ON L I N E EXCLUSIVE CONTENT, EXTENDED FEATURES AND LOTS MORE!
CINEMA FOR ALL PAIZE USIOSEFE CELEBRATES LOCAL BIPOC WITH THE LAUNCH OF THE HAMILTON BLACK FILM FESTIVAL THE DOCTOR IS IN DR. DISC’S MARK FURUKAWA TALKS RECORDS, REBIRTHS AND WHY HE’S HAMILTON FOR LIFE WHEN LIFE GIVES YOU LEMONS DIANA PANTON DIDN’T LET THE PANDEMIC GET IN THE WAY OF MAKING NEW MUSIC
Last Man Standing
Hamilton singer-songwriter TOM WILSON is building a bridge – and a future – to his incredible past
HCM PREVIEW/SPRING 2022
cover photo: marta Hewson for hcm
inside 6/city life We look at 10 local streets and the fascinating facts and foibles behind their names and how they came to be.
made in hamilton/ ryan moran mixes style and History witH tHe launcH of locke & king – His luxury watcH line. 20/food With take-out booze here to stay, bottle shops in Hamilton are on the rise… and chances are there’s one near you.
on the cover
7/city life Hamilton’s oft-delayed LRT is back from the dead and past the point of no return – or is it?
arts + culture/ Hamilton singer-songwriter tom wilson was tHe last to know wHo He really was. now He’s making up for lost time.
17/arts + culture Diana Panton didn’t let the pandemic get in the way of making new music.
10/arts + culture We chat with Paize Usiosefe about celebrating local BIPOC cinema with the 2021 launch of the Hamilton Black Film Festival.
arts + culture/ printmaker eli nolet’s sensitive, sometimes defiant work Has an understated maturity born out of queer trauma.
22/arts + culture Hamilton authors have served up a bumper crop of local lit that will keep those pandemic blues at bay. 26/arts + culture In an exclusive excerpt from David McPherson’s new book, Massey Hall, Crowbar and Tom Wilson recount some decidedly Hamilton moments at the iconic concert hall.
28/arts + culture Dr. Disc’s Mark Furukawa talks records, rebirths and why he’s Hamilton for life. 30/arts+culture Editor Marc Skulnick’s buzzworthy beats, top tunes and awesome albums – Hamilton style!
Investing in Hamilton. Engaging community. Just like HAMILTON CITY Magazine. JA NE A LL I SO N
D OV E TA ILCO M M UN ITY.CO M
Jon evans for hcm
elcome to the pre-launch, preview edition of HAMILTON CITY Magazine. We’re excited to unveil our new publication and website, and hope you enjoy celebrating Hamilton as much as we enjoyed bringing this to fruition. Admittedly, it’s been a long time coming and we really do appreciate your patience. We are 100 per cent independent, proudly Hamilton and have been bootstrapping HAMILTON CITY Magazine from the ground up. And unlike most other media in Hamilton, there’s no deep-pocketed, out-of-town corporate mothership. We’re launching this preview edition to support our crowdfunding campaign, which is now underway. We wanted to give you a taste of what to expect when HCM officially launches later this summer. So, this preview edition is a truncated version to give you an idea of the design and editorial content you can expect. Our digital presence will feature exclusive and expanded content – photography, videos and extended articles. We cannot overemphasize how important this crowdfunding is to making HCM a reality. Without you, there is no us. After 18 months of dedicated work, we need your financial support to move forward. We hope you’ll consider purchasing a subscription through our Indiegogo link. We’ve curated some extraordinary, uniquely Hamilton perks – in-home concerts by a who’s who of Hamilton
musicians, sports experiences, culinary delights and artistic works. You’ll get a once-in-a-lifetime Hamilton experience AND you help us bring HCM to life. We encourage you to check back often on our Indiegogo site as we have a few surprises planned throughout the campaign. We’re targeting late summer for our inaugural issue. While digital will be our primary focus, we will publish a print edition six times a year. Our mission is straightforward: to “celebrate all things Hamilton” — the arts, our cultural diversity, our food and restaurant scene, our history and heritage, business and innovation, our people, social and urban issues, the local environment, fashion and style, events and more. There are so many people who have helped us get this far – writers, photographers, local businesses, supporters, community leaders. You know who you are and we will recognize you in our inaugural edition. For now, you have our never-ending gratitude. We hope you like what you see so far and will support our crowdfunding campaign. Together, we can create a publication of which we can all be proud. We welcome your feedback, your input, so please feel free to reach out – email@example.com and via our social channels – and tell us what you like and what you want to see so that we can make HAMILTON CITY Magazine even better.
And please keep the tweets, posts, texts, messages and phone calls coming. The journey is just beginning. Jeff, Meredith, Marc, Will, Mark / 4
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Jon Evans is a Hamilton based commercial branding pHotograpHer wHo Has been turning tHe ordinary into tHe extraordinary for tHe last 22 years. along tHe way Jon Has met some great clients and togetHer tHey’ve created many memorable campaigns for some of tHe region’s top individuals and businesses. Jon loves wHat He does and brings tHat entHusiasm witH Him on eacH and every sHoot. Marta HEwson is a fasHion and portrait pHotograpHer located in tHe Historic cotton factory in Hamilton. sHe brings Her 20 years of fasHion pHotograpHy insigHt to every portrait sHoot, and sHe’s on a mission to make you fall in love witH tHe experience of being pHotograpHed. ryan McGrEal is a programmer, writer and amateur urbanist. He was tHe founding editor of raise tHe Hammer, raisethehammer.org, a website dedicated to civic affairs and urban revitalization in Hamilton, and a founding member of Hamilton ligHt rail, hamiltonlightrail.ca, a citizen group promoting HigHer order transit. ryan lives in Hamilton witH His family. DaviD McPHErson is tHe autHor of the acclaimed legendary horseshoe tavern: a complete history, as well as tHe recently released massey hall. david Has written for grammy. com, the globe and mail, socan’s Words and music, no depression, american songWriter, and acoustic guitar. He lives in waterloo, ontario. ElainE MitroPoulos was born into a food-loving family rigHt Here in Hamilton. sHe started Her writing career as a reporter in australia and western canada. today, sHe works a day Job in communications and moonligHts in tHe food and drink industry. in Her free time, elaine enJoys strolling Her neigHbourHood of dundas, deligHting in tHe mom-and-pop sHops tHat dot tHe main strip.
witH a degree in englisH literature, carlyE Morrow-Jackson is pretty well-read, but since sHe is also cursed witH an awful memory, you’ll Have to take Her word for it. luckily, sHe Has always preferred writing about present issues, and coupled witH Her longstanding crusH on steeltown, sHe’s tHrilled to bits to be a part of our new magazine. BrEnt PErniac is a professional pHotograpHer based in Hamilton. brent Has become one of canada’s most popular celebrity-event pHotograpHers and regularly covers national events sucH as tHe Juno awards, tHe genie awards, canada’s walk of fame, mucHmusic video awards and tHe toronto international film festival. brent’s work Has been publisHed in maJor publications sucH as instyle, entertainment Weekly, people, ok!, usWeekly, rolling stone, intouch, hello!, n.y. post and life&style. HElEn PowErs often visited Hamilton wHile growing up and sHe moved Here in 2006 witH Her Husband and two cHildren. after working in public relations, landscape arcHitecture, and municipal planning, Helen is Happily retired but still loves to write. Hamilton’s waterfront and valleys are Her favourite places but tHe city’s many sHopping districts are always fun to visit. JEssica rosE is a writer, editor, and book reviewer wHose work Has appeared in publications across canada. sHe is tHe book reviews editor at this magazine, a senior editor at tHe hamilton revieW of books, a founding editor at tHe inlet, and is tHe marketing manager at gritlit: Hamilton’s readers and writers festival. JaMiE tEnnant is a broadcaster, Journalist and autHor in Hamilton. He is tHe former Host of cable 14’s ensemble! program. He is tHe program director of 93.3 cfmu, wHere He Hosts tHe books and literature program and podcast get lit. He publisHed His first novel in 1996 and His second novel, river, diverted, is set for release next fall.
