Month: March 2014

Lee Casement Invites you to In The Guest Room Round 3

Local musician, Lee Casement who has a unique take on the relationship of songwriter and performer. His latest installment of In the Guest Room: Redemption in Disguise has continued a project embarked upon a number of years ago as a grassroots effort. 

A local teacher and family man with musical roots chuckled as he confessed to being “too old to be a rock star”. He has made quite a name for himself locally with his series of albums entitled, In the Guest Room.

Sitting at one of the wooden tables nestled in one of the many Starbucks located in Kingston Lee gets comfortable waiting a bit for his drink to cool. He started by explaining where the collaborative project originated at having the passion to share music.

“By Just having enough musical ideas that that I wanted to share with musical collaborators, and family members. I wanted to work with as many people as possible.” Lee stated.

As the conversation continued and he revealed many of his collaborations have been local artists who either apporach him about being involved or he finds through various channels. Lee Spoke fondly of one of his many collaborations, “On the second album, entitled By Design or By Desire I got to work with Johnathan Tyrell, his group is ketch Harbor Wolves is out of Toronto.

In an age where many musicians are both the singer and songwriter Lee takes an interesting step by only composing the melodies.

” I don’t do any of the lyrics, as more people came on board people are asking what the themes are?” He explained that with the first album there wasn’t a set structure but as it grew themes of family, redemption and love started to emerge.

Sticking to his modest beginnings Lee has blazed his own musical path. “I don’t have any formal music training, played by ear, write by ear”. Lee remarked about his song writing process. This has allowed him to branch out adding more instruments to his repertoire of knowledge. Later adding “through three albums, if the groove sounded good we went with it”.

Commenting to many lessons learned over years of touring with other bands. He mentioned this project has presented its own unique brand of challenges, “So many, Scheduling, with the second record, I had nine songs on the second record with six drummers. With everyone wanted to be involved and it was hard to coordinate everyone’s schedules with studio time and to make sure I was there.”

On the third record I scaled it back and there is only myself and two other guys who play all the instruments on this album. I wanted to prove to myself I could play more of the instruments myself”.

The title is Redemption In Disguise, not to prove to anyone else but more up the anti and prove to myself that I could accomplish more of the album myself. I took a line from one of the songs.”

Remembering the days where he was playing in other bands “When I was with other bands, I got to play places in Ottawa in Toronto (the Horseshoe Tavern) that I got to go as a fan, which was surreal. ”

“I’m a pretty tame person”. He commented laughing. Hinting there were no unbelievable stories from his touring days. But many lessons learned.

Kingston and surrounding area is also home to many creative people. Lee: Evening Hymns, they are an indie/folk duo with rock elements. They were up for a Polaris, a couple of years ago. We went to their show at Queens and we got talking as we live near each other. I would try to get to know them a bit better before asking if they wanted to collaborate with me.”

As Lee mentioned influences and people he has previously worked with, a fun opportunity came up to talk about the upcoming festivals this summer. He would love to play the local Wolfe Island Music Festival and give me a sample of bands he would book if it were up to him to customise a festival lineup. “The National, Evening Hymns, Daughter, William Fitzsimons, Block Party.

For the CD release show happening TONIGHT, March 28, 2014 at the Next Church on Colborne Street. Johnathan Tyrell is opening the show and also joining Lee onstage to play their song, Nostalgia. This show is all ages with a donation at the door cover, don’t miss out on support this fantastic local artists. Find more music at: www.intheguestroom.com

Whiskey Epiphany Talks: Songwriting Process, a Memorable Gig and Meals on the Road

In this 2011 photo

Whiskey Epiphany in this 2011 photo

CTP: Give me a glimpse into the early years, how did the band start?

