From our first meeting with New Hands, we knew we’d be friends. We’ve found a lot in common with the band, from our Tumblr blogs and the Playlists we both post, to finding similar tastes in music, books, movies, and tv, and our connection to McMaster. Not only are they great guys and our newfound bffs, but we are really excited about this band. So excited, that we almost booked them for I Heart Hamilton Tour Presents: The Playlist 1.0 before even seeing them play! From that very first show, we were fans.
After some last-minute prep in Westdale Village at the delightful My Dog Joe over some tasty iced coffees, Avi and I set out on our mission – Rendezvous with New Hands. We enjoyed being back in the Westdale neighbourhood; it had been a while since we had walked around that area. After walking in the wrong direction, we did a quick search, consulting with our good ‘ol GPS who we’ve named Jacques. Don’t ask. Once we were headed in the right direction, we heard the soundtrack of Grease blasting as we rounded the corner. I joked to Avi, “I really hope that’s them.” Sure enough, it was, as “Summer Nights” had come on the radio of Spence’s car and he cranked up the tune.
What was even more amazing was, when that song ended, “Hit the Road, Jack” was the next to come on. Avi and I stood there, awestruck, because that song has been a bit of a recurring theme throughout our Tour. Between Jenny, Avi, Carly, and myself, our initials spell JACK and that has been our little moniker. Befitting to the Tour, that song is just perfect, because when we started the Tour a year ago, I declared, “Let’s hit the road.” Arriving at New Hands’ house and hearing that song was a complete full circle moment that I still can’t get over. Just another sign that we click with the band! We knew it was going to be a fun Rendezvous.
Avi interviewing New Hands
Our haiku written by Spence
It was a hot summer day, so we decided to do the interview in their backyard, after getting a tour of the house. We can just imagine the shenanigans that must go on with New Hands all living under one roof! (Minus drummer Gordy, as he is about to the tie the knot. Exciting!) Getting a peak at their rehearsal space, I recognized it right away from the live video they shot of “Whichever Way You’ll Have It” (to be their next single). Gordy’s impressive art is also displayed around the house.
We settled in the shade around a picnic table, plenty of beers at the ready, my cue cards, Avi’s camera, and our little mascot for the day, Spence’s adorable dog Chanel, who may even be the brains behind the whole operation. Avi and I managed to cover a variety of topics, from New Hands’ beginning as a band (they were previously The Social Workers), their musical influences, the Hamilton music scene, what it’s like recording with Michael Keire at Threshold Studios, the songwriting process, and, we even got Spence to write us an I Heart Hamilton Tour-inspired haiku. Of course, we knew the Rendezvous Rapid Fire portion would be particularly entertaining. It did not disappoint.
Our thanks to Evan, Gordy, Spence, Pat, and Ben for hanging with us for the day! Watch our interview in Part One and the Rapid Fire in Part Two.
Be sure to catch them live July 28th at This Ain’t Hollywood for The Playlist 1.0!
Located in the heart of Westdale Village, the Westdale Theatre (for the sake of using British slang here, I shall be referring to the theatre as the cinema, except when I am talking about the actual name of the theatre. Let’s see how I do, shall we?) offers filmgoers the opportunity to experience both blockbuster hits and limited releases in the comfort of a smaller, intimate setting which some may consider an escape from the bigger, bustling cinemas. Kristin and I decided to check out The Tree of Life, a film we’d seen previews for and had both been wanting to see since it’d been released.
We first ventured over to Grapes and Hops which we had spotted during our Westdale Village tour stop. Unfortunately they were closed, but a return visit is most definitely in order. Tucked away in the village, Kristin and I were taken with the lush garden and the quaint cottage-like setting. It’s also the kind of place where the four of us would definitely have fun and be silly. And how neat would it be to try and create our own wine?? Perfect for summer.
