Turbines wound up Openhearts Society

Purchase “Love in Time” with songs inspired by the Wolfe Island fight here

By Nick Krewen, Toronto Star
Openhearts Society may be the very first band formed over shared concerns about wind-turbine construction.  Certainly the trio, which includes a couple of familiar names in Bourbon Tabernacle Choir founder Chris Brown and Spin Doctors’ co-creator Eric Schenkman and begins a weekly September residency at the Piston this Sunday, wouldn’t have gotten together if it wasn’t for questions surrounding the environmental impact of Wolfe Island Wind Farm, an 86-turbine installation located near Kingston.

“We were witnessing some pretty cavalier activity taking place on Wolfe Island in terms of land grabs and clandestine agreements and improper placements,” explains Brown, who co-owns a Wolfe Island recording studio with Openhearts Society singer Sarah McDermott, the third cog in the wheel.

“Wolfe Island is an incredible gem. It’s what’s designated as an IBA 4 — or an important bird area, and there’s not supposed to be any construction on it.”

McDermott had launched a futile appeal to the Ontario Municipal Board to try and delay the project, and Schenkman, who owns a farm in Prince Edward County “about an hour down the 401,” entered the picture after he saw Brown and McDermott being interviewed by W5 on the subject, and faced a similar turbine project being contemplated for his area.

“He came over to the island, we started playing and all these songs started to develop,” recalls Brown, who initially knew Schenkman when both were teenagers.

“We blinked, and suddenly we had a mess of songs, playing regular shows at the Mansion in Kingston.”

The nine songs that comprise the new album, Love In Time, boast a sound that, in a separate interview, Eric Schenkman describes as “rural folk boogie.” For Schenkman, it’s the antithesis of the albums the Toronto guitarist has recorded with Spin Doctors, including Pocket Full Of Kryptonite, the band’s breakthrough album that is currently celebrating its 20th anniversary.

“It’s polar opposite, like south to north,” Schenkman states. “I like that very much about it. We have three-part harmonies and different instrumentation. Now we’ve added a rhythm section, expanding to Luther Wright (on bass) and Gregor Beresford (on drums) for this month, so now I get to play a little electric guitar.

“And it’s a little bit ironic, too, because the Spin Doctors name itself was derived from politics, but we’re a totally non-political band. Openhearts Society, just by virtue of what it is, gives a voice to something that might have its voice taken away. Anybody’s welcome to be a part of it.”

Those who listen to the bluesy country strains of “Boat Builders” and “Pass The Buck” will get the message, Brown says: “All of the songs stem out of a sense of engagement with nature, and the joys and tragedies thereof . . . ostensibly, when I heard that windmills were coming, I was happy.

“But Sarah said, ‘Look at this — they had secretly placed 86 of them without telling anybody where they were.’ They destroyed habitats, and literally divided families, because people were making secret-money deals, some making much more than others . . . it’s like a corruption of something that should be celebrated. For me, it’s been a real social education.”

For four consecutive Sundays starting Sept. 4 at the Piston, Openhearts Society will launch Love In Time with different special guests each week, including this weekend’s mini Bourbon Tabernacle Choir reunion.

After this residency, the band will aim for a similar gig in New York, where both Brown and Schenkman spend much of their time. The latter says he wants the band to “build a catalogue of music over the next few years and continue to write about whatever’s going on around us.”

Purchase the Album with songs inspired by the Wolfe Island fight here

Corruption comes in many colours/ We’ve all been deceived before
Did you consult with Mother Nature? Did You watch the Red Tail soar?
Greed has no conscience/ Money is not to behold
Take good care of the beauty of the land until you’re old.

Sunday, September 4th 2011
Venue: The Piston
Address: 937 Bloor St. W, Toronto, Ontario M6H-1L5
Admission: 10.00
Venue phone: 416-539-3989
Notes: Featuring Memebers of The Bourbon Tabernacle Choir as special guests

Saturday, September 10th 2011
Venue: The Black Sheep Inn
Address: 753 Riverside Dr., Wakefield, Quebec J0X 3G0
Time: 8:00pm
Venue phone: (819) 459-3228
Notes: Special Guests of Oh Susanna (who’s new album features CB on organ), OHS will open the night with a special acoustic trio set. Come early or buy in advance to assure seating.

