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Toronto, Ontario, Canada | Established. Jan 01, 2013 | SELF | AFM

Toronto, Ontario, Canada | SELF | AFM
Established on Jan, 2013
Band Rock Pop




"On the Road"

Don Kerr is a Toronto-based musician, songwriter, producer and engineer. He sings and plays drums, cello and tenor guitar. Don has played with Ron Sexsmith since 1987 and was a member of Rheostatics from 1995 to 2001. He has a recording studio in his home called The Rooster, and has appeared on CBC Radio's Vinyl Cafe as both a solo artist and a member of the Ron Sexsmith Band side-project The Kelele Brothers.
What are we interrupting (i.e. what music-related activity are we taking you away from to write this)? :

I am currently recording the debut album of my personal musical project, Communism. These are songs that I hope will inspire celebration, generosity, questioning, forgiveness, action, respect and kindness, along with singing and dancing of course.
What, if anything, are you most looking forward to as an audience member between now and September 7?:

The Greenbelt Harvest Picnic—Daniel Lanois’ 4th annual day of music, food, family and social justice.
How about as a music maker/player? :

I am thrilled to be heading to many of the best festivals in the country, accompanying a wide range of artists I admire:

Field Trip, Mariposa, Hillside, Interstellar Rodeo, Calgary Folk Festival – with Hydra (Feist, Snowblink, AroarA)
Edge of the World Festival (in Haida Gwaii!) – with Bidiniband
ArtsWells – with Bidiniband, Ben Sures and Communism
Ottawa Jazz Festival and Greenbelt Harvest Picnic – with Ron Sexsmith
Roncy Rocks & Toronto Live Green Festival – with Communism
What are you already preparing for musically beyond the summer? And (how) do your summer plans tie in with these longer term plans?:

I plan to release the debut album by Communism in the fall. It will be comprised of four versions of the same 10 songs recorded in vastly different musical formats—rock trio, dance music, acoustic, and an interactive web-player that allows people to easily create their own versions of my songs.

Spending this summer playing a wide variety of music in so many different parts of Canada fits perfectly with my long-term plans to continue living this blessed, magical life spreading positivity, joy and connection to as many people as possible. - The Whole Note

"Where I Play"

"Dove, is this the first time you've ever seen me play the cello?" Don Kerr asks his eldest son, who's sprawled on the floor of his dad's home studio, the Rooster. Engrossed in colouring a cardboard box, the six-year-old nods gently without taking his eyes off his work. In a sense, Dove's the reason the Rooster exists. Kerr once co-managed the fabled Gas Station studio with Dale Morningstar but left its romantic, rustic locale on Toronto Island behind for his mainland home with wife, author Claudia Dey.

"When Claudia and I started a family, I wanted to find a house that I could put a studio in because I didn't want two spaces," Kerr explains. "This basement is the studio but I've got a snake [audio cable] running up to the dining room and I do a lot of recording up there. So, I can use more of the house than just the basement. There's also another few cables running into that washroom. You can put an amp in there or a sax player or vocalist for the sound and isolation."

A gifted multi-instrumentalist, harmony singer, recording engineer, and producer, Kerr is perhaps best recognized as the long-time drummer for Ron Sexsmith, Rheostatics, and currently BidiniBand. A student of renowned Canadian drum guru Jim Blackley, Kerr has also worked with Sarah Harmer, Gord Downie, Peter Elkas, Bob Wiseman and Neko Case among others and is widely regarded as one of Canada's most accomplished percussionists.

After some frustrating guitar lessons that turned him off music, his life changed at 14, when he saw a cover band doing Zeppelin songs at a high school talent show. "The drummer was this super skinny, tiny guy but he had this monstrous huge sound. I just thought, 'Oh my God, I could do that.' At the time I weighed like 90 pounds and I was six feet tall, so to see someone who was as skinny as me making a huge rock'n'roll sound ― it was like the clouds opened up."

Empowered, Kerr began collecting an array of instruments ― bass clarinet, euphonium, viola, trombone, trumpet, tuba, cello ― and recording gear, tinkering with and figuring them out, both at the Gas Station with Morningstar and on his own. He also credits crossing paths with engineers and producers like Steve Albini, John Switzer, and Michael Phillip Wojewoda, who informed techniques he continues to utilize.

In terms of music, these days he mostly sticks to guitar, drums, and cello, which he often incorporates into records he's producing. "It's just a beautiful sound," Kerr says of the cello. "I can play drums on a whole record and sing harmonies, and if you sneak a little cello onto a song or two, it just adds another colour. That doesn't happen on every record but some songwriters just like to have a different tone that's available to them here."

A real musician's producer, Kerr has invested the Rooster (named after the early bird he relates to, as a father of two) with his unique experience since launching it six years ago. As he was leaving the analog-ready Gas Station, Kerr embraced digital recording more; the Rooster employs the program Nuendo. "I've got lots of great plugins that I love but the main thing is the analog outboard gear, which I record through to get into the computer," Kerr explains, "and then I pretty much stay digital when I'm in there, unless I'm running tape-delay or something. But mostly I use digital EQs and compression."

By and large, though, Kerr's a hands-off collaborator. He's proud that the Rooster is a plug-and-play facility where drums and amps are mic'd up so that bands can begin recording within 15 minutes of arriving. From there, he's ideally just a facilitator. "A producer is just someone you trust with your record. The producer doesn't have to touch any of the gear or know what chords are being played. Like Rick Rubin ― he doesn't touch anything. He's a genius. He knows. He has a vision. Daniel Lanois or Danger Mouse too; [it's key to] find someone you can trust, lean on, and say 'Was that vocal any good?' And they just tell you." - Exclaim!

"Best of Toronto: Music 2007 Nov 1"

Best producer


He keeps a low profile, so no one really knows much about what happens at Rooster Studios, Kerr's home recording hideaway. But now and then one of his mysterious productions appears - like Claire Jenkins's wonderful Crow's Nest disc - leaving everyone wondering, "How did he do that?" Simple, just dangle microphones in strange places all over the living room to record the band playing through all their songs while tape rolls in the basement. You just need a magician like Kerr to make it work. - NOW Toronto


Get Down Get Together - album to be released September 2016



Communism is a shockingly energetic rock trio with songs that have as much meaning as they have rock, rhythm, and melody. The music makes you dance, the words awaken your inner activist. Take Care of Each Other, Forgiveness, One of Everyone, Heart Farmer... the songs fill you with hope, connection, and harmony - all while rocking your world in a mash-up of Disco, New Wave, Funk, & Stadium Rock

Don Kerr, the band's leader, has done nothing but perform and produce music for over 25 years, playing drums and cello and singing internationally with Ron Sexsmith, across Canada with Rheostatics, and on occasion with Bahamas, Neko Case, Leslie Feist's side project Hydra & many more. Kurt Swinghammer plays electric guitar, Kevin Lacroix plays bass.
All three sing sweetly and loudly as required. Craig Small adds magic and mystery with lasers, smoke, and video projections at our live shows.

Communism is based in Toronto Canada, their debut album, Get Down Get Together, was released in September 2016.

The band has played over 80 shows, mostly in Toronto, consistently wowing audiences with musicality, excitement, and quality material. The three musicians cover a lot of ground, playing and singing, alternating between brave simplicity and startling complexity.

Concert highlights in 2017: Fuji Rock in Naeba Japan, Hillside in Guelph ON, Artswells in Wells BC. Communism keeps growing and finding its audience - one listener at a time.

Band Members