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
August 21 - 27, 2014
Laura Cole’s Dirty Cheat
Growing up in a musical family, Laura Cole has had the itch to sing from an early age. Her dad, Ron Cole, has been playing Hamilton stages for years most recently as keyboard player with Banned From Heaven, and mom Marlaine is an accomplished pianist. Long time family friend Daniel Lanois had gone to high school with Cole’s father, and greatly inspired and influenced Cole. It’s no wonder she’s been playing covers in clubs for some time but I first got to meet her backstage at the Greenbelt Harvest Picnic when she was hanging out with the family. This weekend, Laura Cole will be playing the mainstage at Lanois’ Greenbelt Harvest Picnic but the singer is offering a special showcase of her brand new CD, Dirty Cheat, at the studio where it was recorded.

    “I had always tried writing but I didn’t write anything of substance until I turned 19,” offers Cole on the long process of making her debut disc. “It took me a long time to have those experiences in my life to write about. As well, singing all of these years, I think my voice has matured and become my own.

    “I’ve never had more inspiration than in the last few years travelling with Daniel Lanois,” she adds. “I told Dan about my plans for going to university and he just said that I’d probably learn more travelling with him. He’s been very supportive for me and I appreciate that more than anything. He’s the executive producer of my album and he’s helped a lot. He’s given guidance and his help has been amazing.”

    This past Valentine’s Day, Cole made her official debut on a special collaboration with Daniel Lanois. A song he had waiting to be recorded for fifteen years called Papineau seemed perfect as a duet between him and Cole when she was ready. That one recording helped jump–start things for Laura Cole.

    “That I’ve gotten to record that song with him, that’s just a bonus,” notes Cole. “That’s the single that brought me into the spotlight. I think it gained me a lot of respect in the Hamilton area and the world. There’s a bunch of things that that song did for me. Just the opportunity to work with Dan, it’s a whole different experience. The people that he’s worked with, they’re all people I look up to so it’s really neat to find out how he worked with them as well.”

    With that collaboration introducing Cole to a world of new fans, the singer is now ready to expose her life in song on her new CD. It’s a fun album with great musicianship and production but it’s Cole’s sexy and sultry vocals that sell the songs, although the lyrics are brutally personal for Cole.

    “It was one of the biggest things that has happened to me in the last five years of writing songs,” says Cole. “Dirty Cheat is a cool syncopated song and it’s an important song on the record and if you listen to all of the songs, you kind of get the gist of what I went through.

What? This stunning and talented 24 year old was cheated on?

    “I guess it happens, but I’m not particularly happy about it, as you might be able to tell with the lyrics,” laughs Cole on her dealing with a relationship that ended in infidelity. “Dan [Lanois] said it’s a brave record. It’s a topic [being cheated on] that happens all the time but not many people touch on. This album has a distinct Hamilton sound to it and I can really feel heart and soul in these songs. The backbone was recorded live off the floor, which people really don’t do these days. Literally, I’m pouring my heart and soul into this.

    Cole name checks influences like Sam Cook and Etta James while you can hear influences in namesakes like Nat King Cole or more contemporary comparisons to the likes of Amy Winehouse. Cole offers an album bristling with energy conjuring up a ’60s soul or rhythm and blues affair with a pop flair.

    “This is a soulful record, there is some pop to it but it’s got a little more edge,” clarifies Cole. “[Porcelain Records producer, guitarist] Steve knows what he’s doing. It’s been an honour to work with him and come out with this Motown influenced, kind of R&B, and kind of rock record. It’s something that even I have a hard time classifying but maybe it doesn’t need to be classified.

    With Bigas on guitar, Ron Cole on keyboards, Chris Chiarcos on bass and Mark McLean on drums, fans have been waiting five years for a record from Laura Cole and it was done rather quickly.

    “We recorded it in one day,” laughs Cole. “We did some overdubs and stuff but the backbone of the record was done in one day live off the floor. It made for a real exciting sound.”

