Here is the story of how we raised the money to manufacture the Boreal CDs. At this time our gig money was hardly anything and we usually spent what we made on food after the gig. It would have taken us many years to save the money needed to print cds.
One night we randomly end up at Braemar Bakery to catch the reggae DJ and dance it up. We liked the mood of the place so we started going there on a regular basis to soak in the world-beat vibes. At some point Paul and I got talking to one of the cooks and mentioned we were in a band. He asked what type of band and I said "Well, sort-a rock band and Paul said "Well, kinda-da funky too but not really." Byron, the cook, was also the owner of the place and we really got along with him. So his ear decided to just hear the "kinda-funky"description and he said he was looking to make a funk night and needed a funk band. We decided that we had some "funky songs" so eventually he came and checked us out at what we called "The Spiral House" (because Spiral Spectacular lived and jammed there) on Woodrow street where Paul was living. He came down with his biz partner. We had cleaned up the basement jam space and made it look nice and comfortable for jamming. We played him a set and he was actually really into it. I was shocked cause the whole time I thought he is gonna be like "What the hell is this?," But to our surprise he was like "Yeah mon this is great! You got it!! That is it! Him and his biz partner agreed to give us the Monday funk night gigs with a regular weekly pay + meal. So the band actually had a small weekly income, which was pretty rare for an original band let alone HAM. We called it 'The Intergalactic Funk Night." The DJ who was already there would only play top 40 hits so we asked B if we could bring in one of our crew to spin the tunes. He agreed and we got Rob (Menard) in as DJ between sets to spin some Can, Moonshake, Parliament, Funkadelic, b-boys instrumental album, Medeski, Martin, Wood, Amon Düül, Gong.
We played there for about a month with rob as DJ and then B, for some reason or other, wanted to bring the top 40 DJ back so he did. At that time, what we started doing was playing a set then inviting some players up to do totally free form improv sets. I guess we were trying to morph the night into something other than a standard funk night but I'm not sure if we had a clear idea of what that was. The small crowd would come on Monday nights but it was not growing. At some point B wanted us to start doing some covers. We were pretty hesitant but we thought it wouldn't hurt to do some funkadelic covers here and there cause at this point we were just playing our normal set that we would play at Albert(alternative/punk venue) to fill in the set times and I think we were feeling like we were not helping grow the night by doing this. In the end I don't think the cover thing ever happened because something else was taking shape.
To our surprise the top 40 DJ was really intrigued by the idea of the free improv sets because he was into freestyle hip hop and said that he would bring some of his friends if they could come up and do their thing over top of the band, which we were totally into. We were fans of hip hop and freestyle. So the following Monday he brought his friends, many of whom were freestyle MC's and talented beat-boxers. They came up and freestyled over these improv sets and it was magic. Word had spread that week and by the next Monday the house was packed and pumping. Thanks to the top 40 DJ and his crew which, if I remember correctly we're made of the awesome Peanuts and Corn community. I think by that time we had just abandon the rehearsed sets altogether and just started doing the experimental groove improve sets with the beatbox and freestyle rap over top. It was wild, outta control and awesome. I think this went on for another 2 packed roaring Mondays but it got cut short. B started booking another band, a proper original funk band, and started having us come every 2nd monday, then once a month. When we played on the staggered Mondays, we lost the momentum of the freestyle crowd and it went back to being empty so we just told B that we wanted to give up our mondays to the new band.
In the end we saved just enough cash to cover the printing of the CDs which is ridiculous cause I think the rest went to the bar tab that the four of us rung up every Monday. The up and coming new band that he booked at the time was Moses Mayes and it made a lot of sense if you wanted to have a proper straight up funk night. Eventually, after Moses Mayes had retired from the gig, it was passed on to funk band Rudimental and the night went on successfully for some years afterwards from what I heard.
Much gratitude is owed to the crew at Braemar Bakery for giving us that opportunity which helped us get those CDs' printed and out into the world.
Note: Just a heads up for those of you who are unfamiliar with HAM. Ham Boreal Imbroglio album is in no way considered a funk recording. This review from Exclaim! Magazine 1999 will give you a better idea what you can expect:
"This is some fucked up shit right here, and I mean that in the nicest possible way. This Winnipeg-based collective of weird-rock aficionados draws on their apparent mutual appreciation of Frank Zappa, Sonic Youth, Shudder to Think, Minutemen, Devo, Naked City and Miles Davis to create a CD's worth of garbled, atonal, caterwaul that is as repulsively attractive as it is attractively repulsive. Psychedelic prog-rock melds with post-punk guitar screech, African tribal chanting and sometimes country twang, but buried deep in the mother lode of all the chaos and noise, however, are some genuine pop gems that manage to surface long enough to keep us interested. Definitely not for everybody, but for those who enjoy the occasional swim in Truman's Water or the taste of Captain Beefheart, medium rare, this is a must have. Pass the honey mustard — I'll take my Ham on wry to go. (Permafrost)
This one liner from Perimeter magazine which has since been defunct:
"I'm open to new and different kinds of music, but this is just plain silly." - Scott Carman
released October 8, 1999
Paul Lafrieniere: guitars, vocals
Jim Demos: guitars, vocals
Devin McCracken: bass, chanting on track 1
Joe Fiola: drums, chanting on track 1
Ben Morier: trumpet, vocals and bass on tracks 4,8,9
Recorded tracks 1,2,4,5,6,9 by Mike Setner in Winnipeg, Manitoba on Spruce Street in a house between Goulding and Portage.
Tracks 3, 7, 10 (hidden Track) recorded at the Franco Manitoban Cultural Centre on a fostex 8 track reel to reel tape machine.
The original release was release by 2ply collective and Permafrost records in 1999. Permafrost acted as a liaison between 2 ply collective (basically Ham's group of like minded art buds) and Canadian music distributors and press outlets. Because of Permafrost The album was distributed by:
Darla, No, Southern, Fab and others who I can't remember the name of.
Johnny Paycheque and Tree charms was featured on one of our favorite shows CBC's "Brave New Waves."
Much gratitude is owed to Richard Sigesmund and Permafrost records who saw artistic value in what we were doing and took HAM under it's wing when no local label would.