The Casbah 306 King Street West
The Baltimore House 43 King William Street

I’m a festive person – this has been well established. Every year, April 1st kicks off Birthday Week and I get prepped for the big day, which is on the 8th. This year, true to the Tour, I kicked off Birthday Week with waffles at Cannon Coffee Co. A couple days later, Avishka and I did brunch at Sunset Grill and couldn’t resist ordering waffles, turning Birthday Week into Waffle Week!

Trevor Howard, Kirby, Gavin Slate, Max Wray

As the day grew nearer, I knew we had to celebrate it, Tour-style, and I had been brainstorming what we could do. I really wanted to go to a show, but hadn’t spotted anything of interest. Then, the week of my birthday, an event was posted – a Songwriters’ Circle at Casbah featuring Kirby, Max Wray, Trevor Howard, and Gavin Slate. BAM! I excitedly texted the news to Avishka, who replied saying it was like the dream team of singer-songwriters. We couldn’t believe our luck!

After quick messages to my friends who were already committed to attend the night of my birthday festivities, plans were rerouted to Casbah. I can’t say it enough – you really couldn’t have made a better show for me. Not only are these guys friends of ours, but they really are some of my favourite singer-songwriters, and to see them play at one of my favourite venues, to boot! It was also so perfect for the Tour, since music has become such an integral part of it, and lately Avi and I have been completely on the same wavelength with our musical tastes and our love for acoustic tunes. To be serenaded by four of my favourites, what could be better!

I called the night my Silver Jubilee and set a dress code of black and white (and silver, if you cared to get sparkly, and who wouldn’t?!) Shout outs to my friends and Honourary Tour Members who came out to celebrate throughout the night, along with Avi and I – Stacey, Krystal, Jamie, Lauren, Sarah, and Vanessa. My only regret from the night is not getting a group photo because everyone dressed to the nines and took part in the dress code, looking fabulous! My mental picture of you all will have to suffice. Special shout out to Trevor – I noticed that silver nail polish!

The show would have been amazing enough just to have the singer-songwriters play individual sets, but what made it even more special was that the show was a Songwriters’ Circle. All four musicians were onstage together in the Lounge and took turns playing songs, along with some playful banter in between. They would throw out a theme for each round of songs (also very apropos for the Tour – we love themes, as you know) and the songs they chose to play had to be of that theme. With themes thrown out like “lies,” “gingers,” and “country,” (ok, maybe the themes could use a little work) it was extremely entertaining. The guys also joined in on each other’s songs where they saw fit, backing each other up on guitar and vocals. Max in particular had done his homework, learning the others’ songs. Having the perfect seats in the house, all lined up in a row in front of the stage, we got in on the action, chiming in every now and then as the guys joked around.

Kirby posing for my photo as Gavin croons away

I was excited to see Gavin play, having only seen him play a few songs before, back in December. Avi became a fan as well and was excited to see him play for the first time. He played a few songs off his debut EP, along with some new songs that he is currently recording for his full length effort, such as “On the Incline” and “Hollywood Hills”. Earlier in the week I had Tweeted him a request for “Life as a Salesman,” off his EP of the same name, and he played it for me as a birthday dedication! I had included the song on my first Playlist; it’s one of my favourites by Gavin.

Avi and I were also happy to see Trevor play some of his tunes, after having visited him in the studio at Boxcar Sound as he was working on the new Ghosts of Memphis album. Having seen some of the recording process of songs like “Rails,” “Save Me,” and “What Do You Do” (which he debuted live at this show!), I was excited to see Trevor play them live. Also tying in our Boxcar connection, producer Matt Montour was in the audience too, which made it a real Tour affair!

Speaking of Boxcar, Max is also in the middle of working on a new album there, with Matt, and he played a lot of new tunes at the show. Avi and I have been pestering Max to hear some of his new songs at the studio, and having listened to his EP Max Wray Live so much over the course of our Tour, can you blame us? Max has definitely become part of the soundtrack to our Tour and we always love getting to see him play. As quick-witted as ever, Max never holds back when introducing his songs, being open about past stories and the inspiration behind them, which is just what you need in a Songwriters’ Circle.

At the end of the first set, Kirby corralled the other three musicians into a four-part harmony “Happy Birthday” serenade to me, taking the lead in true Kirby fashion. (Video below – thanks, Krystal, for taking that!) Earlier, Max had dubbed the night “swoon-a-palooza” (don’t flatter yourself, Wray! Well, ok, it was all incredibly swoon-worthy.) Thank you, boys!

Continuing with my Playlist motif, Kirby played his tune “High Horse,” a favourite of mine off his newest EP, Into the Dark, but my favourite Kirby song has to be “When the Princess Won’t Sing.” It remains a classic Kirby song, and was the first song I heard of his, a few years back. The storytelling nature of the song just grabbed me right away, and I’m not alone in that; it’s a favourite among fans. Kirby tends to dub in a girl’s name in the lyric, “What the princess wants, the princess gets,” depending on who is in the audience, and, of course, it was fitting for me, the Birthday Girl! And so the lyric became, “What Kristin wants, Kristin gets,” along with some other improvised lyrics on the part of Kirby to personalize the song even more.

Stacey and I looked at each other like, “Are you thinking what I’m thinking?” as the song neared the “Row, row, row your boat” part of the song. We darted up to Max’s microphone at that part of the song to sing it. That got some laughs, but hey, we tried. We’ll leave it to the professionals! (With the exception of the odd karaoke venture.) Gavin, Trevor, and Max joined in on the final, “What Kristin wants…” line, and, yep, swoon!

Stacey and I joining in on Kirby’s “Princess”

What was fun about the show was seeing, along with the good-natured digs here and there, the camaraderie between the four musicians and the genuine love for each other’s music. They didn’t hesitate to compliment each other’s songs and say which ones were favourites. Again, I can’t say enough how ideal it was to have a show with all four of these guys for my birthday! It was very serendipitous and as Avi and I would say, “FULL CIRCLE!”

After the show, we headed over to one of my favourite spots, The Baltimore House, to finish off the night with some classy cocktails in the Parlour. It was our first time getting drinks at Baltimore (Avi and I had previously eyed their giant chalkboard menu, liking the sound of their classic drink menu.) It was a low-key night at Baltimore, which was what I wanted, and it complemented the show. The music that tinkled in the background was of another era, reminding me a little of Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris (a favourite of mine), and worked well with the décor. Again, here would have been the opportune time to take some photos! No matter, it was fun to just hang out and take it all in.

It was a super fun, laid-back birthday, perfect for my Silver Jubilee, and perfect for our Tour!

– 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.

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