Mike: The band got its start in a bit of a slow moving way. I had written about 10 songs over the year 2010-2011 and started gathering each member slowly after that. Dave Toms (on the Cajon) came on board first, then Kris Tonkens soon after to harmonize on most of the tracks. Kris has since moved to Australia with her husband and the female vocals are being taken care of by my sister Lianne Gravitis. Never stopping the momentum of writing, the other members – David MacLean, and Jack MacLean (father and son) – joined later on Mandolin/fiddle and bass. Lots of family going on in the band! The rest is history as they say.

CTP: Tell me the story of how you decided on the band name?

Mike: The name came about when Kris and I were recording the band’s first three song demo (which had It Will Shine for One, Let Your Love, and Something About Whiskey on it). For inspiration sake, I pulled out a bottle of whiskey during the recording of Something About Whiskey, and the next morning Kris declared the band name – Whiskey Epiphany!

CTP: Any place you haven’t toured yet that you want to get to?

Lianne: An East and West coast tour for sure is a future goal and something I personally have always wanted to do. I love the idea of playing at all the small Canadian towns and getting to drive across our beautiful country. It’s such an adventure!! We’ve played a lot between Hamilton and Toronto and are looking to break into the Guelph/Kitchener, and Ottawa/Kingston areas as we keep getting told the music fits really well in the college/university scene. We have active radio play on Mohawk College’s Indi 101.5 which has been a great relationship thus far.

CTP: Is there any tour stories you can share?

Lianne: Well last year we had an interesting experience at North By Northeast (NXNE) at Rancho Relaxo in Toronto. The day before the gig Mike got food poisoning… really bad. The next day feeling no better, we were at the gig where we were having the entire gig filmed for a hopeful video release. Mike turned to me a second before the first song and said “if I look at you funny…I may puke…so cover for me”. I look over at him with panic and said “I don’t know all your words!! DON’T DO THIS TO ME!” lol. Despite some serious close calls we made it through without incident. And Mike doesn’t look THAT sick in the video…maybe just a bit sweaty from trying to hold everything inside his tortured body haha.

CTP: Favourite meal on the road?

Mike: Meat. Or cheese. Or meat and cheese. And bacon. Dave Toms: Something green and leafy that has no heartbeat. Lianne: Any sort of car snack – both sweet and salty so I don’t puke in the car and or kill anyone with my low blood sugar rage. And burgers. Dave MacLean: Breakfast Food! Greek or western omelettes. Jack MacLean: Breakfast sandwiches

 

CTP: Any stories you are willing to share behind tattoos you have? (If any)

Mike: I have a tattoo of a Celtic cross on my right arm because I was trying to cover up a mistake I made when I was 18. I thought the design was cool in that teenage brain of mine. A native Shaman told me it would be a good idea to cover it up so I did. True story. Dave Toms has a sweet Starfleet emblem over his heart because he’s the man.

Lianne wants a hummingbird eventually!

 

CTP: Who are your musical influences?

Whiskey Epiphany: Our musical influences are so widespread! We all have such diverse tastes in music. Van Morrison, Bob Dylan, Flogging Molly, The Mahones, Glen Hansard, Griffin House, soul music, Mumford and Sons, Mars Volta, System of a Down, and hundreds more. All these artists provide an emotional impact which is a major plus for us and helps the creative juices flow!

 

CTP: Are there plans to record another album?

Lianne: Our debut album called, Old Story was released in October of 2012, which was recorded with producer Charlie Jacklin at Kerr Village Productions in Oakville, Ontario. We are about 70% done writing all the tunes for the next album to hopefully record by the end of this year. (Editors note: Their softmore album is still pending release at the time of publication).

 

CTP: Tell me a story behind a song you have written?

Mike:Be My Rock was written over 3 days. I was at work at 9 a.m. and just started singing to a melody that hadn’t existed prior. I came up with the first verse and chorus to only the music in my head. I scribbled the words down after a solid half an hour of pacing around the warehouse I work at and left them alone for the rest of the day. I had the next day off and paced around my apartment with my guitar while singing the lyrics I had written. It took almost an entire morning of walking in circles to finally nail the main part of the song. By the end of the next day, and after belting out more than I could handle, it was finally done! We are just finishing up the studio version of that tune now to release as a single later this month.

