Vol. 20 No. 16 • April 17 - 23, 2014 In Our 17th Year Serving Greater Hamilton
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Hamilton Music Notes



by Ric Taylor
December 12 - 18, 2013
The Ladybird Animal Sanctuary presents A Holiday Benefit Concert

While Melissa McClelland, Lisa Winn and Janine Stoll came together as the Ladybird Sideshow super group, their penchant for three part harmonies wasn’t the only thing they realized they had in common. A mutual love of animals and an intense desire to help animals in distress transformed the singers into animal rescuers when they formed the Ladybird Animal Sanctuary to help aid animals in distress. Since January 2011, they’ve rescued 281 animals but this weekend, the Ladybirds offer a holiday musical concert to raise awareness and money to continue their work.

    “Luke and I are in the studio working on our next record which is due out next fall,” offers McClelland, who with husband Luke Doucet released the stellar “The Fate of the World Depends on this Kiss” as Whitehorse in 2012. “I’ve been so busy with Whitehorse the last couple years that I haven't had much of a chance to collaborate with others, or dig into my older material. I love my Ladybirds and I love singing three part harmonies with some of my favourite voices on the planet. I’m glad this event is turning into a real tradition. There should never be a time when we neglect to help those in need – human or non. I’ve always held the belief that because we domesticated these animals, it is our responsibility to make sure they are properly cared for. These animals cannot take care of themselves, so it is up to us to protect those who are neglected, abandoned or abused. This event is a fundraiser, but it is also a time to celebrate all the work that we’ve done as a Ladybird community this year. We’ve come a very long way with the help of some wonderful people in the Hamilton area. We want to open the doors to anyone who wants to be a part of what we’re doing.

    “The three of us launched Ladybird Animal Sanctuary just under three years ago,” adds McClelland. “We are now a registered charity and have rescued hundreds of domestic animals from high-kill shelters. This has impacted the community through our amazing system of foster homes, volunteers, adopters and the wonderful animals that come through our doors. We don’t turn away from ‘hard to adopt’ animals like seniors or those with medical issues. We have rescued animals and taken them straight into intensive surgery, paid for expensive meds, given them donated makeovers, and the result is an animal that is no longer afraid, in pain or discomfort and can live out their years in a loving home.”

    When they come together, the Ladybirds are pure bliss musically and when they come together and offer their fundraiser, their real love for what they’re doing fills the room. It’s a rarity for them to be in the same room these days so their holiday fundraiser is certainly noteworthy for the music and the cause.

    “This event will be for everyone — animal lovers, music lovers, those who would like to do some holiday shopping at our silent auction and Ladybird merchandise table,” offers McClelland. “We’ll also have a Santa photo area and signature Ladybird cocktails for sale — Catnip and Hair of the Dog. It’s a pay-what-you-can donation at the door, so we hope people will feel free to just come check out what we’re all about. If you can’t attend the event, there are many ways to give to Ladybird over the holidays. You can send a gift donation to a loved one through our website or contribute to our ‘30 Rescues by Christmas’ campaign. Every penny we raise goes towards helping animals. We are 100 per cent volunteer based, so every little contribution goes a long way. Right now, we are a system of volunteer foster homes. Our goal is to attain land and open a sanctuary where Ladybird can function. We would like to start rescuing farm animals — we rescued Claudette the chicken last month! Our music will definitely be a part of what we do — this is the best way us Ladybirds know how to communicate! Last year, on the Whitehorse tour, I spoke about Ladybird every night on stage. I feel lucky to have a bit of a platform to reach out to those who connect to this issue.

    “The girls and I have only played maybe one or two shows together in the last three years or so,” adds McClelland. “I think we’ll be singing all over each other’s songs, because we never get to do this. We’ll be singing in-the-round style, each of us featuring our own songs. Expect to hear some lush three-part harmonies and maybe some animal rescue anecdotes. Our friendship has definitely taken on new meaning since we transformed from a musical group into an animal rescue group.”

