The Daily Globe - Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

Local rocker prepares to release debut solo album

Meet-and-greet planned in Wakefield today

 

July 3, 2018

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WAKEFIELD NATIVE Lonnie Hammer is getting ready to release his debut solo album, "Total Annihilation" later this summer. Hammer will have an early meet-and-greet today in Wakefield's Eddy Park to give locals the first chance to get their hands on the music.

By RICHARD JENKINS

rjenkins@yourdailyglobe.com

Ironwood Township - Wakefield native Lonnie Hammer has been a professional musician for most of his life and has recorded on 17 albums. However, until now, he's never put out a solo album.

Gogebic Range fans will have the first chance to get Hammer's latest album, "Total Annihilation," today at a meet-and-greet at 7 p.m. at Eddy Park's pavilion during the Wakefield town picnic.

A preview event for the album from Hammer's new band, Hammer Down Hard; today's event comes three weeks before the album is released on radio and one month before it goes on sale. The meet-and-greet is an opportunity for Hammer to recognize and thank his hometown community for the support over the years.

"It's my way of giving back. It may not mean much to some, but it means a lot to me," Hammer said.

He said while his passion for music forced him to relocate to Memphis, Tenn., where the music industry has a bigger presence, he has always loved his frequent visits back to the Gogebic Range.

"I never forgot my roots," Hammer said. "Just because I don't live here doesn't mean I moved away because I didn't like the area. I had to do what I had to do."

His hometown roots are evident in the name of the record's ballad, "Wakefield."

Hammer was born and raised there and graduated from Wakefield High School.

He said he starting playing drums at the age of six, performing professional gigs at local dances and wedding receptions at 12.

"I did pretty well. ... I was playing four, five, up to eight times a month by the time I was age 16," Hammer said. "I was able to get myself a car, bought myself a brand new drum set."

Even at a young age, Hammer said he was always drawn to original songs.

"I never was big on cover-band stuff, so I've been writing music and playing my own stuff for as long as I can remember," he said.

After graduating high school, he hit the road with a band called Toy Jester to tour the Midwest.

The band's tour circuit slowly expanded to include more of the country.

He went on to record with a number national bands, including Jack Russell's Great White and Every Mother's Nightmare.

Along with Hammer Down Hard, Hammer is currently recording with Black Oak Arkansas.

The southern rock band gives Hammer the unique opportunity to make music with some of the same musicians as one of his inspirations - Tommy Aldridge, an early drummer for Black Oak Arkansas.

"To actually play with the same band, and record a record, that your idol has - that's a major bucket list thing," Hammer said.

Even though he has been successful as part of other bands, Hammer said he always wanted to do his own project.

"More and more I really just felt I could sing and be more of a lead vocalist," Hammer said.

This desire led him to create Hammer Down Hard.

While the group hasn't dropped an album or performed live, Hammer said the process of creating the songs has been amazing.

"It's such a great feeling when I open my soul," he said. "I had a lot of stuff over the years I wanted to talk about - things that meant a lot to me and all kinds of stories to tell."

While the song dedicated to his hometown may be a ballad, Hammer said "Total Annihilation" has a hard rock sound and has songs that focus on the ordeals and trials of life.

"It's kind of funny, I'm real happy with my life and I'm a pretty happy go-lucky person in general. But I had so much stuff built up inside of me and the music industry is so difficult, I find I had a lot of angst and just a lot of frustrations that came out," Hammer said.

"It just feels good to release that. Music is an emotion and the stuff I go through is no different than what anyone goes through," he continued.

"The whole record is basically a tribute to any person that's out there trying to make it in life in general. Sometimes you get the breaks and sometimes you don't, but never stop," Hammer said.

It's a testament to Hammer's reputation and the quality of the music that he got members of several national acts to perform on the album - including Wayne Swinny, of Saliva; Brian Quinn, of Candlebox, Lou Kavouras, of Riot; and Zach Myers, of Shinedown.

Hammer said it was strange to be part of the same recording process he always has, but in a different way.

"I guess it would kind of be like driving a car in the United States and then going to England and switching over to the left hand side. It's all kind of the same mechanics, but it's a different view," he said. "I'm having a total different view, because I can actually speak my mind and it's strange ... to be upfront and more or less orchestrating it."

After today's preview event, Hammer Down Hard will be performing at Rock Fest July 11 in Cadott, Wis., performing on the same stage as bands such as Autograph, Skid Row and Ace Frehley from Kiss.

 
 

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