Live at Hess Village: Sebastian Paige and the Virginia Wolves
By Mary Ann Boateng
Live music venues like The Lazy Flamingo, The Casbah and Slainte offer patrons a variety of sounds from underground rap to classic rock covers. From Wednesday to Saturday night, at least one of the venues showcases the capacity of local musicians; however, these bands often find themselves competing for the attention of sizeable crowds usually drawn to Hess Street.
“I think what’s lacking most in the Hamilton music scene is more live bands playing in places like Hess Village,” said Adam Cannon, drummer in local band Sebastian Paige and the Virginia Wolves. He went on to say how he wishes local music venues would take advantage of the large crowds on Hess Street in order to increase artist exposure and “get people talking about the quality of talent Hamilton has to offer.”
Sebastian Paige and the Virginia Wolves began playing Motown cover songs last summer at the Lazy Flamingo. Along with Cannon, Pete Moss (bass, guitar, vocals), Joshua Alvernia (lead vocals) and Mike Monson (guitar, piano, vocals) are members of this Motown/alternative/classic rock cover band whose blend of funky backbeats and synthesis of diverse musical styles has produced truly unforgettable performances.
It’s important for local bands to form strong connections with small bars to keep Hamilton’s live music scene afloat. “Whistling Walrus on Upper James in one of my favourite places to play,” said Monson. “I love the pub atmosphere, the location and the staff.” Cannon said he likes “playing at the Flamingo because [the band] has developed a good relationship with the staff,” which has “really provided [them] with the opportunity to build a base and create a following.”
The band has been able to secure weekly gigs at The Whistling Walrus and the Lazy Flamingo, and they have also enjoyed playing at Gallagher’s, The Honest Lawyer and The Firehall in Oakville.
“In Hamilton, there’s a great scene for cover bands and lounge acts,” said Moss, “but there are only a couple clubs where original acts can really develop their thing on stage.”
There’s a crowd of music lovers in Hamilton who would rather jam to live music than dance to top 40 at one of the many spaces in Hess Village. Navigating the Hamilton music scene can be complicated, since there are few locations that allow bands to perform their own music on stage. The success of bands like Arkells, The Reason and 40 Sons proves that there’s definitely an audience that appreciates the cultivation of local Hamiltonian music. Unfortunately, Hess Village only offers a small handful of live music venues.
After touring around Canada, Alvernia also suggested that the live music scene across the world has changed, and that “what matters most today is having an online presence.” The band has capitalized on Internet promotional opportunities with the release of a digital side project spearheaded by Mike Monson called The Maker. Under the band name Iron Age Pigs, this quartet is hoping to bring more of their presence online with active Facebook, Instagram and Twitter pages.
But in the meantime, the Wolves will keep playing at their favourite Hamilton venues.