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

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Hamilton Music Notes

by Ric Taylor
June 5 - 11, 2014
Social Animals’ Innominate

Chris and Christa Bradbury had long been making music in Hamilton individually but when they came together, a special spark arose. His guitar prowess deftly complimented the power and cadence in her voice, and now after eight years of being together, Social Animals release their debut CD, Innominate.

    Born and raised in Vancouver, Christa arrived in  Oakville in 1985 and moved to Hamilton in 1999 because it was more her scene. She ended up playing cover songs in blues bands in east end bars for a drinking good time, which probably wasn’t that fulfilling. Then her life would change when she’d meet Sydney, Australia born Chris at an after party.

    “He was one of the only guy there just toying with the computer and then he picked up his guitar,” remembers Christa.

    “Any song that I played, Christa knew them and sung while I played,” adds Chris. “It was such a great experience — everyone left and Christa came back a couple of days later and we started hanging out because we enjoyed each other’s company and seemed to really connect musically. I suggested we try to write a song. Thirty minutes later, we had a song.”

    “We were writing the basis of this album with just acoustic guitar and vocals with just the two of us,” adds Christa. “We had 15 folkie songs that we intended a band to have behind us. Then we got Jordan Abraham and David Guild to produce and that changed what we were doing.”

    In 2011, Chris and Christa became Social Animals and developed their songs with Abraham and Guild. They came up with a rocking version of blues, roots and folk music in the way that some of their inspirations had previously done. Three years in the making — with a major time and financial delay due to Chris’ temporary deportation — Innominate sums up nearly a decade of song for this musical married couple.

    “We couldn’t be happier, this is what we wanted,” says Chris. “If someone says, “I can really hear the Led Zeppelin in your music,” I thank them. It’s not copying them but Led Zeppelin is what I grew up listening to and if something I write sounds Zeppelin–esque then I find that a compliment.”

    “Musically, there’s a bit of everything on the album — rockers, ballads, adult contemporary,” offers Christa. “While thinking of an album title, we were looking for something poetic, artistic and perhaps a little mysterious,” offers Christa. “Then the title would fit nicely with the albums lyrical content, which is full of ambiguity. The word ‘Innominate’ is from the Latin ‘Innominatus’, meaning, ‘having no name’, or ‘nameless’. This worked perfectly for us, the album’s music would then tell the story, not the title. We wrote this album about our lives, our experiences, and those who have come and gone. Much remains ‘nameless’ in our telling of these stories, again making ‘innominate’ a perfect introduction.”

    “Living rather anonymously in Canada — the title helped sum up that as well,” adds Chris. “The recordings also changed when I got a new guitar and amp which totally changed my sound and so we ended up doing all the guitars over again.”

    “I didn’t originally play piano for this but we started recording and I really wanted to add an instrument,” Christa chimes in. “I didn’t know how to play before but I learned for this. Recording this album has been a definite growth for us in many ways.”

    Solidly recorded and impeccably performed, the new disc offers Social Animals a chance to kick start their careers. With David Guild (drums), Geoff Hlibka (guitar) and Jarrod Ross (bass) joining the band live, their CD release party this weekend should start a very interesting chapter for Social Animals.

    “We’ve got the energy and we’re really looking forward to putting on a good show,” says Christa. “Our CD release party will be Intimate, live, in your face, and really, really fricken enjoyable.”

    “Big, loud drums, loud vocals, heavy rhythms,” adds Chris. “We’d like to have Social Animals on the move and this band is ready to go places. I was just stuck before, and this might sound cliché but when I met Christa, everything changed — the music and our relationship — she was the right one. Not only did I find the love of my life, but also I found someone to make music with. We’re focused and committed and it’s a plus to any relationship if you have a working side to it as well. We’re so excited for this release because this is the band we’ve always wanted. Everyone’s confident about their own music but I tell you, I think this is going to be wildly enjoyed as long as people get to hear it.”

Social Animals play this Saturday June 7 at the Pearl Company. Doors open at 8pm, $10 gets you in. Click on socialanimals.ca

The Second annual Hamilton Blues and Roots Festival

    Roots and blues music was not what Sonic Unyon had based their reputation on a few decades ago but recently they’ve found much success broadening their horizons. The record label proper is ramping up, a new venue is being launched and with the success of their event production company, festivals are becoming more of a regular thing for Sonic Unyon.

    “It was awesome; we were really thrilled to do that,” remarks Sonic Unyon co–owner Tim Potocic on the inaugural Blues and Roots Festival of June 2013. “I’m a fan so it was nice to get involved with that community and do something that hadn’t been done before.”

    While festivals weren’t new in Westdale Village, they had all but disappeared and as a Westdale resident himself; Potocic felt the need for a community and family music arts fest in the neighborhood.

    “Every neighborhood has its challenges but it’s been a lot of fun working in Westdale and trying to make something happen there,” offers Potocic. “Like any event, it’s always challenging to get people out. Weather can definitely play a factor in attendance and we had some dodgy weather in the afternoon but attendance was okay. As soon as the rain blew out by 5pm, the people began to arrive and the people came out in the evening. We had between three and four thousand people come out and this year we hope that we might get to 5,000. We’re doing some more interesting things in the kids’ area for family fun and I think our line up speaks for itself and I think people are going to come out.”

