Laura Cole & Ben Somer • May 13

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LAURA COLE with BEN SOMER
Fri May 13, 2016 • Mills Hardware (95 King St. E., Hamilton)
Doors 7:00pm • 19+
Tickets $9.99 (+SC) advance, $15 at the door
 
In a digital download world where artist photos and clever packaging are often overlooked, Laura Cole makes us pay attention. On the front cover of her raw, gritty and wildly infectious debut full-length album Dirty Cheat, the quickly emerging, raspy voiced Ontario based singer-songwriter smiles playfully, relaxed in a wicker chair. The back cover finds her in a sexy black dress in the remote woods of Upstate New York, aiming and shooting a friend’s licensed .45 – a wild episode that had neighbours calling out the SWAT team, thinking something sinister was amiss before the situation was defused as a big misunderstanding. That’s the perfect metaphor for Laura and her deep, complex artistry: the adorable badass.
 
A compromise-free, colourfully blunt songwriter, Laura brings her edgy, soulful and distinctively bluesy musical vision to life with the help of two Grammy winning producers – Steve Bigas, who won his Grammy for engineering blues legend Taj Mahal, and the legendary Daniel Lanois, an artist in his own right whose vast resume includes Grammy winning albums by Bob Dylan (Time Out of Mind) and U2 (The Unforgettable Fire, The Joshua Tree) and others by Willie Nelson, Neil Young, Emmylou Harris and the Neville Brothers. Laura had the great fortune of growing up influenced by “Uncle Danny,” a close friend of her father’s who took an early interest in her development as an artist. “He’s been listening to me sing since I was a kid, whether he liked it or not,” she says.
 
Laura and Lanois have enjoyed a spirited musical history together, starting their dynamic “musical journeys” after she finished high school when he took her to Nashville to watch him work with Harris. She also sang with his friends The Blade Family (including renowned jazz musician Brian Blade) on several episodes of the Louisiana based gospel TV show “Hallelujah Train” in Shreveport. In 2013, he asked her to sing a duet with him on a song he wrote (and she later added lyrics to) called “Papineau” – which he surprised her by releasing as a Valentine’s Day single. After spending three days at his L.A. studio recording, she flew straight to Casablanca (yes, the one in Morocco!) to start a whirlwind two month gig at a hip after hours pub. Closer to home, the Ancaster, Ontario born and based Laura has built a growing fan base at hotspots like Lula Lounge in Toronto, This Ain’t Hollywood in Hamilton and at various festivals and “Taste of” events.
 
Drawing on a wide swath of rock, jazz and R&B influences ranging from Etta James and Aretha Franklin to Billie Holiday, Sam Cooke and the late Amy Winehouse – artists “who let you hear the soul in their voices” – Laura noticed a theme developing as she and Bigas narrowed her growing catalog of tunes to nine perfectly honed tracks. She says the theme of Dirty Cheat can be summed up in three songs: the sly and sexy “Sweet Escape” (about a “friends with benefits” moment that offered temporary relief from life’s struggles), the dreamy, mystical Tom Waits inspired “Death Row” (about the troubling end of a relationship) and the trippy, seductively sly title track, about raining hell down upon a cheating boyfriend – making sure she was “someone that you never forgot.”
 
“A lot of people get cheated on, but don’t like to talk or sing about it,” she says. “For me, these songs are my catharsis, honest stories I am telling because I have nothing to hide. It’s easier for me to be true to myself than put on a cheerful front all the time. My goal has always been to portray real things I had been through – and I started writing my best songs till I had experienced the heartbreak of being cheated on. I bring a lot of interesting stories about my romantic adventures to the mix. The songs about my most recent heartbreak had the most power and heart in them.”
 
http://lauracolemusic.com

Jane’s Party with SATE • May 5

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JANE’S PARTY with SATE
Thursday, May 5, 2016 • Mills Hardware (95 King St. E., Hamilton)
Doors 7:00pm, show 9:30pm • 19+
Tickets: $9.99 (+SC) advance, $15 at the door
>> Buy Tickets Here << 

Though they’ve been playing together since 2006, the members of Toronto-based pop-rock quartet Jane’s Party – Devon Richardson, Tom Ionescu, Jeff Giles, and Zach Sutton – feel like they’re just starting to gather steam.

Ready to take off after years roving Toronto’s vibrant bar scene and touring great swaths of Canada, their third full-length album, Tunnel Visions, arrives as their most confident and mature effort to date. Produced by Blue Rodeo’s Greg Keelor and recorded at his remote farm in Southern Ontario,it’s comprised of songs about being on the road, about losing loved ones, about growing up and coming to grips with life.