JEFFREY MARTIN /PUBLISHER firstname.lastname@example.org
MEREDITH MACLEOD /ASSOCIATE PUBLISHER + EDITORIAL DIRECTOR email@example.com
MARC SKULNICK /EDITOR firstname.lastname@example.org
WILL VIPOND TAIT /CREATIVE DIRECTOR email@example.com
MARK WU /DIGITAL DIRECTOR firstname.lastname@example.org
The Cotton Factory Studio 301 270 Sherman Av N Hamilton, ON email@example.com hamiltoncitymagazine.ca
PREVIEW/SPRING 2022 HCM
WHEN YOU’RE CRUISING AROUND HAMILTON, DO YOU EVER WONDER ABOUT THE STREET NAMES AND HOW THEY CAME TO BE? MANY CITIES HAVE MAIN, KING, AND QUEEN STREETS BUT HAMILTON’S UNIQUE NAMES ARE CLUES TO THE NOTEWORTHY PEOPLE, EVENTS, AND CIRCUMSTANCES THAT HELPED TO SHAPE OUR CITY.
WHAT’S IN A NAME? HERE ARE 10 OF THE FASCINATING FACTS AND FOIBLES BEHIND THE STREETS THAT WE TRAVEL EVERY DAY. B y H e l e n P o w e r s JOLLEY CUT, DOWNTOWN HAMILTON ESCARPMENT ACCESS
GIBSON STREET, EAST DOWNTOWN
GRIFFIN STREET, WATERDOWN
Scotsman James Jolley had a saddle and harness business on John Street South. In hopes of improving his wife’s health, Jolley built a house up on Concession Street where the air quality was considered to be better. Disliking the toll road that went down the escarpment, in 1870 he personally funded the upgrading of a pedestrian path into a new road that accommodated carriages.
The life of Sir John Morison Gibson was filled with prolific and notable accomplishments in politics, business, and more. In 1893, he introduced Ontario’s Children’s Protection Act, also known as the Gibson Act, which made child abuse an indictable offence, and helped communities establish branches of the Children’s Aid Society. Gibson became LieutenantGovernor of Ontario in 1908 and passed away at his home, the well-known Ravenscliffe, in 1929.
Ebenezer Griffin, the son of a United Empire Loyalist who established Smithville, purchased 560 acres in 1823 that developed into the town of Waterdown. Griffin, sometimes called “the father of Waterdown,” operated mills along Grindstone Creek and kept strict control over other mills through his property sales to settlers. Griffin built the town’s first hotel and supplied the village’s liquor but he was also the founder of the Temperance Society.
GOVERNOR’S ROAD, DUNDAS TO ANCASTER
DYNES PARK AVENUE, BEACH STRIP
FERRIE STREET, CENTRAL DOWNTOWN
John Dynes was born in Dundas and built the Dynes Hotel on Hamilton’s Beach Strip in 1846. Among the earliest settlers, the Dynes family gave away portions of their land grant to encourage others to live in the area. Their hotel was legendary for serving hundreds of duck dinners on Saturday nights. For just two bits, diners could enjoy fresh duck caught on the beach earlier in the day.
Hamilton’s first mayor, Colin Campbell Ferrie, came from Scotland in the 1820s to operate a dry goods business established by his father. Colin did well with business locations in Hamilton, Dundas and four other communities and then developed business holdings in real estate, banking, and transportation. He was a founding member of Hamilton’s Board of Trade and served on the board of health during the cholera epidemic of 1832.
During the 1790s, John Simcoe, Upper Canada’s first Lieutenant Governor, guided the construction of infrastructure projects by the Queen’s Rangers. This unique soldier regiment built the road from Cootes Paradise over to Paris, Ontario. It was a new transportation alternative to Lake Erie for troops to protect Canada from the United States, which Simcoe viewed as the country’s greatest threat.
HUGHSON STREET, DOWNTOWN Nathaniel Hughson arrived in Hamilton in the late 1700s and owned 700 acres of land from the harbour to Main Street. In addition to his own name, he chose family members for several streets including Rebecca, Catherine, and James. Hughson donated the land for Christ Church Cathedral but decided against giving land for a public square at James and King, which led to Gore Park becoming a triangular property.
LOVER’S LANE, ANCASTER Otto Ives moved into the Hermitage in Ancaster in 1833 with his wife, sons, and an 18-year-old niece, Angelica. She fell in love with the coachman, William Black, but Otto wouldn’t let them marry. William was distraught and died by suicide. He was buried at a nearby road intersection and the name Lover’s Lane began to be used for one of the roads. There are stories of William’s ghost being seen at his grave and at the Hermitage. 6
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DICKENSON ROAD, GLANBROOK Edward Dickenson was an English stone mason who came to North Glanford in the 1850s. With his sons, he built houses and schools and established a brickyard that supplied materials for the original Hamilton Psychiatric Hospital on Fennell Avenue. His son John became a local politician in the 1890s and was part of the Cataract Power Company that first brought electrical power to Hamilton.
PARADISE ROAD, WESTDALE Beginning at Cootes Paradise Sanctuary, this road originally ran to the foot of the Niagara Escarpment but in present time it ends at Main Street West. The sanctuary was named after Captain Thomas Coote, an Irish army officer who liked to hunt waterfowl in this area. What is now the town of Dundas was also known as Cootes Paradise until the 1840s. n
HAMILTON’S OFT-DELAYED LRT SYSTEM IS BACK FROM THE DEAD AND PAST THE POINT OF NO RETURN, WHICH HAS LOCAL TRANSIT FANS CELEBRATING. HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW.
All Aboard: Next Stop, LRT F
irst proposed in 2007, the 14-km Hamilton light rail transit (LRT) line between McMaster University and Eastgate Square has endured a roller-coaster of political intrigue, including a dramatic cancellation in late 2019 when the province falsely claimed that project costs had spiralled out of control. A transportation task force struck by the province in early 2020 to determine how to invest the LRT capital funding came back later the same year and recommended a shovelready “intra-city higher-order transit project that addresses the City of Hamilton’s transportation needs” – in other words, LRT. In May 2021, a new funding partnership with the federal government secured $3.4 billion in capital and 30-year financing and lifecycle costs for a revived LRT. In September, Hamilton city council ratified a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Metrolinx and the Ministry of Transportation. Unlike the previous MOU from the cancelled project, the new agreement locks in the commitment by making Metrolinx the sole proponent in the transit procurement approval process. This is important: there are no more procedural “off-ramps” for skeptical councillors to play the endless delay game. Metrolinx is responsible for capital, financing and lifecycle costs. The city will be responsible for operating and maintenance costs, but will also be able to collect operating revenues. In more good news for Hamilton, LRT ridership will count toward the city’s total transit ridership for the purpose of calculating our provincial gas tax transfer – more ridership growth means we get a bigger transfer. Last fall, the province made Hamilton LRT an official priority project under the Building Transit Faster Act, which grants Metrolinx broader powers to expropriate properties along the proposed route and streamline regulatory barriers on an approved transit project. Also last fall, Metrolinx began demolishing
many of the buildings it had acquired along the line to build transit stations and other infrastructure. Utility relocation is slated to begin this spring, and Metrolinx is putting together a request for proposals (RFP) to construct the LRT system itself. Depending on how long that RFP process takes, major construction could begin as early as the end of this year, with a total construction time ranging from three to five years, depending on whether construction is phased. One major outstanding question: who will operate the LRT system? Under the previous cancelled plan, Metrolinx would have contracted operation to the same consortium that was selected to design, build and maintain the system. But under the new MOU, Metrolinx has separated operation from its procurement model. That means Hamilton’s own HSR could potentially end up operating the LRT, as well
H a m i lt o n ’ s o w n H s R c o u l d p o t e n t i a l ly e n d u p o p e R at i n g tHe lRt, as well as tHe city’s fleet of buses. since lRt is planned to be i n t e g R at e d w i t H local bus seRvice and tHe city Has t o c o v e R o p e R at i n g costs, tHis could make a lot of sense.
