The Pearl Company

Theatre, Gallery and Arts Centre 16 Steven Street Hamilton ON 905-524-0606


It is with exceptionally mixed emotions that I inform everyone that Gary and I have decided to end the run of The Pearl Company. 

I know. I know. We promised to keep going but things have changed.

Life at The Pearl has been complicated since day one and it hasn’t gotten less so.

We have worked hard to keep the Pearl moving forward, but we are now caring for three amazing children and this new family requires greater stability than remortgaging can grant us so we have decided we have to leave the stage.

If it weren’t so relentlessly uphill, (this is such a crazy, unpredictable business) Gary would prefer to continue, but really, it’s time to retire and raise children. (Gary will continue teaching, performing among other things.)

We have mostly loved dancing, or ah, twisting to The Pearl Boogie. I had the joy of the Art Bus!  Valdy, Jesse Winchester, Barney Bentall, Stephen Fearing, and so many more have been in our living room for pete’s sake. We’ve had the Canadian premiere of a George F. Walker play; we hosted CBC’s Go!

The elation and sense of precious community that comes with local fundraisers and events has been an enormous gift. The incredible warmth both performers and audience experience when (to mention just a few) Christopher Clause or Frank Koren or Robin Benedict or Lisa Winn brings together the talents of our multi-faceted and fabulous tribe of Hamilton musicians.

Then there’s the theatre. Remember when that whole first floor area was an insanely huge art gallery space? (No way that covered the mortgage; but we had some great Openings!)  It has evolved into a super cool black box theatre with all the divergent experiences that the casts and genres bring.

We’ve had wonderful audiences and supporters galore but it is time. This will be our last season. It might depend on what happens with the sale of the building but right now we are aiming to finish our run May 31.

I want our remaining time here to be exciting, creative and memorable. I want it to be emblematic of everything the Pearl has been.

This is a call out to local musicians to pull together some of those fabulous communal concerts.  If you’ve never played the acoustics at The Pearl, now is the time! I’ve already lined up a few guaranteed-to-be-memorable concerts.  I’ll keep you posted.

If you are a Member, we want you to help us deliver what you’d like to see! If you would still like to become a member, we will of course pro-rate the amount to fit the time and you’d be with us as we reach the finish line…

There is no way to know what will happen to this building – I’m trying to find arts supporters (with deep pockets) who might keep this acoustically superb concert room and utterly delectable black box theatre going.  We would love to see this place remain a cultural home for Hamilton.

We will keep you up to date on any new developments. It’s an uncertain time, but we are planning to do everything we can to send the Pearl out in style.

Thanks for the memories,


I used to chat more in my newsletters but it seems now I just send them out with the basic/essential information without making you read my opinions or diversions…. However, this week I am actually going to talk about my 2 talented sisters and I guarantee you will find it interesting.

I have mentioned Marilyn Campbell before because of the wee fact that she is an international star in the woodturning world.  Check out her website at: and if you are not aware of where the act of turning a chunk of wood on a lathe can go, this site will blow your mind! This kind of woodturning has become an art. Marilyn is respected worldwide and any magazine, collection, or site raving about the woody world of lathing will have her work in or on it.
The baby of the family, Anne Milne, has had a number of careers (We should count and see who has had more, Anne. You or me?)  She has been a financial planner for some years now, but her frustrated right brain has led her to take on a challenge that most of us would not dream of doing!
She, who had never drawn or showed any interest in drawing, decided a few years ago that she wanted to do a comic strip…. (She does have a hysterical sense of humour.) And when she could not find someone willing to tackle the uh, kinda crucial drawing part, she took it on herself to learn to draw. The strip is now on-line and early efforts in my opinion are pretty decent for someone who can’t draw – and, as she assures us, it does get better! Take a look. Sign up for her blog and you will get the installments as they appear. Um, the strip is about 3 sisters…. Loosely, I emphasize, loosely, based on her family…. We do have a brother – a highly successful financial guy but he’s not a “regular”. So far.
Now, if that isn’t enough, Anne has also taken on posting our mother’s diary entries from the time she, Mother, was about 9 in the late ‘20’s early ‘30’s. These are wonderful glimpses of both a time that is gone and a child’s/teenager’s view of that time. Find these at:  You can also sign up for regular updates for these too!
Pretty impressive pair, right?


Hello Pearl Nation!

Robin Pittis here…

Just to say I caught the Pearl Summer Canadian Play Festival last weekend, and they are three very powerful plays, you absolutely won’t want to miss.

A fantastic mixture of talents from across the continent and across the street, the three performances are really breakthrough calibre for this festival. They raise important issues, and each are delivered with emotional honesty and almost unbelievable physical commitment.

With a Dora winner, a Gemini winner, and a man described as a “virtual Nijinski of performance Art” on the bill, you wouldn’t expect anything less, but somehow, you are still likely to be blown away. I certainly was.

Learie McNicholls’ piece, Resurrection, is a combination of contemporary dance and spoken word poetry. The movement can best be described as the meeting point of boxing and ballet that allows Mr.McNicholls to address powerful and important themes of abuse survivorship, anger management, masculinity and warrior psychology.

With the sartorial cool and linguistic percussion of a beat poet, McNicholls channels the physical presence of superheroic figures like Bruce Lee, Errol FLynn, and Mohammed Ali, to a sonic backdrop from the musical imagination of fellow baby-boomer Gary Santucci. These men clearly share a sensibility that will carry them into further projects.

Sarah Murphy-Dyson and her partner/director Wes Berger have a similarly sympathetic understanding. The Naked Ballerina is an emotionally honest and hard hitting examination of the drive for excellence in art, and the personal cost that drive-ness exacts in the form of addictions, eating disorders, and even coercive sexuality.

Ultimately art as expressive tool and intimacy as emotional healer prevail, but it takes an act of generosity, charm and grace to make herself open to scrutiny that is both courageous and remarkable. Oh, and the dancing is pretty gobsmacking too.

Sean Sullivan, the human hurricane at the heart of Baby Redboot’s Revenge, could possibly be the only third party to match McNicholls and Murphy-Dyson for sheer sweaty physical commitment.

While this piece of “avant-vaudeville” that juices the banter of Vaudeville with the drive of contemporary punk-rock, doesn’t have the emotional risk of autobiography to hold an audience, the script and performance are both so dense with variety and energy the performance is unforgettable.

The brain spawn of an American playwright and performer by the name of Philip-Dimitri Galas, who died tragically young, but not without leaving this gem of a tribute to the tenacity of hope in the face of the sheer statistical improbability of achieving stardom, Baby Redboots’ Revenge is a rich theatrical feast. You will need time to digest it, but it really is a dish like none other.

The issues of abuse survivor-ship, rage, exploitation and expression at the heart of these performances are very timely subjects for consideration, and very generously offered by these three brave souls.

June 18/14

I think it is pretty obvious that I do not post under this tab very often.  I actually forget it is here since every week I write and send out the newsletter and then don’t think of communication until the next issue.  However, this is important and I must put it everywhere I can! Here’s the letter that has gone out via newsletter:

Dear Friends and Supporters:

In 2006, Gary and I decided to pursue our common dream which has become The Pearl Company Arts Centre. Along with many like-minded others, we dreamed of making a difference in our City with our investment. As most of you know, we have had a few obstacles to overcome. In 8 years, we have presented over 1000 artistic events, music, theatre, visual arts, and, in the process we have also received an education on how things work (or don’t work) in our current political and economic system. We are now at a major crossroad; our efforts are falling short, especially in that delicate financial area. (One major shock has been discovering that location matters, so much so that financial institutions have no interest in making low interest mortgages and loans accessible to us and to others in ‘challenged’ areas.)  The money that we are able to access through private lenders is costly: high fees and interest rates that squeeze the bottom line. Add to that the high taxes and utilities costs that we are all paying in today’s world….

We have decided to go public with our situation, to launch a fundraising/refinancing campaign that will continue to build upon our past successes to keep our dream alive and thriving for many more years to come. We are launching our campaign with a fun and fabulous “Rent Party” on June 27 to help us make through our most difficult time, summer. This will culminate – or continue – with another glorious gathering in September.  Obviously, there will be more details to follow….

Sincerely yours,

Gary and Barbara

The Pearl Company Summer Canadian Theatre Festival ’13:

SCHEDULE (with times) Below.

Show Details:

Stephen Harper: The Musical: (Aug. 21, 22, 23, 24)

International singer, songwriter, playwright and actor James Gordon (CBC Radio, Tamarack) puts the “ire” back in ”satire” with JGordonStephen_Harper.jpghis unique view of Stephen Harper’s legacy, subtitled “How To Survive and Thrive In The Dying Days of the Empire Of Oil”.  The show is a multimedia presentation with 18 original songs including “He’s just a puppet” “Idol no more” “We are the 99” and “This was the day that Canada died” and reflects Gordon’s long history of social commentary and political activism.
“I think the timing is right for this innovative work,” explains Gordon.  “So many Canadians are feeling that their voice is not being heard under the “Harper Government”. What can we do about this? Audiences can find out, and have a fun theatrical evening at the same time with this production.”

Boris Chemanski: Defender of Freedom (Aug. 17, 21, 22, 23, 24)

Boris escaped from behind the Iron Curtain and celebrates the freedoms of America as the owner of several rental apartment blocks. While living clearly on the right wing side of society Boris is a man of his word and when he misunderstands a tenant’s invitation to IMG_5169.jpeg“stand up at my union” his values are challenged.
Boris thought Steve meant the labour union at the restaurant he works for. When he discovers that he has committed to be best man at an illegal gay wedding he has a dilemma.  Can he keep his word in front of friends and family without sliding down the slippery slope of liberalism?
Originally performed at the inaugural Hamilton Fringe Festival in 2003, this hilarious comedy with a serious underbelly makes everyone question what they are willing to stand up for.
Featuring the in-demand Luis Arrojo as Boris, the show is written by Lee Fairbanks (Arts Hamilton Best Play Award winner –  2 the Universe) directed by Patti Cannon and produced by Northern Lights Theatre. Cast members include Susan Finlayson, Valeri Kay, Liz Buchanan, Monica Ciolek-Solano, Jamie Taylor, Scott Buchanan, and Julian Nicholson.

Larry Smith: Cavalcade of Comedy   (One night only:Thursday, Aug 15)   522388_10151437406470354_965906657_n__2_.jpg

Larry is an established Hamilton funnyman who is pulling together (and will also appear in) a Cavalcade of Comedy for the Opening Night of the Festival. Names will be released as he confirms them… This gala evening will also be the Opening Night Party for this eclectic and compelling festival so expect to be entertained and feted on many levels!

Expensive Cheese: The One Woman Spectacular (Sort of.) [One night only: Friday, Aug 16]

Alyssa LeClair is a rising star (and self-proclaimed candy fanatic) who has spent her entire life since the age of three performing. expensive_cheese.jpgShe is a vocalist, actor, writer and humorist. Expensive Cheese is the story of her ridiculously awkward journey through high school and university on her way to being an actor – and a better human being. Told through lessons, anecdotes, and songs that range from “rock to ABBA”, she has been described as “refreshing, dynamic, passionate and a genuine musical talent.” Alyssa counts as her theatrical influences Meryl Streep, Thom Marriot (Shaw Festival) and Alice Ripley, and Patti LuPone.
She trained as a singer with the Hamilton Children’s Choir, performing solos internationally. After discovering her passion for performing, Alyssa attended Queen’s University studying Theatrical Arts and graduated this year with an Honours Bachelor of Arts. Now, in a marriage of love and necessity, she created Expensive Cheese to raise money for tuition funds for the next step in her journey. She has been accepted next year into the Steinhardt’s Masters of Music program at New York University in Musical Theatre Vocal Performance.

Spoken Word – Regie Calico, David Bateman and Cathy Petch (One night only: Friday, Aug 16)

Regie Cabico has shared the stage with Patti Smith and Allen Ginsberg and through Howard Zinn’s Portraits Project at NYU (2010), Dildettes2.jpghas performed with Stanley Tucci, Jesse Eisenberg & Lupe Fiasco. He won top prizes in 1993, 1994 and 1997 at National Poetry Slams. His work appears in over 30 anthologies including The Outlaw Bible of American Poetry.
David Bateman has performed across the country for 20 years and also teaches drama, literature, and creative writing at post-secondary institutions. His poetry has been published by Frontenac House Press (Calgary). In 2011 he was awarded a Chalmers Arts Fellowship.
Cathy Petch is a playwright, spoken word artist, and musician. She hosts the Plasticine Poetry Series. Petch was recently published in Toronto Quarterly Magazine and Ascent Aspirations Magazine. Her book “Late Night Knife Fights” was published by Lyricalmyrical press. She is Toronto’s current Haiku Deathmaster.

Silent Film Harmonic: Un Chien Andalou; The Fall of the House of Usher (One night only: Saturday, Aug 17)

VOC Silent Film Harmonic, formed in 2007, are five highly-regarded musicians dedicated to playing live music to silent films.VOCHouse_of_Usher.jpg
Un Chien Andalou is a cult classic produced in 1929 by Louis Bunuel and Salvador Dali.  The film is 17 minutes of largely unconnected scenes designed to shock Paris audiences. Bunuel and Dali were both amazed and dismayed when the initial audience which included Pablo Picasso and Jean Cocteau, found it delightful.
VOC has chosen the mesmerizing 1928 adaptation by Jean Epstein of Edgar Allan Poe’s famous story The Fall of the House of Usher for the Saturday show. In the movie, a man arrives at the eerie house of Roderick Usher, to find that Roderick is painting a portrait of his sick wife Madeleine – but the faster he tries to complete the picture, the more ill his wife becomes.
Assisted by a young Luis Buñuel, Epstein uses a variety of techniques including slow motion, superimposed images, and Expressionist sets to create a dreamy, chilling, surreal masterpiece. ‘One of the most imaginative and entrancing horror movies of the silent era.’ – Time Out.
VOC members are Wade Whittaker, Steve Lederman, Bradford Nowak, Ted Harms and David Hunsberger. 

The Pearl Company
Summer Canadian Theatre Festival 

Date 7:30 9:00
Thursday, Aug 15  8:00pm: Larry Smith’s Comedy                                                   Cavalcade                                                   And Opening Night Party
8:00 Start – 1 show only
Friday, Aug 16  Expensive Cheese: Alyssa LeClair The Dildettes Adorned in Pearls (Spoken Word): Cathy Petch, Regio Cabico, David Bateman
Saturday, Aug 17  VOC Silent Film Harmonic: Un Chien Andalou & The Fall of the House of Usher Boris Chemanski: Defender of Freedom (Northern Lights Theatre Company)
Wednesday, Aug 21  Stephen Harper: The Musical (James Gordon) Boris Chemanski: Defender of Freedom
Thursday, Aug 22  Boris Chemanski: Defender of Freedom Stephen Harper: The Musical (James Gordon)
Friday, Aug 23*  Stephen Harper: The Musical (James Gordon) Boris Chemanski: Defender of Freedom
Saturday, Aug 24*  Boris Chemanski: Defender of Freedom Stephen Harper: The Musical (James Gordon)

Tickets: $15 for each show.
*Note: Aug 23/24 are combination tickets only: $30 for both shows.
Tickets available online at

For more information: ; 905.524.0606 or



I (Barbara, that is), try to keep this updated from my newsletters but I only put up the newsletter “preambles” that I experience as fun or relevant. This is in the process of becoming a ‘blog’ and exactly what that means, I can only wait and see.

“Preamble” for July 30/13 Newsletter

Let me start with:

Thank you to both Colleen Sutton of “RiderGirl” and to Mel Aravena and his “Death and the Maiden” troop for two superb Fringe shows that engendered super reviews and, (important to me) were delightfully easy to work with and left no mess! It was a pleasure having you here and although it may be a while before we see Colleen again, I know that Mel will return as soon as they can mount another show – possibly even this fall. Stay alert.

The Fringe experience is all-consuming. When it is over, there is a hollow-shell feeling as we settle back to earth and “normal” life again. Both theatre areas are now quiet and empty of all props and sets. One of the things that happens during a theatre run is the very necessary giving over of the space to the players. Suddenly there are areas that are not ‘ours’ anymore and it is a very strange feeling first when we give it over, and then when it comes back to us. When I was getting the recycling and garbage together ready for pickup today, it felt as though I was trespassing. Any minute someone was going to ask what I was doing messing with the props and why couldn’t they find the….

I will adjust. It is not as though we are heading into a quiet time. The difference is that most of the time, we will only lose our title to the space for the short period that the performer is on stage and not for the few weeks when a show comes in and grows itself and becomes a part of that space. I will miss the excitement, not to mention the drama.

But only until The Pearl Company Summer Theatre Festival starts August 15….”

“Preamble” for Newsletter – June 18/13

This newsletter is mostly to remind you that the remarkable Don Byron arrives this Wednesday with the Occhipinti brothers no less, and that Valdy and Jadea Kelly perform this weekend. This means that I need to get the news out early so you won’t accidentally miss the Wednesday show. Not a bad idea to be early; I should do it more often.

