Sunday, July 6, 2014

NXNE 2014 Film Review- Luck's Hard - Ron Hawkins & The Do Good Assassins

Shakespeare My Butt is a legendary album in the history of Canadian independent rock.  It is often listed as one of the best Canadian Albums of all times when critics or publications produce best of lists. The Artists on the album are Lowest of the Low lead by front man Ron Hawkins. The band produced one more album then split up.  Hawkins went on to solo albums, a stint with a new band The Rusty Nails and periodic Lowest of the Low reunions before he found himself in studio working on a solo album in 2011.

Session Musicians Steve Singh (Guitars), Dave Bookman (Bass) Alex McMaster (Keyboards & Strings) and Jesse Capon (Drums) backed him on the records. Hawkins found the group worked so well together that they decided to take their act out on the road formed the Do Good Assassins and cut a double album titled Rome.

Directors David Brown and Daniel Williams bring a different approach to the rock band documentary.  The normal script follows a band around on tour, focus on between performance hi- jinx plus the inevitable tension and disagreements that always arise when a band is on tour.
Brown and Williams instead use Steve Singh's home attic studio as the base and interview the band
members sometimes individually or in combination chronicling their past musical lives and giving the viewer a feel of each member's role in the band, their thoughts on other band members and on the ever changing music business. The film does have two main live performances each in the historical Lowest of the Low musical power bases of Toronto and Buffalo.

The piece is not a rock star send up as band members miss performances for other gigs and perhaps the most telling sequence where bass player Dave Bookman explains that he has to miss a show for a bartending shift which pays him the same as gets for one night performing on stage.

The personalities of the band members are the key to the piece.  The one on one interviews with Dave Bookman being the stand out gems. A  longtime veteran of the Toronto Music scene having gigged back to the 80's Bookman is an encyclopedia of the Toronto music scene that really gets going when ask to compare Toronto to  Montreal or Vancouver. Steve Singhs love of guitars is evident anytime he is on screen. He always has one on hand picking at or working on a series of chords. He sees them as pieces of art. No two sounding the same they rival any painting one would hang in their home plus as a bonus you can always pick one up and make it sing. Jesse Capon is the quiet  jazz trained drummer while Alex McMaster a classical trained musical and lone female in the band is ofter the voice of reason.

One very real incident that occurred while the cameras were rolling was an injury very similar to flesh eating disease that befell Steve Singh during filming. He was hospitalized underwent extensive surgery and the status of his leg was touch and go for a period of time.

Luck's Hard is a study in perseverance that features a legendary Canadian indie poet and performer. It recounts Hawkins early burst onto the music scene and potential path to musical success that was replaced over the years with more modest goals to get his music out to the public that deeply love his songwriting talent.  It is a film that I can recommend.

*** out of 4

Luck's Hard | David Brown and Daniel Williams | Canada | 2014 | 77 Minutes.

Tags: Indie Rock, Lowest of the Low, Songwriter, Toronto, Buffalo, Session Musicians,

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