrates the fiftieth anniversary of the “With the Beatles” album and the fortieth anniversary of the former Beatles solo recordings of 1973 this weekend with the goal of raising funds to help local musicians.
“My work as worship pastor continues, and we as a church want to continue the work we have been doing by helping those in need,” confirms Clause. “Fermata, which has helped three individuals in 2012, is a benevolent fund helping those musicians and artists in need either by request or by suggestion by others. My eventual hope is to see a building that offers health and dental care to musicians and artists who don't have a health care plan and supporting those in the city who inspire and revive us. This is a huge dream right now, but the immediate goal is to assist those in the regular day–to–day lives.
“My hope when we were doing all of the Beatles' album tributes was that we would complete the cycle up until where we started, which would be doing the years 1963 until 1965,” adds Clause. “When we lost the building, my venue was gone. I had no idea what these shows were going to look like, let alone if I would hold any more shows in the future. And although I had slated a live album to be released and I am working on a new album of worship music, the Beatles' anniversaries always loom large in my life. 1973 was an important year for the solo Fabs with the release of four very good records: “Mind Games”, “Band on the Run”, “Living in the Material World” and “Ringo”. For Paul and Ringo, they had released their most popular albums to date. So, I decided that it would be fun to trace the development of the Beatles in 10 years time: 63+73 and celebrate five albums in one show. This time out, not only did I have a chance to pick new musicians but I also picked a new venue.”
With a relocation to the Pearl Company, this Beatles 63+73 tribute includes Dawn and Marra, Trevor Howard, John Mamone, Jeremy Guther, Bob Bryden, Kim and Frank Koren, Fred D. Smith, Spider Costello, Josh Lamothe, Deborah McIvor, Gentleman Spectres and the Kings of Marigold featuring Clause (guitar), Michael Scott (drums), Andrew Aldridge (guitar), and Peter Taplay (bass).
“Any fan of pop music can understand the importance of "With the Beatles": with its artistic approach to the front cover photography, to the introduction of double tracking voices, the first use of a four track machine in the studio and the surprisingly good original material surrounding their live material perfected in Hamburg and beyond,” offers Clause. “It is a tour de force, filled with energy, youthful vitality and great ensemble playing that makes this music still relevant in a culture that glorifies fun.
“Our shows always seem to be a cross section of the local music scene, and it allows a chance for artists who may not be so well known around the city gain exposure,” adds Clause. “You get to see the best musicians in the city at a very aesthetically pleasing venue, and get to enjoy some of the best pop music from the ‘60s and ‘70s. The material challenges the artists and more often than not, they are able to create some very memorable interpretation of the original work. Audiences leave these shows feeling good, uplifted, and feeling a weight has been lifted from their shoulders, and really, isn't that the goal of all great art?” V
63+73 – A Celebration of the Music of the Beatles happens this Saturday October 28 at the Pearl Company. Doors are at 8pm and $10 gets you in. Click on footrecords.ca