With all this talk of Brian Melo, I thought it only appropriate to post a short commentary on the recent B.A. Johnston concert at the historic Albion Hotel in Guelph, Ontario. As many of you know, B.A. Johnston is a proudly Hamiltonian musician and Tiger-Cat fan, as well as a member of this forum (well on his way to “highly-esteemed? status, IMO). I had seen him perform previously, but never in a setting where he could unleash his full potential. Until now.
I could go on and on about the musical genius of B.A. Johnston, but to keep it topical, I will stick to the Ticat-related portion of the show. Firstly, what impressed me was the extent to which he has ingrained Tiger-Cat mythology in the hearts and minds of people who otherwise wouldn’t give a tinker’s cuss about our Head-of-the-Lake district. That night in pretentious Guelph, the kids were screaming out requests for his song “Hamilton,? which has an entire verse on Danny Mac, Ozzie, and the dreaded Argos. I overheard young, artsy-type, university girls talking about Paul Osbaldiston as if they were beer-swilling schlubs from the East end zone. I heard one patron explaining to another the significance of the “Argos $uck!? sticker on B.A. Johnston’s guitar, and how it symbolizes the wider, historical rivalry between Hamilton and Toronto. And this was all before he took the stage.
So finally the lights go down, and the crowd is tense with anticipation. As the opening notes of “Gonna Fly Now? begin to play, B.A. Johnston appears from a back door and comes dancing through the crowd, high-fiving the patrons, waving a sparkler in one hand, all the while draped in a vintage Hamilton Tiger-Cat flag. As he took the stage, he carefully spread out the flag where all could see, and it remained front and center for the entire show.
It only took a few minutes before B.A. launched into his smash hit “Jesus is from Steeltown.? The cool Guelph folk present that night, many of whom would have previously held the CFL, the Tiger-Cats, and stinky old Hamilton in contempt, were instead singing along to the lines of that song that reference Ivor Wynne Stadium, Pinball Clemons, The Forbidden Chant, the Labour Day Classic, and much more. As someone who witnessed the near-demise of the Tiger-Cat franchise in the mid-90’s because of public apathy, it warmed my heart to see and hear B.A. Johnston single-handedly making the Tiger-Cats cool and relevant for a whole new generation, in his own (highly) idiosyncratic way. One could spend millions on marketing and never, ever reach this pivotal demographic so effectively.
I had a $10 bill in my wallet that night set aside for the cover charge, but, as it turned out, one of the best concerts I have ever seen was in fact free of charge! I therefore parlayed it into a B.A. Johnston CD, which turned out to be chock-full of more Tiger-Cat goodies, like the song “When My Hero Retired We All Cried? (telling the tale of breaking up on the same day that Oz announced the end of his career).
So, in conclusion, kudos to the CHUD that is B.A. Johnston. At the very least, it would be swell to see the Tiger-Cat organization repay him for all his hard work by getting him in the line-up of celebrity Oskee Wee Wee'ers.
For further info, including more about his Tiger-Cat influences, check out his stuff here:http://www.justfriends.ca/ba/indexx.html http://www.myspace.com/bajohnston
I for one cannot wait until his DVD release party in Hamilton on Sept. 14th at the Mini Lounge (I think?), so keep it in mind if you would like to support a local artist - come for the Tiger-Cat references, stay for the songs about Dungeons and Dragons, squirrel-hating, deep-frying, Mean Gene Okerland, Pita Pit girls, and the joy of poutine.