Friday, 29 April 2016

full of beans and beyond

The atmosphere was always low key and welcoming, 
the exhibit unfolded like a bouquet of flowers as network visualisations decorated the space, 
and bare cans of beans were festooned with designs from dozens of local artists, lay people and businesses. 

Full of Beans, put together by Sault export Bill Cowen, 
was a creative, refreshing use of 180 Projects' gallery space, 
and a great reason to come strolling up Gore Street in the springtime sunshine.  

Thank you Bill, for demonstrating that nobody is an island, 
and that interconnectivity is not only possible but an extant reality. 
This post features my snaps of colour-coded bean can tracings, 
which recorded the diversity of contributors to Full of Beans.

This evening, April 29th, we welcome East Coast folksinger Matthew Hornell to the cafe, 
for an evening of music also featuring local act Shit Creek Survivor. 
We've got squash fritters, chocolate chip granola cookies, 
Rhubarb Apple squares and melon smoothies available pwyw during the concert.

This coming Monday May 2nd, folk punkers Dirtfight will be performing in the laundromat 
with local opener Rihkee Strapp. Show is pay what you want, suggested 5$

Next Tuesday's open mic night will be hosted by Jeff Hinich. Bring your songs, stories, community news, appetite and instruments to this always-lively gathering of artists and music lovers.

Next weekend, may 6-8 is Sault Ste Marie's first Jane's Walk, featuring four walking tours by Michael Burtch, Torie Prouse, and myself. The walks will focus on different aspects of the downtown core, from historical art and architecture to the development of the waterfront to the back laneways.

Monday, May 9th the café will host Nordik event Climate Change Using Spoken Word. I will be facilitating presentations and interactivities with rap poets and spoken word artists from the Soo York enclave. There will be complimentary snacks provided.

Thursday May 12th is the next meeting of the Gore Street Supper Club, and a menu will be announced ASAP. Tickets will be available to this BYOB event until May 10th.

Sunday May 15th we welcome Winnipeg duo Basic Nature, who will be performing their epic brand of indie post-rock on the laundromat stage. In-house RnB/ hip hop act Manitobanality will open the show.

Stay tuned and thanks for being out there:-)

Friday, 8 April 2016

The Queen Street Shuffle

 This is just a story about feeding people.
It's me telling this story, thus by definition it is made up of my opinions. So don't worry if you don't agree with everything I say. This is just a story about feeding people.

This is not a story about rock stars. Rock stars have already won your devotion by conforming to the underdog bad boy image: Rock stars owe you nothing. Any connection to their community is a happy accident.

This is a story about the parking crises in downtown Sault. See the picture below of a pickup truck backed into a building at Albert and Gore. Where's he gonna park when they take out the traffic lights?

This is a story about three or four people trying to have a good time for 35$ on a Friday night downtown with no car in the fluffy mid-April snow. The journey took us from East Street to the Riversedge™ Paper Mill in search of fresh music and hot dogs, sampling pitchers and hockey matches at the American and the Breakaway.

But of course the only hot dogs available in downtown Sault are at Reggie's on Saturday, the right jab of a one two punch that brings out the karaoke and chicken wing fans for the best Sunday scene in town.

This is a story about Nick Luck. Is he the Soo's next Kalle Mattson? Is there hope for a chillwave scene on Algoma's subarctic tundra? Last week at open mic we turned two young men into instant hypeman rappers. Sometimes excitement is infectious...

This is the week that Bill Cowan's Full of Beans goes into the installation phase at 180 Projects, Isabelle Michaud took her show down at the café, and Paula Robertson put hers up. A busy time for art on Gore:-)

Now it's Thursday and we've headed for Lop Lops to catch the pizza-and-pint deal, some bartender mash-ups, and a few rounds of Blokus. Here's a little song I wrote about the pursuit of happiness and fun in Sault Ste Marie. Come check it out live at Lops on May 12th, at the KIDS hip hop show.

The Sammy Shuffle

From Greco Pool to Carmen's Way
Ste Marie's seen better days
Hop across Great Northern road
Shop and haul my heavy load

Read the signs they pack away:
Princess General, Sunshine Laundry
Low 'n Slow to 180
SMAC please ain't no hill of beans

Cops and bikers, cowboys, locals
Battle bands, new media moguls
Up before the Arab spring,
Bondar's big old trampoline

Throwing snowballs glowing flame
Arcadia ergo again
Downtown broke no joke, no cash
Not enough work, find hope, move fast!

