Archives: music

all the festivals

In the next week there are so many great festivals happening in and around the city. I want to go to all of them.

Here are a few of the must see and do’s if you’re sticking around Hamilton.


Hamilton World Music Festival

In its third year and back by popular demand the Hamilton World Music Festival is here this weekend!




Boasting past musical guests like Polaris Prize and Juno Award winner Inuk throat singer Tanya Tagaq, this year’s line-up features an excellent roster of International artists like Sérgio Pererê (from Brazil), and Zal Sissokho (from Senegal). Hamilton favourites like Mother Tareka (9-piece hip-hop funk band), Neeraj Prem (sitar), the Riddim Riders (reggae band), Bonnie Hamilton, and The Snow Beach Players (featuring #HamOnt mashup of local live hip-hop bands Canadian Winter, Haolin Munk & Kojo ‘Easy’ Damptey Band).

A song by Alysha Brilla, who’s song 2 Shots, I first heard on CBC Radio a while back. The chorus would get stuck in my head for days. She’s performing Saturday 8:30-9:30pm.

*Hamilton World Music Festival, July 15-17, Admission is Free, Gage Park, @matapaorg, Facebook


Strangewaves Music Festival

Strangewaves is a three-day festival in its second year for music, art, and film lovers alike.

The festival this year is at the Paris Fairgrounds, where you can camp all weekend and check out another amazing line-up of Hamilton musical musical outfits like: Simply Saucer (Proto Punk ), Thoughts on Air (soulscape), Goatfooted (dank ambience back from the grave), Zac Shaw (sax king), plus all sorts of indie acts hailing from LA to NYC, PLUS one of my ultimate faves Julie Doiron (OMG!), and DJ Rasta Princess (Montreal -reggae, reggae, reggae) -eeeep! Sounds like it’s going to be a fun little festival. AND, surprise guest yet to be announced for Saturday night -who could it be!?

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Tickets are available here, or at The Brain (199 James Street North, Hamilton).

*Strangewaves Music Festival, July 15-17, Paris Fairgrounds, @strangewavesfes, Facebook


Fringe Festival

The Hamilton Fringe Festival is celebrating its 13th year (#turning13)!

This year there are more than 48 theatre companies bringing to Hamilton a variety of comedy, drama, magic, dance, and family friendly entertainment in more than 300 performances over 11 days.

The amount of theatre that will be at our finger-tips during the next week is daunting (yet also awesome!).

If I had to pick just a handful of plays to see, these would be them:


El Diablo of the Cards (comedy): Be SURPRISED in the most HILARIOUS way! “El Diablo of the Cards” comes all the way from Brazil to bring you an UNFORGETTABLE night! Take your seat and get ready to laugh! Ewerton Martins will astound with his unbelievable improvised card magic. Really unreal, provocatively absurd, this delightful idiot will introduce you to the madness of card’s magic.



All KIDding Aside (comedy): Time is running out, a life altering decision teeters before you…and you’re on the fence! Sometimes the biggest fears can be the “little ones”




Key-Promo-Image-KairosThe Bathtub Girls (drama, physical theatre): The Bathtub Girls is an original play based on the first known case of sibling matricide in Canada, occurring in 2003, Mississauga, ON. The work has strong roots in contact improvisation and examines the desire for a sense of community and identity, and the actions taken for their acquisition.




Awoken (drama, sci fi): Meet Todd. Todd can’t sleep. But Todd is dreaming. Neither awake nor asleep, Todd must journey through his own corrupted subconscious – idle fantasies and suppressed memories – and discover his purpose, before choosing to wake up…or sleep forever. Inspired by a true story. All lighting controlled by the sole actor on stage.



Devil-in-the-DetailsDevil in the Details (comedy): Laura, after a freak photocopier accident, finds herself dead and the executive assistant to Satan himself. As she navigates her new boss and the inner workings of the seven circles, she finds that not everything is as it seems. Hell is losing souls, influence and power but no one knows why… Welcome to Hell.



