Thursday, May 31, 2007

Kurt Swinghammer: Jacobsonean Keeper of Toronto's Cultural Flame

When I noted that Sam The Record Man is about to close shop, I mentioned several artists who benefited directly from Sam's existence and mode of being including Kurt Swinghammer. After receiving a couple of "who he?" e-mails, I thought it behooved me to forward one and all to his website.

I am perhaps inordinately fond of Kurt. I used to follow him back when he and Ron Sexsmith were running an even keel, showbiz-wise. They'd put on shows at C'est What? and joke that the plus to performing together was being able to call themselves SexHammer.

Kurt seems to have slowed down a bit in the aural arts department, while picking up the pace as a visual artist. He is a delightful wielder of the air- and paint-brush, but for those of us who have seen him playing guitar and singing on stage, it's a bitter pill to watch him step back, however temporarily, from the scene. Anyone who had a campfire facility with the guitar knew this guy was freaky magic, but for some reason that never seemed to translate in the studio (the way it does for, say, Richard Thompson).

Ah, well. He is very much a creative force to be reckoned with. Here is his website, and this is the T-shirt (and bag) design he did for Sam The Record Man:


DarkoV said...

Hey, WP,
Planning on any road trips to Sam's to do the vulture thing?

I remember the Sam's in Montreal down on St. Catherine's Street. Many pleasant memories fingering through the LP's and finding bargains. The place was always humming and the clerks, all musicians, were always arguiong over the merits of your choices. Not a place for the feeble of mind and heart as you felt you had to defend your musical purchases before you forked over the cash. I always left the store more energized than when I came in. It wasn't a "pretty boy" store like HMV Records, but one aimed at the listening possessed.
A shame to see it go......

Whisky Prajer said...

That's an interesting question, DV. I'd certainly buy a Swinghammer SAM'S shirt, if they still sold them. But music-wise, I'd be surprised if the vultures haven't already flown away with the choice cuts.

Sam's on Yonge was a place similar to what you describe. In fact, one of my sunniest memories of the place is introducing my friend, who was then undergoing a difficult divorce, to the store. He had a song stuck in his head from mid-70s AM radio - one of those cases where he only remembered a select few lines. He asked a Sam's staffer if they knew what it was, then sang the bits he remembered. They couldn't help him but a customer who overheard him could. Knew the artist, the album, the year ... it was a special order, but he got the disc. That's just the kind of place it was.