In this issue, music takes centre stage. And rightfully so as September is the time of year when three significant cultural events help us to celebrate all things music in Hamilton – Supercrawl, the Locke Street Festival and Festitalia.
The city of Hamilton’s music strategy and the team of volunteers seeing it through to fruition – the Music Industry Working Committee – have been busy working with the music community for the past three years. They’ve been conducting research and holding public engagement sessions, workshops, interviews, focus groups and online surveys to get as much input as possible. And many of their accomplishments are truly “firsts” for any music city.
The team worked with live venue owners and managers to create the Live Music Venue Alliance, comprised of club owners/managers who work together to strengthen Hamilton’s live music scene. A new micro-loan program for musicians has been developed with FirstOntario Credit Union and is being announced this month. And most significant in terms of bringing Hamilton’s music scene to the world is the new cityofmusic.ca website that was launched in August.
The website was created to not only showcase Hamilton’s diverse and eclectic music scene, but also to provide a single information source for music events happening in Hamilton whether a concert, festival, club show, music education program or workshop, or any other music-related happening. More than 20 music playlists by genre feature local Hamilton musicians, bands and ensembles – from blues, rock, folk, and hip hop to singer-songwriters, orchestras and choirs. The result is nothing less than phenomenal to see so much talent calling The Hammer home. Stream away everyone. And finally, the website includes a music industry directory that we hope will reflect the size and breadth of the city’s music industry as more artists and businesses sign up.
The Hamilton cityofmusic.ca brand has a dual purpose. First, it reflects the vibrancy and diversity of the music scene that has evolved in Hamilton over many decades. This first phase of creating a music brand was founded on input from musicians, studio owners, promoters, music shop owners, and many more.
And now that we have our “graphic symbolism” in place, the next task is to identify and confirm the “values and principles” that will support this brand – ones that are relevant to and embraced by the music community itself. Meaning for example, that live music venues will consider what it means to have high performance standards, not only just regarding technical sound production, but also with regard to paying musicians as “business partners.” Because without the musicians, there is no music business.
The bottom line: Hamilton is indeed a music city and has been for most of its existence. Music thrives in Hamilton. Music matters in Hamilton. We know it and so many others across Canada know it too.
Bob Mersereau, music columnist and long-time arts reporter for CBC, summed up The Hammer best when he was writing his book, The Top 100 Canadian Albums. “Some names come up again and again, in the most surprising places. None of his albums received enough votes to qualify for the Top 100, but Rompin’ Ronnie Hawkins is all through the book. Daniel Lanois and his brother Bob have almost as many mentions as Hawkins. The city of Hamilton emerges as a hotbed of Canadian music.”
Let’s celebrate all things music in Hamilton.