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Useful In a War

REcorded in Toronto, December 2015.  With Kevin Breit, Russ Boswell, and Lisa Hodgson.  Videography by Adrian Underhill.


I am yours to do your bidding
It’s been this way since the beginning
Now my hair is grey and thinning
Do you need me anymore?

I have watched the burning skies
Through a coward’s eyes
Ignored the battle cries
That are right outside my door.

Stumbled drunk through love and joy
Far too long the mannish boy
But I’m ready to deploy
Make me useful in a war.

Purify my ambition
Sanctify my secret mission
Make me Black Ops, cut the cord
Deny that I was even in the war.

Take my head out of the heavens
Take my hands and make them weapons
Hold me to the oath I swore
Make me useful in a war.

Make me deaf to my own voice
I wont question any choice
Coming down from the Commodore
Make me useful in a war.

Throw me in the line of fire
Make me climb the razor wire
Until my flesh is torn
Make me useful in a war.

Take my fear and give it edges
Make me dance out on the ledges
Make me hungry, make me poor
Make me useful in a war.



Kevin Breit – Gregory Hoskins

Coming in December to Southern Ontario, 5 nights of songs of love, hate, hubris, humility, and muscular sorrow drawn from the catalogs of these veteran recording artists.


Friday December 4,  Dublin St. United Church, Guelph.  Buy Now
Joined by Russ Boswell on bass, Lisa Hodgson on vox.

Saturday December 5, Bad Manor, Elora.  Buy Now
Kevin Breit and Gregory Hoskins tear through their diverse catalogs.

Thursday December 10, Moonshine Cafe, Oakville.  Buy Now
Joined by Don Rooke who will be contributing songs from the excellent 2015 release of The Henrys “Quiet Industry”.  Russ Boswell, Lisa Hodgson, and drummer Geoff Arsenault joining.

Friday December 11, Knox Amphitheater, Stratford.  Buy Now
Joined by Don Rooke who will be contributing songs from the excellent 2015 release of The Henrys “Quiet Industry”.  Russ Boswell, Lisa Hodgson, and drummer Geoff Arsenault joining.

Sunday December 13, The Burdock, Toronto.  Buy Now
Breit, Hoskins, and an armada of songs for troubled times.


A bit of A Singer & A Painter: 00:30


A Singer and a Painter: Encore Concert Presentation with Tina Newlove, Dec 12, Hamilton, ON

Buy Tickets:



I first met Tina Newlove at this time of the year in 2012 in a factory loft art space (sadly no longer there) in Kitchener, ON.  We performed as part of a series that curated a visual artist and a musician for an evening.  Not content with just singing in the midst of art hanging on the wall,  I thought maybe live painting would be an avenue to look into and Tina had had plenty of experience with painting on stage.  Then I thought it would be a lot cooler if somehow the painting and I could interact more, and that’s when I proposed training a video camera on to Tina’s canvas and projecting the feed over me onto a screen behind me.  The singer and the song become sort of subservient (nice alliteration) to the “hand of god” and the brush as the audience watches the birth of a painting, the mess of it all, the seeming disorganization and the sometimes horrifying white-ing out of a part of the image that one might have grown attached to…


The singer, the screen, the hand.

It.  Was.  Amazing.  The painting sold (you would be advised to bring along a chequebook), the audience was exhausted, and we had done something a little off the beaten path.

We are very excited to try this again in the lovely factory confines of The Pearl Company in Hamilton, Ontario.  Please join us.


gh and artist Tina Nelove and a piece of the finished painting still being projected.

The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald, 40 years on.

I didn’t know today was the 40th anniversary of the Edmund Fitzgerald going down.
A few years ago, on a magical night, I was lucky to be in the company of some of the finest musicians a man could find himself in and one of the songs we did that night was Lightfoot’s iconic retelling of the sorrow of the misfortune of the men aboard. Here is a link to that performance.

The arrangement, by Aaron Davis, is worth plugging your computer/handset into a stereo worthy of the endeavour.


Vain and Alone in T’Sou-ke Nation


Vain and Alone in T’Sou-ke Nation.
It takes a particular vanity to do this under the gaze of a tree that that has and will outlive me and all those I love.  I hope it had a sense of humour.

An Epistle from The Road


**A couple weeks ago I was asked to write a little note about my time on the road with Stephen Jenkinson.  We were in Austin, it was hot, and I was having trouble describing the half dozen nights we had done. Here’s what I came up with.  Is it unbecoming that I quote my own lyrics?  We continued on through Oregon and Washington State and finish up Halloween night in Duncan, BC.  It has been an honour.

Beneath the Truth
Lie the bones
Of a Truth
More complete
And I’ll bet everything I own
It’s a Truth that’s bittersweet.

Tonight I will walk on to a stage with a remarkable man in a theater built in Austin, TX, in 1871. It will be the sixth time I​’​ve done so on this tour, and the first time I’ve ever strapped on a guitar in Austin. After the whistles and clapping die down, he will start talking, and I will wait.

I will make a few tentative sounds,
my fingers trying to find the spaces between his words.  My listening will turn into the kind that forgets the moment that has come before and is unaware of the one coming next.  And I have a suspicion that this is the way it is f​or many in the audience, too.

At some point he will make room for me to sing and I will try to remember to sing softly so as not to break the spell cast on the room.  It has taken me a while to understand that long, liquid, and legato notes are the order of the evening. Time will dance on through the night, or, in this case, will move properly and headlong toward the past.

The end will come, long book signing lines will dwindle, and we will ask each other in a stolen moment, “Well…how’d we do, Boss?”

You’d have to ask Stephen himself what these night “are” to him. To me, they are art and subversive acts of the highest order. Sometimes it is the building itself that is subverted: a recital hall, a stately ballroom, a modern concert hall, a conference room in a State Capital building, a bookstore, this opera house come Masonic ​temple…but mostly it is the thing that passes for Culture on this continent that is subverted, and most of what stands for Counter Culture, too.

It is not the kind of art designed to distract or entertain, nor is it the kind that takes some kind of severe gymnastics of the mind and heart to trust. It is the kind found on cave walls that simply and skillfully tell the story of the day with all of its’ sorrows, horrors, and chall​e​​n​ges along with its’ tenderness, victories, and graces. Over the course of the evenings, the pendulum swings a wide arc…sometimes unbearably so…and standing firmly at the center is Stephen​ Jenkinson​, more with the people than separate from them, w​h​ether they want him there or not. And given our proclivity to throw heroes up the pop charts and teachers onto crosses, the resistance to simply seeing him as a man of hard won truths and a gift for singing them is sometimes shocking.

From up where I’m standing on stage…slightly up stage left in a muted pool of light…there is only one way to measure the evening:

Was every moment,
Every vein opened,
Every chest cracked
Every word spoken,
Every note struck,
Every clunker hit,
Every word sung,
Every story told

To a point, the answer is…and has to be…and IS,


So here’s to the highs
And here’s to the lows
The human heart endures
And so it goes…
The bittersweet highs and lows.

​Gregory Hoskins​
Oct​ober​ 16, 2015
Austin, Texas


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