One’s known as the Hammer, the other as the Tron, and they’re half a world apart. But blues is about to bring together two cities named Hamilton – one in Canada, the other in Waikato. After years of getting mail and messages intended for each other, the blues societies of the respective cities are launching a sister society agreement, fulfilling an idea that was first mooted a year ago.
As BigJohnny of the Hammer group comments:
“Being sistered with the Hamilton NZ Blues Society shows the world that being 14,000 kilometres away from each other can’t keep musical families apart, but will make the planet a better place by making sure this global village can be a happy place through music
“When we can all sit in a circle and play tunes together we’re all like kids from eglverywhere who don’t care where we come from because we all have fun.”
For the Tron group, which will celebrate its 25th anniversary in 2020, this sentiment rings very true.
“To be part of the international blues network, share our blues music, share the fun, and not be 14,000 kilometres apart – distance means nothing,” says chairperson Gleniss Kehely, pictured signing the new agreement.
Regular musician exchanges will be part of the deal, starting with BigJohnny Blue (Mr John Crawford) who is President of the Hamilton Blues Society, Ontario, Canada, and will be travelling to Waikato’s Bluestock Festival held in Easter 2020. From then, musicians from one Hamilton will visit the other to perform every two years.
BigJohnny is bringing along guitarist Jon Newton from Bing, Ontario, and local blues society sponsor, The Rockshop Hamilton, will organise tutorial and workshop sessions for BigJohnny also in Auckland and Rotorua. Here in The Tron, the society will organise a drummer and bass player to support the Canadian visitors.
While blues is the commonality, given population differences the blues scene in the two Hamiltons is quite distinct. In the wider Hamilton, Ontario area there are about 750,000 inhabitants – and enough venues to play blues at every day if a musician is keen. The city is also near Niagara Falls and Toronto.
Hamilton, NZ, is somewhat smaller, these days boasting a population of around 165,000. Biddy Mulligan’s Irish Bar has hosted Hamilton Blues since 2006, firstly in Victoria St. and now at the Hood St. premises, supporting blues events at least twice monthly.
Across NZ there are blues societies and clubs actively keeping the blues alive, promoting blues as a genre and keeping the flag flying down-under. HBS NZ is in the process of forming a ‘blues network’, actively inviting these groups to form a network to further future cooperation.
To cement their ‘Sister Society Agreement’, HBS NZ and HBS ON will exchange an award (or trophy), to be given annually in recognition of achievement within the blues community in either country. Details are yet to be confirmed.