Steel Gold’s First Anniversary
Steel Gold began as a monthly event to focus on all things hip hop and galvanized a community looking to gather but didn’t have a home. It’s success was in no small part to the organizers but its strength has come in the wealth of people that have joined the party over the last year. This week, the celebration commemorates one year of Steel Gold’s Hamilton hip hop.
“Steel Gold was Lee Reed’s idea — he said, ‘You know what this city needs? A $5 rap night’ — and it was true,” notes promoter and Steel Gold co-founder Samantha Sivasubra-maniam. “There was no place where hip hop heads could go to enjoy the culture of hip hop. Lee didn’t want to, nor had the time to take on the task of running the show, so I took it from there. Steel Gold was in essence a gift from Lee to the city and me.
“Steel Gold is a positive and supportive environment where hip hop artists, fans, and industry personalities alike, can come to network and enjoy the elements of hip hop in their purest forms,” adds Sivasubramaniam. “We found that the Hamilton hip hop scene is very divided between regions and various styles so we hope that Steel Gold will be a place to unify the hip hop community in Hamilton.”
Fourteen emcees and artists as well as eight hosts and DJs a variety of producers and break-dancers and a ton of fans have come out over the last year. With Steel Gold’s first anniversary event, the focus is local with Hamilton hip hop legend Lee Reed hosting and an up and coming artist, the Demon, offering his debut collection of songs.
“Steel Gold is like hip-hop church or something - it's not just a monthly event, it's bigger than that,” offers Reed who has focused on his Hamilton Music Award nominated debut full length release, Emergency Broadcast, over the last year. “You feel part of something, part of a real community. I think it's helped build bridges between styles and city geography and brought people to the same table to hoist beers and talk hip hop. It's a very positive space for hip hop. You can watch some MC bust their first live rhyme and then watch a legend like Eklipz rock it five minutes later. That space for exchange and growth, for fostering the genre, it's important and we're lucky to have it. The Demon is a great example of how Steel Gold has fostered talent and brought artists together. Anthony is a hip hop renaissance man, a talented and intelligent emcee and an amazing visual artist.
“I owe my name getting out there to the Steel Gold open mics, it’s the epitome of hip hop,” offers Anthony Haley, otherwise known as the Demon, who releases, The Bedroom Secrets of the MC at Steel Gold. “Some call Steel Gold church, I call it Christmas every month. It’s become more than hitting up an open mic now for me, it’s going out to see my Steel Gold family and have a good night celebrating the one thing we all love and live, hip hop. So for me, it’s kind of a full circle thing, to release my EP at the place that released me into this
“This past year, I’ve had more positivity in my life and I felt like I wanted to reflect that in this EP,” adds Haley. “A few of the tracks are still a bit raw, I am the Demon after all, but I wanted to have fun and give a little introduction as to who I am and what I’m about. I’m not trying to make lots of money, or even preach politics, though I do touch on the subject time from time. I’m more about observing the world and letting you all know what I see.”
From this vantage, Hamilton hip hop has never been stronger and the local community is growing because of the artists, promoters and fans involved in Steel Gold. The rippling effects of the community building spirit of Steel Gold will mean much more local hip hop for fans to enjoy in the future.
“It’s important to celebrate one year of Steel Gold as it is a huge milestone for hip hop in Hamilton,” notes Sivasubramaniam. “Though hip hop series have come and gone in the past, none have been quite like Steel Gold. That a hip hop show of such a high caliber has lasted a year in a ‘rock city’ reflects wonderful things on the Hamilton hip hop community.”
“It will be a night of celebration, reflection, back-slapping and beer drinking but I imagine it'll shake out as it always does – a room full of practitioners, studying the craft, sharing mics and cheering each other on,” says Reed. “We’ve got DJ Akiin, from the almighty Shing Shing Regime on the decks, a Steel Gold tribute by the homies from Everyday People, art and music by the Demon and as always the most open mic in the city. Hip hop has come a long way in this city — from a small handful of cats, to a full on community of diverse and high quality hip hop. Producers, emcees, breakers, graf artists — we got everything we need here and remembering that, supporting that and helping that grow is important.”
Steel Gold happens this Thursday November 1 at the Casbah with Lee Reed, the Demon, Every Day People and more. Doors open at 9:30pm and $5 gets you in. Find Steel Gold on facebook.com
The Art of Sound
Turbulence, the sole CD document of Over the last six years, the Freeway Coffeehouse has offered a different venue for musicians with a slightly different audience. No liquor, quite often no drums because of the acoustics in the remodeled former bank and a decided focus on fringe acoustic and eclectic artists. With this weekend’s Art of Sound one day festival, the Freeway celebrates with a litany of friends and supports from the last year and with hopes of raising funds to further their musical activities and more.
“The Freeway has been rooted at King and Wellington for six years now and we have made some great connections with local businesses, groups and real authentic relationships with fellow Hamiltonians,” smiles Miranda Ciarroni, the Music Coordinator at the Freeway. “ The Freeway's purpose is to be a safe third space for people to come as well as a venue to help support local and traveling artists and musicians and this last year has been a great one. Our leadership team and relationship with Lawson Ministries has continued to flourish and meld. One change for live music nights is that we have switched to Thursdays. The Hamilton music scene continues to grow and we saw that as an opportunity to move to Thursdays to hopefully grow our audience. Thursdays are a good day for us as we give people the coffeehouse experience with live music and Fridays we'll leave to the bar scene — plus we finish up by 10pm which lets people get home in good time on a school night. We've had both new and old musicians come out over the last 365 days as well as new and old faces behind the coffee bar.