by R ya n mcgReal
as the city’s fleet of buses. Since LRT is planned to be integrated with local bus service and the city has to cover operating costs, this could make a lot of sense. When then-Infrastructure Minister Catherine McKenna, who shepherded the LRT funding agreement, made the announcement, she also stated that the project must include new affordable housing. The MOU recognizes this, committing the province to work with the city and community stakeholders to add affordable housing near LRT stations. A key partner is the Hamilton Community Benefits Network (HCBN), a stakeholder collective dedicated to negotiating broad community benefits for the LRT, including training and employment opportunities for marginalized Hamilton residents and ensuring that LRT-related projects result in a net gain in affordable housing. Meanwhile, last year the federal and provincial governments also announced $370 million in funding for Hamilton local transit, with $148.8 million in local matching funds. The money will cover seven transit projects over the next five years. The biggest is a new 650,000-square-foot bus maintenance and storage facility. The feds are kicking in $100 million, the province is adding $83 million and Hamilton is on the hook for $81 million. The money will also cover 92 replacement buses. The new buses will run on compressed natural gas (CNG) and will replace diesel buses that are being phased out due to age. In addition, there will be 85 new buses for expanded service. Other initiatives include bus priority improvements along the north-south A-Line corridor, improved dispatching systems, replacement of the Birch Avenue rail bridge, 17.8 kilometres of new sidewalks, and upgraded multi-use infrastructure to connect to transit. n
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B y C a r ly e M o r r o w - J a C k s o n WHEN THE NASCENT CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC TOOK HOLD IN EARLY 2020, MOST OF US SIMPLY HUNKERED DOWN TO WAIT IT OUT, BAKING SOURDOUGH AN BREAD AND HOSTING HAPPY HOURS ON ZOOM. HAMILTONIAN RYAN MOR AN, ON THE OTHER HAND, DECIDED TO USE HIS TIME DIFFERENTLY.
reating a watch brand had always been in the back of my mind,” Moran says during a recent chat at CoMotion, the downtown co-working space of which he is a co-founder. A lover of men’s fashion in general, Moran has a fondness for watches in particular, because “they, unlike other articles of clothing, can also tell a story: Why you wear one, or why you were given one.” Creating a watch brand that is also rooted to the story of his hometown was important to Moran, with “Hamilton being an industrial and manufacturing city.” After COVID dealt his career in the tourism industry a harsh blow – he was let go from his marketing role at Niagara Parks – Moran had some time on his hands, and as a hobby, began creating a business plan for the long-imagined company. It wasn’t long before Moran realized he could make it happen and Locke & King was born. It is named after Moran’s childhood Strathcona stomping ground. “Hamilton has its grit, but also has a certain level of refinement that it’s not always given credit for,” Moran muses. He began creating designs for Locke & King’s inaugural watch – one with style that would combine Hamilton’s enviable traits of strength and elegance – and worked with local graphic designer Shaun O’Meila to fine-tune the distinctive brand logo. In terms of creating the watch itself, “I’m not a watch-maker,” Moran says with a smile. He spent the next year “putting the puzzle
HCM PREVIEW/SPRING 2022
together,” researching and sourcing each of the components that would result in a watch that had the style he envisioned and, true to the city that influenced it, would be built to last a lifetime. During the summer of 2021, Locke & King’s first watch release, the James – named after one of Hamilton’s most iconic streets – was unveiled on social media. With its round face and supple leather strap, the James would be at home on any wrist. “I wanted it to be a traditional-style watch,” Moran recalls. “A classic Victorian-style railroad watch that draws on the inspiration of James Street.” A closer look at the watch face itself reveals yet another story of the city that he loves. “The ring on the inside of the face draws inspiration from the clock at City Centre, the original clock that would have been at City Hall,” Moran explains. “This clock, in one tower or another, has been looking over James for nearly 150 years.” Choosing an automatic movement for the timepiece was a conscious choice for Moran, due to Hamilton’s history with gears. Inside the case, the pendulum, springs and gears are powered by the wearer’s movements. Moran describes this movement as a “workhorse,” and this resilience is essentially writing the first chapter of the Locke & King story.
Ryan MoRan’s fledgling watch coMpany, locke & king, is naMed afteR the stRathcona neighbouRhood in which he gRew up.
jon evans for hcm
“Take care of it, and it will last forever. It was made to be passed down.” A watch being wound by motion is a fitting representation of Locke & King’s motto: Onwards and Upwards. This message is fitting for a brand that was launched to considerable interest as the world literally stood still, has produced an accompanying line of stylish stationery, and is planning its next watch release this spring. This confidence in the face of global adversity is not surprising coming from Moran, who describes himself as optimistic and having an “everything will work out” mentality. He extends that optimism to Hamilton itself: “It has always been a generally hopeful city despite some of its hiccups across time,” says Moran, “and is always working towards something better.” There is an Easter egg of sorts on the underside of the watch face, which is adorned with the Locke & King motto and embeds the upstart company’s credo into the piece itself. The message sits quietly like a secret, pressing lightly against the wrist, also serving as a subtle reminder to its wearer: time, and life marches on, and you still have your own story to write. n PREVIEW/SPRING 2022 HCM
Back (l to r): Max Francis, aBdelhaMid MosBah Front (l to r): hristal UsioseFe, Paize UsioseFe, roseMary casMier
jon evans for hcm
By Jeffrey Martin 10
HCM PREVIEW/SPRING 2022
HAMILTONCITYMAgAzINe.CA ReAd THe exTeNded INTeRvIew bY sCANNINg THe qR COde
HAMILTON CITY MAgAzINe sat down with author and filmmaker PAIze UsIOsefe, who is founder and chair of the hamilton Black film festival. the inaugural festival in 2021 showcased seven feature films and 17 short narratives, which included eight foreign films and six short documentaries aBout the BiPoc (Black, indigenous and PeoPle of colour) community. the hoPe is that viewers will think Broadly aBout the contriButions of BiPoc PeoPle, the challenges and triumPhs of everyday life, from Both in front of and Behind the camera lens, says usiosefe. the festival’s main goal is to invest in a new generation of PeoPle of colour to carry on the traditions of their ancestors By way of knowing more aBout their heritage and roots through film. it also aims to Bring PeoPle in hamilton together, and unite them through film.
What brought you to Canada and to Hamilton?
“After political upheaval in Nigeria in the 1990s, a lot of Nigerians were leaving the country – that is what brought me to Canada. Most Nigerians, most Africans for that matter, know that Canada is more welcoming and accepting of immigrants than the United States. When I first came to Canada, I really admired the Indigenous peoples. I saw them in their cultural dress and dance, celebrating their heritage and it was quite amazing. I started to embrace the Indigenous community and have since asked them to send me their films so we can screen them at the festival. We’re all in the same boat together. “ It was a lot of work developing the festival – two years of planning I believe. I understand the idea came to you after coming home from the 2019 TIFF. What inspired you to develop and launch the Hamilton Black Film Festival?
“I had written a script called Blow by Blow. I had several feature films written, ready to go, on the shelf. Every year I go to Telefilm Canada to meet the person in charge of feature films. So, I went to pitch this script for Blow by Blow to him. I was explaining the film. He said it looks like a good concept. But I need someone to produce it, I need money to produce it. He suggested I go back and look for a producer. I was about to leave, he turned and said, “Paize, the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) is going to be here in two months, so why don’t you invest in yourself? Yes, invest in yourself and come to the festival.” No one has ever said
anything like that to me. I never thought of it that way. Driving home to Hamilton, I kept thinking over and over about what he said, “Invest in yourself.” I got home and bought my ticket for TIFF. When I arrived at TIFF, I went to the TIFF Bell Lightbox, the festival’s headquarters that also serves throughout the year as a venue for other film screenings and smaller specialty film festivals. I was looking at a framed photo of one of the festival’s founders, William Marshall, and started thinking about what I could do back in Hamilton. When the festival was over, I thought, what do I do now? Why don’t I have my own festival – the Hamilton Black Film Festival? I thought for sure the name would not be available, so I did a name search and it was. I grabbed the name and that was the beginning — the Hamilton Black Film Festival was born.” What do you feel are the big challenges for artists and other creative professionals in Hamilton, and particularly for members of the BIPOC community?
“I think the challenges are the same for all artists, regardless of their background, ethnicity, etc. All Hamilton artists are in the same boat. We’ve been around for many years – if you want to move forward with any artistic endeavour, you need help. Financial help. All artists need financial help. If the city or the community can help us, things will happen.” What films will your festival showcase?
