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Ken Wallis Chats With Steve Strongman About The Upcoming Smokestack Festival In Hamilton, Ontario


By Ken Wallis. Photo Credit: Ken Wallis.



A brand-new festival is emerging in the music-loving city of Hamilton, Ontario. It’s entitled The Smokestack Festival and it promises to be a weekend of terrific music with a solid lineup of established music stars. Steve Strongman dropped by to fill us in on what’s happening.


Ken Wallis interviewed Steve Strongman for the radio show BluesSource Canada. The following are excerpts from that interview, amended and edited for brevity and clarity.




Ken Wallis

There's a very special event coming to Hamilton and here to tell us all about it is Steve Strongman. Steve, great catching up with you.

Steve Strongman

Thanks for having me Ken, always a pleasure to chat with you.

Ken Wallis

The event is called The Smokestack Festival. Tell us all about it.


Steve Strongman

I had been working in the past with Tim Poticic, that a lot of your listeners would know from Supercrawl fame. Tim and I had worked on the Hamilton Blues And Roots Festival which lasted a couple of years, which was really great. But then there was a venue change and some other things happened. We just decided that it was time for us to try and bring back another event that is dedicated to this style of music in Hamilton because we absolutely deserve to have it here. That was the start of what is called the Smokestack Music Festival and it's going to be a two-day event. It's going to be on Friday May 26th and Saturday May the 27th. The first night I'm just thrilled to be a part of it, it's going to be so much fun. It's The Hogtown All-Stars, followed by MonkeyJunk and then my band, The Steve Strongman Band is gonna play.


Ken Wallis

And for MonkeyJunk this is basically their anniversary tour.


Steve Strongman

They're on a 15-year anniversary tour and when I approached Steve Marriner about whether or not they'd be available to do it, he was thrilled to get back to the Hamilton area and we get a chance to actually get them while they're on tour, so we know they're going to be firing on all cylinders that's for sure.


Ken Wallis

And the Hogtown All-Stars, boy oh boy talk about veteran bluesmen.


Steve Strongman

They're absolutely amazing, the whole band, they're really one of the best bands in the country and we know that and everybody in the band is dynamite. People will know of course Gary Kendall and Chuck Jackson, and the whole band, they're just awesome. They're going to be kicking off the night, so people need to get there good and early that's for sure.

Ken Wallis

And then Saturday night, what happens then?


Steve Strongman

Saturday night I believe they have Whitehorse performing and Bywater Call as well. So both of those bands are great. Bywater Call has just been on a great tour in Europe, so we're lucky to have them as well.


Ken Wallis

And one other band, NQ Aruckle.

Steve Strongman

Yeah I don't know a ton about NQ Aruckle but you know that Saturday is going to be amazing. I would suggest to people if they can, they should just get the weekend pass and come to both nights.

Ken Wallis

Where did the term Smokestack Festival come from Steve?


Steve Strongman

That came from Tim and his team. They were batting around different ideas and I said well I'm not really sure what to call it. We were careful not to give it any type of a branding that would dictate what style of music you're gonna have at it. That's always an important thing and especially with the festival that we're really hoping will be a yearly recurring event.


Hamilton is sort of known for the smokestacks I guess you could say that, so that that's kind of where the idea came from. I think it's a very cool name though.


Ken Wallis

And it takes place in a really great venue.


Steve Strongman

It takes place at one of the premier venues in in Hamilton that has just opened up, and they did a ton of work on it over the pandemic years. A place called Bridgeworks and it's absolutely amazing, the capacity in the room is 500. If the weather is good we might also have some other things happening outside Bridgeworks as well, so there is an outdoor element that people can sort of wander out, outside and check it out. If it continues to grow, this is obviously the first year, if it gets a little bit bigger we can actually potentially move it outside somewhere else like who knows, maybe Bayfront. We'll see, but for right now we just want to sell out the weekend at Bridgeworks.


Ken Wallis

And from what I understand there is going to be seating available at the event.

Steve Strongman

There are going to be seats. Now if anybody's been to Bridgeworks before, depending on the event that you were at, it's a multi-purpose space so you can have people standing around and watching the show or dancing and having a good time, but for this event there is going to be seating available as well.


Ken Wallis

Well I think it's a fabulous weekend and I hope everybody in Hamilton and the surrounding area supports it. Let's get out and support those great musicians.


Steve Strongman

Absolutely, I'm really excited to be a part of it and I think that it's going to be a really special Festival.





SMOKESTACK DAY 1: Steve Strongman / MonkeyJunk / Hogtown Allstars

SMOKESTACK DAY 2: Whitehorse / Bywater Call / NQ Arbuckle

WHAT: Smokestack Festival and Concert Series

WHERE: Bridgeworks (200 Caroline St N, Hamilton, ON L8R 0A6)

WHEN: Friday, May 26 and Saturday, May 27 / Doors 7pm, Show 8pm daily

TICKETS: $40 (plus fees & taxes) available via bridgeworks.ca or eventbrite.com




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