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The Festival Experience  

 Music fans crave discovery. 
Thats why we love the festival experience. And of course Music Festivals are all about discovery. The music lover may be there to see a favorite artist but along the way will have the opportunity to stumble on a whole bunch of other acts! Thats why artists love to play festivals too, we get to introduce ourselves to a whole army of potential fans we would never have reached otherwise!  

Coming together in a community around a shared interest is even more important to us in the digital age. Just witness the communal experience Canadians felt as the Tragically Hip played it's last shows together this summer. At a music festival everyone can feel a part of the atmosphere of the bigger event.  Its not about attending one concert,  it's about our shared love of the music which is why everybody is there in the first place!   

 Jazz festivals are no different. From the big international festivals like Montreaux to the local festival such as the Beaches Jazz Festival there are all kinds of arguments for hearing Jazz in a festival setting rather than only in a small local venue.  There are many challenges to putting on a great festival and one of them is how to attract an audience in a busy marketplace, which is why mainstream music festivals tend to invite international artists that we rarely get to see.     


Toronto loves it's festivals.
From the big ones like Tiff and Hot Docs to the local neighbourhood food festivals like Taste of The Danforth  there is hardly a week without a festival happening somewhere in the greater GTA.  
Our newest entry to the Festival calendar is The  Kensington Market Jazz Festival (in my old stomping ground) which has been conceived  of by musicians (our first lady of culture Ms. Molly Johnson) as a neighbourhood-oriented weekend for Toronto to discover and celebrate it's own jazz artists.  

Its happening in a batch of unusual local venues which are just waiting for discovery.   I'm particularly excited to be reunited with Sophie Milman when we share The Round stage Sept 17th. Our Ottawa gig with the National Arts Centre Orchestra singing Cole Porter duets was a pleasure indeed! 

 There is already an amazing street vibe in Kensington Market, and the weekend of Sept 16th, 17th and 18th the air will be filled with Jazz of every kind!  Come and hang out for the weekend. You'll see thrilled to see old favourites and make a few new discoveries I promise! 

 Kensington Market Jazz Video!


Is Hamilton The New Brooklyn?  

Well first of all lets just say it up front ... Hamilton folks have always been proud of being Hamilton folks being compared with a  borough of New York City doesn't sit easily with people around here.      However the Hammer has always been a city of rugged individualists and folks who have decided to do it their own way, and in that regard Hamilton people are proud to flourish far from the high rents and hustle of larger cities like Toronto which now feel almost unliveable with it's high cost and over crowding. So the comparison may be loaded …..but it isn't all that off base. 
 In a recent article the Globe and Mail stated that "Brooklyn is booming as an arts hub because Manhattan is unaffordable for artists. Toronto is in severe danger of out-pricing its own creative types. Hamilton, with its cheap rents and supportive arts community, looks better with each visit." 

Its true that Hamilton used to be where people escaped from.            
 But these days its the place where people escape to!  


 Why are people moving to Hamilton? Artists of all kinds need space that is affordable so we have time to develop  ideas, try new things and not just scramble for the daily rent.  Typically its artists that move into depressed areas with lower rent, developing the housing and making community in places that allow room for creativity to happen.  And that ladies and gentlemen is how a scene develops.  

The cool coffee house,  artisan beer joint and organic vegetables are never far behind.  Like worker bees, artists create the conditions that attract people to a new neighbourhood or town, digging into undesirable areas and creating an atmosphere that allows developers to step in make money down the road.  

 And that ladies and gentlemen is how cities develop. 

Just thinking of the handful of Hamilton based artists that I know I see the benefits of living in a smaller city where we can grow our big size ideas!

So if  media folks have decided to compare Hamilton to Brooklyn, both being places that are artist friendly and where a healthy local scene ends up influencing  mainstream culture…well then, sure not! Just don't bring it up with your "Proud To Be Hamilton" pals. They're not looking for your approval..(thats why they are here)!

at The Artword Artbar in Hamilton Ont 
Friday June 3 and Saturday June 4, 2016, at 8 pm.  
$15 advance through /  
$20 at the door.