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Baby Eagle flies free 

Steve Lambke’s side project from the Constantines has wings of its own.

When Constantines guitarist Steve Lambke first began writing and performing material as Baby Eagle five years ago, it was casual, to say the least.

"The first bunch of songs I wrote to keep myself entertained, as it was clear that they were not going to be Constantines songs," he explains. "But then when I went to Winnipeg, John Samson and Christine Fellows---both pals---offered to help make them into a record. And once you make one, you want to make the next one. It feeds itself, in a way."

Now, with the Constantines on an "indefinite hiatus" that sounds as much like a break-up as a break, Baby Eagle has become Lambke's main focus. The band's third album, Dog Weather, was released last August on You've Changed Records, the label Lambke co-owns and operates out of Sackville, New Brunswick, which he now calls home.

Though Lambke is Baby Eagle's driving creative force, he treats each album or tour as an opportunity to bring together some pretty talented collaborators. Partners in crime on Dog Weather included David Trenaman and Colleen Collins of Construction and Destruction, Dan Romano of Attack in Black and Shotgun Jimmie, a longtime Baby Eagle ally who will be playing with the band this Friday at Gus' Pub.

"They're all people that I'm fans of, but they're also friends," says Lambke. "I'm really interested in building a community and culture around music. I find that a really exciting idea, rather than having these little isolated islands of bands, which seems archaic to me. When you play with other people you get better, you push yourself and it keeps things fluid."

While Dog Weather is still heavily immersed in the rustic folk music tradition, the record has a bite to match its bark, with a raw, distortion-heavy sound that recalls Crazy Horse as much as The Band. The off-the-floor feel reflects the album's quick genesis, the bulk of it recorded over three days last winter at a cabin in the woods.

"We definitely wanted there to be some loud electric guitar and some drums. Me and Jimmie had worked on some songs ahead of time, knew the direction we wanted to take, more or less," says Lambke. "But we did the record so fast that it was just sort of what happened: the chemistry of being there for those three days. It wasn't haphazard, but it was certainly spontaneous."

Following Friday's show at Gus', Baby Eagle is supporting Julie Doiron on her east coast tour, including a stop in Halifax at the Seahorse on January 28.

Afterward, Lambke is hoping to make it out west in the spring---a jaunt through Ontario at the very least---and he's got a new album about half-written that he's eager to find time to record alongside managing You've Changed.

"Running my own label ties in very well with how I understand music, which is trying to build an independent art-making culture outside of the grant system," he says. "It's another piece of the puzzle, to do-it-yourself, have it be sustainable."

As for the Constantines, Lambke stays in touch with the rest of the band, but there's no talk at all about working together anytime soon.

"It's definitely a closed chapter; whether the book is done or not, I don't know."


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