*Hamilton Fringe Festival, July 14-24, @HamOntFringe, Facebook, #HamFringe


I will be updating my Facebook page regularly with various events going on in the city. Take a look at my event page for some great things coming up like Dusk Dances (Bayfront Park), Life of a Craphead: Bugs/ Zak Tatham: Doorcuts (summer film screening series at Hamilton Artist’s Inc.), and A Night in White (at Whitehern hosted by the Other Bird Chef Matt Kershaw) just to name a few. 

meeting on rooftops

One of my favourite places in Hamilton is Jackson Square’s rooftop. So I guess it shouldn’t have been a surprise (cause great minds think a like -right?) that it’d also be the chosen meeting place of Hamilton cheerleader and architectural lover Thomas Allen of Rebuild Hamilton. We met up on top of Jackson Square for an unusual evening gathering of likeminded folks.

We spent most of the night on various downtown rooftops talking about non other than our true love… Hamilton.

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The best thing about it was grabbing a few of these shots (above) but also connecting with the likes of Forris Borris aka Sex Drugs and Hamont aka Taylor Heres (beautifully talented photographic aesthetic) and Matt Carson (creator of Exhale Music and Eternal Summer music series).

These gents are doing some pretty cool things in this city. Check their links and follow them on insta. You won’t be disappointed.

jay mccarrol & brave shores

A few years ago I stumbled across a Southern Souls video of Jay McCarrol’s that I kinda fell in love with.

The melody of the piano, the voice and lyrics of Jay and the simplicity of the backing band (featuring members from ZeusGolden Dogs and his sister Stefanie) all made for a recipe of unabashed repeat song listening, which in all honesty does not happen much these days. The video itself is so warm and beautiful it left me feeling all sorts of glowy on the inside.

JAY McCARROL – Jimmy Song / Mistaken from Southern Souls on Vimeo.

I searched for some info about Jay to see if he was working on an album and if/when/where I could get it. But besides spotting him and Taylor Knox (who currently has his debut solo album out) backing Hayden, when he came to town at The Casbah two years ago, my search pretty much came up empty handed.

Taylor Knox & Jay McCarrol backing Hayden

Taylor Knox and Jay McCarrol backing Hayden, Casbah Nov. 2013.

Until… I recently discovered Brave Shores which is duo made up of Jay McCarrol and his sister Stefanie.

Their debut album is called Never Come Down AND they’re playing tomorrow night at Mills Hardware. Although (from the few of the songs that I’ve heard from the album) this new indie rock electro-pop outfit is nothing like my first intro into Jay’s music and piano playing but all the same it’s still really awesome.

The show at Mills is on May 6th 7-11pm $12 in advance/$15 at the door.

* Mills Hardware, 95 King Street East, @MillsHardware

summer crawling

I used to be an art crawl regular and could probably count on one hand the number of crawls that I’ve missed. But with this past year’s crazy cold winter and trying to stick to the little one’s bedtime, I’d have to admit that recently we’ve attended only a handful of art crawls. But with the longer days of summer here we decided to throw caution to the wind and take Omi out of his bedtime time routine and hit up June’s art crawl to check out what all we’ve been missing.

Art crawls in the warmer weather are always so busy! The streets were packed and I noted a significant increase in the number of street vendors and busking musicians. I always love seeing the street and community so alive on art crawl nights but then I also wonder where everyone is all those other days of the month.

We headed down James onto Barton where I saw this ghostly and gorgeous door. A door like this seemed like it would have a few stories that it could tell.

June artcrawl door

On Barton we dropped by Hamilton Audio/Visual NodeMulti-modal‘s (HAVN) for their second year anniversary party. The space was all tinfoiled up and shiny with some music that was just about to get underway. Incidentally, for tonight’s art crawl (July10) HAVN is hosting the launch of “384″ zine. There’ll be music by DJ’s Motëm & Muffled Suitcase, plus some limited edition screen prints, a few acrylic paintings on wood panels, and animated visuals.

June artcrawl HAVN

Our last stop of the night during June’s crawl was at Dr. Disc, where Steve and I took turns running down to the lower floor of Dr. Disc, to check out RE-DUO - a collaborative art exhibit by Jo-Anne Balcaen and Donna Akrey - while the other stayed with Omi and rocked out to Hachey the Mouthpeace‘s beat boxing session on Dr. Disc’s roof top.

RE-DUO was such a fabulous show! I loved the humour of the re-do covers and how spot on they were. I especially loved how they used common-place items to stand in for accessories and hairstyles.  For example, in the image below, simple black construction paper did the trick to re-do that Ian & Sylvia album cover.