I also want to make sure that you are aware that a “Fringe Bus” is being conceived as you read this. Details are still being finalized but I can tell you that it will head out Friday, July 19 probably from 6:30 to 10:00-ish. We will roam around Fringe venues and see some of the “Short Shows in Small Spaces” and get as complete an idea as is possible about who/what/where/when/why/and for how long, all those shows are happening! Many more details next week.

Last Weekend:

  • Annabelle Chvostek is totally real. No airs, dressed in blue jeans and a plaid shirt with a guitar around her neck and a violin hung on her mic stand. She delivers all kinds of intelligent truths in the most musical, authentic, and satisfying ways her creative mind can conceive. All we have to do is listen, understand, and enjoy.
  • It continues to surprise me that Burlesque is so much fun, that so much of what it presents is a pure tongue-in-cheek refusal to take itself seriously. However, that would not be enough if it were not done well.  The dancing in Saturday’s show was excellent, albeit a trifle naughty here and there, but still excellent. Everything coalesced with the theme – the band, the choice of music – it was almost theatre. Kitty DeMure will return.
  • The Art Bus went to the Art Crawl and got stuck in the crowds. First decent night weather-wise for the Crawl in some time and packed it was.  Another reminder that all sorts of plans are afoot re changing up the Bus. I’ll keep you posted.

This Week:

  • The legendary Don Byron blows into town and lands at The Pearl!  This man truly lives up to the hype and here is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to catch him with none other than Michael and Roberto Occhipinti and in the super-fine acoustics of The Pearl.  I am told that the young man drumming with them is a bit of a virtuoso himself.  Wednesday will be one mind-bending night for incomparable jazz-and-more.
  • Valdy. What more do I need to say?  His name pretty much says it all. This Canadian folk icon exudes genuine charm as effortlessly as he delivers his songs.  It is who he is and we love him for being so true to himself, his roots, and us. His music’s not bad too….
  • Jadea Kelly shows up on Saturday with her full band for a much-anticipated CD Release. This young woman is garnering a lot of hype – all of it deserved – for the amazing range of her distinctive and powerful soprano.  The band is rather decent too. Prepare yourself for a party.
  • Lots more details below.

Diane Beatty-Wearing and Bettianne Hedges continue to take a long look at where the bus is now and where it could be. Bettianne has devised a short Art Bus survey asking for feedback.  If you haven’t already and if you can spare the time, please go to  and tell us what you really think. It will go to Bettianne, not to me….

“Preamble” for Newsletter – June 4/13

I now have two wonderful women taking excellent care of the Art Bus.  I can’t believe my luck.  I’ve told you about Diane Beatty-Wearing who is something like a fifth generation Hamiltonian who teaches and does art and helps with the bus.  And now there is Bettianne Hedges, just arrived in town, a realtor with an arts and arts admin background who happens to work for Marsales Real Estate, and, who is totally captivated by the idea of an Art Bus. Diane and I have taken advantage of Bettianne’s ‘new’ eyes and we have all taken a long look at where the bus is now and where it could be. With this added energy, all is possible. Bettianne has devised a short survey asking for feedback on where the bus is and where it might go.  If you can spare the time, please go to  and tell us what you really think. It will go to Bettianne, not to me….

Last Weekend:

  • The melding of three beautiful female voices is a lovely thing. Yes, ‘Sweet Alibi’ reminds me of ‘The Good Lovelies’ – whom I should see about getting back…. Think Good Lovelies with a country bent and a variety of country colours blending that bent.
  • You always know the essence of what you will be getting with The Jazz Connection Big Band but you can never know the details.  They love to change it up constantly – always new material and always new approaches. These guys rock the place!
  • 40 Tiny Performances was just plain entrancing.  It was fun; it was funny; it was serious; it was inspiring; it was a total party from beginning to end. Audience, performers, everyone loved it and everyone wants to do it again.  Lisa Pijuan-Nomura outdid herself, curating, hosting, organizing, and ultimately exhausting herself. Great job, Lisa! Worth the exhaustion – for us anyway…. An annual event you say? We want more. We’ll find you help.

This Weekend:

  • Linda McRae pulls out all the stops for D.R.E.A.M.S. Join the former Spirit of the West performer, Thursday, and help her help local students raise funds for going to the Dominican to be involved in building houses. The inimitable Mimi Shaw opens for Linda. A light-hearted evening with a serious purpose.
  • What does one say about Cindy Church? That she has sung and played with folk icons across Canada from Ian Tyson to our own Ian Thomas (Dinner at Allen’s) to Sylvia Tyson (‘Quartette”) and so much more. That she continues to enchant, entrance and entertain. And, that you should not miss this.
  • On Saturday, another pearl on this string of fabulous women performers: Elizabeth Shepherd returns to make up for the sell-out date in March that she (and we) lost to laryngitis.  If you haven’t listened to at least one of the songs on her gorgeous new album, do so now.  You’ll find one listed with her blurb below. She is a jazz interpreter par excellence.
  • Lots more details below.

Preamble for Newsletter – May 7/13

Noticed a few sloppy errors in the last newsletter.  Must have been the drugs.  For the allergies, that is…, and the allergies have now gone wherever all that pollen goes when it is not in the air or in our sinuses.  For those of you who suffer for months and years, you have my total sympathy.  Wow. That’s really rough.

Last Weekend:

  • Ambre McLean, is something else. She is a singer/songwriter quadruple threat.  Engaging stage presence; words with poetry, meaning, emotion and humour; melodies and moods of startling variety; and a voice to carry it all. Great show.  Jesse Macrae did not disappoint either. He, also, is able to carry his songs with real emotion and musicality. We will be seeing more of Jesse.
  • The Ladybird Sanctuary fundraising afternoon was just plain fun.  The music was great (Kim and Frank Koren, Mary Simon, Michelle Titian, Dawn and Marra; all delivering scrumptious ‘tastes’), the food delivered more of the same and companionship was the order of the day.  I think they raised some funds too.

This Weekend:

  • I don’t need to say anything more about Dala than if you have not got your tickets yet, get on it. They’re heading rapidly toward a sell-out.  These young women are pure entertainment joy!
  • The Art Bus heads out on Friday too.  It will be an Ottawa Street, James North, Tiger Group extravaganza, all led by the intrepid Diane while I stay behind to ‘manage’ the crowds.  Someone has to do it. 
  • Michelle Titian takes the stage Saturday with Mimi Shaw and the Highnote Ramblers as openers this time. I heard Michelle ‘live’ for the first time last Sunday when she donated her presence and some songs for the Ladybird Fundraiser. She’s one of our own, Hamilton, and man, can she sing! I think she has taken time off for family stuff but wow, she is back. Don’t take my word for it, come hear her magnificent voice and impeccable delivery for yourself.  And those who know and love Mimi, here’s some more of the engaging Ms. Shaw and band.

Quick Notes: In order to further explain our new ticket-purchasing program, TicketScene, I’m going to tell you about being raked over the coals by a local concert promoter for giving the advance price to people who hadn’t already put their money down. Although we usually had a 95% turnout from our ‘reservation’ system, we were still putting ourselves in jeopardy for no-shows.  Add to that Barbara needing to spend less time on the phone and the computer, it became a ‘no-brainer’. So I repeat, from here on, when there is an advance price, it will be available online only – easily accessed under the ‘Buy Tickets’ tab on the website for a <ahem> small fee.  If you were on the list for Dala already you will, of course, still receive the advance ticket price.  But from here on…. PS: You can buy non-advance, regular tix as well.

New Additions: Several of the prestigious Willowbank Lectures will be presented at The Pearl.  They are the finely distilled essence of what The Pearl believes (and practices) in urban dwelling / urban landscapes. The Willowbank people are heritage champions with the ability to put their time and energy where their mouths are. Continuing on: Local dynamite singer-song writer, Robin Benedict has just been added to the schedule May 17. Mary Margaret O`Hara is joining Bob Wiseman May 24. Linda McRae, formerly of Spirit of the West, will help the Dreams Project to build homes in the Dominican with a concert/fundraiser June 6.

Remember, you’ll get 15% off your meal at Rebel’s Rock Irish Pub with proof of Pearl attendance. Give yourself plenty of time as your meal will be made to order at the time you order it. Thank you.

Preamble for Newsletter – April 30/13

The newspaper tells me that the last few days have been among the worst for pollen counts and pollution levels.  I don’t know about you but I have been utterly incapacitated with a streaming nose and an excruciatingly itchy brain. THIS DOES NOT HAPPEN TO ME! How do the people who are sneezing all the time stand it? How can you think? How can you function?  I now understand the shots and the drugs and the misery.  Anything to NOT go through this one moment longer.

And how do you know what you are reacting to when the air is both a pollen count catastrophe and a pollution disaster? Was it the combination that did me in? How did everyone else fare? Anyway this is the “bare minimum” newsletter.  I’ve stopped sneezing; thank god for drugs.

This Weekend:

  • Fresh from her almost successful run at the CBC`s Music Searchlight competition, Ambre McLean, would make anyone feel better. Her funny, heart-catching songs are real and adorable and we are happy to have her back.  This time she is bringing Jesse Macrae with her, a breaking-out Hamilton musician that I am looking forward to hearing.
  • The Art Bus heads out on Friday too.  I will ask Ambre to “sing slowly” (my standing request that often works) so that she will still be singing when everyone returns from a jam-packed Art evening. More info below. 
  • The Ladybird Sanctuary returns with an entertaining, beautifully put-together, kind of Medieval-style Fair, only the buskers are on stage. Well, maybe they will wander through the crowd…. Come help these determined women continue to rescue every kind of animal there is that needs rescuing.
  • Lots more details below.

Pearl Company Newsletter – April 23/13

One thing has not changed since the Middle Ages, the troubadours continue to bring their music to the people.  Nothing has ever replaced the experience of the poet in person, of the music and stories brought to the expectant audience.  I consider myself blessed to be part of this enchantment on a regular basis; to be there when an entire room is transported to their place of magic.  Nothing can replace it.  Travelling minstrels, Leonard Cohen, Jesse Winchester and Stephen Fearing landed in Hamilton all within one week. They are all storytellers, masters of condensed emotion, personality, and ambiance; the vigour of their live shows is astonishing.  Even the finest CD recording cannot bring what happens in that space and translate it to another medium.  I should never be surprised when I put on a recent performer’s cd and find it lacking.  I love the fact that it transports me back to the performance and it is the best that it can be but what we are given in person cannot be duplicated. Nothing can replace live performance.  There, I’ve said it again and every time I say it, it is because it has become even more obvious!

This Weekend:

  • Larra Skye and Mary Stewart bring an intriguing Thursday concert. Larra who was known as a jazz singer, has now amalgamated jazz, pop, and a whole lot more into her music.  I am very curious to hear the result which I am told it is well worth hearing!
  • Another Friday night favourite, the Jazz Connection Big Band arrives with its usual fanfare.  I hardly feel that I need to promote them anymore. They have found their audience – or is it vice versa – and you know who you are….
  • Colin Macdonald School is a school that I know a great deal about and all of it good!  This is their third Prom Fundraiser at The Pearl and I tell you, they throw one great dance party.  Spider Costello’s music literally forces everyone onto the dance floor to have a great time.  Lisa Winn will be singing with him and who knows who else might show up.  Put on your prom finery (or not) and your dancing shoes and show up for a grand time!
  • Lots more details below.

Remember, you’ll get 15% off your meal at Rebel’s Rock Irish Pub with proof of Pearl attendance. Give yourself plenty of time as your meal will be made to order at the time you order it. Thank you.

Let me tell you about Hair Design by Drew: Drew is a hair stylist and designer extraordinaire, who has opened a salon in The Pearl’s King Street property. (We met him first as a playwright/actor and he has become a wonderfully creative and delightful addition to our community.) He is now welcoming new clients to his intimate Pearl Connection Hair Salon at 575 King Street East: 289 698-7919

Drew is the previous Director of Training for The Elizabeth Arden Red Door Salons in Canada.  He originally trained with Bruno’s School of Hair Design and later become Artistic Director of Bruno’s and taught in its advanced academy in Toronto for many years continuing his education with Sassoon’s in California. He has travelled the world doing Hair Shows and educating hair styling teachers in teaching methods and recently returned from China touring hair dressing schools there sharing his expertise.

Drew is also an Interior designer and has accomplished a number of major design projects. Drew last lived in Costa for 10 years and now makes Hamilton his home welcoming his old clients back and inviting new clients who are looking for a change and a more personal (and professional) experience in finding your new look!

For a Professional Consultation before he even picks up the scissors, get in touch with Drew.

Pearl Company Newsletter – March 5 /13

Considering how bumpy the last few months have been, events and performances have been flowing very smoothly.  Perhaps we have done so many of them that the momentum carries everything along now; they just happen despite the whirlwind around them.

Ambre McLean (great lyrics; great delivery) and Tara Holloway (I’ll never forget the Facebook song…) put on a fun and fabulous show last Friday; Saturday, Chloe Charles did nothing less than hold us spellbound with her exquisite vocal theatrics.

Sunday’s memorial ceremony for Mary Santucci was a miracle of grace, friendship, and love. Friends and relatives, cards and flowers, photos and mementos, warmth and humour, sweets and savouries, all packed the 2nd floor.  Death brings grief but it also brings people together in ways that nothing else does.

Once again, thank you to all who have helped us through the past few months.  The support, whether hands-on, monetary, floral, alimentary, or just being here and rooting for us, is more than appreciated; it is taken in, assimilated, and used to keep us going. We’re still standing in large part because of you. Thank you is far from enough but we offer it anyway.

There is, again, a great weekend coming up:

  • The “intensely warm and supremely cool” Susie Arioli is here on Thursday. Call/email to get the advance price and catch this jazz diva in the warmth of The Pearl’s acoustics.  This is a top-flight treat that doesn’t come through Hamilton often.
  • Friday brings the Art Bus. It rolls out and finds art on Ottawa Street as well as on James North; at the end of the evening we’ll find even more art on Barton Street at the Tiger Group’s Studio Gallery
  • Saturday, Tannis Slimmon is here with Katherine Wheatley. Tannis is making a splash with her new album and I love hearing from local fans who have followed her diverse musical career through all its incarnations.  Come catch her latest; it will be full of her signature warmth and melody.
  • You’ll find the details on The Pearl Company Homepage.


Pearl Company Newsletter – February 26/13

The year 2013 has been a wee bit challenging with major event after major event.  Here’s another one.

Mary Santucci, Gary’s mother, died Monday evening.  She’d been ill for some months and quality of life was no longer there, which does provide some measure of comfort to the family. Mary was one strong, feisty, outspoken lady; she was a career woman long before that was at all common; an intellectual, interested in politics, philosophy, world events; a reader, a person of strong opinions – always happy to share them. She was a world traveler who never went out of the house without her hair and make-up done to perfection. She was one of a kind.  She will be missed.

After that, it seems kind of trivial to talk about the great concert that Barney Bentall gave us.  However…. he got a standing ovation no less, from a delighted packed house.  The man has the same kind of ‘realness’ and ability to relate to the audience as Valdy and that is high praise indeed. He also happens to be a superb singer/songwriter and storyteller. He’s promised to be back but it’s a pity he lives so far away.

Gary’s latest initiative, The Pearl Music Collective, started with a blast of horns and drums, and with a new configuration of Spanjazz.  It was something to see and hear these six ultra-talented musicians (and yes, that includes Gary) strutting their jazz chops and making Gary’s music into something alive, uniquely their own, and yet universal. I know we will see more of them and hear more of The Pearl Collective. They live much closer.

Every week for the past few months, I have wanted to take the time and space (the newsletter can only be so long…) to introduce readers to two wonderful women who have appeared in my life to offer major hands-on workload assistance.  Diane Beatty-Wearing, marvelous encaustic artist, teacher, and human being has taken over major parts of the Art Bus (such as the itinerary and the calls, research, and emails associated with pulling it together).  She’s helping with the Friday bus day scramble and with all that navigating.  With another source of energy on board, the art bus will be able to offer more and differing trips to city organizations: individualized Art Bus Fund Raisers, more Gallery tours – outside the city perhaps, maybe musical entertainment, maybe dinner.  The possibilities are endless!  Thank you, Diane. Who knows where this may lead.

When Eleanor Jodway, Ellie for short, asked (yes, she asked!) if she could help with the social media promotions, I struggled with the decision for maybe 3 seconds and accepted with utter delight.  Ellie is already raising the online profile of The Pearl and making a difference. And, I am not stressing myself trying to find the time to Tweet, Facebook, GooglePlus and do all that posting that I know does make a difference. I still do some tweeting etc., but the bulk of the information going out is posted by the indispensible Ms Jodway. Thank you Ellie; together we will make molehills out of all those mountains!
There is, as always, a great weekend coming up:

  • Ambre McLean and Tara Holloway are excited to be doing their first show at The Pearl.  They have quite a following in Southern Ontario for some very good reasons. Come out and decide for yourself. You won’t be disappointed.
  • Saturday Chloe Charles returns. She is making a very large splash with her new album.  The critics are unanimously impressed with the variety of her choices, with her “spell-bindingly different” delivery, and her astonishing vocal range.  She also happens to Julien Lennon’s step-sister.  That can’t hurt.  Local singer/songwriter, Glenn Macdonald provides a strong and fitting opener.