Even while running the gamut of emotions and themes, the bandmates never lose the buoyant, hooky songwriting or soulful harmonies they’ve honed over nearly a decade of collaboration, and their hard-won chemistry is evident in how effortless the execution comes off. With Tunnel Visions, they offer an original take on a classic sound, with compositions that feel at once familiar and fresh. Their diverse array of sounds jumps across and often fuses genres – from folk to funk to stripped-down guitar rock, with synth-pop flourishes and splashes of grunge. These are plaintive songs and gritty songs, songs that strike a tonal balance between chip-on-the-shoulder tenacity and Sunday morning malaise, between small-town intimacy and big-city bravado.

The production, too, is polished to a sheen, with input from outside voices entering the picture for the first time. Lead single “Coming on Strong” is co-produced by The Darcys and features legendary singer/songwriter Jim Cuddy on backing vocals. The album, mixed by Chris Stringer and mastered by Joao Carvalho, showcases a sound that’s more layered and sonically rich than anything the band has created thus far. This is a long way from the Jane’s Party that recorded and self-produced their debut album in a garage in Toronto’s Jane and Finch neighbourhood.

Since then, they’ve collaborated and shared the stage with Blue Rodeo, Sam Roberts Band, The Arkells, Wintersleep, Matt Mays, The Maccabees, The Rural Alberta Advantage, Tom Odell, Lights, Manic Street Preachers, and others. They’ve come up in the world, and people are starting to take notice.

Two years in the making, Tunnel Visions speaks of a band that’s found itself, and of one of Toronto’s best-kept secrets stepping out of the shadows.

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SATE is blues and SATE is rock. SATE is raw power, out to satisfy and empower a nation. Armed with her ferocious soulful wails, relentless guitars & a dirty low end, pulsating organs and greasy grooves to satisfy earhole, SATE has learned at the feet of  masters, and incorporated those lessons into what are, beyond a doubt, some of the most electrifying sounds to come from anyone this year.

At the forefront of it all is empowerment, strength and sexiness personified by the indelible image of a woman on stage, her fist in the air, and an entire audience raising its hands in communal acknowledgment.  The full spectrums of emotions, channeled into a fight for what is right, as bodies and spirits are moved, and souls are satisfied.

SATE has her feet firmly planted in the 21st century, but the passing of the torch is fully evident on this primordial scream of a debut record that balances huge riffs with swaggering vocals, like a lost collaboration between Tina Turner and Jimi Hendrix.

This ballsy and fearless attitude fueled by vulnerability, rage and joy are the sparks that ignite SATE’s songwriting and explosive live energy – taking all that life throws at you and turning it into great art. It’s a catharsis and a discovery of one’s true voice.  SATE is a product of the live experience, with a sound that has taken shape over the course of several years of intense live shows.

In the end, the SATE experience is fueled by one lyric – “Don’t let them demons pull the trigger, don’t let them kick you down”…because, onstage SATE fights until everyone is empowered, connected in sweat and everyone is sated.

Danny Michel • Apr 29

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DANNY MICHEL
Fri Apr 29, 2016 • Mills Hardware (95 King St. E., Hamilton)
Doors 7:00pm • 19+
Tickets $19.99 (+SC) advance, $25 at the door
>> Buy Tickets Here << 

“By this point, singer/songwriter Danny Michel must be a bit weary of being ranked as one of this country’s undiscovered musical treasures. But it’s true” – The Toronto Star

“Every time we hear a new Danny Michel album, we end up asking the same question: Why isn’t he rich, famous and beloved by the masses? Criminally overlooked” – The Winnipeg Sun

With nominations for three JUNO Awards, The Polaris Prize, The CBC’s “Heart Of Gold” AND a pile of albums under his belt, Danny Michel is unquestionably one of Canada’s finest songwriters. His thoughtful lyrics & earnest performances have earned him a devoted fan base. A musical chameleon, able to slip into many genres with ease. “An adventurous & fearless artist”. “A master at striking the right balance between unpredictability and meeting expectations, leaving you wanting more as soon as it’s over”.

Past critics have praised Danny’s lyrics for having “something to say” without coming off preachy. His environmental song “Feather, Fur & Fin” landed on both CBC’s “Global Goals Playlist” & David Suzuki’s “Playlist For The Planet”. Other songs ask big questions like “If Gods’ on your side, then who’s on mine” and “Who’s Gonna Miss You when you’re gone?” a song which explores karma asking “Did you live it right or did you live it wrong?”

In 2011 Danny relocated to Belize and founded the Danny Michel Ocean Academy Fund to help raise scholarships for small non-profit community high school. To date he’s raised over $70,000.00 for the school and volunteers there when he can.

