S.G. Sinnicks
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S.G. Sinnicks

Hamilton, Ontario, Canada | Established. Jan 01, 1996 | SELF | AFM

Hamilton, Ontario, Canada | SELF | AFM
Established on Jan, 1996
Solo Folk Singer/Songwriter


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"The Last Irishman"

Steve Sinnicks was 16 when he started playing pubs back in his native Niagara Falls and I think he’s always had the desire to sing songs of meaning. He probably knows he’s not changing the world but it’s that fight that’s so intriguing to share in song. While he’d come to Hamilton in ’89 for his post secondary education at McMaster University, he’d immerse himself in the local scene primarily as a drummer but after a decade of that Sinnicks had to find his own voice. He’d spend a decade releasing a CD every other year or so but had been notably absent with his original tunes of late. That is until now. Three years since his HMA Folk/Roots album of the year, Red Meat and Blue 88s, Steve Sinnicks returns with his most personal and powerful CD to date, The Last Irishmen in Corktown.
“When I started doing my own stuff, it became whatever came out of me with an acoustic guitar in my hand,” notes Sinnicks. “I didn’t really classify it. If you like folk, you’ll probably like this but folk is a very subjective term. I’m not one of those guys that does a 9–minute, 18–verse type of song. Most of the songs I write are short. You try to paint the picture with an interesting musical idea and then get the hell on out and move on to the next one. I get, ‘oh, you do union songs so you sound like Billy Bragg’. I don’t sound anything like Billy Bragg. I always know when a reviewer has listened to my CD and those who haven’t.”
The plight of the working man and woman — and particular those in his hometown of the last twenty plus years — has oft been fodder for his songs. Social injustice, political and social commentary and in general, meaningful songs that are steeped in Sinnicks’ heart and soul. But in the past, there’s always been some comedic edge that has helped add levity to the gravity of the situation. This time out, Sinnicks is serious about songs in particular and its underscored with the title track — a great modern age folk song in a more popular motif.
“It resonates more in Hamilton, but the song is more about how neighbourhoods change,” offers Sinnicks on the song “Last Irishman in Corktown”. “But I hope I’m not lamenting. There were a couple of tunes post break up. A couple of tunes about things changing — things don’t work out, you end up where you are and you look back and ask yourself, ‘what the hell happened these last two years’? It comes out like that but there’s still stuff to think about and stuff you can laugh at. I’ve always been serious about the song writing.”
“The cover for one of my earlier albums got me put in the World section in some music stores,” adds Sinnicks. “That’s something to laugh about. This time, with the artwork we were trying to get away from Celtic–y kind of stuff. Corktown, it’s the area of Hamilton where I live but it’s not an Irish album.”
A more modern painting by Pennsylvania fan Amy Stevens graces the cover of an album that might have you making comparisons to Nick Lowe
or middle–era Elvis Costello with a little more grit perhaps drifting in from the Hamilton steel mills. Recorded by Steve Negus and mixed by Carl Petzelt, Sinnicks has a wealth of guests — Blue Rodeo’s Mike Boguski, Tim Gibbons, Burnin’ Ethyl’s Craig Koshul and Trevor Rogers, Randall Hill, Shelley Woods, Dino Verginella and more to flesh out the tunes, but Last Irishman in Corktown is all Sinnicks —opinionated, witty, sarcastic and above all else earnest. And while he’s not Billy Bragg, he’ll continue to document the struggle and lend a hand when he can however he can.
“I had two, three years to do something extra with this. I wanted to create a full, complete finished piece of work,” notes Sinnicks.
“Something that’s not going to be dated next week and a good presentation of the songs I’ve been working on. It’s more of a full band record, that’s why when I do my CD release at the Corktown I’m bringing most of them along. we’re going to play the whole CD stem to stern, have a quick drink and a smoke, then do another set of all the old material, another smoke and a drink and we’ll do a third set.
“Independent guys don’t get a lot of radio play, it’s all grassroots so my hope is that everyone that comes to the CD release, if they like it they tell somebody else and they tell somebody else,” adds Sinnicks. “And for this show, fundamentally, 364 days of the year, people can say Sinnicks is playing a bar gig – whatever. But if it’s something that’s drawing some attention and I can help an organization and have some people thinking about them – I’m up for doing something positive. If we can make a couple of bucks for SACHA, so much the better. I’m not changing the world, maybe just my tiny little corner of it. I’m not pigheaded enough, or stupid enough, to think it’s of any great significance but that’s the kind of stuff I like to write about. That’s the kind of stuff that sparks my imagination to pick up
the guitar and do things like that so what the hell.” - View Weekly, Hamilton

"The Last Irishman in Corktown"

Things change. We don’t always want them to, but they do. The neighbourhoods we grew up in are not the places we once knew. Pensioners occupy parks that used to be filled with children. Shawarma stands have taken the place of burger joints and bagelries.

It’s even hard to find an Irishman in Corktown, these days. Why even the Corktown pub looks distinctly … ahem … Belgian.

