by Tiana Feng
Holidays mean time for holiday tunes right? Here’s Mr. Corb Lund with an original.
The old saying is don’t judge a book by its cover. But you can judge someone by their social media right? After perusing through social feeds of Mike Robins and Tareya Green, the duo that makes up Autumn Hill, this is how I summed them up:
Mike –> Smurf pajamas, Tim Hortons, gummies
Tareya –> coconut water, wet naps and Franks Hot sauce.
Was I right?
“That is pretty accurate”, laughs Calgary native Green. “I am listening back to that”, adds Toronto’s own Robins, “we must be the weirdest band ever”. Don’t know about weird, but definitely a band on the rise. In September 2013, the duo released their debut Favourite Mistake, that spawned 3 chart topping country hits. The album’s crossover appeal, made them the first country artist to chart on pop radio since Shania Twain. Throw in CCMA and Juno nominations; and Autumn Hill should be making a serious dent on your music radar.
The charming twosome, currently on tour with Kira Isabella, twanged their way into my playlist permanently after an impressive show in Toronto last week. See below as we chatted about tour memories, meeting John Mayer and questions they are tired of answering
Both of you are in close quarters all the time. What are quirks about each other you like?
Mike: This is going to be a funny one. Tareya is very picky and health conscious, and its turning around my eating habits. We will be in a restaurant, and she will be like, “this doesn’t look right. Mike, you need more salad”
What about you, Tareya?
M: What do you adore about me? Hahaha
T: Mike is, I don’t know how he does it, he has so much energy all the time. If I wake up, and am feeling a little sluggish or just zoned out, he always tries to amp me up. Its cute, and definitely helps and gets us going on the road
Now, you are a duo of two attractive people of opposite sex. So, what questions are you tired of answering?
M: Hahah, we are not tired of answering any questions. It’s all good.
Then let me ask, you guys dating? What’s it like being a duo on the road?
T: Haha, so Mike, are we a couple?
M: Haha, I don’t know. We are a couple of something.
T: It’s so funny! At one of our shows, I wore this gigantic fake diamond ring on the middle finger of the other hand. And couple of fans came up to me, and they were like “we didn’t know that you were engaged”.
M: And they said to me, “Look at this. This is your blueprint. This is what you should get when you are ready to ask Tareya”
T: Hahaha, that would have been like 25 carats.
M: I think what happens more is people just don’t know us at all. We have been in situations where people are like ‘hey! Its Lady Antebellum’.
T: We are like, ‘Where! Hilary?!’
I am pretty new to country music. And I feel, including myself, people maybe judging the genre wrong. What do you think are some misconceptions about the genre?
T: Hmm. Maybe people think, and there are certainly a lot of songs about tractors and farm and super country stuff. If you really listen to a lot of the current songs, there is a common theme of love and heartbreak. The songs have incredible and intricate storytelling!
M: That’s a perfect response. I just wanna add that people still have this view of country being very traditional. Right now, it’s so exciting. Its perfect time to be listening to country, and open your mind to it because there a lot of bands that will sort of borrow from other genres.
With country music, including your songs, crossing over to pop radio, is there a sense of country being watered down for the masses?
M: Honestly, one of the things that we truly love working about in the Canadian country industry is that it IS such a family. We went to our first CCMA awards, and we were told, that this is more of a family reunion than an awards show. In all sincerity, this is a genre, where everybody from the artist to people working in the industry like in radio and television, and all the way down to the fan listening, we all support each other. I feel everybody is happy that the music crossing over is opening doors to new audiences, pushing country music as far forward as possible.
How has this tour been so far? Any memorable fan interactions? Moments on stage?
M: There has been a ton of those moments. This tour is one of the most exciting things we have done in a while. The energy is always 11. There have been standout shows, like we got to perform in Tareya’s hometown Calgary at this incredible bar ‘Cowboys’, and the crowd was on fire. Winnipeg was awesome.
T: One of the coolest things on stage has been seeing fans sing along to the fans. This is one of the first tours where we have been able to connect with the fans, and just see them singing their hearts out is an incredible feeling.
That’s incredible. My last question is a multiple choice. You have to pick one out of the three:
Meeting John Mayer (Interview clip)
Singing a duet with childhood idol?
Landing a sponsorship deal with Tim Hortons?
