We met the Arkells on a sunny May afternoon in the city, just outside the Pepperjack cafe. The Pepperjack is a renowned Hamilton pub known for showcasing local and touring musical talent. The pub acts as a haven for those with a discerning ear who have grown weary of the DJ era. The Arkells arrived looking weathered from touring, unshaven and each of the five members donning his own pair of sunglasses. These guys seemed genuine, they had positivity and spirit abound and they left the impression of seasoned musicians who didn't have anything to prove; and they didn't. We set up to shoot on the corner of King and James where the main entrance to Jackson square is. Their album, aptly titled "Jackson Square" seemed appropriately suited to the location. The Arkells didn't take much time to get going. We hardly had time to set sound levels before they launched into their first song. Immediately we could feel the reaction from the on lookers and passersby who had stopped to soak in the sounds and contribute to the energy. The crowd alone could be inspiring with the occasional observer unable to resist the urge to offer up a sheering squeal in the chorus. Their songs had a fullness, a spirit or purpose to them. It wasn't anything contrived, it just seemed that from the first chord the car was rolling down the hill and the brakes were cut. All in all, the Arkells did about five songs with each previous song ending in "let's do one more" seemingly for kicks more than anything else. With people staring from rooftops and a crowd gathered around it was easy to see how the Arkells had gained their recent success. "Our music is for folks, we do folk music" says vocalist Max Kerman, and it's easy to see what he means. The Arkells transcend genres to get at the heart of the matter. With just some chords, percussion and some vocals the effect is contagious.
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