Here’s the February 5/13 Newsletter after a very traumatic occurance:

Between bullets, car repairs, and shock; after much discussion with police, news media, and more; after a day-long internet-provider failure, the newsletter did not go out last week.  I suspect no one is surprised.

What can I say at such a extraordinary time?  I can say thank you to the numerous well-wishers and supporters who sent love and offers of help, who passed on their dismay, distress and outrage. At a time like this, it helps more than I can possibly articulate to know that there is support out there. Love and appreciation back at you all; you made it less painful and that is beyond important.

It occurs to me that there may be people out there who might not know what happened so I am attaching the link especially since it does reiterate one of my strongest feelings in all this (although I hate the photo!).  Nothing can be allowed to stop us.  Not a bullet, not a trashed car, not politically-motivated bizarreness. We have faced more than our share of adversity in our attempt to bring a dream to the core, to insist on keeping a wonderful, ambiance-laden structure that seems to have been built for powerful acoustics and warm gatherings, from condo-ization or the wrecking ball! Onward ever onward! To the barricades!  Uh, get a grip Barbara…..

(There, there, I’m calmer now.) Please see below for the details of a “Keep the Dream Alive; Support The Pearl” evening coming up shortly on February 16 (on the only possible date until the end of March).  Michael Williams is a wonderful collaborator/ally and he is happy to turn his Dance Party into a what? A much-needed support-raiser?  Please read and if you possibly can, come out.  But remember over all, the most effective way to help The Pearl is to come to events and talk them up to friends and acquaintances!

Also, if you wish to help in any way with the “support-raiser”, just let me know.

Must also mention that the theatre festival is living up to expectations.  Good crowds, great performances. This weekend is your last chance to catch some intriguing and entertaining shows!

Now how can I continue to call these Bullets…?


Coming Up this Weekend:

For anyone wishing to keep up with the latest zoning stories from The Pearl, here’s some bizarre new information in our incomprehensible situation with City Hall.  Raise the Hammer (excellent on-line local news and views) gives a very comprehensive overview of our peculiar plight.  I ask you how can one win a court case and then have the verdict entirely ignored by our trusty local politicians/bureaucrats? How can that happen? Even the Spectator is ignoring the story! Huh? Read on. The Hamiltonian also tries to make sense of it all: The Bay Observer also devotes a page to us.  Our only choice is to just keep putting one foot in front of the other…… But, man! This is weird.

The Art Bus and The Pearl Company are also promoted, and supported by THEZine:








Pearl Company News – September 18/12

We finally received the transcript of our zoning verdict today. Essentially, the arguments that we put forward stood the test in court and we will make Justice Wendy Casey’s ruling public shortly. There are three main areas in the judgment which we will break down, reviewing the implications, producing a summary that we all can understand, and looking closely at what it means for the future of The Pearl Company.  It will go out in a press release, be posted to the website, tweeted, linked and spread about wherever we can. As I said last week, the final verdict will not come down until a year from now and we need to understand what that means.  Stay tuned; I certainly will!

Supercrawl last weekend was both extremely successful and utterly overwhelming.  Not being a huge crowds fan, it sort of skews my take. All I could think when listening to Great Lake Swimmers was how much better they would sound at The Pearl and how much more comfortable I would be.  Don’t tell Tim Potocic I said that. Catherine MacLellan was marvelous; voice like silk was one description.  I heard the last three notes as I came in the door from the ARTBus. Oh well. Next time. Here’s a link to an interview done with Gary that evening for a travel blog done by a Toronto writer.  Hamilton is just an hour down the road and look what’s here!

Annabelle Chvostek arrives for her first show ever at The Pearl on Friday. She’s a former Wailin’ Jenny and her reputation as “a versatile, fearlessly innovative multi-instrumentalist” precedes her.  All who have called to book are raving about her so you should be here.  You should also be here for the 2nd edition of The Quarterly, Saturday.  This uniquely exciting program has been put together by Lisa Pijuan Nomura whose goal it is to bring disparate artists from both Toronto and Hamilton together to share and showcase their talents four times a year.  September’s show includes two well-known local personalities; Colette Kendall from Staircase Theatre and Jeremy Freiburger from Cobalt Connects mixing with talent from that city down the road – theatre and comedy mixed with dance, song and story.  Guaranteed quality!

Pearl Company News – September 11/12

Gary let it slip that we won our zoning case in court when he was on CHML’s Bill Kelly Show the other day (He was there for a completely different topic; talking once again about defending the beleaguered Hamilton taxpayer…).  It (the zoning judgment) is very complicated and we are awaiting the transcript before we go into any detail but suffice it to say that the judge ruled entirely in our favour.  We can’t do handsprings yet because the final verdict will not come down until a year from now and we are not entirely sure what that means for us. Much more to come!

Again, in the interest of keeping this short, I will just touch lightly on the coming weekend.  The Art Bus this Friday will take in both Ottawa Street and its blooming arts scene and then the James North Art Crawl, which it seems, is Super this weekend.  Should be very interesting and very crowded.  For those of you who would rather not deal with the crowds and are looking for exposure to one of Canada’s finest female singers, we have the wonderful Catherine MacLellan here this Friday.  It is so difficult for me not to be able to be in two places at once.  It will break my heart not to hear Catherine.  I assume you know that she is the daughter of Gene MacLellan of ‘Snowbird’ fame.  I wonder if she minds the constant reiteration of that fact?

Re last week’s Art Bus; it truly was perfect. The progression from Gallery on the Bay to McMaster Innovation Park to Dundas Carnegie Gallery to Gallery 205 works on so many levels. However, I missed the magnificent Bill Bourne who, as he always does, delighted the audience with his virtuosity.  The man knows how to play that guitar; the voice isn’t too bad either.

Pearl Company News – January 3/12

What a time of the year this is! I hope everyone survived the collective insanity (that is anything but a ‘holiday’) and is back on level ground again.  I am always so relieved to get through the experience and into the “New Year” which I hope will be an improvement on that old year!  Glad to see 2011 go even though it is only symbolic.  It’s still the same old world with the same old people and a few new resolutions….  May this newly minted year bring you health, contentment, and prosperity; may it bring you what your soul most needs!

The Pearl Company line-up this week includes Canadian folk icon, Valdy, and a young up-and-comer originally from Dundas now in New York City, Ryan Van Sickle.  We’re back now to the normal business of finding the audience for all the different kinds of performances and performers that we slot in at The Pearl. Next week we have Andy White (last here with Stephen Fearing), an Art Bus, and – wait for it – The Pearl Review Launch!!!!

Then, of course, now that we have taken over a major part of our block of Steven Street, in our attempt to control our environment, protect our investment and ourselves, we are preparing to launch our plan for The Pearl District.  The official launch will be April 16 – 22.

This will be a week-long event to celebrate the expansion of our efforts towards creating that sustainable economic model which will allow us to continue supporting our work and that of other like-minded individuals in the Arts.  We are inviting our small business neighbours to join us in the reconstruction of our community along with the many residents of Landsdale who have welcomed and supported those efforts.

This journey has been a very difficult one as we try to create a baseline environment for our area to thrive socially and economically.  We would like to again thank Chief DeCaire and the officers of the Hamilton Police for their efforts in support of the community and their commitment to community policing.  As we move forward, specifics will be released on our website and through our newsletter.

We will continue to do what we do and to support others bringing music, theatre, arts, (and other start-up businesses, for that matter) to Hamilton, importantly, independent of government funding.  We (and others like us), who have chosen not to compete for public funding through the grants process and not compete with our fellow artists, have been penalized by our preference to spend that time and effort in trying to find and develop a sustainable model to continue our mission whether at The Pearl or elsewhere.  We are determined to find ways to inject life into the tattered fabric that is King, east of Victoria.

Our bizarre zoning issues continue to plague us.  More on that next week.

These preambles continue to come from my baffled but still stubborn heart.  Somewhere underneath it all I continue to be the Pollyanna that refuses to believe that a good idea will not be rewarded; that hard work and the best of intentions will not succeed.

Pearl Company News – December 13/11

Guess what….  We may be in a position to make a formal press release, but not until the beginning of the New Year!  After all my lead-up, it seems that our hands – or should I say, our tongues – are tied.  However, I certainly gave you the essence of what is happening last week.  First we take Manhattan….

What we are planning to do is very much neighbourhood focused.  What choice does anyone have but to work with their community to make their ‘hood a better place to be?  What matters more to all of us than our home turf?  Especially when that turf could be so much more livable than it is and you (and we) have the drive and the ability to do something about it? Hmmm?

Since I did not actually underline it last week, I want to make sure that people do not think that our zoning issues have gone away.  We have been very quiet on the issue lately but we are still in a weird limbo that could be solved.  But won’t be.

I have posted last week’s newsletter on the website, under the ‘Newsletter’ tab (just in case you didn’t manage to get to it…).  It was a letter that came from my baffled but still stubborn heart.  Somewhere underneath it all I continue to be the Pollyanna that refuses to believe that a good idea will not be rewarded; that hard work and the best of intentions will not succeed.

My mantra: ‘Keep moving; one step forward, next step forward, next….’

I was absolutely right about Brownman’s super-group, GRUVASYLUM. They gave us an up-to-the-minute jazz symphony flaunting astonishing creativity.  The ‘rap’ was intelligent, thought-provoking, free-form poetry.  The unique rhythms and perfectly-placed sounds that came from the turn-tablist (!) were, again to my surprise, perfectly sublime. Then Brown on trumpet, Ben on bass and Chris on drums; it was new, different, and exciting from utterly unexpected building material.

Coming up, that Hamilton super-group fronted by the infamous Charly Chiarelli, will appear again for a laugh-filled, music-soaked Sunday evening!

On December 30, we are welcoming Martha’s Trouble back to The Pearl.  Jen is originally from Ancaster and returns from her now-home in Alabama, to visit family and to share their critically-acclaimed music.  Our Annual New Years House Party is happening; I believe the date is December 31….  See below!  Valdy will be here in January….

I will remind you about our New Years gathering but we can all take a break from the full newsletter next week, so: Barbara, Gary, and the spirit that is The Pearl wish you and yours the very best of the “Season”! Let us be grateful for what we have and make the best of what we are given.  We are off to the adventure that is 2012.

Pearl Company News: December 6/11

Re our promise to let you know what The Pearl Company has been up to lately: When four lawyers are involved in anything, it is going to slow down whatever it happens to be.  I don’t think there is any way around it….  Which means I can only talk in broad strokes until all is accomplished. Here’s what I can say:

We are continuing and strengthening our ongoing commitment to our neighbourhood and to the core by investing in it; we are also making a commitment to attracting new people to join us in investing. We are setting up a diverse, sustainable economic model to help continue to do what we do and to support others bringing music, theatre, arts, (and all start-up businesses) to Hamilton, most importantly; it needs to be independent of government funding.  We have made a huge personal investment in the arts but public financial institutions have largely abandoned the core outside the narrowly defined ‘downtown’ corridor.  We (and others like us), who have chosen not to compete for public funding through the grants process (therefore not competing with our fellow artists) are penalized by our preference to spend that time and effort in trying to find and develop a sustainable model to continue our mission whether at The Pearl or elsewhere.

The challenges that face us, the lack of political will, the bureaucratic impediments that do not promote entrepreneurship, (except in that narrow ‘downtown’ corridor) face others trying to start up in our city.  We would like to encourage the city to offer incentives to small entrepreneurs as they have done for hot dogs and bread.  But the small business person seems to be on the bottom rung.  I think I have said before if a city insists on slowing down, feeing, and fining a start-up business to the point it cannot start, then the benefits that small business brings, the growing, the hiring, and the addition to the tax-base, will not happen. I keep hearing the same story in a multitude of forms, for example, several recent attempts by enthusiastic young (and older) entrepreneurial types who have actually left Hamilton in anger and frustration and vow  never to return.  We hear the big success stories in the Spectator but the numerous stories about the messed-about little guy do not have quite the same draw.

We all have to ask, what is the role of our local government?  What can we expect?  That they work closely with their citizens who wish to start a new and creative business?  That they will at least stand out of the way?  That they might seriously stream-line the process and eliminate some of the more insane hurdles?  Look at what Toronto did with Queen West….

I am still unable to give specific details about what exactly we are doing. I can tell you, however, that we are determined to find ways to inject life into the tattered fabric that is King, east of Victoria, and one of those ways is by becoming The Pearl District. I will explain the hows and wherefores when I can.  Which at this rate may be in the New Year….

Sometimes I think I live under a rock – a very nice rock – but what happens outside the totally life-involving environs of The Pearl often does not reach me.  I read the Spec; I even listen to CBC when I can but I have managed to miss the “Bring CBC’s Q with Jian Ghommeshi to Hamilton” ( and the suggestion that they come to The Pearl!!! (among others, in Tuesday’s Spec)  I need your help to email; send your stories; do what you can.  I have just been informed that the ‘voting’ is over but I still think that ‘The Pearl Story’ deserves attention.  We have been perking along under the radar for almost 6 years now.  We figured if we didn’t rock the boat, then sooner or later, the benefits that we bring to Hamilton would be recognized and supported by persons other than our devoted audiences.  It is time to rock the boat.  We will go very public with our next steps.  We need your help!  I went to the CBC website and found that to email, you need to go through a process so here’s the website: or you can tweet: @JianGhomeshi, @CBCRadioQ

Pearl Company News: November 21/11

I “lied” last week when I said that I would be able to tell everyone what Gary and I have been up to recently.  It can’t happen until next week, – but then I will be free to go on at some length.  And I will.  Again, it is something quite exciting that changes directions for us – not a lot, but enough….

In the meantime, I have been wanting to pass on some of the wonderful words that we get from the musicians who play here.  Here’s my chance.  Joel Frahm, hugely respected, world traveled, New York City based tenor saxophonist said, “This is one of the best rooms I have ever played in; the sound, the warmth. Does Hamilton know what it has here?”  Hmm?  He said a lot more great things.  I should be standing by these lovely, perceptive musicians with a notepad, making them write down their comments and sign them.  By the time I get to a piece of paper….

A busy week coming up – 4 concerts in 5 days.  We are used to it, however, but if we didn’t have the world’s best and most dedicated volunteers, it truly would be a nightmare; I alone, should be at least three people, and Gary should be, uh, five?  Heaps of thankfulness goes out to Becca, Suzanne, and Allen who could run these events by themselves – and frequently do when I am out on the Art Bus.  Gary has made himself pretty much essential since he has become the world’s best sound guy.  But me? I can be replaced, thanks be to those heavens!

Pearl Company News: November 1/11

Gary and I would like to send a huge thank you to Chief De Caire and the Hamilton Police Service.  At times, we feel more than a little abandoned in our ‘neck of the woods’ and it seems that the Service has decided that we need a little support.  They are letting us know that there is some appreciation out there for what we have done in this neighbourhood and they’ve been very present at the times that we need them the most.  They make sure that their presence is felt when we have events; they make a special point of being around when parents are dropping off their children for rehearsals for the Stand Up Theatre’s next presentation (which happens to be about bullying this year).  Their very visible presence on our streets has made a huge difference for us and we are pleased and grateful.

Our Landsdale Area Neighbourhood Association (LANA) has struggled for years with virtually no attention paid to this community. Perhaps someone has noticed?


I am on the board for the Hamilton Arts Council (formerly Arts Hamilton).  It is a strong board full of people who feel as I do that Hamilton needs an organization that champions and advocates for all aspects of the arts in this changing city.  We have recently hired a young, respected, (and energetic) writer and visual artist, Stephanie Vegh, to carry the Council forward.  We are doing a membership drive and you should be a member.  If you wish to see the arts supported in the meaningful ways that can make a difference in the lives of artists and the life of this city, join us! Go to and click on ‘Become a Member’.  We need your help whether you are an artist or an arts supporter.  Help make a difference.

Pearl Company News: October 25/11

It’s the crack of midnight and I am still sitting in front of this machine trying to figure out what I absolutely have to say.  We have so much on the go right now, that I could write an epic novel to cover it all; but I will spare you excess details and cover only highlights so I can get up and go to bed.

If I ever manage to get caught up, I will be able to do something other than the absolute essentials.  What a wonderful concept that is; caught up…. I feel I need to send out a mass apology to the entire population of Hamilton since I have dropped so many balls over this past summer that I have no idea what has been left behind.  If it is important, make the call again; send the email again.  Help me here.

