Terra Hazelton Sings Noir

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Earlier this year, I chanced upon Terra Hazelton's voice on the radio. I was floored.

Jazz.FM91 was tuned, as it generally is if I'm alone in my car, and I sat in my driveway, listening to the end of her tune before shutting off the engine. When the announcer said she'd be on stage the next evening at The Rex, I knew I'd be there.

A few month's passed and Terra tweeted about an upcoming album release with her trio (Terra on vocals, Jordan O’Connor on bass, and Nathan Hiltz on guitar). She was gracious enough to offer an interview which turned into a delicious afternoon meetup at The Common.

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Wrapping a story about the trio's CD, That's All, around crime fiction wasn't hard at all. After all, in Terra's own words, "My whole shtick, my whole thing, is anti-romance, very dark. I find all the darkest, weirdest material.”

Fitting then, that the creative non-fiction piece I ended up writing should appear in Noir Nation No. 3, a journal of international crime fiction, essays, and tattoos. Yeah, you read that right.

No. 3 is the India Issue and some of the stories get as dark and different as the sub-continent itself. I'm proud to be in there along with the likes of Richard Godwin, Chris Irvin, Nik Korpon, and Terrence McCauley.

Here's an excerpt from my piece:

It’s been a while since cigarette haze hung heavy at The Rex in Toronto. Chances are, any fedoras that find their way in today will be worn by hipsters. But there are moments during The Terra Hazelton Trio’s recent CD launch party when you could close your eyes, listen to Hazelton’s achy rendition of a tune from the forties, and think yourself lost in a film noir, Bogie hanging in the corner. Let yourself go, you might even catch a whiff of a maduro cigar.

The show’s barely begun when Terra tells the audience, “When I’m nervous, I just talk.” Then she launches into a description of her angst-ridden week: waking up in a cold sweat, picturing The Rex with its smallest audience ever. Instead, the club is standing room only, buzzing, loving what they’ve heard, wanting more. And Terra’s talking angst.

A stand-up comedian would have practiced and polished this rant in front of a mirror, getting it just right, beat for beat. For Terra, it’s raw, improv, pure flow.

Three songs in, she stops the show and tells her band mates that she needs to belt a little blues “to loosen up and get over myself”. They play “Trouble in Mind”, and someone delivers a shot of Maker’s Mark to the stage mid-song. Terra’s gonna be fine.

The rest of the article and over 30 noir short stories and essays are available in print or Kindle format.