Sound Seekers

SOUND SEEKERS: Two bands named after films play Zaphod’s and Lee Fields shows his soul

Sound Seekers by Fateema Sayani is published weekly at OttawaMagazine.com. Read Fateema Sayani’s culture column in Ottawa Magazine and follow her on Twitter @fateemasayani

Eight and a Half

How’s this for a double bill? Ottawa duo Eraserheads—the band named for the David Lynch film—open for Toronto trio Eight and a Half—the band named after the Fellini film, 8 -1/2. If ever there was a moment to geek out, this is it. Capital G.

The show, taking place at Zaphod’s Saturday, is the music nerd’s ball—it is where obscure film and musical references will be traded, reverb pedals will be depressed, and beards will be grown.

Eraserheads have done well to make metaphorical links between screen and stage. The duo—Jamie Kronick on drums and Omar David Rivero on guitar and laptop—play experimental tunes that are as non-linear as the movie plot.

Eight and a Half possess a fine lineage. The band comprises members of The Stills (Dave Hamelin and Liam O’Neil) and Broken Social Scene (Justin Peroff). Their music brings the best parts of The Stills debut album (melancholy!) with the big sound managed by the multi-headed Broken Social Scene—though with fewer people, and almost as many guitar pedals. Yeeesssss!

Eight and a Half play Zaphod Beeblebrox, 27 York St., Saturday, May 5 with Eraserheads and guests, The Gallop. 9 p.m., $10, www.zaphods.ca.

Lee Fields

LEE FIELDS, I’M A SOUL MAN
Lee Fields speaks as he sings. He’s got a preacher’s patter whereby he espouses about god’s great earth, love, and the power of the music.

“Most of the ballads I sing, I sing with as much truth as I can,” he says on the phone from his home in New Jersey. “People can recognize when you’re saying something from your heart and when you’re not.”

This is standard-issue lyrical fodder for soul dudes of that ilk, and in the musical canon, Fields keeps company with Al Green and James Brown. That’s why some people refer to Fields as a legend—other people drop the l-word because the crooner, now 62, has had a 40-year-career that has lasted throughout a number of soul surges; those revivalist movements brought people like Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings to the fore and saw Motown-type music being played live in hipster bars.

Fields continues to tour the circuit, hitting up tastemakers’ proms such as South by Southwest—the annual new media festival that takes place in Austin, Texas—earlier this year. That’s where he continued the revivalist movements by playing to new audiences, as well as those crate-digging DJs who source out the series of seven-inches Fields released over the years for nightclub sets.

Fields is chuffed by the reception he’s getting from a new generation. “I was at a point in my life where my expectations were that I would make music and one day it would be appreciated, whether or not I was around to see it. I was hoping it would take place—and I am very elated that it has.”

He feels a deep sense of reciprocal duty and talks often about trying to entertain audiences to the fullest with his backing band The Expressions. The rhythm section is rounded out by a horn section and a keyboardist, and it’s brought together by showman and soulman Fields.

His other big push is to remind people to take care of the earth—God’s house, is how he says it—and all the creatures within. He brings it up so often, I ask if he’ll ever write an eco-urgent “Mercy Mercy Me” type tune.

“I try to leave the preachin’ to the preachers,” Fields says. “Sometimes my opinions pop up out of the blue, but as for being an activist, I think people are born that way. Music was what I was born to do. I leave the lawyering up to the lawyers, the politics up to the politicians, and singing up to the singers.”

Lee Fields & The Expressions play Ritual Nightclub, 137 Besserer St., Friday, May 4 with Slim Moore & The Mar-Kays and DJ Zattar. 9 p.m. $22, www.worldfamousmusic.net.

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