Friday, December 31, 2010

Musical Notes- Andre & The J-Tones

Andre & The J - Tones 
Our music reviewer, Angelo Noto Campanella has submitted yet another great article on a local band. Enjoy!

Anxiously awaiting the subjects of my current interview at one of Hamilton's great institutions "Tim Hortons", my mind races with thoughts of how I'll introduce this band, so here goes.

Hamilton offers a large variety of music, specifically, rock, country, jazz, blues, classical and others I may not be aware of. I've found a band that performs classic rythm & blues and motown selections as well as incorporating their own original compostions in that genre. Unlike some musicians who have day jobs, these musicians  practice their craft full time. In my opinion many bands could be enhanced with the addition of a horn section.  Andre & The J - Tones have 2 horns, Loretta Hale on trumpet and Francis Smith on tenor saxophone. The band also includes Brad Cheeseman on bass, Matt Burns on drums, and on guitar & vocals is Andre Bisson, who is the driving force of this ensemble. I was finally able to get together with Andre and Loretta for a chat:

Q : What role has the city of Hamilton played in your musical career?

Andre : We both moved here because of the music program at Mohawk College which is nice. I'm originally from Sault Ste Marie which is a steel town as well, so moving here was kinda like staying home. There were other music programs, one in Toronto, another in B.C. but here in this town was like home, a little smaller and and easier to get around and that's the main reason I came here. We graduated 4 or 5 years ago and we're still here.

Loretta : Everbody went to Mohawk, everybody in the band pretty much, some of them have continued on after Mohawk to a degree program somewhere else. I wasn't an original member of the band but when Andre first started it here in Hamilton it was a bunch of musicians from Mohawk. I'm originally from Oshawa and it was a big surprise moving here, the music scene there was very minimal, mainly Country, so coming to Hamilton was actually really good because they have alot of music and hundreds of bands, orchestras, and for me, I came for cello, so to find out the high schools had string programs was amazing. They didn't have that kind of stuff in Oshawa, here we have jazz, blues, rock, independant, every kind of music you can think of and they really support independant music really well in Hamilton with magazines like View and The Hamiltonian.

Q : What is it that makes your music so unique, I know what I like about it, but what do you think it is that makes your band stand out above the rest?

Andre : I think that the obvious thing is the horns, there are other bands with horns but it's not something you see every day. For the style of music it's the main focus and I find that it adds alot. It makes it easier for arranging the music, it gives you many more ideas and allows you to be more creative. We can be a 5 piece band and get a bigger sound with the horns which is part of the challenge of trying to get the sound usually made by bands that are much bigger.

Loretta : Alot of the bands that play Motown have back up vocalists, the horns in our band cover those grounds.

Q : What are your goals with this band, planning more live shows? Well since I know that your full time musicians, obviously you'll be out playing, LOL. Are you gonna be in the recording studio doing more new original work?

Andre : Yes, thats in the works, that's one of the main things, to always be putting out music. There's a bunch of original stuff we're working out and trying out at shows and seeing how it sounds. About a year ago we put out a cd of all the cover tunes we do at our shows, alot of people were asking for it and it sold really well so I think we might do another one. I also have enough songs, already written, to put together another cd of originals. We'll be playing some of them during our shows and see how they come off and how the crowds react, if people are still dancing then great, if the floor scatters, then it's back to the drawing board. When I write a song I'm always thinking in terms of how the song will work in a live performance. We'll probably have an original album out sometime early in the new year, it's pretty fast because we work out the songs during our shows and then when we get into the studio we know exactly what to do, unless it's a song I just wrote, then it would take alot longer. I'd like to be playing live all the time instead of just sitting in front of the computer trying to make sales that way, we sell more ablums during our shows than we do on line, It's hard getting the live show feel of your performance on a cd.

If you'd like to hear Andre & The J - Tones play some classic R&B along with some new originals, I strongly recommend you go and see one of their live performances.

 Sat Oct 29 - Augusta House - Motown Halloween (Hamilton)
 Sat Nov 19 - Lionheart Motown Revival (Mississauga) 

For more information about Andre & The J - Tones and links to video's:

Their music can be purchased at our live events as well as online iTunes, CDbaby, Amazon, Target, emusic, Napster, and more.

Their CD's:

Andre Bisson: Rhythm & Blues Experience (2009)
Andre Bisson: Rhythm & Blues Christmas (2010)
Andre Bisson: Beyond the Covers (2011)

Contact info: loretta_hale@yahoo.ca

Thursday, December 30, 2010

A Burlington Perspective

The Hamiltonian has reached out to Burlington city council to ask for their views on the stadium issue. We reached out individually to all councillors and the Mayor. Their comments, as published here, cannot be interpreted as an official position, but individual opinions and perspectives at a point in time. We will continue to add to this post as new comments are received and they will be posted verbatim. We asked the following: "We are writing to you to get your views on the stadium issue and more specifically, whether you think the City of Burlington should at minimum, solicit a staff report to examine the issue."

