Katie Bulley’s Sun Wolf
Katie Bulley burst onto the local stage in 2008 as lead singer with the garage rock/ primitive pop band, The Barettas but two years ago, it was time to go solo. The journey of going it alone and exploring the roots of her influences in rock, blues and folk is documented on her new solo disc, Sun Wolf.
“We called it quits because it wasn’t working anymore,” remarks Bulley on the demise of the Barettas that released two CDEPs, a 7–inch vinyl recording and even graced the cover of View. “You have to know when to stop.”
With her band ending, Bulley became an unstoppable force once faced with calamity and took it upon herself to make her musical dreams a reality.
“A lot of people dream about it but they don’t plan and go for it and I was just one of those people that made a plan,” offers Bulley. “The band was done, I left my job and a long–term relationship I was in had just ended so I was like, ‘Okay, I’m free, what am I going to do?” I wanted to record an album. I knew I had to do that but I knew it had to be in a southern state [in the US]. It was in the line of the Jack Kerouac “On the Road” thing. A lot of poets, authors, musicians have been on the same path but they’ve just needed to see these places existed. Seeing the road like that strengthens you and you learn so much about yourself and the world. I think it’s an authentic album.”
“All the other songs I’ve written really recently — there’s maybe one song that’s two years old and I did a cover from the Zilis, “Coyote North” for the album as well,” adds Bulley. “The Zilis and I are working together for this release show. Their song hit me when I first heard it. It went along with the road, the path that I was on, too. I had read “On the Road” by Jack Kerouac so he says, ‘We’re in the middle of Coyote Nowhere’ in the middle of the book, so I really dig his stuff and dig that song and the Zilis are good guys.”
Recorded where Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash and Elvis Presley recorded in their early years at Sun Studio in Memphis, Tennessee, Sun Wolf demonstrates Bulley has refined as a songwriter and retooled her sound. The beat poetry of a bygone era is an obvious inspiration for Bulley who has always seemed to have more in tune with a singer like Bobbie Gentry or Wanda Jackson. With a slight drawl and quiver in her vocal performance, Bulley’s voice seems to curl up your ear with a breathy restraint. Her vocal style is accentuated with the more roots rounded effort on “Sun Wolf” and the album title sums up Bulley’s current condition lyrically.
“I was going to call the album Lone Wolf because of the journey from being in a band to being alone,” recalls Bulley. “Lone Wolf was cool and empowering but then I thought it was more about being part of a community and really looking at life through everyone’s eyes and being open to all walks of life and everything under the sun. That’s why it’s Sun Wolf.”
“It takes courage and strength to unchain yourself and I hope I inspire other people to do that,” says Bulley. “I felt I had more of a big, old destiny than where I was, so that’s what I made happen.”
Katie Bulley plays this Thursday June 12 at the Baltimore House with the Zilis and the Bandicoots. Doors are at 8pm and $5 gets you in. Click on Katiebulley.com
Celebrate Imants Krumins
Imants Krumins was a monumental inspiration on the local music scene though he didn’t play an instrument. As uber fan, CFMU FM radio DJ, tastemaker, cheerleader and band gofer, Imants had so much influence over three decades that after his passing from a brain tumour a few years ago, a throng of locals are intent with remembering Imants and his inspiration.
Craig Caron played in Rabid Defiance between 1985 and 1992 and started up Schizophrenic Records that have had some 79 releases over the last three decades (with recent releases including the phrase “Inspiration Krumins”). Caron has more recently started up Hammer City Records, a retail outlet just off James Street North and is one of the primaries behind celebrating Imants Krumins.
“I met Imants about 1985 and he had this amazing energy,” recalls Caron. “He was like the ‘Energizer bunny’ of punk — he just kept going and going and spreading the word about records, bands, shows, zines, underground movies, and art. His list of interest was so huge and he shared all of that knowledge. Imants was a one–man street team. My favourite memories include records, blaring loud music while he drives, seeing several shows of various genres of music in the course of one evening while hitting up record stores, comic book shops in the area and then a meal at a Mexican restaurant. Imants was this warm, friendly, outgoing person who met and knew everybody. For a shy underage kid, he made me feel welcomed and wanted in this crazy hardcore punk world. I think a lot of people had similar stories.”
