Vol. 21 No. 4 • January 29 - February 4, 2015 In Our 20th Year Serving Greater Hamilton

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Hamilton Music Notes

by Ric Taylor
March 20 - 26, 2014
Deathpoint’s Sinister

Deathpoint isn’t quite the same band that started some nine years ago in bassist Brad Gold’s parents’ home with guitarist Cameron White and drummer Mike Labate. With the eventual addition of vocalist Jonnie Barr and guitarist Henry Jodersma, the quintet seemed poised for big things by the time they turned 20 and released their debut album Fixation in 2010.

    But shortly after that epic debut, White opted to focus on his studies (computer engineering at the University of Waterloo) and was replaced by guitarist Tim Ross for the band’s August 2011 Suffer CDEP release. But that was only the beginning. The new Deathpoint disc, Sinister is now being promoted by a whole new band with Tim Ross the only member still remaining from the old days.

    “I joined about 10 months ago,” explains latest vocalist and Hanover native Tom Emmans. “I’m originally from a band called Odium and I played a lot of shows with Deathpoint and became very close friends with them. When they lost their original vocalist Johnnie Barr because he damaged his voice and couldn’t do it anymore, they asked me to come in, do the record, and see how things went. When we were done doing the record, I felt really at home being in Deathpoint so I decided to join full time. I’ve been here ever since but some of the guys have since left. They decided touring and stuff like that wasn’t really for them and they wanted to go on with their careers. They had good jobs so I can totally understand that because I’m really good friends with them. Right now, it’s a very transitional period for the band. Brad helped start everything but he had some medical issues and wasn’t able to tour and now Brad has recently let us know that he probably won’t ever be able to do it.”

    Joining Emmans and Tim Ross (rhythm guitar) in the newest line up of Deathpoint are Anthony Puddu (lead guitar) Kyle ‘Tiny Basstank’ Clark, (bass) and Nick Davey (drums). Sinister produced by Thomas Ireland and Rob Mckurcher at Icehouse Studios showcases a similar groove heavy, technically proficient metal Deathpoint of old including re–recordings of the songs from the band’s last official CDEP.

    “We always would like to think it’s better,” offers Emmans on the newest incarnation of Deathpoint. “We’ve got some really good players in the band now but I don’t want to take away anything from the old guys as well. They really did a good job. Although we are doing the Sinister album and that includes the old band’s songs and it sounds like that. It’s a different band but I don’t know how different a band until we go in and do the next record.”

    When four/fifths is gone of the original line up, Deathpoint may have considered a name change but the massed contributions of the dozen or so musicians involved upholds the band’s dark metal legacy took influence from As I Lay Dying, In Flames, or local heroes Threat Signal. With the new album ready, a special and bizarre showcase brings Deathpoint to Hamilton for a showcase with indie–folk troubadour Wax Mannequin and the Monsters of Schlock — dubbed the ‘world’s most extreme two man circus sideshow comedy magic extravaganza’.

    “With every show, we’re just going to bring as much energy as we can to the stage,” says Emmans. “I can’t wait to be playing with this new lineup. And I can’t wait to watch the other acts as well. It’s going to be all stuff from the Sinister album and I think people are going to be pretty happy with what they see… We have been described as metal core and I totally understand that. While I don’t like to classify our music like that, it does give people a pretty good idea of what we’re going to be doing.”

Deathpoint plays with the Monsters of Schlock on March 22 at the Bay City Music Hall with Wax Mannequin. Doors open at 9pm and tickets are $7 in advance or $10 at the door.
Click on deathpoint.bandcamp.com

Tor Lukasik-Foss Invites You to Sing Like Pete Seeger

    American folk singer and activist, Pete Seeger, holds a special place in music history with songs like “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?” “If I Had a Hammer”, and “Turn! Turn! Turn!” and even has a special connection with the city of Hamilton. So when Seeger passed away on January 27, of the few Hamiltonians I would have said should lead a Seeger tribute, Tor Lukasik–Foss would have been in the top three. As an artist, writer and musician, Lukasik-Foss has forged an incredibly original path like few others from this city and musically, he took great influence from Seeger.

