Graphic C/O Razan Samara
Like the black and white ransom note style letters that spell out This Ain’t Hollywood, the wild and tame performances that have graced the music venue over the years are just as starkly juxtaposed.
Whether you’re born and raised in the Hammer or you experience the city as more than a university town, This Ain’t Hollywood has often served as an introduction to Hamilton’s music scene.
From metal performances on Mondays to last Friday night’s tribute performances to Johnny Cash, the old pub turned rock ‘n’ roll palace has hosted all kinds of acts since co-owner Lou Molinaro alongside Glen “The Hamilton Kid” Faulman and his wife Jodie Faulman bought the James Street North establishment in 2009.
Thousands of hip hop, jazz, classic rock, punk, country, folk and blues performances have taken place on the ten-year-old stage. The venue became a hot spot for Juno after parties, performances for the Canadian Country Music Association’s Country Music Week and drag events.
While music pulsates through the 125-year-old walls of the building every other night, This Ain’t Hollywood is just as alive during the daylight.
Thursday’s are crafty happy hour sponsored by Collective Arts and Monday’s are for bingo and games. The space was also used by Over The Bridge co-founder Ace Piva to host a naloxone training and overdose prevention awareness event last November.
Now that the building is up for sale for just under $2.15 million, long-time concert goers, friends of the venue and Hamilton-based musicians are wondering about the fate of the venue and the direction the city’s music scene is heading. While the owners are testing the waters for a potential sale, Molinaro insists that the shows must go on.
The venue is making no cancellations to its upcoming booked shows and is still booking performances well into the new year. As the ambiguity around when the venue will be sold looms over everyone’s heads, the This Ain’t Hollywood team is planning to make every moment count before the lights go out.
While there is still hope that the future buyer would continue to add to the legacy the rock ‘n’ roll palace will leave behind, here’s to remembering the moments that made This Ain’t Hollywood the icon it is in the north end.
The Other Side of Country
On Sept. 7, 2018 the CCMA hosted a show at This Ain’t Hollywood for the coveted Country Week. House band Dead Flowers had everyone’s feet stomping to the beat of the Rolling Stone’s country songs. Guests included Hamilton’s own Terra Lightfoot as well as Canadian country music singer-songwriters Madeline Merlo, JJ Shiplett, Wayne Petti, Damhnait Doyle and Wes Mack.
Every B.A. Johnston Performance
Every one of B.A. Johnston’s performances at This Ain’t Hollywood might be just as iconic in the Hamilton music scene as the venue itself. He is one of the most consistent performers, coming back show after show since the venue first opened. Johnston’s comedy music is difficult to explain but there’s a whole lot of laughs and tough love for Hamilton in his lyrics.
The Annual Steel City Rockers Tribute to Joe Strummer has made This Ain’t Hollywood the event’s home for the past couple of years. After Faulman had a chance encounter with the Clash’s lead vocalist he decided to pursue music and form The Sam Lawrence 5. Molinaro was starting his own record label at the time and decided to record with the new band. Over a decade later The Sam Lawrence 5 is still performing tributes to Strummer and this year’s performance included renditions by The Let Downs, Sons of Dad, Hoodwinks and much more.
Hamilton’s up and coming indie rockers, the Bandicoots, have held several of their hometown shows at This Ain’t Hollywood. Their sold out EP release party on June 3, 2016 was opened by The Crowleys & Jaunt, two other Hamilton bands on the rise.
Rock band Teenage Head got their start in Hamilton in the early 1980s and they’re still selling out shows. Pop band Un-Teens opened for Teenage Head’s show on Dec. 3, 2016 and both bands gave one of the loudest performances to shake This Ain’t Hollywood’s walls.
Arkells’ official music video for “Coffee”
In 2013, arguably Hamilton’s biggest musical success story filmed the official music video for their single “Coffee” off of the Michigan Left album at the venue. In between clips of arcade-game style animations the band is seen performing in front of sthe recognizable This Ain’t Hollywood banner. The Arkells held a surprise performance at the venue that same year and performed “Coffee” alongside other tracks off their album.