From the mid ‘70s, Imants helped with the beginnings of CFMU radio, attended the earliest of Simply Saucer shows, bought Forgotten Rebels cassettes and drove Teenage Head to gigs. Imants helped volunteer an infrastructure that aided in getting a lot of Hamilton bands to the next level. For years, countless bands from Hamilton and around the world got his support – Imants championed the underdog in style and anyone that knew him would offer accolades for an event to remember him.
“Younger kids may have a hard time understanding just how important Imants was to the music scene in Hamilton,” notes Caron. “Most kids can't imagine a world without the internet and for me he was my world wide web. He would make you a mix tape of bands he thinks you need to hear. Imants was the guy that always offered you a ride to an out of town show. He was also a great supporter of bands, if some young band had a demo tape he supported you, gave you words of encouragement he made you want to make that connection so you could book your next show. Imants was the glue that really connected the Hamilton scene – built bridges to Toronto, Buffalo, Syracuse, Japan wherever he went. He purchased the first Forgotten Rebels demo and he did that for countless other bands. If you didn't know many punks in your area of town, Imants likely knew some folks and would help you connect the dots.
“In Imants’ world – the humble banker dressed in conservative clothes – he wanted to build bridges and make connections,” adds Caron. “If you didn't like punk, he would connect with you over wrestling or tennis, maybe some Krautrock. As punk became mainstream and got co–opted by larger corporations Imants found more angry, noisy, aggressive music to listen to.”
With the aid of Leah Visser, Larry Reece, the Krumins family and a slew of musical friends and fans, a five–hour musical tribute to the life and times of a man that continues to inspire happens with a selection of posters and Imants memorabilia to round out the night. There is no cover but donations accepted at the door for the Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada.
“Friday night will be a high energy, fun night that will allow friends to reconnect, share stories and beers,” smiles Caron. “For me the yearly show is as important as Halloween — it’s that chance for all of his friends to get together and celebrate his life, see some great bands and share those stories. If you don't know Imants and you’re a part of the punk community in Hamilton you should come out and see how you can connect your life to the friends attending the show.”
Celebrate Imants Krumins happens this Friday June 13 at This Ain’t Hollywood with DeSadist Au Go–Go, the Krumones, the Let Downs, The Jimmy Diks, the Garburators, Krummy Stuff, Krummerelos, Artificial Dissemination and Bob Bryden. Show starts at 9pm and donations are accepted at the door. Click on braintumour.ca
Dead End Sessions’ Slam Phunk
Adam Platsko (drums), Troy Mosley (bass) and Jeff Benning (guitar) had been jamming together for a decade but it wasn’t until two years ago when they found singer/songwriter Nate Waldes that Dead End Sessions really took shape. Taking their name from the area where they rehearsed, Dead End Sessions offer their debut CDEP this weekend, that’s as the title suggests, sure to be a Slam Phunk.
“For years, we struggled to find the right singer and we had a few guys play a show or two with us but none of them really meshed well with our sound and style until 2012 when Nate Waldes responded to an ad we had placed,” recalls Platsko. “We jammed with him for about 30 minutes and we knew this was the guy we had been looking for.”
“As a three piece, we would cover and practice a lot of Rage Against the Machine and Led Zeppelin songs, which helped us craft our sound,” adds the drummer. “Then Nate added some soul and reggae with influences such as Sublime and Bob Marley and it really helped shape what we are today. What seemed to bond us together was just how natural jamming was, it wasn’t a struggle anymore, It was fun. We loved to play together. Nate’s reggae influences fit in perfectly with the hard rock sound we had and helped us create a unique blend of rock and reggae.”
Recorded at Mitch Bowden’s Mechanical Noise in Dunnville, Slam Phunk shows the band excels at hard rock riffs and danceable rhythms offering a heady mix of resultant fist pumping and toe tapping.
“We were aiming for a raw, unpolished sound that resembles some alternative albums from the early ‘90s,” notes Platsko. “Slam phunk is one of the better ways to describe our sound. It catches your attention and that’s the goal. We expect this disc to introduce people to six very unique songs. These songs are the seeds to something much bigger to come. They're raw, heartfelt, and heavy.”
