I have only two words to describe Hills and Lemelin: absolutely inspired. The duo, who have been together for a year, graced the stage of the Slice on June 4 to promote their debut CD Neither Here Nor There. The crowd was privileged to hear two blues veterans, who have played with great blues musicians such as Otis Rush, Matt Murphy, Pinetop Perkins, Fenton Robinson, John Hammond and Lowell Fulsom. Hills and Lemelin are brilliant and soulful, their music intimate and spontaneous. The duo have been working hard to find their own sound, to play on their own terms, which is evident in their music.
Their performance is raw and unassuming which is the way blues should be. Outfitted in vintage clothing, Brother Ray Lemelin with a guitar on his lap, hat pulled low over his eyes, and Bill Hills cradling a harmonica to his lips, allow the music to guide them. The songs are permitted to weave and transform, each musician playing off the energy and inspiration of the other. The duo may have a set list, however, most of what they play is improvised. One musician changes to half time, but the other is sensitive enough to feel the change coming and adapts. The ability to feed off the other musician is not a matter of skill, but rather pure instinct. Lemelin posits “Blues is a feeling, not a memory”. Rather than memorizing notes and lyrics through endless hours of practice, they would rather just sit down with their instruments and feel the music they so skillfully perform.
The two blues veterans play music, not because they have to, but for the pure satisfaction that music brings. The most fulfilling moment for Hills and Lemelin is when the audience is mesmerized through the sensual nature of blues that is raw and unfeigned. The energy is what drives these seasoned musicians. According to Lemelin, the excitement in a room of people who are truly connected to the music “is like the excitement of a first kiss.”
Hills and Lemelin are currently touring Western Canada and will soon be performing in venues around Ontario and Quebec. They are also planning a tour in Europe next year, where their music is getting lots of air play, particularly in Russia. Hills and Lemelin’s next album is due out 2010, which will include more original tunes. The album will also feature deconstructed big band pieces, as well as gospel vocals. The premise for their next album is to expand their horizons and experiment with different sounds and styles. If the next album is as good as “Neither Here Nor There,” it is sure to not disappoint.
Check them out at www.hillsandlemelin.com
Coming up this weekend — L.A. Pride
This weekend is a momentous occasion for the gay community in Lethbridge. For the first time, the LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, Transgender and Queer) community has organized a pride fest. This is a huge step for the gay community in Lethbridge as they celebrate their diverse identity and empower themselves in this conservative city.
The gay pride movement emerged from the Stonewall riots which occurred June 1969. Unconstitutional police raids on a New York club were intended to prosecute New York homosexuals. Rather than suppressing the underground community, the raids created a sense of pride and community. The Stonewall riots became a defining moment in the gay rights movement. Every year, Pride events are held around the world to commemorate the Stonewall riots and gay rights. Come out and celebrate human rights and support the LGBTQ community in Lethbridge.
6:30 p.m.: flag raising at the City Hall
10 p.m.: Queeraoke at the Mix (beside Ric’s Restaurant). Say “Queeraoke” out loud. The word makes me giggle!
6 p.m.: free BBQ in Pavan Park
10 p.m.: Pride Party and Drag Show at Henotic. Sure to be a good time.
10 &11:30 a.m.: Worship service at McKillop United Church
12:30 p.m.: Pancake brunch will be served
2-8 p.m.: Come celebrate diversity at Out in the Park held in Galt Gardens
Some of the entertainment will be provided by Dennise Two Spirit Sage Walker, Josh Larabee, Ammena Dancers, Kelliane and Drag performances.
— Lori Alexander, the L.A. Woman