My first official interview for View Magazine in December of 1999 was with Ace Piva. The young musician was part of a 24 hour local music marathon at the defunct Dante’s venue in Gore Park but while things have changed a lot for Hamilton and Piva, some goals remain the same. Piva has transition from a drummer for the likes of Inside, Georgian Skull, Malice, Marvin K Mooney, Mister Bones and more to a tour manager, live sound engineer and most recently addictions councellor. It’s his last passion that lead him to found Over The Bridge, a charitable organization that helps musicians in particular deal with addiction, depression and more. This weekend, a fundraiser for Over The Bridge happens but Piva’s goal was to feature a slew of Hamilton talent — perhaps like the good ol’ days a couple of decades ago.
“I decided to get organized and so I started Over The Bridge — a non–profit organization that connects the music industry to addiction and mental health professionals, education, training, and peer–to–peer support,” says Piva. “We’ve done naloxone training and overdose prevention awareness events in Hamilton and Toronto and arm 250 people with naloxone kits to fight opioid overdoses.
“We really depend on the small venue fundraising events and the music community to get us through the growing pains of accomplishing our grander goals,” adds Piva. “As we’re growing, we’re developing larger projects and getting larger eyes on us but the musicians are the one’s most supporting us. We’re not helping the big rock stars but the people that play the small venues day in and day out that deal with this as their life. These are the artists that really need the help — the one’s that can’t afford addictions counseling and there is no program set up for them as of yet. We’re hoping doing these kinds of events helps build awareness for that and help those musicians.”
With an upcoming fundraiser, Piva gathered the cream of the crop as he sees it from our local talent base for a show that also celebrates Hamilton music on a whole. Piva even returns to his drumming days joining the new version of Pistol Packin’ Preachers and a newer band Citidiots that both perform at this show.
“The fundraising idea was actually secondary for this event,” says Piva. “I’ve been doing live sound for years and playing in bands, when the holidays approached I didn’t really see a lot of shows that celebrated Hamilton bands. When I was choosing the bands, that’s what I wanted to do. I really wanted a diverse line up that not only showcases newer bands but also some veteran bands to some of the new bands and vice versa. This is a great opportunity for a bunch of Hamilton musicians to come together and celebrate.
“With the support of event sponsors including Edgewood Health Network, Long and McQuade and Dr.Disc, A Hammer Rock Christmas will host a sober backstage providing a holiday feast and non–alcoholic beverages for the talent to enjoy,” adds Piva. “It’s a big party for sure, it’s celebrating Hamilton music. But we’ll also raise as much funds as we can so that we can keep helping musicians cope with our programs. We’re building awareness for Over The Bridge and all of these great Hamilton musicians. We hope it’s a rocking show and I hope everyone comes out.”
The first annual Over The Bridge “A Hammer Rock Christmas” happens this Friday December 20 at the Casbah with Lori Yates with Hey Stella, Wax Mannequin, Katie Bully, Lee Reed, Tarek Funk, Chrys and Momo, Pistol Packin’ Preachers, Mathew De Zoete and friends, Ginger St James, Moonlight Desires, Citidiots, The Human Race and Georgia Pines. Doors open at 8pm and it’s a $10 or Pay What You Can cover. Click on overthebridge.org.