Hillside Inside 2020

February 7 – 9

Graphic artwork announcing Hillside Inside, February 7 to 9, 2020 in downtown Guelph
Here's all the details!

​The urban, edgy cousin of our summer festival turns 13 this year, and typical for its age, it’s flouting bedtime rules and hanging out with unusual friends.  

Q on Friday, February 7th, we start the festival with q, the CBC Radio 1 arts and culture show hosted by Tom Power.  Tom will gather around him some of Guelph’s finest talent, including Tom King, the brilliant writer, Nefe, the powerhouse singer-songwriter, and Jackie Pirico, the wildly energetic comedian.  Also on the bill is Little Scream, whose breathy vocals can be high or dreamy and her songs poppy, poetic, or political, the legendary Fred Penner, whose children’s songs, such as “The Cat Came Back,” are adored by multiple generations, and singer-songwriter William Prince, whose work has received a Juno for Contemporary Roots Album of the Year and nomination for Indigenous Music Album of the Year.  William Prince has a baritone voice:  rich, deep, dark, full. So, if you come hungry, it’ll fill you and warm you.  CBC Kitchener’s Craig Norris, and a member of the band, The Kramdens, will also appear live.  And Tom Power will play “Jam Or Not A Jam” with some of the artists.  At intermission, look for SOuLBEAUTiFUL in the lobby!  The sheer range of talent in this show will make it such a memorable night.    Buy tickets online or buy in person at The Bookshelf.

On Saturday, February 8th, we will have Hillside Hockey from 9am-3pm in the RBC parking lot on Quebec Street.  Organized by the big-hearted Matty Perissonatto, this tournament is for all ages.  Teams of five players plus one goalie battle it out in 4 games, each lasting about 30 minutes.  There’s hot chocolate, cheering, and prizes!  A $25 donation per team will be donated to Guelph Black Heritage.  Want to play?  Or put in a team?  Contact Matty:  [email protected]

Saturday’s line-up also features Girls & Guitars, a progressive party that moves every half hour to a different venue that showcases women rocking it out.  The Pairs from London, Ontario, will perform as part of the G&G series.  They do the most beautiful three-part harmonies (they’re classically trained vocalists) that are punctuated by these cool sounds that seem partly imitative of musical instruments like saxophones and partly the sounds you’d expect if Wild Things were beatboxing.  Local folk musician Laura Bird will be the Big Cheese at Tomme’s on Carden Street, singing in her beautiful, smoky voice, and Hamilton’s Lifeandthetribe will sing out her gorgeous songs that mix Gambian music, pop, and RnB at Pod.  Also on the bill for this series are seven of Hillside’s current songwriting students who will sing their original compositions for you at Planet Bean (corner of Wyndham & Carden Streets in Guelph) around 1:00pm Saturday.  They’ll be nervous, but we told them you would be supportive.  So, please bring both open ears and an open heart. Sat. Feb 8th from 11:30-1:30 at Guelph Music, Tomme Cheese Shop, Pod Fashion, and Planet Bean. 

At 2pm on Saturday, we’re presenting Fred Penner’s 40th anniversary tour of “The Cat Came Back” and we expect to see the full panoply of age demographics out for this show, from chubby toddlers to nostalgic seniors, and everyone in between.  Called “the Canadian Minister of Positivity” by Los Angeles Parent, Fred Penner’s humanitarian efforts to help children are just one aspect of a career devoted to lifting up kids, a career so rich and multifaceted it is no wonder Penner is a folk hero.  He has received more awards than the hairs on his head, including the Order of Canada, as well as multiple Junos and Parents’ Choice Awards.  We can’t wait for this cat to come back.    Buy tickets online ​ or buy in person at The Bookshelf.

At 3:30pm we’re showcasing Girlfriend Material at Royal Electric (52 Macdonnell St. in Guelph).  And, no, the members of this band are not women.  They’re guys from both Tokyo Police Club and Hollerado.  (We need to ask them about their band name, don’t we?) The songwriting is brilliant:  the banalities of life are shot through with original insights and lovely heart-sinking twists.  Honest, catchy, rockin’ music for a Saturday afternoon in the City of Song.  Pay-what-you-can.  3:30-5:00pm.