Later he tracked down one of his favorite bands; The Garifuna Collective, a unique Afro-Amerindian cultural group and convinced them to make an album together. That album (“Black Birds Are Dancing Over Me”) was quoted as “One of the finest musical works of our time” By Billboards Larry Leblanc. The album landed him a 3rd JUNO nomination (this time in the “World Music” category) and a sold out summer tour of North America with The Garifuna Collective.

At the moment Danny is sitting in front of a blank canvas contemplating where his next album is going to take him. It could go anywhere from here. Knowing Danny, wherever it goes – it will be an adventure”

http://www.dannymichel.com/

Colour Film w/Les Cooper • Apr 9

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COLOUR FILM with guest LES COOPER
Release Party for Colour Film’s Super 8 EP
Sat Apr 9, 2016 • Mills Hardware (95 King St. E., Hamilton)
Doors 7:30pm, Show 8:30PM • All-Ages
>> Buy Tickets Here << 

Imagine Nick Drake cheering up a bit and living long enough to work with Beck.

Looking back in order to look ahead. Drawing from memories to open up new possibilities. That, in many respects, sums up Colour Film, the new identity of Hamilton, Ontario’s Matthew de Zoete. Having released three albums of dreamy folk-pop under his own name, de Zoete (pronounced “duh-ZOO-tuh”) has channeled the various sounds and influences from those records into Super 8, a six-song EP that will reintroduce his melodic gifts and poignant lyricism when it is released April 8, 2016 on Ship Records.

The overarching concept behind Colour Film grew out of a song that de Zoete wrote by that name which became the title track of his last album from 2012. It explored his fascination with his family’s history but also embodied his idea of songs as “little films,” wherein a combination of characters, stories, and emotions create a visual element in the listener’s mind. The six songs on Super 8 achieve de Zoete’s ends brilliantly, with his voice and the shimmering arrangements often echoing the glorious melancholy of Elliott Smith, Badly Drawn Boy, and the Pernice Brothers.

Produced by Les Cooper (Jill Barber, Good Lovelies), who also adds his dynamically nuanced guitar playing, the EP features harmony vocals from Julie Fader (Etiquette, Great Lake Swimmers), Robbie Grunwald (Doug Paisley, Justin Rutledge) on keyboards, bassist Mark McIntyre (Danny Michel, Roxanne Potvin), and drummer Joel Stouffer (Dragonette, The New Deal).

Call it a new voice, a new philosophy, or simply the discovery of a gift he never knew he possessed, Colour Film’s Super 8 is the first taste of a re-born singer/songwriter whose body of work is sure to remain as timeless as its subject matter.

http://www.colourfilm.ca

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Les Cooper is a multiple award-winning producer, arranger, multi-instrumentalist and songwriter from Hamilton. His compositions and productions have been featured on television shows such as Grey’s Anatomy, Brothers and Sisters, The L Word , Fringe and One Tree Hill. His productions have won several awards including The Good Lovelies and Meaghan Smith, who took mome Junos in 2010 and 2011 respectively. He has had several Juno nominations for other projects including Madison Violet and Jill Barber, and his work on The Good Lovelies’ recent album Burn the Plan earned him a Producer of the Year nomination at the 2015 Canadian Folk Music Awards.
 
Cooper has received critical acclaim across North America, Europe and Australia, and has recently been getting quite a bit of attention for his arranging and orchestration skills. He has composed commissions for Symphony Nova Scotia as well as several works for Canadian artists such as Jill Barber, Andy Stochansky, Craig Cardiff, Meaghan Smith and David Myles. His arrangements have frequently been compared to the great arrangers of the past such as Nelson Riddle and Duke Ellington, earning him a reputation as a composer with a classic and timeless sound.

Post-Season Pitch Talks • Mon Nov 16

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On the heels of an heroic Blue Jays season, baseball lovers’ delight Pitch Talks returns to Mills Hardware on Monday, November 16.

This fan favourite, which wowed SRO crowds at Mills during its September debut, promises to deliver a night of baseball storytelling, analysis & debate! And after the past month in Jays land, there’s definitely a lot to talk about!

Pitch Talks will offer the faithful a breakdown of what’s next for the Blue Jays with an esteemed panel of insiders:

  • Stephen Brunt (Sportsnet)
  • Jeff Blair (Sportsnet)
  • Steve Milton (Hamilton Spectator)
  • Ben Nicholson-Smith (Sportsnet)

The night will also feature Ashley Stephenson from the Canadian women’s national baseball team to talk about her experiences in the game!

The Pitch Talks team has also called up a Blue Jays “Fanel” of baseball diehards to talk about the postseason and what lies beyond:

  • Chris Johnston Sportsnet
  • Nick Dika bassist for The Arkells
  • Kieran Roy co-owner, Arts & Crafts
  • Scott Crawford Director of Operations, Canadian Baseball Hall Of Fame

Get your tickets here!