Gary is not much better.  If he takes on another – even tiny job – his brain will explode.  He’s tacklng a new career, journalism, to add to his other too many to enumerate ventures.  Not only is he working feverishly on The Pearl Review (yes, it still is going to happen) but he is writing another investigative piece when he gets a moment.  In my spare time, I am cobbling a questionnaire together – don’t hold your breath –, trying to clean my desk area so I can find bits and pieces lost months ago.  I’m figuring out new ways to entice people to The Pearl (I am getting lots of help on this one), and trying to keep up with day-to-day stuff which runs from dishes to bookings to bills to bookkeeping to newsletters to getting ready for events and so on.  I am also trying to figure out how to get this newsletter onto MailChimp which when I succeed should make my life easier.  The process, however, is not simple.

Pearl Company News: October 18/11

We are working on a video showcasing what we do here; we’re working on a questionnaire; we’re working on more effective ways of getting the word out; and right now I am working on a newsletter.  Here’s the scoop:

One of our again-and-again conversations with both our audiences and the musicians that play here is the joy of the live music experience.  The joy of those who are making the music and the delight of those receiving.  I’ve talked before about the unique, never-can-be-heard-again nature of the experience; the intimacy and the give-and-take that happens.  I don’t think I have talked about it from the artist’s point of view and especially (of course) the artist on stage at The Pearl…. When the musician/artist is given all that he or she needs in order to express their artistry; when the acoustics are as close to perfect as they can be and the sound reverberates in a warm, giving space with a warm, welcoming audience; when the people assisting in that art are happily providing the essential support and backup, that collaboration brings nothing less than the best.  And the best is something to behold!

Case in point:  Rita Chiarelli, after her Saturday show, said about her backing musicians (Joe Phillips on bass and ‘Papa’ John King on guitar, both professionals and top musicians in their own right), “They gave it their all.  I have never heard them play so well.  They were smokin’!”  And so was she.  It was a phenomenal performance on all their parts!  Papa John later: “This is my favourite place to play. I love it here.”  He’s played all over the world….

The Once, Monday night, had the same reaction.  They loved the experience and will bring their ethereal harmonies and exquisite arrangements back as soon as they can.  Same thing with the charming, funny, Ann Vriend and her voice with its remarkable range and colour.  The ƒ Holes bring their crazy energy and over-the-top vocals every chance they get and Bonnie Ste Croix who entertained us royally with her storytelling – both in song and heart-warming dialogue – about her musical collaborations across Canada, will return.  Great voice too.  All of them in top form; encouraged by the ambiance, the top-quality sound and their own very real talent.

So, the musical question becomes, and I am quoting just about all musicians at all times here, “How do we get people to understand that although we sound great on record and radio, there is nothing that can compare to a live performance”.  How DO we get people to accept how precious this experience is?  It is an ongoing conundrum.  However, I must say, there are a lot of very creative people working on it….

As I said last week, since we are part of this vital community, we need to do whatever we can in order to keep it all happening and you can help.  Nothing works better than word of mouth, so, by all means introduce others to The Pearl Experience.  Bring friends; bring acquaintances; even bring the jerk from work – maybe it will make a difference.  To the jerk and to The Pearl.

Pearl Company News – October 11/11

This is my issue with long weekends: The first workday after the weekend is a Monday from hell even when it is a Tuesday.  I can’t tell you how numb my bottom is from sitting at this computer trying to catch up with emails.  I get around 200 emails a day, sometimes more, – all of which need to be dealt with even if ‘delete’ is the only worthy response.  And then I have to write a newsletter.  So sad.  Poor butt.

Thank you all for suggestions and support after my exhausted rant last week.  You have given us encouragement and hope at a time when we sorely need it.

We are working toward addressing the challenges that we are facing; we are adjusting our business plan and looking at ways that we can expand the experience for our patrons and make what we are offering at The Pearl even more engaging.  We may not be able to do anything about the way we are perceived politically and bureaucratically (what a word) at City Hall, but we can continue to offer and improve a quality experience.

Would you be willing to fill out a questionnaire?  We are trying to understand what our issues – other than political – really are.  It might take us a while to pull it together but it could be very helpful to us.

Would you consider making a commitment to come out to an event just once a month?  We are lucky to have many supporters who come out more often than that, but if everybody who wants to see us continue standing were to come out just once a month, we would be in fine shape.  There is incredible choice – this month alone brings over 18 events.  Also, what about introducing others to The Pearl Experience?  Bring friends; bring acquaintances; bring enemies…

We are beginning to hold receptions after selected performances so the audience can mingle and mix and meet the performers.  We did this post Brownman’s concert last Friday; it was a great way to relax and enjoy Brown’s extrovert personality – believe me, he is just as energetic offstage as he is on.  Art Bus riders joined in (after, I have to say, a super fun trip which included the grand re-opening of Hamilton Artist Inc’s new digs).  The reception was just magic.  And, it will be repeated.

There is more; I will keep you posted as we go.  We are part of a significant and vital community.  We need to do whatever we can do in order to continue.

Pearl Company News: October 4/11

Last week’s newsletter was a little more personal than I usually allow myself but what the heck, it’s my newsletter, and I’ll do what I want to….

So, since I have this soapbox, I am going to use it.  Gary and I have had a hideously difficult year because of our ongoing issues re zoning and utter lack of support from our city government.  The whole situation is hugely complicated and multi-faceted but trust me when I say that it makes no sense on any level for us to be forced to re-zone.  Expenses aside, continuous commercial use of this building since 1910 makes a minor variance a no-brainer.  We are at least as effective as a social service agency in improving and maintaining our neighbourhood.  And, since when was an arts centre considered something to be discouraged?  Especially in this challenged Landsdale area.  Do you think it might have something to do with our councillor?

Last year at about this time, we decided that this is insanity and how can we possibly continue to operate The Pearl Co. under these conditions? We talked to Jeff Mahoney at the Spec and ended by getting a lot of attention and above all, a lot of support.  We decided to keep putting one foot in front of the other and do our best to make this work. Promises that we took seriously were also made re support and assistance for us….

A huge part of our decision to continue had to do with the sense of community and obligation that we felt toward our many like-minded neighbours.  We also have an enormous commitment to the arts and a belief that live performance is an art that should be encouraged in an artistic setting.  We are told constantly that we are unique– there is no other concert hall in Canada with the ambiance and the acoustics that we have.  We are told this by Musicians from all over the world; what we are doing and what we have here is very special and they hope the people of Hamilton appreciate what they have…..  And yet, we remain marginalized and shunned by our city government.

To get to the point, we are precisely back where we were last year.  Why are we doing this? The ‘recession’ has affected us; we are perhaps taken for granted by the citizens of this city.  (Because we are still standing, we must be doing okay….)  Who can be sure of what is happening, but it has left us working our behinds off for virtually no remuneration whatsoever and very few rewards other than the gratifying talent that parades through our doors.  Forward momentum is carrying us on right now. Valdy is coming in January; how can we not be here for him?  For Rita?  For all the artists of all stripes who don’t want to play bars.  How do we solve this? We are in the wrong neighbourhood to be able to refinance and give ourselves some wiggle room.  Are we in the wrong neighbourhood to tempt visitors down from the mountain, in from the suburbs?  Shall we throw in that towel?  And if so, how do we do it?

I am saying essentially that we really should quit but we don’t want to or know how to.  Maybe by putting it out there something will happen to change this impasse.  Or maybe we will come to understand what we need to do.

But the show does go on.  The remarkable and world-traveled talent that is Brownman is back this Friday, this time with New York style jazz (in a New York style loft…).  You have never seen or heard a trumpet played quite like this anywhere before; and then for something completely different on Saturday, one of Canada’s top award-winning bluegrass bands Hard Ryde.  You can’t say we don’t have variety.

Pearl Company News: September 27/11

One of the huge issues with trying to keep something such as The Pearl Company going is that no matter what else is happening, the show must go on.  You may know that I have been spending a great deal of time running back and forth on the QEW to Niagara in order to visit my ailing 96-year-old dad.  The last few months have been particularly difficult and he passed away last Saturday.  I have posted the obit on Facebook should anyone want to read about this loving soul with the encyclopedic mind.  He touched a lot of other lives during his and I want the world to know that he is gone!/bjmilne?sk=wall I am also asking forgiveness for my absence for a good part of this week.  I feel guilty when I don’t answer an email or return a phone message but I am just going to have to cope with it.

And the show does go on this week with a rare Thursday appearance of the Jazz Connection Big Band and their special super-guest, Paul Hoffert (Check out the information below; the founder of the band Lighthouse has an amazing history!), and a Friday night show with country sweethearts, Oh My Darling.  Saturday brings that Gary Santucci fellow again, this time with the top-flight oud player, Bashir Abbas and a night of truly world-class, world-beat music for the connoisseur.

I am trying to change my method of sending this newsletter out.  The method that I have been using has involved a spreadsheet and Microsoft Outlook.  The process is extremely time consuming.  My large email list has to be sent out in small batches so Cogeco won’t shut me down for spam.  Whether or not I am seen by you as spam is quite another matter….

So last week some of you received our attempt to switch to Google Mail which could send out my entire list in a fraction of the time.  However, most of you did not since we had a few glitches. Back to the drawing board…. We need our readers and supporters to continue to know what is happening at The Pearl so that you can come on down and check out the fantastic variety of great performances.  We are nothing without you!

Finally: Because of its importance, I am going to repeat this message for the next while: Many of you know that I am on the board for the Hamilton Arts Council (formerly Arts Hamilton).  It is a strong board full of people who feel as I do that Hamilton needs an organization that champions and advocates for all aspects of the arts in this changing city.  We have recently hired a young, well-respected, (and energetic) writer and visual artist, Stephanie Vegh, to carry the Council forward.  We are doing a membership drive and you should be a member.  If you wish to see the arts supported in the meaningful ways that can make a difference in the lives of artists and the life of this city, join us! Go to and click on ‘Become a Member’.  We need your help whether you are an artist or an arts supporter.  The arts are making changes in this city; be a part of the change!

Pearl Company News: July 12/11

Here’s a story for you.

If you remember, a newsletter or two ago, I talked about how much I enjoy the musicians that play here; how friendly and real and decent they all are; none of that “temperament” we have all read about.  We normally cook a meal for them since they are often on the road and because they do have ‘riders’ that request various (and sometimes esoteric) foods and drinks.  Here they get pasta and salad…. They are always delighted to have a home-cooked meal and Chef Gary throws it all together in record time.

This past performance week started Wednesday with Meaghan Smith and Ian Kelly.  Meaghan and her guitarist husband, Jason Mingo, and Ian Kelly and his charming Quebecois wife, Sophie, relaxed and enjoyed their meal.  Ian (who is very big in Quebec) was opening so all but Meaghan went downstairs to listen to him and as his set was coming to a close, I headed upstairs to see how she was doing.  She had her costume for the evening on, her makeup and hair were perfect, and there she stood in front of the kitchen sink, doing the dishes!

My jaw dropped.  I just about collapsed in a combination of appreciation and embarrassment. “We are happy to feed you!  You don’t have to do the dishes!” Meaghan just smiled,  “I would rather be busy doing something than sitting here thinking about my performance.”  Maybe we should we put this in the contract: We’ll feed you and then we will do you the favour of allowing you to do the dishes!

Meaghan’s performance was sterling.  Her voice has colour and warmth and character.  This from someone so young.  I am now a total fan and not because she did the dishes.  This is an entertainer who has it all; a beautifully relaxed and humourous stage-presence, effective songs with clever lyrics, and an open face with a winning smile!  Everyone who attended this show will be back with friends.  No doubt about it.

The Laws are here this weekend!  You know that I raved about them last time they were here.  They are superb singer-songwriters; every song is a gem, delivered with heart and gorgeous harmonies.  They deserve to have a great crowd that knows quality when they hear it!

Pearl Company News: June 21/11

Keep an eye and an ear open for Jubal’s Kin.  They are two brothers and a sister from Florida who are hugely talented and insanely young.  Their bassist plays the cello since he is too small at 13 to handle a bass!  But do they rock.  Down home bluegrass with all kinds of edges.  They were heading from here to play the North by Northeast Festival in Toronto which is pretty darned impressive for their years.  So you got that?  Remember that name.

Jenn Grant and Jim Bryson were also a total treat; but then we knew they would be!  You know, I rave all the time about the incredible talent that comes through our doors but I don’t think I have ever mentioned that with that talent seems to come a true decency and ‘niceness’; an overused word, nice, but oh so true.  From the performers who have been all over the world like Vinx, to the closer to home variety, they are to a person fun, accessible, polite, and accommodating.  In the 5 years that we have been doing this, we have only had one who gave us a hard time and he shall remain nameless.  Everyone else has been a pleasure to work with and by the time they leave, they have become our good friends.  There you go, another joy in being The Pearl Company.  They are the Pearls!

This Friday we have another of those magical mash-ups of musical champions whom you would never normally hear play together.  Gary plays again with Randal Hill (I do not use the champion word lightly – ever – and especially not for Randal, the Canadian mandolin playing champion for years running) and these two western musicians are meeting up with the top oud player, I suspect, in the world.  He is certainly the top player in the Sudan.  And, he now lives in St. Catharines.  I heard them practicing last night and my jaw was on the floor.  If you possibly can be here, come!  You will never, ever be able to repeat this experience.

Saturday brings a very timely show with a difference.   David Heidebrecht presents an utterly unique Art Opening which juxtaposes photographs that tell a ‘real’ and heart-breaking story about the happenings at the G20 conference (almost exactly one year ago this weekend) with achingly beautiful photographs of the splendor that is Canada.  We finish the evening appropriately with music from Hamilton’s Matthew de Zoete, another singer/songwriter who tells it like it is and takes you along for the journey.  See below for timing etc.

After having only had five dark days in a month and a half, we have the long weekend totally off.  What?  A weekend off?  Does this mean I won’t need to write a newsletter next week? It must!  Have a great Canada Day weekend everyone.  But I do expect to see you all out at The Pearl this weekend….

Newsletter May 2/ 11

The Pearl Company is heading into another month of exciting events.  Gary and I are delighted to see our hard work translate into a reputation as one of the top venues in Canada to sing, to act, to be. Word of mouth from performer to performer has insured that we will have impressive performance after impressive performance and we, we have to keep our heads down and make sure that we maintain this reputation.  One of the ways you, our supporters, can help is to give these highly regarded and courageous (I am always awed by the risks they take!) entertainers an appreciative audience, to show them that Hamilton values quality and supports a local venue that presents that level of excellence.  We, however, are the lucky ones who get to be at every event; I would hate to have to choose.

This past weekend, the Ali Bros featuring Brownman and Marcus Ali were a mind-boggling pair that literally talk to each other through their horns.  Gero Mansang’s art was the perfect antidote to Sunday’s dull and rainy day.  Bright, captivating and very reminiscent of his former home in Colombia.

Wednesday, the talented Roxanne Potvin whom I have enjoyed on CBC for years is here. This weekend brings an Art Bus, an exceptional pairing of two charismatic singers/wordsmiths in Kate Reid and evalyn parry, and the inimitable Charly Chiarelli in 2, count them, 2! completely different shows. Charly’s show on Saturday will take place before a concert that brings “the hippest songwriter around”, Melwood Cutlery (what a great name) together with Jenny Whitley, who, the last time she was at The Pearl put on one the top concerts we have hosted here.

Again. I am so glad I don’t have to choose!  Expect to see you soon….

Newsletter: April 5/11

The thing about live music is it is always, and can only be, a truly unique experience.  Listening to Gary Santucci and Randal Hill rehearse for their show this Friday, it really hit me. What they are putting together is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, never to be heard again. This particular pairing is unusual and anyone who knows these two seasoned musicians will be curious about what they will offer us.  I’m here to tell you that it is an amazing “smash-up” of Bluegrass meets Flamenco meets World Music.  Whoo…. And, it will never be repeated again.  It can’t ever be repeated again.

This happens with every concert.  No two could ever be the same.  You, the audience, are the recipient of whatever gifts are on offer that night.  Do I hear murmurs of total approval from the audience at the sold-out Dala concert last Friday?  Another success from Sheila and Amanda.  They are so comfortable here at The Pearl that you see a side of them that the festival and larger venue audiences don’t see.  Completely un-reproducible anywhere else.

I am glad I at least heard Gary and Randal rehearsing since the Art Bus goes out again this Friday.  We have another grand trip planned  and I am expecting that when we get back, we will catch the end of the show.  The bus will be off this week to catch the multiple studios at the former cotton mill at 270 Sherman, the multitude of studios and galleries on James North and the multiplicity of styles and approaches at the Tiger Group Studio Gallery!

Pearl Company News: March 29/11

We have an astonishing array of events and performers coming up in addition to Dala April 1.  This concert will sell out so make sure you order your tickets soon by phone or email.

The word is out that The Pearl is a great place to be if you are a musician looking for great places to play.  As a performer you are able to present your music in a listening venue loaded with ambiance; the acoustics are fabulous; and you are treated to an excellent sound system and soundman (Gary).  Now, instead of looking for singers/ bands/ performers, the booking agents call us; the independent artists call us.  Just look at the list below.  And coming in May we will have Roxanne Potvin, Kate Reid and Evelyn Parry, Royal Wood, Justin Rutledge, and (my all-time favourite name) Melwood Cutlery with Jenny Whitely.  This is just the tip of the iceberg – I haven’t even mentioned Corin Raymond (of the Undesirables) who is coming with his other band the Sundowners to open for Jonathon Byrd.  The month of June brings Melanie Doane one Friday and Jenn Grant the next.

