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
July 24 - 30, 2014
The Peoples Social Forum Fundraiser

While local emcee Lee Reed has been readying his new full–length release tentatively scheduled for release later this fall, he has a wealth of other activity keeping him busy. Reed is starting up a new duo – Flowtilla alongside Mother Tareka – and a new collective label with a bunch of radical, leftist hip hop artists from around the country and he’s also one of the prime suspects behind a fundraiser to get Hamilton noticed at an important international political event.

    “The Peoples Social Forum is a mass convergence of progressives and lefties: environmental and social justice activists, First Nations activists, queer activists, peace activists, disability activists, poverty activists, folks working on issues of labour, animal rights, food, water, farming, mining and everything in between, coming together, under one tent, to share ideas, and find points of intersection between their movements,” explains Reed. “[It is meant] to empower folks on the frontline fighting against every aspect of this failing model of capitalist governance: against colonialism, poverty, war, austerity, growth economics, etc. It’s part of a global movement that emerged from the World Social Forum in Porto Alegre in 2001. It looks to shadow the capitalist’s big global convergence, the World Economic Forum.  But instead of bankers meeting with politicians to discuss what’s good for the economy, its people, meeting with people, to discuss what’s good for people.  This is Canada’s first nationwide Social Forum.  It runs August 21–24 in Ottawa.  There are over 500 workshops, internationally renowned speakers & activists, marches, demonstrations, concerts, art exhibits, all highlighting folks’ struggles for justice worldwide.

    “We are raising funds to help pay for a bus to transport Hamilton folks wanting to attend the Forum,” adds Reed. “We would like to see a strong Hamilton contingent at the Forum, speaking for Hamilton area issues, and connecting the work of Hamilton area activists with folks across the country and the rest of the world. The Forum has made great options for cheap accommodations and registration. We are hoping a cheap return bus ride.”

    “We’ve done most of our outreach and invites in the activist community and among folks that are familiar with the Social Forum and the bill reflects that, with a heavy emphasis on truth music and rebel music, and conscious, loving, soul music,” says Reed. “But, that said, the issues that are being discussed at the Forum have implications for everyone, everywhere.  Or, at least, for anyone that drinks water, breathes air, and is interested in seeing the human race make it through the next 30–100 years.  So, come one come all, the more the merrier!  This planet ain’t going to fix itself.

    “We will be bringing Hamilton area issues to the Forum, and looking to connect with folks fighting the same battles in other parts of the province, or the country, or the world even,” adds Reed. “Make some connections, forge some alliances, and amplify our collective voice. Austerity and the war on poverty. Decolonization and First Nations solidarity work. Labour issues and rampant youth unemployment.  Environmental issues like Tar Sands expansion, and Enbridge’s Line 9 reversal. Gentrification and crony capitalism masquerading as ‘community development’, Police violence and paramilitarism.  Racism. Ableism. Sexism. Homophobia. War. Bank bailouts. Dying bees. Water and food insecurity.  There is no shortage of issues these days.  The PSF will be a historic convergence.  With folks coming in from all over the world to discuss these things, and more. Our Hamilton contingent hopes to return from the Forum schooled, invigorated, and readied for the fight ahead.”

The Hamilton Expansion Committee of the Peoples Social Forum Fundraiser happens this Friday July 25 at Homegrown Hamilton with Lee Reed, Mother Tareka, Flowtilla, Kojo ‘Easy’ Damptey, Neisha New–Era, Illogick, Lichelle Lotus, Selecta Escondido and Realtime Activities. Doors are at 9pm and a $5 to $10 donation gets you in with all proceeds going to mobilize the Hamilton contingent for the Forum.

Born Wrong’s Art District

Within a month of Born Wrong coming together in July of 2012, they hit the road. That’s what this hardcore punk rock juggernaut does. With Scott Page (vocals), CJ Pasta (guitar), Brandon Strychowski (drums) and James Oag (guitar), Born Wrong have had five releases in two years with their newest four song 7–inch 45 vinyl recording, “Art District” play a hometown show to kick off yet another tour.

    “Touring was something we had planned right from the start, we pressed a record and when on tour,” offers Paige. “With our new record, we’re going out again for our fourth US tour and we hope to go out to Europe next summer. As much as we tour, we actually play a lot in Southern Ontario. We play pretty much anywhere you can play.

    Studying History and Labour Studies at Brock University, Paige works two jobs as a child and youth worker and that helps keep some normality a non–musician might expect – but the road is where Paige probably feels most at home. With a new recording, Art District, recorded with Brian Wirth at Tapehead Recording in Stoney Creek, Born Wrong offer up some lyrics that rival their powerful musical punch.

    “It’s definitely a sarcastic song,” says Paige on the title track of the new release. “I work and live in this city – I’m at Hammer City Records on James Street all the time. Gentrification is happening all the time in cities all over the world but Hamilton has a unique form of it. They’ve convinced this arts scene, which in my opinion was hugely rebellious and questioning things – they’ve convinced them to participate in the gentrification. I’d like people to interpret the song for themselves but as an artist, maybe I’m questioning the idea of gentrification and the idea of space being allocated to people by certain people and being protected by certain people. You can’t print what I want to say. I’ve already said what I want to say in the song. I want people to come, experience, and listen to my lyrics for how they wanted to be written. If you have to explain a joke, it’s just not funny anymore so listen to the record and it’s very clear what I’m saying. I’ve always been driven by social and political issues. It’s something that I wrap into our songs. The rest of the songs kind of connect to how I relate to the gentrification of the art district. I’m not anti–art. I’m against an arts or music scene being at least naive to the fact that this gentrification is apparent in the arts district.”

    Rather than focus on full–length recordings, Born Wrong release smaller pieces of music that allow them to be more focused, direct and in their fans faces.

    “For us it makes a lot more sense to do it that way,” notes CJ Pasta. “For some other bands, spending more time and polishing up a record would suit their music better but for us moving forward and touring and forcing us to try new things that works best for us. Between Scott, Brandon and I, we’ve really found a sound that we like and it comes down to who can tour and who really wants to keep moving. In these two years, we’re more focused and we know what we want.”

    There’s little new in the world of hardcore punk, and there’s little wiggle room to offer any new nuance but Born Wrong excel at what they do perfectly straddling the more drunken, anarchic screaming punk with the more precise playing of the more rigid metalloid brand of hardcore that sometimes loses that punk edge.

    “Now that we’ve found our sound, I’m happy with the way we do things, it’s not going to change, and whoever likes it, likes it. There’s the energy of the bands that I grew up on like the Dead Kennedys or Minor Threat minus the straight edge stuff. But there’s been a lot since then. We’re getting faster in what we write. I really like bands that I actually know, we’ve played with, and they seem to have the most influence on us.

    “In the beginning as a brand new band, you have to define yourselves but sooner or later you just trust yourself and trust the musicians you play with,” interjects Pasta.

    “If you look at our tour route, it’s pretty much the same every time but you’ll notice each time that there are a few places that aren’t on there anymore,” concludes Paige. “Those are the places that we’re not punk enough for or we’re not this or we don’t fit and it’s a bad vibe and it sucks and we just don’t go there anymore. I play music to have fun; I go to shows to have fun. I don’t want to be dragged down by that kind of negative – not like I’m a super positive guy by any mean. I’m actually a really negative guy but I don’t come out on my free time, I don’t do this to be bummed out so why waste my time with that shit?”

    Released on Hamilton’s Schizophrenic Records and Greece’s Scull Crasher, Born Wrong hopes to have a big send off party before again, they hit the road.

    “Our friends in Social Divorce are doing a special reunion, just for this show because this is like a tour fundraiser for us,” says Paige. “We just got a clunker van and put some serious work into it and we’re dead broke and we need to raise funds to get back out on the road again. This record is how we should sound like forever. We finally found this sound and making records helps us tour which is what we love doing and allows us to keep writing music. It’s as simple as that.”

Born Wrong play this Saturday July 26 at Doors Pub with Social Divorce, Disgusti, Burn Victim, Spore and more. Doors are at 9pm and $8 and a canned good get you in or $10 without. Click on bornwrong.bandcamp.com/

Luke and the Apostles

With the dawning of the rock and roll era, smaller cities like Hamilton would have a huge impact on the greater metropolis of Toronto although perhaps not as well documented. Hamiltonians would flock to Toronto and make their mark and the city would offer a touring spot for out of town bands. Luke and the Apostles would be one such Toronto band who would develop strong relationships with a few key Hamilton musicians and influence fans when they toured through town. But it’s been a few decades since Luke and the Apostles hit the Hammer – with their return this weekend, they plan to do it hard.

    “We did come to Hamilton a few times over the years,” remembers Luke and the Apostles founder and guitarist Mike McKenna. “All of the bands did the circuit; you played Ottawa, Montreal, Kingston, Belleville and Hamilton. Hamilton’s always been a great place for me. I’m a big fan of King Biscuit Boy and I got to play with him a few times. I’m friends with the guys from Crowbar. Hamilton’s a rocking town and they’ve still got that live music scene that maybe Toronto doesn’t have a whole lot anymore.”

    Mike’s Trio featuring Graham Dunsmore and Rick McMurray, were joined in late 1964 by singer/guitarist Luke Gibson and keyboardist Peter Jermyn to form Luke and The Apostles and played regularly at El Patio and the Purple Onion. They’d develop a style and sound that would get them signed to Elektra Records by the Doors and Paul Butterfield Blues Band producer Paul Rothchild and their debut song, “Been Burnt” remains a one minute and forty–four second garage rock classic.

    “We were an R&B band when we started and we watched people like Ronnie Hawkins and the Hawks and Robbie Lane and the Disciples, or Richie Knight and the Mid–Knights,” recalls McKenna. “Those were the bands that we tried to emulate and so we all wore suits and ties in that fashion but that quickly changed after we went to [Yorkville] Village. If you were at all into music, the place you had to go to was the Young Street strip. Muddy Waters or Ronnie Hawkins – all of these bands that came up from the south came there. It was a really great music scene. We’d come down from North Toronto to sneak into shows.

    “Every band in Toronto we took a huge influence from the Hawks, especially Robbie Robertson,” adds McKenna. “I tried to emulate what he did with his telecaster but I was also a big fan of the blues players that came up in the early ‘60s. They were a huge influence on us and gave us a direction of what we wanted to be like. We didn’t consider ourselves garage rock at the time. Somewhere over the years, we’ve been considered garage rock and I’m honoured but it wasn’t our intent at the time. We also did Motown, blues and R&B just like the Hawks and everybody else. “Been Burnt” was our sound and when you want to hear us, that’s what we are. It’s a kick ass record in my opinion.”

    Their “You Make Me High” single reached number 27 on Canada’s RPM chart in October 1970 and was a perfect slab of the hippy Yorkville culture but the end of the band was nigh as the individual members explored other options. Gibson accepted an offer to join the progressive folk–rock outfit, Kensington Market and McKenna joined The Ugly Ducklings before forming McKenna Mendelson Mainline. But by the ‘90s, a nostalgia set in and for the last five years, McKenna, Gibson, Jermyn and newest recruits David Reaume on bass and Rob Kirkpatrick on drums have been Luke and the Apostles longer than its original incarnation.

    “We spent four years together, six nights a week playing – and if we weren’t playing we were rehearsing,” says McKenna. “We went through a whole pile of ups and downs and we didn’t have a manger. By the time we hit New York, it was cool but everyone was being approached by other people. We could have stuck it out and a manager could have advised us to do that but... We didn’t throw it away; we just didn’t know what to do with it. But we had a great time when we did and had some wonderful times and played with some great people. That’s what it comes down to, our experiences were all good.

    “When Luke and I got together to see what we could do, the old memories were still there in the music,” adds McKenna. “There’s many bands caught up in the nostalgia thing but this band sounds great. It’s gotten better and better. We come out and do a great show and for people that still want to hear this, we do it great. I know it’s going to sound cliché but It’s just so much fun – and we’re not doing it for the millions of dollars were earning that’s for damn sure. Every time I’ve been out to Hamilton to play, I have an absolute ball. I’m really looking forward to coming back to Hamilton to a place like This Ain’t Hollywood. We play some of the Apostles stuff some of the new stuff but I believe this is a rocking club and that’s going to give us a chance to really rock out and these old guys are going to be rocking.” V

Luke and the Apostles play this Saturday July 26 at this Ain’t Hollywood with Tim Gibbons and Catl.
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