“In filmmaking, the first thing we look at is the producer. If you’re producing a film and a Black
or Indigenous actor, or a person of colour is in a leading role but you’re not part of the BIPOC community, we still want the film to be part of the festival. The film would be welcomed to our festival. We want the festival to be a transformative experience — allowing producers outside the BIPOC community to submit films to our festival, as long as BIPOC actors/actresses are depicted humanly in their films. You don’t have to be a producer who is BIPOC. That is how our festival is different from other festivals. Because at the end of the day, we want to showcase BIPOC in films. If you shut the door and deny a white person or someone who is not BIPOC but produces films with BIPOC actors, you are not doing anything good for the community. You’re not bringing the community together. You are actually shutting down people and at the same time, shutting down yourself. That’s what I saw – and that is the vision of the Hamilton Black Film Festival. Why would you want to punish someone for who they are? If we want to come together, there are ways we can look at it differently. At the end of the day, we have to think: How can we bring the community together? Everyone, not just the BIPOC community, but the entire Hamilton community. It’s like Sidney Poitier once said, ‘I never had an occasion to question colour, therefore, I only saw myself as what I was … a human being.’ That’s all. That is the distinction. So, you just have to be yourself. It’s about bringing the talent together.” What are your expectations for 2022? Anything special being planned?
“Last year, we had three high points: the mayor’s office endorsement, Telefilm and ACTRA endorsements, and enormous support from the media and communities like the Westdale Theatre. We’d like to see more publicity and support in 2022. This year’s festival will run from May 25-30. We’re in the planning stages right now. We’re using the same platform as we did last year. The program is coming along little by little. People are submitting from different parts of the world. We want people to understand that we are here to stay, that this film festival is real, and that we are inclusive. That is our motivation.” n PREVIEW/SPRING 2022 HCM
TOM WILSON who he is:
Canadian music legend, famed storyteller and visual artist interviewed by:
Marta Hewson for HCM online:
I’ve been on the stage my whole life now. I didn’t think this was the break I needed, but it was. There is no retirement in this business but I found out that I wasn’t at a loss without performing when I had to give it up.
HCM PREVIEW/SPRING 2022
HAMILTON SINGER-SONGWRITER TOM WILSON WAS THE LAST TO KNOW WHO AND WHAT HE WAS. THE PANDEMIC HAS ALLOWED FOR A BREAK IN WHICH HE COULD EXPLORE HIS IDENTITY AS A MOHAWK ARTIST.
LAST MAN STANDING
om Wilson is making up for lost time. The Hamilton singersongwriter turned painter and author waited 53 years to learn who he is and where he came from. That story came from a happenstance meeting with a stranger about a decade ago who finally confirmed what he long believed – he was adopted.
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hamiltoncitymagazine.ca watch a behind the scenes video by scanning the qr code
PREVIEW/SPRING 2022 HCM
And rather than being the son of IrishCanadian blind war veteran George Wilson and French-Canadian homemaker Bunny who made a home for Wilson on Hamilton’s east Mountain, he was the son of a woman he believed to be his first cousin and was 75 per cent Mohawk. In his 2017 book Beautiful Scars: Steeltown Secrets, Mohawk Skywalkers and the Road Home, his clean, bare bones style of writing stares you right in the eye. Like Wilson himself, it is at turns funny, shocking, achingly sad and uncomfortably honest. But at no time does Wilson depict himself as a hero or even with much sympathy. His accomplishments he diminishes and his weaknesses he flaunts. He writes unflinchingly about the heartbreak of the end of his first marriage, the loneliness of his stint in rehab and the death of his adoptive parents. Now he’s deep into writing a second book called Blood Memory. “There are things that resonate with us and we don’t know why. They are already part of us, already inside of us. That’s what this book explores.” Wilson was supposed to spend the first months of 2022 on the road as frontman for Blackie and the Rodeo Kings, supporting the edgy roots band’s eighth album, King of This Town, which was released just before the pandemic struck. Omicron pushed back that tour to the fall. But Wilson’s been plenty busy with songwriting and collaborations with Cree Métis singer-songwriter and activist Iskwe - who now lives in Hamilton - and Serena Ryder. He’s written a play based on his life that will be performed at Theatre Aquarius. There is also a documentary by Métis director Shane Belcourt in the works, spun from his bestselling memoir. Amidst all that, he donated his archives to McMaster University’s library and established a scholarship for Indigenous students in Bunny’s name. This may not be a widely shared opinion, but Wilson says the pandemic has been the “happiest time of the last 25 years for me. All the business bullshit went away and I got to do what I want, which is create. I wrote songs for Blackie and the Rodeo Kings. I came to the studio and painted.” There were no airports. No waking up in hotel rooms. “That life might sound glamorous but after all these years, I couldn’t do that again and be okay 14
HCM PREVIEW/SPRING 2022
Tom Wilson performs WiTh Blackie and The rodeo kings as a headliner for supercraWl in sepTemBer 2017.
with it,” Wilson says. “I’ve been on the stage my whole life now. I didn’t think this was the break I needed, but it was. There is no retirement in this business but I found out that I wasn’t at a loss without performing when I had to give it up.” On this bright morning, Wilson is working in his studio space at the Cotton Factory on Sherman Avenue North. He’s adding “10,000 dots into the sky” on a large canvas that takes up most of a wall. It’s unlikely he’s calculated that number, but it doesn’t seem an exaggeration given the highly detailed, mesmerizing background. He’s been working on this for about a year, the canvas framed by two looming faceless nuns speckled with blood. He plans to fill their black robes with the names of thousands of children who died in the horror of Canada’s residential schools. Wilson started painting when he quit drinking in the early 1990s. It was an outlet, a way to fill his time and to be productive. He started giving them away. But a Tom Wilson painting commands thousands of dollars now. He is commissioned to do murals and people “who could spend a summer cycling through wineries in Italy are buying my paintings.” But the outlet remains the same. “There is a mindfulness to it. I can lose myself for hours in it. It centres me.” As Wilson toils, Lucy, his spunky, sweet border collie-shepherd mix is never far from his side. He dotes on the young girl, who curls up at the front door if she suspects Wilson might be leaving the house. Wilson has been married to his second wife Margo for seven years and they live in an English cottage-style house on a beautiful street off Queen Street just before it climbs up the escarpment. His daughter, Madeline, and her three children live nearby and Wilson is a doting grandfather.
To meet his book’s fall deadline, he’s mostly parked the paintbrush in favour of the laptop. Wilson says the goal of his books is to “bring honour and shine the light on Mohawk culture and the effects of colonialization on Indigenous communities. I’m telling my story for that reason.” He mourns never having had a direct connection to the Mohawk language, storytelling, medicines and culture. “Colonialism almost won in my case.” Wilson has reconnected with five brothers and sisters and spent time with them in Kahnawake. He hasn’t yet met another sister in Trinidad. Many of his family are ironworkers, who travel every week to work on structures in Brooklyn, carrying on a long tradition of Mohawk ironworkers who have built much of the skyline of New York City over several generations. WIlson says he’s always been aware of being different, that his family didn’t add up, though he couldn’t articulate how or why. The writing of Beautiful Scars forced him to go to places he otherwise wouldn’t have visited, explains Wilson, whose survival instinct came out in distraction and escape, mostly through alcohol, drugs and sex. That cost him his first marriage and meant he didn’t see children Madeline and Thompson nearly as much as he wanted as they grew up. “The first time I sat down to write, I wrote with such a black heart and anger about being lied to my entire life. But when I started to write about Bunny and George, I felt as if I was three years old again. They were the centre of my world. I once couldn’t imagine the universe without them. That black edge started to break up.” Resolution and acceptance only come through opening doors and walking through them, Wilson says. “In this story, I was the last man standing. I had to tell my version of the truth and I have to stand by it.” n
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When Life Gives You Lemons DIANA PANTON DIDN’T LET THE PANDEMIC GET IN THE WAY OF MAKING NEW MUSIC. THE RESULT IS SOME SWEET SOUNDING LEMONADE B y J a m i e T e n n a n T
iana Panton’s last album was called A Cheerful Little Earful. Her most recent musical gift – almost literally so, as it was released on Christmas Eve – is not exactly cheerful. Yet it comforts just the same. Panton released a wonderfully melancholy interpretation of the Rogers & Hart composition “Nobody’s Heart” in the form of a new video on YouTube. Having recorded a selection of upbeat children’s classics on Earful, this single sees Panton exploring a very different emotional palette. “They’ve alone done a fair bit of recent scientific research that shows these somewhat melancholy songs do have that power to soothe,” explains Panton over the phone from her Hamilton home. “A lot of the jazz standards came out of the wartime era, and it’s interesting, I find, to equate that a little bit, to today. It’s sometimes nice to feel something that echoes how [a person is] feeling rather than it be a complete disconnect from how they’re feeling.”
