Folk’d Up Fridays – Indie Music Series
Molson Canadian Studio 1 Summers Lane

It was the last installment of Folk’d Up Friday (for now!) and what a great way to close the series, with Gavin Slate, Graydon James & the Young Novelists, and Cuff the Duke.

It was a packed house and I was glad to see the cabaret-style set up again in the Studio. This was the prettiest look yet, with little lamps on each table, which were a nice touch. Krystal and I snagged a seat right up at the front, being particularly excited to see our friend Gavin Slate, who we’re big fans of.

Molson Canadian Studio

Krystal and I saw Gavin back in September at This Ain’t Hollywood, where we were treated to some new songs. It was great to get to hear them again as we patiently await his full length album which is in the works. We looked at each other immediately when Gavin launched into a new song, “The Truth,” recognizing it immediately. It has a catchy “Oh oh, whoa, ohhh” hook and we were reminded of Gavin bringing Max Wray and Ben Somer onstage at that last show to help sing along to that part. It’s a really catchy song and was a standout of his set. It reminded me a bit of The Fray, with its solid melody.

Another highlight for me was Gavin’s new song, “Friends,” which he just shot an acoustic video for during his time at Boxcar Sound, where he has been recording. I remember hearing a short clip of this song quite a while ago when I was at Boxcar for a visit. It really got me then, and hearing it live, the lyrics hit me even harder. Gavin has such a beautifully sincere way of performing that really conveys the emotion of the song. I find it one of his more moving songs, just as “Goodnight Lovers, Goodnight Thieves,” off his debut EP is for me.

Gavin closed with “Life as a Salesman” (which has one of the most creative music videos I’ve ever seen – the now infamous Starbucks prank!). The song always makes me smile and its message resonates with me. Gavin is such a skilled musician and has incredible precision and control of his vocals. He’s one of my favourites to hear live and was the perfect choice for this series. Check out a clip of his performance another new song, “Can’t Say It Yet,” in my video below.

Gavin Slate

Graydon James & the Young Novelists took the stage next and the six-piece impressed us with their musicianship. A highlight of their set for me was “For the Record,” with its little xylophone twinkle, and “A Young Man’s Son,” which you can see in my video below. They have a lovely, rich sound that switched from slower songs to kicking things up a notch. Graydon and Laura harmonized beautifully together, with Laura taking the lead sometimes too. The two are married and told us they now have a little novelist of their own.

The audience was so still and attentive that Laura (who also played an instrument I haven’t seen much, the melodica, which was very cool) complimented us, saying that we were the “best audience a band could hope to have.” This has been a recurring comment from many of the musicians who have played this series. I’ve said before how it has been a different experience to see acts play in a venue like this. It’s just a different vibe altogether. The audiences have all thoroughly taken in the music and you can tell everyone really enjoyed the show.

Graydon James & the Young Novelists

Just as I found the last Folk’d Up Friday to have a theme (a blues theme), I decided the theme of this show was “sing-a-long.” Encouraging us to partake, Graydon stated that “singing in public is a sign of sexual confidence.” That did the trick. Dividing the audience up into three parts, we all harmonized on their last song, “In Your Defense,” one of their best songs. It sounded lovely as we all belted out the “Ohhh’s” along with them. It got our vocals all warmed up for more sing-a-long fun with Cuff the Duke.

I was already charmed by Cuff the Duke‘s merch table, with its light-up sign, and their stage set up was the same, with lights on their amps. The bass drum lit up too and the whole stage had a warm, orange glow, which matched their sound.

They played a mixture of old and new tunes and we had plenty of opportunities to sing along. The stage was stocked with guitars and the guys effortlessly changed up their instruments between songs. It really showed how seasoned they are as band.

Cuff the Duke have a long history, hitting their ten year mark as a band. They’ve played Hamilton many times over that period and Wayne joked that he “didn’t think it was possible” for Hamilton to be so quiet and that we were the “most attentive Hamilton crowd” they’ve ever had. Wayne also took a moment to give a shout out to The Casbah for their support over the years. He dedicated an older tune to Brodie, saying that the club’s owner booked them way back before their first album was even released. Speaking of that first album, it was just released on vinyl for the first time.

Cuff the Duke

Bassist Paul later switched things up by taking on the fiddle for “If I Live or If I Die,” which was a highlight of their set for me and another chance to do some singing. Half the audience took on “If I live,” while we on the other half chanted its counterpart, “If I die.” The song has a great groove to it and we couldn’t resit clapping along.

After a solid set, the crowd wanted more, so the band came back out to treat us to an encore. They came right up to the front of the stage as a group, and with two acoustic guitars, they performed “You Were Right” without microphones. Singing along was again encouraged and we all chimed in. It sounded so nice and was just the right note to end the show on. Watch the encore as well as “Count On Me” in my video.

Cuff the Duke’s encore

As we left the venue, we walked out into the first snowfall of the season. I can’t think of a more fitting way to end Folk’d Up Fridays, having begun in the spring and ending now, as winter settles in.

My thanks again to HECFI for having me out to experience these wonderful shows!

– Kristin

Kristin Archer is the creator of I Heart Hamilton (, where she has blogged about experiences around her hometown since 2011, growing a social media presence along the way. Encouraging locals to “be a tourist in your own city,” she promotes arts and culture across her various social media platforms, blog, and weekly radio show on 93.3 CFMU.

2 thoughts on “FOLK’D UP FRIDAY #5”

  1. Great review. Again, you left me wishing I was there, and now I’m checking out new bands that haven’t crossed my radar yet!
    Thanks. GB

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