We headed back to the box office and purchased our tickets. With time to kill, another one of those impromptu photoshoots took place where we attempted to pose all treelike which resulted in hilarity, especially when I realized that I could hone my yoga skills and break out into the yoga tree pose. I’d say we were quite successful posing as trees. After grabbing some refreshments we headed into the cinema. We’d both been to this particular theatre before, a while back though. Sidenote: Okay, theatre sounds cool too, especially if said with an accent and a certain air, like theaaaaaaatre. The Westdale Theatre maintains the classic elements of a cinema, from the box office booth to the marquee lights to the sign and even the concession stand board and popcorn bags! Loved all of the décor. It almost transports you back to the time when cinemas were first invented and watching moving pictures with an audience was a novelty.
I am not going to attempt to write a review of this film because I am no film critic. What I will say though is that if you do choose to see this film, you have to go into it with a very open mind. It is not your typical, straightforward film, it does not have a set course of events. That’s the beauty of those atypical genres of film, I reckon. I don’t know much about art house films let alone the art house genre, and Kristin and I were discussing if we’d seen any films which would be considered art house. I must note that there was a disclaimer posted outside making its patrons aware that the film was a ’uniquely visionary and deeply philosophical film.’ This quote set the tone for the film, in my opinion: The nuns taught us there were two ways through life - the way of nature and the way of grace. You have to choose which one you’ll follow.
The cinematography was just lush. The shots of the various landscapes—the desert, the ocean—there was a lot of symbolism surrounding life, how we all connect to nature through different mediums. The elements of earth, wind, fire, water were all represented in some shape or form and religious undertones alluded to by the narration of various Biblical passages.
On our way out, we spotted some velvet curtains and a comfy couch with old movie posters as a backdrop and couldn’t resist another photoshoot. As we enjoyed the cool summer evening outside, the nearly full moon wasn’t the only thing lighting up the village. I had spotted several ‘W’s’ lit up and realized that yes, the W in fact stood for Westdale! Kristin and I tried our hand at forming the signature W which, let me tell you, was no easy task, but I think we managed quite well.
So for those who want a change from the cineplex and are in the mood for watching something out of the ordinary, Westdale Theatre is the place to go.
During our tour of Westdale, we ran into a friend of Kristin’s, Emily, who told us about an aviary located near our touring spot, so naturally we decided to check it out. After all these years of living close to Westdale I had no idea there was a small aviary tucked away behind busy King Street! It’s amazing what you can discover while touring around on foot.
For a while now we have had a fixation on the colours of the peacock. Wherever we go we always manage to find something inspired by peacock colours. When we had heard that there was a peacock residing at the Aviary we were immediately sold on the idea to check it out. It was a must!
The Aviary itself is quite old and a bit run down; however, it does have a certain old charm about it that you won’t find anywhere else. We were taken away by the variety of birds that were kept at the Aviary from all over the world. From exotic parrots to the everyday Canadian duck, we enjoyed our time spent exploring the different bird cages.
While walking around, we also discovered that the Aviary kept flower gardens. These slightly unkept gardens helped to create a country-like feel that was easy to get lost into. We had forgotten that we were just minutes away from King Street.
After exploring the Aviary we decided to walk around the neighborhood and check out the old Tudor style homes nearby. We instantly fell in love with the homes’ unique architecture and the historical feel of the area. I very much wanted to move into one the Tudor homes and call it my own. Maybe one day!
This pretty much concludes our Westdale/Aviary day. We truly had a fantastic time reintroducing ourselves to Westdale and exploring what the area has to offer.
One way we have been keeping track of our tour is by splitting up the city into different sections and devoting a day to each of these areas. This day was all about Westdale. It’s an area I’ve always wanted to explore more, and you would think that with all of us being McMaster graduates, we would have done this sooner. But this is exactly the point of our tour - to take the time to do everything we have always wanted to do in our own city.