Songwriter Steve Sinnicks has lived in Hamilton’s Corktown district for several years. He’s watched how the community has changed, as one generation of immigrants is replaced by another.

So he wrote a song about it, The Last Irishman in Corktown. It’s the title track of his new CD, which Sinnicks will be releasing with a concert at the Corktown Pub (175 Young St.) on Saturday, April 28.

The song’s geography is distinctly Hamilton, but it could be about any industrial city in North America.

He’s holding court at the Lionshead and the Winkin’ Judge and down at the Cat. Woe to the bartender who can’t pour a decent pint of the black. He’s talking Jim Connolly, war stories about 1005 and the great strike of 1981. Don’t tell him that things change. He’s the same now that he’s always been … so what else can you do? Say hello to the last Irishman in Corktown.

“He’s that guy that sits in the corner of the pub who yells when the music gets too loud and gripes when the music gets too quiet,” Sinnicks explains. “It could be any pub in any town, but the Lionshead is my local … It could be the last Polish guy from Central Barton or the last Portuguese guy on James North. He’s just clinging to his little space.”

Sinnicks has been singing about Hamilton ever since moving here some 20 years ago from his hometown of Niagara Falls. Like any good folksinger, he’s a student of history. He’s also written a song about larger-than-life Hamilton mayor Sam Lawrence and the Stelco strike of ’46.

This appreciation for the past is reflected in other album tracks, like The Debt, a song that reminds us of the sacrifices of earlier generations.

“That was for my parents, for a lot of the people of their generation who worked so hard to make things better for the next,” Sinnicks says. “There is a debt we owe to these people. We enjoy one of the greatest standards of living in the world.”

Sinnicks is best known, however, for his biting social critiques. You’ll find plenty of that here, starting with the opening track, Miss America, a song not about beauty pageants, but about a great nation tearing itself apart.

“They’re losing sight of the innovation and diversity that made them great,” he says. “I don’t recognize America now. I think they ran out of really credible enemies and started turning on each other.”

He also takes a few left jabs at the Canadian establishment (Ministry Man) and organized religion (Christian).

“The song is about the commodification of Christianity,” says Sinnicks, whose mother is an Anglican priest. “Guys like (American Christian Coalition founder) Ralph Reed. These guys wield political influence and they’re little more than a business.”

Sinnicks is backed on the record by longtime friends Tone Valcic, Dino Verginella and Randall Hill. Also joining Sinnicks on the record is Blue Rodeo keyboard player Mike Boguski.

“I knew Boguski before he joined Blue Rodeo when he used to live in Dundas,” Sinnicks says.

Boguski, Hill, Valcic and Verginella will be joining Sinnicks onstage at the Corktown on Saturday. Admission for the show is $10, with $2 of each ticket going to SACHA sexual assault centre.
- Hamilton Spectator

"13 Minutes and 42 Seconds"

