Currently living in Toronto, Hawdon is both a working musician and holds down a day job.
He found great success in his 'Mikey and His Uke' online video performances during the pandemic that have seen him performing with punk rock greats as well as with one of his heroes, Harry Waters Jr. of Back to the Future fame.
He recently released a brand new album with his band Fairmounts on Clearview Records.
“The Fairmounts album was actually written almost five years ago,” says Hawdon.
“We had a full album’s worth of material ready to go, but we just needed to get into the studio. Back at the end of 2018, we had finally started recording, and we're just taking our time.”
The album was recorded in a studio owned and operated by Fairmounts guitar player Simon Head.
“It was nice to not be rushed,” says Hawdon.
“There were a few unexpected delays along the way but by the beginning of 2020, the album was completely finished. Then COVID struck and all the record plants were closed. The album had to be put on hold.”
Although that was a setback, it was because of the pandemic that Hawdon began his ‘Mikey and His Uke’ series.
“Without being able to play shows with the Fairmounts or any of my other projects, I needed to find another creative outlet. And just like that, ‘Mikey and His Uke’ was born,” he says.
The new Fairmounts album is entitled Eik Namo which is Lithuanian for “go home.”
“There is a track on the album called Send You Back to Lithuania. It's just a silly boy/girl breakup song I wrote that has the line Eik Namo in it. The title Go Home also went nicely with the theme of the album cover.”
The front depicts two young teens sitting on a bench in a subway terminal, waiting for the train home.
“If you look closely, you’ll find a little Sault reference in the billboard beside them. The back shows the band travelling the subway system as well, with a few more ‘tips of the hat’ to my hometown.”
For Hawdon, the idea of “home” has been a recurring theme in his life and music.
“One of my tattoos is of a heart placed at the centre of the three Great Lakes, referencing a line from the first album that says, 'My heart and my home are surrounded by water',” he says.
“I've lived in Toronto for almost 20 years now, but the Sault is still home to me."
Hawdon will be moving back to the Sault permanently to be with his family.
"Everything I do musically can now be done from almost anywhere. I've always loved the Sault, and I'm excited to get back.”
The record was pressed mostly on pink vinyl with some smaller pressings of tie-dye and clear. Despite the inability to play shows supporting the record, Hawdon says sales have gone “surprisingly” well.
“I was nervous that without being able to play shows and promote the record we'd be sitting on boxes of albums for a long time,” he says.
“Fortunately that wasn't the case. The online sales were incredible right out of the gate and it's being very well received on all of the digital platforms too. I really like hearing from people about what songs they like best. It's quite a wide range.”
Hawdon was able to provide curbside delivery for local fans that purchased the record.
“After getting tested for COVID and making sure I was negative, I came home for Christmas and did a bunch of curbside drop-offs from my car,” he says.
“It was quite a bit of driving. More than I had expected but what a great experience. I am so thankful for all the hometown support. The Sault has always been behind me with whatever wacky project I'm promoting and that means the world to me.”
Hawdon and the band have been discussing the possibility of livestream performances, but would much prefer to be able to get out and play the new songs live.
“I guess we'll have to relearn them by the time that happens.”
One the other bands Hawdon is a member of Power of Huey, a Huey Lewis tribute, performed at a “drive-in” back when the weather was warmer.
“It was so much fun. I have been a massive Huey Lewis fan since I was very young. It was Back to the Future that made me a Huey fan, so being able to play his songs with our Power of Huey project has been a blast. We've done two outdoor shows so far.”
Hawdon describes the drive-in show as playing to an audience of parked cars all honking at the end of each song in place of applause.
The other show was in an empty parking lot, pre-recorded for a New Year’s Eve special.
“They were both a lot of fun, and I hope there are many more in the near future,” he says.
“It’s not the same as a live show, but there’s still potential for connection with the audience.”
Hawdon’s new record label SOOLEBRITY Records will be re-releasing an album by Sault band Room 206 on vinyl.
“Room 206 was a local band that had a huge impact on me as a musician and whose music deserves to be re-mastered and preserved,” says Hawdon.
“I need to replace the worn-out cassette I’ve been listening to since I was a kid. Again, I’ve had great support from the Sault, with lots of people already signed on for purchase. It’s going to be a very limited one-time pressing of a Sault classic.”
With all that has been going on with Hawdon, he doesn’t really need a New Year’s resolution for 2021.
“My resolution is to eat better, start working out and maybe take some night classes. I'm just kidding. I won't do any of that stuff,” he laughs.
“I think I just want to keep busy. I'm actually busier right now than I've ever been and it's been great. Juggling my time with the new Fairmounts’ release, my ‘Mikey and his Uke’ stuff, and my job at the Mount Sinai Hospital, has been a lot, but I wouldn't have it any other way.”