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
May 1- 7, 2014
The Ladybird Animal Sanctuary's Third Annual Spring Fair

    The only thing bigger than the Ladybird Sideshow’s collective voices is their hearts. While they came together for a mutual musical admiration, the Ladybirds have transformed their mutual love of animals into a non–profit organization to help animals in need. With their annual Spring Fair this weekend, Melissa McClelland, Janine Stoll and Lisa Winn are focusing their talents on raising money to help more in–danger animals with their Ladybird Sanctuary.

    “Melissa, Janine and I have been friends and musical cohorts for a number of years,” explains Winn. “We are all animal lovers and I’ve been working in the animal field since I was fourteen. I’ve seen firsthand what goes on behind closed doors at ‘kill’ shelters. It’s devastating and unnecessary.  After much discussion, the three of us decided to do something about it. Though rescuing animals directly from kill shelters is just one part of the equation, it’s an important part.  Education, low–cost spay/neuter initiatives and responsible pet ownership are all desperately needed to keep animals out of shelters in the first place.

    “Since January 2011 we’ve now rescued just under 360 animals from high–kill shelters — primarily from Hamilton Animal Control,” adds Winn. “We’ve rescued cats, dogs, rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, mice, a hedgehog and even a chicken. We currently have about 50 animals in foster homes and the rest have found their forever homes. In the larger picture of homeless animals in need, we are just a drop in the bucket rescuing at the small scale we do now. But when we look into the eyes of a newly rescued animal, we know we’re doing the right thing and we will keep volunteering our time to save the lives of animals who may otherwise be euthanized. It is an enormous amount of work, but it is totally worth it.

    The work is worthwhile but costly and so the Ladybird Sanctuary is doing a fundraiser this weekend via their third annual Spring Fair.

    “The biggest cost to any rescue is vet care —spaying and neutering, vaccines, medications, surgeries etc.,” explains Winn. “We rely solely on donations from the public and we couldn’t do what we do without their generosity. When we take a matted, sick and neglected animal out of a shelter, get it the proper vet treatment and care that it needs in its foster home, and then see it happy and healthy and adopted into a forever home — that is the greatest reward we could ask for.

    “We love to bring the community into what we’re doing by hosting events like the Spring Fair,” adds Winn. “It’s something fun for families and we can get the word out there about who we are and what we’re doing for animals. Most of the general public are not aware of what goes on in their local animal shelter, especially in Hamilton.  By attending a Ladybird fundraiser, they help by just being there and they can learn about other ways to help homeless animals in need. This year we thought two days would be better than one.

    The Ladybird Sanctuary Spring Fair has kids’ activities, crafters and venders — for people and pet needs — and live music at 1pm and 3pm on Saturday with Stoll and the DoneFors and on Sunday with Mimi Shaw performing.

    “It’s two afternoons of great music, fantastic food, fun vendors and neat things for kids,” smiles Winn. “That’s just fun in itself but the bonus is, it's all to help us help homeless animals in our community. I get to rescue animals with two of my best friends, and as we go, we’re gathering up an amazing network of like–minded people to help us out along the way. Volunteers, foster homes and donors are all imperative to what we do. It's gone from the three of us, to this whole community of animal lovers and incredibly generous souls. It's amazing to be a part of.”

The Ladybird Animal Sanctuary's third annual Spring Fair happens this Saturday May 3 and Sunday May 4 from 11am until 4pm at the Pearl Company. A 'pay what you can' donation at the door gets you in. Click on ladybirdanimalsanctuary.com

Jamsquid’s 3.0

Zack Casuccio (vocals, guitar), Mike Cicuttini (guitar), Joel Spadafora (bass) and Brad Kiely (drums) grew up as grade school and high school chums with a mutual love of progressive art rock in the vein of Jane’s Addiction, Queens of the Stone Age, Alice in Chains or Tool. Since they formed Jamsquid in 2008, their growth as a band may have seemed tempered with three years between recordings but where they once were doing everything themselves, Jamsquid found connecting with the right producer has spurred them creatively. Only six months after their last release and the band offers a new CDEP, Jamsquid 3.0, with a release party this weekend.

    “The last CDEP we released, we did it all by ourselves and it took a lot of time,” notes Casuccio. “We recorded it ourselves, we had too much control and you get into this frame of mind where you’re too much of a perfectionist. We were thinking about getting someone else involved and that’s when we got a message from Nick Blagona. He’d found us on Facebook and said he liked our style and said something like, ‘if you wanted to make a great album, get in touch’. We went and met him at his house and we gelled really well.

    “We had some songs that we were going to make a full length with but we were able to write five new songs,” adds Casuccio. “The older songs had been played for a year live before we got them on an album but we were so excited and we decided that the writing process has been coming along so well, so that the stuff we’re about to release is all brand new songs and some of it has never been played live before. Now it’s actually something really fresh being released and that’s very exciting for us.”

    Blagona has worked with the Police, Deep Purple, the Tea Party and Alexisonfire and become one of the most prolific producers locally working with Stoneriver, Derek Miller, Weekend Riot Club, Allotrope and more. The results showcase a perhaps more pensive and brooding Jamsquid mixed into the groove but with pinpoint production adding a brightness to the overall sound of the CDEP.

    “We were really happy to work with Nick,” smiles Casuccio. We actually did some of the recordings at Porcelain Records, live off the floor. We did the rest of the overdubbing at Nick’s home studio. The beauty of working with Nick is he comes from the old school way of recording. He’s got that background but also very much on the cutting edge of tech. He provides this perfect in–between of analogue and digital. With Nick, I think our styles really blended well. Working with Nick was a major pleasure. We’d end our sessions and then we’d be like little kids and wait for story time. He’s worked with so many esteemed people and wild characters and after a while, he’d basically have to tell us to leave his house.