13 Minutes and 42 Seconds (Scene, Jan 2002)

Despite the perfect Dickensian sneer of his last name, S.G. Sinnicks is one of the most grateful, grounded and realistic musicians you’re ever likely to meet. And he’s’ funny to boot.
“There’s nothing pretty bout what I do for a living,” he says, simply.
Even still, there seems to be a happy kismet about Sinnicks’ wayward path.
Trained by Mark Rogers of LMT Connection, an early starter himself on drums, the Hamilton-based musician -----grew up in Niagara Falls, where his influences ranged from new wave to jazz, and where he began playing clubs at age 15.
After moving to Hamilton, Sinnicks quickly became an indispensable asset to that city’s music scene, joining several bands for the long-term (Uncle Violet, Summer Snow), at least one for the fun of it (The Eggmen, an all-star Beatles tribute) and serving out the late ‘80s and most of the ‘90s behind the kid for anyone lucky enough to have him – a roster that includes Tom Wilson, Coyote Shivers, Rob Lamothe and Ray Materick.
Sinnicks speaks fondly about Hamilton’s great talent pool. When he arrived, mainstays of the city’s club circuit included Rapid Transit, Daba Rojaba, Junkhouse before they were called Junkhouse, and The Munday Nuns before they would reconstitute themselves as the Killjoys. This in addition to a wealth of venues and low-attitude working environment.
By the time he teamed with Toronto combo Big Eddy & the Trailer Park 5, he was ready to sell and perform his own material. For a time, it appeared that he was about to make it big. But he was living in Toronto (“a corporate, soulless, ball-less kind of place”) playing in a great band and touring a great album that was absolutely unable to make any headway (“the Pope couldn’t get us a record deal”) and he soon decided to go it on his own.
Although he admits to having spent a bit of time trying to school himself in the aesthetic recipes of chart-topping tunes, he’s almost weary and somewhat at a loss for words when discussion turns to today’s hitmakers.
“The more I listen to contemporary m music, the more I want to listen to Little Richard,” Sinnicks says bluntly. Aside from gripes about phoney emotion and lyrical piffle, the musician complains that the music is aggressively safe. “Bands never get a chance to fuck up today,” he says, nothing that multinational record congloms are also to blame, as musical trends are ripped from basements half-formed, replicated or re-engineered.
Sinnicks’ songwriting betrays a lifelong love of good, well-crafted music. Buddy Holly, Roy Orbison, The Beatles, Dylan, Nick Lowe, Elvis Costello, Squeeze, Neil Finn, The Smithereens, Billy Bragg, Lucinda Williams, Ron Sexsmith. All are evident at times.
But it wasn’t until he finally stepped up from behind the drum kit to offer his own songs that his songs became apparent. After having his songwriting aspirations slighted by a guitarist bandmate, he set down his drumsticks and picked up the guitar. It took. Before long, he was able to unleash his vicious wit and stunning baritone to anyone, anywhere – or as Sinnicks says, “anywhere draft beer or solidarity could be sold.”
“I’m not about guitar solos, I’m not gonna play Steely-Dan type guitar, but I’ve been playing guitar for six or seven years,” he says. “And every gig, I improve.”
Drumming, he says, disciplined his ear and defined his sensibilities as a songwriter as he learned to work with a metronome, learned tonality, song form, dynamics.
That sensibility was further honed by his gig schedule – upwards of 300 dates a year have sharpened his chops and defend his personality as an artist.
Unpretentious, melodic numbers with sturdy bones and a wry wit, Sinnicks’ material runs the gamut, drawing on country, agit-folk, punk and vintage rock’n’roll and giving it a distinctively lefty, union-friendly, blue-collar slant. The songs themselves are compact, concise and congenial. Forged to withstand repeated deployment in taverns, pubs and beer halls, they make their point in three minutes at most, landing stings with an economy and a directness that makes them hard to ignore even when your head is pint-heavy.
“Say what you have to say and move along,” he says of his philosophy. “I don’t write quickly, but when I write a song, I’m finished with it.” He concedes, however, that “there are times when the last thing anybody wants to hear is music.” Case in point: one gig had him playing during a Canada Cup game, hunkered down in front of a big-screen TV while hockey fans lobbed objects and insults at the band.
More recent insight came from a stint behind the kit for crusty Canuck legend Stompin’ Tom Connors. “If it ain’t original, I don’t want to know about it,” Connors told Sinnicks. “And if they don’t like what you’re doing, take it to people that do.”
He’s done just that. With his rugged good looks and a voice that commands respect, it’s more than his 6’2” frame that’s an imposing force on the Hamilton music scene. Sinnicks plays on a near-nightly basis around southern Ontario to a dedicated following.
With 1999‘s Slow Learner, Sinnicks showed the commitment to build his audience above and beyond that base. Recently the artist has celebrated the release of his second CD, the teaser EP 5 Songs 5 bucks.
“When I became evident that I had to either rod another press run of Slow Learner or put out another album,” Sinnicks explains, “I split the different and went into Chatham Garden with my old pal (and Slow Learner producer) Michael J. Birthelmer, filled in some holes, and went 5 tunes 5 bucks.” Shelly Woods (ex-Killjoys) plays bass on the album and I used three lead guitar guys but I did everything else myself.”
But what can people expect from the new CD and Sinnicks’ shows?
“A good night out,” Sinnicks says of the album, which he describes as a “bridge between the first and second full-length CD to be put out in the summer of 2002.”
For now, Sinnicks is selling 5 Songs 5 Bucks. “It’s the most exciting 13 minutes and 42 seconds of your life” he adds with a showman’s smile.
- View Weekly, Jan 2002

"Studio Theatre Rocks with Talent (Excerpt)"

The 31-year-old Sinnicks is originally from Niagara Falls, but has been a Hamilton area mainstay musician for about a decade. He's appeared on more than two dozen albums in a supporting role, but Slow Learner...is his first solo effort.
And talk about help from friends. A stroll through the liner notes on Slow Learner is like a tour of the area's sonic upper crust: Mike Daley, Kim Deschamps, Ed Roth, Bob Lanois (photo & translations), Tone Valcic, Shelley Woods, Brian Griffith, Ray Materick, Shawn Brush, Coyote Shivers, Les Cooper, Richard Keelan, Andrea Lake, Dan Achen, Ruth Sutherland and Gene Champagne. There are more.
Sinnicks meet them all through clubbing the heck out of Hamilton over the years. His immeidate itinerary is a typical one:
- Tonight, Sinnicks plays with the Kevin McLean band at Slainte
- Tomorrow, he's part of the Eggmen, an all-Beatles, all night revue at La Luna
- Saturday evening, it's a gig at "home-away-from-home" the Lionshead.
- Sunday, of course, is the StudioI Theatre shindig.
"This is a real crucible type of city," he says. "You can get gigs, but if you suck they let you know. And cheap..."
Slow Learner is part folk, part rock, and a healthy dose of Sinnicks' formidible sense of humour.
"Hey, it's nine tunes for 10 bucks," Sinnicks says with a wide grin. - Hamilton Spectator, April 13, 2000

"Tom Wilson Testamonial"

