Thursday, June 14, 2012
HAMILTON MUSICIANS SALUTE MCCARTNEY SATURDAY
Christopher Clause is a Hamilton performer and recording artist who loves, I mean loves, The Beatles. So much so that he likes to pay tribute when he can. He's organized several tribute concerts over the years, to individual Beatles, and full albums, such as Sgt. Pepper. The shows have actually won awards, including Event of the Year at the Hamilton Music Awards. This week sees an important milestone marked. Paul McCartney turns 70 on June 18th, so Clause has organized a show called, of course, Birthday, featuring several artists from the region. It's happening at James St. Baptist Church at 8 PM, where Clause is a pastor, and stars Spider Costello, Kim and Frank Koren, Chris and Christa, Sonny del Rio, Jennifer Beehler, Dawn and Marra, VooDoo Chicken, Clause of course, and more. All of the proceeds go towards FERMATA, a program designed to assist local artists in need. Beatles, Macca solo, you love the music already, it's a win-win.
Clause is an interesting artist himself. A couple of years back he released the album Round, which I've been enjoying more and more with each listen. Every city has a guy like Clause. They are the true, obsessed music fans, people who live and breath the glorious sounds of pop music, as made by the experts of the 60's and 70's. Not just the songs and the playing, but how they all go together in the studio, that painstaking process. Beatles, The Who, Beach Boys, Todd Rundgren, Phil Spector, Motown, up through Big Star, XTC, R.E.M. and the like. They love the master craftspeople, and want to pay that back with their own work.
Clause's Round is a fun house ride of all this and more. He isn't a copy-cat, but rather someone who soaks up a bunch of influences and puts together his own fun and games. Here's how it sounds: The album starts with, of all things, banjo, coming across all country on Sunrise Of Your Life. But halfway through, in bursts the rock band, and you know it's not going to be a normal experience. The next track, Surreal But Beautiful, is an orchestral number, real strings, in the XTC pastoral vein. Next up comes the brass-fused Under The Weather, kind of like mild version of a Sloan song, complete with a touch of sitar, and shout-outs to Dylan and Costello. Music nerds rejoice. Then there's a George Harrison-inspired tune, in the music and the philosophy, I Just Want To Be Loved, that also features some Byrds jangle. The song Freedom sounds like he's getting his Santana on. And who else is going to write a song dedicated to the perils of playing too much tambourine? It's called Tambourine Bruise.
The key track to my ears is Spinning Round, a homage to vinyl, and the whole act of playing records, including the turntable, the cartridge, the favourite album, and of course, the beauty in the classic music. It's a power pop song, and I think it may be the song that best represents him. The track even samples those iconic Sam the Record Man commercials ("I said it, I did it").
Is it a perfect pop album? Oh gosh no, and it's not supposed to be. That's part of the charm of these under-sung heroes. They add their own quirks and charms, something that perhaps only they will fully appreciate. The more the merrier, I say. Find the Christopher Clause in your hometown.