Grassroots grass music is growing like a weed among Canada’s cannabis culture. Activists are picking up guitars and writing classic, politically-savvy tunes that leave you laughing, crying and educated all at once.
When I visited Rick Reimer at his home in Killaloe, Ontario, he fired up a huge joint, picked up his guitar and played me a song. His tunes are an unlikely fusion of traditional Canadian and Jamaican styles: the political satire and deep, stirring voice of Leonard Cohen meets the optimistic revolutionary vision of Marley.
His latest CD, The Killaloe Rastaman, is the quintessential Reimer with excellent background vocals and a wide range of musicians, in well-mixed proportions that are an obvious labour of love. One of the must-hear songs on this CD is Welcome to Guantanamo Bay. Set to a Caribbean sound this song makes fun of US President Bush’s war on terror/drugs.
Reimer is friends with another group of activists whose specialty is hemp foods. The group includes Robbie Anderman of Cool Hemp ice cream and a host of other artists and activists who together performed, wrote and produced The Hemp SeeDee. The Hemp SeeDee musically educates about hemp’s nutritional, economic and resource-related benefits. Included, for example, is a song titled It’s Not About the Money, which tells the tale of the role of hemp in the war of 1812, the last war between Canada and the US. The CD also features interesting interviews, one of which describes how Canadian pioneers used hemp to cure tuberculosis
Reimer and friends feature their music on Reimer’s homegrown Killaloe radio show. Reimer’s show is an example of a phenomenon that has swept North America since the mid 90’s: cannabis has taken to the radio waves.
Grassroots tunes can also be heard on Kootenay Coop Radio’s Fane of the Cosmos, a dedicated marijuana activist program created through the combined efforts of myself, Holy Smoke Culture shop owner Dustin Cantwell, and deceased Church of the Universe Reverend Ian Hunter. This season, Fane of the Cosmos broadcasts on the internet between 10 and 12 PM every Sunday.