“Thank God Steve Sinnicks is an undiscovered talent. It gives the world something to look forward to hearing” - Tom Wilson, Juno Award winning songwriter (Junkhouse, Blackie and the Rodeo Kings - none

"If You Don't Want The Genie Review"

S.G. Sinnicks – If You Don’t want the Genie review (Exclaim)

Steve “Solidarity” Sinnicks is the quintessential ubiquitous singer/songwriter of Southern Ontario and perhaps the country. On any given night the drummer and guiestirt is playing somewhere, singing true songs about people, for the people. T his latest release shows a developed Sinnicks touching upon politics, heartbreak and features a light but hard-hitting look at the hardcore middle-of-the-road living, with the odd clever but cynical existential lyrics. The recording and performance stays true, which makes the disc an honest representation of what it is like to be entertianed by him. Some numbers receive additional touches of musicianship. So, if you got a hankering for something non-indie rock, give Sinnicks’ music a spin, because he entertains, teaches and challenges.
- Exclaim

"Sinnicks Q & A"

I met Steve Sinnicks at the Lionshead Pub on John Street and he let me pummel him with questions for this month’s H Magazine. Sinnicks started out a drummer in Niagara Falls when he was 15. He picked up the guitar at age 27, and has been playing gigs, festivals, and bars ever since. Steve speaks often of solidarity, and is a self-identified leftist. During our discussion, I learned that he has some sharp insights and observations about the world, and also the Hamilton scene on a more micro level. He studied Drama and Labour at McMaster University, which is quite the combination. He is also quite possibly the edgiest folk musician I’ve ever met. He has three albums, Slow Learner, If You Don’t Want the Genie, Don’t Rub the Lamp, and his current Red Meat and Blue 88’s, which won the 2009 Hamilton Music Award for Best Folk/Roots Record of the Year. All of these are available on Sinnicks’ website.

Heather Judson: What is your occupation and/or calling?
Steve Sinnicks: My occupation is music. My calling, I’m still waiting for.

HJ: What is your most marked characteristic?
SS: Anonymity, thanks.

HJ: What is your most treasured possession?
SS: That’d be two things. One of them is a hand written post card I got from Neil Peart when I was a kid. He was on the advisory board for Modern Drummer Magazine and I sent him a big, long, rambling letter and he sent me back a hand-written post-card saying, “It doesn’t matter about so and so, just keep doing what you’re doing”. And the other one I’m waiting to acquire. (He wouldn’t give me any hints.)

HJ: What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
SS: Hopelessness.

HJ: What is your idea of happiness?
SS: Not having to get up early in the morning. Not having anybody bothering me. People walking around with a wee bit of a smile. Ah, somewhere where there’s no Tories I guess.

HJ: What talent would you most like to have that you do not already possess?
SS: Self-sustaining flight.

HJ: What trait do you most value in women?
SS: Honesty, or a bad lawyer.

HJ: What trait do you most value in men?
SS: Absence.

HJ: Who has influenced you on your path?
SS: The first real musician that I played with in Hamilton was a guy named Michael J. Birthelmer. Old school guy, very talented, very loving guy. And through him I started meeting a lot of the old school Hamilton guys. The work ethic in Hamilton is different from other places. BC, Vancouver, drives me nuts. You can’t get anything done. I haven’t been out there in years but it takes so long to get things done. And in Toronto, it’s “whose arse are you kissing down at the Horseshoe?” Hamilton is more known for individual recognition than it is for collective recognition. There are some very successful bands, like the Killjoys and Teenage Head and Junk House. But the international recognition has always been for individuals like Dan Lanois. Hamilton’s a good place for self starters. So meeting Michael J, and meeting others through festivals has…you play with as many people as you can.

HJ: What is your worst nightmare?
SS: Brooks and Dunn. On a loop.

HJ: What is your favourite Hamilton hangout?
SS: You’re sitting in it.

HJ: Who is your Hamilton Hero?
SS: Sam Lawrence.

HJ: Who is your Hamilton Heroine?
SS: There’s so many. Usually, in Hamilton, women are the ones picking up the ball and getting things done.

HJ: What is your favourite source of local news?
SS: I’ll look in on things like H Magazine, and take cursory glances at the View. CFMU is an excellent source of news. The Skydragon puts out a lot of nifty stuff. The Spec’s a bit of a sad case. At some point in time, at the Hamilton Spectator building, Wade Hemsworth and Mark MacNeil will just be playing battleship with each other, on their computers, while there is an archery practice going on.

HJ: What do you love most about Hamilton?
SS: I live here and it’s an easy commute. My little house in Corktown and the people I’ve come to know in my neighbourhood. I like the determination of people here. There are some people who are determined to do things here, and some people are determined to clog it up. I’ve always thought that, given the opportunity, people in Hamilton will try to get things done.

HJ: What do you like least about Hamilton?
SS: The days when the people who shoot themselves in the foot actually win.

HJ: How would you describe our current civic leaders?
SS: Like any other group of people. Some are genuine, some are not so genuine. A lot of them are like a bunch of pygmies. You can’t find them in the long grass. Like Bob Bratina’s a buddy of mine; he lives around the corner from me. Eisenberger’s a nice guy. But like I said, some good, some bad.