June artcrawl re-duo exhibit

The RE-DUO show will be running until August 9th. You should definitely check it out during this crawl while you stop by to listen to the amazing line-up for this month’s Raise the Roof session on the rooftop of Dr. Disc (presented by I Heart Hamilton & Hamilton Magazine).

live on locke

I took a friend up on an invite a while back to see the Cowboy Junkies in concert at a church on Locke Street. Truthfully I hadn’t really listened to the Junkies since the early to mid 90′s but I thought a Friday night concert walkable from my home, why not.

The concert was held at Melrose United Church at Locke and Homewood. It was a full house with every church pew stacked with Junkie’s fans.  The voice of singer Margo Timmins melow and low carried beautifully into the massive space and air of the church.

Live on Locke is a concert series that helps to raise funds for The Instrument For Every Child Program. Last month Jim Cuddy and Chantel Kreviazuk performed and for the last concert of the series on November 29th Colin James will perform.

seven sundays at gage park

Hello Hamilton, I’m back! I feel like I’ve been neglecting you all summer long.

August was filled with out of town and out of country visitors plus several weekends of double booked backyard BBQ’s, a lengthy summer cold, a broken toe, and a baby with a ruthless new penchant for walking. Despite the many great things that were happening all over the city this summer I feel like I kinda wasn’t around much.

One evening I did manage to sneak off to one of the Seven Sundays in Gage Park. If this is the first you’ve heard of Seven Sundays; it’s an eight week free concert series at the Gage Park bandshell featuring local musicians (and food trucks) followed by a movie screening. I really hope to make it to more of these next summer -such a lovely way to spend a Sunday night.

There’s something super fabulous about hearing live open air music on a summer evening. There was a great crowd out to see Jesse Lanza perform against the backdrop of the seafoam Geaorge R. Robinson bandshell and the greenery of the escarpment. Sigh -oh summer time.

new music expo

In the past few years it has become a bit of an informal tradition to head down to Gage Park for It’s Your Festival.

I love summer festivals. Especially ones that are relatively close to our house.

But let’s be honest. I mostly love summer festivals because of funnel cake.

After I got my funnel cake fix we headed over to a little side stage tucked in back of Gage Park for the New Music Expo.

For the past two years this mini concert series has been a fav of Steve and mine. It’s off the beaten track and in many ways reminds me of days when I was weee little teenager and would see bands down by the lake at the gazebo for Friday Night Live in Burlington.

For the most part the bands are raw, kinda gritty, loud and experimental. What I especially liked was that it allowed for Steve and I both to enjoy a show together since Omi could be there too; tumbling around on the grass and clovers.

We only made it for Doobie Freaks and a smidge of Glasseylashes before we packed it up for the evening.

Last year my highlights were Pucumber Sassquash and The Mystics.

Pucumber Sassquash at the New Music Expo stage 2012

The Mystics at the New Music Expo stage 2012

Happy that there’s still a few summer festivals still kicking it here at Gage Park. Love the seafoam bandshell (don’t ever change), and also love that there’s the Seven Sundays of Gage Park summer concert series, which has a line up of some really great musicians such as the Dinner Belles, Harrison Kennedy, and Jesse Lanza (check her beautifully cool video below), plus there’ll be movie screenings and food trucks. The series kicks off this Sunday July 7th but you can also check their website here for their schedule.

The Dinner Belles playing the bandshell 2012

I leave you with Jesse Lanza’s most recent video shot in  Hamilton featuring Jed the dancing guy. Jesse will be playing at the Gage Park bandshell on Sunday August 11th at 7pm for the Seven Sundays concert series.

record show

Last month I finally attended the bi-annual Record Show at the Festival Banquet Centre. I’d seen the flyers for the show around town before and had always wanted to check it out but had never been able to -so I was extra super stoked to go. I prepared myself for an afternoon of record browsing with the hopes of finding some real gems.

The Festival Banquet centre is located on King St. East (to see my post on King East click here).  With low ceilings and dim lighting the hall kind of reminded of the multiple friend’s parent’s basements that I hung out in as a teenager.  The hall however was still decked out in kitschy wedding decorations and the air smelled like a cocktail of stale alcohol and tobacco smoke. Like most record sales I’ve been to it was pretty much a dude fest with a small spattering of women digging and flipping through the crates.

