Vol. 21 No. 9 • March 5 - 11, 2015 In Our 20th Year Serving Greater Hamilton

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Hamilton Music Notes

by Ric Taylor
January 16 - 22, 2014
Edgar Breau Returns

When word broke that Edgar Breau had a heart attack last November, fans were crestfallen but with an early solo outing to start 2014, Breau is back in better health and with a wealth of news.

    “I’m good shape for the shape I’m in,” smiles Breau. “The doctor expects a full recovery. It was a quite the event and a bit of a scare but they fixed me up. It was a blood clot but good old General Hospital took really good care of me. It does make you think. You do realize how fragile life is and you tend to appreciate every day of your life and take it from there.”

    Breau is readying for a media onslaught with the latest incarnation of his seminal proto-punk band Simply Saucer (featuring Kevin Christoff, Mike Trebilcock and Glen Milchem) with a bunch of new releases and a new biography to celebrate in 2014. Saucerland, a double vinyl record of rarities, is set for release in 2014 as well as a Bullet Proof Nothing 45 due in February, a Hammer City Records vinyl EP in time for Record Store Day called Baby Nova and even a new album of new songs on Byers/Breau’s label Flying Inn Recordings from a different incarnation of Saucer with David Byers and Paul Collili called Saucer 73.

    While excited for all of this activity for Simply Saucer, Breau continues to work in tandem as a solo artist focusing on the psychedelic folk pop theme of his most recent recording, Patches of Blue.

    “While I was off recuperating, I wasn’t too sick to play the guitar and do some writing,” notes Breau. “I’ve got some gigs coming up in the next month or but this weekend is my return to the stage solo. I do intend to keep my solo material going. I had some recordings with Adam Bentley and Michael Birthelmer that’s waiting to be finished so I’m going to continue on a two-track approach to my career. The singer songwriter material is as important to record and perform for me. I’m hopeful to have a new solo recording soon – I’ve got the material.”

    This weekend, Breau teams up with an old friend to offer a special acoustic showcase of his music.

    “We had talked about doing some shows together after Kyle had played on my Patches of Blues recordings at Michael J. Birthelmer’s studio,” explains Breau. “Kyle has his own record coming out this year. Kyle is a guitar legend that has come up alongside Bill Dillon, Darcy Hepner, Danny Lockwood and more. He’s a virtuoso with a style all of his own and I think he’s going to blow people away. I’m going to be doing a selection of songs from Patches and some new songs. Kyle will do a set and then we’re going to play some songs together to close the night. I think it’s going to be a blast.”

Edgar Breau and Kyle Pacey play this Saturday January 18 for the Acoustic Blend Cafe at Melrose United Church (86 Homewood Ave). Doors are at 730 and $12 gets you in. Click on Edgarbreau.com

Jerry Johnson’s  Barber’s Chair

    The son of a steel guitar player, Jerry Johnson grew up surrounded by musicians and eventually made his love for the likes of Jimi Hendrix, Johnny Winter and blues rock in general his life. When he wasn’t recreating the likes of Hendrix, Johnson was writing his own material and six years ago began focusing on his originals when he released his debut CD. With his recently released third all original disc, Barber’s Chair, Johnson has already received a Hamilton Music Awards nomination and accolades aplenty but while Hamilton and Canadians in general dig Johnson, a special hometown showcase for his music marks the start of Johnson embarking on approaching more music fans south of the border

    “I think it’s a progression,” notes Johnson on his recent collection of songs. “As much as I’m pleased with my previous two records, I’m hoping that I’m continuing to learn and develop the craft. I worked with Steve Negus again to produce and record this record. He’s a great guy to work with and knowledgeable in his field and just the best guy to coax the best performance out of me.

    “I was visiting with a friend and I don’t know what I had said to him but he looked at me and said, ‘Yeah, why would you sit in a barber’s chair if you didn’t want a haircut?’” adds Johnson. “Right away, I said that’s lyrics, I’ve got to write that down. From that line, I added to it and made the song and it seemed a good title for this record so I’m really glad I did right that down.”

    With his new CD in hand, Johnson offers a full night of his original music and one that also commemorates the loss of an old friend. Then, Johnson plans to spend the brunt of 2014 seeing how his music will fly in the Southern United States.

    “I’m doing this show and then I’m leaving for Texas in early February,” notes Johnson. “I’m getting to having a real good following in Texas. It’s always sad to hear that “the good news is you’re a great musician, the bad news is you live in Canada”. I love my homeland but Texas is a little bit bigger than half of Ontario and it has almost the whole population of Canada and more importantly, most of them seem to like me. And the culture is quite different between here and Texas. In Canada, it’s tough to get people to come out even on Friday or Saturday never mind on a week night. Part of that is cultural. Down south, they’ll go out every night of the week and the music starts at six or seven o’clock so the people that work the next day can still come out and see the band, have some fun and go to work the next day. On top of that, my style of music is really well received down south. I have to say I am received well here; it’s just much fewer and farther between. The plan is to scope out as many places as I can this February and March and return in the fall of this year for a longer stay.

