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Big or small: Hamilton Trading Co. will rock your world

By Apartment613 on April 30, 2011



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Gloria Song is a music writer for Apartment613. She also plays in her own pop band Scary Bear Soundtrack.

Yes, I admit it’s true, I used to be in Hamilton Trading Co., so I am writing about my own former band. But to be fair, there used to be a running joke that all musicians in Toronto have been in the band at some point, so you’d almost be hard pressed to find a music writer that hasn’t been in the band.

Hamilton Trading Co. is the long term music project of Keith Hamilton with a little help of his friends.  The band’s lineup has swelled to up to twenty members at times and has included members of the Diableros, Chang-A-Lang, Debaser, Beams, the Postage Stamps, Cigarettes, the actor that plays Curtis on TV show Todd and the Book of Pure Evil, and, as mentioned, yours truly.  While large sized bands are all in vogue these days, this large band is like no other band you’ve seen. The music consists of Keith on an acoustic guitar and anywhere from two to twenty friends who sing, clap, and stomp to provide Keith with back up. The result is an interesting choir-like performance.

“It’s a larger, fuller sound,” Keith says over the phone. “Also, to the opposite end of that spectrum, when you’ve got that many people making such tiny bits of sound as well, you get the contrast, and anticipation, and expectation of ‘Wow, there’s so many people. What is next?’ It leaves a lot to the imagination.”

Keith is, in my view, one of the pillars of Toronto’s indie music community and the main man behind the annual Pitter Patter Festival, driven by his love for supporting music. Under his careful wing, the band has had many adventures over the last five years, playing at sold out shows opening for comedian Jon Laloie at Lee’s Palace, performing David Bowie covers with Sebastien Grainger, playing for kids at elementary schools, and even singing at Canadian director Bruce McDonald’s wedding.  Until this past year, Hamilton Trading Co. also had a residency at the Boat in Kensington Market, hosting a unique weekly music series called Gather Round, which has seen special stripped down acoustic performances by musicians such as Lowell Sostomi (Great Bloomers), the D’Urbervilles, Henri Faberge, and Maylee Todd.  These special Sunday evenings reflected Keith and the band’s supportive approach to welcoming innovative music the way you’d welcome a new friend.

Most recently, Hamilton Trading Co. has taken part in the Live in Bellwoods project, making a video of their song “Tell You at Night” in the snow park.    Even while freezing in the dead of winter, the warmth and friendliness of the group is obvious in the music.  Sometimes you forget that it’s a band singing on stage; sometimes it feels like a group of friends casually gathered ’round a campfire to have a good time.

If you haven’t already experienced the heart-warming magic that is Hamilton Trading Co., I highly suggest you check it out at the end of this month. Hamilton Trading Co. will be opening for Quiet Parade on their LP release tour at the Raw Sugar Cafe (692 Somerset St W) on April 30, 2011.



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