Vol. 21 No. 8 • February 26 - March 4, 2015 In Our 20th Year Serving Greater Hamilton

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Hamilton Music Notes

by Ric Taylor
March 6 - 12, 2014
93.3 CFMU FM – Raise Your Voice

In this age of free instant music, TV, movies and more, it’s important to support a voice that champions the underdog. Since January 1978, McMaster University’s CFMU FM has offered different thought, art and music from a wealth of international and more importantly local voices. If you’ve ever wondered what it might be like to hear what Hamilton Music Notes sounds like, you could listen to my radio broadcast Friday afternoons from 5pm to 8pm EST on CFMU. Even in this modern age, there is just some culturally enriching entertainment and information that is worth supporting with your money and with their annual fundraising campaign dubbed, Raise Your Voice, 93.3 CFMU is again appealing to the greater Hamilton community to step up.

    “I think people are aware that you have to support what matters,” offers CFMU Program Director, James Tennant. “The people who download the most free music are also the most likely to buy vinyl or go to shows or buy T–shirts, you know? CFMU is about music, promotion for local artists, multiculturalism, inclusion, news, discussion, publicity for charities and not–for–profits, ideas. These things have value, and having a one–stop platform for all this — a multi–faceted platform on the internet and terrestrial radio — well, that has even more value. Our fundraiser does better every year we do it, so I think people are becoming more aware of the value.

    “What matters most to me is not how much a person can donate, but that a person donates something — it’s about the show of support,” adds Tennant. “Ultimately, the students fund much of what CFMU does, and the community benefits. When the community steps up and donates — even five bucks — it shows they understand, they care, and they support what we do. That said, the financial support is always needed. We serve the Hamilton community so much, and it’s only at this time of year that we ask for something in return. The money goes to general operating costs. That includes everything from software to hardware, turntables to computers, web design to transmitter upkeep. It also goes to human resources, which are invaluable.”

    With a goal to raise $21,000, every show is appealing to listeners to help keep the station going for another thirty–six years. With so much variety between programs, so many factions of communities are reached but for many, campus radio has always been the best friend to the independent and local musician. As such, the Raise Your Voice fundraising rock show helps to close off a week of fundraising with a wealth of underground sounds as well.

    “Collectively all the small donations add up to a lot,” says Tennant. “What you get is a stronger voice for the community, the knowledge that you’ve supported a worthy cause — or many worthy causes, if you think about it — and that you’ve really helped become part of a community by being a donor. Don’t forget, every single donor is welcome to come down and volunteer themselves — to be a part of what we do.

    “CFMU is the microphone that amplifies the community’s voice,” adds Tennant. “You can engage, you can be a part of it. We’re not stuck in the past, we’re moving forward; we need your help to do so. Live shows are important because everyone should be out supporting live music, of course. It’s also a fun time, a way to celebrate all the hard work the volunteers have done for the fundraiser.”

The 93.3 CFMU FM Raise Your Voice Fundraiser happens Friday March 7 at This Ain’t Hollywood with New Slang, Canadian Winter, Haolin Munk, Illitry, Ka$hkaval, ttwwrrss. Doors open at 9pm and $8 gets you in. Click on http://cfmu.msumcmaster.ca

Tim Gibbons and the Swampbusters

    With a career that stretches back some four decades, Tim Gibbons has been a fixture on the local music scene with the Shakers, the Trouble Boys, the Drifting Drawers and more. Over the last two decades, Gibbons has offered some eight discs that offer a wide palette of styles exploring folk, country rock and the blues. His stories about his musical career involve guest appearances from the likes of the Tragically Hip, the Cowboy Junkies, Teenage Head, Daniel Lanois and Billy Bob Thornton but while he’s made his way to Hollywood and back (yes, that’s a Gibbons song on the Slingblade soundtrack) the grit of Hamilton style blues is what he wants to talk about this time around. Tim Gibbons has spent the better part of the last five years touting the banjo but his latest efforts see him return to the guitar as well. TG and the Swampbusters officially release “Swamp Tooth Comb” this weekend and it’s time to recognize the brilliance of one of Hamilton’s great musicians.

    “I know it sounds bizarre to say it but it was demand,” says Gibbons. “I was playing the banjo and everyone that was supporting me all requested that I play the guitar again. When I did begin to play the guitar again, I suddenly got hired to be a guest at these blues matinees. That started to pick up and a couple of years ago I was doing a New Year’s Eve gig with Dave Rave and I was playing the banjo. I just played that thing so hard by the end of the show; the banjo looked like a crossbow and just didn’t bother fixing it. I went to the guitar and haven’t been able to go back. It’s a funny thing about a band — I wasn’t looking for a band but Nick Burson (drums) and Bucky Buchannan (bass) were hanging out and we just started jamming and the next thing you know, I’m in this killer band. It just seemed to make a record with this band.

