Hop, Bop and Roll – A ‘50s Rock and Roll Revival Series
A local roots rockabilly resurgence is getting a jolt in the arm with a regular ‘Hop Bop and Roll’ series put on by one of the many musicians keeping that music alive. Dave Nicoloff got his start in the ’80s with the Shock Rockets but took more than a decade off to start a family. Back in 2010, the guitar slinger and vocalist created a new band amidst a growing number of rockabilly enthusiasts.
“Rock and roll, rockabilly, or however you want to classify it — I could say what got me into the music was my parents’ Elvis records, like it was for many, but for me it was Teenage Head, Gordie Lewis in particular as it was for many of my close friends,” offers Nicoloff on his early musical development. “We were the punk rock scene loving the Ramones, the Clash, 999 and along comes Teenage Head doing Eddie Cochrane’s [song] “Something Else”. [Teenage Head vocalist] Frankie [Venom] loved Eddie Cochran and Gene Vincent and we loved Frankie. The rockabilly scene was in full throttle with the likes of the Stray Cats, Robert Gordon, Teenage Head, the Pole Cats, the Shakin’ Pyramids, just to name my favorites. There was no turning back I had to play what I love.
“My new band focuses on that classic rockabilly sound,” adds Nicoloff. “The Hell Bent Rockers are Billy T Thornberry on lead vocals and acoustic guitars, ‘Lulu’ Linda Duemo on drums and backing vocals and Max Lloyd on the stand up bass. Max and Lulu have brought a level of energy and genuine love for HBR making this current line up an action packed live show and truly a family for me. Speaking of family my brother Craig Nicoloff has been seen on several stages with the Hell Bent Rockers on his electric bass, as well, Craig is my bass player for the Hell Bent Trio, which is a spinoff of HBR with just Craig, Lulu and me on lead vocals. Between the two acts, I am performing a minimum of three live shows per week. With HBR and the Hell Bent Trio, I really have what I wanted and that was to be performing several times per week. We plan to record and have a full–length CD by the fall of 2014.”
While the guitarist is busy, Nicoloff’s success is based on constant performing, networking and promoting and he’s developed Hop, Bop and Roll as a bi–monthly gig at Stonewalls.
“I truly believe there is value to the fans when you bring them events with multiple artists, lots of action from free swing dance lessons, DJs keeping the vibe rolling after the bands stop and door prizes,” reasons Nicoloff. “With that comes hard work but these events have secured us multiple showcase events at Stonewalls in Hamilton, the Boston Manor in Burlington and North Rock in Niagara Falls through to the end of 2014.
“With the resurgence of rock and roll and rockabilly globally, I truly get that music is cyclical,” adds Nicoloff. “I did not buy into it as a youth but yes it’s real. Add the internet and Facebook and it’s like Bill Gates invented the rockabilly pin up girl. With that said, the Hell Bent Rockers emerging as the scene exploded over these past 5 years was really good for business. We have been in high demand since our first few gigs and it continues today. We want to feature some of the hottest rockabilly bands around. The show starts with free swing dance lessons by the Hamilton Hammer Hoppers featuring Erika Palakovic and Jeff Mocha. Gretsch and Fender [representatives] will be there to talk shop with any guitar players and they will be giving away Swag. This show is full of action — from the swing dance lessons to every single band putting on amazing performances. So if you love live music then you must come to these events at Stonewalls and see what all the buzz is about.” V
Hop, Bop and Roll – A ‘50s Rock and Roll Revival Series happens this Saturday May 24 at Stonewalls with Ginger St. James and the Grinders, the Hell Bent Rockers, the Cadillac Daddys, the Vaudevillian and more. Doors are at 8pm and $10 gets you in. Click on hellbentrockers.com
For the past 14 years, Burlington’s Beautiful Nothing has been making music but for the last few years more out of the spotlight. Anthony Ludgate (vocals), Shane Ludgate (drums), Luke Ludgate (guitar), Sven Petrovic (guitar/keyboards), James Featherstone (bass) were focusing on their latest recordings — moving into together into a repurposed industrial area space, Beautiful Nothing lived, rehearsed, wrote and recorded as a unit and they even used their living space for private parties to fund recording sessions (amidst the ping–pong tables and swing sets). After five years of parties and preparation however, Beautiful Nothing is serious about the release of their new disc this weekend.
“While experimenting musically since the beginnings of pre–teen friendships and family jams we’ve collaborated with a bunch of talented musicians — most recently this includes Alicia Cameron on vocals and Zach Scholtz on “sick flows”,” recalls Anthony Ludgate. “The more we collaborate the more we grow. The more we grow the more we figure it out – but figuring it out means something different for everyone. For us, figuring it out means getting closer to our primal instincts as musicians and as humans. The band has taken on various shapes but the constant has always been between myself, my two brothers and our two best friends.
“The last couple of years have been the most exciting years of our lives,” adds the singer. “We’ve lived through parties that should’ve killed us, jam houses that inspired us and music that united us. This new record is the outcome of it all. It’s really the absolute high of music that keeps it all moving and evolving. There’s never been a really legitimate pop/rock genre. It all either sounds too pop or too rock. I think we’ve established a serious middle ground between the essence of pop music and the raw energy of rock. With the current state of the band, it truly feels like a new beginning. We’ve had a few incarnations of Beautiful Nothing that have all taken on something new. I feel with this latest release we’ve arrived musically and have created something we can really stand behind.”
Recorded at Ohsweken’s Jukasa Studios with producer Darren Magierowski, Beautiful Nothing have never been more rocking or radio friendly and with a self–titled release the band re–introducing yourself to a hopeful larger audience.
“Jukasa Studios was a place of self–reflection for us,” notes Ludgate. “Darren was the perfect person to have coaching my vocal takes. There was a feeling of serenity that coaxed emotions I didn’t know existed. We wanted a big, raw and honest sound that Darren and Jukasa was able to deliver. Creating music is about making a connection. It is connections that mean something in this life. Connections through music are connections through the soul. As human beings, I think we should connect as much as possible. Connecting with larger audiences is one of the goals for this new record. Our music is for people looking for something other than straight–up rock or straight–up pop. I think we’re comfortably straddling the line between the two genres with just straight up good songs.”
With six music videos tentatively scheduled from this collection of songs — the first “Come Colour Me” is now on rotation on MuchLOUD and AUX TV — you can be a part of the band’s video for “Finer Things” for a flash dance scenario outside Jackson Square with the “Hamilton Dancing Guy” at the end of this month. But this weekend, Beautiful Nothing reintroduces themselves to the nation. The band that formed at Burlington’s Central High has come a long way to a nationally distributed label release but no matter how high this record takes them, Ludgate assures it’s their formative years that will keep them grounded.
“For this record, we signed to BKCI/Universal who offered us the best deal after being shopped around by Gerry Young and Bill McDowell of Current Management,” says Ludgate. “Hamilton’s authenticity, as well as recording in Ohsweken has been part of an awakening for us. We are currently Toronto based simply because that’s where the majority of our members reside and it’s also where we currently jam… but Hamilton and Burlington will always be home for us.
“Live shows have always been a platform for this band to really win over audiences,” adds Ludgate. “I feel like if someone hasn’t seen the band live they really can’t know what the band is all about. It’s safe to say that all eyes at the Casbah show will be glued to the stage and we’ve got a few surprises to ensure this happens.”
Beautiful Nothing plays this Friday May 23 at the Casbah with the Poobs, the Marlas, and A Vertigo Hallucination. Doors are at 9pm and $10 gets you in. Click on facebook.com/beautifulnothingofficial
The world of electronic and dance music has a new contender from Hamilton featuring someone we originally met as a visual artist, photographer and promoter. Dan Rivero combined his love of art and music into interesting live performance events but that would eventually translate into making original music of his own. His efforts would eventually make him one of the primary DJs of the Baltimore House’s Night Drive Saturday nights and this weekend Rivero offers his own new music with O.H.M.
“For the longest time, I’ve been involved in the music scene, but primarily as a visual artist who would do live painting at a music venue while a live band or DJ played,” recalls Rivero. “While I love painting and still do it, I have always been a huge music fan and wanted to find a way to build on that passion and become part of that scene in a new way. The common theme at all of the live art/live music events was dancing. The acts I worked with knew how to get people moving on the dance floor.
“Ever since I was about 15 I was listening to late night DJ sets on the radio and I’d go to all–ages dance clubs,” adds Rivero. “The DJ sets always consisted of a wide variety of genres including hip hop, house, and RnB. I guess you could say that those late night DJ sets left a lasting impression on me and definitely, on Jaime Benitez, who started DJing as soon as he had the gear. Jaime and I grew up in the same neighborhood. I was about 13 when we met and we used to record DJ mixes and tracks we liked off the radio on cassette. Jaime has been producing and mastering House tracks for years now. Earlier this year, he asked if I wanted to learn how to produce and create some tracks with him. I’ve always had a strong interest in bringing some ideas that I had for beats, and so I took him up on his offer. After we had finalized a few tracks, we really liked what we had and we decided to take our collaboration even further by releasing an EP. O.H.M. stands for Osito, my DJ name, Haime, Jaime’s DJ name, and Music.
Produced in Jaime’s basement–storage– room–turned–small–studio, the eponymously titled five track CD is part of the Hamilton–based gallery/ recording studio/ independent label HAVN.
“It’s a classic house kind of vibe with a touch of the new electronic music sound with a lot of 4–on–the–floor driving beats with a rhythmic bass and synthesizer sound,” offers Rivero on OHM’s music. “Mind you, the bass and synth in a classic house sound is definitely unique to a certain period in time. The period we’ve been focused on is definitely ’90–’96 with a bit of a modern sound. Our tracks definitely touch on the sounds that we listened to a lot when we were younger and still like now, like Rick Pier O’Neil, Hedflux, Hard Drive and, more recently, House duos like Disclosure — all of whom are definitely an influence. It’s full of dance–floor beats that work just as well as ambiance music for at–home listeners as it will in the clubs.