Thank-you to Clr. Marianne Meed Ward for her submission:

"Thanks for the opportunity to comment.

I would support a staff direction if staff had ample time and opportunity to objectively examine the merits of a stadium in Burlington, get firm commitments from stakeholders about what money they can contribute, receive a formal business plan about how the team would pay for itself and the ongoing upkeep of the stadium, review the experience of other municipalities who have sports clubs - including the ongoing cost, conduct the necessary public engagement, and evaluate alternative uses for the land that might generate even more jobs and tax revenue for Burlington. These are just some of the questions that need answers - there are more.

However, the three week window simply won't be enough time to properly research any of this. On a project 

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

About to Fumble?

With talk that the Tiger Cats are considering partnering with a Burlington-based consortium, the prospect of losing the team in Hamilton, is lingering. The prospective deal includes an injection of private funds to the tune of 30 million and a prime parcel of land in Alderhot, for the stadium, to boot.

The game is not over however, as Hamilton is still expected to convey their intentions by the Feb 1st deadline and reserve first dibs if we can pull it together. And that's the key question- can we pull it together or, with the recent defeat of Confederation as an option, are we all but done?

Monday, December 27, 2010

Workin It

If U.S. Steele had any designs on having the courts prevent workers from having intervening status in the court proceedings, they appear to be out of luck.

As reported in The Spec, a Federal court affirmed workers' rights to be given intervenor status, which essentially means that they will have official status in the court proceedings and be able to put forth certain claims/arguments. The union is seeking lost wages that resulted from the shutdown. U.S. Steel had argued that the union was abusing the proceedings to get benefits for itself that fell outside the "fruit of the negotiations".

The judge ruled that the union and Lakeside Steel can intervene to address penalties not sought by the government.  This includes lost wages and possible forced sale of the company. 

In general, before a party is allowed to intervene in a case, they must be able to show that they will be affected by the case. 

Assuming there will be no further appeals by the company, a hearing can commence in the spring. 

Your thoughts? Was the right decision made?

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Wishing You and Yours the Very Best for 2011 and Beyond

As we prepare to say good-bye to 2010, The Hamiltonian staff are wishing you and your loved ones the very best for 2011 and beyond.

In the spirit of a new year approaching, we leave you with this quote from  Dalai Lama 

"If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion."
Happy 2011!


Citizen Engagement Award
During this term of council, each one of these councillors has either been a guest on The Hamiltonian by way of invitation by The Hamiltonian, and/or has initiated contact with The Hamiltonian, to get their message out on topical issues facing Hamilton.

Congratulations to Councillors  McHattie, Farr, Merulla, Whitehead, Ferguson, Pasuta and Partridge for recognizing the merit of citizen engagement, via The Hamiltonian. 

Mayor Bratina and Councillors continue to be welcome here. Our email address is admin@thehamiltonian.info

As an aside, we have also received respectful responses from city staff, City Manager Chris Murray being amongst notable mentions. Integrity Commissioner Earle Basse has also been responsive to The Hamiltonian.

Note: Comments has been disabled on this page, If you would like to comment on this topic, please go to the original page that brought you here (or click here) . Comments are open on that page.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Bratina- A Dollars and Sense Mayor?

Please see Spec story about the impending battle concerning union wages and their impact on budget talks.

As a councillor,  Bob Bratina presented as someone who had a real appreciation for dollars and cents issues, often citing comparative figures to justify his position on matters such as the Lister Block and the airport lands.

As Mayor, Bratina is sending signals that his attention to financial detail is not about to let up, and that he recognizes the need for timely and prudent decisions on budget matters. To the Spec, he said "We had better be arming ourselves right now with as much information as we can,” “The problem we’ve had in years gone by is the delay reaching a final budget. It’s dragged on into April so I think it behooves us to do our jobs as well and as quickly as possible.”

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Carmen's Has Star Power and then some. An Interview with P.J. Mercanti

Al Pacino and P.J. Mercanti
The Hamiltonian thought it might be interesting to get to the bottom of how Carmen's manages to continue to attract worldwide celebrities. Carmen's President, P.J. Mercanti was kind enough to agree to an interview. 