HJ: Who would you like to see run for Mayor?
SS: The job of Mayor is not nearly as important – the Mayor basically has more air time, but it’s basically one vote on council. It’s not like an American city where municipal politics have a lot more sway and the Mayor really is … well, anybody but bloody DiIanni.

HJ: What values do you think Hamiltonians, on the whole, espouse?
SS: Depends on where you are. If it’s Saturday at 3am in Hess Village – not very good ones. If you’re walking down Wellington you’ll get a much different vibe than you will on the Mountain. What do they espouse? I have no idea. You should ask THEM.

HJ: What values do you think Hamiltonians should embrace?
SS: A little more collective action. A little more solidarity. You look at this town, it’s very segmented. You’ve got the mountain, you’ve got that area that ends at the 403. I’m surprised McMaster University doesn’t push for Canada Customs. A lot of people will run to Toronto before they’ll check out what’s in their backyard. I would just encourage people to spend more money here.
- H Magazine 2008

"Red Meat CD Release"

For the better part of the last five years, one of Hamilton’s favourite folk rock sons Steve Sinnicks has been a very active man. He’s toured and released four albums with the Tartan Terrors, while squeezing in a couple solo dates when he could. Now, he’s finally come back to his solo album making ways with Red Meat and Blue 88’s, the official follow–up to 2003’s If You Don’t Want the Genie, Don’t Rub the Lamp. Primarily an acoustic–based record with the occasional electric organ playing thrown into the fold, Red Meat and Blue 88’s, according to its author, was very much an organic process that didn’t require much over–thinking. Additionally, Sinnicks is again expanding his storytelling ways without any thought of screwing around with his listeners. “I’m still a sucker for a good story — I write linear stuff. “I don’t write ethereal lyrics like, ‘somebody’s waving at you from the fucking U.F.O.’s’ because that’s not me,” notes the highly witted Sinnicks. “This is a collection of little, naturalistic vignettes and I think people will be entertained by it — it is musical music. “The subject matter of what I write is a lot more social than ‘boy meets girl, boy loses girl, and boy gets fucking V.D.,’” he continues. “I don’t feel the angst; I’m not an angst person. I have a very concise and complete idea of what’s pissing me off at the moment. I’ve never done that, ‘I’m stoned, I’m drunk, and I’m living in a shooting gallery, and oh, what’s wrong me,’ (style) — it’s not my thing.” Having been an independent musician since first taking to the bar circuit at the age of 15, Sinnicks has experienced the ups and downs that the music industry provides. Like many of his previous albums, Red Meat and Blue 88’s will be released independently and rely on his qualities as an artist (as opposed to a mass business plan created by executives), to get the music he wants to write out to the right people. “When I was a kid it was like, ‘we’re going to be this, we’re going to be that,’ and now it’s like, ‘let’s make a living and just keep at it.’ “It’s not to say that I don’t have any ambition about it, but when I started playing many years ago there were eight to 10 major record companies and now there are basically three,” notes Sinnicks. “As long as you can play and sing well, and your material is good and you show up on time, and you don’t make an ass of yourself and you are actually considerate of the fact that there are people that are there wanting to see something (you’ll be okay). The expectations now are more in line with the age I’m at. “I don’t think anybody at Sony is peeing their pants to sign the 40–year old lefty who is doing acoustic stuff.” V [ADAM GRANT] - View Magazine

"5 Songs 5 Bucks CD Release"

A talk with Steve Sinnicks is like a visit to the head doctor – one part frightening, two parts enlightening.
It’s the dance of simple truths, cats living with dogs, the whole nine yards.
“It’s kind of like being a matador – either you get all the glory and roses thrown at you, or you get gored to death,” says Sinnicks, explaining many things, but talking about life as a musician.
In times like this, with people as engagingly wry as the multi-talented Sinnicks, it is wise to wave the proverbial red cape.
So what’s your take on the music biz these days, Steve?
“Hey, I’m the last one who should be talking about that. The music industry has turned around and (spat) in my face like a trombone so many times it’s not even funny.”
Sinnicks’ wit is razor sharp, and there’s no rosy tint on his view of things. Seven years averaging some 300 club dates per year helps to percolate that in-the-trenches mentality.
Sinnicks new EP, 5 Songs 5 Bucks, is a bridge between larger efforts. He’s already exhausted two runs of his full-length debut disc, Slow Learner, and the next long album won’t be out for until next year.
So 5 Songs 5 Bucks is doing just that – a taste of what Sinnicks is doing now, and a subtle harbinger of what is to come.
“It’s also an excuse to update everything – the promo stuff, the bio,” he says. “Plus, I’m learning. My lyrics are getting better…:”
There he goes joking again.
Sinnicks is an accomplished musician, with the drums being his first and foremost love. But he learned fairly quickly that drumming only pays part of the freight.
Since picking up the guitar, Sinnicks has managed to carve out a living playing live. He answers to no higher music powers, records what and when he likes, sells his albums off the stage and sleeps well at night.
“I had a gripping moment of self-realization about a year ago,” he says. “Put out the product you want, say what you want to say in your songs and put them out there.”
“It’s a lower standard of living, but you can tell people to go to hell if you want to.”
The stylings on 5 Songs 5 Bucks are rockabilly acoustic country. Short, straight-ahead, clean and dirty. Sinnicks recorded the five songs at Catharine North Studio and Chatham Garden Studio, and got help from Mike Daley, Shelly woods and Michael J. Birthelmer.
It’s rootsy people music you don’t’ hear any more on the radio but is still alive in the live halls.
“There’s a reason people like Wilco and Stacey Earle sell out when they come here,” Says Sinnicks, whose own CD release Saturday will serve as the opener for Melissa McClelland.
- Hamilton Spectator, Sept 27, 2001