In other words, maybe having “Take The ‘A’ Train” on repeat isn’t necessarily always the best answer. Sometimes listeners want to escape, but sometimes they want to feel understood; to know that the uncertainty, the melancholy, and the pain we have felt over the course of the pandemic is part of a universal condition. Neither the song nor the video are sad sad; in the animation, a kettle boils and a turntable spins Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue. We see ourselves in the isolation, but rather than being pained, we feel a softer sadness and a sense of recognition. “It’s a really good fit for the music,” she says of the video. “It’s an interior, enclosed, it’s a girl and her cat, and she’s sort of looking out the window - which to me is a bit of a metaphor for this whole thing. Imagining what might be on the other side of that enclosed space that we’re in right now.” On “Nobody’s Heart” Panton is once again joined by her long-time collaborator, guitarist Reg Schwager. The video features work from Toronto’s Leading Pictures, who created the animation from illustrations by artist Mariel Ashlinn Kelly. Panton – whose other career is that of visual arts teacher at Westdale – has a deep interest in illustration, and as soon as she saw the Toronto-based artist’s work, she knew that Kelly’s art would match the mood of her own music. “To me, the visuals on that music were a perfect match,” she says. “She said
she doesn’t normally take on outside projects but she likes jazz – and you don’t always encounter people who say they really like jazz.” As a secondary school teacher, Panton has to adhere to a fairly rigid schedule. Even if that schedule keeps changing due to COVID-related protocols, she is still only free on weekends, holidays and during the summer. It is no surprise, then, to learn Panton spent the recent holidays in the studio, working on new material with Schwager and her other long-time collaborator, Don Thompson. Her work with these two talented jazz artists has been fulfilling and, if awards mean anything, successful. She has, among many other awards and nominations, two JUNO wins, seven JUNO nominations, two Silver Disc Awards (Japan), nine Hamilton Music Awards and a host of National Jazz Award nods. “I’m just not sure where it’s going to go,” she says. “I hope the venues I normally perform in, like soft-seat theatres, can make it. If they continue with the reduced capacity audiences, that also impacts what artists can get paid – and it’s never been particularly lucrative, I’ve found, in Canada.” It isn’t all doom and gloom for Panton, though. Put the pandemic on a different timeline, and suddenly all avenues – retail, live performance – would be closed. Today, however, she is grateful that the progress in digital music technology means that artists are still able to reach audiences through the internet. “You can imagine, if we didn’t have digital platforms, what would be available – especially during a pandemic,” says Panton. “So on that level, if we backed the pandemic up 20 years, that wouldn’t even have been there.” One could say that it’s like making lemonade in a time of lemons. We may not have had Diana Panton live in concert all this time, but we’ve had her music at our fingertips. n
hamiltoncitymagazine.ca Melanie Gillis
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WITH TAKE-OUT BOOZE HERE TO STAY, BOTTLE SHOPS IN HAMILTON ARE ON THE RISE… AND ON A BLOCK NEAR YOU B y E l a i n E M i T R O P O U l O S
For patrons and purveyors of fine drinks, a slight silver lining of the COVID-19 pandemic has been the overhaul of Ontario liquor laws to allow bars and restaurants to sell alcohol with take-away food. In Hamilton, the welcome change has prompted some eateries to introduce bottle shops featuring beer, wine and spirits for sale that were otherwise not accessible before COVID-19 – unless dining in for a meal. Now here to stay, these bottle shops are just a few among a number that have cropped up across Hamilton. Each one offers a mix of niche drinks and expert service to cater to all your beverage needs without having to line up at The Beer Store or LCBO.
Brux House, in tHe KirKendall neigHBourHood, specializes in craft Beverages including fresH cans, Barrel-aged Bottles, organic and Biodynamic wines, and small-BatcH spirits.
HCM PREVIEW/SPRING 2022
BRUX HOUSE BOTTLE SHOP A stomping ground for local beer geeks, this Kirkendall restaurant/bottle shop in West Hamilton specializes in craft beverages from top-shelf producers, including fresh cans, barrel-aged bottles, organic and biodynamic wines, and small-batch spirits. From spontaneously fermented sours to silky stouts, knowledgeable staff will guide you through a range of beer styles from Ontario’s best breweries, such as Bellwoods, Sonnen Hill, Small Pony Barrel Works, and Burdock. Occasionally, the bottle shop carries rare drops from old-world producers, like funky, fruited lambic beers from Belgium’s Geuzerie Tilquin and Cantillion. The restaurant’s rotating tap list is also available for growler-fills to take out alongside tasty menu items that celebrate food from the European beer belt. Try a signature schnitzel served with house-made spaetzle from the kitchen, or pair your to-go drinks with local cheeses, tins of seafood, cured meats, and truffle chips straight from the bottle shop.
1 3 7 LO C K E S T. S .
1101 CONVENIENCE 1 1 0 1 C A N N O N S T. E . This Crown Point bottle shop, conveniently located in the East End between Shorty’s Pizza and Osten Beer Hall, is stocked with cold beer – both the micro- and macro-brewery kind for those times at home when only malty suds will do. The shop also carries wine, spirits, seltzers, and sodas to wash down New York-style slices and pillowy perogies from its neighbouring restaurants. But if you’re craving something equally as delicious, 1101 Convenience also serves the upper crust of grab-and-go sandwiches, like a classic mortadella and a veggie option made with fior di latte cheese. Inside the shop, you’ll also find an impressive array of craft beverages, including hometown breweries like Fairweather, Merit, Clifford, Steeltown Cider, and Collective Arts. For a crisp, clean beer that doesn’t break the bank, treat yourself to the shop’s private label, the 1101 Pilsner.
SUNNY CORNER BAR & BOTTLE SHOP 3 0 2 J A M E S S T. N . It’s always sunny at the corner of Barton and James North. That is, if crushing a hot, hand-held pie coupled with a cold beer is your perfect food and drink pairing. Sunny Corner specializes in scratch-made, Aussie-style meat pies made for mucking with one palm while sipping on a beer with the other (a true Australian tradition). From malty porters to punchier pale ales, the fridge features cans from craft breweries across Ontario, including Godspeed, Matron, Willibald, and Left Field. To elevate your pie-eating experience, the shop carries wines, ciders and spirits, many of which were only available from the cellar door— and not your corner store – pre-pandemic. So, take home a bottle of bubbles from Prince Edward County’s Hinterland Wine Company, or a wild-fermented wine from Rosewood in Niagara’s Twenty Valley. Both, and more, are available for takeaway in downtown Hamilton. n
sunny corner specializes in aussie-style meat pies perfect for eating witH one Hand wHile sipping on a cold craft Beer dorotHy may witH tHe otHer.
PREVIEW/SPRING 2022 HCM
LOOKING TO COZY UP WITH A GOOD BOOK? HAMILTON AUTHORS HAVE SERVED UP A BUMPER CROP OF LOCAL LIT THAT WILL KEEP THOSE PANDEMIC BLUES AT BAY. B y J e s s i c a R o s e
Rad Reads - Hamilton Style! Spring days and nights are arguably the best time of year to curl up with a good book the promise of sunnier days to come. Throw in a third calendar year of the pandemic and who isn’t ready for a bit of escapism? Luckily for us, Hamilton is home to some of the country’s most celebrated storytellers and there are more than a few new voices worthy of your ear. We’ve compiled a list of Hamilton stories that includes new releases and a few must-reads you may have missed from last year. Visit your local bookseller or branch of the Hamilton Public Library to get your copy. BEATRICE AND CROC HARRY
L AW R E N C E H I L L Young Adult Fiction, HarperCollins Canada (2022) Fifteen years after Lawrence Hill became a household name among Canadian readers with the Book of Negroes, he has released his debut title for young adults. Beatrice and Croc Harry stars a girl of an uncertain age who wakes up alone, with amnesia, in a treehouse perched in a magical forest. Beatrice, unsure of her own identity, sets out on an adventure to figure out who she is. However, she isn’t alone for long for just outside the door of the mysterious tree house, Beatrice meets an unlikely ally. Harry is a 700-pound fast-talking crocodile in need of a journey of his own. Beatrice and Croc Harry is a lively adventure story with humour at every turn. Exploring themes of injustice, identity, and friendship, it’s a book to be enjoyed at any age.