P.J.'s Bio

P.J. Mercanti is the President of Carmen’s, a name synonymous in Southern Ontario with celebrity events, weddings, catering and dinner theatre. PJ and his family will be opening the new ‘C Hotel by Carmen’s’ in July 2011. A University of Notre Dame business graduate, PJ worked for ESPN before venturing back to Hamilton and he has kept himself busy ever since. He is the founder of GenNext United Way and is involved with many community organizations such as The Charity of Hope, The Good Shepherd, and Hamilton Community Foundation. PJ is also a label executive of Rat Pack Records, a venture he co-founded with Canadian Idol winner Brian Melo. In 2010 Carmen’s hosted events featuring Former U.S. Vice Presidential Candidate Sarah Palin and Academy Award Winner Al Pacino.

1. Carmen’s has managed to attract many worldwide celebrities over the years, Al Pacino being the most recent. At a glance, one might assume that attracting such big names to our city may be near impossible, especially for a private business. How have you managed to bring so many well known celebrities to Hamilton? Is it a matter of perseverance, money, connections, all of these? 

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Eisenberger is new Canadian Urban Institute CEO

The Canadian Urban Institute (CUI) Board of Directors  announced that Fred Eisenberger has been selected as President and Chief Executive Officer. Full story here

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Does This Rub You The Wrong way?

It is an accepted fact that some businesses present themselves as personal wellness services , while operating as a front for illegal services.
Vince Ormond, co-ordinator of parking and bylaw services told the city’s planning and economic development committee that illegal operations often use terms such as aromatherapy and massage as a front for their operations. It’s believed there are about 30 or 35 others operating illegally.

Friday, December 10, 2010

The Dreaded Ticket?

Many people will succumb to a sinking feeling in their stomach when a Police Officer is about to hand them a ticket. Those who drink and drive or commit other offences that endanger themselves and the public, are quite deserving of that feeling and more.

But if you're pulled over by the R.I.D.E. program  , and are found to be driving responsibly, you'll welcome the ticket. That's because the Hamilton Bulldogs and Hamilton Police Services have teamed up to commit to reducing impaired driving. The Hamilton Police will begin to issue Bulldogs game tickets to drivers who successfully complete RIDE lanes. The voucher can be turned into the Copps Coliseum box office for one free admission ticket to one of six upcoming Bulldogs games. Kudos to the cops and the Bulldogs! 

More Farmland.....

.....well, maybe not in the agricultural sense, but things may be looking up for those 24 or so vendors who  find themselves displaced on account of the new farmers' market renovation. A reno that has resulted in fewer stalls and a focus on attracting younger shoppers with local and diverse products.

Councillors supported a notion of having staff negotiate for additional space in the old Jackson Square food court. Staff want to negotiate a rental rate that would be comparable to current stall

Newly elected Ward 2 Clr. Farr had a hand in pushing for what may be a valid compromise. If the new space comes to be, displaced vendors would have a first crack at it, provided they adjust their applications so that they meet the city's requirements. Space would also be available to those who are on the waiting list.

Anna Bradford, the city's director of culture, told the Spec that this move responds to a demand for stalls and is not a reaction to the community outrage over long time vendors being denied. Jennifer Hompoth, co-founder of Friends of Hamilton Farmers' Market, said that the rents must be similar, to ensure that the old vendors are not once again excluded. She added it's critical the new space be an extension of the existing market and not a “paramarket.”

Are you optimistic that this compromise may work? 

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Perspectives - On Playing Nice

This question was put to our virtual panel. Please feel free to add your own perspective in the comments section. 

Over the last four years, the previous council, proved that it could become unruly, often garnering the term "dysfunctional".

Mayor Bratina, calling for a motion to adjourn the first inaugural meeting of the newly elected council, jokingly added- "for those who thought we could not get consensus from this council. can I have a motion to adjourn?", or words to that effect.

What early signals must Bratina send, or what early measures must he take, to ensure that decorum is maintained? What advice might you have for him in this regard and do you believe we will see a different tone to this council?

Pushing all councillors to agree is anti-democratic and evidence of a dysfunctional media. It has too often been used by special interest groups as a means of trying to silence dissenting views and new ideas. We need a vigorous debate and the exploration of alternative approaches to move forward successfully. Opposition is a normal part of federal and provincial politics and there’s no reason to ban it at city hall.

Councillors’ behaviour in meetings has improved considerably since CATCH started monitoring nearly seven years ago. The changes from the election strongly suggest it will continue to improve.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Ferris Park Follow Up

As a follow up to Is Ferris Fair? , the Hamiltonian has received the following answers from City Staff:

1. Will the city call for a financial audit of the Ferris Park Bocce Club and make the results of the audit a matter of public record.

There is no plan at this time to audit the finances. The club as 50 members who pay $20. As is the case with all Bocce groups across the City, they look after the day-to-day maintenance of the courts, they provide the program that includes special events, tournaments and year end festivities.