I met up with Avi and Jenny for lunch at Bean Bar. Although this wasn’t our first time there, we’re big fans, and definitely had to include it. Bean Bar has quite the selection and if you’ve been following our blog, you know we are terrible at making decisions, particularly when it comes to food and drinks. It will take many returns to get through all the fancy concoctions they have on their drink menu, alone! We’re ok with that. Deciding to try something new, we ordered the starter of Truffle Fries to share between us. Made with truffle oil and truffle salt, this led into a discussion of what exactly truffle is. (Sidenote: According to Wikipedia, it is indeed a type of fungus. This may not sound particularly appetizing, but we concurred the fries were tasty, yet different from what we’re used to.) Avi then chose the Bean Bar salad, Jenny the Bean Bar Chicken Grill, and I wanted to stick with trying new things by going with the Apple Paradise Grilled Cheese. It was like apple pie meets grilled cheese, with a side of maple syrup. If you’re in the mood for something sweet but still want to get away with calling it lunch, go for that sandwich. It revolutionized the way I look at the art of the grilled cheese.
From there, we ventured down the street of Westdale Village. One of our favourite shops we visited was Dakota Mae. Right when we walked in, the girls working there, including the owner herself, Dakota, were so enthusiastic about our tour t-shirts. We told them all about our tour and we were thrilled to have the girls become our first official followers on Tumblr! (Follow Dakota Mae on Tumblr.) Dakota even snapped a picture of us outside her storefront. They have the prettiest dresses and accessories, and even have fascinators - something we have been obsessed with since the Royal Wedding. It was at the boutique we ran into my friend and fellow recent Mac graduate Emily, who suggested that we check out The Aviary while we were in the area. We loved the idea, and definitely took her up on that. Look out for our Aviary adventure in a separate blog entry.
Even though my lunch may have been sweet, we couldn’t resist a trip to Cupcakes for dessert. Once again we were confounded with a decision to make. Luckily, their selection isn’t too expansive, but is just enough to get you thinking about which delicious flavour you’re in the mood for. Avi complemented her lime tee by choosing the Peppermint Patty, I chose the Cherry Bomb, and Jenny went with the classic Vanilla Vanilla.
We continued down the street with our cupcakes, knowing that the next place we had to stop at was Bryan Prince Bookseller. As soon as we stepped inside, we were in heaven! They have those floor-to-ceiling ladders that reminded us of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast; the kind we would love to have in our ideal library. With the winning title of Best Independent Bookstore in Canada under its belt, this bookshop beats the bigger chain book stores, any day. We absolutely loved the atmosphere and could have spent even longer in that small space, bouncing from section to section.
Later in the day, after visiting The Aviary, we stopped for coffee at Global Village Market. Here we were received with a lot of enthusiasm again, and the proprietor offered us many suggestions for the tour. One of these was the Royal Botanical Gardens, which was already on our list, but we were so inspired by the idea, we decided to go the very next day.
I must say, of all our tour stops thus far, the people of Westdale were the most vocal, enthusiastic, and encouraging of our Hamilton tour. It was so great to hear people’s feedback and suggestions. It also sparked so many ideas for future tour stops. It was a very productive and successful tour day for us. We love Westdale!
The next stop on our tour kick-off night was Karaoke Sunday at Snooky Fox in Westdale Village. Now, we’ve already mastered the art of singing karaoke in front of each other, so we decided it was time to step it up a notch. Not only was singing karaoke - live in front of an audience - one of our to-do items for the summer, it was also on each of our life lists. We knew we would be scared to do it, but figured if we started off the tour by challenging ourselves with a new experience, it would set the tone for the coming months.
We watched the fearless individuals, who were most likely Snooty regulars, go before us (a little Gaga, some Cee Lo, and the interesting choice of Sum 41?) while we worked up the nerve and perused the extensive song selection. After much deliberation, our song of choice was The Turtles’ “Happy Together”. It’s simple, it’s a crowd-pleaser, and it’s already a song that we have belted out at many a Motown night at Club Absinthe. We pulled it off, and even had some of the regulars singing along. Mission accomplished! (We’re all about documenting the tour with photographic evidence, but, alas, I was too nervous about our performance to think about asking an audience member to take a picture of us. Next time!!)
The next challenge will be to go it solo. I couldn’t help but notice the Barbra and Liza songs in the collection of tunes. A bit too ambitious? It’s ok, we’ve got all summer.
By curious coincidence, Carly and I heard our karaoke song on the radio while driving home. A sign of good things to come!