by Sheldon Birnie
The Beauties are a rock n roll band out of Toronto. Every Sunday night, they tear the Dakota Tavern down and build it back up as a monument to the Old Gods of roots based rock n roll. The Beauties have toured across the country, performing on their own as well as backing heavy weights like Serena Ryder and Kevin Drew of Broken Social Scene. In 2010, they released their eponymous label debut for Six Shooter Records. For the next two weekends, Manitoba is blessed to have the Beauties at the Dauphin Country Fest and the Winnipeg Folk Fest. Stylus caught up with Beauty Shawn Creamer as he navigated Toronto in a taxi cab earlier this week, preparing for their time on the prairies.
Stylus: You’re coming to Manitoba for a couple festivals. When was the last time you were out this way?
Shawn Creamer: You know, the Beauties have never been out that way. We were out west last year, playing a few shows. But mostly in BC and Alberta. We never played any further east than that.
Stylus: Oh wow. This being your first time in Manitoba, are you excited for the festivals?
SC: We’re super excited for the festivals. We’ve got tons of friends playing in Dauphin and tons of friends playing in Winnipeg who we haven’t seen in a long time. It’s fun in the summertime because you get to catch up with your friends at all these festivals.
Stylus: Can you give us a brief background as to how the Beauties got started?
SC: Yeah. We were playing, when I first moved to Toronto, Jud Ruhl and I have been best friends since we were kids. He moved to Toronto maybe 6 years before I did from London, ON. Then I finally came here and he and I started playing together again, just a duo thing with guests at a little tiny pub that didn’t even have a sound system. We did that for about a year and it started to get pretty popular. That’s when I decided to open up my own bar. So he kept at it, and started working with Darin McConnell, doing the same gig only without me cuz I was too busy opening this bar. But the day we opened the Dakota, we moved it over there. We all of a sudden were a band. It was interesting, when we started we were all playing banjos and mandolins. No electric instruments. Upright bass. It was more of a porchy, organic thing. And it’s just sort of morphed into this loud rock n roll band that we are now.
Stylus: You’ve got the one album out now [2010’s The Beauties]. Do you have anything else you’re working on?
SC: Yeah, we put that out two years ago now. We put out an EP on our own before that. We’re ready to go [on a new record]. We’re just going to get through the summer, and hit the studio in September. We’ve got a few things on the go. We’ve written an album’s worth of material with Kevin Drew from Broken Social Scene. So I’m not sure if we’re going to go in and do that first. We’ve also got our next record written. We’ve probably got two or three written, actually. But they’re two or three very different records. One is very country, and I don’t think we’re going to do that one yet. The one we’re going to put out is more of a punky, rock n roll record. Hopefully we’ll start in September.
Stylus: It looks like you’ve got a big festival season lined up this summer. Can you tell us what we’ll get to see from you here in Manitoba this summer?
SC: Well, we never play the same song the same way twice. So it’s always going to be a little bit fresh. There are some songs that aren’t on the record that we’re going to try. We’ll be playing lots off our record, too. We’ll also work out a few special surprises with some of our special guests that will come up on stage with us when we’re out there. Sorry. Just getting out of a cab. At the Winnipeg Folk Festival, we’ve got one showcase called “Down at the Dakota,” which is very flattering that they did that. So, a lot of the bands that come and play with us down here like Elliott BROOD and Dustin Bentall and Bahamas, I think those guys are going to come. We’re so used to playing stuff together, I think that’ll be really interesting. And we love that. That’s kind of our thing. We love getting together with other musicians and just playing. Even if we’ve never met or played together before. Seems to always be the most fun we have at a festival is impromptu, we don’t know where it’s going kind of thing.