    “We’re doing this show as a send off and in honour of a dear old friend of mine from high school that died just over a year ago,” adds Johnson. “Mike Clark was a great guy, he died too young and he was a great friend of mine so that’s why we’re remembering him. I’m going to have Steve Negus on drums and Joe Poirier on bass and we’re going to play all the songs off of my three CDs plus a few new ones that I’ve yet to record. I’m really excited about doing this show and getting up in front of some locals and pulling some locals to the Bay City Music Hall. We don’t have an opening act. When I go out to play, I go out to play. I don’t want to sit around or take a break; I want to say, ‘Thank you here’s another song’ and get right to it. I love to play these guitars and that’s what I want to do. All I want to do is get out and play and have some fun with this great music and you will see us having some fun.”

Jerry Johnson plays this Saturday January 18 at the Bay City Music Hall. Doors are at 8pm and $5 gets you in. Click on jerryjohnson.ca

Ian Blackwood and the Bi Polars Play These Roots

    Growing up in Burlington, the Blackwood family would wildly help contribute to the local music scene in a variety of bands. Jen and Sarah Blackwood would both front the Creepshow, while Sarah has now garnered international fame as part of Walk Off the Earth. Meanwhile, youngest brother Ian Blackwood has had a long history in local music as an integral part of bands like Jersey, the Fullblast, Always Outnumbered and more. Ian’s even made a name for himself as an actor these days but he returns to Hamilton this weekend with his brand new musical effort for a special acoustic tinged showcase.

    “The time had run out for me on the project and you get exhausted,” offers Blackwood on the demise of his band the Artist Life that ran from 2005 to 2012. “We put our full length out on April 2011 and it took a long time to make that record and when it came out, eight months later I decided to call it a day and the rest of the band decided to do the same. We played our last show in March of 2012.

    “It was soon after that I hooked up with an old friend,” adds Blackwood. “Chuck Leach and I rekindled our relationship and we started a band called the Noise just as the Artist Life was wrapping up. Writing darker, grungier, minor chord kind of stuff and did that for a year but life gets ahead of you and the band kind of decayed. We put out some cool music on John Fielding’s digital label.”

    Blackwood had moved to Toronto to tap the entertainment industry on a whole. His plan was to do music and acting in tandem so he’d begin the Artist Life and end up being seen on things like an episode on Global’s Remedy, Syfi Channel’s Warehouse 13 or in PC Financial or Ritz Crackers commercials, and more. But after a few years, he’d move a little closer to home and start helping out other artists more.

    Since 2009, Blackwood has also recorded Sarah Blackwood, Ashley Sloggett, and Catapult at his Lime Green Studio in Mississauga but when his sister found international success when Walk off the Earth covered Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used to Know”, he even ended up becoming a technician for that band.

“When the five people and one guitar broke in 2012 everything happened so fast, Sarah ended up calling me to help out but it was all so hectic and I felt I needed to be at home,” says Blackwood. “They needed more of a young buck to do everything they needed.”

    Blackwood continues to act and make music but with a different approach this time out for his latest project, Ian Blackwood and the Bi Polars.

    “Some of the songs rejected from the Noise I still liked and felt they should be heard,” explains Blackwood. “But without a band, the Bi Polars was my idea of being in a band with myself. I play as many instruments at the same time, all on my own, and the name of the band came from the fact that all of the other players are me, so it’s like I have a split personality.

    “I play mostly a Dobro and focus on the blues,” adds Blackwood. “For the past few years, I’ve still listened to the punk, alt rock and pop that I’ve listened to but I’ve been getting back into the blues and try to write more blues. I’ve been listening to Jeff Beck and Stevie Ray Vaughn but my new stuff is more focused on a stomping lo-fi blues from the ‘50s.”

    Ian Blackwood and the Bi Polars focuses on a more roots rock vibe and seemed a perfect fit for a showcase old friend Ben Rispin was putting on at Club Absinthe.

    “These Roots,” offers Rispin on this upcoming acoustic showcase of people more generally associated with harder edged contemporary sounds, “is about a group of musicians playing songs at their purest. Some call it folk, some call it rail road, some call it punk but the truth of it is, is that these are all people who play from their gut, the root of where honest music stems.”

    “I’ve only done this a couple of times but I hope it happens more regularly — I’m bringing the whole band with me,” laughs Blackwood. “An album is definitely in the works but the approach to putting out a record isn’t planned out yet. I wanted to see how the songs go over live first and maybe I can get a better feel for what kind of record I wanted to release. I’m just trying to have as much fun as possible and see if I can actually do this.” V

Ian Blackwood and the Bi Polars play this Saturday January 18 for These Roots Volume 1 at Club Absinthe with Oh Geronimo, The Penske File, Chuck Coles, Johnny Lubera, James Hand and Ashley Sloggett. Doors are at 9:00 pm and $5 gets you in. Click on facebook.com/theianblackwood
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