"If You Don't Want The Genie CD Release"

In a world predicated on the nation that lifestyle upgrades and peripherals are key to a happy existence, it’s sometimes hard to hold on to reality, let alone your ideals. But Steve Sinnicks has a pretty sure grip.
On almost any given night, you can wander into a dozy pub somewhere in the city and find him filling the room with his handsome tones, cranking more some of his favourite covers – or more and more – his original songs.
The tireless local musician done his best to keep to his love and do things his way ever chasing his own dream. This weekend, Sinnicks takes another step towards his goals with his latest full-length, If You Don’t Want The Genie, Don’t Rub The Lamp.
“I put out CDs like Star Trek movies – maybe not the greatest you’ve ever heard, but enjoyable nonetheless,” he laughs. But despite that self-deprecating quip, his musical output is marked by thoughtful craft: the artist finds simple melodies with intriguing lyrics, building confident songs in his own time. That said, his humour isn’t totally extraneous – it’s his natural charm and wit, entwined in almost every lyric, which draws the listener in.
Whether it’s examining one’s own place as a performer (“Hank Williams Did It Best”) or one’s won place in the city where you live (“Ballad of Sam Lawrence”), Sinnicks is on a quest of sorts with these songs. He tackles serious universal issues from a microcosmic standpoint – one where the lines between humour and horror are all too often found in the same pod. It’s this microscopic study of mankind through this man’s own life that allows Sinnicks to release his most mature effort to date.
“This CD is a lot more focused than my first two were,” he explains. “This one I decided would be focused more around the acoustic guitar and what I was saying. This time, I really wanted to push the lyrics to the front. I’m a crap guitar player, but to me it’s about the words.”
“I’m trying to be nothing but an observer,” he adds. “I’m trying to put a naturalistic slice of life in my songwriting. I write simple songs. Big long guitar solos bore me – it’s not what is important to me. Doing something different and saying something more unique and more importantly saying something with some depth and meaning to it.”
For those who haven’t already encountered the performer on his regular travels, Sinnicks is a mix of professorial intellectual curiosity and pointed playfulness, Chris Isaac’s panache and a healthy helping of Billy Bragg’s socialist rhetoric and zeal. Rarely at a loss for words, the dynamic singer mixes music with one-liners firing off zingers one second and crooning a melody the next like a one-man Martin and Lewis tribute (without the pratfalls and seltzer, whenever it can be avoided).
For all his ready joking and pub-friendly charisma, though, Sinnicks is serious about his songs, whether they are in protest, in love or in heartbreak. He takes up his acoustic guitar not as a means of escape but of understanding – delving into the place where he lives and works, striving to awaken a greater awareness of social history, strength in solidarity and the crux of individual potential.
“There’s a real rich history and diversity that’s not just important to he city but to the country” Sinnicks notes, delving into a comprehensive love for the city he moved to in 1989. “Take the strike in ’46. It was not only one of the most important things that happened in the history of Hamilton but also that happened with regard to the way things were going to happen after the wear.”
In the one of the city’s bleakest moments after WWII, Mayor Sam Lawrence was a figure that stood his ground in favour of the average working man of Hamilton and against the rest of the government.
“When most people don’t know about something important like this, I think it’s more interesting,” says Sinnicks. “There are a lot of things that should not be forgotten and that should have some light shed on them. The song points to a place in our history where you didn’t have to follow the corporate line. You can look at a story like this as an example of when bucking the norm worked.”
At times, his excitement can ignite the air around him and catalyze bystanders, but the singer isn’t making a platform to run for office. His ideals would likely never see him succumb to that system. Those same beliefs are articulated in his songs, through vignettes which, while individual in nature, usually contain a measure of universal wisdom.
“I quite like Warsawpack and their lyrics,” muses Sinnicks. “Lee [Raback] likes to go globally, he goes after the big things; I’m trying to get the guppy before I get the whale. If someone takes one o f my tunes and it gives them a different idea on things, I think that’s great.”
“The only way that you can do anything is by doing something,” he reasons. “Hockey, beer and apathy are the three pillars of our country, but it doesn’t have to be that way. We have some of the best minds in the world, some of the most caring people in the world; it’s just trying to thaw them out and getting something cohesive going on. It’s not up to me singularly, but I’ll be there to egg on the unruly crowd.”
Steve Sinnicks celebrates the release of If You Don’t’ Want The Genie, Don’t Rub The Lamp with trust accompaniment from Shelly Woods (bass), and Randall Hill (mandolin) this Friday. All proceeds benefit the Hamilton AIDS network. The show is presented by the Workers Arts and Heritage Centre, the Hamilton AIDS Network and le petit sabot. - View Magazine, Jan 30, 2003 Cover Story

