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Good bye my friend, a tribute to Dave Gregg

Posted by on Mar 31, 2014 in Blog, Hamm's Blog | 0 comments

I first met Dave when I was playing in Slow and he in D.O.A. . He was dating our friend Justine and we all really hit it off. He was living at the legendary Vancouver Punk House Fort Gore at the corner of Gore and Prior. It was the early eighties, you could still rent rundown old houses in Vancouver for a few hundred bucks.
Dave had turned the front room of the house into a practice space and for a while he let Slow jam there. Later on he championed us and got us some of our first opening gigs for D.O.A.
After Slow split up I got a call the Groovaholics Dave’s Disco cover band needed a bass player. Now remember this was 1987 and Disco still sucked. But I jumped at the chance to play with Dave and Ian Tiles because these were guys I looked up to and considered friends. I was young and very angry at the time. I just wanted to play face melting rock. Playing in the Grooves helped me become a more nuanced and technical player. And regardless what I wanted to do I couldn’t deny the groove or the fact that girls liked to dance and loved the Groovaholics. In our heyday we packed the Commodore Ballroom. We had the crowd groovin’ to Dave’s unique interpretations of Ohio Players and Chic songs. We played also sorts of eclectic shows around the lower mainland. Sometimes I’d show up at practice and Dave would be naked. He liked to keep things fresh and interesting.
I eventually left the Grooves to pursue melting faces (though it never was the same after the Grooves, guys are more into having their faces melted than girls are!).
Sometime in the nineties Dave moved to New York to live with the love of his life, Cathy. The next time I saw Dave was at an Iggy Pop show at the Commodore. There was this tall gangly dame in a flowery dress behind the mercy table. Low and behold it was Dave selling Tshirts. I was happy to see him and he looked pretty good in a dress.
A few years ago Doug Smith flew Dave out from New York to do a Grooves reunion. It was great to get together with the boys and play other peoples hits. Of course Dave had gone down to Canal Street in Manhattan and bought us all matching leopard skin silk shirts and pink lame sparkly pants for the show. Always the consummate showman.
Our last encounter was at a greasy spoon in East Van. Dave and Cathy were in town, Dave’s Dad was having health problems and he was here to visit.
We shared bacon and eggs, had some laughs, recounted the Grooves show and talked about collaborating on a new project, or at least doing something together to further our mutual love of funk. That was about a year ago. We hugged and went our separate ways.
I’ll miss you friend. Your passing has hit me harder than most. It has made shit real. I realize we aren’t getting any younger. Living the life style of Vancouver Alternative musicians coming up in the eighties and nineties, we lost a lot of our ranks to addiction and risky living, now we’re entering our fifties and people are starting to pass from this world. Our wicks are starting to run out. I’m shocked and saddened.You were always full of love and life had a sparkle in your eye and an easy smile. You were also generous and giving, gentle and fun. See you on the other side my brother.

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Posted by on Feb 2, 2014 in Hamm's Blog | 0 comments

I stopped writing because I moved into a new home. The move went smooth but I’m exhausted. They say moving is one of the most stressful things you can go through along with death and divorce. I have mixed emotions. I’m sad that I had to leave my old home. The building had great community. I met some really good people and made some friends. The building I’m moving into is more affordable and there are also some really neat people here. I’m excited to have moved. But right now I’m tired so tired. The first night I was so wired I barely slept. Last night was my first night that I got a really good sleep. I slept in and went out for coffee. Then I came home and started unpacking. The place is starting to shape up. It feels good. It’s cozy. I like it but I am so so tired. That is all for now. More to come.

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I’m Sick

Posted by on Jan 25, 2014 in Hamm's Blog | 0 comments

199302_10150198671149913_7538795_nI’m sick this week. I got me a bad cold.  And what a week to get sick. I’m moving in a few days, I have the podcast to do I have an audio editing job I’m trying to finish before the move. It’s hard in this world where it’s almost demanded of us, or of ourselves to stay busy. We gotta make money, pay the bills. But what about down time when we’re sick? I look at it as such an inconvenience. You want me to shut down my life for three maybe four days? Do nothing? Just be sick?!
I read somewhere recently that if we’re unhealthy we get sick. This sounds obvious but hear me out. Getting sick is a good thing. What?
Yes it is. If our immune systems are in top form we don’t get sick. We fight off the virus and move on. But if that’s not the case the virus takes over and runs it’s course. It attacks weakened cells in our immune system and kills them. Then we create new healthy cells that eventually kill the virus. Getting sick ultimately makes us stronger. The dead cells are flushed out and we get better. It’s kinda like getting an oil change, except it takes a few days maybe a week or two but ultimately it helps us to be healthier. This is the case with the common cold and and flu. I’m not advocating for the anti immunization movement, I don’t think getting Polio is beneficial to your health.
But what’s wrong with taking a few days out of our busy lives to look after yourself? I try to do regular excersise, I try to eat right, get enough sleep. It’s amazing how these are the first things to go out the window in times of stress yet they are probably the most important things you can do to combat stress and getting and living sick.
Reluctantly I’ve done almost nothing for the last three days. I’ve caught up on some TV watching, I like Orange Is The New Black and I got to watch a couple movies, most exceptionally Beginners and Spring Breakers. I made a big pot of Tortilla Soup. It’s delicious and helping me mend. I’ve treated my self to some Ben and Jerry’s. It’s nice to have some down time and though the move is looming, I know I have some good friends I can depend on to help with that. So I can rest easy. It’s not so bad. Heck I might even take today off!!

