Saturday, November 16, 2019 | 8:30pm
Wolfe Island Records Show
Featuring Hugh Christopher Brown, Stephen Stanley, Chris Bennett, Suzanne Jarvie, Hadley McCall Thackston
$25 Advance / $30 Door *
Hugh Christopher Brown
Chris has been receiving information from an unknown source ever since his “kidney operation” at age six months. He considers himself more or less cellular antennae, and feels the clavinet was removed from him during the original surgery.
Music has been his least disruptive form of stellar communion – predating his days as a St. Michael’s choirboy in Toronto, he would transcribe the Irish Rovers, Sly Stone, songs by The Clash and Booker T and the MGs. Later, he was transformed by Floyd Cramer’s version of fire and rain.
Beyond the daily tasks of preparation, Chris has recorded his own music, and played (usually organ, piano and clavinet – but sometimes trombone, tuba or other things) for many others. He continues to explore the great nervous system with his doctor, Kate Fenner.
Often distressed by the non-harmonic functions of greed, fear and obedience, Chris finds charity hockey games great places to discuss class wars and the more subtle enforcement methods over beers.
His one allergy is to sincerity contests.
Canadian singer-songwriter and guitarist Stephen Stanley is best known from his many years as a lead guitarist/vocalist with the vibrant alternative rock band The Lowest of the Low. After many song hits, years of touring and sharing the stage with the likes of Billy Bragg, Bob Mould, The Violent Femmes, The Jayhawks and Lloyd Cole, a gold record for their “genuinely timeless album” (Exclaim!) Shakespeare My Butt, Stanley is back on the Canadian music scene with a new band, The Stephen Stanley Band, and a new record Jimmy & The Moon, produced by Hugh Christopher Brown.
Chris Bennett is a Toronto born and bred guitarist who has contributed his talents to many local bands and recordings. He has piled his trade all over Canada as well as playing in Germany, England, Ireland the US & Botswana.
He is also known for his appreciation and use of vintage instruments and amplifiers which travel with him. Heis currently touring with the Stephen Stanley Band whose latest recording Jimmie & the Moon was just released in Europe.
Spiral Road documents the painful journey after her oldest son tripped and fell down a spiral staircase, lapsing into a coma in 2011. “It was a bomb,” Suzanne recalls. “I couldn’t breathe. The doctors said he wouldn’t live, but he did.” The miracle of her son’s survival changed Jarvie’s life. While her son was still at the hospital, she began an intense period of songwriting, never having written anything much prior. “It was powerful and strange.”
Spiral Road garnered rave reviews from the US, Canada, and Europe, comparisons to Emmylou Harris and Lucinda Williams, and a 2015 nomination from the Independent Music Awards for “Best Concept Album”. No Depression described Jarvie’s voice as “seraphim-pure, reaching out and lifting your spirit often without permission.”
Jarvie’s sophomore record In the Clear, released on January 22, 2019, picks up where Spiral Road left off – delving deeper into the aftermath of her son’s brain injury – and going beyond it. The tunes tunnel into feelings and impressions that are the essence of Suzanne’s artistry, luminous rabbit holes that merge mysticism with reflections on life’s ups and downs that fans of Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan or Lucinda Williams would appreciate. Producer Hugh Christopher Brown keeps the music steeped in mostly acoustic sound, and the mix of dobro, mandolin, guitar, violin and bass.
In the Clear and Spiral Road are poetic journeys that anyone who has dealt with a family tragedy can relate to. “In The Clear is a reverie – where the songs reflect on motherhood, the feminine, addiction, death, dreams of freedom and peace. There is even a song about rape (The Core). The title track has a melancholy irony; In The Clear is where I always want to be. Instead, it is this ephemeral state that never lasts. So, I try to enjoy the peaceful moments completely, knowing that more challenges are on the horizon.”
Some songs are deeply inspired by science fiction. “I find the weird visionary parables to be so idiosyncratic. They give me permission to be highly individualized in my songs. Obscure is okay… trance-like imaginings are okay. ‘Carpenter Bay’ is a journey through neurons and psychopharmacology. But it’s also about realizing you’ve been holding on to an illusion, that at some point a terrible loss will be undone. You want that so badly. It’s very sad. Then you realize the false hope and you give in, or give up maybe. I know my lyrics can be inscrutable, but they mean something real. I don’t think you have to understand everything. It could just be that a melodic line or poetic phrase resonates and moves someone and that’s amazing. The ideas aren’t concrete, and sometimes I have to rush and grab them before they decay. But it’s why I thank John Wyndham, Tolkien and Roddenberry, etc. in my liner notes. Gotta keep weird alive man!”
Hadley McCall Thackston
Born in North Augusta and raised in Atlanta, Georgia, the 25-year old Hadley McCall Thackston’s affinity for vintage style clothes and contemporary tattoos mirrors her timeless brand of Southern folk — kindred with modern sounds and singers come and gone decades before she was born.
“This is definitely my last life for sure… I was born tired,” she jokes with a serious edge to her voice. “My mama said I came out a couple months early… kickin’ and screamin’ and hollerin’… and she thought to herself: ‘ooooooh… she mad at something!’”
A self-described “porch sitter”, Hadley’s upbringing in a house where her parents were in the arts and “total music heads” had her immersed in music all her life. She began teaching herself basic guitar chords when she was 10 years of age and started playing stand-up bass in orchestra at 12. When she was younger, she sang all the time (her mom swears Hadley sang before she even spoke) but in her teenage years struggled with anxiety & depression and lost that part of herself.
Fascinated by all things Irish, Hadley decided to move to Ireland in 2011 to become an au pair and then studied theatre at the University of Cork for a year, with the idea that focusing on theatre might be a way for her to escape and be someone else. The theatre immersion didn’t take, however, but her desire and passion for songwriting and singing returned and morphed into another dimension.
It was a complete act of ironic social media fate — as Hadley was not exactly a social media maven — but her best childhood friend, Wyeth Wood, pretty much insisted Hadley finally post a short clip of her singing and within minutes, the formidable, critically-acclaimed Indiana singer-songwriter David Corley — a friend of Hadley’s mother — saw and heard it and sent the clip to his producer Hugh Christopher Brown. Before she knew it, Hadley landed on Wolfe Island, Ontario, where Brown’s Post Office studio was and started recording her tunes.
A little icing on the island turned out to be that Toronto singer-songwriter Stephen Stanley was recording with his new band at Brown’s studio around that same time. Stephen was blown away by Hadley’s voice and asked if she would sing the duet, “Next To Me” with him, one of the tracks on his album Jimmy & the Moon. “Next to Me” was also chosen for Stanley’s first official video, premiered by Exclaim! and has many music writers exclaiming about Hadley McCall Thackston’s exquisite voice.
Hadley’s debut eponymous record (with all songs written by the porch sitter on various porches from Atlanta, Georgia to Cedar Mountain, North Carolina to Wolfe Island), fuses lots of sounds that might be called alt-country, southern folk, or contemporary. As for the latter, well in this chanteuse-songwriter’s mind, timeless is always contemporary.
*Advertised pricing excludes taxes and ticketing fees