One of my favourite memories of completing my under grad at McMaster University was Thursday nights, where a group of us would religiously pile in a cab after night class and head down to Slainte Irish Pub to check out a high-energy, live, local band. After a couple of visits we knew the words to all their songs, and began to also make the effort to visit the band at other venues around the city; subsequently being exposed to many different musicians. It was through this experience that I realized how rich Hamilton is with diverse musical talent. Whether your taste in music leans towards jazz, grunge, blues, old school rock and roll, indie or alternative; the Hamilton music scene has an act or venue that can satisfy your listening pleasure.
While this blog is meant to shine some light on the music scene in Hamilton; I encourage you to do some of your own exploration of what Hamilton music has to offer. Head out to any one of Hamilton’ musical venues Thursday-Saturday nights and check out the musical line-ups. While you may not like all of the bands, there is usually one or two that prove to be a captivating find. I have included below some helpful links to find whats happening in Hamilton, some off the beaten path musical experiences in Hamilton and reasons why it is great to be a musician in this city.
The Venues: While I certainly have my own favourite musical venues around the city, I wouldn’t want to sway anyone’s judgement by championing just those locations. So I have included several front runners for great places for live music in the city. While this list in continuously growing I think it is a great starting point for investigating what Hamilton has to offer. From dive bars, grass root clubs, classic pub settings to plush-cushioned 300 seat locales; there is a plenty of venues and thus musical acts to choose from. Check out each venues website before hand to see who is playing on any given night.
The Augusta House: Blues, Jazz and Motown are the prominent music genres at Augusta. The eclectic atmosphere, music and food works to combine the soul and sexiness of past genres with a chic urban city living. The setting is perfect for the young professional crowd ready to mix and mingle.
Hamilton Place: This building was scientifically built to project the optimum sound from the performers on stage. Hamilton Places is home to Opera Hamilton and The Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra and acts as hosts to many famous acts such as Mother Mother,
Copps Coliseum: The Big Top! This is the venue to check out for famous mainstream acts such as Britney Spears, Shania Twain, etc without having to pay the big price tag. Copps Coliseum is also home to the Country Music Awards in September 2011, which is sure to bring in some great acts for all you country fans
The Casbah: Not only do they champion successful local bands, but The Casbah also acts as a jumping off point for young musicians by hosting an All Ages Night once a week.
This Ain’t Hollywood: Is a proud North End Rock N Roll Bar that boasts some fabulous sound quality! On any given night you can see Famous local bands, indi rockers, and impromptu jam sessions. One of their staple acts is “Tim Gibbons & The Driftin’ Drawers, who kicks sand in your face from the dried up South. An incredible medley of folk, punk,blues, bluegrass country honky tonk, and jugband music. These whiskey drenced Sunday afternoons are the perfect way to end your weekend”
Slainte & Corktown: Home of the y108 Rock N Roll Challenge, Corktown is a place where many musicians’ careers take off. Aside from rock & roll, I have enjoyed cover bands and traditional Irish gig bands at these locations. Be sure to check out their website before you venture down so you know what types of music you are in for (not that I have ever been disappointed;).
Interactive: Many of my favourite music experiences in Hamilton haven’t always been in the typical concert setting, but rather more of an interactive experience where you, the audience member, have the opportunity to contribute or feel more a part of the experience. For instance, The Art Gallery of Hamilton recently held a First Friday event where they had the Mac Book Orchestra in the middle of their gallery. Museum goers were invited to stand in the intimate setting and take in the concert, however; after the concert I noticed many of the audience members going up to chat with the musicians and trying their hand and playing a Mac Book.
One of my favourite musical events in Hamilton is the annual Beatles Concerts that is held in a church on James South. The organizers have dozens of local musicians perform their renditions of different Beatles classics. It ends up being an uplifting evening filled with nostalgia and sing-a-longs. The astounding acoustics in the church and the creativity and unique tone each artist brings to their song choice makes it a unforgettable night.
And if you are a musician yourself? Not only is Hamilton an amazing city to access new and live music but it is also naturally the place to be if you are a talented musician. The city of Hamilton is home to a creative eco-system devoted to creating and promoting talented independent musicians. Independent record labels and innovative studio and recording spaces allow for musicians to quickly and cost-effectively produce a quality end-product to sell and share to their larger fan base. In addition, a welcoming and content hungry media base such as VIEW Magazine, Mohawk College’s Indi 101 Radio or 93.3 CFMU are always on the hunt for new talent to cover in their various types of programming. Loretta Hale from Andre & The J-Tones describes being a musician in Hamilton as such:
“Hamilton has an amazing music community that allows musicians to strive and do the thing they love for a living. With a collaboration of the city, venues, and the festivals in town we are able to connect and share our stories, talents, and love for music. We are so lucky to live in a city that can promote so many different styles of music including a Blues Community via the Hamilton Blues Lovers, an Independent Scene through many sources, a Jazz/Classical Scene through Mohawk College, McMaster University and now Redeemer College, as well as every other genre possible. Hamilton has been and will be a great home for many musicians thanks to everyone supporting music in this great city!”
To reiterate Hale’s last point: the best part of about being an artist in Hamilton is the vast and loyal fan base in the city. As a Hamilton music fan; I can honestly say that we are a passionate bunch and we are constantly looking for After Hours events to support and enjoy. So far I have not been disappointed with the astonishing array of talent in the downtown core. I hope the trend continues.
Beau Monde ProductionsTags: Andre & The J-Tones, Hamilon's Music Scene, Live Music In Hamilton, Slainte & The Corktown, This Ain't Hollywood, YEP Hamilton