|Hamell on Trial, AKA Ed Hamell, blazing like a bastard on stage|
No, it's not the latest idiot-culture court case, Hamell on Trial is the most talented songwriter/performer you've never heard of.
Yep, it's just one guy. Ed Hamell. If I recall correctly, he called himself Hamell on Trial to get a bands-only gig many years ago. But he prefers it this way. As a one-man band, he tell us, "It's cool, because now at rehearsals, we all show up on time, we agree on the material, and we're all sober."
That said, this guy plays a mic'd acoustic guitar like its a battery of instruments. It's been described as "folk-punk," which is expedient, I guess, but this is really its own thing. I've never heard an acoustic guitar so beautifully murdered like this before. It brings to mind the character Begbie from the movie in Trainspotting.
But let's go back a little so I can clue you in on Ed properly.
I interviewed him years ago when I was a music writer and I saw him live supporting Ani DiFranco (whose record label, Righteous Babe Records, he was on before a recent move). Hamell has more energy than a school of Fukushima fish. That might seem like a tasteless analogy, but it's not. Because Ed is, 1. A very sharp radical/dissident; 2. Hilarious. And the former helps the latter no end. I'm sticking with the fish thing.
Songs like "Don't Kill" is very anti-violence, as you can imagine; "Hail" is a beautiful number about Brandon Teena (remember the movie Boys Don't Cry?) and Matthew Shepard, two young people murdered for their sexual orientation; and "Bill Hicks," a tribute to the late, great anti-Establishment comedian I've mentioned in House On Fire, several times.
Then there are times he's bitterly sardonic and un-PC: "I Hate Your Kid" (you ever dated someone who has a kid that... never mind), and "John Lennon" (when he "meets" his idol in a very awkward way).
And sometimes he's speed-regaling audiences with stories about the crazy guys he grew up with: "Choochtown," "When Bobby Comes Down," "Joe Brush."
And playing live, his stories and banter between numbers fire out with the same velocity and wit as his songs.
Ed Hamell is changing the world for the better, one song, one gig, one album at a time. And he's keeping the fun in it. Look him up on the Net or just dive straight into his website. I'm doing you a favor here -- you know I wouldn't lead you wrong.