Acclaimed pianist, composer and multi-instrumentalist with Barenaked Ladies, Kevin Hearn, and JUNO award nominated violinist, Hugh Marsh look back fondly on the decade of decadence with their latest work, Dreaming of the 80s, Saturday, March 4th, 2023 at The Burlington Performing Arts Centre. The new collection unites a diverse group of the decade’s classics hits and deep cuts in the duo’s uniquely atmospheric and ethereal sonic environment.
Dreaming of the 80s was conceived on the spectacular Fogo Island Inn off the eastern coast of Newfoundland, Hearn and Marsh were invited to play for New Year’s Eve 2018, and decided to pepper their set with a few covers. Among them were “Heaven” by The Psychedelic Furs, Lou Reed’s “Rooftop Garden,” and “Cemetery Polka” by Tom Waits – all written and recorded in the 1980’s. “Performing only as a duo, our stripped-down interpretations illustrated what finely crafted little songs these were,” Hearn recalls. Upon returning to their shared home of Toronto, he and Marsh enlisted engineer Kenny Luong to record their crafty reimagining before carrying on with their various other projects and collaborations. In 2020, the forced downtime of the COVID-19 pandemic brought the trio back together, coalescing in what Hearn calls a “creative little lockdown bubble.”
“We decided to keep going down the road of exploring songs and artists from the ‘80s,” he explains “Once a week or so, we would convene at my place and work on two songs at a time. For the most part, they were performed live as a duo in my living room, and later embellished to varying degrees.” Joy Division’s “Love Will Tear Us Apart,” Kraftwerk’s “Computer Love,” and Alphaville’s “Forever Young” all benefit from a subdued and aptly dream-like treatment that keeps their respective hooks and charms intact, whereas others adopt an added dimension thanks to some gifted guests and friends.
Esteemed opera singer Michael Colvin elevates the aforementioned “Cemetery Polka” while new wave icon Carole Pope adds complementing vocals to a fresh take of Billy Idol’s “Eyes Without a Face.” Hearn’s fellow Lou Reed accompanist Fernando Saunders seemingly warps time on Tom Petty’s “Free Fallin’” and Sun Ra Arkestra trumpeter Michael Ray lends his touch to a medley of tunes from his former bandleader.
The colourful album cover features Kevin’s Dad who is now in his 80’s. “In 1981, with my portable Kodak camera, I snapped a photo of my dad ‘dreaming’ in the ‘80s, wrapped in a quilt that was hand-made by my mother. A quest began to find the quilt so that we could re-stage the photo, and my friend, artist Don Porcella, hand-crafted the cube with pipe cleaners so that it could float above Dad’s head. My dad was quite chuffed by the whole thing. He also recites the Sun Ra poem “New Horizons,” which opens that medley.
“We hope this little collection offers a glimpse of how thrilling and diverse the musical landscape was throughout the decade,” Hearn shares in closing. “There were so many amazing artists creating, innovating, and shaping the musical future. This record was a joy to make for all of us, and I trust that’s apparent in the result. Like, totally.”
About Kevin Hearn
A gifted composer, in-demand collaborator, and ever-active musical force with zero interest in creative stagnancy, Hearn cut his teeth collaborating with the likes of Look People, Corky and the Juice Pigs, and revered art-rock outfit Rheostatics before formally joining Barenaked Ladies in 1995. As the group’s profile swelled in the ensuing years, he explored new sonic ground with a series of innovative and imaginative solo albums. One of the most respected and sought-after Toronto musicians of the past 30 years, Hearn’s projects always attract brilliant collaborators including Ron Sexsmith, Dan Hill, Michael Ray of the Sun Ra Arkestra, Carole Pope, Mary Margaret O’Hara, Alan Doyle, The Persuasions, Violent Femmes, Colin Hay and drummer Rob Kloet (the Nits). One of his most rewarding creative and personal relationships of all was with the legendary Lou Reed, for whom Hearn acted as musical director and keyboardist from 2007 until his passing in 2013. Hearn was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame in 2018 as part of Barenaked Ladies. He released his ninth album, the captivating and compelling Calm and Cents, which was nominated for Instrumental Album of the Year at the 2020 JUNO Awards. Hearn also re-released his entire solo catalogue, which dates back to 1997’s debut Mothball Mint, and included a first time digital release of the sold-out 2019 Record Store Day Canada project Kevin Hearn & Friends Present: The Superhero Suite, nominated by the JUNO Awards for Album Artwork of the Year.
Dates & Times
Sat Mar 4, 2023 at 7:30pm
Community Studio Theatre
Approx. 90 mins. Intermission.
Regular: $59.50 (All-in)
Member: $54.50 (All-in)