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Posts Tagged ‘Ron Hawkins’

Friday, April 29th, 2011

Good Fortune

Weeping Tile celebrate celebration of ’90s CanRock

Photo By Graham KennedyGraham KennedyCanadian music circa 2011 is doing pretty great; more plentiful, creative and respected at home and abroad than ever before. No doubt sometime in the not too distant future, someone will write a book about this 21st century musical renaissance that (mostly) put an end to having Bryan Adams and Celine Dion as our national ambassadors of song.

But this golden age didn’t just happen, and the crucial decade that laid the foundation for today was documented by local scribes Michael Barclay, Jason Schneider and Ian AD Jack in the 2001 book Have Not Been The Same: The CanRock Renaissance 1985-1995, which documented the rise of Canadian music as it emerged from local scenes, college campuses and the underground in general to produce acts who are institutions today and inspired countless others to follow, such as Blue Rodeo, Sloan and The Tragically Hip and a slew of others familiar to me from my time as a university newspaper music writer and general nascent music obsessive.

I can’t actually go into detail about the book because, well, I haven’t read it. Originally released in 2001, it has been out of print for over half a decade (though yes the Toronto library has copies, shush now) but that unfortunate status is being rectified, just in time for the volume’s tenth anniversary. An expanded and updated second edition will be released on July 1 and if that’s not cause for celebration, then I don’t know what is. Okay, maybe Canada’s 144th birthday. But I digress.

A proper celebration of the occasion will be happening on June 10 at Lee’s Palace, and feature a terrific, period-correct bill. It’s led by the Cold Snap-era Weeping Tile, the Sarah Harmer-led outfit who occasionally break hiatus for special occasions like this, Wolfe Island 2007 or whenever Harmer feels like putting the folk-pop aside to make a righteous racket. Joining them are Guelph’s recently reunited jazz-rock heroes King Cobb Steelie and Kevin Kane, co-leader of Vancouver’s also recently-reunited Grapes Of Wrath and though he’ll be here with his solo career band, I’ll bet you can expect to hear some GOW tunes in the set.

The concert/book release announcement at Barclay’s Radio Free Canuckistan says that ticket information is still forthcoming but proceeds will be donated to Centre For Addiction & Mental Health. Read the book, see the show, support a worthy cause, bask in it all.

MP3: Weeping Tile – “Good Fortune”
Video: King Cobb Steelie – “Rational”
Video: Kevin Kane – “All The Things I Wasn’t” (live)

Ron Hawkins, whose Lowest Of The Low were possibly/probably the most important band for me in the era covered by Have Not Been The Same, will play an in-store at Sonic Boom on May 28 at 3PM to promote his new solo record Straitjacket Love. He’s also got two solo shows at Graffiti’s in Kensington on May 26 and 27 and a full-band residency at The Drake on June 22, 29, July 6 and 13. The Low are at Massey Hall on May 7.

NOW and The National Post chat with The Rural Alberta Advantage in advance of tonight’s show at The Phoenix. NOW have also got another Southern Souls-shot video with the band, this one a performance of “Barnes’ Yard”.

The Toronto Star and Toronto Standard talk to Malajube, in town for a show at The Horseshoe on Saturday night, April 30.

DIY welcomes Timber Timbre to the UK with an interview.

Dan Mangan gives Exclaim a sneak preview of his new record, which may be called Oh, Fortune and will likely be out come September. hour also has a chat.

NOW welcomes The Kills to Toronto, where they’ll play The Sound Academy on May 1.

Denver Westword has an in-depth conversation with John Vanderslice, who has a date at The Drake Underground on May 10.

Jason Isbell has conversations with Prefix and The Patriot-Ledger. He and The 400 Unit play The Horseshoe on May 22.

The Bay Bridged is sharing MP3s from a session with Thao & Mirah, who bring their Thao & Mirah collaboration to Lee’s Palace on June 5. Oregon Music News and LA Weekly talk to the pair about working together, and yes – that is a Pat Benatar cover.

MP3: Thao & Mirah – “Folks” (live)
MP3: Thao & Mirah – “Love Is A Battlefield” (live)

Paste catches up with Alela Diane, who brings her new record Alela Diane and Wild Divine to The Rivolli on June 11.

Titus Andronicus’ new Garden State-tripping, New Jersey-celebrating video from The Monitor – almost enough to make you not make a beeline for Penn Station as soon as you land in Newark. Almost. AM New York has an interview with the band, who are in town at The Phoenix on June 10 opening for Okkervil River.

Video: Titus Andronicus – “No Future Part Three: Escape From No Future”

Spinner sits down with David Lovering and Joey Santiago of Pixies while The Montreal Gazette talks to Santiago alone.

Toro and The Seattle Times talk to members of The Head & The Heart.

Spinner has a feature piece on Explosions In The Sky.

Thursday, November 19th, 2009

I Keep Faith

Billy Bragg and Ron Hawkins at The Phoenix in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangQ: Without a new record to promote – Mr. Love & Justice has been out for close to two years – what reason did Billy Bragg have for staging an ambitious cross-Canada tour?

A: Who cares? Any time you get the opportunity to see Billy Bragg live, you take it, no questions asked.

Of course, I say that having missed his last three appearances in Toronto – the September 2006 show at the Music Hall for not one but two weddings, the June 2008 in-store at HMV because I was working and the show that same night at Harbourfront for no reason I can recall. So Tuesday night’s show at the Phoenix marked the first occasion I’d see him perform since March 2006; in other words, far too long. The fact that this tour was somewhat without context was extra exciting, because the two proper shows of his I’d seen before were great but a little too rich with context – the 2006 show was to promote his Volume 1 box set and as such, only included material from that era and the July 2003 show at the El Mocambo was part of his “Talkin’ Woody” tour and as such, was almost 100% Woody. So it goes without saying that there was a LOT of material I’d been waiting a long, long time to hear live.

