Songs from the Bishop offers a novel stage for some Hamilton indie rockers to get in front of a different kind of audience and the Stinson area residents seem to love what’s going on. Adam Bentley first came to note as a musican himself, fronting the Rest over three albums but when that band called it a day six years ago, Bentley focused himself on primarily publicizing and producing other bands with Auteur Research and Tape Recording Studio. As his life and work are based in the Stinson neighborhood, when Bentley programs the acts for Songs from the Bishop, it’s almost like a big backyard party for the neighborhood on every Thursday in July.
“I live in the Stinson neighbourhood and for nine years I’ve helped get the acts involved but Songs from the Bishop is made possible by the Stinson Community Association,” says Bentley. “I liked the idea of doing something small scale — this park is a parkette, it’s very tiny. It’s very much in the middle of Stinson and I liked the idea of putting on a show where there usually wouldn’t be any music. I’ve been surprised how well attended and how well it’s gone over, over the years. Local shows are generally a difficult proposition but we get upwards of a hundred people and more. Families with their kids, pets, lawn chairs...”
This year The Dill performs July 4, Gareth Inkster with Earth Wind and Coir on July 11, Dave Rave and Hailee Rose on July 18 and Sarah Beatty on July 25.
“There are sometimes issues with timing — I've tried to book Earth Wind and Choir for the last five years and it’s never worked out but I’m super excited to have them this year,” says Bentley. “Gareth Inkster has a new record and it felt like a good time. Dylan Hudecki has been on the scene for a very long time and I’ve never had the chance to book him so I’m happy to have him this year promoting his latest record. Sarah Beatty had played once before but it’s been five years so I thought it was about time to bring her back. She’s a performer that knows how to engage the audience really well. It’s easy for people to get distracted and Sarah has a great way of bringing people into her performance. I think I’ve had Dave Rave play seven out of nine of these shows. He’s been almost the one constant. He puts on an unbelievable show and he understands the set up there in a masterful degree. There are people that poke out there windows or apartments and make a bee line — If I can get Dave, I book him every year.”
Songs from the Bishop offers a quaint, novel and free opportunity to check out a local favourite in a different setting or experience someone you never knew was making music in your own backyard.
“It’s a different kind of show,” says Bentley. “I’ve seen some performers get intimidated. The audience wants to be engaged but there are kids running around and you could be easily distracted the whole time but the people who have played multiple times have figured it out. We do have some bands but they’re able to play at a lower volume to accommodate the space. I have to be careful about that. We have the city’s blessing for all of this but we only want to do a positive experience for the neighborhood and not turn people off.
“I’ll continue doing this as long as they ask me to,” adds Bentley. “Next year, for the tenth anniversary I think I’m going to try and pull some very special guests. Getting to ten years is an amazing thing and maybe we’ll try doing two acts every night and expand it for the special anniversary but that’s still in the works. Last year, we had the most people biking to the event than I’ve ever seen so that’s a trend I’d like to see continue. The more people, the better the vibe and the performers respond well to this kind of audience. I’d hope everyone check out these musicians.” V
The Ninth Annual Songs from the Bishop music series happens every Thursday evening in July in Bishop’s Park at the corner of East Avenue South and Hunter Street East. Free for all to attend.