Area Resident Megaphono, Ottawa ON, February 10
Published Feb 11, 2018With two albums as Area Resident under his belt, Doug Hempstead's idea of local music runs deeper than simply being a performer in Ottawa and the surrounding area. Writing and recording while not at his day job as a CBC radio journalist, Hempstead's homey (and at times humorous) songs are inspired by his upbringing in the Ottawa Valley and stories he's come across as a reporter.
While Hempstead's live band was without guitarist Paul Jensen, he brought his blues-rock arrangements to life with the help of guitarist/vocalist John Higney and bassist Kristy Nease. Hempstead handled vocal duties from behind the drum kit, while a secondary vocal mic turned down a little too low robbed Higney of clearly audible harmonies.
Highlights of the trio's short set included some gritty slide work from Higney on "Lanark Double Soaker," a love song Hempstead penned after reading a police press release on a pair of burglars who put their pickup truck in the Mississippi river after breaking into a cottage. A track called "Lock Arm Panic" allowed Nease to break from her steady bass lines to play the lead melody.
The crunchy riffing of "Warm It Up First" immortalized a former employee of the Royal Canadian Mint, who was found guilty of smuggling $190,000 worth of gold from the Ottawa landmark inside his rectum in 2016. As Hempstead dryly put it, the song serves as some "solid advice for a malleable product."