2. Will you determine the cost of membership to join the Ferris Park Bocce Club, the list of its members and make that list and information public by providing it to Hamiltonians through The Hamiltonian?

As indicated above, a membership is $20 plus insurance of $3.10. I will not be providing the membership list, I cannot release personal information under the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.

3. Will you provide Hamiltonians with information related to the cost of utilities, (hydro, water, gas etc) being

How Many Councillors Does it Take?

Or rather, how many councillors should it take to make decisions about vendor applications and contract cancellations, relative to the Hamilton Farmers' Market?

The current thought is to put these decisions before a transition committee made up of five city councillors. Clr. Whitehead however, took issue with that direction, arguing that the decisions should have to be ratified by full council. As quoted in the Spec, he said "“This is a big change in the operation of the market … I think councillors are being insulated from it.”

Clr. Clark took exception to Whitehead's comments, suggesting to Whitehead that if he (Whitehead), thought he could do a better job, Clark would happily step down from the committee. Clark, in essence, argues that the transition committee is acting as a Tribunal and if their decisions were overturned by council without hearing the vendors, the city could be exposed legally. 

Clr. Merulla told the Hamiltonian "I believe that we need to be focused on the decision and the sub committee will be hearing all the evidence. Therefore the committee will have the insight to make a thorough and complete decision based on the evidence they hear thereby decreasing the probability of political interference."

So, how many do you think it ought to take? Do you subscribe to Clr. Clark's argument or Clr. Whitehead's? 

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Monday, December 6, 2010

Crunch Time?

Against advice, newly elected Mayor Goldring of Burlington, announced in his inaugural speech that he would work to ensure that municipal tax increases would be limited to 10 per cent over the next four years of office. He isn't ruling out a wage freeze for some 500 staff, to get there, and has asked for a report on the issue. See full Spec story here.

Mayor Bratina has also spoken about getting our financial house in order. One of the themes, amongst several, he mentioned, was taking a look at the over-use of consultants. He also cited the Lister Block issue and the cost of  nice office space. 

Do you agree with the sentiment that it is time to tighten our belts and look for creative and fundamental ways to control spending? Do you think staff wages and consulting fees are obvious places to start? If so, how do you think unions will react? How about non-unionized workers who continue to be vulnerable? Do you think Hamilton can and should get tough when it comes to spending? 

Saturday, December 4, 2010

ACTION Reaction

You may recall that some time ago, The Hamiltonian posted a topic about the results that the Police Services' ACTION team was getting.

ACTION stands for The Addressing Crime Trends in our Neighbourhoods. The team is intended to be a highly visible group of Hamilton police officers walking or cycling through neighbourhoods with a focus on driving out violence and disorder.

ACTION's momentum has continued and its achievements have exceeded the downtown core and permeated other parts of the city.

Chief DeCaire points out that the 40-member unit fights crime and the perception of crime. DeCaire has the numbers to prove it. Between May 1 and Sept. 30, the unit has made 657 arrests, laid 960 charges, seized more than $400,000 in illegal street drugs and issued 3,250 tickets for various offences.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Council Better Mind Its Business!

Council better mind its business- at least that seems to be the message from a coalition of Hamilton business groups that is vowing to hold the new council accountable on a range of issues it says is crucial to moving the city forward.

They cite, salvaging the Pan Am stadium, bringing light-rail transit to the city, moving forward on developing airport employment lands, and express all-day GO service to and from Toronto as critical areas that must be delivered upon. 

The coalition group consists of the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce, the Hamilton-Halton Home Builders’ Association and the Realtors Association of Hamilton-Burlington. See the full Spec article here. They refer to themselves as the Hamilton Business Leaders (HBL). 

However, based on a survey that the HBL conducted, they found that Mayor Bob Bratina does not support the HBL’s vision to quickly develop employment lands around the airport, to set up an arm’s-length development corporation and to set up a separate transit commission to operate the HSR. Bratina has also floated the ideas of looking at a north-south LRT line as a priority rather than the east-west route formally endorsed by council and of revisiting amalgamation should a review of its impacts and results not prove favourable.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Bob's Your Uncle.....

...and also your mayor. The Hamiltonian welcomes Mayor Bob Bratina and the newly elected city council.

Here is a link to an interview the mayor recently gave. 

The Hamiltonian

You may find that The Hamiltonian may be slowing down for the period leading to Christmas. This is to allow staff at The Hamiltonian to have a much needed break and attend to their holiday activities and preparations.

During this period, we will continue to post your comments on existing topics. New topics may be introduced if time permits. Our interview with Glenn DeCaire may be available before or shortly after the break. We will resume normal operations post Christmas.

Wishing you and your loved ones the very best over the holiday season. Have a safe and joyful holiday.

 The Hamiltonian Staff