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The Walleye
The Walleye
page 20
The Auditor
by Tiffany Jarva
Recently I asked a
friend of mine to
come see The Auditor
General with me.
She answered with
an enthusiastic,
"Absolutely! What does
one wear when going
to meet the Auditor
General?" I had to
laugh. A lot.
"I'm pretty into
politics," explains
Jamie Smith, when
asked about the
inspiration behind
naming his local
folk-rock band The
Auditor General. "I
think that the of-
fice of the Auditor
General is one of
the best watchdogs
in our democratic society. It
plays a really important role.
It's inspiring. Also, I couldn't
really name the band after
me; I'm sure there are about
eight million Jamie Smiths out
It's just about midnight on
a summer Friday night at the
new Crock's on Cumberland
Street. Tables have been
slowly filling up all evening.
20- and 30-somethings start
to spill out onto the dance
floor as soon as they see The
Auditor General band mem-
bers scrambling on the stage
to set up after the opening act.
Eager fans stand, sway and
chat while they wait. As soon
as The Auditor General starts
playing their catchy folk-rock
tunes, the dance floor pulsates
and doesn't stop until the final
I first noticed the keen fol-
lowing of the band this past
spring during the Tokyo Pop
Shock pub crawl: it was hard
to find standing room when
The Auditor General hit the
stage, and many on the dance
floor were singing along. With
such a dedicated following it's
not surprising that the band
was asked to play at this year's
Red Rock Folk Festival. "We
are super excited about it," says
Smith. "Red Rock has become
so popular over the years. The
caliber of bands is pretty some-
thing: most playing are full-
time musicians."
Smith started penning songs
in Nova Scotia "after follow-
ing a girl" and upon returning
to Thunder Bay he joined the
heavier metal group Norris.
(Norris has officially signed
with Year of the Sun Records
for the release of their up-
coming new album later this
year.) Today, all of The Auditor
General band members are
also part of Norris, except
Smith. It was during "off-
time" from Norris that Smith
and drummer Josh Hogan
began collaborating on Smith's
songs, and eventually The
Auditor General was born.
"Now that I'm getting a little
older," says Hogan, "it's much
more fun playing live when
there are pretty girls and older
people dancing in front of you,
instead of sweating teenaged
boys who are angry that come
to the Norris shows. They are
very different crowds."
With a high-sweet voice
that is hard to pin down, some
compare Smith to Death Cab
for Cutie's Ben Gibbard. I
think I hear more of a folk-
infused version of Radiohead's
Thom Yorke intermingled
with Coldplay's Chris Martin.
Songs on the 2009 album
Club Anthems for the Slightly
Disenfranchised range from the
sweet folksy lyrics and guitar
of "Pour Melanie Allons Y"
to the quick finger picking
guitar on "The Ballad of New
Mexico". Ask him if he has
a favourite song to play and
Smith is pretty non-commit-
tal. "I like to play them all. I
don't have too much attach-
ment to any specific song. I
usually write down a phrase
and then develop a theme
around it with some sort of
joke or pun." But then after
a thoughtful pause, he adds,
"Okay. Maybe there's one song
about a girl that's a little more
emotional, more meaningful."
Admittedly not from a
musical background, ("My
grandpa had an organ,") Smith
was nevertheless drawn to
music from a young age. "I
used to go to my friend's house
and while they were playing
hockey, I'd play the piano. Not
that I didn't ever play hockey,"
he adds quickly. "Not that
I was some creepy pale kid
in a windowless basement."
When he was five or six,
Smith started playing music
by ear. He played violin for
a little bit in grade three, and
when he was eleven or twelve
his parents bought him a bass
guitar. Shortly after that he
formed a garage band (actu-
ally a basement/shed band)
and "played Nirvana covers
badly." He sang O'Canada at
his mom's wedding when he
was seven and was 15 when he
first played live at Harbourfest.
Smith is penning new songs
and hopes that come winter,
a new album will be ready to
Check out The Auditor
General at this year's
"Live from the Rock"
Folk Festival in Red
Rock, August 6-8.
Blues Traveler
By Angie Valente
It took a while for the Blues Fest 2010 crowd to show their
appreciation for New Jersey blues rock band Blues Traveler,
but when they did a mighty roar swept across the shores of the
Marina. Covering Radiohead's Creep and Cheap Trick's "I Want
you to Want Me," fans also heard a few timeless BT hits like
Hook, and Run-Around.
In a phone interview conducted prior to their Thunder Bay
appearance, drummer Brendan Hill talked about the joy which
Blues Traveler experiences from playing summer festivals. Their
Blues Fest set was a sheer testament to their love of playing live
music. Each member, including vocalist and harmonica great
John Popper, guitarist Chan Kinchla, Bassist Tad Kinchla and
keyboardist Ben Wilson were enthralled by the music and looked
genuinely satisfied to be playing up North on the shores of Lake
Superior, their sole Canadian Summer tour date.
Said Hill, "There's no thrill like playing together. It's who we
are. It's the same feeling of playing with your brothers, on stage
it's a bond we have. And we're able to make a living and have
continued success, but we've got a lot of great fans that feel the
connection with us."
A piece of advice given by Hill was to always maintain origi-
nality. "You need to sound like yourself. The only way you're
going to make a mark for yourself is to be your own player and
not try to emulate a sound." Hill stresses the importance of
music in one's life. "I encourage any of your readers to donate
time, energy, or money to supporting the arts in school. I feel
like without that music program I wouldn't have been the person
I am today. A word to the parents to support your kids."
o: submitt
: Shannon Evere