At 8:00pm on Saturday, Feb 8th, we have Donovan Woods, known for “superior songwriting, beautifully executed” (SPIN), performing at Royal City Mission on Quebec Street.  Woods is a folk, alt-country artist originally from Sarnia, Ontario, who now lives in both Toronto and Nashville.  He just won the Juno for Contemporary Roots Album of the Year.  If you haven’t heard of Donovan Woods already, it’s probably because it took him a while to stop writing great songs for other people before he stepped on stage himself with his own tunes.  As Spill Magazine writes, “Donovan Woods is a master storyteller and painter of pictures in song. Whether singing about intense feelings of love, or the sense of loss over the death of a troubled friend, Woods’ songs work on multiple levels, and he allows his audience to inhabit the same space as his characters.”  You shouldn’t miss this show.  Woods gets bigger every day.  Opening for Woods is local Missy Bauman, the sparkly and soft-spoken songwriter who in our circles is touted the most likely to win a Juno for song-writing.  She is a storyteller in song who bravely covers material that might at first seem unpoetic (e.g., sexual assault, mental illness) but which, in Missy’s hands, becomes the stuff of tender but shocking exposition that shifts our mental furniture around. This is an artist you need to watch.   

Then, at 10:30pm at the eBar (37 Quebec St.), Joyful Joyful’s drone-hymns combine with WHOOP-Szo’s experimental grungey folk-rock to stretch the walls of this newly accessible space with their strange and wonderful sounds.  Have you heard these bands?  Joyful Joyful will make your body feel like it’s humming in the most otherworldly way.  The voice, the sounds:  they’ll transport you.  But come back into the room for WHOOP-Szo, the restless, truculent sound of a band with stories to tell, feelings to vent, and dancing madness to encourage.   Buy tickets online or buy in person at The Bookshelf.

Lit Music Brunch:  Sunday morning (Feb 9th) we are very excited to be having Brunch with you (didn’t you know?) and to be co-presenting Don Gillmor and Tony Dekker with the Eden Mills Writers’ Festival at Miijidaa Café & Bistro.  Shea Robinson, Miijidaa’s award-winning chef, will offer an exceptional menu of brunchy things.  And Don Gillmor will read to you from To the River:  Losing My Brother.  This is the shattering story of Gillmor’s brother who was a musician.  Suicide may not be the most fitting topic for Sunday brunch, but it’s an important one in our community and beyond, so we wanted to address it through a tender memoir and one family’s experience, rather than speak about it as a socio-scientific fact, with buzzy clouds of statistics and gloomy research about the artistic personality and the waning power of Western men.  Don Gillmor is a great writer.  (He won the Governor General’s Award for this book.). So, trust that you’ll be transported by this thoughtful memoir of his family, on edge as he investigates his brother’s disappearance, and unable to look away as he discovers truths about his brother and about our society.  Tony Dekker of the Great Lake Swimmers is on the same bill. He’s also a great writer, known for his haunting lyrics and exploration of the Canadian landscape as a metaphor for human struggle.  Like Gillmor, Dekker delves deeply and bravely into topics like loss, love, the cruelty of change, and the complicated poetry of interdependence:

You would be nothing without me
I could be nothing
Said the waves to the sand
I could be nothing without you

Each one shifts and weakens a little
Neither aware just how much they are brittle
Each one shifts and weakens a bit
Allowing the other to live and exist
             Tony Dekker, “I Could be Nothing”

You can reserve your seat for this special Lit Music event by calling Miijidaa Café:  (519) 821-9271.  They accept credit card numbers over the phone.  Doors open at 10:30am; Reading and Music 11:30am-1pm.

Our winter festival ends with a heady Bluegrass band at Royal Electric (52 Macdonell St.) at 3:30pm.  “Old and Into Gerry’s Grass” is the epithet for Mark T’s bluegrass band who will bring all manner of fiddles, mandolins, banjoes, and joy to the stage! This is a simple pay-what-you-can event that’s part of the wonderful Music Weekends project of the Downtown Guelph Business Association. So, bring out your soggy bottoms and your wild horses, take along a wayfaring stranger, and get ready to sing your heart out over blue moons and foggy mountains!