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

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by Ric Taylor
February 17-23
“I grew up in Caledonia, but face it, there is nothing to do in Caledonia, so you come to Hamilton,” muses Firefly drummer Nick Bailey. “Hamilton was our weekend playground—hanging out at Cheapies, Limeridge Mall, Jackson Square and the Corktown.” The now Burlington–based Bailey hooked up with Waterloo’s Neil Little and Jeff Appel to perform and record as Firefly, and tonight they return to Bailey’s old stomping grounds with a new CD. “I initially turned down Firefly to join a cover band,” laughs Bailey on the early days of their collaboration, “but realized in a matter of days I was going to regret it. So I packed in the cover band and we started rehearsals. It had all the elements I love in music; it had thoughtful lyrics, it was poppy and it was not repetitive because both of the guys wrote and sang their own songs. “The three of us got along immediately and started working over the songs and writing new tunes,” adds the drummer. “The key bonding–agent was a lot of humour and a passion to mix and drink any type of alcohol that was left over in the liquor cabinet. I got the gig because, instead of counting to four to intro a song I used a guttural sound, which made them laugh.” With an EP recorded at Arun Pal’s Kitchener studio in 2003 in the can, the new trio took 2004 to begin fleshing out their own particular style, a new album and the band itself. “Recording Made Me Glad was an awesome experience for us,” beams Bailey. “We got the privilege to record at Scott Merritt’s Cottage Studio in Guelph with not only any incredible creative musician, but also a knowledgeable producer. He spends most his time producing/recording Fred Eaglesmith, Garnet Rogers and other local talents, but Scott did us a great favour. It was a fantastic learning experience with a person that is kind, generous and cares about every person that walks on this earth. I get a sappy talking about him because it was one of those experiences that makes life great. But after we recorded the CD, we realized we wanted more depth in sonic values than we had created, so we looked up an old friend, Larry Guzik, and invited him to join the band.” With a sound that bridges the fragile atmospherics of anglophiles like Catherine Wheel with a renegade roots appeal and energy that spurred the likes of REM in the early days, Firefly’s debut full–length has already garnered the attention of zunior.com music site founder Dave Ullrich (formerly of The Inbreds) and sits for sale alongside other alt.country explorationists like Mike O’Neil, Scribbled Out Man and Ron Sexsmith’s Ukulele project, The Kelele Brothers. Made Me Glad bristles with a pop flair but remains grounded in the earthy roots and rural routes of Firefly’s collective upbringing. “Neil and Jeff grew up in the Kitchener–Waterloo area, but in the countryside, so you will see in our songs a common Canadiana element,” muses Bailey. “We all bring that commonality, yet some very different musical elements also. Neil writes great lyrics that are thought– provoking and you can immediately relate because most of the people listening know what he is talking about. It’s growing up in Canada. It’s Canada’s wasted farmland, it’s growing up in Mennonite country. Neil’s songs are very roots rock, alt.country. Jeff writes from a very different perspective. They may have an ’80s, alt.country or pure country feel, but underlying is a great pop song. “We are a guitar–driven band with lots of vocals and we have a great time onstage,” adds Bailey on Firefly’s greatest asset. “We try to get everyone else to join in our fun, because we love playing together. It’s a howl and it will be obvious by the stupid grins on our faces.” Firefly play The Corktown this Thursday February 17 (tonight) with Onya and Alun Pigguns. With the third edition of the Spring Music Festival upon us in May, festival organizers have been taking their previous experiences and fine–tuning the upcoming 75 artist, three–night event, which is taking on an international flavour. “It was a very well attended event last year,” reflects SMF’s Rob Rapiti on the sophomore edition of the festival. “This year I’m really excited because there is so much thought going into each individual show. We’re not biting off more than we can chew, we’re gathering up and harvesting as many of the players in the industry and I have no doubts that we’ll have another great festival this year. “The biggest development is that we have changed the way the industry conference is run,” adds Rapiti. “We’re trying to bring it down to the streets of Hamilton where the music lives and breathes. The theme to this year’s conference is going to be the state of Hamilton’s music industry, with each topic Hamilton specific. We intend on hosting a panel called ‘Meet The Deal Makers,’ where musicians will be able to meet the players in the Hamilton music industry that can actually get them deals.” Dan Brooks of Key Entertainment (The Marble Index), Tom Treumuth of Hypnotic Entertainment (Kazzer) and Tim Potocic of Sonic Unyon have all reportedly signed on for the conference portion of SMFIII and Rapiti, always business focused, is thrilled to spotlight the industry segments of the music festival. “One of the primary philosophies of the festival has been to showcase up–and–coming talent,” explains Rapiti. “We had 3 Days Grace at the festival before most people knew who they were, so we’re trying to keep to that strategy. We ’re looking at putting on a Songwriter’s Night at one of the venues because Hamilton has an abundance of songwriters. And we’re talking to a variety of managers in Hamilton and Toronto about them having showcases. It looks as though we’re going to have a few showcases from key music companies in Hamilton, and these companies are doing things internationally. “The music industry in Hamilton has matured a great deal