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L.A. Beat

Ken Hamm taking his time to release new music with “Mokomon”

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Forget, Saskatchewan based delta bluesman Ken Hamm  is never in a hurry to put out  new material.
 He released his latest CD “Mokomon” in 2018. Before that his last releases was a double CD set in 2006 called “Live in 05.”
 So he is excited to return to the Lethbridge College Cave to play for the Lethbridge Folk Club, Saturday, April 27.

Ken Hamm plays the Lethbridge College Cave for the Lethbridge Folk Club, April 27. Photo By Richard Amery
“I have a lot of die hard fans there who have been listening to me for 40 years and I hate to let them down,” said Hamm, from his home in Forget, Saskatchewan, where he has called home for the past 15 years and has been keeping busy chopping wood and  enjoying  the thriving music  community.


“ There’s only 40 people here and there are five bands who play a lot,” he said.
He is excited to finally have a new CD out, which includes old blues, folk, classical music and even gospel, which he was excited to record in the comfort of his own home.


“I have a friend, Tom Richards, who has a small computer studio. So we meet every Sunday to work on songs. We started working on several of his songs, which I hope to have on the next album and then we started recording my songs,” he said, adding he enjoyed the no pressure circumstances.
“It was very liberating. Usually when you’re renting a studio, you have 20 songs. But we started doing this for fun,” he said, adding he plays most of the instruments himself.
“That’s me playing guitar, banjo, dobro, foot stomps, hand claps,” he said.


“Really this whole CD was an experiment to see what it would be like to record at home,” he said, adding it has drawn a really positive response from fans and critics, though he didn’t really  do a lot of promo on it.


  The title track “Mokomon,” was written by his neighbour.
“She wrote a poem about Mokomon, which is a little town in Ontario where my grandparents settled. She’s from there, so I put music to her poem. I’ve been playing it a lot. I even played it  at her wedding because she got married since I wrote it,” he said.
 Hamm has been playing a lot of festivals and house concerts from everywhere from Kakabeka Falls, Ontario  to Horsefly, B.C. since He was last in Lethbridge in 2015.

“It’s been a while. But I’ve been playing a lot. And I have the new Cd out  which most people haven’t heard since I was last there, so I’m excited to play it for people. I just finished a Home Routes House concert series,” he said, adding he is playing a lot of smaller towns and venues.

 


 Hamm did a lot of digging for  the songs, putting his own stamp on on classic blues and folk music, and even added a beautiful version of the Classical music piece  “Jesu Joy on Man’s Desire.”

“ Pete Seeger recorded a version of that on banjo in the ’60, but I discovered that later. Leo Kottke recorded a version of it on guitar in the 1970s (1977), so I was really inspired by that,” he said.


“A lot of people have recorded “High Flying Bird, which was written by Billy  Edd Wheeler,  like Jefferson Airplane and  Richie Havens,” he observed.
“ And I really love the instrumental “ Anji,” which was written by Davy Graham (in 1961). Paul Simon has a version of that too. I also really like ‘Icky Icky Fly Thing,” which I recorded with  Karrnell Sawitsky. He’s a great fiddle player. He plays with a lot of bands in Saskatchewan including Fretless, which is  an amazing group with two violins, a cello and a viola,” he said.


“You Ain’t’  Hurrying  Me, was written by an a Capella group from the Barbados (The Dicey Doh Singers in 1997), that I found on a compilation  of music from the Barbados. So I tracked him down to see if it would be okay if I recorded it, and it turns out he lives in Toronto,” Hamm chuckled, adding he plans on playing most of the new CD for Lethbridge.


“I can play about 80 per cent of it. Though there are a lot of overdubs, that I can’t play live,” he said, adding he will be playing solo.
“I have three shows in a row there,  including Nanton and Cranbrook,” Hamm said.
Ken Hamm plays the Lethbridge College Cave for the Lethbridge Folk Club Saturday, April 27 at 8 p.m. The Karen Romanchuk 3 open the show. Tickets are $25 for members, $30 for non members.

— By Richard Amery, L.A. Beat Editor
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