Originally published in Sherman Hub News, July-August 2017. Used with permission.
By Shiona Mackenzie
It may be hard to believe that a former prep cook, janitor, inventory and process controller at a Canadian multinational has earned a degree in statistics and public policy, as well as certificates in adult education, social work, and brain injury rehabilitation management, and received classical music training, but Myke Hutchings’ journey has never travelled a straight trajectory.
“I was raised a Christian and struggled as my sexuality clashed with what faith taught me,” says Myke. “Meeting my late husband, Larry Lantz,was the best thing that happened to me. He took the shattered remains of a person reeling from an uncertain early adulthood and helped pick me up out of the pieces, and make me into a whole human being.”
Myke has lived in the stadium precinct for more than 15 years. Currently employed as a caseworker for the provincial government, he commutes to and from Toronto, yet somehow also finds time for a music career. Late last year, Myke held a launch party for Table For One – his original, limited edition, CD dedicated to Larry – at the Cannon Coffee Co.“Since they opened, Cannon Coffee has been a haven and second home for me. From the beginning, Cindy, Anne, and their staff made Larry and I feel welcome, and the coffee and food is always amazing. When it was clear that Larry’s life was coming to an end, Larry wanted to have one last dinner out and chose the Cannon. They kept the table nearest the back door open for us to get his wheelchair in, and made sure Larry was comfortable. I wrote much of table for one. at the Cannon, and I wanted my friends and fans to enjoy the vibe where a good chunk of the music began.”
The music and the lyrics on table for one. are composed and performed entirely by Myke, and produced at Threshold Recording Studio in collaboration with the owner/engineer, Michael Keire, assisted by Cohen Wylie (of The White Crowleys). The oldest piece on the CD had been an instrumental without lyrics for a dozen years or so prior.
As a child, Myke was always picking out little tunes on the piano, and, at his Godparents’ home, he often picked up and plucked their guitar. However, his need for artistic self-expressionwas not immediately fulfilled. “My parents gave me the choice at the age of three to take either piano lessons or ballet,” Myke explains. “I chose piano, but hated taking lessons, and I sang in a church choir, but it wasn’t until I picked up a bass guitar that I found my voice and the desire to express myself musically. Something about using an instrument I chose for myself allowed me the freedom to express what was inside me.”
According to Myke, the raw and authentic music on Table For One makes some people feel uncomfortable, “but at the same time, they are thankful that it is so honest; the pain, confusion and anger aren’t sugar-coated. My experiences weren’t easy to live through; the songs weren’t easy to record, and parts of the CD aren’t easy to listen to. People in Hamilton are very ‘real’ and frank – some might say ‘blunt’. I doubt Table For One would have happened if I lived somewhere else.”
Myke acknowledges Hamilton’s musical heritage and its reputation as an arts incubator. “People often focus on the punk and hard rock acts, but Hamilton has a strong electronic and experimental scene, too,” he says. “I’m amazed how often the lines between these scenes get blurred, and now we see the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra and Brott Festival Orchestra working with local independent or underground acts.
“Following the release and performance cycle for Table For One, I had the good fortune to work with Lori Yates (the Canadian dark alt-country pioneer) and write new, perhaps more listener-friendly, music. I’m hoping to get back into the studio to record these songs soon.”
While healing from the past, Myke has re-set the table, and you’re welcome to pull up a chair.