Jess Reimer and Jeremy Hamm

Friday, February 21, 2020

Jess Reimer & Jeremy Hamm

There is no denying that an artist is a reflection of their environment, and the harsh beauty of rural Manitoba is at the heart of Jess Reimer’s work. Be it snowed-in, wool-wearing imagery or dirt under your nails, ‘sweating through the yellow silk’ summer feel, the extremes and heartiness of Manitoba are in Jess’ songs. Listening to Reimer it is clear she is unwaveringly connected to the soul of traditional North American music. There are times when she sounds as if she’s on stage at the Grand Ole Opry circa 1963. Jess has been a part of Winnipeg, MB’s roots music scene for years.

Jeremy Hamm and Jess met the fall of 2002. Jess heard there was a young fiddler in town. Jeremy heard there was this girl that played bluegrass with her father. Jess left a note on his front stoop asking him come to a rehearsal that night. Jeremy pulled up in his butter yellow 1980 Chev Deluxe and there began a decade long bluegrass outfit which included Jess’ father, tenor vocalist and song writer, Doug Reimer and banjoist Tim Osmond. There also began a marriage, a family and a business: a guitar building school. These days Jeremy and Jess live in their rambling brick house in La Riviere MB with their free range kids. They allow the intimacy of married life, the loving and the ‘unloving’, to seep into their duo performances. Accomplished live performance schticks vary from full 6 piece country band to traditional bluegrass outfit to acoustic duo. Jeremy Hamm plays mandolin, fiddle, and guitar in all of these ensembles. He also builds and repairs their instruments! Together they have toured Canada from Halifax to Vancouver and the US from New York to Seattle.

Jeremy Hamm was born and raised in the Lincoln County, Niagara Peninsula of Southern Ontario. His father, a mechanical engineer, and mother, a hair stylist with a superb voice, gave him classical violin lessons. Through fear and intimidation, he learned to focus on a style he deemed boring. His grandfather was a sideman for the popular bluegrass group, The Lincoln County Peach Pickers. Their best known hit, “Niagara Moon”, was heard from coast to coast weekly on CBC in the early 1950’s.

At the age of 14, Jeremy’s Grandpa loaned him his 1951 Martin 0-18 guitar to learn the basics of what became Jeremy’s true love of music: bluegrass and country. Shortly after an instrumental move to Winnipeg in the mid 90’s, Jeremy got into guitar building and repair and began playing with Jess. Now scads of Winnipeg musicians play Jeremy’s instruments. He’s a ‘musicians luthier’ and a songwriter’s sideman. He can play almost anything!

Funded in part by the Province of Manitoba Arts Development Program Support Fund