    “It was a great experience and it really does capture the band now,” adds the singer. “Usually our lyrics are a little more fun loving, but these songs are a little more reflective. It’s more where we are in our lives as a struggling band. Maybe it got translated into the music and came out a little heavier, harder and even darker. It’s more mature song writing, I think. I definitely put a lot of thought into the lyrics and I think that’s an improvement there.”

    With Dave Dick of Toy Rabbit returning to offer CD artwork that lets the band offer a sound memento for fans to take home, Jamsquid are poised to get their solid new recordings into as many hands as possible and that means doing what they feel they do best — play live.

    “It’s a new chapter for us,” says Casuccio. “We’ve got a mini tour planned. At the end of May, we’re going to be going to Montreal, Ottawa and Kingston — a little mini tour to promote the album and keep on trucking. We’re looking to make new fans and show them what we’ve got.

    “For our CD release party, a lot of this record hasn’t been played live so people can expect the new stuff mixed in with the older tunes,” adds the singer. “We haven’t played Hamilton in a while — we did that on purpose and we’re looking forward to coming out with a bang. We always try to bring a little extra light show of our own to spice things up a bit. People who are hungry for something with a heavy grungy vibe but with a high listenability to it — everyone can get into Jamsquid.”

Jamsquid plays this Saturday May 3 at the Casbah with Norway and Sleeping Lies. Doors are at 9pm and $10 gets you in and CDs are $10. Click on jamsquid.ca

Barber Shop Podcast Fundraiser

    Six months ago, Kevin Barber and Ryan Cannon took the technology they had begun acquiring for Barber’s in house recording studio and created the Barber Shop Podcast to feature Hamilton area talent on a web–based show. With 74 such programs under their belt, the Barber Shop Podcast now reaches out to raise funds to improve and continue.

    “I was very dismissive of podcasts because I was ignorant,” offers Barber on the podcast’s origins. “I pictured a dweeb sitting in front of his laptop droning on about a topic of no interest to me or others. As I began to do my homework, I began to see that not only is podcasting becoming exponentially more relevant but also broadcasting on YouTube allows a live stream in 720 high definition and 7.1 high fidelity audio — and that still blows me away.

    “The first nine episodes were audio only,” adds Barber. “Then we started video podcasting as an experiment. None of the techniques we use are in any book. Learning by making mistakes, we have a very slick production now that is as good as anything out there. The wealth of musical talent is huge here in Hamilton. Video allows viewers to not only hear precisely how the artist sounds, but what they look like too — and we are a very visual society.

    Interviewing a range of artists from Rita Chiarelli and Sarah Beatty to Lo–Fi and Weekend Riot Club, the Barber Shop Podcast has caught the imagination of local musicians and music fans.

    “We have been overwhelmed by the positive response from every one of the guests and the musical community in general — they told us it was needed,” notes Barber. “Being a musician myself, I understand the frustration involved in trying to expose your music to the masses. This show does not have to format to a specific length or content. We can swear, drink and smoke if we want and the complete creative freedom is intoxicating. You cannot compare our show to any other out there. It is a long interview format that features 3 to 4 live performances and 3 to 4 recent tracks or videos interspersed with thoughtful conversation. Being in the internet has many advantages over taping and editing a show and showing it on cable TV. Watching an episode of Barber Shop Podcast will allow you to become emotionally invested in the artist.

    “Podcasts are hardly underground anymore,” adds Barber. “It takes far less time to book the show now because most musicians are now aware of the show and its reputation. Viewership has grown steadily over time. Millennials are not married to traditional media, and as in all things, the tipping point is very close and those who refuse to see this will have to assimilate. More people have YouTube on their flat screens and surround sound systems than have Cable 14 by a long shot. A quality production that features local talent with a worldwide reach should be lauded and supported.”

    Bolstered by a groundswell of support, Barber and Cannon are offering a live musical showcase to garner more awareness for their activities and to raise funds to improve their Barber Shop Podcast.

    “I don’t like to ask for help [but] it is ludicrous to assume this program does not cost anything to produce,” says Barber. “Aside from the skill set Ryan and I bring to the show, we just can't pay out of pocket for the continual upgrades in equipment and software. Advertising and promotion is also a big part of the business, and we began to look for alternate sources of funding. The federal, provincial, and municipal governments did not have grant programs and although we have a core of local advertisers, that basically pays for the pizza and beer. Many musicians suggested that we stage a showcase and offered their services. As I like to play publicist, this was a great deal for everybody to benefit, we get to stage a rocking fundraiser for our friends and supporters, the bands get some spotlight time and a wicked hangover.

    “So we are putting on a fundraising show and I was able to secure five bands to showcase the other side of songwriting,” adds Barber. “Our studio is small, so we have skewed towards more folk, country and roots music. I wanted to give these songwriters a shout out in a venue that let them shine. The idea here is to provide a way that everybody can benefit. I have some fairly enlightened friends musically speaking. They might know who Fred J. Eaglesmith is but they have never heard of most of the guests we have had on the show. These musicians are amazing people with incredible talents that should be able to make a living playing original music. The rise of independent media is a good thing in a world that is increasingly owned by corporations… The feeling that just possibly I can help bring an excellent product – original music from Hamilton – to a worldwide audience – with complete freedom from corporate influence – is heady indeed.”

The Barber Shop Podcast Fundraiser happens this Friday May 2 at the Casbah with Deathpoint, Tommy Gunn, Gin and Toxic, Spin Dizzy and the Kents. Doors for the pay–what–you–can event open at 9pm. Click on barbershoppodcast.com
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