    “The genesis for the show was that Florencia Berenstein, the new director at the Workers’ Arts and Heritage Centre, contacted me and we started a conversation that maybe Hamilton had a responsibility to do something,” offers Lukasik-Foss. “It makes sense for WAHC to be part, as Seeger was such a Union supporter—he even came to Hamilton to sing during the big steel strike in 1946 that lead to the formation of the local 1005.”

    “Pete Seeger is a really fascinating musician, who straddles a really odd yet critical place in music history,” adds Lukasik–Foss. “He’s a hero because he’s this hyper–left leaning communist tree–hugger who stood up to a McCarthy–era blacklist with total balls, never once backing down from his convictions. On the other hand he’s this super–square, super positive folkie who pulled the plug on Bob Dylan when he went electric, and who always sings a little like a children’s entertainer, even when he’s not singing to kids. But it’s that square part that I love, because it comes off as pure, unfettered, unrepentant optimism. It takes a real set of balls to be that optimistic and to not cut your optimism with any kind of irony, or edge, or swagger. I think ‘folk’ as Seeger practiced it, is more about the context of the music rather than the form. If people gather to sing along, to listen, to learn, to be edified more than to be entertained, with an expectation to be activated by the content of the music, than I think it’s safe to say that the circumstance is ‘folk’ to some degree.”

    Steve Sinnicks, Sarah Beatty, Dan Medakovic, Rae Billing, Mimi Shaw and Orange McFarland, Ben Bowen, and more join Lukasik-Foss and his alter–musical–ego Tiny Bill Cody for an afternoon concert and sing–along that will raise funds for an appropriate beneficiary.

    “Florencia and I talked about the varying facets of Seeger and who he was, pro–labour, environmentalist, civic engagement, and then we shortlisted some organizations we thought would like to be involved,” explains Lukasik–Foss. “It seemed important to make this event a fundraiser, because it felt wrong to think of revenue coming out of the event. Environment Hamilton is a grassroots organization with a good track record, and what I would describe as an optimistic activism that fits in well with the spirit of the event.

    “My thing was that it couldn’t just be a tribute concert,” adds Lukasik–Foss. “We had to do it during the day, encourage all ages to come, and make it more of a sing–along than a concert. That’s how Pete would want it, I think. It starts at 2pm because we wanted to stress the all–ages aspect. We wanted to make it as accessible as possible, make it a thing you do after you buy your Saturday groceries at the Market or Mustard Seed, or that you toddle over after your rock and roll hangover breakfast. You don’t want to hear “Where Have all the Flowers Gone?” at 1:30 in the morning after seven pints. You want it to ring out in the sunshine with the wholesomeness of a just baked loaf of spelt bread. If it goes according to my dreams, people will come and be reminded of the simple power of gathering and singing. Music doesn’t have to be just at night, in bars, draped in leathery sheaths of cool. It can be earnest and innocent and friendly, too. It doesn’t make me a pie–eyed hippy to enjoy music that way.”

Sing Like Pete happens this Saturday March 22 at the Workers’ Arts and Heritage Centre at 2pm. It’s a pay-what-you-can event with a $5 suggested donation. Click on http://wahc.server261.com/events/category/event/

Lori Yates Returns

    With a three–decade plus career as a renown singer and songwriter, Lori Yates had spent the last few years reexamining her muse. By the time Yates and her family moved to Hamilton eleven years ago, she’d already done the major label/Nashville grind and came out of the ‘music industry’ wanting to do things independently in a more real locale like the Hammer.