over the last five years,” he continues. “We’re getting a lot of good players on the industry side who are working and living in Hamilton, and because they are in the city they are looking more closely to their hometown for talent. With the population that Hamilton has, we have a really good talent pool. What we’re doing with this conference is showcasing the people that sit at the other end of the desk. I can see two or three or five years down the road, the music industry in Hamilton really coming into its own, and just by that you will see more bands from Hamilton being more successful outside of the city.” Rapiti has a scheduled press conference to announce all festivities and details on April 14. A tentative two– day party with a reported 18 band line–up will follow on the 15th and 16th to showcase his Mastermind Volume One compilation CD of the bands that have recorded in Rapiti’s Mastermind studio (including Unborn, Fullsystemtilt, Forever Means Never, Steve Godsoe and more). Meanwhile, artists are encouraged to get involved and win some prizes if they apply for the SMFIII before the April 1 deadline. “Every band that applies will be eligible to win $10,000 in prizes,” offers Rapiti on the new application process. “We want to get as many artists involved as possible. “There have been tonnes of musicians working in Hamilton for years but now we actually have managers, record labels and promoters who are promoting Hamilton music to other countries,” Rapiti adds. “We want to let the musicians know that we have management companies and labels that are based in Hamilton. “They are taking these Hamilton bands to Toronto, to New York to Asia and the UK, and they’re getting deals for these bands in all of these different markets. And you know what? These guys are so approachable and they could do this for a lot of musicians in Hamilton—it’s just a matter of who you know and who knows you.” Spring Music Festival III happens May 12–14 at clubs across Hamilton. For more details or to get your application visit www.SpringMus-icFestival.com, www.Y108.ca, or apply electronically via www.Sonic- Bids.com. And while local festival compilations can be hit or miss, it was the Hamilton Music Scene compilations that documented a rarity in the steel city ’s musical history. As likely to be recording with Dave Rave Desroches or Julie MacDonald as with Lisa O’Neill (Sing Sing), Angela Tillett (Death by Chocolate) or Billy Preston, Jason Frederick has come a long way since his early days in Hamilton with The Walk. With bassist Eric Forget, drummer James Prudhomme, guitarist Jim Cahill and singer Dave Allen, The Walk helped nurture a turbulent scene. A few years later they had recorded two CDs and signed to a major label, but were coming apart at the seams. In the midst of 1997, the remnants of the band carried on for a short–lived project entitled Lomax. “Lomax—the memories,” laughs Frederick from his California home. “It was something we threw together from the members of The Walk—minus our singer Dave Allan—when the band was no longer functioning, but I wasn’t about to let everyone else off the hook so easily. We did Hamilton Music Scene ’97, and a few other shows. I remember La Luna, and something for the Art Gallery of Hamilton, but there may have been others. I think we recorded half a dozen tracks—they’re around here somewhere—with renaissance man Glen Marshall, but they never did get released.” Lomax’s quirky, indie rock love songs are long gone, but Frederick has continued on for the last seven years as a sought–after soundtrack artist and producer with a lifestyle that only allows occasional hometown respites. “I came up for a friend’s wedding and thought I’d stay for a week and catch up, but two days after I arrived I got a call from a producer back here who needed a replacement composer on this Darcy’s Wild Life TV show, or NBC’s ‘Northern Exposure meets Sex In The City for people under 20’ as some call it,” recounts Frederick on his summer visit to the area. “So they found where I was staying in Toronto and couriered tapes there three hours later or something—it never ceases to amaze me how fast these Hollywood types can get things happening when they have to. And when I called them the next morning to say I understood what they wanted, they said ‘Great, we’re having a production meeting in Santa Monica tomorrow, can you make it?’ So I was on the 4:30pm flight that day out of Toronto and we pretty much worked on it every day of 2004 after that.” Darcy’s Wild Life airs on NBC Saturday mornings but Frederick can also be heard on films like Jackhammer (directed by Joe Castro, starring Aaron Gaffey and Nadia Angelini) now available on home video as well as 2B Perfectly Honest, (directed by Randel Cole starring John Turturro, Robert Vaughn, Andrew McCarthy, Hayley Mills) set for release on home video July 1 with bonus features including a Frederick segment on the score. Jason Frederick and The New Stereo Sound is even featured on Warp Back To Earth 2, with re–mixes of music by the Peter Thomas Sound Orchestra (Bungalow Records), but when last we caught up with Frederick in 2003, it was his solo debut CD, It Was The Greatest of Love Affairs, that was about to be released. It hasn’t happened yet—but hectic Hollywood schedules aside, Frederick assures the project will eventually see the light of day. “The hectic TV schedule also explains where I’m at with the record,” confides Frederick. “Now it’s completely done, but all the attention I wanted to pay to it kind of evaporated as we got going with this TV show, and it was all we could do to manage to squeeze in the few hours here and there to do our final remixes to get it ready for mastering (which is being done now). “So if I remain relatively unbusy, like I am at the moment, we can get started on the visual part of it, but as always, you just never know what tomorrow will bring, especially around here.”
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