Support for the tour was perfectly chosen, with none other than hometowner Ron Hawkins – former frontman for my beloved Lowest Of The Low – kicking things off. It was an eminently logical choice as The Low and Bragg had played together back in the ’90s and Hawkins’ sharp folk-punk songwriting owes Bragg more than a few debts. Performing solo and acoustic, Hawkins showcased material from his new album 10 Kinds Of Lonely amidst some great banter, a tune from his other old outfit The Rusty Nails and a gorgeous and unexpected cover of Ryan Adams’ “Oh My Sweet Carolina”. Damn, Adams had the goods before he lost his mind. And Hawkins, happily, still does. He plays a show at the Dakota Tavern tonight before hitting the road out west with Bragg.

I’ve never seen Billy Bragg play with a band, but having heard live recordings of he with The Blokes, I’m perfectly fine with that. Not that they sound bad – not at all – but when it comes down to it, all Bragg needs is an electric guitar. And a cup of tea. Kicking things off with the oldest of the old school “World Turned Upside Down” before leaping ahead to a sublime pair of those aforementioned never-heard-live tunes from Don’t Try This At Home – “Accident Waiting to Happen” and “Cindy of A Thousand Lives”. Yeah, this was going to be a good night. At first, however, it seemed that Billy might disagree. Though sounding fine, he seemed a bit distracted or even perturbed at first – at least not the gregarious rabble-rouser he usually was.

A few songs in, when he got chattier, he revealed one of the reasons for his mood – just a couple days prior, it was announced that the execrable leader of the ultra-right British National Party, Nick Griffin, was going to be running for Parliament in Bragg’s very own home riding of Barking – the sort of news would drive any sensible person up the wall, let alone one as politically-minded and leftist as Bragg. He quickly got into proper form, however, and that along with myriad other injustices in the world – politicians, bankers, the military, North American football (or “runny runny catchy”, as he called it) – were called out and used as fuel for his performance.

As always, his between-song banter was as essential a part of the show as the songs themselves, and while we didn’t get a Morrissey story this time out, but there were fine tales about Woody Guthrie’s tumescence (with regards to “Ingrid Bergman”), his reaction to the misreported death of Margaret Thatcher, guitar quotes of “Seven Nation Army” and “Smoke On The Water” during the implied trumpet solo in “The Saturday Boy” and a profanity-riddled reading of poet John Cooper Clarke’s “Evidently Chickentown” to name but a few high points.

For all the funning, though, Bragg never travels without a message or two and those were well conveyed through anthems like “NPWA” and “O Freedom”, the latter introduced with a pointed comment about Canada’s handling of the Omar Khdar affair. But rather than accuse and criticize, Bragg was aware that he was largely preaching to the converted with the mostly-packed Phoenix audience and devoted most of his efforts to inspiring and mobilizing, decrying cynicism as the real enemy. To punctuate the point, the main set wrapped with a rousing run of “All You Fascists”, “I Keep Faith” and “There Is Power In A Union”. Heady stuff, indeed.

And it wasn’t done. Coming back out for the encore almost as soon as he stepped off stage, Bragg would do his own version of the “Don’t Look Back” movement of playing complete albums live, running through his debut mini-album Life’s A Riot With Spy Vs Spy almost in sequence, saving “A New England” for the grand, singalong finale to two glorious hours of Bragg. The absence of “St. Swithin’s Day” or anything from Worker’s Playtime was a bit disappointing, but for someone with a catalog as deep as Bragg’s there’s just no way to satisfy everyone. The only answer, I suppose, is for him to keep coming back – no excuse needed.

JAM and Panic Manual were also in attendance at the show. The Scope, Vue, FFWD, Canada.com, See, JAM and The Coast have all been conducting interviews with Bragg as he travels the country. Ron Hawkins gets some attention from Vue and Buffalo News.

Photos: Billy Bragg, Ron Hawkins @ The Phoenix – November 17, 2009
MP3: Billy Bragg – “I Keep Faith”
MP3: Billy Bragg – “Take Down The Union Jack”
MP3: Billy Bragg – “Must I Paint You A Picture?”
MP3: Billy Bragg – “Valentine’s Day Is Over” (live)
Video: Billy Bragg – “NPWA”
Video: Billy Bragg – “The Boy Done Good”
Video: Billy Bragg – “Sexuality”
Video: Billy Bragg – “Waiting For The Great Leap Forward”
Video: Billy Bragg – “You Woke Up My Neighbourhood”
Video: Billy Bragg – “Levi Stubbs’ Tears”
MySpace: Billy Bragg
MySpace: Ron Hawkins

The Telegraph and The Sheaf talk to Dan Mangan.

Rolling Stone talks to Jay Farrar and Ben Gibbard about their Jack Kerouac project One Fast Move or I’m Gone.

Drowned In Sound meets We Were Promised Jetpacks.

Matablog has a video teaser trailer for Shearwater’s new album The Golden Archipelago, due out February 23 in North America, a week later than the rest of the world.

Rogue Wave have set a March 2 release date for their new record Permalight.

Mumford & Sons have released a new video from Sigh No More, which will be getting a North American release in the early part of 2010.

Video: Mumford & Sons – “Winter Winds”

Bandstand Busking has session with Micachu & The Shapes.

Self-Titled talks about Bonfires On The Heath’s non-musical inspirations with The Clientele’s Alasdair MacLean.