The Casbah 306 King Street West

We would be terribly remiss if we didn’t include one of Hamilton’s best and well-known music venues, The Casbah, on our tour of the city. Of course, we’ve been to countless shows there before, but upon hearing my friend Amberley B was hosting her CD Release Party for her debut solo album, Paper Dolls, at the downtown bar, I knew it would be the perfect opportunity to make Casbah a tour stop. Avishka and I were excited to check it out, along with our friends Krystal, Stacey, and Chris. We decided to forgo our standard uniform of the colourful tour t-shirts this time, since the night coincided with the annual Christmas in July celebration I have with Stacey. As a result, I attended the show sporting red and green beads, and a red scarf with snowmen on it. I don’t think anyone noticed.

The night started out with a bit of mystery and intrigue. A while back, Amberley made a stuffed doll, aptly named “Merch Man,” who was then stolen at one of her shows. The mascot miraculously reappeared at the CD Release, with a lengthy, heartfelt note attached to him. Who is the culprit? Who is responsible for the kidnapping and subsequently safe return of beloved Merch Man?? The mystery remains…

Kicking off the show of acoustic performances by female singer-songwriters was Kasey Downey. Playing guitar and accompanied by a single bassist, Kasey delivered a set with her soft yet powerful vocals. A little banter between the two in between songs made for a very enjoyable set. The stand-out track for me was her original track, “Warm Milk”.

Next on the bill was Ellie Ketsetzis. Showcasing her bubbly personality, she played some original tunes as well as some fun covers, including Adele and Jackson 5. My favourite was her closing number, a cover of Demi Lovato’s newest single, “Skyscraper”.

Brooke Nicholls rounded out the opening acts. Accompanied by Aaron Bruce on the keyboard, Brooke’s soulful, jazzy voice soared through the venue as she sang some original songs as well as covers of Jessie J and Kings of Leon. The keyboard was a nice change and switched up the sounds of the night, all leading up to Amberley B.

Amberley B’s merch table

Then it was Amberley’s time to shine! Opening with the first track off her album, a powerful acapella song called “Silence,” Amberley commanded the stage right from her first note. (Merch Man was perched dutifully by her side.) The girl can belt out a song like I’ve never seen. Whether she’s giving an impromptu performance around a campfire or opening for major Canadian talents like Bif Naked and Holly McNarland, I’m so impressed with her vocals every time I hear her. I’ve been to many of Amberley’s shows over the past year or so, and I feel really familiar with all her songs and I love seeing how everything has evolved and come together so well. Armed with only an acoustic guitar, Amberley played the whole album, and each track is so solid and stands out in its own way, making it impossible to pick favourites. The finished product also sounds amazing – we all picked up copies of Paper Dolls before Amberley even hit the stage. Make sure you do the same at one of her upcoming shows. Check out her official site for info. I’ve been spinning it nonstop since the show!

It was a great night of music – girl power at its finest!

– Kristin

Amberley B.
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.

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