    Yates’ first Hamilton recordings, 2007’s Book of Minerva, won accolades and new fans but it also pushed Yates’ in a more folkie direction that wasn’t quite comfortable. Spending the next few years exploring her muse, Yates would form the Evelyn Dicks (with Buckshot Bebee and Chris Houston) and the Nashville Rejects (with Steven Miller, Pete Sisk and Ted Hawkins) to follow the cowpunk alt–country that first inspired her to start making music. Two wildly successful tribute variety shows with the Nashville Rejects and dozens of guest vocalists focused on the music of Johnny Cash and some inspirational female artists in traditional country. It kept Yates in the spotlight but she wasn’t singing her own songs anymore and slipped easy into the less creative role of promoter and host until she had an epiphany that would help find her own voice again.

    “My best friend, Steve Jones, died two years ago — we were friends since I was fourteen,” recalls Yates. “It shook me up a little and made me realize there was no more time to waste with the things I wanted to do. And then my good friend [comedian] Shelley Marshall told me that she started saying, ‘yes’ to more things and amazing things started to happen for her. It made me want to think differently about everything. Different gigs I might have not done for whatever reason – I just started saying yes to every idea and opportunity.”

    As a boisterous and humorous performer known for a stellar voice and a personality that shined as bright, Lori Yates started exploring other creative avenues over the last year that focused on more than just singing. Yates did whatever she felt like doing including not one but two photography shows in the span of six months, a stand up comedy routine, a story telling spoken word event and a songwriting workshop she’d been previously toying with for three years.

    “Shelley Marshall wrote me and said, ‘I think you should pop your comedy cherry on my show’, and when I saw the email, like a bold of lightning shot through my body of terror and then I figured I wasn’t going to not try doing comedy because I was scared,” explains Yates. “Being afraid to fail was not a good enough reason to say, ‘no’ any more so I agreed, wrote a filthy song with a friend of mine and did part stand up and part musical comedy. It was fun but it was terrifying though. I’ve been on stage for 35 years but comedy is a different animal. It was as scary as singing for the first time. Then I was asked to be a part of a spoken word show, Steel City Stories. I know what it’s like to be in front of an audience but storytelling again is a different genre. It was a neat opportunity outside of my comfort level and I just knew I had to try that. It ended up being really special.

    “I wouldn’t be pompous and say that I wanted to share my gift of songwriting but people often asked me for help on songs they were writing,” adds Yates. “People were looking at me in a mentoring role and so I put this workshop together that would help people write the song, record the song and perform the song. Figuring out where to record or how to get a gig, there’s so many facets a new songwriter might want to learn so at the end of the four-week workshop, you’ve written four songs, recorded them and you’ve played a gig. It’s been a lot of fun helping all of these people.”

    With a wealth of non–singing creativity, Yates now realizes it’s singing that makes her happiest. She’s assembled a new band — featuring Andrew Aldridge (guitar), Michael Hickey (bass), Sean O’Grady (drums), and Steve Wood (pedal steel) — and this weekend, Yates offers solo return and one that is sure to please the longtime fan or act as a primer to learn the brilliance of this songstress.

    “Finally, any misery of being in the music business — and I don’t consider myself in the ‘music business’ anymore, I don’t think that there is a ‘music business’ that I’m aware of any more —  the thing that makes me really happy is singing,” beams Yates. “Creating music, singing in bands, playing with other musicians — I need that in my life. I’ve gone through periods without it and I’ve just got depressed. As long as I’m creative, I’m having a good time. It’s great to get out, have my iPhone with me; meet some people, take some pictures, make some music — it’s fantastic.

    “I’ve done the tribute variety shows and the Evelyn Dicks shows and maybe a song with somebody else here and there but people kept asking me, ‘when are you going to do your own show?’ and that was always a good question,” adds Yates. “I haven’t done a show of my own in two or three years so I’m very excited about this one. I’ve got a new band and we’ll be playing some new stuff and some tunes I probably haven’t played in twenty–five years. You know, I started doing this because I loved to sing but people know me more these days as this filthy–mouthed hostess — which, I don’t mind — but I’m also a singer and that’s my first love so I’m getting out there and doing it.” V

Lori Yates plays this Saturday March 22 at the Pearl Company with Buckshot Bebee and Duane Rutter opening. Doors are at 7pm and $20 gets you in. Click on loriyates.com
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