    Recreating the record as it was recorded, Cole offers a CD release party at Porcelain Records this week to showcase her new music. All grown up now, Cole has a busy weekend ahead of her but it will assuredly be only the start for a very busy year with this stellar recording in her hand.

    “They don’t do a lot of shows at Porcelain Records but we wanted people to literally see how we did this,” says Cole. “We’re playing off the floor as we recorded so we’re in the crowd with the audience. We’re hoping to make it really cool and hope to have a lot of special guests – you never know who’s going to be there. After that it’s the Harvest Picnic with Dan and then – who knows? If I can make a living doing what I’m doing then I’m happy. I don’t need fame and fortune to be happy.”

Laura Cole plays this Thursday August 21 at Porcelain Records (171 Beach Road). Doors open at 8pm and tickets are available in advance for $15 with a copy of Cole’s new disc. Click on facebook.com/lauracolemusic

Will Ross’ Freeloader

Growing up on the local stage with ska band the Jolly Rogers, and then explore the jamband motif with Psychedelicatessin, Will Ross began exploring life as a solo singer/songwriter when he decided to leave Hamilton and move to BC back in 2012. He returned a year later with a CDEP, Over The Counter Culture but his goal from the start was to do a full–length album. Now another year gone by away from his hometown and Will Ross returns with a promise kept. The Will Ross Band brings a bunch of old friends together to bring Ross’ new full–length disc Freeloader to life in his hometown.

    “My first EP was the first time I decided to bite something off in the studio on my own,” recalls Ross. “I was very happy with it when it came out. This time around, I decided to bite off a full length album but honestly, I had no idea how much work I was getting into but nine months later and I couldn`t be happier with the results. My goal to was to write and record a full–length record. That’s why I moved out to BC and now I’ve finally done it. It took nine months to record this record and I`m excited to be coming back to Ontario to show everybody what I`ve done.

    “I decided to keep a lot of the psychedelic elements of Psychedelicatessin but I have a lot of other instruments involved and it’s more of an upbeat record I would say,” he adds on his musical direction. “I’ve been able to take what I learned with both the Jolly Rogers and Psychedelicatessin and morph it into my own sound.”

    A richly produced CD, there is a campfire, sing–along vibe to the songs of Will Ross and comparisons could be made to the likes of Dave Matthews

    “Dave Matthews was a huge influence on me growing up but there’s also elements of artists like the Band on this record,” says Ross. “It’s kind of a hybrid between a classic rock and roll record and an early ’90s Dave Matthews record. These songs were built up from just my acoustic guitar and harmonica so they sound good just playing them around the campfire but with the full band instrumentation, it just adds so much more to the music.”

    With the new disc in hand, Will Ross returns to the town that hasn’t forgotten him or his music. A slew of Hamiltonians will join the party in the audience and on stage when the Will Ross Band comes back to town.

    “I will always consider myself a Hamiltonian through and through, I still cry a little when I see the Ti–Cats on the television,” quips Ross. “I can be away for years but Hamilton still feels like my home to me. That said, I have a bunch of great Hamiltonians helping me out when I come back to town. I have Hamilton staple Robin Benedict joining me for this show so I’m really excited about that. We’ll also have appearances by Doug Feaver, Dan Walsh, Greg Brisco, the boys from Psychedelicatessin and a talented sax player by the name of Aaron Zukowich. I couldn’t be more excited about the band I have to play with when I come home to Hamilton. I couldn’t be more grateful to the friends that I have back home to help make this happen.

    “We have two sets of classic rock and roll to open the show with Psychedelicatessin and then the third set is going to be pretty much my new album from front to back,” adds Ross. “The music will definitely have you moving your feet but when you take home the record, I want you to not only listen and enjoy the music but also I would love it if people listened to the lyrics and if it evoked one person to want to make a bit of a difference, that would be exactly why I write these songs. It’s only $10 to get in and to hear this record performed with the calibre of musicians I have playing with me – it’s going to be well worth the money to come out and hear this for sure.”