HER NAME WAS MARGARET: LIFE AND DEATH ON THE STREETS
BY D E N I S E D AV Y Non-Fiction, Wolsak and Wynn (2021) Denise Davy first met Margaret Jacobson at a drop-in shelter on a cold winter night in the early 1990s. An awardwinning journalist, Davy was reporting on social justice issues for the Hamilton Spectator. Much to a shelter worker’s surprise, Jacobson was willing to share her story. Still a teenager in the 1960s, Jacobson entered the psychiatric hospital system at a time of deinstitutionalization and waning support for those with mental illnesses. For decades, she moved between temporary hous22
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ing and the streets. She died at 51 in a fast-food restaurant where she was seeking shelter. In Her Name Was Margaret, Davy weaves together the story of just one of Hamilton’s hidden homeless women, using medical records, Jacobson’s personal diary, and interviews with family and others who knew her. However, it’s not simply a biography. It’s a brutal and stark look at the many ways in which women like Jacobson face systemic failure. It’s a rallying cry that calls for necessary change.
I, GLORIA GRAHAME
S K Y G I L B E RT Fiction, Dundurn Press (2021) A glamorous, long-dead movie star with bright pink lips gazes from the cover of I, Gloria Grahame, the most recent novel by writer, director, and drag queen extraordinaire Sky Gilbert. The book’s namesake, she’s the muse of protagonist Denton Moulton, a professor of English literature who is compelled to tell her story. Traipsing between time and place, I, Gloria Grahame moves readers between Gloria’s imagined life and Denton’s real life as an artist. Bringing together humour and obsession, it begs the question: “Who has the right to tell someone’s story?”
I THOUGHT HE WAS DEAD: A SPIRITUAL MEMOIR
RALPH BENMERGUI Memoir, Wolsak and Wynn (2021) Ralph Benmergui is one of Canada’s most beloved storytellers, best known as a television
and radio personality; he’s also a Hamiltonian. In his memoir, I Thought He Was Dead, Benmergui shares his experiences as the son of Moroccan immigrants, surviving two bouts of cancer, and his eventual practice and leadership in Hashpa’ah: Jewish Spiritual Direction. Like most memoirs, I Thought He Was Dead isn’t simply about one man’s journey. It’s also a critical look at aging in a society that prioritises youth. With great candour and humour, it reveals how even the biggest challenges can prove to be exactly what one needs to reinvent their life.
SHIFT CHANGE: SCENES FROM A POST-INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION
STEPHEN DALE Non-Fiction, Between the Lines (2021) A lot has been written about Hamilton in the last decade or so. However, much of that writing has depicted a Hamilton that doesn’t exist. Sure, for many, it’s a city with a thriving arts scene that’s habitable to start-ups and trendy restaurants. However, what about the people who are left behind? Shift Change: Scenes from a Post-industrial Revolution explores Hamilton as it is now and how we want it to be. With an urban renaissance taking shape, it asks: “Who wins and who loses in the city’s not-too distant future?” With chapters like “Boom, Bust, and a Double-Sided Bohemian Renaissance,” “A Blue-Collar Legacy — for Better and for Worse,” and “Slogging towards Tomorrow,” Shift Change is unsentimental, looking backward, but most importantly, imagining a future where Steeltown is an economically diverse and inclusive place for all. It’s a crucial, unromantic look at the Hamilton we love, and the Hamilton we desperately want to be better. n
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Beautyfrompain PRINTMAKER ELI NOLET’S SENSITIVE, SOMETIMES DEFIANT WORK HAS AN UNDERSTATED MATURITY BORN OUT OF QUEER TRAUMA B y S t e p h a n i e V e g h
Nolet’s Public Gesture exhibitioN wallpapered a portioN of hamiltoN artists iNc. with 18 distiNct priNts, iNcludiNg this oNe, with copies available for atteNdees to take home with them. top right: eli Nolet. courtesy eli Nolet
HCM PREVIEW/SPRING 2022
mong the many works of local art I’ve bought, traded for, and been gifted over the years is a small intaglio print by Eli Nolet. A sharply-lined etching of a dead sparrow on its back bears a broken heart-shape on its chest that bursts with delicate pink foliage and intricately textured bursts of red. With Childhood One as its title, this is a quietly painful work that, despite its literal bloodshed, is guarded by beauty. Printmaking is an inherently slow and methodical way to make a work of art, a process well suited to Nolet’s tendency to take things slow. They emphasize the importance of being gentle on oneself, especially when making art rooted in the trauma and pain of negotiating queer identity. This refreshing resistance to the high-pressure hustle culture of their age feels prescient at a time when such expectations are buckling under the weight of a global pandemic. Nolet’s artistic aptitudes were uniquely nurtured by Hamilton’s cultural landscape. As a student at Westdale, they participated in Centre’s NuSteel educational program, which provided hands-on instruction in printmaking and early practise in probing the meaning behind one’s creations. Nolet went to work at Centre after high school, gaining all the early experience that entails: delivering community art programs and participating in monthly Art Crawls while learning to price and sell their work. The understated maturity that Nolet bears as a young artist who lived a working artist’s practice before stepping foot in an undergraduate art program is evident in the nuance and sensitivities found in their work. Even so, Nolet felt the push to pursue further studies “in the big city” – in their case, Toronto and OCAD University. While excited to see openly queer people thriving at OCAD during campus visits, the notion of living alone in a strange place was not enticing. Nolet recalls an anxious train ride home from visiting a friend living on campus in Ottawa, on the same day they were scheduled to interview Catherine Gibbon for the Hamilton Arts Council’s Building Cultural Legacies project: a conversation that proved to be a revelation.
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Gibbon – an accomplished and beloved painter whose recent death has been deeply felt across Hamilton’s art community – was living proof of an artist who made work she was passionate about and kept a studio she loved in Hamilton for the whole of her creative career. Nolet met a friend in a coffee shop after the interview with Gibbon, and in their words, “broke down. I realized I didn’t want to leave Hamilton.” Nolet chose McMaster’s Studio Art program instead, a setting that appealed with its small class sizes and environmentally sustainable studio practices. The pandemic has since stripped away the advantages of classes and studios, accelerating the challenge of making art outside the shelter of art school. Working with the scant amount of floor space available in their student housing was a “continuously frustrating” battle for space that involved a lot of crouching and claustro-
phobia before they chose to move back home to the North End. Nolet’s creative concerns – their incisive exploration of queer bodies in social spaces – are matters for the public realm. This is work that needs space to breathe. Public Gesture, a work on view late last year at downtown’s Hamilton Artists Inc., wallpapered a portion of the gallery with a repeating grid of 18 distinct prints, with a stack of copies available for the viewer to take at will. These deeply personal neon-pink posters internalize the doubts sown by a homophobic environment, while defiantly asserting desire in the face of hate. The vulnerability of claiming these startling slurs is deepened by Nolet’s choice to make the posters freely available to visiting strangers. Whether a print is treasured and framed later, violently defaced and discarded, or simply crushed and forgotten in a bag, is left to chance. It has “a physical existence that’s beyond me.” n
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IN THIS EXCLUSIVE EXCERPT, TAKEN FROM DAVID MCPHERSON’S LATEST BOOK, MASSEY HALL, CROWBAR AND TOM WILSON SHARE SOME SEMINAL MASSEY HALL MOMENTS.
he city of Hamilton and Toronto’s Massey Hall share deep connections, going back more than 50 years. In 1971, seminal Steeltown rockers Crowbar played a show, which was later released as the first live-in-concert album by a Canadian band. Many Hamiltonians, like Tom Wilson, grew up seeing shows at the Grand Dame on Shuter Street in downtown Toronto; others only heard about its mystique from their parents or grandparents. Wilson (Junkhouse, Blackie & the Rodeo Kings, Lee Harvey Osmond) started going to concerts at the Hall as a teenager; the songwriter knew no matter who he went to see, that room was going to capture something in the performance and in the audience and it was going to connect. Wilson has played Massey Hall both as a solo performer, opening for Jeff Beck, and as a headliner with Blackie & The Rodeo Kings. In 2008, Hamilton native Daniel Lanois headlined a show at Massey Hall while more recently, Arkells have rocked that storied stage and Hamilton’s own Terra Lightfoot has brought her swagger to this temple of music.