Sunday, September 11th 2011
Venue: The Piston
Address: 937 Bloor St. W, Toronto, Ontario M6H-1L5
Admission: 10.00
Venue phone: 416-539-3989
Notes: Featuring special guests

Thursday, September 15th 2011
Venue: The Mansion
Address: 506 Princess St., Kingston, Ontario K7L 1C5
Time: 9:30pm
Admission: 10.00
Venue phone: (613) 531-0003
Notes: Official Album Release Party for ‘Love In Time’ at the Mansion- home of the first OHS shows…

Friday, September 16th 2011
Venue: The Acoustic Grill
Address: 172 Main St., Picton Ontario K0K-2T0
Time: 8:30pm
Admission: 15.00
Venue phone: 613-476-2887
Notes: One of Canada’s greatest music venues. Incredibly intimate atmosphere, wonderful acoustics and great food.

Sunday, September 18th 2011
Venue: The Piston
Address: 937 Bloor St. W, Toronto, Ontario M6H-1L5
Admission: 10.00
Venue phone: 416-539-3989
Notes: Featuring special guests Jerome Godbout and Luther Wright & The Wrongs

Sunday, September 25th 2011
Venue: The Piston
Address: 937 Bloor St. W, Toronto, Ontario M6H-1L5
Admission: 10.00
Venue phone: 416-539-3989
Notes: Featuring special guests from NYC, The Mermaids

10 thoughts on “Turbines wound up Openhearts Society

    • Hey MA,
      The way I read it –
      the letter from the lawyer was a – ‘you are on notice’ – or, a threat to sue………….
      signed off with – kindly govern yourself accordingly. (ta ta till lata)

      Boy, Mr. Brown must have been a real threat!
      I hope he ‘framed the letter’.
      Mr. Brown should be congratulated!

      The letter, written by Canadian Hydro’s Toronto-based lawyer Paul B. Schabas, warns Brown of the possibility of future legal action.

      “Should you persist in this course of conduct, please be advised that our client will proceed against you and pursue all legal and equitable remedies available to it without further notice being provided to you. Kindly govern yourself accordingly,” Schabas wrote.

      “The purpose of our letter to Mr. Brown was to insist that he act responsibly and utilize the relevant facts in his arguments.” Brown said he refuses to be quieted. “I will continue to exercise my right
      to free speech and advocate for a full and transparent public review of this project, just as I will continue to participate in the community liaison group to ensure proper communication between proponent and citizenry,” he wrote in a response to Canadian Hydro.

  1. They nail it. Check out their website to hear all the songs and read the lyrics.

    http://www.openheartssociety.com/music/love-in-time/

    This one gets me the most:

    The Boatbuilders
    It was early in the morning, the cook was yelling loud,
    As the diesel engines fired up, on the unsuspecting crowd,
    Leaving everyone to wonder, but the wonder soon would fade,
    Like a point on the horizon, or the comments that were made,
    Full of useful information as we left off from the shore
    Like did anyone bother the check the weather to see what was in store?
    I just came to my senses, we were already underway.

    We just came for the party, I just want to make it clear
    About the big Alberta oil man, and these dignitaries here
    Why was everybody shut out? How come they can’t even hear?
    Are they drunk already? What’s that pounding in my ear?

    No one knew where she came from, she was drifting far away,
    In those clandestine arrangements, where there was nothing left to say,
    Except for non-disclosure, & their doors that wouldn’t swing,
    And for all the public meetings, well they don’t mean a Goddamned thing,
    They make you for or against it, they make you into a pawn,
    And if you want my humble opinion, then I think they’re fucking wrong.

    We just came for the party, I just want to drink a beer,
    With the big Alberta oil man, and these dignitaries here,
    But if you hadn’t bothered to check the list, and you can’t get in the door,
    What is policy invented? What is all this bullshit for?