Will Ross Band plays this Wednesday August 27 at the Corktown with Psychedelicatessin. Cover is $10 or $20 with a copy of the Freeloader CD. Click on facebook.com/willrossmusic

Daniel Lanois Greenbelt Harvest Picnic

With the fourth annual Greenbelt Harvest Picnic upon us, we get a chance to chat with seven–time Grammy–winning producer Daniel Lanois. No stranger to the spotlight, Lanois hangs around the likes of Neil Young, Emmylou Harris, Willie Nelson and more as a global celebrity but when he comes back to Hamilton he’s the same old Danny that helped shape a major studio in Hamilton back in the ’70s and ’80s or even the kid that delivered the Hamilton Spectator way back when.

    “Everybody wants to know about the new U2 record,” quips Lanois as we talk about recent activities in his career. “I haven’t heard a note for about a year but when I did hear it, I thought it was adventurous and fantastic so I can only assume, given their appetite for excellence and breaking new ground I can only assume it’s going to be terrific so I wish them the very best.

    Lanois is the kind of producer and person that develops relationships – fostering strong bonds between like–minded artists and as such, many artists continue to maintain relationships with Lanois long after recording projects are complete.

    “You can’t help but become friends with people – some other artists don’t talk to me anymore,” smiles Lanois. “No, I’m just kidding. I’ve made five albums with U2 so we’ll always have that bond.”

    Lanois has a rich past to discus but with his own record label, new news for Lanois includes being Creative Director and Chief Music Curator of a new website set to change the way music is presented, called Uprise.fm. Lanois chose to work with this particular website because it is more conducive to the way Lanois works in the studio.

    “UpriseFM is a very exciting for us because it’s a new music streaming service that will allow me to put music out there very quickly,” explains Lanois. “I bump into special moments all the time that don’t get to be appreciated by anyone except those involved on the night of. It’s really easy to record and film those moments and we’d hope that some of that makes its way onto the site. The more adventurous and spontaneous parts of the site are what really appeal to me. It’s the irony of the time. Everything’s going faster but releases haven’t because marketing campaigns need a ramp up. We might finish a record but it might not even come out for eight months because the campaign has to be in place so I like this idea of providing fast releases on Uprise.

    With all of his globetrotting, Lanois remains excited to be coming back to the city he grew up in. Lanois is joined by Ray LaMontagne, Bruce Cockburn, Boris Brott and the National Academy Orchestra, Los Lobos, Sarah Harmer, Ron Sexsmith, Gord Downie, the Sadies, and the Conquering Sun. Elliot Brood, Laura Cole and more for Saturday’s massive music fest and picnic at Christie Conservation Area.

    “I know Bruce [Cockburn] from way back,” says Lanois on some of the acts performing this year. “Bruce worked in my mother’s basement in Ancaster. He was producing a folk duo by the name of Eric and Martha Nagler. He came to my studio and I was engineering for Bruce way back then. I don’t see him all the time but I certainly have known him for a long time. I’ve never worked with Boris although I have known of him since he’s worked with the symphony in Hamilton for a good amount of years. I think I used to date his first violinist.

    “We’re honoured to have all of the musicians we have – even one making her debut this year,” adds Lanois. “I think Laura [Cole] has really found her sound on her new record. I’m so proud of her because she has a great sense of humour and that sense of humour shows up on the record. It’s a very heartfelt record. She’s a great singer, a great spirit and we’re lucky to have her. She’s going to be a nice cherry on the cake for the list of performers this year.”

    Everyone has their favourite performer to not miss but as namesake, everyone wants to see what Daniel Lanois will offer for his own performance and as always, Lanois hopes to wow crowds.