    Songs like “Play Me Some Blues and Keep It Country” are indicative of the music Gibbons felt inspired to create.

    “The song title — that was something somebody said to me at a gig and it stuck in my head,” explains Gibbons. “As everyone knows, the blues originated on the back porches in the country folk and then it got electrified. I think what it means; the sentiment when you keep it country is you keep the intent and flavour of that music which is strong stuff. It’s not too slick and show–busy. For blues, when an artist gets it right, I get really excited by it. There’s that rawness, that element of grit that makes it really the adult stuff. That’s the kind of music I like best.”

    Solid, raw and with a hint of humour flavouring the whole project, TG and the Swampbusters give you the real stuff right between the eyes. It’s an infectious blues with real soul and for the CD release, Gibbons assures TG and the Swampbusters will further upon bringing the blues how they see it come to life.

    “When you play with real blues musicians, they’re really smart musicians and they’re really great to be around,” says Gibbons. “I just try to be humble and learn from those people and I still do. It’s what I want to play. People will say, ‘Well, you’re from Hamilton and you should only play folk songs about steel mills’. You can’t listen to the outside opinions when you’ve got that fever and you want to learn an art form that might be considered retro or passé or out of the past. You just turn that racket off and say, ‘that’s other people’s problems’. You focus in on learning this stuff and getting as close as you can. You don’t just hear it on records; you have to experience it live — you have to hear the buzzing of the amps. I’ve dedicated my life to doing that but that’s just my quirk.”

TG and the Swampbusters play this Friday March 7 at the Casbah with the Nicoloff Brothers and Nine Lives. Doors are at 9pm and tickets are available in advance at Picks and Sticks and Dr. Disc for $10 or at the door for $15. Click on timgibbons.ca

Rachel Heart

    While Hamilton born Westdale High School and Mohawk College graduate Rachel Heart spent her youth in love with making music, it wasn’t until her family had grown that she felt more comfortable following her musical dream. However, the now Port Dover resident’s more rare appearance on the local stage this week might mark the beginning of more of a regular occurrence for Rachel Heart.

“I’ve been playing shows for roughly the last ten years but I’ve been writing songs for a lot longer than that — maybe twenty years,” recalls Heart. “There are a lot of influences in the music that I do but when I want to listen to music and chill out I’ll turn on some Lucinda Williams or Neil Young or Blackie and the Rodeo Kings. I like to create a little bit of a rocking out atmosphere and sometimes bring in the cosmic hippy type feeling to it. Some call it Americana but I just call it alternative.

    “My most important priority until now has really been my children,” adds Heart. “When my first album came out, it got a lot of attention and I was leaving home a lot. But I wasn’t that kind of mom. I put the brakes on that a bit. I played choice gigs with some neat opportunities but regular gigs in Hamilton; I couldn’t reconcile that as a mother. We did music whenever we could. I had three boys and they’re all teenagers now.  Over the last few years, my kids started encouraging me to go out and play. They’re ready for something like that so I’m ready to get things going a little bit.”

   Heart has two albums worth of material to draw from including 2006’s Warrior and 2011’s self–titled sophomore CD recorded with Trevor Titian at Orcana Studio.

    “My first album, Warrior, was recorded at the Shack with Bob Lanois and my husband Will Macaulay,” notes Heart. “Will has been in the scene longer than I ever was playing with the Shameless Hussies and other bands. He made a lot of connections and friends along the way. The first album was an analog recording with everything stripped down and it was about where I was at that time. It was kind of hanging out on my own, I didn’t hang around with a lot of musicians, I was figuring more it out all on my own. I think it was a woodshed album and a release. It differs from the second album because of that approach. We fleshed out my second disc with a band so it’s a little fuller because of that. But live, Most of the time I perform with my husband as a duo and we get a lot of music happening with just the two of us. Being together, we have a lot of connection on stage and that helps develop the sound. I’m looking forward to developing new relationships with musicians around the area and looking for new opportunities and new places to go.

    This weekend, Rachel Heart plays a novel space and hopes the opportunity arises to make some new connections and fans to further her musical endeavors.

    “I’m building a new album now that will be hopefully recorded in the fall. I really want to really enjoy these moments and be present in that moment and make real genuine connections and make something happen for a new album based on what I have ready,” offers Heart. “When I play Homegrown Hamilton, I hope the audience sees a confident woman with some great musical abilities. I want to offer something to inspire and maybe touch. I talk a lot about my own experiences, inspirations and growth in my songs because that’s a deeper well to draw from and it’s been good to me. I’m hoping people connect with that and me.”

Rachel Heart plays this Saturday March 8 at Homegrown Hamilton with Jamie Shea and Deeps. Doors are at 7:00pm and $5 gets you in.
Click on music.cbc.ca/artists/Rachel–Heart
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