In the midst of all of the country harvest festivals happening around southern Ontario this month, a special Hamilton Hoedown happens within city limits at a local craft beer brewer with some locals bringing the country to the city.
Alan Judson was born in Swift Current, Saskatchewan, grew up in Colborne, Ontario and came to Hamilton to study history and political science at McMaster University but it was his love for music that has now made him make Hamilton his home. He'd grown up with a love for country music and when he came to Hamilton, he was delighted to end up joining two like minded acts.
"I started playing my brother's guitar when I was twelve years old like you only can at that age, hunkering down in your bedroom and playing for hours so that's all I did for years," recalls Judson. "I think my gateway to bluegrass was the Grateful Dead. I'd heard some of Jerry Garcia's side projects and then I saw the movie "Deliverance" so I bought a banjo when I was sixteen years old. I ended up playing with some classic rock type bands in high school but I was really hungry to play with some bluegrass players and when I came to Hamilton in 2002, I heard of these guys playing bluegrass and got in touch with them."
With Judson (lead guitar, dobro, vocals) joining Dave Kloet (banjo, harmonica, vocals), Jer Timmerman (mandolin) and Jon Lensink (upright bass, vocals), the Golden Horseshoe Revival plays for the love of bluegrass - covering the likes of Bill Munroe or Flatt and Scruggs but with what Judson suggests is a 'lack of ambition'.
"We never had any delusions of grandeur but being one of the only bluegrass bands in Hamilton for a long time, we'd get gigs playing weddings, corporate events or hay wagons," says Judson. "We're just happy playing music. We jam in the living room every week but we have a gig or two every month. Country music and bluegrass comes from the same place so the same elements that brought me to bluegrass brought me to traditional country.
"The Handsome Devils are a little bit different," referencing the Hamilton area traditional country band Judson joined some three years ago (Dig into the Viewmag.com archives for their own cover feature). "I was at a restaurant on Ottawa Street and I heard them play this great traditional country music and told them I could play the dobro if you ever want to join. Jon Goold convinced me to play the pedal steel and now I'm obsessed with it. Jon writes all the original music and three albums have been released. We're getting bigger and bigger shows - we played the big stage at the Festival of Friends this year. All of the musicians in both bands are crazy about the music and I think that's all you can ask for because it is contagious when you see us play live."
The Handsome Devils and Golden Horseshoe Revival are joined by CJ Altmann for the entertainment for this Hamilton Hoedown. And while there will be food by the Donut Monster and the Dirty South, games a 50/50 draw and of course, plenty of Clifford Brewing beer, Judson hopes people experience the infectious nature of the live music for this special Hamilton Hoedown.
"We'd done a show for Clifford Brewery for their first anniversary and there were so many people there," says Judson. "It's a really fun atmosphere in the space with all sorts of games so it made sense. Eat, drink, enjoy the music - I know they have a lot of regulars so I'm hoping it's packed and I think it's going to be a really lively show. Everyone's got to go to the Hamilton Hoedown and have some fun."
The Golden Horseshoe Revival plays Hamilton Hoedown this Saturday October 19 at Clifford Brewing Company (398 Nash Rd N #1). The event happens from 4pm to 10pm with live music from CJ Altmann, the Handsome Devils and the Golden Horseshoe Revival. It's a $5 or pay-what-you-can entry fee. Click on facebook.com/GoldenHorseshoeRevival