I Heart Hamilton’s The Playlist 1.0 (Fundraiser for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Hamilton)
This Ain’t Hollywood 345 James Street North
A year ago when we started, I didn’t dream that a year later we would be hosting the show of the summer (if I may be so bold) with some favourite local bands, for an amazing cause. It was months in the making, and The Playlist 1.0 was finally here! The idea was to celebrate the year we’ve had in Hamilton and have the event encompass the overwhelming sense of community that we’ve encountered in our travels across this city. It was also important for us to give back by teaming up with a not-for-profit organization that does great work in the community.
The Boys and Girls Clubs of Hamilton was the perfect fit – the first time Avi and I visited, we were inspired by the work they do and knew right away that we wanted to lend our support to the organization. Together with Lisa Valvasori of Community Relations, we determined that the proceeds from the show would go toward the Brian Melo Scholarship, which covers guitar lessons, vocal lessons, and music lessons for Boys and Girls Club members who would otherwise be unable to afford it. Music is a big focus on the blog, and it made sense for us to help support upcoming talent. Who knows, maybe a scholarship recipient will be a future performer at The Playlist! Proceeds from the night totalled at $1719.
I arrived early at This Ain’t Hollywood to set up, but it took me a minute to enter the venue because I had to stop and stare at the classic marquee outside, which listed I Heart Hamilton as one of their shows. It was a total dream come true to see that and, as I later observed, is the closest I’ll ever get to being a rockstar. All of the work that went into putting the show together, that will always be a memorable moment. For me, putting the show together has been the most rewarding part of the Tour to date.
I set a strict dress code for us Tourists – pink, white, and black, to match the colours of the blog. Avi picked up our friend Emily, who came in all the way from Toronto for the event. Carly was back from Kingston for the weekend and brought a whole group of new and hometown friends alike. I had my crew of Krystal, Vanessa, and Sarah with me, who helped me kick off the night with a celebratory toast. We were ready to rock’n’roll.
I have to thank all in attendance for showing up early! Usually it’s my friends and I who always arrive fashionably early everywhere we go. When the doors opened, people started pouring into the venue and there was a popping energy right away.
The dream team – Canadian Winter, New Hands, The Ascot Royals, and The Dinner Belles – were just that, a dream. They were my initial choices for a lineup, and I’m thrilled they were all part of the night. These bands have been an integral part of the soundtrack to the Tour, and they brought The Playlist 1.0 to life.
Canadian Winter appropriately got the show on the road, launching into their signature beats and rhythms. This was the first show we got to see with the addition of guitarist Jay Baggett, who looked like he has already been playing with the band from the beginning. Kobi got the crowd chanting along with their classic call and response and the crowd was hyped up! To think we just met these guys this year, and saw them perform for the first time at the same venue. A few months later, to have them be part of this show was an amazing thing! [Watch their performance of “Ooh La La, Ah Oui Oui”]
I had requested New Hands reprise their cover of Kanye West’s “Paranoid,” and to my delight, they played it! I’ve said it before; these fellas impress me every single time I see them. I am so stoked about this band. To become friends with them this year, at this stage in their life as a band, and to have their support of the Tour has really meant a lot. My favourite part of the set may have been when Ben couldn’t find his tambourine and when the time came, he did a little shimmy behind the keyboard! Shout out to Kyle Fisher of The Dirty Nil for attending and fueling the boys up during their set with some shots! [Watch their performance and bonus video, “Tulips”!]
The Ascot Royals blasted the venue with an insane amount of energy that was unmatched. They completely tore up the stage! I almost forget to brace myself for the rock’n’roll power that comes out of these guys; they always blow me away. It was also really special that some of their family members were visiting from across the pond, and to be able to introduce our British band members, Kobi of Canadian Winter and Jimmy and Ben of Ascots, who had not yet met. Dream team, unite! [Watch their performance of “Do It All Again”]
Being down a couple of members, The Dinner Belles were joined by Dave Nardi of The Dirty Nil on guitar to close out the night. The energy level at The Saint was still at a high – the audience was ready to rock “Til the Dawn”! There was even a cute couple who were front row and got so into the groove, they did some impromptu swing dancing throughout The Belles’ entire set. Another guy was so into it, he jumped up onstage to chime into Scott’s mic during their classic cover of “Will the Circle Be Unbroken,” which is always a highlight of The Dinner Belles’ repertoire.
It was an absolute joy to have such a seasoned bunch of musicians share their talents at The Playlist 1.0. As coincidence would have it, some of the band were actually members of the Hamilton East Kiwanis location of the Boys and Girls Club growing up. Brad was quick to give a shout out to the organization as the band delivered an impressive set. [Watch their performance of “Country Blues”]
John Smith of Young Rival held it down as our house DJ for the night with some kickin’ tunes. I got particularly excited to hear some Stella Ella Ola and The Elwins; great taste! Young Rival singer Aron D’Alesio was also on hand to show his support. When the show was over and the bar thinned out, Vanessa, Sarah, and I got to witness a hula hoop party featuring Aron and a few other guys. What better way to end the night than with some competitive hula hooping?
I said from the beginning that I wanted the event to reflect the sense of community we’ve encountered in Hamilton. I can’t even express in words the love (or the heart, more appropriately!) I felt in the room all night. It was really something. From fellow blogger Seema of This Must Be The Place and her partner Steve Newberry, to Roger Gillespie of CBC Hamilton, Sergeant Jay Turner who stopped in for a hug and hello, Twitter friend Jason for taking photos, Alyssa Lai for coming to cover the event for CBC Hamilton, Kirby for attending and Max Wray for being there with his encouraging pep talks. I can’t say enough. Leaving the venue around 3am, exhausted in every way, I couldn’t help but tweet: Hamilton, I love you.
Be sure to view the gallery of photos and footage of each band captured by Sonia Cacoilo. For more of Sonia’s beautiful work, check out her website – Sonia Cacoilo Photography.
There are so many people to thank –
- The Boys and Girls Clubs of Hamilton for teaming up with I Heart Hamilton Tour on this event; with special thank you to Lisa Valvasori of Community Relations for being so supportive and enthusiastic. It was a pleasure to work with you!
- The performers: Canadian Winter, New Hands, The Ascot Royals, The Dinner Belles, and to John Smith and Aron D’Alesio of Young Rival for DJing and attending
- Darlene MacNeil for her awesome poster design and for all her help throughout the night
- All of the staff at This Ain’t Hollywood for their help – Lindsay who worked the door, Doug Smith for his work on sound, and the bar staff
- Owner Lou Molinaro for all of his support and for contributing a portion of bar sales from the night to the cause
- Sonia Cacoilo for capturing the event with her fantastic photography and videos
- Tom Kelly at Copy Dog for sponsoring the event and printing our posters
- Mark Furukawa at Dr. Disc for all of his help with promotion and ticket sales, and for being so enthusiastic about all things Hamilton
- Shane of Jack & Lois for cooking up a BBQ on the patio
Of course, to every single person who attended the show, supported the cause, tweeted about it, danced the night away, and brought your positive energy to the night. It meant so much!