HCM PREVIEW/SPRING 2022
of memorable back-to-back shows occurred at Massey Hall. These gigs changed things for Canadian musicians. Once again, the hall played a key role in advancing and promoting our culture and artists to the world. American country crooner George Hamilton IV, a regular at the Horseshoe Tavern in the 1960s, emceed the first show on June 6. The Mercey Brothers opened, followed by Christopher Kearney, Murray McLauchlan, Fergus, Bruce Cockburn, Gary Buck, and Perth County Conspiracy. “This event was about trying to get us in the position where a Valdy, or any one of these Canadian musicians, could be a musician who doesn’t rely on being a cover band,” says Bill King, whose first time playing Massey Hall was as part of the Junket lineup backing up singersongwriter Chris Kearney. “They needed to do something to say we have an industry of artists who are developing that will be performing artists. This is what the Junket was about.” The second night saw Edward Bear open, followed by Fludd, April Wine, Mashmakhan, Pepper Tree, and Lighthouse. Hamilton rockers Crowbar capped off the evening, and they knew they had to make a statement despite
As six bAgpipers p l Ay e d “ A m A z i n g g r A c e , ” t h e s tA g e cAme Alive with lights And smoke to reveAl A huge cArdboArd cAke. before crowbAr e v e n s tA r t e d t o p l Ay , A t o p l e s s womAn emerged from the cAke, followed by the bAnd members.
RepRoduced by kind peRmission of unidisc music inc
The idea that you couldn’t make it in Canada unless you made it in the United States first really started in the late 1960s. Joni Mitchell and Neil Young both saw their dreams come to fruition in California, while Leonard Cohen found success in New York. Europeans were much more aware of American acts and lumped Canadian artists in with them. In the early 1970s, the music press in the U.K. weren’t aware of the variety of unique songwriters and groups that were emerging in Canada. Massey Hall has helped support homegrown talent throughout its existence: from booking some of the first performances from giants like Gould and Peterson, to being the stage where artists such as the Tragically Hip, Jann Arden, and Barenaked Ladies found an annual home decades later. So it’s fitting that the venue was chosen to showcase our musicians to the world early in the 1970s. In 1972, music journalist Ritchie Yorke and Arnold Gosewich (president of Capitol Records Canada at the time) invited about a hundred European record producers and reporters to Canada for an all-expensespaid trip to experience this emerging scene. Dubbed the Maple Music Junket, the trip included visits to Montreal and to Toronto, where a pair
the fact that the visiting journalists were worn out from the whirlwind trip. As Crowbar’s drummer, Sonnie Bernardi, reflected years later, “We really had to do something to catch these fellas and entertain them.” And what an entrance the band made. As six bagpipers played “Amazing Grace,” the stage came alive with lights and smoke to reveal a huge cardboard cake. Before Crowbar even started to play, a topless woman emerged from the cake, followed by the band members. Larger-than-life lead singer Kelly Jay was the last to appear, opening bottles of champagne, sharing it with those in the front row and spraying others in the audience. A high-energy set followed and not a soul in the hall remained in their seats, everyone standing up, clapping, hooting, and hollering. Bernardi believes Crowbar’s performance made a lasting impression and even helped the band get the slots and venues they did when they finally toured in Europe. It wasn’t just Crowbar that benefitted; the Junket served to leave a lasting impression that helped to distinguish Canadian music from that coming out of America. In archival interview footage, one reporter states, “I thought Canadian music is the same like American music, but now I know the difference.” ExcErpt from massEy Hall by DaviD mcpHErson © 2021. all rigHts rEsErvED. publisHED by DunDurn prEss limitED.
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LARGER THAN LIFE (AND LIVE’R THAN YOU’VE EVER BEEN)
CROWBAR 1971, DAFFODIL RECORDS A billboard advertising the concert hung high above Yonge Street. T-shirts were made. The show, held on September 23, 1971, was billed as “An Evening of Love with Daffodil Records.” The concert was later released as the double album Larger Than Life (And Live’r Than You’ve Ever Been). Numerous guests appeared with the band that night, including members of Lighthouse, Dr. Music, and Everyday People. King Biscuit Boy also returned to perform with his former Crowbar bandmates. The recording and release of the album are significant as being the first time a Canadian band had recorded and released a “live in concert” album. It was also the first time that a live concert was broadcast simultaneously on CHUM. Larger Than Life went Gold 17 days after its release, becoming the first live album by a Canadian artist to do so. Frank Davies, who was then president of Daffodil Records, says the concert enshrined the band into Canadian rock ’n’ roll folklore.
PREVIEW/SPRING 2022 HCM
WN OWNTO LY D A N BEE ENT C HAVE RUKAWA REC BIRTHS AND S I D . R DD . FU , RE WA AN AN 30 YEARS LK RECORDS A K U R FU TO TA RE TH MARK LNICK OR MO U F K Y S A T C MAINS N WITH MAR .” W N LIFER O T L I M SAT DO A E’S A “H WHY H
Mark Furukawa stands in his downtown record store that has seen the rebirth oF not only vinyl, but haMilton itselF. Furukawa’s dr. disc recently celebrated 30 years in business.
jon evans for hcm
THE DOCTOR IS IN YOU’VE BEEN SURVIVING, AND THRIVING, IN THE CORE FOR 30 YEARS AND HAVE WITNESSED FIRST-HAND THE REBIRTH OF HAMILTON’S DOWNTOWN. IN YOUR OPINION, WHAT’S THE BIGGEST DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE DOWNTOWN THEN AND THE DOWNTOWN NOW?
“The biggest change that Hamilton’s downtown has experienced, in my view as a bricks-andmortar retailer here for over 30 years, is the long overdue shift from downtown Hamilton being a “scary place” that one should avoid, to becoming a welcoming locale full of unique, independent businesses that offer a refreshing change from the big box stores. The downtown should be the heart of any city, and I think Hamilton, at least from a retail perspective, gained its heart back.” 28
HCM PREVIEW/SPRING 2022
WHAT’S BEEN THE KEY TO YOUR SURVIVAL DURING SUCH TURBULENT TIMES FOR THE CITY’S DOWNTOWN?
“My favourite personal one-liner response when I’m asked this question is that I’m too dumb to quit. Quite honestly, the key to Dr. Disc’s survival rests primarily on two things: tenacity, and denial. The tenacity part consists of digging in our heels when times were tough, reassessing things, and then redoubling our efforts. The denial part came into play, for example, when I would ignore my long-time business consultant when he would look at my books occasionally and notso-subtly say things like, ‘Perhaps you should consider another career option.’ I obviously just ignored that advice. I suppose you can also add to this a never-ending hopeful optimism that Hamilton’s downtown would improve. And it has.”
HAS DOWNTOWN FINALLY TURNED THAT ELUSIVE CORNER? IF NOT, WHAT’S AN IMPORTANT NEXT STEP IN THE ONGOING EVOLUTION OF OUR DOWNTOWN?
“This is a very difficult question to answer as there are so many moving parts and facets to the whole downtown dynamic. Simultaneous with the downtown once again becoming a destination for things like shopping and dining comes increased demand for property, which has driven rental rates way up. More opportunity for business has made it increasingly unaffordable for vital segments of the population, such as artists and musicians, to be able to remain in the core to create, work, or even live. For most businesses and the real estate industry it’s been a dramatic step forward, but for others who have been forced to leave, I’m sure that they wouldn’t
the r than a d a r the . re off o m ndemIc s a a p w l a t b a th glo blown e thIng n l o l u s f a s a e w If ther l, It wa y n I v f ence o resurg hamiltoncitymagazine.ca Read the extended inteRview by scanning the qR code call it an improvement. Quite the opposite. The question of an important next step in the ongoing evolution of the downtown is perhaps one that is being asked a little too late. Hindsight is always 20-20, but I believe there should have been more proactive initiatives to try and keep more artists and creators downtown before they were forced to leave, whether it be in the form of affordable or subsidized housing; changes in zoning to protect certain properties or blocks from overdevelopment; or even grants or funding to help sustain artists, galleries and live music spaces, and also protect long-time residents of the core from being forced out. The city may have regained its heart to some extent, but I think it has also definitely lost some of its soul.” WAS THERE EVER A POINT WHERE YOU DOUBTED THAT DR. DISC WOULD MAKE IT?
