Reuben and the Dark w/Charlotte Cornfield • Sept 29


Thursday September 29, 2016 • Mills Hardware (95 King St. E., Hamilton)
Doors 7:00pm, Show 8:30pm  

Tickets $15 (+SC) advance, $20 door


Calgary’s Reuben and the Dark is a collection of five multi-instrumentalists and vocalists led by Reuben Bullock. The group makes chilling, emotive folk and soul driven by dark, introspective lyrics that explore the duality of misery and joy. Boasting a rare chemistry between all members across western Canada, Reuben and the Dark has emerged organically from Canada’s stellar independent scene on the strength of often anthemic compositions that translate the language of emotion into song with haunting clarity.

Reuben Bullock is a storyteller. One of those undeniably engaging types that captivates with ease thanks to incredible charms and a fascinating past. Sit with him and you’ll hear tales of his upbringing, growing up the son of a preacher and middle brother of three. He’ll relate a childhood spent travelling North America, from town to town, never staying in one place for long and learning about life on the road – a lesson that now serves him well.

He will tell you about rebelling against religion and a lingering distaste for those teachings, he and his oldest brother spurning the spiritual world for a wilder one, which he considers himself lucky to have survived. The trials and brushes with mortality that have set the stage for Reuben’s current struggle- one more artistic than physical or strictly spiritual. Reuben will talk about past pursuits – skateboarding semi-professionally during a career marked by the same fearlessness with which he approaches his new pursuit as a music maker.

Now inked to Canada’s iconic indie imprint Arts & Crafts, Reuben finds himself on a promising new path, this time as a young songwriter and star with a world-class album. Now, the names of studio titans like Stephen Kozmeniuk and Jim Abbiss – men who boast credits from artists like Madonna and Adele – dot the liner notes of Reuben’s debut, but not along ago music was actually a new craft for Reuben. He’ll tell you he picked up a guitar for the first time at 21. The goal then was to make sense of the notebooks full of poems and lyrics that had been pouring out of him for years, to find the means to express whatever it was that was coursing through him so powerfully. Much of it was about that religious upbringing, preaching against it, the need to shake people up, to make them see and feel things differently.

Reuben’s first album was recorded in a Canadian prairie town shed, the product as stark, raw and beautiful as the rustic surroundings in which it was made. What followed, Reuben will tell you, was a need to expand that sound, to make it much, much bigger.  That’s when he embraced The Dark, bringing together a collection of musicians inclusive of his younger brother, Distance, that helped him craft something that was both sonically intricate and capable of something greater.

The first group recording represented a scrappy attempt at gospel from the rock of the earth, a reach for the stars while being tethered to the self. During this time a reputation also began to build, based on the strength of a transcendent live show – one intended to help those in its grip reach catharsis. Without a doubt this was a successful time, both in taking his project and its music further, and on a whim, also taking Reuben to Mexico. There, a chance meeting with members of Florence + The Machine unfolded after they’d heard his album playing in a local shop. Later he’d join them on stage and eventually, fly to London to record some demos with drummer Christopher Hayden, who now joins Reuben and Kozmeniuk as a producer on the band’s debut. That album marks the first proper effort from this now fully realized incarnation of Reuben and the Dark – and on it you’ll experience his storytelling first hand.

Charlotte Cornfield is a multifarious songwriter/instrumentalist from Toronto. A friend describes her sound as “Laurel Canyon grunge folk,” and she agrees with a smile. A denizen of the road since her late teens, the 6-foot-tall musician lives in a state of bemusement. Cornfield, whose music lies somewhere between Neil Young, Sharon Van Etten, and Courtney Barnett, recently recorded a new album in Toronto with producer Don Kerr (Ron Sexsmith, Bahamas), a follow-up to her acclaimed 2011 debut Two Horses. She has previously shared the stage with the likes of Sun Kil Moon, Lake Street Dive, Ron Sexsmith and Sharon Van Etten. The Globe and Mail says, “Her songwriting is ravenous. Even here, in uneasy happiness, the 27-year-old sounds like she will wolf down her life as fast as she is able. The windfalls, the crises, the concerts, the chance encounters – she’ll sprint through them all, collecting burs. This is work in the tradition of Dylan or Townes Van Zandt.”