Now, if I could just get a call from Blue Rodeo or Arcade Fire….  Or maybe Leonard Cohen….

We are heading into another theatre weekend. (We also have more theatre coming up in the next few months.)   Last week’s ‘Living Tall’ was a hysterical and heart-wrenching tour through a bizarre sales presentation.  Ker Wells acts with his whole body; I guess that’s why it is called “Physical Theatre”.  The audience was with him every step of the way, laughing in all the right places and very, very quiet in others.  I hope this is the first of many Ker Wells productions at The Pearl since he is now a Hamiltonian.

This weekend will bring a unique piece of theatre all the way from Philadelphia.  We will be the lucky audience in this area to catch ‘Darwinii’ a funny, feisty take on Darwin with some serious questions about what this human race is all about.  If you haven’t read it yet, check out Gary Smith’s interview with Brett Keyser:–the-funny-side-of-darwin-s-theory Brett just happens to be a very good friend of Ker Wells.  This means we will be treated to another superb bit of acting.  Once again I am awed by what appears in (one of) our living rooms.

Please note that this week Hamilton’s angel-voiced Sarah Good will open the post-theatre concert for Steve Brockley and his band after ‘Darwinii’ on Saturday.  Half-price for the concert if you are at the play!  This will be our third Steve Brockley concert and he and his band nail it every time.  If you haven’t heard his particular brand of musical storytelling, it is time you did.  Wax Mannequin had been scheduled to open for Steve but he has had to cancel.  Next time Waxy….

Pearl Company News: March 15/11

I am still recovering from the weekend.  An event like the REVWear Fashion Show is not something that just happens.  The set-up people were here for the entire week and then the entire crew (both on-stage and off-stage) were here every moment that they could be from Thursday onward.  It was like a beehive – or maybe an anthill – with workers scurrying everywhere at all times.  Quite astonishing.  Best of all, the show was terrific – very real, very sincere, and very well done; it was also very well-attended and received.

But when the last person was out of here at midnight Sunday, Gary and I collapsed.  With all shows, even though we are generally the people behind the scenes, it is very like being on-stage.  While others do the work of presenting the performance, we make sure that everything around them is functioning at peak capacity.  Because we do this non-stop, sometimes what is right for one show is not for the next, necessitating constant re-setting of dials (so to speak).

Add to this an Art Bus and Rant Maggie Rant on Friday (both of which went exceedingly well), by Monday morning, we were not ready to start the week.  Now you know why the newsletter is so late!

Looking forward to another exciting weekend with the inimitable Ker Wells performing his one-act piece, Living Tall.  The lights have been re-set, the mise-en-scene is becoming something completely different, and on we go to the next adventure.  The Pearl is very lucky to have Ker doing his very professional ‘shtick’ here; Hamilton is very lucky to have him hanging his hat here! Living Tall is only on this weekend for two nights, Friday and Saturday; the following weekend we present Ker’s very good friend Brett Keyser doing his one act “tour de farce” Darwinii for the same two nights.

Pearl Company News: March 8/11

This newsletter is being brought to you by Barbara Milne who has just been named: Tourism Hamilton’s Arts Ambassador of the Year!

I have to tell you I’ve fallen in love at least 5 times in the last month.  First Russell de Carle, then Jeff Bird, John Mann, Mark Berube and last night, Barney Bentall.  These performers stand in front of our audiences baring their souls, putting their art out there for us to accept, reject, or take into our own souls.  The courage, the talent, the showmanship!  My heart gets bent, broken, healed, and filled – often during just one song.  Nothing can compare to the immediacy of a live performance and the emotional response that it draws from us.  There is no barrier between you and the performer; you are entirely present.

It’s a good thing Gary also plays regularly!

Prepare to have your heart taken out and tossed around by the irrepressible and entertaining Rant Maggie Rant, who are back for their third time and just in time for St Paddy’s Day!  This Saturday and Sunday, we host the return of RevWear or Revolutionary Fashion Wear, a wonderfully youthful and exuberant display of fashion such as you will have never seen before – but just may see again….

Pearl Company Top News! February 15/11

I don’t know if you read the article written by Gary which appeared in the Spectator editorial section last Friday (February 11/11).  It addresses another bizarre Hamilton situation that in this case has been going on for 22 years.  I can just see The Pearl Company 22 years down the line still being jacked around by bureaucratic red tape. It’s possible.  Here’s the link to the article:–the-saga-of-white-star It should be required reading for everyone at City Hall – and for all citizens of Hamilton for that matter.  Reactions to this piece include kudos to the Spectator for printing it and concerns that this is only the tip of the iceberg where bureaucratic train wrecks in Hamilton are concerned.

City of Hamilton Arts Awards: As a member of the Steering Committee for the revamped Awards, I want to make sure that everyone who has ever wanted to nominate an artist knows what they have to do to accomplish this (‘artist’ includes all the arts from visual to dance to theatre to music to sculpture to written and spoken word and more).  Go to and check out the process.  The whole thing will only work if we nominate those that make the arts in our city exceptional.  So get nominating!

Do you drink coffee? Wednesday evenings we are presenting Café Femenino information sessions, re the only Fair Trade certified, organic coffee produced solely by women.  This flavourful, dark-roasted coffee will ring all your coffee bells!


Cafe Femenino Information Session: Wednesdays, 7:00 – 8:30 pm at The Pearl Company.
Magnetic North Network combines one of the most ethical coffees in the world, with one of the most ethical business models in the world, offering Canadians an opportunity to support sustainable economies for women of the Third World while providing the opportunity to create their own business (or to just enjoy the coffee). Please join us Wednesdays to sample this exceptional coffee and discover how you can participate. Cafe Femenino coffees are carefully grown by women who have joined together to create a more sustainable economy.
Canadians spend $5 Billion a year on coffee and most of that money goes to corporations that clear cut rainforests and force families from their farms, or pay them so little they cannot feed, house and support themselves, creating an endless round of poverty. The women of Café Femenino are breaking that cycle.

No obligation. Come just to taste the coffee.

By buying this marvelous coffee (sent monthly to your home) you can help support The Pearl Co. Come check it out!

For more information go to

Change your coffee – change your world – change their world!
Pearl Company News February 1/11

You know, I always write this newsletter at about 11:00 at night.  I find with constant distractions and a total lack of inspiration during the daylight hours, it just doesn’t happen.  I often think what a total nightmare this job would be if I weren’t a night person.  But every morning when I don’t want to get up, I kind of wish I was a little less night and a little more morning….  This particular newsletter is being written even later than usual (only the ‘A’s’ will know how late); so please overlook any incoherencies.  Spell check hasn’t clicked in so I guess that’s a word.  Incoherencies.

I’m not sure that anyone noticed that there was not a newsletter last week.  I was down for several counts.  Cold, flu and, what the heck? a cracked (or perhaps only bruised) rib – done in a totally stupid fall.  As long as I don’t sneeze, cough, or reach the wrong way, I am fine.

The one thing that I had to accomplish last week was getting information for a nomination for the Arts and Entertainment Ambassador Award to Tourism Hamilton.  I have been nominated every year for the past three and I have complained every year that their process was so complicated and time-consuming that there was no way that I could continue to do the job for which I had been nominated and fill out all those papers.  So when they simplified the process this year (I am sure I was not the only person complaining), I felt I had to go through with it.  I had major help (thank you Raquel Rakovac) but when it was finished, I gave myself permission to collapse.  Ergo no newsletter.  And who knows what will come of the nomination.  If I were a City Hall department, I wouldn’t be giving me an award no matter how much I do for this city.  The Pearl Company’s situation is no more resolved at this point, than it was 4 years ago.  What are they thinking?  And entertainment?  I am not that entertaining.

Please check out the truly exciting Art Bus that is heading out this coming Friday (Feb. 4).  We are visiting two, count them, 2, brand new galleries.  The Focus Gallery on James North had its opening this past Saturday and received a lot of attention (See:–a-new-focus-on-james-north ) not only because of the quality of the art but also because of the quality of the gallery itself.  Since I wasn’t able to be at the Opening, I am looking forward to experiencing it for myself.  The other new gallery is Image Gallery 205 (at 205 Cannon). They have had a few “soft” Openings and are looking great with a marvelous show.  Come and see for yourselves!  More info below, as always.

Then, because this is The Pearl Co and an Art Bus is not enough, we are presenting Russell deCarle (lead singer and founding member of Prairie Oyster!) on Thursday.  I have long been a fan of Prairie Oyster and am delighted that I will be able to catch this show.  Entertainment at its best.  Ah, here is where the Entertainment Ambassador kicks in….

Sunday we have the Hamilton Philharmonic here with their ‘What Next’ festival.  What a treat.  Talk about variety!

Pearl Company News: October 19/10

I need to say a huge thank you last week to the many people over the past few weeks who wrote and called just about everybody at City Hall and at the Spectator about our plight.  Things would have been quite different, I am sure, if you had not made your feelings known.  Bob Bratina would not have been able to bring his motion forward to such a receptive group if that group had not already been primed with your words.  Thank you, thank you, and thank you all again! And, of course, I continue to be very grateful to Bob for having had the will to do it!

Even though we still have “The Charge” hanging over us and even though that means we are still hamstrung and unable to refinance (which is crucial to our ability to move forward), things are so much more positive than they were only a week ago.  I won’t even mention that we still can’t get even a special event liquor license let alone… Be that as it may, we are still in infinitely better shape.  And, as importantly, so are all the other buildings like ours that need real hands-on assistance to become filled with viable businesses that bring tax revenue and employment to this city,- rather than toxic waste or the need to be leveled to make another parking lot.

I was touched by the numbers of letters that came from our neighbours.  Several came from people who had bought in this area because our presence told them that this was an area that was no longer the ‘wild east’. Several were from people who have been here for years and are very grateful for the change that this (formerly) sad block of the city has undergone. Thank you neighbours!  What has happened here is what could happen in so many of the dilapidated blocks in these central areas with just a little vision and a little support.

Julia Veenstra’s “Colour Unleashed” show is beautiful! The energy and colour that this woman easily translates onto canvas is astonishing. Our newly transformed spaces work very well for her art – and she works very well for the spaces!  On Saturday, Bruekke and Allosaurus managed to match Julia’s energy with their sound.  Not only were they excellent musically, they were a ton of fun. Another musical evening I would be happy to repeat!

This weekend we welcome back the Jazz Connection Big Band on Friday and the inimitable Laura Smith with Ryan MacGrath on Saturday.  The outstanding JCBB has a very dedicated and loyal audience that grows larger every time they return.  Laura Smith has been on hiatus for the past few years but it seems her musical talent has not.  She was one of Canada’s best-known woman singers in the 90’s and she has come out of her self-imposed retirement to tour with Ryan MacGrath who must be a d**ned fine young musician to tempt her back onto the road. I greatly admired the music of Laura Smith ‘back when’ and expect to be transfixed by the combination of the two.  See below for more info. Reserve early to get the advance price.

Next week I will give you more information about the insanely inventive version of Oscar Wilde’s Salome that will be the first theatre piece presented on the former gallery floor, now a newly converted theatre space, during the first two weeks of November.

Pearl Company News October 12, 2010


We have been on tenterhooks for the last few days and I have been holding back this newsletter hoping that I would have some major news for you. Bob Bratina took a motion re aging buildings and The Pearl Co. to the Committee of the Whole at City Hall on Tuesday.  The motion was sent back to have some wording changed by the City’s Legal Department.  It was presented Wednesday evening during the last council meeting with this present council.  I am still not sure how I am feeling about all this.  The first motion proposed dropping the charges against us; the second leaves the charges although with some positive wording around them….

I really like the succinct way that Bryce Kanbara (owner, you me gallery) has put it . “Hamilton Councillor Bob Bratina’s initiative to address the threatened closure of the Pearl Company has broken the bureaucratic impasse that had beleaguered the Pearl for several years and sent them to court twelve times without resolution. Bratina’s proposal galvanized City staff and Council into working together to craft and pass a  motion that allows the Pearl Company to continue operating, and clears the way for the adaptive re-use possibilities of many other empty industrial buildings in the city.”

The charges (running a Theatre and an Art Gallery in a factory building zoned residential) still stand, but the motion that was passed recognizes our part (as members of the arts community)  in creating “healthy neighbourhoods”.  It also directs that the Planning and Economic Development Department will initiate a study of a Community Improvement Plan for the “creative industries cluster” together with a review of City policies and by-laws.  Zoning and by-law infractions will not be enforced for other arts facilities while this study is in progress.  The one thing we know is that we will not be charged again. You all know how I feel about being charged at all….

Thanks go to Bob Bratina for taking this multi-faceted issue on and coming up with a motion which does open doors for us and ultimately will benefit the city by taking a long look at the huge numbers of older and in-need-of-major-help buildings that dot this city throughout its core and need massive amounts of creativity directed at them.

So, let’s celebrate this weekend!  We are presenting a solo show, Julia Veenstra: “Colour Unleashed” this Friday at 7:00 with Live Music and Dancing at 9:00! Come check out our newly transformed spaces: The Pearl Company Gallery is now on two floors and two floors of theatre space! How did we do this? You have to see it to believe it!

Today Gary has been on CHCH, talked to Bill Kelly on CHML and to Paul Morse at The Spec. He’s been a busy man.  I refuse to do these things – I get way too emotional.  Here’s the link to Jeff Mahoney’s article in the Spectator which started all this:–violation-leads-pearl-owners-to-call-it-quits If you are interested in more information about our zoning issues, check out the ‘Zoning’ tab on our website. You will also find a copy of Bratina’s motion there or here’s the link:–cultural-zoning-reprieve–cultural-zoning-reprieve

Pearl Company News: October 5/10

I keep trying not to be too wordy – or too over-the-top…  But I have to tell you that The Pearl Company really did its job this past weekend!  The Friday evening Art Bus took a wonderful meander through town soaking in all kinds of great art.  We arrived back to base in time to catch an entertaining, emotion-laden, funny, and fabulous set from Corin Raymond.  The lucky patrons who were present for the entire show agreed that the other two singer-songwriters on the bill, Scott Cook, and Rhagu Lokanathan were just as first-rate.  At least if I had to miss them, I was on the Bus….  These three songmen may never all be on the same bill anywhere ever again.  Only we were fortunate enough to receive (and pass on) this gift!

Prepare for more superlatives.  Saturday night was also amazing.  Tom Wilson took the crowd and brought it to its feet.  With his superb band-mates, Brent Titcomb and Ray Farrugia they rocked this place in ways it has never been rocked before.  Adding the band Harlan Pepper (with Tom’s son, Thompson, on guitar and the most amazing young keyboardist I have ever seen) to the mix was the perfect touch.  Harlan Pepper opened the evening with their “folkin’ great music” and then joined Tom, Brent, and Ray on stage for the last few songs.  Oh my.  I don’t think any candidate for councillor has ever had such a rousing fundraiser!  Paul Tetley, you deserve to be elected on the strength of this rocking great party alone!  I don’t even have to mention a really strong platform as an intelligent, responsive councillor for the people….

This week: The Art Bus will again be traveling around Hamilton, first to 270 Sherman which houses a number of artists amidst its historic architecture.  This building, part of which is now the Mills Arts Centre, has been on the tour since the Bus’s inception, as the Imperial Cotton Centre for the Arts.  We head from there to the always exciting James North Art Crawl which has its own set of superlatives built right in.  Next will be the Tiger Group Studio Gallery at 335 Barton E. where the attentive ‘Tigers’ will entertain us with food, beverages and their special brand of insane rapport (not to mention gift certificates)!

This Thursday, Faye Blais returns and if you caught her last time, you know what a charming and talented entertainer she is.  Besides being a seasoned musical world traveler, she is a compelling singer songwriter who deservedly receives comparisons to Feist and Joni Mitchell.  The local Fours Trio will be the after-band and I look forward to hearing them for the first time.

Jean Paul de Roover is back for his third Pearl visit on Friday!  He is developing a real audience here for his ‘loopy’ brand of music; between his attractive personality and his bizarrely compelling technique with his voice and his instruments, you will be happily seduced into his musical world.  He is joined by the captivating songsmith Lindy Vopnfjord, who is understandably known just as ‘Lindy’….

Saturday brings the Code Red Blues Festival.  If you have been following the coverage in the Spectator of this sad tale of a challenged central Hamilton, you will find this an apt response to these stories.

You know, it just hit me that this weekend is Thanksgiving! I have my nose way too close to the grindstone, – and my eyes too fixed on the prize…. (Sorry, couldn’t resist…) So Tuesday will be the first day of the week and on that day we are presenting another astonishing world traveler!  Jayme Stone is a Juno award-winning banjoist whose focus is on melding various forms of world dance music into a wonderful tapestry of sound that should bring the entire overturkeyfed city of Hamilton and environs to our door!