“Art of Sound celebrates what the Freeway is about and the relationships we’ve developed with artists over the years,” adds Ciarroni. “Artists were chosen to include a wide variety of talent — kind of a metaphor of our Freeway community - who have built a bit of a special relationship with the Freeway — our space, our volunteers, our community friends and our vision. A couple artists are people who came to play on a Thursday night and then joined our team of baristas. The bands who are playing are donating their time and each person was happy to do so which makes us so happy and honoured.”
With an eclectic group of performers, including 2x the Mono, Andrew Victoria, Darin Martin Band, Red Sky Morning, Thoughts on Air, Myles Gardner, Ash & Bloom, Pichon and Mavis, this Art of Sound fundraising festival offers something decidedly different in true Freeway style.
“This is a fundraising event to help with improving our physical space,” explains Ciarroni. “Renovations are in the near future to both help our live music nights and to make room for additional programming and growth with programs run by Lawson Ministries.
“Musically, there's some serious diversity in the lineup,” adds Ciarroni. “Come out not only to support what the Freeway is trying to achieve but for an amazing night of local music talent for a great deal. To sum up Art of Sound; it’s $10 to see nine great bands for five hours on two stages for one great night.”
The Art of Sound happens this Saturday November 3 at the Freeway Coffee House. Doors open at 7pm and $10 gets you in. Click on frwy.ca
Peter Tigchelaar’s More Like Lightning
It was a sixteen-year gap between singer/songwriter Peter Tigchelaar last two albums but bolstered by the response to 2010’s Gracious Window, Tigchelaar has become more prolific of late. This week, Tigchelaar reconnects with producer Trevor Titian to offer his new CD that explores a different musical path. With a previous focus on as he says songs to soothe the soul or challenge the mind, More Like
Lightning sees Tigchelaar exploring different soundscapes with a host of different instrumentation and this time with a focus more on offering comfort.
“It’s a record that began written on ukulele but a whole production has emerged,” explains Tigchelaar. “It’s a love developed for the ukulele. My wife is a music teacher, through her, I got to meet James Hill and seeing him perform really inspired me. The simplicity of the ukulele and the sound that comes from it — a whole body of songs emerged from it. I explored a whole lot of soundscapes with Trevor Titian that all began with the ukulele. The ukulele helped keep things in a slightly lighter vein lyrically as well. There’s still some challenging stuff but there’s also an invitation to simply enjoy the music — just sweet music for music’s sake. The music itself has a message in terms of the simplicity and the charm of using these smaller instruments.
“The lyrics are important to me but this time around, Trevor and I wanted to go for sounds that had a healing property for these wounding times we live in,” adds Tigchelaar. “Sonically, I think that’s something I’d like to take away from this. There’s a sound that’s fresh and different and that can instil some hope and encourages people to live to fight another day.”
Produced by Tigchelaar and Titian at Big Blue, Tigchelaar’s Dundas home studio and business (by day Urban Green, an interior plant care business), More Like Lightning features, Ron Cole (accordion), James Hill (ukulele), Tone Valcic (percussion), Andrew Tigchelaar (bass), Anne Janelle (cello, banjo), Cheryl Tigchelaar (vocals), Harrison Kennedy (vocals) and more. More Than Lightning is simply meant to be
“There’s something about what lightning does,” muses Tigchelaar on the song that became the album title. “There is this sudden flash with lightning and ties in with the music like a splash of sound. The ground I broke with Trevor Titian — the last record was a challenge in terms of feeling each other out and with the different musicians we used and didn’t use. This time a cast of players emerged and offered a big encouragement with a fresh new sound. Trevor believed the song ‘More Than Lightning’ was a standout and it seemed to represent what we were creating for the album. The whole experience was rewarding and there are a lot more songs now because of it.
“For the CD release, I’m bringing in some people who weren’t on the record,” adds Tigchelaar. “Michael Schulte will play this miniature cello, Michael Donnelly he’s quite the good player as well – it’s the collaboration that I really get off on and so I’m going to include these people at the CD release event and hopefully more often into the future. Michael’s part of the Locke Street Ukulele Orchestra – and that’s part of the vibe for the record, these uke circles are a friendly community building thing with simple small instruments. It’s a lot of fun and a lot of interesting music that emerges from it.
“The CD release is going to be a parade of small instruments – a small drum kit, my son playing a little viola bass, a variety of ukuleles, Ron Cole will be playing accordion,” says Tigchelaar. “It’s a full production but all in the vein of scaled down, smaller instruments. There’s no opener, I’m putting on a full concert night. I’m doing a few of my older songs as well as some I haven’t recorded so we’re doing a bit from the past and the future as well.”
Peter Tigchelaar plays this Thursday November 1 at the Pearl Company. Doors open at 8pm and $10 gets you in. Click on petertigchelaar.com V