We’ve all got a little bit of quirk in us. The trick is to hold onto it and always keep that little bit of whimsy in our lives. I admire anyone who marches to the beat of their own drum, carves their own path. We all start out as quirky, creative kids but somewhere along the way that can get lost or pushed aside.
Enter the Queens of Quirk to remind us to let our quirk always shine on!
The seed for Queens of Quirk began with local multi-instrumentalist and singer-songwriter Hanna Bech. I’m a big fan of Hanna’s debut album Naked Bones, released last year, and her stage presence. Her music is quirky pop and strongly classically influenced, and she has a background in music education.
Hanna had the idea to create a safe space for female or femme performers in particular to perform. “We’re not trying to exclude anyone, we’re just putting women at the centre of attention,” Hanna says. After receiving advice and encouragement from other local artists when she first began to perform onstage, Hanna wanted to pay it forward. At the first Queens Of Quirk show she brought on local comic Michelle Zhitomirsky, and at the most recent show she found Mary Clements to debut her original music.
Hanna’s co-pilot in developing Queens Of Quirk is musician, actor, and silks performer Pamela Gardner, who also debuted her original music at the most recent show. Another awesome part of this collective is that it’s so multidisciplinary – the multi-talented cast makes the event like a throwback to the days of the variety show, featuring everything from music, comedy, silks, and in the most recent production, even a radio musical! There’s also tons of collaboration onstage, with the women hopping in and backing each other up, lending their talents.
The photos here are taken from their recent production at Artword Artbar which featured the lineup of Hanna, Pamela, Mary, and artist and playwright Radha S. Menon. (They used a painting by my friend and I Heart Hamilton’s contributor Trish Gallant in the show!) The sold out show was then reprised, with a few changes, at The Pearl Company two weeks later, which is the show I saw.
As someone who always felt off the mark of what’s considered “cool,” it was so refreshing and energizing to see these women onstage, completely owning their talents and who they are, just going for it. In fact, one of Pamela’s songs was about just that, with the chorus being, “Give’r a go”! I may not be so musically talented, but thanks, Hanna, for dubbing me a fellow quirky queen in my own way!
The whole show was so delightful; I had a smile on my face the whole time. The audience laughed, applauded, and even loaned their vocals and snaps to some of the numbers. Each woman was so different but each beamed with light – it was a joy to watch.
Last week came some very exciting news! Both Hanna and Pamela received Emerging Artist Awards at the City of Hamilton Arts Awards. Hanna won alongside Kirk Starkey in the Music category and Pamela won alongside Lori Le Mare in the Dance and Performing Arts category.
Hanna has more up her sleeve this summer – she will be the next local artist to collaborate with the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra for HPO’s Indie Series on June 23rd at The Gasworks – a once-in-a-lifetime performance not to be missed. Listen to my recent interview with Hanna and HPO’s Rob Wolanski.