Hamilton, Ontario Brands itself ‘Music City’, Erects Glass Lyric Towers

April 14th, 2017: As seen on Archive (PDF)


Creator of the lyric tower project Dave Kuruc (left), Gore Park in Hamilton, Ontario (right); Photo: John Rennison via The Hamilton Spectator(left), imgur(right)

Nashville, Austin…Hamilton — so goes the ambitions of “Steeltown,” a.k.a. the “armpit of Ontario,” as its colloquially known up in Canada, to land itself in the chain of thought as the next great music tourism destination.

Boasting the conception of The Band, when they were known as The Hawks, pre-Dylan collabs, and punkabilly crew Teenage Head, hosting the Juno Awards a half a dozen times, and 30 clubs embracing live music at least twice a week, the town’s City Hall is doubling down on a plan incubated in the fall of 2016 to implement a “music strategy” to essentially make it a global destination for tuneage enthusiasts.

In everybody’s favor is already a mass exodus out of Toronto by new creatives to get in on the resurgent artist movement, as a tale as old as gentrification goes. Follow the cheap rent, people. Buzzfeed dabbled in sarcasm about it, even.

Though as part of the plan, the ‘music strategy’ think-heads at Hamilton City Hall locked down local artist and musician Dave Kuruc to erect his idea of two nine-meter (30 feet) glass towers, that will feature lyrics from a dozen musicians and bands that are/were Hamilton-based at one point.

So far some of the artists range from Robbie Robertson from the aforementioned pre-Dylan Hawks era, to a local folk icon Stan Rogers, the also aforementioned Teenage Head and another punkish crew, The Forgotten Rebels.

Dubbed “Music City Markers,” the two towers will stand in one of the city’s revered green space, Gore Park.

In his proposal to City Hall for the project— Kuruc’s ideas was chosen from 28 other submissions — Kuruc says each panel will be “like a letterpressed concert poster,” featuring lyrics he felt connected to the history and importance of Hamilton, adding in an interview with The Hamilton Spectator, “The Forgotten Rebels panel, for example, will be done like an ’80s punk poster.”

That Forgotten Rebels lyric?: “Loud coloured lights so bright that’s where I wanna bop,” from their 1982 record and title track, “This Ain’t Hollywood.

This is pretty rad for several reasons, but chiefly that lyrics usually take a backseat to major city art installations, projects usually reverting to statues or interactive elements like say fellow Canada town, Montreal, and their musical swings. Kuruc is collaborating with local print shops to basically create giant liner notes/concert posters on a city stage.

So in other words when’s the next flight to Hamilton Rock City?

Dig on every lyric that is to be included in the installation, a couple renderings from the official proposal, and Forgotten Rebel’s “This Ain’t Hollywood,” below:

  • “For the good times come and go” — Stan Rogers’ “The Field Behind the Plow”
  • “I feel you downtown, out on the street” — Junior Boys’ “More Than Real”
  • “Well you can see how I’ve changed” — Terra Lightfoot’s “No Hurry”
  • “Hundreds of stories before I showed up” — Arkells’ “Leather Jacket”
  • “Someday you’ll remember me and picture my face” — Teenage Head’s “Picture My Face”
  • “There’s some days that I want to stay another day” — Killjoys’ “Today I Hate Everyone”
  • “Loud coloured lights so bright that’s where I wanna bop” — Forgotten Rebels’ “This Ain’t Hollywood”
  • “I want to talk to you, that magic that you do” — CA Smith’s “Queen Victoria”
  • “I was in the water, you were dry” — Daniel Lanois’ “Still Learning How to Crawl”
  • “Concrete rises and hits you like a kiss” — Lori Yates’s “Angels with Bloody Knees”
  • “You’re the same but you’re so different. I didn’t recognize you” — Jeremy Fisher’s “High School”
  • “She’s gone downtown to hear some blues” — Robbie Robertson’s “When the Night Was Young”