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The Enigmas

Posted by on Jan 18, 2014 in Hamm's Blog | 0 comments


Last week I got to play with the legendary Vancouver psych rock band the Enigmas.
The Enigmas heyday was in the early nineteen eighties; lead by Paul McKenzie on vocals and sax, Mike Davies, guitar, Randy Bowman on drums and Brian Olinek on bass they were for a time THE band to watch in Vancouver. That was until my band Slow came along!
We always held the Enigmas in low regard, mostly because we viewed them as a threat. They were one of the few bands around at the time that weren’t playing lame hardcore music or REM like jangle folk drivel. They rocked and they put on amazing live shows in the vein of the Stooges or the MC5. Paul was a frenetic psychedelic monster in striped pants wielding his sax and he knew how to work a crowd. Mike, Brian and Randy were one of the most solid bands going. At the time Seattle had the Young Fresh Fellows, the Replacements were making waves out of Minneapolis and Slow was executing it’s accelerated crash and burn career. The Enigmas were touring and gaining a following across Canada and down the West Coast to California. They should have been a great cult band but didn’t quite catch on. They put out a couple of EP’s most notably Strangely Wild on Zulu Records and then packed it in.
Paul went on to do TT Racer and the Scot Rock phenomena The Real McKenzies, Randy the Scramblers and Mike was in a band called the Cane Toads.
He eventually ended up playing guitar in the Vancouver rock band JP5 fronted by Jerry Jenn Wilson. I was playing bass and we became fast friends.
That ran it’s crazy course over a few years in the late nineties before I moved on.
I got a call from Mike a few years ago. Danny Novak an accomplished camera man in the Vancouver film industry and former lead singers of Vancouver Punk Rockers the Spores was turning fifty. His favourite band of all time was the Enigmas and he wanted them to play his party. Only problem was Brian the bass player had disappeared into the Kootenays in Eastern BC and was AWOL. Would I be interested in playing bass? I get a lot of calls to play bass. Some of them I just don’t have time for (I’m always flattered to be asked). This was a little different. See Mike is one of the nicest guys I ever met.
He put up with a lot of shit from us over the years, Slow busting his amp and other shenanigans and he was always calm about it. Besides not being able to say no to Mike there was a buzz in the air about an Enigmas reunion. Songs like Teenage Barnacle and Strangely Wild had become psych rock favourites of mine and others and it just seemed like it would be a good time.
We did the show and it was a roaring success. The crowd was into it and I got paid pretty well. We all had a lot of fun. At the time Paul was moving to Germany so the project was put on the back burner.
This fall I got the call again to do a show at Vancouver’s WISE Hall. I was excited. We started practicing and the magic started happening again. The buzz started building around town again and the show sold out! What a rush. One of my favourite things is playing a packed house, making people happy and putting on a killer show. That’s what happened last Saturday Night at the WISE.
For all those who came out thanks for being such a wonderful audience. I’m looking forward to doing it all again real soon!

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Self Care

Posted by on Jan 11, 2014 in Hamm's Blog | 0 comments

I’ve been thinking a lot about self care lately. See I went through a big relationship breakup this last year. We still talk things are sort of friendly but we’re hashing shit out and it get’s painful. Today I felt a lot of pain and sorrow. I’m still grieving. It comes in waves. Like the ocean. And like the waves of the ocean the waves pass. Sometimes the waves are crashing violently on the beach, pulverizing rocks to sand and sometimes they’re ripples but they are always there.
Today my ex and I had to hash out some new boundaries. We talked openly about a painful topic. We raised our voices, there was the inevitable anger but we’ve both learned that under the anger is always sorrow. Anger feels strong but really what it inevitably is about is the sadness of the loss of our relationship. Today we were able to tap into that sorrow.
I went away with the satisfaction that I was working on some a new healthier habit. I was able to tolerate confrontation which is fairly new to me, I was able to hear her side and to speak my truth. All well and good but now that piece is over what am I going to do to look after myself.
That’s where self care comes in. In the past I would have gotten high or drank myself into oblivion. More recently it would be a six pack of Boston Cream donuts from Tim Hortons. I gave up the booze and drugs years ago and have always used food as a way to soothe myself. I used food as recently as this Christmas but not to the extent I usually do. This time I decided to try something different.
I went to Hillcrest Pool and did aquafit. It’s a good work out and I get so caught up in the moment nothing else matters. I’ve been and avid swimmer since childhood and lately I’ve been reconnecting with that love. Afterwards I hit the sauna. Chinese women were giggling and talking in low tones amongst themselves. Their language became part of my meditation. I didm’t understand a word they were saying but the strong cutting consonants of their language was like percussive music to my ears. It was a slow day at the pool so I indulged in the wave pool floating on my back letting the current of the water taking me as it wished. After a shower I left the pool feeling refreshed and hungry. I went got a couple slices of pizza a rare treat but a treat none the less.
I did this all by myself and enjoyed my time alone. I felt refreshed and invigorated. I’m gonna practice a lot more of self care in the future. Massages, spas, trips to the art gallery and movies alone. Stay tuned for more self care action!

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