Woah woah woah woah,
the Sammy shuffle

Exercise free market muscle
Don't drag feet now do the shuffle
Hilltop view of the hot mill
Holding one soul in a sludge tank still

In my clubhouse keep it tight
safe(r) space both day and night
City's dying, world in plight
Lemme spread this little light

Plan as it stands on Albert and Gore
Says we don't need the lights no more
Isn't our safety worth 8 grand?
Turco, hear the Ward demands:

We want parks, there's plenty parking
Sweet Jane Jacobs, let's get walking
Wash your hands of the decision
History is in revision

Woah woah woah woah,
The Sammy shuffle

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

PREME Interview

How long have you been making music? Why did you start?

 About 3 years as a serious artist, Although i rapped on my first track back in 2002 in high school for a friend’s business ed. project. Some kids were making T-Shirts, Some were making cotton candy to sell, But one friend i knew made a hip-hop mixtape to sell. Even though it had explicit language i guess since it was for a project the principle let us play it in the main hall with a table set up to sell the CD’s that were pressed. I think they ended up selling like 60 copies in total but it was an amazing feeling to be part of something that people took serious.

 What's changed in your relationship with music over the years?

I started back up in 2012 making music full time, Thinking that even if i wasn’t able to make my name known that at least it would prove to my kids that you can still go for your dreams at any age. Considering most people rapping in my city are considerably younger than me, I was still able to do what my city hasn’t seen done in quite some time, Have a full time career artist divulge all of his time and efforts into the Hip-Hop field. It have been something in me that has changed since i would only make music in my spare time when i was in high school. Even if you make music full time there is a lot of other things that come along with making your name known, I feel like i been doing a good job figuring out what those things are.

 How far have you travelled to play music?

 I toured with KIDS in an Ontario tour to Sault Ste. Marie, Wawa and Kenora with Theymedia back in 2013. I also went back to Sault Ste. Marie and Wawa in 2013 just before X-Mas. Now being an independent artist it has been a lot harder to get booked as a part of a tour, However i was able to work with my manager and book my first ever headliner tour called The Never Slack Tour 2015, Which included stops in 12 cities from Thunder Bay, Winnipeg, Calgary, Edmonton, Red Deer, Vancouver and Victoria to name some of more notable places, Naniamo, BC (which is on the island) being the furthest for me so far. We also brought a DJ from BC on the tour, a Thunder Bay DJ, Driver, Tour Manager and opening act from Thunder Bay.

What's your favorite thing about performing?

 It has to be the minute i hit the stage. Beforehand there is a period of anxiety and nervousness, Which is immediately diminished the second i get the mic and say my first few words to the crowd. I really feel at home, And it’s a place i feel i never want to leave. No amount of time up there is good enough, However i rarely show it, Ending my sets as humble as possible giving the crowd a chance to decide for themselves if they like me. Some artists push themselves on the crowd and that never goes well, I also like when i get that amazing crowd participation on one of my chorus’s. When i’m able to hold the mic to the crowd and hear the energy it really surges through me and makes me give the best performances.

Which artists have held the most influence and inspiration for you?

Biggie definitely held a lot of inspiration to me in terms of his realistic lyrics, Tupac because of his intellectual insight and the way he seen things not only in the hip-hop industry but politically i like to follow politics a lot. Mobb Deep are also some inspirational dudes to me, I was lucky enough to meet them and catch a show when they came to Thunder Bay as a part of their anniversary tour, I asked Prodigy about some insight he could give to an up and coming artist and he gave me some real good advice, Which i’d rather keep to myself! Sorry fellow rappers.. Oh Eminem is a huge inspiration to me, Sheer genius when it comes to rap. And in terms of native hip-hop i think Winnipeg’s Most, Redcloud, Drezus and Joey Stylez have helped to inspire my grind, Which is why i am so humbled to have been asked to be a part of the Stressed Street Collective with Joey and Drez. $$ Tony McGuire also influence’s me in film as i have taken a more direct role in my videography.

 What are your goals as a working musician?

plan on getting my name not only known in the Canadian market but in the United States and Over Seas. I would like to set up as much touring as possible during the year while making sure i have enough time to make the music sound just right. Working with the right people is a huge one too, It takes time to pull the right people together, But once you do the outcome is amazing. I have a goal to influence the youth in our country and make as many connections i can use to help my kids in the future, If that’s a possibility and i can influence fans and make a living doing that i’m more than happy. 

Do your lyrics strictly reflect real life, or do you find fantasy and allegory to be useful tools?

Yes only real life in my lyrics, I started off slightly exaggerating in certain songs and now i have stepped up my writing enough that i can rely on my wordplay and lyricism. I have lived coast to coast with my mom and younger brother mostly with little income so i have a great amount of realistic situations to draw from rather than having to use those fictional elements.

