Official music page and soapbox of Matt Snell

Tuesday 11 June 2013

Thomas Truax, Musical Genius

A few weeks ago I went to see Wax Mannequin. Opening up for him was a guy named Thomas Truax, who sounded pretty interesting in his own right. I knew I'd like Truax as soon as I saw his Sister Spinster waiting on the stage, a sort of solenoid-powered steampunk drum machine. On a stand nearby sat the Hornicator, a gramophone horn retrofitted with fancy electronics and a kazoo. As soon as he picked it up, I became a fan for life.

Truax taps out a rhythm on the Hornicator and loops it as a backing track. Then he sings and triggers farting, sliding, grunting noises via a mechanism I don't really understand. On the instrumental breaks he sticks the horn over his face and blows the kazoo like a swooning automaton. His homemade instruments are the whole package, and he's created a new music to suit them. They're much more than a gimmick or visual flourish.

What really sets Truax apart, though, is the fact that he doesn't even need them. He can entertain with just a badly-tuned guitar. Apparently his luggage was full with his homemade devices, and he couldn't pack a guitar. So he rented a shitbox in Toronto for eleven dollar, and played his heart out on a tune called "Full Moon over Wow-Town." First he climbed up on the bar and paraded along it, strumming and belting out the chorus. A girl on a barstool, seemingly unimpressed with the spectacle, checked her smartphone while Truax tapdanced a few inches from her face. So he leapt down and ran out the front door. When he didn't come back someone went to the door and peeked out -- Truax was running up and down the block screaming, "There's a full moon over Wow-Town tonight!" We might've followed him outside, but he dashed around the corner and disappeared. The crowd sat waiting for a stretch of two or three minutes. Suddenly Truax burst in the backdoor with the words "-over Wow-Town tonight!" and finished the song while doing an extended pirouette in the middle of the room.

I asked him after the show when he realized he could come in the back -- had he planned the whole thing? "Right around when I ran out the front door," he said. That kind of improvisational fearless is inspiring. As someone who worships albums by artists who make their own instruments (Moondog, Hans Reichel, Kaada, Harry Partch and Frank Pahl spring to mind), the chance to actually see something like this live is worth a Daxophone's weight in gold. I'd recommend you check out a show ASAP, but I'm afraid Truax's North American dates may have already passed for the summer - he's from Colorado but currently lives in Germany. Keep your ears open for next time, and savour this mindbending video:

Tuesday 4 June 2013

Real Coyotes w/the Sumner Brothers, Red Garnet June 14

The Real Coyotes will be making their first official appearance at the Red Garnet on June 14, supporting the Sumner Brothers for the Peterborough date of their North American tour.

By the time they get to us, these guys are going to be road-tested: Bob Sumner calculates "18 Days. 18 Shows. 4,518 km. 46hrs behind the wheel. 14 Cities. 2 Provinces. 5 States. 2 Countries." Based in British Columbia, the 'Brothers are promoting their latest album, I'll Be There Tomorrow. Critics call them rootsy and gritty, one of my favourite combinations. 

JC and I want to give them a warm Peterborough welcome. Do come out!

Check out the Sumner Brother's website, or watch a video here:

Here's hoping they bring that carillon thing. And those masks.

Stonehouse Music Festival, June 22

May was good, June looks even better. I'll be appearing at the Stonehouse Music Festival in Lakefield, and I'm so excited I could squeal. The location is postcard pretty, the lineup is stellar. I've been working on new songs and experimenting with new musical contraptions, so I can meet the awesome standard.

The festival began in 2008, and featured, among others, object of my hero worship Timbre Timbre. It's been on hiatus for a few years, but the current residents of the Stonehouse have resurrected the festival. This year's lineup includes: 

Jos. Fortin
Blues in the Bottle
Hollow Hills (Percussion duo Charles Glasspool & Paul Vernon)
Pronto Monto (Kate & Anna McGarrigle Tribute)
Mink Lake Road
The Burgess Shale
Ham Hawks (Zack Rothwell & Simone McCormick)

BB Guns

Tickets are available at the Red Garnet and Bluestreak Records, for a suggested donation of $25-35. You can also check out the festival's Facebook page.

Come out or risk missing what promises to be nothing less than a 21st century Woodstock.