About this Playlist
The best in soul, disco, soulful pop, funk, soul-jazz, the music might be nu, retro, indie, classic sounding or experimental, it’s just got to be soulful.
This is the first single and an original song off Gritty City Soul, Vol 1, the group name, The H.P.’s, pays homage to James Brown’s legendary band, The J.B.’s, with these initials referencing Hidden Pony. The album title is a tribute to Mike Renaud’s hometown, Hamilton, and The H.P.’s sound honours The Hammer’s core characteristics of grit and authenticity. Mike actually spent some time co-managing the current J.B.’s.
The Hoof caught up with the drummer and bandleader Mike AKA Parkside for a chat..
Tell us about yourself and how you got into music
My name is Parkside and I’m one of the two main guys behind The HP’s. I grew up in the arts as my Dad was a tour manager and my grandfather an impresario. I started playing the drums around the age of 12 but I always knew I would spend most of my time behind the scenes. I’ve been an A&R person/Manager?Label owner for over 20 years and felt the need to return to my musical roots and explore my favourite musical styles. After not touching the drums for 20 years, I put myself on a regimen, got a 12 piece band together in a few months and recorded a bunch of original tunes and covers. The fact that I get to do interviews about it now is the cherry on top!
So how have you kept busy during the last year or so, did the pandemic stifle your creativity or did the free time allow you to experiment more.
Last year we managed to get into a Barn and record 10 fun and exciting tracks. I’m not sure I would have been able to put together the band I did if everyone hadn’t been at home because of COVID.
What’s the inspiration behind ‘Hope To See You Again‘
“My inspirations started at the age of 16 with discovering James Brown and all roads have lead through there ever since. Maceo Parker, Jabo and Clyde, Sharon Jones, Charles Bradley (everything Daptone), Syl Johnson and I can go on and on…”
The late Sharon Jones, a key inspiration for Renaud, is honoured on the forthcoming LP via a killer version of her classic tune, “Better Things.” The soulful vocals of Claire Davis are accompanied by jaunty horns and keyboards, and the cool groove befits the positive lyrics (“I’m a better woman than I have been”).Giving this cover extra resonance are the memorable encounters both Davis and Renaud had with Jones back in 2015. A documentary portrait of the soul great, Miss Sharon Jones!, had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), and Claire Davis was doing a house concert playing DapKings songs that night. The band came across the party and jammed along, then, when one of the Dap Kings backup singers couldn’t cross the border, Claire got the call to fill in at Sharon Jones’ headlining show at Hamilton’s Supercrawl fest.In a cool twist of fate, Mike Renaud was one of the organizers of that show, and was tasked with looking after Sharon. The two bonded instantly and deeply, as Mike recalls. “While driving her to soundcheck, Sharon confided in me that her cancer had returned. She didn’t want anyone to know, as the documentary was about her conquering it, and she didn’t want people to be bummed out at the news. It was my 40th birthday that day, and Sharon actually stopped her show to sing me Happy Birthday in a soulful way!”
The JB’s and Maceo Parker’s influence is obvious on the bands first release from Gritty City Soul, Vol. 1 which is a curated collection of covers and original compositions.
Tell us about your writing and recording process, what instruments, hardware or software to you use.
We set up in a Barn in the middle of nowhere and tried to record almost everything live off the floor. We had very little time to rehearse so it was just get twelve people together in a barn and rip it.
What is your 2022 looking like, what are your hopes and dreams, do you have any exciting plans, new releases, tours or gigs.
We are planning on dropping a series of releases throughout the year until we get to the end and then we’ll release a full length vinyl. Until then – the amazing LRK Records will be putting out a 7 inch featuring Hope To See You Again.
Can you give us a classic track, something that has inspired you or simply one you love and never get sick of listening to.
I discovered the Nat Turner Rebellion record “Laugh To Keep From Crying” last year and I highly recommend everyone check that out.
Can you recommend any new music, something that you’ve just discovered or are just really digging at the moment.
Check out Etran de L’Air from Niger. It’s like if the Velvet Underground came from the desert. Some of their live videos are mesmerizing.
Do you think playlists are important, what types do you enjoy, in your opinion, what’s the future of the playlist.
Playlists were important to me growing up in the form of mixtapes. We have a 5 hour playlist of deep soul cuts that are featured on our Spotify profile. I love creating playlists and sharing them.
How do you prefer your music to be heard, streams, downloads or physical product sold. Why?
However you want to listen – just listen a lot!
How do you connect with your audience, email, social media, PR firms.
We speak to people via our Instagram mainly.
What’s the best way a fan could help you today if they had just ten minutes to spare.
Share our music with someone you know!
What would you be doing right now, if it wasn’t for your career in music.
It was my only choice and I couldn’t imagine doing anything else.