The Ladybird Animal Sanctuary presents A Holiday Benefit Concert this Friday, December 13 at This Ain't Hollywood with the Ladybird Sideshow, Christine Leakey, and Clear Stone. Doors are at 9pm and it’s a pay-what-you-can cover with a suggested entry $20 and all proceeds will go towards Ladybird Animal Sanctuary and helping animals in need. Click on ladybirdanimalsanctuary.com

The Punk Rock Toy Drive

    Dunnville transplant, Ryland Crookall had moved to Hamilton in 2001 and by 2006 had formed a punk band and released Gnarly Skull’s debut CD, Four Sheets to the Wind but the drunk punk stalwarts seemed to fade away from local stages not long after their CD release. Recently, fans were excited to discover that Crookall and company have transformed the band and returned to the local stage — this weekend, even offering a holiday benefit with a different kind of show.

    “When we put out the album a few years back, we were having problems with our line up,” explains Crookall. “We lived in different cities, my brother quit the band to go to McMaster, and our work schedules made it difficult for us to play. Since then, I’ve moved back to Hamilton, we fleshed out the band with a second guitarist, found a new drummer and we’ve been on a rampage ever since.

    “I’m a Christmas nut,” adds Crookall. “I love the crappy holiday music, the lights, the food — everything. As you know, Hamilton does have a lot of families that depend on food banks and toy hampers and the need gets worse every year. I just wanted to do something nice for a change and donating money and toys to the Good Shepherd just seemed right, after all.

    Connecting with long time punk promoters Brad Sumak and Jamie Problem, Crookall spearheaded putting on a punk show to help the unfortunate.

    “I contacted Jamie and Brad to get on board because Jamie has two great bands and a history of playing and organizing benefit shows,” says Crookall. “Brad recently booked my band for a gig and he’s a great guy with good connections to get this thing off the ground. As far as the choice of bands goes, I just contacted bands that I’ve either played with and had a great time, or bands that I had wanted to play with. I’m really excited about the line up we have and Bay City Music Hall is a killer venue. Brad brought his pals the Gentlemen Thieves out, I brought Nothing Helper, my favourite Brantford band, and Jamie has his two-piece garage-punk outfit Artificial Dissemination. Toys or money are fine to donate. I asked the Good Shepherd what they most needed and they said that toys for the 12 to 14 year old age bracket are in the highest demand so $10 or a new unwrapped toy will get you in. If it’s dollar store junk, we’re going to make you pay 5 bucks. It’s Christmas, don’t be a cheap prick. All money and donations are going to the Good Shepherd food bank; I appreciate the work they do for the underprivileged in this city. Hell, they fed me when I got out of jail.

    “Fans of high-octane rock and roll who want to do something to help out the less fortunate are what we’re after for this show,” adds Crookall. “Every dollar and toy raised is a step in the right direction. Even if the night isn’t a crushing success, maybe people will be inspired to help out on their own. All it takes is one person to think, ‘If those Gnarly Skull jackasses can do this, what's my excuse?’”

The Punk Rock Toy Drive happens this Friday December 13 with Gnarly Skull, Kryptcreeper, Nothing Helper, Artificial Dissemination, and the Gentlemen Thieves at the Bay City Music Hall. A new unwrapped toy gets you in or $10. Click on facebook.com/GnarlySkull

The Reason’s Tenth Anniversary

    When the Reason started out, they were a bunch of excited youth hell bent on taking on the world but ten years have now passed and while the passion for the music remains, Adam White (vocals, guitar), James “Cubby” Nelan (guitar, keyboards, vocals) and Ronson Armstrong (bass) are a little more world-weary.

    With three full-length albums and three CDEPs, the Reason built their success with a relentless touring schedule and quickly moved up in the ranks from uber-cool indie label band to rock radio success but after ten years, they realized it may be time to reflect. With a story fraught with major labels, major touring, major disappointments and even two recent major traffic accidents just a few weeks ago, the Reason are looking forward to celebrating ten years of music.