“Of course. There was at least a solid decade, and also quite a few other odd years, where I was making no profit at all, and just paying myself to have a job. The era of Napster and the rise of illegal music and media downloading was where the wheels fell off. Literally, the only thing that has helped ensure the store’s survival is that when we had some good years, my former business consultant, Herb Boehm, told me to buy the building we are in, and I managed to scrape together all my resources (and had to pull in some favours) to do just that. We would not be having this discussion otherwise.” BET YOU NEVER THOUGHT YOU’D END UP SELLING RECORDS IN THE MIDDLE OF A GLOBAL PANDEMIC? WHAT’S BEEN THE BIGGEST OBSTACLE TO GETTING DR. DISC THROUGH SUCH AN UNPRECEDENTED AND ONGOING CHALLENGE?
“If there was one thing that was more off the radar than the resurgence of vinyl, it was a fullblown global pandemic. It was such a paradigm shift, and the only thing I can compare that to is when my parents both passed away. At that time, my whole world changed, but in the case of the pandemic, everyone’s world changed. The first obstacle that I had to face when trying to navigate through the pandemic was a mental one. We went into the first and complete
lockdown slightly prior to the actual government closure mandate because my staff and I knew it was the prudent and safe thing to do. I’m very routine-based, and suddenly having no workday structure really threw me for a loop, so after a few days of staring blankly at a once energetic and interactive retail space that had become just a lifeless room full of records overnight, I decided to just try and keep looking forward and create tasks for myself. (We have to reopen again sometime, right?) I busied myself organizing, cleaning, and renovating. I even painted the inside of the store a bright red because I thought when customers eventually came back in the store, I wanted it to look warm, vibrant, and alive. The other ongoing challenge to navigating the pandemic was a logistical one. It was such a challenge just to keep up with and satisfy all the different government health and safety regulations to try our best to maintain a safe shopping environment for staff and customers alike. Dr. Disc, along with every other business out there, had to reinvent the way we did business almost weekly. We made more changes to store procedures and protocols in the past two years than we did in the previous 28 combined.” WHICH HAMILTON ARTISTS ARE YOU MOST EXCITED ABOUT THESE DAYS?
I’ve been really excited about local hip hop emcee LTtheMonk since he started making waves in the local music scene a few years back. I can’t mention him enough. He’s the epitome of the “new generation” Hamilton musical artist: a U.K. immigrant who brought his roots and personal history to Hamilton and fused it seamlessly with influences he absorbed from his new home. I also really like the new Basement Revolver self-proclaimed ‘dreamgaze’ album, and the new material from Ellevator.” WHAT DO YOU HOPE THE NEXT 30 YEARS WILL BRING FOR YOU PERSONALLY AND PROFESSIONALLY?
“I’m in the twilight of my retail career, but I know that I will always have music in my life whatever I do. And I can’t really see myself retiring and sitting around doing nothing, so
RAPID-FIRE FUN: MAX KERMAN OR MAX WEBSTER?
“I don’t think there is a better example of a prominent local musician who is such an overall positive influence and quintessential “face of Hamilton” than Max Kerman, so he gets my vote.” TERRA LIGHTFOOT OR GORDON LIGHTFOOT?
“While I greatly respect Gordon Lightfoot and his legacy, I absolutely love the honest, rootsy flavour of Terra’s music, so Terra is my choice for this round.” TOM WILSON OR TOM PETTY?
“Tom Wilson, no question. I have so much respect for him.” TEENAGE HEAD OR TEENAGE FANCLUB?
“If you have detected a Hamilton-centric bias by now, you wouldn’t be wrong. So, obviously I’m going to go with Teenage Head for this last rapid-fire round.”
who knows? I’m certainly open to suggestions. Regardless, I’ll most likely stay in Hamilton since I consider myself an adopted son of the city. A ‘Hamilton lifer,’ if you will.” WHEN IT’S ALL SAID AND DONE, HOW WOULD YOU LIKE MARK FURUKAWA AND DR. DISC TO BE REMEMBERED?
“I think that Dr. Disc has become more than just a store over time and has taken on a life all its own. Many consider it a Hamilton institution of sorts where you can not only get your fill of music but can also find out about local culture and all the great things that Hamilton has to offer at the same time. And I truly consider myself an ambassador to the city, so I hope that I’m remembered synonymously with the store as being someone who not only made a difference in people’s lives through music, but also nurtured an inclusive, creative, safe space that is proudly and uniquely made only in Hamilton.” n PREVIEW/SPRING 2022 HCM
in the MIX
E D ITO R M A R C S K U L N I C K P I C K S H I S B U Z Z W O RT HY B E AT S , TO P T U N E S A N D AW E S O M E A L B U M S – H A M I LTO N S T Y L E !
THE HP TROT (BLOW MACEO) T H E H P ’ S If you’re going to invoke the name of one of soul music’s biggest legends in the title of your debut single, you better be able to deliver the goods and that’s exactly what The HP’s do on this track. The HP’s are the musical brainchild of Mike Renaud (aka Parkside), the man behind local label Hidden Pony Records. After years of toiling behind the scenes, Renaud has stepped up, and stepped out, as the front man for a groove collective consisting of some of Hamilton’s most-talented musicians. “The HP Trot (Blow Maceo)” tips its hat to the legendary likes of James Brown, Sharon Jones and yes, Maceo Parker. Featuring the Northern Soul Horns, “The HP Trot” is a horn-soaked soul-funk excursion that boasts one of the tightest – and nastiest – grooves this town has ever heard. Even better, it’s the precursor to the group’s debut long player, Gritty City Soul Vol. 1, which is due to drop any day now. And as for Mr. Parker, I think he’d approve of this groove. T H E H P S B A N D. C O M
CHARLIE IO E L L E VATO R Indie alt-rock darlings Ellevator need no introduction and have been a mainstay in the local music scene since their inception back in 2018. The Hamilton-based band, which comprises Nabi Sue Bersche, Tyler Bersche and Elliot Gwynne, are set to release their debut album later this spring – they are signed to Toronto’s Arts & Crafts music label – but in the meantime have released the stellar “Charlie IO” as the newest single. Sure, it’s been out since late October, but it’s so damn good that it deserves to be an inaugural “In The Mix” pick. Produced by Chris Walla (Death Cab for Cutie), “Charlie IO” is a delightfully downtempo mix of dreamy piano riffs and atmospheric beats set against Nabi Sue’s ethereal vocals. Civic boosters will enjoy spotting the decidedly-Hamilton locations featured in Vanessa Carlton’s “A Thousand Miles” inspired video. The band is touring this spring, so head on over to their website to watch the video and bask in the glow of a band on the verge of big things. E L L E VATO R M U S I C . C O M
The Emsee is the musical nom de plume of Hamilton’s Mathew Barker, whose rap career got off to an auspicious start a decade ago when the then-21-year-old factory worker narrowly missed being a top-three finalist on Canada’s Got Talent. Buoyed by the national exposure, he would go on to release a number of well-received albums, including 2013’s Empty Promises, which was nominated for Rap/Hip-Hop Recording of the Year at the Hamilton Music Awards, and collaborate with Moka Only, Joey Turner and a host of talented others. After a number of years away from the spotlight, which included becoming a dad and getting married to his highschool sweetheart, Barker is back and in a rather nostalgic mood. His latest single, “17 Again,” finds the hip-hop artist in fine musical fettle and his trademark delivery remains unchanged as he reminisces about simpler days gone by against a fierce beat-laden backdrop. It’s a welcome return for one of the city’s brightest rap talents. Watch for more tracks to be released in the coming months. I N S TA G R A M . C O M / T H E _ E M S E E
SUPERCRAWL HAMILTON’S MUSIC + ARTS FESTIVAL SEPTEMBER 9 + 10 + 11 | 2022
HCM PREVIEW/SPRING 2022
HCM PREVIEW/SPRING 2022
PREVIEW/SPRING 2022 HCM