Christmas can be the best of times or the worst of times, depending on your place in time. Comfort and joy are not guaranteed, the cold fingers of winters isolation often taking from those who need the most help in making it through the fray. God bless those who are able to give of themselves so completely during the holidays, providing not only the words and music to give sustenance to those in need but also the raw materials any band of brothers and sisters need to make a real difference.
Frank Koren knows he is blessed. Blessed with a tight knit family that all poses the honed gift of music, and a wide array of top-flight associates and friends, he takes his music very seriously. For the second straight year, The Koren Family Christmas made its way to The Pearl Company in downtown Hamilton for a show that gets as good as it gives. Partnering with Hamilton Food Share, the now annual showcase of local talent is heavy on bright lights and warm hearts with more feel than you’ll ever find on the tele at home. Generous and genuine, the long list of artists brings home the peace and passion of the season while also raising cash and food stocks for those who need it the most.
This Christmas, we at Barber Shop Podcast welcomed in Frank and some friends to give us all a taste of the holiday spread, as Anderus and Dell & Burns made the trek to BOXO Studio for this weeks episode, a deep and reflective time for us all.
Music is so much more than background music at the mall, so much more than the obligatory and customary aural trimmings of the season. Music is love. Truth. Beauty.
Merry Christmas everyone, may the season be kind and your heart free and light.
Gillian Nicola is more than another up-and-coming singer/songwriter from Hamilton, Ontario. With a blend of folk, rock, and soul influences, Gillian creates a sound that honours her diverse taste honourably. With a voice that is often likened to Janis Joplin, Gillian brings authenticity and vulnerability to her music. With her band, Gillian Nicola & The Radio Interference, they combine the honesty of folk music with the power of rock and soul to create a sound both unique to them and one that offers something for everyone.
Gillian started off 2015 with a bang, with a performance at the JUNO Concert Series: The Love Song Edition at Hamilton’s Mills’ Hardware alongside many legendary Hamilton musicians. Soon after, Gillian was declared a Regional Finalist in the CBC Searchlight Competition and was selected for the CIRAA Mentorship Program, where she received one-on-one mentorship with Livy Jeanne (Black Box Records, Universal Music) over the summer of 2015. These successes are timely as Gillian embarks on her newest EP, which will be released in early 2016, but Barber Shop Podcast viewers get a sneak peek as she plays some of them live tonight with her brother Ben.
While her roots are certainly still in folk music, new influences have inspired Gillian to write with different sounds in mind. The music on this new recording is inspired by musicians such as Kathleen Edwards, Neko Case and the aforementioned Joni Mitchell, and features a contrast of light and dark sounds and a much more ambient sound than she has used in the past.
A classically trained vocalist from a young age, Gillian’s love of music began as a child. After completing studies at the University of Toronto, Gillian stormed onto the Hamilton and Toronto music scenes in 2012 with her first acoustic EP, Afterburn. She followed this soon after with 2013’s Chasing the Wind, a six-song EP, which Gillian followed up with her first Ontario tour. The album was not only a personal success: Chasing the Wind was nominated for two Hamilton Music Awards and the Toronto Independent Music Awards.
All in all, a very sweet treat to have visit on a mild December Wednesday, a very sweet treat indeed.
The things that make the man are as big as they are small, for what makes the man is always a milieux of convergence in a much bigger plan. It’s doubtful that there is anyone born in the dawn of the 50’s who has experienced the tapestry of popular music in such a wonderful Forrest Gump kind of way as the unlikely savant of the guitar that is Bill Dillon. Lacking the bravado and cockiness associated with most guitar heroes, Dillon possesses the purest and most transparent of filters, gossamer nuances favoured by the likes of Ian Thomas, The Pretenders, Gordon Lightfoot, Dan Lanois, Ronnie Hawkins, Robbie Robertson, Paul Simon, Edie Brickell, Sarah McLachlan ….to name a few.
Born on the mean streets with a fierce angel to guide and protect and an ever present demon to torment him, his childhood begged for the comfort and escape music offered that stilted child. Bestowed with a natural gift and a burning desire, a tenuous connection to Grimsby and Hamilton’s position between there and Toronto meant Dillon was soon to discover the steeping brew and musical hotbed that the steel city has always been known so well to be. Relationships formed, friendships made and that symmetrical symbiotic serendipity began to swirl and take him away.
Chateaus and villas, classic cars and jets to Monaco were not just a dream for this cat, it was his life.
Who would have thought, after all of that, he would be so humble, so kind, so wise and so incredibly real? As a Beatles fan, the diddy that is When I’m 64 must have struck home for Bill this year, the days now glowing orange-red in the long shadows. This is 2 hours of pure Bill Dillon; a life in music and the music in life rolled out on the grass to lie on, on the most beautiful of summer nights.
When we get old and experienced, it is often fun to look back to our 20’s and remember those moments that shaped our future. Well, way back in episode 29 in March of 2013 we welcomed our first out-of-towners to the show; a clan from Cape Breton by the name of Pretty Archie. Crammed in a corner of a cluttered basement with basic gear, the episode that ensued served to show the potential of this show – a glimpse of just how good it can be. Warm, friendly, sage, polite, funny, wicked and wise beyond their years, the boys played with loose precision, trading stories and sweet harmonies long into the night. Viewed over 1,600 times to date, that episode has been referenced time and time again to the boys by Canadians from coast to coast and heralded by the band as their favourite media experience to date.
The boys were in Hamilton on this fine early December Wednesday with purpose and their new CD – North End Sky, and we were chucked to have them. Better than ever and full of the spirits that fuel this truth machine, both Kevin and the lads tear into a few memories, thoughts and beliefs as the beer flows and the music rolls.
It doesn’t matter what kind of poop you step in, you can always scrape that shit off and carry on. It matters not if those in ivory towers can’t see you and the rats are eating the stores. What matters is you have faith in yourself and your people – and just keep going. Never give up. Ever.