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Saturday night at Turtlefest

Crossley Hunter’s back for Turtlefest.

The Tillsonburg-based acoustic rock band will be on stage at the Fairgrounds Saturday night at 8 p.m., performing in a 6-10 p.m. block of 45-minute NON-country music sets.

They will follow Welland-based band Cops on Commission (6-7 p.m.) and Tillsonburg band The Smile Case (7-8 p.m.). Local band The New Revolutionaries will bring down the curtain on Turtlefest 2013, on the Fairground stage from 9-10 p.m.

“One of our goals is get as many people as possible and kind of show the town, ‘yeah, we’re pretty serious about it and we have potential’,” said Crossley Hunter’s Justin Hammond.

“This Saturday, having us step in,” said Ben Andress of The Smile Case, “I think we’re showing there’s an alternative music that a lot of people listen to – FM 96 is a big radio station around here…”

“Or 98.1,” nodded Hammond.

“Most people I know listen to rock,” said Andress, “so why not try to showcase that, especially if it’s Tillsonburg people like New Revolutionaries?”

“We want enough people to see us and build that fan base,” said Hammond, “and we’d like maybe a little backing from the town.”

“The way I see it, if you promote your ‘locals’ eventually – if it ever does turn out well – your locals end up promoting you back,” said Crossley Hunter’s Stephen Bonnett.

Their four-year-old band plays a unique brand of rock.

“We play acoustic rock with some aspects of folk in it,” said 25-year-old Hammond. “It’s pretty upbeat, catchy stuff.

“I started it with my girlfriend (Michelle Meesters) and her two brothers (Joey and Jason Meesters) – bass and drum, and she’s on keyboard. Steve (from Port Dover) joined the band just over a year ago.”

The group came up with the name after jamming for a while together based on the road his girlfriend and her brothers grew up on… Crossley Hunter.

Bonnett, 23, is also a member of metal band Foxfight, which originated in Tillsonburg, and has a metal background.

“It’s brought more of an edgy sound to the band,” said Bonnett. “I’d say it’s more of a rock-kind-of-blues with a little bit of attitude on it. You’ll really be able to hear it on our full-length (album) coming out. It’s still the same idea – the recipe is still there for the same songwriting, but it’s also got that new sound to it.

“I like to think we have an original sound,” he smiled, “but what band doesn’t, really?’

“I’ve been working with bands for like the past six years now,” said Andress, who also owns Blacktop Records. “I’ll mention a band I work with and people will say, ‘what does that band sound like?’ And I say, I don’t know, ‘Crossley Hunter sounds like Crossley Hunter.’ I don’t know…”

“When Norma Jean’s was still open, we were playing there almost every month,” said Hammond, “and we were getting a pretty decent amount of people out to see us. After that closed, we hadn’t played for a while, and we’ve been working on the album for such a long time…”

Their next project will be a major full-length album produced by John Wozniak of Marcy Playground (Sex and Candy) fame.

“About a month from now we’re going to be starting to work on our full-length album, probably going to be released last summer, early fall,” said Bonnett. “We’ll be working on that with John Wozniak with Marcy Playground (Sex and Candy) in Toronto.”

“Marcy Playground producing the album’s a pretty big deal,” nodded Hammond.

“We’re in pre-production on it now,” said Bonnett.

“John’s actually coming down in the next couple of weeks to little ol’ Langton – that’s where we practice – to finish production on the album,” said Hammond. “Then we’re going to go up to his studio in Toronto.”

“There’s a lot of history in that studio,” Andress noted “They’ve recorded a lot of big names over the years. So it’s kind of cool to have a small band from Tillsonburg record with the same equipment as…”

“Rage,” said Bonnett.

“Matt Good,” added Hammond.

“And Sarah McLachlan,” Andress smiled.

“John’s really excited about our stuff,” said Hammond. “Working with us and producing our stuff.”

Wozniak, aka Woz, will also be making a guest appearance on the album.

“It’s going to help with the direction,” said Andress, noting ‘Woz’ and Marcy Playground have sold four million albums worldwide. “A guy like that will have good suggestions for the album.”

“I think John tries to pick out people who are different,” said Hammond. “I think people who truly appreciate music, appreciate it for its uniqueness, and not… how easy they can stomach it, not for its conformity.”

“I think, sure, it may be easy to go in with what’s popular at the moment,” said Bonnett, “and you can do that and make a hit. Or you can do it your own way, and if you do it right you can make an impact. What’s better? A hit. Or actually leaving your mark.

“Look at bands like Mumford and Sons. Sure, there were folk bands before them, but they were the first ones who kind of did it their own way and made it mainstream, and now they’re one of the biggest bands in the world. You kind of take a risk on that sort of thing. I’m sure they could have stuck to the ‘plan’ but they did it their way and look where they are now.”

“I’m not claiming we’re doing anything in music that’s never been done before,” said Hammond. “We do try to appeal to a wider audience, but we always like being ourselves, not trying to be what’s popular at the moment

“Stick to writing music we think is good. And that’s why we’re writing, we enjoy it.”

Saturday show, Hammond and Bonnett agreed, will include a lot of their new songs – up to 75 per cent of it – along with a couple older ones from their EP.

Crossley Hunter can be found on YouTube, and their own website, as well as, and an interactive Facebook page.

“During the recording process, if we can interact with people for like a month,” said Hammond, “if we can keep them latched on, that’s our best chance of listening to it when it’s done.

“Hopefully it’ll catch some funny moments, too. Live streams, cameos.”

“Probably a lot of funny out-takes,” Bonnett nodded. “You can’t take yourself too seriously.”

For a detailed schedule of all Turtlefest activities and venues, including the full day of scheduled events at the Fairgrounds’ stage, visit the Turtlefest website at


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