    As well as street performers, vendors, food trucks and kids’ fare, music is the main draw at the Roots and Blues Festival. Steve Sinnicks (12pm) kicks off the show at noon followed by Mark McNeil (12:30pm), Harrison Kennedy (1:15) Bry Webb formerly of the Constantines (2:30), Banned from Heaven with Laura Cole (4:15), members of the Hamilton Blues Society (6pm) followed by Jesse O’Brien with Steve Strongman and Chuck Jackson (7:45) and Ottawa’s Monkeyjunk (9:30pm) closing the musical portion of the event.

    The label side of Sonic Unyon has releases coming up from the Dinner Belles, Terra Lightfoot, Oh Susannah, Kestrels and more tentatively this year but the company will be busy with a few different outdoor and indoor events over the next four months. Seven Sundays happens every Sunday in July and August in Gage Park and the Because Beer Festival on July 8 and 12. Sonic Unyon is even launching an event space, Mill’s Hardware (one time known as a bar under the name Diamond Jims, or more recently as Bannisters), on King Street just east of John Street.

    “Mill’s Hardware opens during the first two weeks of the Fringe Festival so we hope to do everything from small troupe theatre to music to comedy, dance, community events, BIA meetings whatever community needs are out there — you name it, we’ll entertain it,” says Potocic. “It’s been completely renovated and we’re putting in a very expensive and beautiful P.A. system. The concept is mainly early shows with not so much what happens at the traditional rock bars in town. We want to cater to some of the music and art that isn’t already being catered to; avant–garde, jazz, blues, singer/songwriter; some of the things we feel are missing a little bit in town. We’ve got a lot of irons in the fire and it’s a strategy that we’ve had for literally twenty years. We bought our first building in the ‘90s. It’s what we do. With each of the buildings we buy, we put cultural people into them and unique tenants, and it’s all interconnected.

    “Supercrawl is three days this year and that’s a big change this year,” adds Potocic. “The festival bookings are going fantastic and we’ve elevated the level of talent in music, theatre and art installations. We’re super excited where we’re at with Supercrawl this year. We’ll be announcing that line up during the first week of July but this weekend, it’s all about the Blues and Roots Fest. It’s a great time to bring the whole family out and have a fun afternoon. There’s a whole pile of food trucks and great restaurants in Westdale Village and a whole lot of talent performing on the street for everybody. Come on down.”

The second annual Hamilton Blues and Roots Festival happens in Westdale Village on Saturday June 7, from 12pm to 11pm. Click on Hamiltonbluesandroots.com

Gdansk’s EP1

    While their name might conjure up images of a decidedly European entity, Gdansk is a Hamilton based band with cosmopolitan inspirations and aspirations. With a definite Euro–flair for more atmospheric music, Gdansk hope to get the world listening to their newest collection of songs set for release this week.

    “I started making music as Gdansk in 2012, recording an EP in my basement in Waterdown almost entirely by myself,” recalls multi–instrumentalist Timothy Mann. “I guess the intention was always to have it be a band, but initially it was just me. I decided to ask some good friends of mine that I have known for years and played with in a number of different capacities to be in the band and that’s where we are now.

    “The band name comes from the city that my grandfather is from in Europe, specifically German occupied Poland,” adds Mann. “He came to Canada from Gdansk, called Danzig at the time, in the late ‘30s right as the war started. It doesn’t have much to do with the actual music, but it is a tribute to my grandfather, who passed away 15 years ago and who I greatly respected. So yeah, it has more of a personal meaning than anything.”

    Taking influence from Radiohead, Wilco and Brian Eno, Mann is joined by Jamie Ball on guitar, Justin Brix on keyboards, and Tom Lang on drums for the new release. Recorded at Threshold Recording Studio with Michael Keire, EP1 is the first release of 2014 for Gdansk – with EP2 tentatively scheduled for later this year.

    “I love the idea of fantastic songs buried in atmospherics but also the idea of really clean sounds mixed with ambient, washed out sounds,” offers Mann on Gdansk’s sound. “I tend to write about what’s going on in my life and things that I’m thinking on and considering. That can be anything from a social issue I want to address, to religion, to something that’s happened to me personally. I don’t offer hope personally, I don’t think. That’s not mine to offer, but I see a lot of apathy with my generation towards life in general and I want what I play and write to convey that things will be ok, you know?

    With grand ambition, Mann and Gdansk have their work cut out for them as they celebrate their new collection of songs with a live performance they hope is memorable.

    “We are definitely more rock live than on record,” says Mann. “There will still be some quiet, more ambient moments but it’s by no means delicate or boring. We love to play live and it will be an engaging, passionate show. Our sound has kind of changed over the two years we’ve been together. It started as a loud, atmospheric rock band and has now become that with a healthy mix of electronic sounds so that will come out live.

    “I have big ambitions,” adds Mann. “I want to be the kind of band that people go see and you feel like you’ve somehow been changed. I’m not comparing us to them, but it’s like going to see a band like U2 and there are times when it feels like God is in the room and inhabiting the music — gives you goose bumps. I love that idea and that feeling. I want people to feel like they are a part of something bigger than them or the night.” V

Gdansk plays this Tuesday June 10 at the Casbah with Alert The Medic and Black Rhino Riot. The show starts at 8PM and $10 gets you in. Click on gdanskband.com
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