Tell me about the scene in thunder bay. What mcs, djs or bands are you most excited about? Who do you play shows with? What does the scene need to grow in your opinion?

The scene in my city is vibrant. It was lacking for many years and about the time i started getting into hip-hop in 2012 it was much alive, More mainstream acts and bigger independent artists were coming to perform and opening up opportunity for us to open and expand out local fan base, However the scene in Thunder Bay is small especially with the Hip-Hop scene you usually will see the same fans coming out, It’s a matter of getting those outside people to come see what a hip-hop show is like and they usually come back. As far as talent in Thunder Bay my homie Dystrakted is an amazing DJ and is doing a lot of work with me on my album with hooks, Adding those distinct hip-hop cutz to the mix. Beatfarm is a crew that is most notable other than me for their efforts and work ethic in the scene. I play shows with a lot of up and coming MC’s who are just getting into the scene and it’s good to have them out at the shows learning from what i do and following in my footsteps. I like to extend my hand to others as much as possible, Especially to younger MC’s in my hometown. The scene in general needs more Hip-Hop on the weekends for the mass crowds to be able to see how much effort and hard work we put into our music, I have been able to do this more often promoting my own shows and performing at least once a month to keep fans updated and motivated to keep up with my music. We need to put more support behind our hard working locals in order to see them up on the Canadian stage representing us well.

What are some awesome artists you met on the road/ which performing arts in Canada do u feel deserve props?

 I have met ALOT of artist on the road during my 12 city headliner tour this past summer.. I’d say i would give props to all of the ones who came out to the show’s to support real hip-hop and be a part of the growth a small artist like me will have to undergo in order to make it in the scene. Even these small 15 people shows or less sometimes will give you a humbling feeling, You just know that there will be better shows and there will. Props to Johnny Knoxx, Mic Swiff, Wes Paul, Jay Puffin, KIDS, NEPH, Hood Daddy’s, Feller, MC Rush, KDot204, CCR, Jessica Bro-Z, Lethal-C, Euphoric, EDP, Status Krew, Barry Daniels, Fritz, Alberta Murderaz, Native Prodigy, RJ, Saintanik and if i forgot anyone MY BAD!

 Do you identify yourself as a north Ontario artist? 
Do you feel that this part of the country has a distinct musical culture?

Yes i see myself as representative of Northern Ontario.. I feel it is a place that has a lot of people making music. If you look at the career artists we have out here i think we have a real raw lyrical sound that is just starting to break through, The native people have quite a story to tell. In Canada we are the oppressed people and we face many things on a daily basis that we can use as fuel to write, We should never need to fictionalize our lyrics because we as a people have so many avenues we can use as topics of discussion, Or areas we can use to write about, I have so many things i can talk about in my lyrics i just give out bit by bit, One day i’ll write a book. Until then you have to piece my life story together from my songs and what i speak about. I think it’s more less Canada as a whole that has the distinct musical culture to be honest, We are a culture that has had to many years out of the spotlight and now we are finally giving people worldwide a chance to see what kind of talent lies out here, I’m happy to see that music is alive and thriving in our country.

Monday, 4 April 2016

Walrus rocks cross-country

The Walrus is...

> Justin Murphy - lead vocals, guitar
> Jordan Murphy - drums
> Justin McGrath - lead guitar, vocals
> Keith Doiron - bass

Tell me about your travels this spring...

> We are just finishing up a 5 week cross canada tour with Wintersleep and Evening Hymns, and a bunch of Ontario dates of our own. We'll be heading to Saint John and Fredericton for shows in a couple weeks, then up to Toronto for CMW and a week of dates around Quebec. Still sorting out our dates after that but it's shaping up to be a very busy spring.

How's life on tour been treating y'all since you left Halifax?

> This tour has been amazing. It's been really fun and we don't really have anything to complain about....we've been spoiled. There's been a lot of amazing shows, but playing the Commodore Ballroom in Vancouver was definitely a special one. That room is incredible. Lee's Palace was another special show...getting our van towed in Toronto afterwards might be the low point haha.

>Best eats on the road so far?

> We got hooked up with some pretty great food in certain spots. Definitely from you and Nicole in Sault Ste Marie...thanks again! Our pal Marc who runs the Princess Cafe in Waterloo is another one, we had an amazing meal and drinks there before our show that night. Also staying with our friends Whoop-Szo in London we had a couple of great meals. There's more too, we've been lucky.  I suppose the worst eats would be sharing some Kraft Dinner.