McMaster University used to have a lot more hip young band’s playing on campus regularly. It’s where I first saw the Tragically Hip at the now defunct Downstairs John. But recent years have seen a new exploration into music and particularly local music with acts like Diana Panton, Terra Lightfoot and more playing as part of an inventive LiveLab concert series in the novel Psychology Building theatre. Renown as a consummate performer, local Juno winner and blues guitarist Steve Strongman is the latest local to take on the space.
“I heard they were doing some shows there and got in touch with Dan Bosniak and got a private tour of the facility,” recalls Strongman. “They have an incredible facility there and do a lot of scientific type things as it is an educational facility. For the shows that I'm doing there, we’re not going to have that component included but it’s such an amazing room, it’s going to be a thrill to play in and that’s why I really wanted to do it.
“It’s great to have a world class facility like this right here at McMaster," adds Strongman. “They have a mandate to focus on a local component there but musically, they’ve had jazz players, cellists and more so they’ve got a great room with lots of different music. Terra’s performance turned into a live performance recording with the philharmonic and so you never know for us. We are filming and recording these shows and that’s something Dan and his team bring to us, so why wouldn’t I want to play this place? You never know.”
Strongman just recently released his seventh album Tired of Talking this past summer but word is the vinyl version will be available just in time for Christmas in November. He’s done stellar performances in Las Vegas and just last month with the Hamilton Blues All Stars to unofficially close Supercrawl but this month, Strongman takes on two nights in this novel venue for another Hamilton showcase in perhaps a different light. While other LiveLab events have incorporated electronic and educational type experiments to connect the audiences with the performers, this particular LiveLab performance is straight up Steve Strongman.
“Yes, It is going to be a straight up Steve Strongman show for sure, although there are going to be different elements to it,” says Strongman. “In such a technically great sound room, in that environment and having people in a more listening atmosphere, we’re going to take advantage of that and do some acoustic stuff as well but of course, I’m doing the electric stuff I’ve done and we’re expecting an amazing night of music on both nights. They can set up the room differently but for our event it’s going to be a seating listening environment and with about a hundred and twenty seats, we’re hoping for the perfect intimate performance.
“I’ve got Dave King (drums and vocals) and Colin Lapsley (bass and vocals) joining me as usual so people coming to this show — the’re going to get some blues,” adds Strongman. “My new record is translating really well live so they’re going to get some excitement but fans will also hear a little acoustic stuff as well. The electric stuff has me yelling at people and jumping on tables and the acoustic stuff is a little more mellow meant more for a listening audience. That’s why the LiveLab will be perfect for this. I don’t know if they’d encourage dancing at this space but sometimes you just can’t help it.”
Steve Strongman performs this Friday October 18 and Saturday October 19 at McMaster LIVELab with Haillee Rose opening. Shows start at 8pm and tickets are $35 general admission and $15 for students. Click on Stevestrongman.com or livelab.mcmaster.ca