I went with the hopes of discovering some rare record finds; old jamaican ska, surf, 50/60′s soul and perhaps a little calypso or Nigerian afro-funk. But I was stuck mostly with flipping through various vendor’s collections of The Beatles, The Stones, Kiss and Journey among other boxes of records that you might normally find at a garage sale (priced accordingly cheap 3 for $5). So I guess if you’re into bargain bin rock music and perhaps completing a collection of a specific rock artist then this would’ve been the record sale for you. Don’t get me wrong there were tons of records -maybe too many? I probably would’ve been happier with less records and just a little more quality and uniqueness to the selection. A couple of turn tables with headphones for listening to potential record purchases would’ve helped too.

In the end we did end up buying a couple of albums. Steve got Rush: Archives (a triple album: Rush, Fly By Night and Caress of Steel), and I picked up a Barbara Lynn album.

We put them on in the evening Steve rocked out to some Rush, and later I danced Omi to sleep with Barbara Lynn’s sweet voice.

I leave you with a song from Barbara Lynn:

songs from the bishop

Some of my favourite evenings of this summer were spent at Bishop Park in the Stinson neighbourhood. Every Thursday evening from July 7th until August 25th the neighbourhood surrounding Bishop Park gathered to hear some fabulous live music.  Songs from the Bishop showcased local Hamilton musical talent from the likes of Terra Lightfoot of the Dinner Belles to Adam Bentley from The Rest plus many other fabulously talented musical acts. The times I’ve gone the crowd has varied from about a hundred people to an intimate gathering of neighbourhood folk. People seemed to know each other. They’d gather on the park benches, on the grass or on lawn chairs to sit back and take in the musical act of that particular Thursday evening. In the canopied shade of Bishop Park we would sing along whenever we could.  Kids often busted out into awesome dance moves and routines, and overall there was just a real sense of community and neighbourliness.

I loved how the late summer sun was sinking behind the trees, and you could just tell the summer season was coming to a close.

The most recent concert I saw in Bishop Park was the last one of the summer.  Adam Bentley, who was integral in putting on Songs of the Bishop, played for us. His voice is so beautiful and it carried wonderfully in the open air -almost hauntingly.  It was a different sound and a real treat to hear Adam sing in bare bones form -without the ambiant wall of sound (from his band The Rest) that usually accompanies him. I only ever made it out to two evenings of the Songs from the Bishop and wish I’d come out for more. I really do hope that next year the concert series continues. I love all the secret little things that are happening in Hamilton all the time.  It makes me adore where we live and gets me excited for what new creative initiatives we will discover in the months and years to come! I leave you with a little music from Hamilton’s The Rest.  They do have a new album out so go out and get yours!

summer time

So much to do! So much going on!

I love summer! I also love that I have the summer off this year, and that there is so much to do locally in the city to fill up my days.

Just this week I sat on the rooftop of Jackson square and ate my schnitzel sandwich from the market; in the breeze, with the sun, and the beautiful sound of Terra Lightfoot‘s voice singing CCR and Fleetwood Mac covers carrying through the open air. Sigh.

Two young ladies "rushing" the stage.

The next day I headed to Gore Park for their grand opening of the new designated pedestrian area and their Summer Promenade’s first of several weekly events. So nice to see pedestrians taking over that space and seeing crowds of people gathering and hanging out at Gore Park.  The Gore Park Promenade event with vendors, and live music runs Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays 11am-5:30pm until September 15th.

Image by Jason Leach taken from Raise the Hammer

Last night I joined the Stinson neighbourhood in Bishop’s Park for their weekly Thursday evening concerts: Songs From the Bishop, running from July 5th to August 23rd. It was such a nice and laid back community event, it just made me love where we live more than ever.

I feel like I say this every month… but tonight’s art crawl is going to be an awesome one! There’s a craft show being put on by the newly open Mint Studio in the Sonic Unyon building (3rd floor).

Blush’s pink trailer coming all the way from Guelph selling gorgeous and delicate women’s clothing in partnership with Beaux Mondes.

The Sweet Ice Snow Cone ladies will be out selling their refreshing treats.  Check out their promo video it is so adorably sweet!

The AGH’s new Design Annex will be open for its very first art crawl.

Dr. Disc will be celebrating its 21st birthday with bands like The Rest, New Hands, The Dirty Nil, and Greg Preston & The Great Machine playing on their rooftop. Plus after Dr. Disc’s Raise the Roof event there’s an after party at The Casbah.  That’s a super packed crawl!

On Saturday there’s also the Farm Crawl!

It seems like everyday there’s something to do, and some place to check out.

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