Cover Story

The Road Hammers The Squeeze

CB The Road Hammers May 15th.png

Submitted by Don Graham

The Hammers are back ! A new album and a new single from The Road Hammers, Canada’s premiere country rock band is about to explode onto the airwaves.

On May 12th, The Road Hammers, Jason McCoy, Clayton Bellamy and Chris Byrne, the highest selling Canadian country band in history released their fifth studio album The Squeeze. The new album is a huge step in the evolution of the band and the lead single “ Crazy About You” leads the charge with it’s mix of sentiment and grit. Strong vocals are a trademark of the Hammers and it’s never more evident than this track. “Crazy About You” should put the band back on the airwaves in a big way. A great blend of pop, classic rock and country with its theme of falling in love and staying in love. We caught up with Jason McCoy at his home to discuss the new reord and touring plans for the summer. “ We’re are really happy with how this record turned. The band keeps growing and getting better. This record is little bit different but we still have the edge the makes the Hammers sound what it is. And we had some great production work on it as well. We had Gavin Brown who produced Metric, Tragically Hip and Barenaked Ladies as well as Scott Baggett who worked with Alison Krauss, Buddy Guy, and Bonnie Raitt so there is some diversity there and definitely some pedigree there.”

Norbert Putnam Music Lessons Vol. 1

CashboxCanada_May8.png

Submitted by Don Graham

Norbert Putnam, bass player, arranger and record producer can now add author to his list of occupations. Actually more of a raconteur. The talented and well respected Putnam has a new book, Music Lessons Vol. 1, that just hit the shelves this month And oh the stories he can tell ! We asked Norbert from his home in Florence, Alabama, what prompted the writing of his memoirs? “My wife Sheryl and I were living in Hilton Head, North Carolina and going to these get togethers and parties with these moneyed people, non music folks, and they all wanted to talk about the music business and what I’d seen and done. They funny thing is most of them seemed more interested in the lesser known artists I had worked for and with. One night at an architect’s house they asked me about working with Jerry Jeff Walker. I explained that with Jerry Jeff we set up an actual bar in my studio. Then we’d sit around and drink and talk and then we’d record some. It was the atmosphere that Jerry Jeff was comfortable with. Well they loved the story and driving home Sheryl said ‘You need to write all these stories down, people enjoy hearing them.’ It took awhile to commit to it but we finally got there with volume 1 of the book.”

Come And Sing A Simple Song of Freedom

Cashbox Canada May 1st.png

Submitted by Sandy Graham

“ Come and sing a simple song of freedom, sing like you’ve never sung before. Let it fill the air, tell the people everywhere, that we the people here don’t want a war.”

Those lyrics written by Bobby Darin are as relevant and true today as they were 48 years ago when Darin wrote them.

It’s true we’ve had wars since, the Gulf War and the Persian War and unrest in the Middle East but somehow, although we had military involved, it was never a threat in our own backyard. It always seemed far away. It’s a little different now. Now you have two unstable leaders with access to nuclear codes and  we can feel the breath of the threat on our necks. Nuclear war never seemed a possibility to me because level heads on both sides know that with each having the deadly weapons, nobody wins. But these are not level headed times.

While thinking about this situation my mind drifted to music and how we get messages to the world through song. I remembered a few years ago Don Graham had recorded the old Bobby Darin classic Simple Song of Freedom with former Burrito Brother and Rick Nelson guitarist, John Beland near Austin, Texas. It was a moving rendition at the time but the threat of war at home was distant. I gave it another listen and lines popped out that sounded like they were written today. “most of what you read is made of lies.”

Hugh’s Room Playing the Blues Again with David Rotundo

CashboxCanada_April24th_.png

Submitted to Cashbox Canada

Toronto blues harpist David Rotundo heard James Cotton perform at the El Mocambo in 1991. “He blew one note on the harmonica that hypnotized me...” The next day, Rotundo went out and bought a harmonica. “...and I’ve been playing the blues ever since.” Obsession with the blues led Rotundo on a diesel-fuelled roots tour of blues epicentres of the United States including – New Orleans, Clarksdale, Austin, Memphis and Chicago with little more than his wits and a bag full of harmonicas. “I wanted to hear and experience the real thing.” He returned to Canada with a visceral perception of the blues and a deep knowledge of blues history. After making the stories his own, he earned the right to tell them. Rotundo has developed his own language of the blues, honing the technique that gives the voice power and authenticity. Proof of his impact shows in the fact that he has been nominated for a Maple Blues Award for 11 consecutive years!

Shades Introducing Boland

Boland CashboxCanada April 17th.png

Submitted by Don Graham

The debut album by Toronto hip hop/rap artist Boland has been a long time coming but the artist will be here for a long time .

The title of the project ‘Shades’ suits both the album and the artist. The album shows the many “shades” this young poet has observed and documented in his life and “shades” suits for his signature sunglasses.

‘Shades’ is the first complete album project for Boland and it shows the maturity and honesty that is now so evident in his music and his life. I have known Michael Boland since he was a young artist, have watched his development and seen his inherent creative ability blossom. His early love of all things Dylan has served him well. He has taken Dylan’s ability to put into rhyme and rhythm the thoughts of his generation and molded and honed it to make it his own. “I feel like I’m in a good place now and I have to say that sobriety is the key. Since I got sober everything is much clearer and I have the drive to do what I meant to do.”

Debbie Green Out of the Shadows

Cashbox Canada April 9 Revised.png

Submitted by Don Graham

Debbie Green is not a household name but to the musical giants she influenced, taught and mentored she is a cornerstone to their careers and musical force to be revered and respected.

