Queen's Hotel - 2009
“Queen’s Hotel” is Wort Hannam’s fourth full-length recording. Once again Juno award winning Steve Dawson takes the helm producing 11 tracks of authentic Canadiana folk/roots music. The writing, although true to John’s narrative story-telling style, is tighter, smarter, more personal, and with a breadth of subject matter not seen on previous recordings.
The upbeat “With The Grain” (a song for which Wort Hannam won Grand Prize at the 2009 Calgary Folk Music Festival Songwriting Competition) recalls the conversation where John tells his father he would quit teaching to attempt a shot at performing music. “Worth A Damn”, a timeless sounding duet performed with multi-Juno award winner Jenny Whiteley is reminiscent of a John Prine/Iris Dement collaboration. Despite the title, “Requiem For A Small Town” is a rollicking 3 and a half-minute look at the town that just never quite made it. The poignant but catchy “Lucky Strikes” was written after a visit to Fort Macleod’s infamous Queen’s Hotel.
John also revisits two songs from previous independent releases: “Church of the Long Grass” which has been called by some “the un-official anthem of southern Alberta” and “Pier 21” which recounts the immigration of Wort Hannam’s family from the island of Jersey in the Channel Islands,UK to Canada in the late 70’s.
“Queen’s Hotel” was recorded live off the floor at Vancouver’s The Factory. Musicians sat in one room facing each other in a circle and played the songs – no bed tracks, no click, and no overdubs except for a few harmonies. It captures a realness that sounds less like musicians making a record and more like musicians making music that just happened to be recorded.
With many of the same players: John Wort Hannam on guitar and tenor guitar, Steve Dawson on dobro, national, and weissenborn, John Reischman on mandolin and mandola, Rob Becker on upright bass, Geoff Hicks on percussion, and Jeanne Tolmie,Tyler Bird, and Jenny Whiteley on backing vocals, “Queen’s Hotel” has a pared down and subtler sound compared to Wort Hannam’s previous recordings and leans more on the folkier side of the folk/roots spectrum.
1. With The Grain (3:40)
2. Requiem For A Small Town (3:37)
3. Come Back To Me (4:02)
4. Church Of The Long Grass (3:58)
5. Shipwright Oh Shipwright (3:38)
6. When I Drink Too Much (4:11)
7. Worth A Damn (2:58)
8. Pier 21 (5:01)
9. Before I Wake (4:07)
10. Tonight We Strike (3:30)
11. Lucky Strikes (3:49)