Well.  I’ve given you another abundant smorgasbord from which to choose.  A bountiful and thankful Thanksgiving Day to all of you!  And many more heartfelt thanks to all who have written, emailed and spoken to the people in this town who may come to understand that this city must welcome the people who try to make its older, sometimes abandoned, sometimes falling down, buildings into something worthwhile, useful, and perhaps even beautiful.  Maybe they will listen….

Pearl Company News: September 29/10

Well, this has been an exciting week.  Thank you to so many who wrote to everyone they could think of including me, the Spectator, their councillors, the mayor – and more!  We have been overwhelmed, delighted, and almost frightened by the support.

In the midst of all this, my computer decided it too had had enough; it threw a coughing fit and went into a coma.  I have been mostly computer-less since last Friday; it has just been resurrected as of today (thank you computer god, Brian of Bonham Technology) and I am now so far behind that I can’t see the tunnel let alone the light.  Apologies to those that I have been forced to ignore since I could not even know that you were being ignored….  Apologies also for the tardiness of this newsletter.

Because I have been somewhat hamstrung in getting to get back to people, I am going to print a slightly edited part of the mass-response letter that I drafted.  We are still trying to figure out where we go from here.  But one thing you can do immediately is catch Corin Raymond on Friday, and Tom Wilson with Harlan Pepper on Saturday.  How painless can it get!  Here is (most of) the letter….

“Thank you all so much for your supportive, warm, (and sometimes angry), words.  Because we have been working behind the scenes for quite a while (expecting that sooner or later a solution would emerge) we have not had the opportunity to gauge public opinion.  We are overwhelmed to put it mildly.  We might even find a ray of light in the darkness….

The first thing that I need to say is that we are not closing down at this point. We will continue to present events and performances at The Pearl in order to keep an income stream happening – can’t do without that…. When (and, I suppose, if) the building sells, then we will be able to put a timeline on our demise.  Until then, one way to help is to come out to the events that appeal to you.

You are receiving this because you offered to do whatever you can so here goes:

1. Write letters; email the councillors and the mayor (their addresses are easy to find on the city’s website:; lobby the media; get the word out to your friends. Many of you have already done so.

2. One possible ray of light is to defeat the long-time councillor in our ward.  Join the campaign for change in Ward 3. We are supporting Paul Tetley and any available time you can offer would be appreciated, whether it is 5 minutes, 5 hours or more… Some of the help that would be useful is, help with canvassing, post card delivery, and participation in events for change (Tom Wilson – more info below).  You can assist by driving people to advance poles, finding sign locations, or just letting your friends in ward 3 know what is happening.  If you live or work in Ward 3, we are setting up Tetley Tea Parties (name recognition is everything!) so we’re looking for people to hold them and invite their neighbours.  Many of our city’s problems are because we have too many councillors that have been too long in their positions.  We need new ideas, new approaches.  This should be happening across the board.

3. There are people who are talking about fundraising for us.  We are looking at a fair bit of debt and would definitely appreciate that help.  I will keep you posted on what is happening through my newsletter, the website, and Facebook. In addition to our regular Facebook page, we have also just set up a ‘Save The Pearl Company’ page. Please “like” us! (I still find this bizarre…)

4. At the risk of repeating myself. Come out to events!  Here’s one: On Saturday, October 2nd we will be hosting: Ticket for Change: Tom Wilson with Special Guest Harlan Pepper: Supporting Paul Tetley for Ward 3 Councillor: 8:00pm $45. Can’t think of a fun-ner way of working for change!

Thank you again for the overwhelming show of support.  I’d be lying if I said I haven’t shed a few tears…

There.  Now this Friday: The Art Bus will be wandering around central Hamilton and then heading east.  Meanwhile back at the ranch… When the lovable Corin Raymond tells me he is wowed by a fellow singer / songwriter, I listen.  He brought the riveting C. R. Avery to The Pearl.  Now he is bringing prairie balladeer Scott Cook, and B.C.’s Raghu Lokanathan with his warm welcoming voice and whip smart turns of phrase.  I have asked them to sing slowly so that they are still on stage when I get back with the bus riders.  They have agreed. So come on down to The Pearl this weekend.  I’ve given you a wonderful smorgasbord to choose from!

Pearl Company News – September 21, 2010

So…. if you haven’t read Jeff Mahoney’s article in the Tuesday morning Spectator, here’s the link:–violation-leads-pearl-owners-to-call-it-quits

Read it?  We have had enough.  Being hit with another charge – the same charge but much more elaborate, – a professional brief all done up with photos and evidence, as if we are hiding what we are doing – it’s just more than we can take.  What upsets me as much as anything is that my (note, commercial, not residential) tax dollars went into this convoluted, unnecessary, and expensive lawyer’s brief put together to charge two people who are genuinely committed to the improvement of this Lansdale community, while the crack houses, the ever-present johns, and the absentee land-owners etc. go scot-free!!!  We get home after this experience and there is a message on the machine, asking me to be on a city arts committee.  Bah.

I came to this project as my best Pollyanna self, believing that something as positive as what we were planning could only result in support and understanding from my city.  The Landsdale area desperately needed this kind of boost; the city might even help…. We knew there were zoning issues but we also knew there was a very strong case for a variance rather than the expensive re-zoning option.  When all our advice said do not re-zone, do not get caught in that trap, we knew there would be other solutions.  And, I was sure that the city would be delighted that we were doing this, especially since we were not asking them for funding of any sort….

Now I am angry.

We have been consulting with the city for the past two years re artistic, cultural zoning and an adaptive re-use policy for former industrial, commercial, and institutional buildings.  To our dismay, these items have not been adopted.  We are told it will take another 4 years for these policies to be implemented through the new official plan.  The biggest shock, however, is that this will not change the onerous fee structure; it will remain intact.

Many cities have seen the benefits of loosening the by-laws, of lightening the fee load so that people are encouraged to come do creative and positive things in these challenged neighbourhoods. Toronto has set this up in the Parkdale neighbourhood; Windsor is implementing these policies throughout; many cities have experienced the benefits.  Instead of laying heavy fees and excessive requirements on small start-up enterprises until they fold and die, they are working with them, encouraging them, and in the long run seeing them thrive and add to the tax and employment bases.  Did you see the article in the Spec a week or two ago about how Hamilton is one of the worst cities in the country to be a small start-up business?

We have squandered enough time and effort.  We have offered many solutions and compromises all of which have been rejected.  With no political support, these solutions will never see the light of day.  That political support needed to come from our Ward 3 councillor and it has not. The process is broken; the political will is not there; it is time for a change.  Not only for our situation but for the entire city.  We are far from the only small business affected by these policies.

To that end, we are supporting Paul Tetley for councillor in Ward 3.  We have a fundraiser planned for Paul on October 2, here at The Pearl, with Tom Wilson and Harlan Pepper putting on a show such as could only happen at The Pearl with its fabulous acoustics and unbeatable ambiance. You can support us in making a difference for the Landsdale area and the entire Ward 3.  (And ultimately for the entire city.)  Anyone wishing to do more can get in touch with us.  You know where to find us.

One other thing I need to make sure of is that you know that we will continue to offer high quality, continued programming until this building is actually sold. We do not expect it to be an easy sell and it is highly unlikely that it will remain an arts venue.  Perhaps it will become condos, or a retirement home or rent-geared-to-income housing….  Can’t know.

This weekend is going to be a blast and I have to say that throughout this exasperating exercise in futility, the high points have always been the performers, the performances.  I can let it all go when Rita Chiarelli is wailing her song to the rafters, and, this weekend when her distant cousin, Charly Chiarelli, does his thing, first on Friday with his harmonica, and then on Saturday with his brilliant one-man show Cu’Fu – in Sicilian no less.  I’ll let it all go again when, on Sunday, we bring you the Judy Monologues, a Judy Garland extravaganza; two shows, one at 4pm, another at 7. Wow.  In so many ways, I have been a very blessed woman.

This quote becomes even more poignant…..

Vinx, who has sung and drummed all over the world said from our stage: “You don’t know what you have here. The Pearl Company is one of the most amazing places to play in the world.  The art, the acoustics…..  You have no idea how unique this is”.

Pearl Company News – September 14, 2010

If you didn’t catch Rita Chiarelli here this past weekend, I am so sorry.  The goddess of the Canadian Blues sang her heart out both nights and totally brought the house down.  What a show-woman! I am (almost) speechless when trying to describe the heart-wrenching and yet hysterically funny journey she took us on.  She is committed to coming back next fall but I want her back sooner. I’ll need a Rita fix before that!

She has embarked on a remarkable journey with her documentary with Canadian director Bruce McDonald “Music from the Big House”.  (In case you missed it here is the link from Graham Rockingham’s article:–music-from-the-big-house)

I just listened to my baby sister, Anne, impress the heck out of me, expounding on the sociology of the financial world.  I not only understood every word, I got a whole new understanding of how we as herding animals effect the world around us – including the stock market….  I could have listened to her forever; it was that fascinating.  She has always surprised me with her stories about what I think should be a very boring subject.  Watch out for her return too.

This week’s events continue with our Wednesday Night Showcase, – this week with a difference.  Be prepared for flamenco dancing (and music), Ecuadorian music, and music from the Italian / Hungarian / Greek duo of Santucci & Doumas.  Friday, Gary will reprise his Italian Guitar Masters show from last year’s Festitalia.  Sunday will bring a very different kind of music, an evening of uniquely experimental sounds from musicians who are willing to have a really long reach – a Toronto group and two local groups.

Pearl Company News – September 7, 2010

Welcome back to the ‘real’ world! I hope your summer was everything you needed it to be. And, that you are now ready to face whatever this ‘new year’ has in store for us.  I have to say I am feeling excited about the upcoming election and the opportunity it will present for making changes….

Rita Chiarelli will be here this weekend!  The goddess of the Canadian Blues Scene will have two concerts, one on Friday September 10, and another on Saturday 11.  The reservations are rolling in.  I am sure that you saw the big story that Graham Rockingham wrote about what this astonishing woman has been doing lately.  However, here is the link in case you missed it:–music-from-the-big-house Let me know if you are planning to attend one of the concerts and I will set aside your tickets.

Not only do we have Rita on the weekend, this Thursday brings the ƒ Holes and their wildly creative brand of music.  Graham (whom I happen to think is a music reviewer extraordinaire!) gave them a “Best Bet” saying…. “ The ‘f’ in this Winipeg band’s name refers to those f-shaped slots in violins and guitars… Honest. They play gypsy jazz, Dixieland, blues and klezmer – just about anything that can be played with horns, fiddle and a banjo.” See below for more information.

We are now heading into 11 events in 11 days. Oh my. Summer must be over.  I will be sending out a newsletter again next Tuesday but take note: The Italian Film Night (see below) and my sister Anne’s seminar need reminding about now.  Here’s part of what I said about Anne last week:  “She is a financial planner with a history bent. Anne takes the long view of the market and has been terrifyingly (and entertainingly) accurate in her predictions.  I have been unhappily apprised of every major downturn well in advance so I suggested that she talk to other people about her theories and depress (and impress) them instead of me.  She has agreed to bring her intriguing view of the way the financial world turns to The Pearl Company next Tuesday 14th.  See more below.

There’s another Art Bus (sponsored by Judy Marsales Real Estate – I’m loving this…) this Friday and it is also filling rapidly.  We’ll start with Ottawa Street, off to James North and the Art Crawl, then to the grand finale at the Tiger Group Studio Gallery.  Quite the evening….  If you are still standing when we return, you can hear the end of Rita’s concert from a seat in the art gallery!  Oh, and there is a really nice show on the Pearl Co. walls from our stable of artists – holding the space until our next gallery opening – Julie Veenstra October 9!

Just confirmed Charly Chiarelli – he is a distant cousin of Rita’s… I will give you the details next week!

Pearl Company News – August 31/10

We had such a heart-warming concert last Friday.  Dean Hollin’s return to both his hometown and his roots was royally welcomed.  It was a warm and wonderful audience of new and old fans and Dean did himself proud (Cole Porter & Hoagy Carmichael too I might add).  Dean will return to The Pearl Company November 18 with “Johnny Mercer, 101 Years Since his Birth” and February 13, 2011 for a Valentines show focused on Rogers and Hart.  Better get your tickets early; everyone who was here says they are bringing 10 more people.  This would mean more than 900 and we can only fit 150….

Speaking of getting tickets early and selling out, do let me know if you are planning to attend one of our two Rita Chiarelli concerts on September 10 and 11.  They too will be packed.  What a woman; she has been doing some astonishing things lately.  The full story of which will appear in the Spec sometime in the very near future.  Keep an eye out; I won’t spoil the surprise.

Thank you to all who wrote to let me know that they had checked out my sister Marilyn’s website and found themselves suitably impressed.  Who knew woodturning could look like that?  It’s a long way from burl bowls!

So now prepare yourself to hear about my other sister, Anne….  Anne is every bit as creative as Marilyn only in a completely different way.  She is a financial planner with a history bent. She also writes a (so far unpublished) comic strip about 3 sisters….   Anne takes the long view of the market and has been terrifyingly (and entertainingly) accurate in her predictions.  I have been unhappily apprised of every major downturn in the market well before it happens and I am tired of it.  So I suggested that she talk to other people about her theories and depress (and impress) them instead of me.  Sure enough, she has agreed to bring her intriguing view of the way the financial world turns to The Pearl Company this September 14.  See more below.  You know, in many ways, I am the under-achiever of the family; I haven’t even mentioned my brother, have I?

There’s an Art Bus this Friday that really needs to be filled.  I am getting tired of these summer long-weekend Fridays that take people out of Hamilton even though there are wonderful things happening that shouldn’t be missed in our own local art world.  If you are going to be around this weekend, by all means get on the bus.  I’ll even take you to the Mustard Festival where…. of all things, you will find The Pearl Company.  Yes, we are setting up at the festival so come see us down near Theatre Aquarius.  However, if you get on the bus, we’ll also be wandering around Locke Street and heading out to Dundas.

Pearl Company News – August 24/10

This is the new and re-invigorated Barbara Milne writing…. Just back from my two-day vacation with my sister, Marilyn Campbell, who just happens to live in Kincardine, on the shores of Lake Huron.  While I’m reminiscing about my break from this blanking computer, I am going to reveal that my sister, Marilyn is a world-renowned wood-turner.  Want to see what a world-renowned wood-turner can do?  Go to and have your mind blown.  You thought they just did staircase railings.  Right?  Marilyn is much in demand; this fall she goes to France. She’s been to Australia, Hawaii, all over the States, all because she turns wood.  I’m not envious; I get to go all over Hamilton – in a very special bus no less.  Why would I want to go to France?

Stay tuned because next week I am going to tell you about my other sister, Anne….

I’m really looking forward to the show this Friday.  Dean Hollin returns to both his hometown and his roots. Dean grew up performing in (and frequently starring in) musical theatre in Hamilton.  Since then, he has migrated to Collingwood where he teaches, directs local theatre, and takes his multiple and highly theatrical shows on the road, presenting singers and songwriters from Nat King Cole to the Rat Pack.  He will be appearing at The Pearl Company this Friday with The Songs of Cole Porter & Hoagy Carmichael.  He will return November 18 with “Johnny Mercer, 101 Years Since his Birth” and February 13, 2011 just in time for Valentines Day with a show focusing on Rogers and Hart.  The man is a total treat. Take a look at his website (listed below) where you will also find more info about this Friday’s performance.

Thursday brings the Arts of August showcasing the works of youth involved with that vital downtown centre the Living Rock. We are honoured to be part of their worthwhile efforts on behalf of a number of Hamilton’s young people; there are numerous ways of reaching disaffected youth and I happen to think one of the most effective is through art.

Pearl Company News – August 17/10

I have some exciting news! Judy Marsales Real Estate will be the new sponsor for the ARTBus.  I am delighted.  Judy’s commitment to the Arts in Hamilton is well known and I see this as a perfect fit for both her company and my, uh… considerably smaller… business.  My next few days are going to be spent happily doing new promotional material; this is work I definitely do not mind. Thank you Judy, it is a pleasure to support the Art Scene in Hamilton with you!

Last weekend passed with a great trip on the ARTBus to James North where we are now starting our tour with a stop at our old friends Artword, at their Artbar on Colbourne.  They now have the, shall we call it, privilege of welcoming and feeding ARTBus riders when they arrive on the street prior to the hard, hard work of trying to see everything and be everywhere.  We finished the evening with our usual artful and entertaining visit to the Tiger Group Studio Gallery on Barton, then back to The Pearl for a Commedia del Arte puppet show from Studio Babette ‘showcasing their particularly adorable insanity’.  I like that phrase.   Perfect evening

This week: Wednesday Night Showcase tonight(!) – always interesting; always different.  The high energy John M. Crawford Blues Band is on stage on Friday.  If you saw them at the Tivoli last Friday, you know what I mean.  It was so great to see the Tivoli hopping like that again!  Saturday brings another private event.

