When I first moved to Hamilton, I was warned that it was unsafe and broken. People told me about crime, teen pregnancy and drug abuse. I was cautioned to stay near campus and to avoid downtown.
From 2003 onward, The Rest has soared in the stratosphere of indie lore, winning both national (their song “Sheep in Wolves’ Clothing” was number two on CBC Radio 3’s Top 30) and local acclaim (SEESAW won album of the year at Hamilton’s 2012 music awards).
I remember the first time I listened to Charles Mingus, a connoisseur of jazz in the mid to late ‘50s. I was ignorant to the world of jazz, but I will never forget the way he made me feel in his tune “Moanin’.”
There was a time when Stephen Pitkin, percussionist for Elliott BROOD, used a suitcase in place of a bass drum on stage. In their earlier recordings, the Toronto-based, three-piece band produced a similar effect by stomping together on a wooden floor. The quick and heavy rhythm added energy to their acoustic guitars, banjos and ukuleles.
A short biography on Dinner Belles’ MySpace page will tell you that a barroom brawl sparked the formation of the band. This story is probably the only contrived gimmick behind the Southern Ontario outfit. As one of its many members, Scott Bell, told me, “That blurb is false; none of us are the fighting type.” But what follows in the rest of the bio regarding how they’ve become a family of fast friends couldn’t be more true.
I distinctly remember one late night among many spent distracted by the offerings of an infinite Internet. Before coming to McMaster, I would convince myself that my lack of sleep was really an investment – one that would later help me get a jump-start on discovering this mystical Hamilton music scene that I had heard so much about. Hamilton was going to be my new home, and music was surely going to be a part of it. My laptop screen lit up my face as I took in everything I could about artists, venues and promoters. I jumped from blog to blog and read about bands like The Reason, The Rest, Young Rival, The Dirty Nil, Terra Lightfoot and, eventually (inevitably), New Hands.