"Jim Marino Testamonial"

"...in the tradition of Guthrie and Seeger... Hamilton's Steve Sinnicks is also one of the best "labour-singers" in Canada... if Woody were alive today he would want to hear Steve Sinnicks live!"
Jim Marino,
Freewheeling Folk Show
Smokin' Bluegrass Show
93.3 CFMU -or- cfmu.mcmaster.ca -worldwide

- CFMU 93.3 FM

"Red Meat & Blue 88s Review"

The first thing you notice is his voice. Sinnicks’s hearty, country-coloured vocal – reinforced by a solid rhythm section, driven by tasty mandolin and some haunting B3 – is radio-ready and highly absorbing. And, just before you have him pegged as some No Depression wannbe, the mandolins propel him into Celtic turf as The Colours erupts into a tidy, Pogues-ish call to rebellion.
The addition of banjo, harmonica and lyrical irreverence marks this Ontario-bred performer as a bit of a rebel and a musical chameleon. Well-Heeled Man triggers visions of Great Big Sea as the bodhrans start thrumming but the passion in Sinnicks’s vocal has more in common with a sober Shane McGowan while his militant lyrics suggest a passion for punk.
His third release, it deserves better packaging and much greater attention as you’d not expect to find such jewels within. Myself Again is worth its weight, the perfect folk-pop song packed with small town observations for a rainy afternoon, while he channels Billy Bragg via Ireland on Franklin Co. Queen.
Kudos to the simpatico surroundings created by Michael Boguski (keyboards, accordion) Randall Hill (mandolin, banjo, Dobro) and Shelly Woods (bass). One hell of a smart find from our own backyard.
-by Eric Thom
- Penguin Eggs Magazine, Summer 2009 (10th Anniversary Issue)

"Slow Learner Review"

S.G. Sinnicks – percussionist, singer, songwriter, actor – has been performing on Hamilton stages for a decade. His gradual transition from drummer to solo at is now complete, with the release of Slow Learner. Sinnicks’ songwriting would be best described as folk – inspired, though his pop sensibility, culled from the likes of Glen Tilbrook and Neil Finn, makes Slow Learner infinitely more varied than the “folk” tag would suggest. While there are no clunkers, few tracks do merit special attention: “Bad Night” featured a combination of serious message put to insidiously catchy melodies; “One Heart” (co-written with Tom Wilson) shows he’s equally deft with a ballad; “Nineteen Ten and Four” is a good ol' “World War One song (thankfully, he avoids the topics of sailing or mining disasters). Finally “Get Out Of Town,” a melancholy yet romantic acoustic number about Hamilton, rounds out the album, and the strength of this song along proves that for Sinnicks, stepping out from behind the drum kit was a risk worth taking.
- View Magazine, March 16, 2000

"Red Meat & Blue 88s CD Release"

Like any good folksinger, Steve Sinnicks has always had a keen ear for history. So when he first heard about blue 88s, the little metaphorical wheels in his head started turning.

The term "blue 88" sounds like the name of an Oldsmobile, maybe one of those winged monsters from the late '50s. But, no. Blue 88s are far more nefarious.

They were the little Viagra-coloured pills the U.S. army gave to front-line Second World War troops suffering from shell shock. The troops would down a couple of blue pills and enter into a comalike sleep for 24 hours or so, erasing their minds of the hell at the front so they could get up and face the enemy again. Powerful stuff.

So when Sinnicks first heard about these blue 88s on a PBS special, his curiosity kept him digging, until, finally, the metaphor bloomed. He was thinking about politics and all those Conservative and Liberal hacks who seemed to possess the same magical powers over the electorate as blue 88s did over shell-shocked GIs. Deaden their minds with spin and feed 'em some red meat, pork perhaps, to keep 'em happy. So came about the title of Sinnicks' fourth solo album, Red Meat and Blue 88s.

"It seems that it's their job to occupy the Ds -- deceive, deflect and discredit, " Sinnicks says cynically about the big party politicians.

He's no stranger to politics. He's been writing songs for 15 years, and some of his best have been political. In the past he's shown a talent for writing about people and places such as larger-than-life Hamilton mayor Sam Lawrence and the great Stelco strike of '46.

Lately, it's been war that's on his mind, though. He saw the future faces of war while touring the U.S. during the past five years with the Tartan Terrors Celtic group. (Sinnicks played drums and produced four Tartan Terror albums.)