Much as I hate to think about it, autumn is on its way.  We’re in for a busy September, we’re looking forward to Rita Chiarelli and more as we support Festitalia!  Stay tuned….

Pearl Company News – August 10/10

A number of the musicians who play at The Pearl are on tour.  The quality of these musicians is always top-notch.  I figure that if you are given a grant to travel across the country or around the world, you have had to prove your value!  One thing that delights me is that they pass the word about The Pearl Company among other musician friends so we get calls from bands that are recommended by other bands we already know are terrific. These fellow troubadours have been told about the unique ambiance and the fabulous acoustics.  This works really well for both sides; we know that the band or singer-songwriter will be excellent and they know what they are getting from the venue. The groups have already been vetted by their peers and we can relax and know that we will be offering  quality!

Aidan Knight was another such find; recommended and accompanied by a member of Morlove (Miss Emily Brown and Corwin Fox who were here last month), he was everything we have come to expect, excellent singer, guitarist and wordsmith. Phenomenal backing band too.

This weekend we have the Commedia del Arte puppet show from Studio Babette showcasing their particularly adorable insanity after the ARTBus returns.  Perfect.  Saturday brings another private event.  Busy summer.

Next week I will start giving you a taste of an even busier September. Very exciting lineups; stay tuned….

Pearl Company News – July 20/10

Gabrielle Papillon and Jon Bryant were every bit as good as I thought they would be as they finished their cross-country tour here this past Friday.  I love the fact that we get so many young, starting-out talents on their way across Canada. Gabrielle and Jon had traveled by VIA Rail singing for the passengers (and their supper) in return for a first-class ticket – something that apparently many young musicians do.  How romantic.  I traveled across Canada when I was their age in an yellow school bus which was far from romantic and the food definitely did not measure up to the fare they were served in the first-class dining room.  Hmmm.  Maybe I could learn to play guitar.  Wait.  Gary plays guitar; maybe I could learn to sing….

The Wednesday Night Showcase happens, strangely, this Wednesday – and will continue to happen every third Wednesday – always four different local players showing off their individual licks and abilities.

Serial-Numbers with Slowly, Slowly arrives on Thursday.  Serial-Numbers boasts two local women in Annie Shaw and Sarah Good so we are expecting a warm home-town crowd.  The band has a truly unique sound which intrigues me greatly.  I am looking forward to this.

This Friday, Cable 14 returns for another round of ‘The Pearl Company Presents’.  Catch the first round on our local cable station which started this past Friday.  We really need to do something about hooking up a TV in this place.  We hear the program is great.

Pearl Company News – July 15/10

Gabrielle Papillon and Jon Bryant are finishing their cross-country tour here at The Pearl this Friday.  Gabrielle has warned me she might be a little emotional which should make for a wonderful concert.  I have, of course, only heard Gabrielle and Jon on-line with my tinny laptop speakers; if they sound great on them, they should be good. Their reviews are also top-notch.

Speaking of top-notch, the Rosie Burgess Trio from Australia put on an incredible show that easily made it to my top five concerts this year.  Take Dala, add in some Janis Joplin with some very sexy 80’s rap, stir it all up, and you have one h-eck of an evening’s entertainment.  They will be touring again next summer and everyone who caught this show will be back with at least ten people.   We will have a good friend of theirs from Australia here July 29 – a woman named Toby with her group.  If she is half as good as they were, she will be great!

I try to steer clear of politics in my newsletter – if I let myself go it would be political rant after rant.  (Yes, we are still struggling with our zoning issues believe it or not – I continue to be baffled…)  But this is just too hard to ignore.  If you feel as strongly as I (and numbers of others) about the sudden change in stadium venues, please visit this site: and if you feel so inclined, sign yourself up.  It is a very grounded and powerful examination of the issue, adopting the West Harbour site for many excellent reasons.

Pearl Company News – July 6, 2010

What a day today (Tuesday).  Hot.  Especially if you have an entire TV crew filming with their lights and their equipment and their sheer physical presence.  I really felt for them. Remember, they are on the 3rd floor, the floor with no air conditioning, and they can’t just cancel a shoot that has been scheduled weeks in advance. Oh, they suffered for their art, from 11 in the morning until 8 at night.  But when they finished, they were finished.  Literally.  The filming is done and the first of six shows called Mythical Beasts will show tomorrow night (and every Wednesday night for 6 weeks) at 10:00 on the History Channel.  We have no cable and a TV that really doesn’t even get CHCH so we won’t be able to watch it.  But I do recommend it as a fascinating premise and I’m not going to tell you anything more; you have to watch it.  Tape it while you are at it, will you?  And at last we have the back half of our loft back.  Yay for that!  It’s been fascinating but it is time for it to end – for them and for us….8 weeks it has been.

And all day Friday while I am getting ready for the bus, Cable 14 will be on the theatre floor (in air-conditioned comfort) filming “The Pearl Presents” for showing on our local cable channel.  You are welcome to come and watch.  The actual taping will be from 1 to 5.  Admission is pay what you wish.

Pearl Company News – June 29, 2010

Summer is here and for The Pearl Company, this means a number of things.  Most important is the fact that there is no air conditioning on the third floor where we live – a nightmare in the making….  Next most important is that people go away for weekends or they go to outdoor festivals and even though our second-floor theatre is most emphatically air-conditioned, it just doesn’t have the same appeal that it does during the non-summer months.  Ergo, we will not be focusing as much on weekends.  We will still have a lot of music happening but we will be presenting it on Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays.  The Art Bus continues through the summer.  Like clockwork the first and second Fridays of July and August, through rain and snow and, wait a minute, snow?  Don’t worry, I will keep you posted.

Coming up: Happy Canada Day!  And if you are still around on Friday, the Art Bus will be heading out to the International Village, Locke Street, and the Town of Dundas (for a total of around 10 – or more – studios/galleries) while back at The Pearl, there will be a jam and get-together of the New Hamilton Blues Society.  If you enjoy the blues and are prepared for the unscripted, a mere $5 will guarantee an entertaining evening.  I’m sure they will still be playing when the bus gets back.  On Thursday, July 8, the Rosie Burgess Trio, a sparkling Australian group will be bringing their special brand of music here.  Listen to their music on-line if you get a chance – to my mind, they are an Australian version of the Good Lovelies which means they will be excellent entertainment on every level!  Wickedly funny with fabulous harmonies.

As for this past weekend, well, Elizabeth Shepherd definitely deserves to have been long-listed for a Polaris Music Prize.  She’s another one who can come back any time.  Astonishing performance. The Jazz Connection Big Band, (who do return about every 2 months or so) went beyond their previous boundaries adding Kira Callahan’s perfect vocals to their mix.  Miss Emily Brown and Corwin Fox as Morlove thoroughly charmed us with their evocative songs and entertaining stories.  This was Emily’s third visit and each time, she brings a larger crowd and a more sophisticated persona. Local artist, Matthew de Zoete was a pleasure to finally have on our stage. He too will be back,

Pearl Company News – June 22, 2010

The talent that parades in front of my eyes week after week is remarkable.  I am only in one place; I don’t see what is happening at the Casbah, or Hamilton Place, or This Ain’t Hollywood or Artbar or any of the many venues offering live entertainment.  If these places offer even part of what I witness several times a week, we live in a world rife with ability, and the desire (drive?) to get out there and share that ability.  This past week, Faye Blais was remarkable; the Undesirables were remarkable; the Solus Puppet Procession along King William to Landsdale’s Tweedsmuir Park on Sunday was remarkable.  I feel so blessed to have these amazing people come into our space and sing, tell stories, act, build puppets, create theatre, paint, sculpt, and generally display their talents in multiple directions for all of us to share.  I gape in amazed recognition of their genuine talent and ability; trying to understand the public presentation of that talent, – for what?  For the joy of sharing?  For fame?  Fortune?  Or just to have someone else recognize, understand, and accept the gift that is being offered?

This week: Another committed woman pushing the boundaries of her chosen field, Elizabeth Shepherd (who has just been long-listed for a Polaris Music Prize no less), will shop her wares here.  I, for one will be awed and delighted that she has brought this to The Pearl and I will get to receive her song and be as grateful as I was for Faye, the Undesirables, and the indefatigable Melanie Skene and her puppet making helpers.  The twenty or so men of the Jazz Connection Big Band, I’ll swear, do their thing mostly just for themselves and what it gives to them.  The fact that they entertain and surprise with their tightly impressive sound is only part of it.  Miss Emily Brown returns on Saturday with Corwin Fox in another incarnation as Morlove.  This will be her third visit and each time, she has brought a different persona. Our local artist, Matthew de Zoete will open.  Prepare to be impressed.  By all of the above.  We are so lucky both to be receiving and to be giving.

Pearl Company News – June 15, 2010

What is it about June?  Eight events in 4 days.  It starts to seem a little insane. From the Art Bus on Friday to a big McMaster staff thank you party on Monday, we did not stop.  Again, we are still standing.

Also last week: Two days filming for the history channel reality program ‘Beasts’ which is always interesting (and challenging). One more filming day to go…. Singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, Colleen Brown, was as excellent as I said she would be.  Very strong, unique voice.  I suspect she is on her way.  Saturday was an absolutely delightful private dance recital and Sunday an evening blues jam with the New Hamilton Blues Society – also great fun.

This week: Faye Blais comes to town Thursday after traveling over half the world.  She was scheduled to play with Seth Anderson, (The Renegade Kid) but he has had to fly back east for a death in his family.  Josh Turnbull, a percussionist and singer/songwriter will accompany her instead.  Faye comes very highly recommended – compared to Joni Mitchell and Feist no less – I am looking forward to this!  Friday’s event has been cancelled.  Oh my, a night off….

Then Saturday brings the infamous Undesirables back for the third time; this time on their own and believe me, they are brilliant – definitely not to be missed. I am including a quote from the promotional piece that Corin Raymond sent out this week ‘cause it is so perfect…. “In honour of the risk-taking Barbara and Gary do to make The Pearl Company so vital, The Undesirables’ll be taking a few risks of our own Saturday night. We’re gonna attempt a few things we’ve never done, we’re gonna inject new life into what’s familiar, and we’re gonna sweat and sing like you’ve come to expect….  The Pearl is the best place in Hamilton you could possibly catch us.”  Love it.  Thanks Corin.

See the information below re the Solus Puppet Procession on Sunday in conjunction with the Landsdale Neighbourhood Association’s Summer in the Park Festival. It takes place in Tweedsmuir Park at King William and Victoria from 1 to 5.

A note to make sure that you have noticed that the incomparable jazz singer Elizabeth Shepherd will be here next Wednesday!

I want to say something about the death of a vital member of the Hamilton community.  We said good-bye to Catherine Powell on Saturday.  We all know her father, Bill Powell, a former mayor, and her brother, festival guru and artist, Bill Powell Jr.  Cathy, however, was one of those people who worked behind the scenes; she took on causes and did everything she could to promote them.  I was lucky that one of her favourite causes was the Art Bus and she made sure that everyone who crossed her path knew about it.  The Bus was only one of the many fund-raisers, worthy events, and groups and people in need to which she devoted her time and energy (and she had a lot of energy…).  Everyone who knew her treasured her and we will all miss her warm and caring presence.  You are now at peace, Cathy; you will not be forgotten.

Pearl Company News – June 1, 2010

The World Premiere of The Drake Equation: Waiting for the GO, was last Thursday.  It is a remarkable play about a difficult subject and I was right, it is be a grab-you-by-the-heartstrings-and-not-let-you-go kind of play.  The show runs approx. 75 minutes, no intermission. At the end of it the audience is literally stunned into silence. At the last performance, after the curtain call, not a single person moved out of their seat for at least two minutes. We’ve never experienced anything like it. This is powerful stuff. A modern day, much more accessible, retelling of Waiting for Godot, written for a teen audience; powerful and moving.

This is the 2nd of a 2 week run. We have five performances left, Thurs to Sat at 8 pm, a student matinee on Fri at 1 pm and a public matinee on Sun at 2:30 (Closing performance). You’re welcome to any of them. Please take the time to trek to the Pearl Company Theatre to witness this event.  This is humble grassroots theatre at its best, produced with Crowd Sourced Financing and piles of hard work:

This Saturday afternoon will witness another remarkable art openingPaul Richard James (in the main gallery) and Claudette Losier (in the side gallery) are putting together a show that has already blown my little brain and it is not even on the walls yet!  See more information below.

Pearl Company News – May 18, 2010

I’m still standing but only because after a solid 6 nights of ongoing events, I escaped to a haven in the Hockley Valley for 2 days where I hunkered down with my books, the New York Times Crossword, long cross-country walks, and no company but my own.  There was a time when being alone on the May 24 weekend would have been unthinkable. Times have changed and now it is a source of pure pleasure. I am newly charged; I am re-born; I am ready to face whatever surprises come next.

The obvious next event is the Opening Night of The Drake Equation: Waiting for the GO, this Thursday.  This will be the world premiere (no less) of a remarkable play about a difficult subject.  I have not seen it yet since all the rehearsals have been done off-site but everything I know about it tells me it will be a grab-you-by-the-heartstrings-and-not-let-you-go kind of play.  Many of you will have unknowingly seen the work of the producer, John Wilbur, since he was the Director of Production at the Shaw Festival for many years.  His son, Joe Vermeulen is the playwright.  I will use my line from previous newsletters once again: Our Opus Mundi Festival is finishing with this unique theatrical production designed to twist our minds and keep us glued to our seats….

Pearl Company News – May 18,2010

This will be a week for the intrepid – of which I must plan to be one….  Tuesday, Vancouver’s Ethan Collister brings his cross-country tour to The Pearl; he will appear with Hamilton’s Meg Iredale.  The next evening we present our Wednesday Night Showcase.  Thursday at eight, the Acoustics will be on stage with Stephen Bick and Friday we see the return of the Jazz Connection Big Band. A very full week!  See all those details below.

Here’s some not so great news: After 4 months of sponsorship of the Art Bus, the new management of the Crowne Plaza has decided that they will not continue.  If you saw the article in Monday’s Spec, you know that they would prefer to make the Lincoln Alexander Centre a ‘corporate facility’ rather than a performing arts theatre.  So now it is back to being The Pearl Company Art Bus – or maybe Barbara’s Art Bus, hmmm.  Oh well, it was nice while it lasted.  I wonder what Linc thinks?

This past weekend saw a great Friday Art Bus trip with perfect evening weather.  We started with Ottawa Street before heading to James North.  Ottawa St is becoming quite the destination.  We wondered from antique stores to galleries to specialty shops and more; then on to James N where people were happily crowding up and down the street and into the galleries, restaurants, and bars.  Beautiful.  I finally put my feet up and allowed myself a wee sip at the Tiger Group Gallery before heading back to The Pearl where Jessica Stuart was finishing an exquisite set.  Saturday, Fred Magie packed the place with the greatest crowd.  I’ll swear at least a third of the audience were kids under 12.  Fred’s music totally rocked when it wasn’t grabbing the heart strings – and he made that rock too.

We are still in our third annual month of May Opus Mundi Festival showcasing music from around the world and, of course, from right here in Hamilton. This year’s festival has already done so and will continue to encompass a wonderful variety of music and events, finishing up with a unique theatrical production designed to twist our minds and keep us glued to our seats….

Pearl Company News: May 11/10

Before I say anything else, I have to tell you that Vinx, who has sung and drummed just about everywhere said to the audience this past weekend, “You don’t know what you have here. The Pearl Company is one of the most amazing places to play in the world.  The art, the acoustics…..  You don’t know how great this is”.  How nice to have someone who knows from experience saying this – and not just me.

Ho-hum, just one more top-notch music and art weekend – both the one coming up and the last.  The legendary Vinx was that and more.  Vinx manages to make any stage he is on into his living room and it just so happens at The Pearl the audience even has the couches from which to enjoy his music, his tales, and his personality.  I totally understand why he sells out everywhere he plays in Europe and in the States.  Queen Cee, overcame incipient laryngitis to tug at our heart strings with every note.  Cable14 filmed the whole thing as a pilot for eight “The Pearl Company Presents” programs. I will make sure you know when this one will be shown; it will make great TV.

Rant Maggie Rant is made up of 5 excellent musicians who rocked the place on Friday with their Celtic music mixed with world beat, rock, and who knows what else.  They too loved the venue and are already negotiating their return.  And if that was not enough, the first Hungarian Visual Artists of Canada show in Hamilton opened on Sunday afternoon.  The quality of the art is beyond superb.  Check out gallery hours below.  You won’t want to miss it.

We are still in our third annual month of May Opus Mundi Festival showcasing music from around the world and, of course, from right here in Hamilton. This year’s festival has already done so and will continue to encompass a wonderful variety of music and events, finishing up with a unique theatrical production designed to twist our minds and keep us glued to our seats….

