Vol. 21 No. 8 • February 26 - March 4, 2015 In Our 20th Year Serving Greater Hamilton

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by Ric Taylor
MARCH 12-18, 2009
Melissa Bel Melissa Bel knew she wanted to be a singer at the age of six and her teen years have been spent taking her music to the next level. Some talent competitions and national anthem singing has offered some exposure but now barely old enough to play the clubs that might further her reputation, Bel is going into the school of rock forgoing a formal post secondary education — and her parents as well as her fans are behind her all the way. “I don't think that I could've asked for any more encouragement than what I was given from such a young age,” smiles the formally named Melissa Bellm who shortened the last name recently to ease confusion and coincide with a new label signing. “If anything, my parents encouraged me to not go to university and pursue music. I'm so lucky to have the kind of parents I have because they're so supportive and want to see me succeed in music just as much as I do.” Bel has enlisted some local veteran names to work with including Rob Lamothe, Sean Ashby, Ray Lyell and new manager Tom Treumuth who has also produced her latest recordings. “I learned just as much during the process of recording an album as I would've if I'd been in university or college,” offers Bel. “It's feeling like a career now, instead of just a hobby.” Late last year, Bel released a collection of songs that started piquing interest in industry types and within a few short months, she’s since signed a distribution deal with E1 Music (formally Koch Records), and released a new CDEP. With a voice that doesn’t betray her age, Bel admits taking influence from Amanda Marshall, Josh Stone or even the more veteran, Janis Joplin. While some of the song fodder displays a penchant for youthful pursuits, there are moments in Bel’s performance that are spine tingling. “I was raised on music like the Beatles, Annie Lennox, Bob Marley, and I love R&B and blues, so my influences come from more than just Brittany and Christina,” muses Bel on her influences. “I like to think of my music as mainstream, but with a little, or a lot, more personality than pop. A fan recently told me that they describe my music to others as ‘balls with silk panties’. As long as people don't take that literally I think it's kind of cool, or creative at the very least. “Two of my personal challenges right now are to write a love song that's actually kind of uplifting as opposed to about getting your heart trampled on, and write a song that's not about love at all,” adds the singer. “I know that a lot of people my age will be able to relate to many of the songs on the album, and they would agree that coming out of your youth in one piece isn't exactly effortless.” While success will come from much more hard work, it’ll be interesting to track what happens in the next year for the young Ms. Bel. Whatever the destination, Bel is simply thrilled with her current journey’s direction. “I've totally practiced my Grammy–acceptance speech in front of the mirror,” she laughs. “As much as I'm dying to wake up tomorrow morning and go on a world tour, if I'm not destined for superstardom, I would be totally content to continue making and playing music for anyone who will listen. I'll continue being an artist on any scale because making that kind of connection with people, even total strangers, is unique to the power of music.” Melissa Bel performs Tuesday, March 17th at The Blue Moon Lounge with Mad Soul, Grant Taylor, Trevor Howard, and Andy Stedman. The Poisoned Aeros Benefit Roller Derby and CHCH The vibrant and volatile dynamic between the members of the Poisoned Aeros offered a sole CD offering, aptly titled turbulence, but after five years, a dozen member changes and making headway in New York and Montreal as well as Toronto, the band simply disappeared from the scene while band members pursued other projects (Evelyn Dicks, Deadly Romantics, Forgotten Rebels). Vocalist Lynn ‘Buckshot’ Bebee even tried her hand at roller derby but more recently as clothing designer alongside Lorrainas’ bassist Kerry Wade for Blackbird Studio. After a couple of years breathing time, the individual members continue to pursue their particular pursuits but came back together this past February to play a glammed–up fashion show. While the band had its issues, it would seem 2009 might have more live gigs then the last two years of their existence the first time around — with two benefit shows this weekend. “I kept getting asked from friends and fans if the Aeros would consider playing again,” recalls Bebee. “I didn’t think much of it and I was not sure if I had the time to reunite the group. But this time around, the goal for the band is to lighten up and have a little fun. We can play when we want to and take time out when we need to. “I wasn't finished with the band,” reasons guitarist Johnny Bud Timmins on his return. “I have always enjoyed playing alongside Lynn but we were always working towards some deadline and song writing often got the short shrift. Now, I want to have some fun working out new songs with no agenda at all, other than presenting a great show.” “The goals have changed,” adds Bebee. “I kind of thought we had a good chance. We were playing strategic shows and we were pushing for bigger and better things but who’s going to sign a 48 year old broad? Now, it’s all about the love of the band and the music.” Long time members Ludger ‘Beef’ Bourassa and Dan Casale return on bass and drums respectively, and for the most part the band is flying as if they’d never stopped. A James North Art Crawl fundraiser for the Hammer City Roller Girls — the local league Bebee once skated for — a Club Absinthe marathon to help aid what seemingly is an ailing local TV station. “The HCRG is one of the hardest working leagues,” says Bebee. “They not only play hard but also give back to the community. I would do anything to help out the league. And what the hell is going on with CHCH? Wendy Wolfe, who is presenting the show, has always been very supportive of the Aeros. This is the least we can do!” “Both causes are very important to me,” reasons Timmins. “As a North End resident, seeing the change on James Street over the last few years, slowly and steadily growing a community that supports itself, has been fantastic to watch. I don’t get out as often as I wish so this is a great way to catch up and help out. “And a lot of us have been very disappointed in CanWest’s handling of CHCH for years, the last few months in particular,” he adds. “The idea of a community operated and supported station is almost too good to be true. Imagine the arts community of Hamilton getting real coverage on local television, local merchants being able to afford ads, it’s mindboggling the spinoffs that could occur with a fierce local focus. I think Donna Skelly can pull this together and I am very proud to be able to help, even if just a little bit.” As corporate missives suggesting major changes if not a sale or even shut down potential at CHCH, it’s rumoured that CH’s Donna Skelly and a group of CHCH staff members will approach the CRTC with a community–based business model to offer the station a new life. Twenty bands — including Tomi Swick, The Marble Index, Dean Lickyer, The Lorrainas, The Orphans, Pumps, Lo–Fi and 12 others — will show their grassroots support over 12 hours on Sunday and the Poisoned Aeros hope to add some of their renown dramatic visuals for the audience. “I’m not on stage for you just to listen to me; I’m on stage to entertain you,” smiles Bebee. “When I think of how the Poisoned Aeros play I visualize how it’d be on stage. It’s going to be hot and sexy and fanfuckingtastic in the Poisoned Aeros way. We’re back and loving every minute of it. It really comes back to the songs — when the crowd is singing along — even though we have not played them in a couple of years... it is really inspiring. I love the crowds — models, roller girls — who could ask for anything more.” The Poisoned Aeros play this Friday March 13th for the HCRG Fundraiser/Art Crawl event (8:00pm start $10 cover at Red Mill Theatre, 80 James St. N. above Harvest Moon Restaurant with Matt Jelly, Steel City Rock, Lone Hamiltone, The Hamilton Kid and DJ Carla Coma) and for Chords for Cameras for CHCH Sunday March 15 at Club Absinthe starting at 2pm and running till close. For more details click on www.myspace.com/poisonedaeros. V [RIC TAYLOR]
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