    “The tour had already ended and we were just trying to make our way back safely,” recalls White on their recent tour tragedy. “We got into two accidents in two days. The first one broke our spirits and the second one basically made us give up and we decided to fly home because we thought it was stupid to get back in that van. It was the scariest, shittiest thing that has ever happened to us. It took everything out of us. It was a tough tour to begin with, we dealt with a lot of weather and factors that made it tough. Just trying to get home to play the tenth anniversary show we’d set up and even Burly Calling — we had to cancel that — it was just terrifying and it really makes you think about other things that you’ve got going on. If we were 23 and that happened we would have said, ‘Fuck it. That was cool — let’s write a song about it.’ But we’re in our thirties now and two of us are married and one of us is getting married and we’re in a spot where we have to think about other important things in life. I don’t want to go because I fucking crashed a fucking van in Saskatchewan. That’s not how I want to leave this world. I want to do other things in my life. I want to keep making music so we’re just not going to tour western Canada in the winter months. It’s just not worth it.”
    While touring will now be seasonal, the Reason still believe the music is worth it. Regardless of all the things that come with being a rock and roll band, it’s the band’s determination that seems to be the point underscored in the documentary currently being filmed about the band.

    “People hear your stuff on the radio and they don’t know your band really well and they might think your famous and have a ton of money,” notes White. “But people don’t know we live day to day, pay check to pay check. We all work when we’re home. None of us have super nice stuff; we just do this because we love making music. We’re trying to make it a reality check versus some of the other documentaries coming out about success stories. We never had any luck, we’ve worked for everything and we’ve had some success but at the end of the day, we’re just like everyone else. We want it to be real. Our band has an interesting story and that’s what we want this documentary to be about.

    “Our history, It’s been a collection of ups and downs,” adds White. “I look at old photos like when we first started playing community halls, to when we did our first Smallman Records tour in 2004 to when we played Edgefest to 12,000 people. For me it’s the live shows. All the bullshit that goes on and on in the music business, for me, it’s the time that you’re on stage that’s most important. It’s why we’re here and why we’re doing this. I look forward to putting it all out there and playing a show. I guess you do need the industry side of things to keep it going, but if you can’t connect with an audience, you’re not doing anything right.”

    The Reason has continued connecting with new audiences with this year’s Hollow Tree CDEP but this weekend, the band hopes to connect with everyone that wants to celebrate the band’s long and varied history. With drummer Serge Sargento and recent addition guitarist Dan Hay, the Reason aren’t the new kids on the block anymore but they also aren’t ready to quit. For the Reason, it’s just time to celebrate ten glorious years of a life in music.

    “It feels like it wasn’t ten years ago,” says White. “It’s kind of flown by and I think that’s a good thing. The anniversary party’s going to be equal parts from the very first EP to stuff we haven’t even recorded yet. It’s not just a couple of sprinkles of the old stuff. We want to do it right. This is a show we’ve been wanting to give people for a while and it’s going to represent our whole catalogue. We’ve picked a really good set list. We hope everyone has a good time and maybe brings back a little nostalgia with this show. The songs were all written by the same people even though we’ve gone through some changes. It’s the same people — the same energy and the same passion. We’ve made a real special set that’s going to start and end with a bang and everything in the middle is going to be meaningful and special. We’re going to give everything we’ve got — we’re not the E Street Band and going to play four hours but we’re going to play a nice compact set and hope that we can do the most off of every record. We’re going to have five cameras filming the show for the documentary so anyone that comes to the show will be a part of it and we hope everyone comes out.

    “I wouldn’t have done it any other way and we’re proud of everything that we’ve accomplished,” adds White. “We’ve been a little sentimental and nostalgic for a while, and it was a rough couple of weeks there with our near death experiences but it’s time to put this year behind us and start something fresh in the New Year.  Maybe we’re not at the point that we hoped to be ten years ago, but we’ve been through a lot and accomplished a lot. I think we’ve put out some really good music that has done stuff for a lot of people so we’re proud, happy, nostalgic and humbled.” V

The Reason’s Tenth Anniversary Party happens this Saturday December 14 at Club Absinthe with City and the Sea, Say Yes and the Monarch Project. Doors are at 8:00pm and tickets are $10 in advance or $15 at the door. Click on thereasonmusic.com
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