    “I’ve got a new record coming out in the fall on Anti Records called Flesh and Machine,” says Lanois. “I think it’s got some of my most adventurous sonics to date. My laboratory sounds will now be revealed. And with that, I’ve gone more electro this year so part of my set will feature the direction of my new work. About a fifteen minute section of my set will be the more adventurous sonics that I do in the studio so this year I’m taking the studio to the stage. Yes, I can play guitar but I can also play with my console and my samples so a portion of my set will celebrate that part of things. So far we’re a trio with Steve Nistor on the drums and Jim Wilson on the bass. I haven’t formed a plan in my head but I did think of inviting everyone I’ve ever known in Hamilton onto the stage as a big symphony behind me because I’m trying to compete with Boris Brott this year. I want forty of the usual suspects of my life lined up and all playing in unison.

    “We’re thrilled with the line up and thrilled with the comfort zone reached,” adds Lanois. “What was once just an idea is now a festival that belongs to the neighbourhood. It’s a lovely and chilled event. We have the one stage and you’re never going to hear another band playing on a second stage during someone else’s set. We take pride in that we pay respect to all of our artists. It’s Christie Lake – a beautiful place. A little swimming, a little eating – you can listen to music, dance, make love – you can do whatever you want at the Greenbelt Harvest Picnic.”

A Celebration of Life for Tava

When he was promoting bands in clubs in town, people just called him Tava and everyone knew whom you were talking about. The Hungarian born Tava Lesku used the moniker Tava Tunes on Facebook.com but last names weren’t important. Tava simply wanted to help connect people and make music. Born February 23, 1951, Tava Lesku sadly passed away August 5, 2014 from a massive heart attack and Hamilton’s music scene is now a little less bright without him. Tava Lesku was a long time fan of producing and mixing music and even started his own speaker company, Numan Technology in the ’80s but through doing live sound in clubs, he’d end up promoting at the Corktown and more recently at the Bay City Music Hall and Stonewall’s Restaurant. He’d never been busier connecting musicians and putting on live shows and friends, family and fans gather this week to celebrate everything Tava did in Hamilton.

    “Tava put a lot into the community,” remembers Tava’s stepdaughter Dagmara Fabrowska. “He was a man of his word. The bands were great and he wanted to make sure there was somewhere where the bands could be seen, heard and known. We all like to be appreciated but he was a giver. It was not about him. It was about the musicians for Tava. If there were more people that believed in Tava’s dreams, then he would have achieved a lot more but he was only one person. I hope that he’s looking over us and seeing how famous and well known he was and how big of an impact he had on the music in Hamilton.

    “I lived with Tava for three years when I came to Canada and he helped me adapt to the new conditions,” remembers Bozena Schlaich. “He had a big impact on my life and on so many other people because he was a very caring and sensitive person. People who play music are so sensitive. Tava couldn’t be financially successful because it couldn’t fit with his sensitive side. He loved art, food and music.

    “I cannot tell you how big a loss I have with losing such a great soul,” adds Schlaich. “He tried many things but he was too honest, too naive and to soulful to make money in this business. He was generous and honest. He wanted to unite people. Most people want to make themselves happy but Tava wanted to make other people happy. He was private and maybe lonely but I wish there was a way for him to know how many people cared about him and how many people are now so sad for losing him.”

    Tava’s idea of doing a Sunday blues matinee was one of his greatest recent successes and Brant Parker, host of the Sunday shows at Bay City, returns this Tuesday to host the Celebration for Tava.

    “Everyone is welcome to take the stage, say a word play an instrument and hopefully we have a good time because that’s what Tava was about – making people happy,” says Fabrowska. “There was no funeral. I want Tava to be remembered as happy and to be remembered for the music he helped make happen in this city. He wanted to bring people out and have a good time, away from everyday grey matter. That’s what he wanted when he was alive and this is what we are doing to celebrate Tava.” V

A Celebration For Tava happens this Tuesday August 26 with the Bay City Blues Band featuring Brant Parker, Sean O'Grady, Al Duffy and The Groove Dr.
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