    Have you been to see the Boatbuilder? They’ve got him living underneath the blade,
    Who’s that sold you further up the river- on the promises they made?
    Go and ask the village idiot, he’ll say it’s everybody’s fault,
    Somewhere the captain’s looking for reason, in a thousand miles of salt,
    And gravel.

  2. I thought Margaret posted a comment –
    Re: Wolfe Island
    – that additional turbine projects are looking to scoop up land to build etc.

    • You’re referring to quote from an article a couple of years ago when developers began planning for the land options they had at the time, with some accommodation for more to come? I am sure that once the infrastructure is in, e.g., the underwater cable to Kingston, there will be pressure to add more turbines. Once they get bugs worked out of this system. This owner or the next.

      The original developer, Ian Baines, is now associated with a proposed offshore site (Wolfe island Shoals?) in Lake Ontario just to west of the Island. There’s a moratorium on offshore wind development, you say? Well, Mr. Baines’s outfit recently registered a lobbyist to work on MOE’s 5 km offshore exclusion zone. Mr. Baines, you may recall, originally proposed a 200m setback for turbines built on land on Wolfe Island. He says he wouldn’t build in Kingston Harbor–that he just wants permit so no one else does–but in Ontario Renewable Energy Atlas, SOMEBODY bid for St Lawrence River waters as far downstream as the Island’s Marysville on N side and MacGregor Bay on S side. The US border is 1 or 2km at some points south of the Island, so one might suspect developer has in mind to shoehorn as many turbines as possible close to shores of the Island. As Crown Land, Great Lakes and St Lawrence R bottomlands will presumably continue to be permitted by the Province. So-o, if Mr Baines et al. have their way–and the Province lifts moratorium and shoreline exclusion zones–Wolfe islanders may one day have to swim, ferry, sail, fish, hunt, and watch horizons & sunsets through a forest of offshore turbines. Seaway vessels traverse US waters south and west of the island, I think, but there are places where shipping channels and offshore turbines could be fairly close. My understanding of Wolfe island’s offshore situation, anyway.

    • Hi Margaret,
      Okay – I understand what you are saying.
      Thanks for spelling it out!
      So – everyone’s head should be up!

  3. The lyrics on this CD say it all. Check out their website to hear and read…
    http://www.openheartssociety.com/music/love-in-time/

    The Boatbuilders
    It was early in the morning, the cook was yelling loud,
    As the diesel engines fired up, on the unsuspecting crowd,
    Leaving everyone to wonder, but the wonder soon would fade,
    Like a point on the horizon, or the comments that were made,
    Full of useful information as we left off from the shore
    Like did anyone bother the check the weather to see what was in store?
    I just came to my senses, we were already underway.

    We just came for the party, I just want to make it clear
    About the big Alberta oil man, and these dignitaries here
    Why was everybody shut out? How come they can’t even hear?
    Are they drunk already? What’s that pounding in my ear?

    No one knew where she came from, she was drifting far away,
    In those clandestine arrangements, where there was nothing left to say,
    Except for non-disclosure, & their doors that wouldn’t swing,
    And for all the public meetings, well they don’t mean a Goddamned thing,
    They make you for or against it, they make you into a pawn,
    And if you want my humble opinion, then I think they’re fucking wrong.

    We just came for the party, I just want to drink a beer,
    With the big Alberta oil man, and these dignitaries here,
    But if you hadn’t bothered to check the list, and you can’t get in the door,
    What is policy invented? What is all this bullshit for?

    Have you been to see the Boatbuilder? They’ve got him living underneath the blade,
    Who’s that sold you further up the river- on the promises they made?
    Go and ask the village idiot, he’ll say it’s everybody’s fault,
    Somewhere the captain’s looking for reason, in a thousand miles of salt,
    And gravel.

  4. It was kind of strange how the island went “on line” just before the GEA was put into place?

  5. If I remember correctly, there was the local BS about Sarah, and the late Dr. Day, and how they “sold out”, or were bought out by crec.
    Also the last time I spoke with Mr. Brown, I believe it was the setbacks that he was against. I think he still thinks that iwts are good for something?!:(

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *