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Its obviously been a while since I posted anything about a show or music. That isn’t due to a lack of shows since there’s something at the casbah or absinthe or this ain’t hollywood almost every day. I’m just broke and busy. Between school and work, I have about 8 hours to myself every day which i’m trying to use for sleep and other important things. I will however, be going to at least one show this month (Michou is playing at absinthe on the 20th and the sadies are playing at the casbah on the 22nd(?) and i really want to go to both) so I’ll definitly post about. that. As for christmas and new years shows/parties that I attended? I’ve been working on a couple of things to post about them but really I was there to party and not to work. check back soon and I should have something posted about the young rival boxing day party at casbah and the new years party i attended at absinthe where (my favorite!!) san sebastian played and made me very happy. with hamilton sunk deep into snowy, nasty driving winter there isn’t a lot going on but I’ll do my best to get to a few shows and check out a few albums for review. 

<333 Joanna

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I love the horseshoe. I know that this blog is intended to be about music in Hamilton, and the Horseshoe is in Toronto but it is a seriously fantastic venue that lots of Hamilton artists play at. Lots of artists in general, actually. The sound is clear and the stage is actually big enough for the equipment and though the room looks small in the dark, if you get there early enough and the lights are still on you’ll see that the place is actually huge. There is a lot of seating, lots of tables and somehow lots of standing room right by the stage and by the bar. The pub itself, right at the front of the venue, is tiny and awesome, with great bar tenders who humor the obviously just 19 girls as they get far too wasted to stand up straight. Its location works for Hamilton commuters as well. I get to Toronto via GO transit for all of the shows I attend and it really works for me. The horseshoe is only about a 15 minute walk from Union station, 20 if you’re drunk and have to stop and stare at Nathan Philips square every time you walk past it like I do. Not being from Toronto, I don’t really know the TTC very well so being able to walk somewhere in a short time is very important for me.  Of course, it should be noted that the last bus heading to Hamilton leaves at about 12:30 and almost all bands worth seeing that play bars (headliners anyway) don’t even take the stage until 11:30. There are nice tim hortons near by open 24/7 though, so that makes the waiting for the bus station to open again at 5:30 a much easier task. To digress a little, I actually find talking about the show in such a loud volume that people are looking at you funny post show is one of the best things about going to one, second t the music of course.

The website (linked above) is ridiculously helpful as well. Upcoming shows and ticket purchase are listed, directions, booking, and a page dedicated to the glory days of the tavern, are also available. I like the times for each act being listed, since I often have trouble making it to a venue in time to catch openers.

On the 21st, the horseshoe threw a little Christmas party with 102.1 the edge which featured a couple of Hamilton bands (sort of). Though another band was listed to play before them, San Sebastian (of disband, formerly known as pumps) opened the show playing a couple of familiar songs, one new one that will presumably be on their album to be released whenever they get around to it, and a few covers (pump it up, twist and shout, regulars in their repertoire) and really got the crowd going. They played loud and fast as usual, attacking the crowd with their (slightly drunken) energy. They’re so good live that I see them whenever they play in the Hamilton area. Though all they have released is a 3 song EP I have been to at least 10 of their shows (I once went as far as a ridiculous bus trip to Kitchener but there were lots of bands I liked playing that day so I’m not sure it counts as epic fandom) and I think that is a testament to their talent, since disband didn’t do as much for them as it has done for Stereos or These Kids Wear Crowns. They have a decent twitter following (@_sansebastian) where most of their fans find out about their shows and they have a little pull for getting on Much Music since, you know, much music was supposed to make them superstars.

They next band was, in internet vernacular, one big LOL. Operation MD was like a trip back to my days at an angsty 13 year old who listened to Blink and Green Day like they were the only bands on the planet (and because THEY UNDERSTOOD ME MAN, and NO ONE ELSE DID). That guy from Sum 41 (no, the other one, the one that didn’t marry avril lavigne), Cone plays bass while Todd Morse of H2O “sang”. Honestly it was great. I couldn’t get enough. They were legitimately terrible (probably due to having members of the audience buy them drinks, run out of tickets that fast guys?) but I couldn’t get enough. Most of the crowd was probably a few years too young to really appreciate it but there were a couple others who were feeling the nostalgia. I think the best part was when they started bringing guests on stage. That guy from sum 41 (yes, that one. Mr. Lavigne) and Ian D’Sa from Billy Talent joined them for a couple of songs (and then Todd took Ian’s guitar because he was too drunk to tune his own). Basically their set was ridiculous filler in between awesome and awesomer (shh it’s a word now). I couldn’t stop laughing.

Gentlemen Husbands took the stage next. I’ve never heard them before but I would like to hear them again. Country would be one word to describe them but maybe more blues or folk rock.  They were really good but I must admit that my appreciation for them is a little eclipsed by the fact that the girl standing behind me kept spilling her beer in my hair and that the guy on my right kept buying pitchers for everybody. Most of it ended up on my shoes. Check out their myspace (linked above) for a lot of their music, they have 10 songs posted.

After a trip to the bathroom, which didn’t help the beer stink, and another drink to improve my mood since being spilled upon, the final “band” of the evening took the stage. My friend and I had been seeing members of Sweet Thing and the Arkells all night but assumed they were just there for the show (well ok we assumed sweet thing would be taking the stage since it was their drum kit everyone was using and their snare that one of the previous bands busted up). They were not just there for the show. Duane Gretzky, a band I had obviously never heard of since it does not technically exist, is composed of the drunken members of Arkells and Sweet Thing with Tyler Kyte (sweet thing’s drummer but an overall master of the musical arts with an angel voice) doing most of the singing. They played all covers for about 2 hours, everything they could think of it seemed, inviting members of the other bands up with them for a few songs, and having half the audience on the stage at once point. Greg Veerman of San Sebastian really likes to dance. I think they highlight of the evening for me was when Owen Carrier asked who was a fan of Michael J Fox. The audience naturally expected a rendition of Johnny B Goode, which would have been

great but instead he smiled mischievously (I’ve not seem him with a smile that didn’t look mischievous to be honest, I doubt anyone has) and broke into Huey Lewis and the News’ Power of Love. I am a fan of Michael J Fox and do know all the words to this song, as does my friend who accompanied me, something which seemed appreciated by the boys on stage. Either that or they were laughing at our attempts to sing. Either was it was awesome. They whole set was perfect, showing off the talents of everybody (a couple of them played up to 4 different instruments or sang), and had the crowd hooked. So hooked that I missed my bus back to Hamilton (see above, tim hortons rocks). When they finally finished up the whole crowd was ridiculously satisfied, something that I find rare at a show of covers, and we all went home happy. It was 2:30 in the morning.

I’ve never really been to a venue that compares to the horseshoe (the casbah might be close but not quite as epic) and this night just added to its awesome. I recommend it as a venue to anyone who wants to play or to go to a show in a bar. I have a feeling that I’ll be spending many more nights waiting for the GO bus in a tim hortons because I couldn’t bring myself to leave until the lights came on.

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Finals are not fun and have so far prevented me from actually sitting down and writing this blog. I’ve wanted to write about the Pe-RO cd release party at the casbah since it happened nearly 2 weeks ago but I just didn’t have the time. i do now, so enjoy this brief review.

The party opened with a couple of bands with similar sounds to pe-RO attempting to play their folksy, bluesy, country goodness over the sounds of all the kids there tweeting. The audience was so impressed with themselves for having made an appearance at the CD release party that they just HAD to talk about it. Literally the whole time, the audience yammered and one could only hear the music properly by standing right next to the stage. Twice, members of pe-RO took to the stage between songs to tell the audience, in more polite terms, to shut the f*** up and listen to the nice boys on stage who were trying so hard to impress them. They impressed me.

James Hoffman, a sweet and shy seeming young man from BC, first serenaded us with his beautiful voice and his acoustic guitar. His song “Broken Knees” really hit me, I can’t find a video or link to his website or anything or I would post it here because that kid deserves every ounce of fame he might get. His first single is being released in january, and his album should be coming out some time in the spring.

The next act to take the stage was the Good Hunters, a pair of brothers with too much talent. Their singing was spot on and their guitar, while a little quite for the ridiculously loud venue, would be perfect on a lazy weekend when all you want to do is relax. Their song “Don’t get me wrong” is perfect, I actually found a video of it on youtube which isn’t as good as when they played at the casbah but it is still awesome. there are a couple of videos of them on youtube to take a look at, but live is really where their music stands out. Also they did a Bob Dylan cover which is really difficult to do without sounding cheesy but they pulled it off.

