Blues and roots guitarist Ken Hamm has closed his music store in Forget, Sask. (population 40) to hit the road for a long-overdue tour.
The slumping price of oil caused Hamm to close up shop after seven years of operation.
“It’s time for a change, which isn’t such a bad thing,” he said.
Despite the recent deactivation of Hamm’s shop, he still feels at home in Forget, where the small population is rich in creativity. After some residents have succumbed to old age, “Younger folks have moved in and at least half of them are musicians,” he said.
Hamm became accustomed to small-town living having grew up in a mining camp that was a few hours drive from Thunder Bay, Ont.
So I grew up snaring rabbits and shooting things – it was wonderful,” he said. “The school I went to taught 12 students, eight grades in one room. It must have been a juggling act for the teacher as I look back on it now.”
Hamm knew he wanted to work as a musician upon reaching adulthood. He was fascinated by the blues, but the genre was very uncommon in Northern Ontario at the time. Nevertheless he started a band that emulated the music of a few legends, namely Muddy Waters.
“We were one of the first few bands that tried to do any kind of blues in Thunder Bay,” he said. And for awhile we had a good run. We went from 1972 to 1978.”
But akin to his music store’s dependence on a healthy oil sector, Hamm’s band had to fold under uncontrollable economic factors.
“Eventually there was a big strike in the logging camps and pulp mills and almost overnight everything stopped,” he said. “We went to six gigs a week down to one. That was when I decided to hit the trail as an acoustic musician and I put out my very first vinyl album. I try and stay true to an older form – I’m not trying to be a rockstar.”
Hamm will be at the Dream Café on Nov. 13 for his first-ever show in Penticton. Tickets cost $18 and can be purchased by calling 250-490-9012.