It’s best to go back to the beginning to get the full story on her influence on the folk music boom of the 50’s in America and beyond.

Deborah Green was born in New York City in 1940, her Dad was Vice President at Macy’s Department Store and her mother devoted a lot of her time and energy to charity work. Her life was middle class normal, growing next to a golf course on Staten Island. Her life changed when her parents split up when she was four years old.

She enrolled in The Putney School, a boarding school in Vermont. The school had a good music program and it was there that Debby showed her interest in music.

Doc Walker Weathervane

CashboxCanada_April2nd_ Doc Walker.png

Submitted by Don Graham

There are a few artists that I personally look forward to hearing new stuff from. Manitoba’s Doc Walker are near the top of that list. So when I caught wind of Weathervane, the boys new 9 nine song set, I was eager to hear what they had come up with this time. And as I had hoped, they didn’t disappoint. It seems every time I review a Doc Walker album it’s “their best to date.” No surprise Weathervane just moved into the “best yet” ranking.

A little background on the band, Doc Walker is Chris Thornsteinson and Dave Wasyliw, who have known each since childhood and started their first band together at a very young age. “Chris and I started playing together at about 12 years old, just playing instrumentals on our guitars. We always had a friendly competition going on. We pushed each other and if Chris got a red guitar, I got a red guitar. Stuff like that. Neither one of us sang but when Chris started to sing, I started to sing. We still push each other,” said Dave Wasyliw. Chris agreed, “Dave and I have been making music together since we were kids and always did challenge each other. Even to this day when I write something I want it to be up to Dave’s standards of what he thinks I’m capable of. It’s great to have that kind of respect for each other.”

Judith Owen Somebody’s Child

Cashbox Canada March 27 Judith Owen.png

Submitted by Don Graham

Welsh born pianist-singer-songwriter Judith Owen has been making great records since her debut album ‘Emotions On a Postcard’ in 1996 and has just released ‘Somebody’s Child’, arguably her best work to date. A 15 song collection, 13 tracks and 2 bonus tracks, the album features songs and pictures of a life well lived and experienced. With Judith’s distinctive voice and piano as the stars taking centre stage, the finely crafted tunes give us a glimpse inside the life of a well rounded and observant songwriter.

The title track and opening song is a gem in all its simplicity and honesty, an observation of the human condition in the 21st century. In Judith’s words “Somebody’s Child is about all the things I see, the things that really count in this noisy crazy world where we’re all running around. I’d seen this young homeless girl in Manhattan, middle of winter, a foot of snow, barefoot, naked really except for a couple of trash bags with a huge beautiful, pregnant belly. We were all crossing the street when suddenly I had this moment of clarity where I thought that’s somebody’s child and if my life had been different that could be me.”

‘No More Goodbyes’ is a song about dealing with the death of a loved one that no matter how hard it is there is the side of it that says “sadness and yet, no more regrets no more goodbyes”.

Dick Damron Happy Birthday South of Two Borders

CashboxCanadaMarch20th DD.png

Submitted by Don Graham

Canadian country music legend and Hall of Famer times three Dick Damron is still pickin’ and kickin’ south of two borders in sunny Mazatlan, Mexico. He is a charter member of three Hall of Fames; The International Country Music Hall of Fame, the Rockabilly Hall of Fame and the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame.

The pride of Bentley, Alberta, has been making Canada proud for seven decades and fondly remembers the early scuffling days in the 70’s. “I was touring Europe, Scotland, Germany and England, back in the day where musicians from my area thought a Far East Tour was going to Saskatchewan! We played a lot in Vegas is those days as well. Here I was a kid from Bentley playing in Vegas. What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, what happens in Bentley….no really, what happens in Bentley??”

Dick recorded his first record in 1958 at radio station CKRD in Red Deer, Alberta. “Gonna Have a Party” and “Rockin’ Baby”, original songs written by Damron. He pressed a thousand copies and released it to radio. He released the record on his own label and hit the usual roadblocks. ‘We don’t play Canadian records.’ “This confused me,” Damron said, “I’m a Canadian, they are a Canadian radio station and we’re in Canada!” Some things don’t change much! After a couple more releases on his own he signed with Quality Records who manufactured and released records on a national level. The first recordings for Quality were also original songs “Julie” and “That’s What I Call Living.”

Garage Rock Still Rockin’ It Out – The Sonics

CashboxCanada March 13th.png

Submitted by Don Graham


Cover Photo Credit: Bobbi Barbarich

The Sonics formed in 1960 in Tacoma Washington, just 25 miles from Seattle where the grunge movement would start years later. Many of the grunge and punk rock bands would credit The Sonics with influencing their sound and style. Cashbox Canada caught up with Rob Lind, the sax/harp player and founding member to talk about the band and their upcoming tour and specifically their Toronto date ay the Danforth Music Hall.

“It’s interesting to know that we influenced people and that some people credit us with starting the grunge/punk movement. That was never our intention. We were influenced by Little Richard and Jerry Lee Lewis, we just thought of ourselves as a rock ‘n’ roll band. Now granted we were in Tacoma, kinda like the working-class Liverpool to Seattle’s hip and slick London. My dad was a blue collar worker on the waterfront and our lifestyle and our music was more working class grind it out rock ‘n’ roll. Make no mistake, there were some fabulous musicians in Seattle but their style of music was a bit more jazz oriented and sophisticated than ours. Being a sax player I really noticed it. These guys were playing all this complicated jazz stuff and I was a straight rock n roll sax player. We were working class guys who just wanted to rock.”

Syndicate content