Various Keepers of the Sacred Fire

Hamilton musicians may possess a little more metal in their blood than the rest of us but it seems they also have a rather inspired dose of mettle as well. A diverse group of professional and amateur musicians connected to Hamilton have contributed songs to Keepers of the Sacred Fire, a project dedicated to raising awareness about the Hamilton municipal government's bid to pave over thousands of trees with an expressway through the Red Hill Valley. Project coordinators Dave King and Gord Pullar gathered the artists at a converted barn/studio last February and captured the protests and emotions on disc. Environmentalist and spoken word artist April A. Severn starts the off album with the shaky-voiced "Voice of the Valley." Ian Thomas acoustic rocks on the impassioned "Rise Above it" and Dave Rave gets help from Bob Lanois, Jamie Oakes and Graham Walsh on the quickly-penned "Blue Springs Highway." Highlights include Tim Gibbons' "Bordello of Time," with slide work by Steve Strongman, and Rob Lamothe's brooding yet strangely buoyant "Welcome to the 21st Century." The addition of Blackie and the Rodeo Kings not only lends credence to the project, but Tom Wilson's "Lean on Your Peers" is a brilliant piece of Hamiltonia, as he sings about the state of his hometown and then shrugs "That's just the way it is here/ So pull up your socks and lean on your peers." And peer leaning is the whole point of this thing. (Independent)