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The Hammer. Who knew there was improvised music there? Well, I don’t think there was very much until Cem Zafir arrived last year. Cem is the ultimate free jazz enabler. Over the years he has presented some of the world’s greatest performers in festivals and concert of his creation in several cities. All without funding, infrastructure or even a business plan! He’s poured his own money into our music, often emerging in the red, but continuing on despite. His enthusiasm and kindness are both laudable and absolutely crazy, but his impact is undeniable.

Cem opened his home to us, paid us, fed us, drove us around: the whole deal. And always asking for nothing, only wanting us to be comfortable and happy. Wow.

So we played at the Pearl Co., another Hamilton miracle. Pearl is an old industrial building that has been renovated to hold two performance spaces, and an amazing loft apartment. The owners are a couple of Hamiltonians who have fought city hall, and slaved and struggled to present theatre, music (and lots of burlesque it seems), all while passively upgrading a pretty sketchy part of town. The space was funky with mismatched couches and chairs, free trade coffee, and an audience that was devoted to the space and the owners as much as the performance! And it was our biggest audience so far too. The concert was different again, no doubt due to the fact, that we left Victoria at 7am and arrived at the space at 7:30pm! The music was deeper, with a more subdued energy, opening up at times, even extended times, but always settling back to a more contemplative place, as opposed to the opposite.

We awoke to a free day in Hamilton. After a late breakfast we separated and wandered the city on foot, Gerry taking pictures, Lukas buying clothes (his suitcase was misplaced and there’s an excellent big and tall shop here, with vintage styles!) Tim and I walking and exploring. Eventually we loaded up and headed to Guelph. Guelph is a whole other level of economic prosperity from rather depressed looking Hamilton, it seems and Silence is another community action leading to creative space. It’s a relatively new, volunteer driven organization that is presenting all kinds of art and performance in Guelph, and seems to be doing well. (they certainly have a nice donated espresso machine and grinder….) This audience was small, possibly due to the blizzard that suddenly whipped up outside, but some musician friends from Toronto drove all the way out with their families to hear us, so that felt pretty good. Thanks Joe and Ken.

Upon arrival in Hamilton the 3 of us found Chinese food, and returned to Gerry and Cem listening to music and hanging. Gerry’s interest in music is as wide ranging and his knowledge about the history and details of recordings is encyclopedic, so the stories are pretty interesting and the music pretty weird!

Now we're facing the final show, the bookend on a pretty great adventure.

Apr 5, 2015 at 11:38

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