Steve's Blog
Friday September 27, 2013

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Hi everyone

Good coverage in The Straight for this week's shows! Tony Montague wrote a nice article about local Celtic / folk band Thereafter, and there is also a Straight Choice in the Music Section for tonight's concert with Italian guitarist / singer Beppe Gambetta

1. Beppe Gambetta, Friday September 27th, 8pm, at St. James Hall, 3214 West 10th Avenue

Italy's genial Beppe Gambetta is an acoustic-guitar maestro whose music spans the Atlantic. Whether flat-picking a tune by Doc Watson or finger-picking a folk song from his homeland, he plays with consummate elegance and and fluency, never allowing technical wizardry to distract from emotional expression. He's also a fine singer and an original tunesmith who draws on a rich and diverse knowledge of roots and traditional music. When Gambetta comes to the St. James Hall this Friday he'll focus primarily on material from The American Album, released earlier this month.

We drove out to the airport to pick up copies of the new CD last night. It's a wonderful collection of tunes and songs - some familiar, others not so, including a fine version of Handsome Molly and the gorgeous Acadian Dream. Another standout track is Reel Du Point A Pic, which was made famous by La Bottine Souriante about, ooh, 15 or 18 years ago now, as their first - and still IMHO best - example of fusion of trad. Quebecois music with a Big Band sound. Here Beppe condenses all that drama into 6 steel strings of Italian magnificence. Come on down to The Rogue House tonight and pick up a copy!

On your way to - or from - the show, why not stop by the new Italian Cafe Vinoteca on the south side of Broadway just east of Collingwood St. (That's 2 blocks west of the venue, and 1 block north.) They have some excellent appetizers and primos and the vegetarian pizza goes really well with the craft beer (Odin's something or other.) The scorched figs are amazing, too! They have an excellent selection of wines - mostly from B.C. - and the prices are reasonable. Best of all: if you spend over $15 and bring your receipt to the show we'll give you 50% off your concert ticket tonight! So make it Italian night at The Rogue and Vinoteca.

For more information about Beppe, visit

2. Thereafter, Saturday September 28th, 8pm, at St. James Hall, 3214 West 10th Avenue

Tomorrow night it's a CD launch for a new band that has emerged from the ashes of the much-missed local Celtic combo Cleia. Thereafter made their Rogue debut in January and they have now recorded a very fine CD, Ceremony. The album launch is tomorrow. Here is Tony's article from The Straight.

Thereafter gets ceremonial


When some folks find garbage strewn about the forest, they clean it up, but the members of Thereafter never fail to see it as a photo opportunity.

When Keona and Neil Hammond needed a strong image for the cover of their band Thereafter’s debut release, Ceremony, they didn’t have far to look. In the woods behind their Bowen Island home the couple discovered a newly abandoned couch, its gaudy floral patterns standing out boldly against the mist-shrouded trees. It struck them as a curiously apt metaphor for the album’s title, and the original songs and instrumentals with Celtic and English roots.

For me a ceremony—such as a wedding—is an artificial moment that you create to link into reality, says Neil, Thereafter’s lead singer, acoustic guitarist, and mandolinist, interviewed with Keona in East Vancouver. Each ceremony is a little node in time and space that’s always there, and connects you to other people.

And that couch is like the gateway to the ceremonial space we’re trying to create, adds wooden-flute player Keona. The idea is that to gain entrance you have to lie down on it.

Ceremony is the fruit of many years of collaboration between the Hammonds. They first met at a weekly Celtic jam at the Irish Heather in 2001, soon after Manchester-born Neil came to town. They were co-founders of Cleia, which focused on traditional music and became one of Canada’s finest Celtic outfits. After the quintet disbanded seven years ago the Hammonds moved to Bowen to start a family, and began writing more of their own material.

It took us a long time to work out how my Irish flute works with Neil’s songs and slightly bluesy guitar picking, says Keona. We didn’t think we could start anything with just the two of us, but it was fun to figure it out.

A new band came together. The Hammonds first started working with cellist Shanto Acharia and soon invited fiddler Annie Brown to join, then brought in her brother Ben Brown as percussionist.

While the main element in Thereafter’s music is contemporary folk, there’s a hidden influence from a very different genre. We have a dark secret—we’re both prog-rock lovers, Keona reveals with a laugh. Bands like Emerson, Lake and Palmer, Gentle Giant, Yes—complex stuff. We don’t play like that, of course, but it’s always in the back of our minds, and Ceremony is something of a concept album.

The songs Neil chose form a cohesive theme. I’ve become increasingly aware of the nature of addiction, and not just to substances, he says. We all have our addictions to certain patterns, behaviours, and relationships. I was really addicted to patterns of anxiety and stress that I was aware can easily lead to darker things. I got interested in certain therapeutic ceremonies that address the nature of addictions and seek release from them. It’s the ceremonies we can weave into our everyday lives that can keep us present to the world around us.

One of Neil’s songs, “Leaving Tomorrow”, draws on his time in Moscow teaching English, and the Irish band he formed in the Russian capital. The bassist was a lovely guy but he had drug problems, and recently died in his apartment, nobody’s quite sure why. The song is really about him. The first two verses are about a crazy New Year’s Eve party in Moscow, with a priest present and a lot of Orthodox monks getting totally drunk—an amazing scene. But in the last verse it ties in with my experience of leaving the group.

A lot of Neil’s songs seem to be about trying to detach from things, Keona reflects. They’re about leaving, or getting rid of something gracefully, and the moment when you can finally release something—or something releases you.

It’s becoming more of a conscious thing that this is what I write about, notes Neil. The attachments are often metaphored in songs of relationships—but relationships to addictions or patterns you’re trying to get rid of.

For all the seriousness of this theme, the music of Ceremony is in the main light, brisk, and uplifting. The Hammonds’ vocal harmonies are rich, the band’s rhythmic drive is compelling, the instrumental arrangements are tight and imaginative, and Neil pitches his lyrics to the listener’s heart, not mind.

Now we know what our sound is—and Ceremony helped define that, he says. So I’m working specifically for these five people, which makes it quite different as when I write I’m thinking of what the other instruments can be doing. It’s going to be quite different kind of material on the next album—with a lot more space in it.

Thereafter hosts a release party for Ceremony at the St James Hall on Saturday (September 28).

3. The Edge On Folk, Saturday 8am to noon, on CiTR fm 101.9, Telus TV channel 7023, and

On tomorrow's show I'll have new music from Pokey LaFarge, Beppe Gambetta, Thereafter, Si Kahn & The Looping Brothers (a hot German bluegrass band,) Faraualla (Italian women singing acapella,) De Temps Antan, The Sojourners, Vasen, Elephant Revival, David Bromberg, disappear fear, Bella Hardy, Lucy Ward, Little Miss Higgins, and much more. Plus a few songs about playing-cards, and lots more surprises. Please join me for 4 hours of the very best in Roots, Folk, World, Celtic music - whatever you want to call it. I just call it "good"! I hope you like it, too. The show is streamed live on and podcasts are available later on that website too. Playlists are archived on resources/playlists.

Have great weekend! Come in out of the rain and hear some great music at The Rogue