"A couple of years ago I was visiting Gettysburg (while on tour), " Sinnicks recalls about the Civil War memorial in Pennsylvania. "It's a very quiet place, and I can hear in the distance is the local high school football team doing a full pad workout in the distance. All I could think of was how many of those guys are going to be in the war."

So goes the album's closing song, There's a War On. In between that and the title-song opener, there are a few others as well, such as St. Patrick's Battalion. It's an obscure song by another folksinger, David Rovics, about a group of Irish-Americans who fought against the winning U.S. side in the Mexican War of 1846-48. It's one of several tracks on this album that sends you running for the encyclopedia to check up on the facts. The facts aren't in dispute. It's the interpretation that causes problems. Were they traitors (as the U.S. says) or heroes (as the Mexicans say)?

"It's sad because today's terrorists are often tomorrow's heroes, " Sinnicks says. "Or vice versa."

There are also a few other songs where the facts may be interpreted differently, such as on Jesus Was a Refugee. There's one line in the song that suggests the carpenter from Nazareth may have been thought to have imbibed heavily at times. He's gotten some nasty mail about that one.

"I'm sorry, but everything in that song is biblically true, " Sinnicks shrugs.

This is a wonderful-sounding album for people who like their music bare-bones in an old folkie sort of way, where storytelling is just as important as melody.

"It's real simple stuff, " says Sinnicks, a theatre history graduate from McMaster University. "I'm not an ethereal songwriter. I'm a fan of the guy who just says what they're going to say and gets on with it. People are still suckers for a good story. I'm still a sucker for a good story."

See Steve Sinnicks perform Red Meat And Blue 88s online at The Spectator Concert Bowl. Look for the video screen on the home page of thespec.com.

- Hamilton Spectator, 10/16/2008


1998 Truck Songs Compilation, Drog Records
1999 September 8 1977, Big Eddy And The Trailer Park 5
2000 Slow Learner, Independent
2001 Work Songs Compilation, Drog Records
2002 5 Songs 5 Bucks, Independent
2003 Songs Under 60 Seconds, Drog Records
2003 If You Dont Want The Genie, Dont Rub The Lamp, Independent
2004 Dressed to Kilt, with the Tartan Terrors
2005 Unpubbed, with the Tartan Terrors
The Quest with Tartan Terrors (DVD)
2006 Whos Your Paddy, with the Tartan Terrors
2007 Tartan Terrors Christmas CD
2008 A Farmers Hope, Independent
2008 Red Meat and Blue 88's, Independent
2012 Last Irishman in Corktown



Winner, Roots/Traditional Album of the Year 2012, Hamllton Music Awards (The Last Irishman in Corktown)

Winner, 2013 Hamilton Arts Award (Music category) (previous winners incl. Tom Wilson, Jude Johnson, Jackie Washington)

They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself. Thats what Andy Warhol once said. The Last Irishman in Corktown is, in many ways, about change.

Thats not to say Steve S.G. Sinnicks has abandoned his strengths far from it. His new album is his most ambitious and accomplished recording to date which says something, considering his previous releases had significant community and CBC radio play and 2009s Red Meat & Blue 88s was named Folks/Roots Album of the Year at the 2009 Hamilton Music Awards.

Yet Lat Irishman sees Sinnicks palette expand into new territory like never before. The album
features an array of storied musicians from local Hamilton legends (Tim Gibbons) to national luminaries (Blue Rodeos Mike Boguski). Last Irishman takes the essence of Sinnicks songwriting and fleshes it out for old and new audiences alike. Man From The Ministry recalls Sinnicks as backed by The Attractions, while the title track pays homage to a hard-working geezer with its arrangement resembling a post-Celtic Poges (with an appropriately boozy Shane McGowan growl). Elsewhere, a fiddle or a muted trumpet compliment Sinnicks storytelling, and sometimes Sinnicks wry observations are left to the stark and simple exposition of voice and acoustic guitar (Christians,) (Youre Gonna Need It).

A chronicle of love and loss, a lament for the loss of kindness and decency, with a hint of how to recapture both; on Last Irishman, Sinnicks vision is bolder than ever. His politics remain prescient, his compassion remains intact and more than anything, the music remains infectious. This is both a new, invigorated Steve Sinnicks and the Steve Sinnicks his fans have championed since his debut in 2000.

Steve S.G. Sinnicks began playing drums at 11 and at 15 began to play the pubs with everyone from local artists to Canadian legend Stompin Tom Connors. While he still occasionally fills in on the skins, he now known across Canada and in the U.S. as singer and songwriter in the vein of Nick Lowe, Billy Bragg or John K Sampson with a folkie background and a history of dissent.

Last Irishman captures both a new atmosphere and the core elements of Sinnicks the songwriter the elements that led Penguin Eggs magazine call him one hell of a smart find from our own backyard. Sinnicks core elements have always been words, music, and solidarity. On Last Irishman, he builds on those elements to create a record where you can recognize the characters, recognize the (melodies) and, more likely than not, recognize yourself.

Last Irishman was awarded Folk/Traditional Record of the Year in November 2012 at the Hamilton Music Awards.