Then pe-RO came on the stage and the people i was with commanded me to move from my prime seat near some large speakers to the back of the room where they were all chatting about some other band. Pe-RO was fantastic and the free cd they gave me when i bought my ticket will get a ridiculous amount of play. They have so much energy and so many instruments that I was having trouble keeping count but there were at least two acoustic guitars, a bass, an electric guitar, a violin, a banjo, and a mandolin, and that’s just the instruments with strings. they also had an accordion which is normally the most ridiculous of live instruments. It really worked for the set, in fact all of it really worked for the set. I plan on writing a full review of their album very soon, but this week i have a couple of other shows to go to. 

Overall, my friends and I had a really great time and I’ve been telling everyone with any interest in music about these wonderful bands that i’ve discovered. Check out pe-RO at their website http://www.pe-ro.com, it has some of their music on it for everyone to take a listen. 

The Good Hunters, Don’t Get me Wrong - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uLfKVH3dQ28&feature=related

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I had this really great post written up about the silver tongue Christmas show at the corktown last night and the internet ate it. I’m really disappointed but now I know that I should always save my posts in word before I bother with posting them.

A brief summary of the bits of the show I stayed for:

 City of Snow was better than usual, the sound equipment seemed to work out for them when it didn’t really work out for the two bands that played before them. They’re starting to sound like they’re actually ready for this instead of just playing music as a hobby. Now all they need to do is play more shows in Hamilton.

Pete Van Dyke was the first to go on, with his band of seeming misfits. Their usual line up was changed, rumor had it that the drummer was someone they asked to fill in for the night, and to be honest you can’t be a drummer without rhythm so that guy should probably go back to his day job. Lets all hope he had a day job. Another change to their line up from the last time I saw them (At the casbah, a venue much more suited to their style of music since it is in essence a music venue whereas the corktown is really just an Irish pub with a stage), they had this really full bluesy rock sound that made me want to dance and have a great time. This time? Not so much. The sound equipment didn’t seem to be working in their favor but that wasn’t the only problem. They had three guitarists plus a bass which I find a little weird in a band still playing stages the size of a queen size bed. The lead guitarist was just as amazing as I remember, his fingers should be cast in gold and put in the rock and roll hall of fame just by themselves.

Another guitarist, playing what looked like a brand new Ferrari red firebird, was completely silent. At one point I could see that this kid was valiantly attempting to kill us all with his mad skillz but I couldn’t hear what he was trying to play. Mostly that part was just disappointing. The biggest issue I found with their performance though (sorry if I’m being mean) was the back up singer. Her voice is amazing, no denying that, but it belongs center stage under the lights, not pushed off to the side singing awkward harmony while playing a tambourine. She’s got it, but not with Pete Van Dyke. She also played a keyboard, which I assume was meant to replace the amazing guy who played the lap-steel the last time I saw the band but it really didn’t cover it at all.

The lap-steel might have actually made the band. It was fantastic, rounding out the sound and giving it the rock and roll blues vibe that really got the crowd moving. There was something in their stage presence that night at the casbah, something that made them seem like they were really going to be something someday and all of us there should remember the moment so we could tell our kids about when we saw Pete Van Dyke before they were famous, before everyone knew what we knew. That was a great night. The corktown show? No. They were reaching for something but they definitely missed it. I truly hope that this was just a misunderstanding between band and audience, that we saw them when a flu had taken out half the band for the night, and not a series of odd changes that have really taken away from something great.

The third band that I saw, they actually played between Pete Van Dyke and City of Snow, were completely forgettable. No really, I forgot them already, except that they were a three piece and the lead singer/guitarist had nice hair. His voice, I also recall, was too nice for the style of music. I don’t think I ever knew what their name was. I don’t think it matters.

After that, a creepy drunk old guy came up and starting talking to me and my friends and we left after the first song in Betty Shyne’s set. We didn’t see Silver Tongue Devils at all.

All in all, I had a decent night but I probably won’t go back to the corktown unless a band I REALLY like play there. Clean bathrooms, watery drinks, mediocre sound.

I’ll post again soon, I can think of a few shows I want to check out in the next month. Any one have arkells tickets for Friday?

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Hey internet. I’m a journalism student at Mohawk College in Hamilton and I’m really into the music scene in this town. I thought, hey why not combine by two loves? Journalism and Music. So here we are with this little blog of mine, devoted entirely to the music of Hamilton and the music that plays in hamilton. Check back soon for my first REAL post.