Even though it took months of diligent work to pull together, the Hamilton Street BASH appeared like an oasis forming a link to a legendary musical strip and the bands and artists that helped define the sound of our region for over three decades. Featuring a laundry list of 27 pivotal & defining groups performing upon 3 stages over 3 days, a fitting acronym for the BASH could easily be BANDS ALIVE on the STREETS of HAMILTON.
And it was a wonderful sight to behold, even though Day One on Friday got off to a rocky start with inclement weather forcing the cancellation of Laurie Middlebrook and hampered attendance; yesterday's stretch of performers on Day Two brought well over 1,500 people together to savor the sounds and soak up the ambiance of Saginaw's historic Old Town District; even though as Burnaround's Tony Furlo aptly put it as he mounted the stage to kick off the day's festivities, it was one of those hot & humid Michigan summer days where you literally "wear the air".
Organizer Tom Shwannecke deserves a magnum of Dom Perignon for possessing the chutzpah and savvy for envisioning this ambitious celebration and actually pulling it off, especially considering that this is the first time he has stepped into the arena of concert event promotion. Deftly organized and assembled and with the assistance of numerous volunteers, it was a beautiful sight to see hundreds of people strolling the streets, kids playing in the Kid Zone that was set up in the Covenant green-space, people flying on the Zip-Line (except for the girl I saw who cell-phone fell out of her pocket and smashed on the concrete - remember to tuck that tighter in your undies next time!) and of course, the inescapable power of the Music.
Each stage witnessed musical brilliance. Burnaround kicked off Day Two on the Michigan Lottery Stage with a blistering set that matched the heat radiating from the sky. Consisting of former members from legendary regional rock bands Wet Cement & Shovel, both of whom performed regularly on the Hamilton Strip back in the 1990s, they deftly set the tone for what was to transpire throughtout the day, with strong performances following from The Hipakritz and Avenue 5 that culminated in one of the evening's highlights: a reunion of the original Mick Furlo Band featuring Mick, guitarist Dean Vanston, bassist Rick Brown and drummer Donny Brown delivering an impassioned performance of hits from the 80s & 90s they once performed on the very same hallowed-ground of the former Fordney Hotel, which was tragically lost in a devastating fire back in 1990.
Equally exciting was the musical action on the Junction Stage, which hosted young up & coming rockers Greta Van Fleet making a rare appearance (the group has been performing mainly in the Detroit & Grand Rapids areas and are moving onto a series of gigs in Chicago next week in the midst of recording their debut CD); followed by the high-energy country/rock fusion of Tweed & Dixie; and then the unmistakable energy & musical precision of The Matt Besey Band, who left no note unturned; which led to the welcomed return of internationally acclaimed Blues icon Larry McCray, who also cut his teeth on the streets of Hamilton back in the day.Meanwhile, the Barrett Stage kicked off with a classic collection of hidden R&B chestnuts from The Favulous Retreads, a smoking set courtesy of The Sauce Cats, and a smoothly delineated set of smooth jazz from The Robert Lee Revue.
The final day of the Hamilton BASH kicks off at 3 PM today, so don't miss it! The sun is shining as brightly as today's line: Michigan Lottery Stage: The Relics (3-5 PM) Tom Beaudin Band (5-7 PM); Stewart Francke (7-9 PM). Junction Stage: Donny Brown (3-5 PM; Count 'n Change (5-7) PM; Honesty & the Liars (7-9) PM. Barrett Stage: Cool Lemon Jazz Band (3-5) and 23 North (5-7 PM).