By Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Saturday September 3, 2011
It might get loud…
An extraordinary triple musical convergence will take over Hamilton’s core Saturday as Supercrawl, the Locke Street Festival and Country Music Week all rub elbows.
Any one of these three events would be a biggie for the city core. Last year, organizers estimated some 15,000 people attended the Locke Street Festival alone. Another 20,000 poured onto James St. North for Supercrawl. And that was when both festivals were held on different September weekends.
This year the two daylong annual festivals — each featuring an outstanding musical lineup — will take place on the same day, Saturday, Sept. 10.
Added to the excitement is the Canadian Country Music Association’s annual FanFest, the centrepiece of Country Music Week, which is taking place in Hamilton for the first time in 11 years. On Saturday, Sept. 10, between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m., Canada’s top country music stars will perform on the Jackson Square rooftop plaza. FanFest will draw country music enthusiasts from across the country. Organizers are expecting up to 5,000 people.
All three events are within walking distance and all three are free. It has the makings of a huge downtown party — part country hoedown, part art crawl, part indie rock concert, part blues festival, part shopping spree and part grazing expedition.
Imagine Stetsons rubbing brims with black berets and Rasta caps, cowboy boots going toe-to-toe with Birkenstock sandals, beer sharing tables with cappuccino, symphony cellists trading licks with indie kids and belly dancers bouncing hips with line dancers and hip hop DJs.
There could be 40,000 people in the core for the combined “Super Saturday” events.
According to Tourism Hamilton, all of the city’s approximately 1,100 hotel rooms are booked for Super Saturday, with Supercrawl and tourism officials now sending the overflow to Burlington and beyond for lodging.
The estimated economic impact of Country Music Week alone could be as high as $7 million (based on an estimated 10,000 participants), says Dana Borcea, marketing and media relations co-ordinator for Tourism Hamilton.
Super Saturday also gives the city a chance to show off a new side of itself to an influential and captive audience. “Art is the new steel,” as members of the James St. gallery community say.
The Canadian Country Music Association is holding its annual general meeting at the Hamilton Convention Centre next weekend as part of Country Music Week. The CCMA has some 1,600 members. Hundreds will be coming from out of town — Edmonton, Calgary, Halifax and Vancouver. They represent record labels, booking agencies, concert promoters and management companies.
“There will also be a strong representation of people from the music industry attending Country Music Week that day,” says Tim Potocic, co-owner of Hamilton’s Sonic Unyon record label and one of the organizers of Supercrawl.
“It will be excellent exposure for the city of Hamilton.”
In particular, it will be great exposure for Hamilton’s thriving music scene. All the performers on stage at the Locke Street Festival are local and, although the big name at Supercrawl is Toronto’s Broken Social Scene, a good percentage of the performers on the three stages of James St. North are from Hamilton, including Young Rival, the Dinner Belles, Monster Truck, The Rest and the Junior Boys. Even the Hamilton Philharmonic is joining forces with folksinger Basia Bulat for a concert on the street.
It also spells good news for the city’s night clubs as out-of-town industry folk take over downtown venues for private parties and showcases. The Casbah is hosting a Sony Music Canada party, while the Paquin Entertainment Group holds court in This Ain’t Hollywood and Royalty Records sets up shop at Waltz in Jackson Square. The Artword Artbar Café (Colbourne at James N.) is featuring an afternoon Ladies of Country showcase, a public show presented by a coalition of four entertainment companies.
The amazing thing about this Super Saturday is that it wasn’t really a planned thing. Organizers for all three events picked their dates without being aware of the others.
“It was just a coincidence,” says Potocic. “We picked this date about a year ago with a lot of consultation with people on the street. Then we learned about the CCMA and Country Music Week. We gave then a call and co-ordinated things with their FanFest. And they directed us to a couple of acts — the Heartbroken and Ridley Bent — for the Supercrawl stages.”
The city has gotten aboard, adding increased policing to both the Supercrawl (29 officers, up from four last year) and FanFest events (another four officers), as well as providing a free shuttle bus linking Supercrawl to Locke Street.
The shuttle (it’s the faux cable car you see running downtown) will move in 30-minute intervals starting at 10 a.m. at Main and Locke — moving to stops at John and Wilson, Pier VIII Marine Discovery Centre, James and Strachan, James and York/Wilson before returning to Main and Locke — to 10 p.m. (Source: Hamilton Spectator)