 

CTP: What is your favourite song to play live?

Mike: Anything new. I have a bad habit of getting bored quickly, which I think is why I keep writing. For some time now, it seems like every jam we have I keep bringing at least one new original song to work on. I love seeing the evolution of the tunes, because no matter how many times you play them in a basement or alone, once you put the song out there live, it will shift and change based on how it goes live. However, with that said Be My Rock is a favourite for me right now to play live. It’s a really powerful song, with a hidden surprise halfway through so it’s always fun to play.

Lianne: My favourite song to play live is In My World because it is high energy and is the only song I sing full lead on (*laughs*). Just kidding – It really is just a fun song to sing and the lyrics are awesome! My pup recently passed away so the lyrics are especially meaningful to me at the moment and I really feel the song more than ever now.

 

CTP: Tell me about your song writing process? Is it collaborative or is one member primarily responsible?

Mike: Up until now, I have written all of the music/lyrics and brought them to the band to build upon. With that, things change and evolve. Endings come sooner or later, new riffs or even chord progressions are generated, and harmonies are produced. I suppose you can say it is a bit of a collaborative effort to get the song to where it ends up being.

 

CTP: What’s up next for the band?

Mike: Expand, expand, expand. With more material getting written all the time, and more and more people getting on board with the band, it’s awesome to see how everything is growing. It’s been a real grassroots effort so far, and I much prefer it that way. We’d like to keep playing more cities, meet new people and bands, and keep the momentum rolling! It’s been a great ride so far and we are looking forward to what the future holds for us!

The Standstills prove you don’t need a full band to Bring Big Sound!

Oshawa’s own, the Standstills remind me of the early days of The White Strips with electrifying sound, and unprecedented harmony. Renee and John opened for the Tea Party during their last Canadian tour dates in Summer 2013. With their first full length album self-produced: Pushing Electric is a staple for any Canadian Rock fans.  They are finishing up their winter tour across Canada in Kingston Tonight, with a free show at the Merchant. This show also features local acts The Method and Sons of Stone.Renee

Catching up with Renee Couture and Johnny Fox on their last visit to Kingston check out our interview below.

CTP: Who are your influences?

Renee: Many Canadian Music, growing up on Canadian Radio. The Tea Party

Johnny: Mine are all older, Like old school blues. So old you can barely hear because the recordings were are so old. Some of the staple bands were The Tea Party incidentally enough. New Queens of the Stone Age, it varies but

CTP: Name some memorable concert experiences you have had in College?

TS: A band out of Quebec called Bionic. There was a lot of great indie stuff, a few great underground bands. Queens of The Stone Age.

CTP: Best part about touring?

TS: Renee: There is no worst part! Except maybe finding time to do laundry.

Johnny: Touring is everything we love to do. We live to do this. There is nothing we would rather be doing.

CTP: If you weren’t touring musicians what would your job be?

Johnny: I would be involved somehow, as a song writer.

Renee: I always said if I couldn’t be in a band I would want to work with bands. So probably managing.

CTP: If you could pick a superpower which would it be?

TS: Johnny: to harmonize with myself, at any point I could just hit six harmonies at once.

Renee: To have eight arms

CTP: what is your favourite song to play live?

TS: Renee: Pushing electric the song we are opening with tonight.

Johnny: For me it changes, my favourite song to play is the one that gets the best crowd reaction, that’s what I like. It’s where I get my energy from.

CTP: Is there any place in Canada you haven’t hit yet that you’re looking to get to?

Renee: Out West.

Johnny added, The Yukon. ” Having a passion for brining music to places that it doesn’t frequent”.

Tonight marks another great show at The Merchant in Kingston. Everything starts at 10pm, come down for a free show.