Heartfelt and heavy assuredly will describe this weekend’s official release party that Dead End Sessions have organized as one serious party of friends.
“The line–up for our release was carefully hand selected by us,” says Platsko. “Jeff and Troy have deep roots with Dean from Gentleman Spectres, and Graeme. Nate also has history with members of Spectres and thought DirtStar would be a great addition to an already amazing bill. There is definitely a hard rock scene in the Hammer, we are all friends and we attend each other's shows. We help each other out as much as we can; it's a really cool thing to be a part of.
“Fans can expect a roller coaster of energy at this show,” adds Platsko. “There will be songs to headbang to and songs to groove out as well. We will be playing a lot of new material, and covering a couple classic tunes. There is a great line up for the evening, a little something for everyone.”
Dead End Sessions play on Saturday June 14 at This Ain't Hollywood with Gentlemen Spectres, DirtStar, and Graeme. Doors will open at 8pm and $10 gets you in.
Something Else! Festival
Hamilton is attracting more out of town interest from a wide range of music industry folk. Next week, one of the city’s newest promoters offers an eclectic collection of rarely seen performers in the Hammer. Cem Zafir’s Something Else! Festival features five nights of international performers of ‘creative music’ or music that is more avant–garde from the free–jazz spectrum.
“I was, more or less, a deadhead in my late teens and twenties,” explains Zafir. “I got into jazz then slowly got into the freer types of music. I have no music training, don’t belong to a special club, I’m not particularly smart or academically inclined. Either the music moves you or it doesn’t.
“Something Else! is my first foray into promotion in Hamilton,” adds Zafir. “I enjoy presenting and listening to all sorts of music, but so–called creative music needs the most help and yet is the most gratifying. Dissonance and free form often scare people. Live experience of this music helps change most prejudices most of the time. This music is not highbrow, as many think. It's the true folk music, in my opinion – just more open–ended music with its own few rules. Its practitioners dedicate their lives to it, even more so than players of other styles of music. Nobody gets rich involved in this music, it's about passion and having to do this thing you love. The same goes for the audience and presenters.”
Something Else! Is an eclectic gathering of some of Zafir’s favourites — novel performers to the city in a novel space — the Hamilton Artists, Inc — with some Hamiltonian kindred spirits. Boneshaker (Chicago/Oslo) and Eschaton (Hamilton) play Monday, June 16 with tickets $15; the Tiny Orchestra Trio (Toronto) and Same Old Thing (Hamilton) play Wednesday, June 18 with tickets $12; Golden State (Brooklyn/Amsterdam/San Diego) and Sun Rooms (Chicago/Austin/Oslo) play Thursday, June 19 with tickets $23; Sun Rooms (Chicago/Austin/Oslo) and Interstellar Orchestra (Toronto) play Friday, June 20 with tickets $18; and Mary Margaret O’Hara and Aidan Closs’ Spar and Automatic (Toronto) and Ronley Teper and her Lipliners (Toronto) play Saturday June 21 with tickets $18. While most of the artists might seem beyond the average pop fan’s grasp, Zafir is hoping to approach the more open–minded arts and music fan in the Greater Hamilton Area.
“Anyone who is curious with an open mind is welcome,” says Zafir. “You don't need to be a musician or an academic or anything else to enjoy this music. The music we’re presenting at Something Else!, though I find to be sacred — is not precious. You don't need to know anything about the history of the music or all the names involved or be a certain kind of person, to really enjoy it. You will not likely get turned onto this music via recordings but performed live is where it’s at. One of the reasons a city like New York is a cultural Mecca, is because a bus driver may dig opera, a stockbroker might be a bluegrass fiend, grandma's into dub and the mailman enjoys free–jazz. Forget about the boundaries and stereotypes, we need to expand our repertoire as beings. Instead of living on just meat and potatoes, we ought to enjoy the buffet. In this case, the buffet includes free jazz, electronica, improvised music, contemporary, in the true sense, jazz, avant–pop/folk. As a pretty average individual, I’d guess and hope to attract a whole range of folks. The music is ready for the audience, whether the audience is ready, is up to them.” V
The Something Else! Festival happens June 16 to 21 at the Hamilton Artists, Inc. (155 James St. N.). Click on zulapresents.org