M: I don’t want to pass up meeting John Mayer, but having Tim Hortons and Autumn Hill being synonymous would be ideal
T: This is hard! But, if I could just stand in the same room with Celine Dion, and sing while she sings, unaware of my presence. Doesn’t even have to be a duet. That would be a dream come true for me.
“Assassins” is from Bend the River’s sophomore album ‘So Long Joan Fontaine’. The album title has me scratching my head but the music is just fine — rootsy folk-rock with one foot in the ’70’s and the other planted smack in the middle of 21st century indie. This track may sound vaguely like The Band but there is something very contemporary in its structure and lyrics.
Toronto is a resilient city. Instead of sulking in the disappointment that was Nuit Blanche on Saturday, hordes came out to the ‘Shoe for an evening of crunchy west-coast rock courtesy of Current Swell.
Theatre Crisp had an admirable consistent peppy energy as the venue was gradually filling up. Bringing their brand of ‘funk-hop’, the Niagara-based band played their unique cross genre of ska, funk and hip-hop. Fedora-adorning frontman humbleHAB was equally stellar as emcee and singer, impressing during A Tribe Called Quest and Jack Johnson covers. David Cox, tap dancer extraordinaire, was put to good use for percussion elements during brief ballad moments. Other times, Cox’ tapping sounds were understandably masked by instruments, appearing more to be a distraction. The band’s honest energy was particularly charming, as they ended the set with groovilicious ‘Suzie’.
Packed house on a Sunday night was apparently not the expectation from lads of Current Swell. Thankful for the roaring crowded reception, Scott Stanton and his buds from Victoria jumped right into their catalogue full of radio-friendly alt-rock tunes. What sets them apart is the varied mix of genres catering to your every music need. You have the funky & acoustic ‘Young and Able’ or nostalgic & folky ‘Long Time Ago’ or slide-guitar party jam ‘Rollin’, off the new release Ulysses. Newer material resonated even more with gems like ‘One Day I’ll Be Rich’ (move over, BNL!) or reflective ‘Man of Maps’. The hits never stopped comin, and there was barely a soul in the audience that wasn’t sweating along. Even Ghosty Boy shared his sentimental bliss. “Looked into the crowd during the song, and just the amount of beaming smiles back at me”, said the bassist, “made me realize it’s all worth it’. A true ‘awe shucks’ moment!
Humble and organic talent. That is word association for Current Swell. Doubt anybody would disagree with that. When you get to see them live, you would mostly like add ‘effing awesome’ to that list as well.
by Mark Anthony Brennan
Release Date: August 26th, 2014
Just so that we are clear at the outset, I am not a fan of modern country, not by a pre-metric rural mile. But, with the Slim City Pickers that is not what we are talking about. This is more of fun-filled trip back to the early ’70’s when rock and country music coexisted comfortably, when there was no stigma attach to being associated with a genre in which singing through your nose and having a video on CMT are considered more important than delivering an honest sound. The Pickers are like the Flying Burrito Brothers, early Eagles and the Allman Brothers all rolled into one, and those are guys who wouldn’t know just what to make of the likes of McGraw, Urban and Chesney, much less want to hang out with them. Continue Reading
by Tiana Feng
Release Date: July 8th, 2014
According to bassist Nathan Sidon, this is the record that The Stromberg Fair have been striving for all along. Not only that, it is so good that they may consider it their swansong. We all hope that isn’t true, but if it is then at least they went off on a high note because ‘I Won’t Be Afraid’ is truly an album to be reckoned with.
by Mark Anthony Brennan
Release Date: September 23rd, 2014
Label: Transistor 66
On ‘Thank You I’m Sorry’ the trio known as The Crooked Brothers embellish their rootsy folk music with the more urban sounds of rock, blues jazz and funk. These “rural” and “city” forms of music form a sort of dichotomy which is best illustrated by contrasting the song “Organs on Demand”, with its urbane spoken word poetry set against a funky blues rhythm, to the likes of “Kennedy”, with its acoustic folk guitars and down home steel guitars.
Peter Gardner, lead singer of Hawk and Steel, had an idea: team up with folk singer Sydney Batters, rent a warehouse and then, with little rehearsal, just record their favourite folk-rock songs. Simple. Earnest. Brilliant. The pair lovingly render versions of classics by Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, Townes Van Zandt, Steve Earle and Guy Clark. The rustling of fabric, the odd missed note, a false start and some traffic noise merely add to the honesty of the effort.