This weekend we are presenting the unique Japanese koto sound of the Jessica Stuart Few with Gary Santucci and a ” Pearl of a Quartet” (Oud, Violin, Double Bass, Drums) on Friday.   Saturday brings the homegrown music of Fred Magie’s CD Release Party on.  Also on Saturday, a Clowning Workshop with a former Cirque de Soleil performer.  And, oh yes, another Lincoln Alexander Centre Art Bus.  See below for details.

The Pearl Review is well on its way although taking rather longer than anyone expected.  Should ‘anyone’ be surprised?  Look for a definite launch date next week.

Pearl Company News: May 4/10

Citizens of Hamilton, prepare yourselves for an amazing weekend of top notch music.  The legendary Vinx performs this Saturday! Vinx sells out everywhere he plays in Europe and in the States.  Let’s show him the kind of welcome only we can give.  He made his name playing with Sting and Stevie Wonder; now he is cementing his reputation with world tours that show off his unique brand of percussive musicianship.  Not to be missed as he teams with our very own Queen Cee! To top it all off he will give a Songwriter’s Workshop on Sunday.  As the writer of the hit song from The Lion King, Hakuna Matata, he does have something to tell us.  (He has written many other songs but I know you all have heard that particular one…) Cable 14 will be here to film the Saturday show as a pilot for eight “The Pearl Company Presents” programs.

This just in!  Queen Cee has taken the mantle (that I have so proudly worn for the last year), as The YWCA’s Woman of Distinction in the Arts.  Congratulations!  I couldn’t be happier to see her take this award.  With all the community work that she does in addition to her constant contribution to the Arts in Hamilton she totally deserves it.  Yay Queen Cee!  Don’t you love the great ring they give you!

Our amazing weekend begins on Friday with the Celtic music and world rhythms of Rant Maggie Rant who have their own devoted following – for many very good reasons. Then the incomparable Vinx with Queen Cee on Saturday and Vinx again on Sunday.  All this and the opening of the first Hungarian Visual Artists of Canada show in Hamilton this Sunday afternoon!  Oh, and I have not mentioned that there is the Lincoln Alexander Centre Art Bus on Friday…  How can you bear to miss any of this?

A reminder that the goal of our third annual month of May Opus Mundi Festival is to showcase music from around the world and, of course, from right here in Hamilton. This year’s festival encompasses a wonderful variety of music and events, finishing up with a unique theatrical production designed to make us think.

This past weekend we experienced the music of Zimbabwe.  Masaisai: Afro-Zim Mibira Dance Party, a circle of musicians who were not wrong when they called themselves a Dance Party.  It was impossible to stay still when those drums started.  We are happily negotiating their return – this summer it seems.  Lauren Best was her charming “best” as she drew her potent melodies out of her keyboard. This young woman is going places with her wonderful voice and unique stylings.

Over 300 people visited us over the weekend at the Lincoln Alexander Centre where we were part of Doors Open Hamilton.  They came to see the display of art and photography in our satellite gallery (showing the work of Robert Carley) and to take a tour of the latest upscale addition to the concert / theatre scene, the 370 seat Lincoln Alexander Centre!  They went away impressed.

Next week we are presenting the Japanese koto sound of the Jessica Stuart Few on Friday and the homegrown music of Fred Magie on Saturday.  Also on Saturday, a Clowning Workshop with a former Cirque de Soleil performer.  And, oh yes, another Art Bus.

Pearl Company News: April 13/10
Forgive me.  I have to rave again.  The gold mine of talent that is the Marigold’s put on a Friday concert which was so fine that even though I only managed to hear the last 4 songs (after returning with the Art Bus), I was still in heaven.  Not only do these three great solo artists sing like angels, they are friendly, charming, and real. I could have listened to them for hours.

I didn’t know Jenny Whiteley’s music as well as I know the Marigolds but I certainly knew the Whiteley family reputation!  Oh my.  What a phenomenal concert.  The band was great.  Jenny’s brother, Dan on mandolin and guitar, Amy Millan of Broken Social Scene (and a burgeoning solo career) on back-up vocals no less, Christine Bougie on one mean slide guitar, and Joe Phillips playing stand-up base.  Joe plays behind Rita Chiarelli who was also here to catch the incredible sound. (Rita will be back the first post-Labour Day weekend in September for two nights!).  This is a band that is very comfortable in the spotlight; Jenny, Dan, and Amy all told stories that had the audience in hysterics.  It is true that Whiteley’s integrity, commitment, and charisma emanate from every syllable; Gary and I were both struck with how strong her presence is.  I want them back!

Much excitement coming up. Everything from our new-once-a-month Wednesday Night Showcase, to the return of the incredible Vinx.  Check it all out.


This Week’s Events:

Miss Emily Brown comes to town with her charming and original music Tuesday night.

Thursday we open another show at the Lincoln Alexander Centre with Robert Carley.  The show is called “Shades of Green” and showcases Robert’s fine poetry as well. Join us at 150 King St E., between Catherine and Mary Streets in the former Odeon Hyland.  You also get to check out the theatre while there.

The Beagle Boys (love the name…) with Ray Materick show up on Saturday with their criminally good Rock and Roll.  They should be good; they are all fine musicians!

Then there is the Italian Film Night on Monday with “Cara Diario”.  Another full week.

Pearl Company News: March 23/10


Dala played to standing room only.  These two young women are going far and it is easy to see why with their exquisite voices (the McGarrigle sisters came to mind although they have very much their own sound) and their relaxed and humorous stage presence.  If you weren’t here on Friday, you missed catching Tom Wilson when he joined them (he said he felt like their hairy old uncle) singing Dylan’s Girl from the North Country. Oh, that was a moment!

It was truly a storytelling weekend given that the Dala Girls also love to tell stories.  Much less sustained ones, however, than the one told by Britain’s Geoff Meade on Saturday. It was another beautiful and enchanting evening.  You could hear a pin drop in the room as we all listened so intently, fearful of missing a word, that we almost didn’t breathe.  Barbara Turner-Vesselago of Free Fall Writing Workshops, who brought Geoff here will be doing storytelling workshops sometime in the future.  I will keep you posted.

Now for this week’s events:


Tom Savage of Kingston will be dropping by this Thursday to show off his newest CD.  Tom has quite a following as a powerful singer/songwriter and we are very pleased that he has decided The Pearl is the place to do it!

Friday brings our old favourites, the 20 talented musicians of the Jazz Connection Big Band back to our second floor.  If you have never heard them, give your ears a treat.  This is the tightest 20 piece band you will probably ever hear.

Pearl Company News: March 09/10


If I don’t get this out today, I’m in deep trouble since this is quite the week we’re about to have at The Pearl.  I figure numbering the events is the best way to keep track….

1)     By the time you get this, Monday’s Italian Film Night is either underway or over

2)     Grand Opening Tuesday night for the Lincoln Alexander Centre with Linc in attendance, the United Way benefiting, and an evening of jazz with Laila Biali Trio.  We will be there to man The Pearl Gallery at the LAC and enjoy the festivities

3)     The incomparable Jean-Paul de Roover with City of Glass will play here on Wednesday

4)     We are dark on Thursday although I do have a major meeting….

5)     There’s another Art Bus on Friday and after the Art Bus / Ottawa Street Stroll / James North Art Crawl we’ll present Jazz@ThePearl

6)     Saturday brings us “Held Together by a Thread” our next Art Opening.  This show will be an interesting and eclectic mix of some very different styles and approaches.  This Opening is quite literally held together by a thread motif.  Must be seen!

There’s way too much happening that you simply can’t miss!  Check for more information below….

Pearl Company News: February 23/10

I love to recap the past weekend. Just listen to this!

I am still in shock after the jaw-dropping Saturday show from C.R. Avery and the Legal Tender String Quartet.  They presented us with a remarkable display of theatre, musicality, poetry, and just plain showmanship.  I knew what to expect from The Undesirables – an entertaining and beautifully harmonized presentation of their own songs with some well-chosen covers, Corin Raymond’s insanely funny patter between songs, and Sean Cotton’s full-orchestra guitar.  C.R. Avery, however, came to us a highly recommended but totally unknown quantity.  Now I know what beat-boxing is and believe me, I have become a fan – at least of his version.  The man and his musicians held the audience in the palms of their hands and even got us all up and screaming the chorus of their final piece.  In Hamilton, no less.  Wow.  I have invited him back to do an actual theatre piece – a 4-day run.  It may take a while since they are from Vancouver but it will happen and you will have to be here!

I am also talking to the Undesirables (and their marvelous manager, Sara Moody Veldhuis) about when they can come back to do their own show.  I am totally impressed that they were willing to take a back seat and open for C.R. and gang just to show Southern Ontario what this group can do.  Now we want them to come back and do their own thing.  Don’t worry I will keep you posted.

This week: Tuesday we are doing a huge thank you gathering for the volunteers and performers for the very, very successful Haiti Telethon (well over a million collected!).  Then Wednesday (24th) we are very excited to be presenting a series of award winning films in honour of Black History next Wednesday.  One of the films, Soundtrack for a Revolution is getting a great deal of attention and is just being released across Canada and the States.  If you have heard the buzz on CBC, you will be as excited as we are about getting a preview!

We have a private event here this weekend.  I am getting such a kick out of this.  A young man that used to be a student at Colin Macdonald Community School (from about the age of 3) is putting on a private show with his band and a couple of bands of his friends.  To have one of our students get it together and showcase his talents is another incredible reward from my experience co-founding and running CMCS.  What a great use of our space!

Reminding you again about the new Hamilton arts journalism newsmagazine, The Pearl Review, the exciting new take on the Hamilton Arts Scene and an Arts view of Hamilton issues: Check out the patron subscriber incentives at This newsmagazine will focus on our individual artists of all disciplines, – the background stories, the big questions, and the lively particulars.  Order your subscription now!

Pearl Company News:January 25, 2010

The Haiti Media Telethon in support of medical aid to Haiti through St Joseph’s Hospital, has, at the time of this writing, pulled in over $565,000 . One hundred percent of donations will go to provide supplies and support for the Haitian people. Buoyed by their earlier success with the Abruzzo Earthquake Relief effort, Gary at the urging of former HECFI CEO, Gabe Macaluso, along with McMaster VP Roger Trull, took up the challenge. What a phenomenal job they all did. Congratulations to the citizens of Hamilton for their heart-felt response!

I’m used to ‘busy’ but this past weekend was exceptional. From Thursday (when the Lincoln Alexander Centre, Hamilton’s newest theatre strutted its stuff and The Pearl Gallery at the Centre opened its doors), to Monday’s Italian Film Night, the action never stopped! Friday’s Opening of ‘The Streets of Hamilton’ in the actual Pearl Company Gallery was a total blast from beginning to jumping “Banned from Heaven” end. HPO’s ‘What Next’ Concert Series was a success at all its venues, including ours. Audiences devoured the cutting-edginess of this new and progressive music. Sunday’s ‘What Next’ round table discussion was more fascinating and informative than I think any of us expected. My head is still spinning. However, there is no stopping. On to ‘what next’ at The Pearl.

This weekend we will have two top performances. Jacob Moon will release his new CD “Maybe Sunshine” Friday evening. This is timely; we need all the sunshine we can get during this arc of the year! Then Jay Linden appears on Saturday with his special guest, younger brother Colin Linden. What a very singular concert this will be.

From last week’s newsletter: The arts journalism newsprint magazine, The Pearl Review (an exciting new take on the Hamilton Arts Scene and an Arts view of Hamilton issues) is coming right along but a little slower than we expected. Is anyone surprised? Check out the patron subscriber incentives at This newsmagazine will focus on our individual artists of all disciplines, – the background stories, the big questions, and the lively particulars. First issue projected for Spring 2010. Order your subscription now!

Pearl Company News: January 19, 2010

A really important piece of news first: Gary has taken on the co-chairmanship, with Roger Trull of McMaster, of the Haiti Media Telethon in support the two public hospitals in Haiti with which St Joseph’s Hospital is affiliated. One is still standing but overwhelmed with patients and lack of supplies. The other is rubble. St Joseph’s Health System has established a fund through which 100% of donations will go to provide medical supplies for the Haitian people. The Haiti Media Telethon will go live on Cable 14 on Tuesday, January 26 from 6:00am to 10:00 pm with constant support from CHCH. Please help the besieged population of Haiti. There are numerous events throughout Hamilton; let us do what we can in whatever ways we can.

Now back to our regularly scheduled programming…. I am always so sad when a piece of theatre is over. I miss the people, the music, the constant planning and figuring, and of course, the excitement of the actual performances. ‘Carmen…?’ closed last Saturday. It was a unique experience – impossible to describe, but very rewarding. We hope to find another life for it at some point in the future. The crowds were excellent; lots of excitement generated; Sergyy will return.

January is far from over and this week is testing us to the limit. This Thursday we kick off The Pearl Gallery at the new Lincoln Alexander Centre. Please join us for a special Actor / Artist / Musician / General Public Open House at the Centre and Introduction of the Lincoln Alexander Art Bus Thursday, 6:00 to 9:00.

‘The Streets of Hamilton’ opens in the actual Pearl Company Gallery this Friday. I am always raving about Hamilton artists and what they are accomplishing. One of my favourite ways in which our local artist express themselves is by depicting the familiar in unfamiliar ways. You cannot miss this show! See details below. Following the Opening (7:00 to 9) Banned from Heaven (9:00 to ?) will be playing on the second floor and much dancing will ensue.

The Hamilton Philharmonic is presenting their cutting-edge new concert and lecture series “What Next” this Saturday and Sunday at The Pearl and other venues. Please see for all the events and ticket prices. We are honoured to have these talented and progressive musicians in our space and are looking forward to working more with the HPO in the future!

Monday brings us another inaugural event. Italian Film Night: Excellent Italian films with English subtitles.

The arts journalism newsprint magazine, The Pearl Review (an exciting new take on the Hamilton Arts Scene and an Arts view of Hamilton issues) is coming right along but a little slower than we expected. Is anyone surprised? Check out the patron subscriber incentives at This newsmagazine will focus on our individual artists of all disciplines, – the background stories, the big questions, and the lively particulars. First issue projected for Spring 2010. Order your subscription now!

In the meantime, there will be a Pearl Review Fundraiser February 6, pulled together by the inimitable Reg Beaudry (of the newsmagazine Urbanicity fame), our talented Art Director and man about town….

Pearl Company News: January 5, 2010

I’m told that I can’t wish you a Happy New Decade since the decade does not officially start until 2011. But what the heck, it sounds, looks, and feels like a new decade so here’s to health, happiness, and prosperity in the best decade ever! Maybe something will even happen to solve The Pearl Co’s zoning problems which seem to not ever end – even when we think that they have….

It was a full ‘Holiday Season’. The Good Lovelies packed them in and were perfectly fabulous and so much fun! I’m working on getting them back as soon as possible. Our New Years Loft Party went beautifully. Gary never got out of the kitchen but that’s the way he wanted it. He prepared over 25 different dishes – tapas style – and had himself a blast. Not my idea of a good time. However, the super conversations and the dancing was.

Carmen…? opens this Friday at 8:00! Sergiy Shvydkyy, an internationally renowned avant-garde dancer, mime-actor, choreographer, and leading figure in contemporary performance arts in the Ukraine brings his unique choreographic vision, to The Pearl Company. He does this with a fresh imagining of the famous story of love and betrayal, Carmen, unique in both its dance style and its interpretation of the tale. Emanuela Dussin, a graduate of the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in New York City, brings the fire and beauty of flamenco to the stage. And then, of course, Gary Santucci has found himself willingly drawn into Shvydkyy‘s world where the musician not only performs the music but is a character within the production. This is his first collaboration with dance theatre at The Pearl Company.

January will be a very exciting month at The Pearl. See below for Hamilton Philharmonic events, concerts (Jacob Moon, Jay Linden with special guest, brother Colin Linden), Art (The Streets of Hamilton), and even film!

It is happening. The Lincoln Alexander Centre Art Bus. As of this month, the new Lincoln Alexander Centre, the 350-seat theatre at The Hamilton Crowne Plaza Hotel is lending its name and some serious support to the bus and some cross-pollination between our two theatres. We will also be curating the art in the lobby and hosting a once- a-month Thursday, ‘Art After Business’ gathering. The first will be Thursday, January 21.

Recurring NEWS:

The arts journalism newsprint magazine, The Pearl Review is coming right along! Subscribers are climbing aboard for this exciting new take on the Hamilton Arts Scene and an Arts view of Hamilton issues. Check out the patron subscriber incentives at This newsmagazine will focus on our individual artists of all disciplines, – the background stories, the big questions, and the nitty-gritty. More details to follow. First issue projected for February 2010.

A reminder again that we host private functions at The Pearl. If you are looking for a unique and different ambiance for a birthday party, or a meeting spot, come check us out. We’ve even booked some wedding receptions this summer!

We are frequently asked how you can help and support us. Here’s by far the most effective way to do so. Simply come out as often as you can and encourage your friends to do the same. Hop on the bus; attend a concert; sponsor an event; purchase a piece of art, a gift certificate for the bus / an event / something unique from the store or the gallery. We have seating for 150 people in the theatre and the finest acoustics possible. Help us put bums in seats.

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