All politics is Local Folk.

While you might be familiar with the Aeolian Hall as a live music venue, you might not realize its place in Old East Village history. It has served as the artistic hub of OEV for years but was in fact first built to serve as the town hall for the Village of East London. That village was an independent community in the 1800’s, defined as being East of Adelaide, South of Oxford, West of Highbury, and North of the Thames river.

The City of London and the Village of East London amalgamated in 1885, just one year after the building was completed. After that, it served many purposes including a fire station, school, London Public Library branch, and courthouse.

It has served its present function since 1968. The Aeolian has hosted performers from all over the world, but turns its sights back to its local roots with the new Local Folk series. Local Folk gives London area performers the chance to perform in what Mountain of Wolves front-man Richard Gracious calls a “next level venue.”

On to the lineup…

Mountain of Wolves is headlining the third installment of the Local Folk, along with arborist/songwriter Fraser Teeple. The event takes place on Saturday, June 10th at 8pm, and advance tickets are only $10. Previous installments of the series have seen performances by Olivia and the Creepy Crawlies, and Taylor Holden and the Law of Averages amongst other talented locals.

The four members of Mountain of Wolves, Richard, Brent, Will and Michael, stand on a rooftop with their instruments in this posed promo photo.
Mountain of Wolves relax casually on a rooftop. Photo by Nicole Coenen.

New songs for an old stage.

Gracious is no stranger to the Aeolian. He first performed there at the age of 14, coming in second at a Kiwanis Music Festival with his performance of a Chopin waltz. He says he intends to have the audience dancing again on June 10th, and is bringing a small army with him to do it. The band consists of a 4 person core, but is orbited by additional instrumentalists and singers as their various gigs allow.

Richard plays guitar, Will O’Donnell plays keys, and Michael Middleton and Brent Hebert are the rhythm section. If you saw their performance at Dundas Street Festival in 2015 you’ll recall they performed as a 9-piece. For that show, they employed a brass section to round out their sound and move bodies on what was already a very hot day. Their upcoming show will see them joined during their set by a collection of friends they call the ‘M.O.W.-Tones,’ that name a nod to soul-era backup singers.

Connections, connections.

The band has arrived at a folk-rock/soul sound after refining their stage show over many performances around Ontario, and told LondonFuse that connecting with the audience is their favourite thing to do. Brent, Mountain of Wolves’ drummer and painter-by-day, went to Catholic Central High School with Nick Dika of Hamilton’s Arkells (another band with London roots) and says both groups share a passion for audience interaction. It’s when the audience becomes an extension of the band that Mountain of Wolves are having the most fun.

A band is shown in black and while, from behind, rocking out on a hazy stage.
Mountain of Wolves perform. Photo by Berry Photography.

MOW will be releasing their new album, Poison, in the coming year, and are ready to debut their new single at Local Folk III. The concept of Local Folk means a lot to Gracious, who is starting to mentor other artists at the craft.

“It’s a chance to perform in a professional environment, with a professional sound system, for an incredible audience” he says.

“Can you play to the room?” is the challenge of the Aeolian, according to Gracious. The space is a far cry from the smaller venues artists usually play on their way up. Local Folk is a chance to test your mettle as a performer, and see what it will be like to play great rooms across the country.

They’re in the trees!

The performer opening for Mountain of Wolves is well positioned to take advantage of the opportunity, and is a must-see artist in his own right. Fraser Teeple is a self-described “tree climber” and “Hired Saw” (also the title of his album) whose songs celebrate and mourn the life and the folks he has known as an arborist in BC and Ontario. His work placed him in this year’s Top 10 for London/Windsor in

His work placed him in this year’s Top 10 for London/Windsor in CBC’s Searchlight contest. The songs on his album are evocative of “gasoline and wood chips” he says, and were recorded live off the floor with a single microphone in a style reminiscent of the earliest recorded folk music.

Fraser Teeple is seen standing outside in a snow covered forest setting.
Fraser Teeple plays the Aeolian this Saturday. Photo via CBC Searchlight website.

OEV on the rise

Michael Del Vecchio is the production and marketing coordinator at the Aeolian, and the mastermind behind the Local Folk series. He says that the costs associated with running a world-class venue inside a designated heritage building make it difficult to keep ticket prices around $10. However, the Aeolian is committed to giving young artists this chance.

They aren’t the only ones committed to the local movement, though. Michael has been with the Aeolian for a little more than a year, but even in that time he says “OEV has got a new grocery store, two new coffee shops, a new bakery, a bike shop, a surf shop, and the list goes on. It is truly an up and coming neighborhood.”

If local artists are interested in performing at a Local Folk concert, or as an opening act for one of the Aeolian’s other events, Michael is happy to hear from them. “I got into this industry, like so many others, for no other reason that having a sheer passion for music and the desire to surround myself with it every moment of every day. Finding out about new bands, artists, and releases are some of the most exciting parts of my job.”

So, we’ll see you this Saturday at Aeolian, right? Right. In the meantime, check out these videos (both shot and edited by Michael) of Mountain of Wolves’ “Grind Your Teeth” and Fraser Teeple’s “Hired Saw.

Tickets are available from the Aeolian Hall box office, or from their website. Links to music by the performers are available on the event page.

Feature photo by Dave Knill.

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