Osito headlines this Sunday’s all vinyl biweekly Discography dance party as well but Saturday, the original music unfolds in the midst of his regular gig DJing as part of Night Drive.
“I’m a big fan of Discography,” says Rivero. “It being an all–vinyl night really sets it apart from a lot of DJ events. It so happens to be that my Discography gig is on the same weekend as the release at Night Drive, so I will also have some copies of our CD available for sale at Discography. However, being an all–vinyl night, I won’t be playing these tracks at Discography – but I do have a diverse set planned for that evening.
“But everyone’s invited to the release party we’re doing as part of Night Drive,” adds Rivero. “There is no cover charge and a bonus for the first 30 people at the door is a free copy of the CD. Haime and Osito will be spinning our regular DJ sets throughout the night and, in the middle of it all, we will be playing the tracks we created as OHM in a mix. Night Drive is the perfect night to do this release, not only because I’m one of the resident DJ’s, but also because it’s an established, weekly event that’s already dedicated to dance music – the crowd comes expecting to let loose on the dance floor and we plan not to disappoint.”
OHM CD release party happens this Saturday May 24 at the Baltimore House’s Night Drive Event. Doors are at 10pm and there is no cover.
IATSE Hard Rock Show
Many musicians have other jobs outside their chosen path to pay the bills. Some musicians help do the technical work of setting up stages, producing sound or otherwise to make shows happen. This weekend, some of those IATSE Local 129 tech members show off their other talents for a hard rock show of original music.
“I co–produced a show for Blacken’d Red, Crawlin’ Kingsnakes and Sinburn because I work with some members of each of these acts at IATSE, which is unionized stage hand work for venues, Hamilton Place, Molson Canadian Studio, First Union Center (formerly Copps Coliseum),” offers Spherical Productions booking agent and IATSE member Joey Balducchi. “This show is not only for everyone, but also trying to get a lot of the IATSE members to come to the show, so everyone gets to have some beers together, outside of only working together in arenas, theatres and festivals, among other types of shows.”
“Steve Foster of the Crawlin’ Kingsnakes is the head soundman at the Studio Theatre, Mike Stewart, also of Crawlin’ Kingsnakes is the head soundman at Hamilton Place, Brian Pincombe of Blacken’d Red was the President of IATSE for over 15 years up until earlier this year, Dave Green of Sinburn is a stage hand, and myself, who is putting on the show, am also a stage hand, as well as President of Spherical Productions,” adds Balducchi.
“I formed Blacken’d Red with drummer Jack Rogers, then Events Supervisor for HECFI, now with Global Spectrum at Hamilton Place,” offers Pincombe. “I have played with many bands in Hamilton, most notably Common Language, between ‘79 and ‘84 in the heyday of new music. I’ve seen this city go through many musical periods. After a few member changes, we now have Donn Klus on bass and Johnny Rogers of Brighton Rock on guitar. I love having a second guitarist and Johnny’s a great player. Functionally, it gives me a break from rushing through songs like a maniac and creatively we get a lift as the music become more textured and appealing. Iggy Pasalic still provides the lead vocals and onstage antics.
“We took an enforced hiatus this year to write some fantastic new material,” adds Pincombe. “This gig will kick off our return to performing. We will begin recording a new album in a month or so. New merch, new members and we are excited to be involved with Spherical Productions and Valerie Savoy of Killer Image Photography who does our awesome publicity/posters/promo. Teaming with The Crawlin Kingsnakes – who are kickass Canadiana – was our idea to present a package of hard rock bands to Joey that could fill rooms in Southern Ontario. Sinburn features our ex–bassist Dave Green as well, when they are available. Hard rock is a segment that seems to be gaining strength and popularity lately.”
Hard rock played by some scene veterans with an acute awareness of what putting on a show means is what you get when you get these three bands in one room.
“I’ve been a member of IATSE Local 129 for 25 years and have worked all the shows at HP and Copps and beyond,” says Pincombe. “Being a stagehand in Hamilton provides a unique perspective for someone who is also a musician. Handling the gear of the biggest acts in the world and being involved in the shows can be a lesson in humility, believe it or not. We work long hours for others when we should be doing the same for ourselves. I think we suppress our egos to an extent to be able to provide the service we do. Our work is separate from our careers as musicians, but it’s such a small industry that it feels the same.
“It was Joey’s idea to invite the local family of IATSE members to the gig and it has even seen support from our new bosses at Global Spectrum so we will be surrounded by good friends, like a beer commercial but everyone is welcome,” adds Pincombe. “Between these three bands, I think we know every professional touring tech in Canada and a chunk of the U.S. and most of the musicians in Hamilton. THAT’s a family!” V
Spherical Productions presents Blacken’d Red, Crawlin’ Kingsnakes and Sinburn this Friday, May 23 at the Corktown Pub. Doors are at 9pm and $5 gets you in. Click on blackendred.com