[“Dirge #1” sounded great thanks to his fantastic band which included producer/guitarist Chris Wardman and Blue Rodeo skin man Glenn Milchem.]

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Who: Art Bergmann
From: Vancouver, BC
Where: This Ain’t Hollywood, Hamilton ON
When: Thursday, October 23, 2014

We all have a musical bucket list – except I terrorize myself with artists that the probability of seeing are slim to nothing. But, every now and then, I get a treat and this week it came in the form of one of the most prolific songwriters in Canadian history, Art Bergmann. I traveled down to Hamilton to see him play an intimate performance at Hamilton’s hub of underground music – This Ain’t Hollywood. TAH are known throughout the world for bringing in some really rare acts like Roky Erickson, Johnny Winter and members of the New York Dolls just to name a few past performers. I know that owner (and long time punk supporter) Lou Molinario was happy to be able to add Art to that list, and the city of Hamilton was lucky to have such an artist in their city.

The night began with a special performance from Canadian punk legend Gordon Lewis of Teenage Head and his new band, The Gordon Lewis Band. They took the stage and the hometown crowd was instantly supportive, though it took a few songs for them to really warm up and let lose. I immediatly from the beginning stood directly in front of the stage – right in front of Gordon Lewis’ amp because I grew up seeing punk shows in Toronto and “that’s how we do”. There was serious nostalgia and energy runnig through me. Gordon and Teenage Head were HUGE influences on me, and the way the guy plays is instantly recognizable. They rocked through some of their new songs to warm everyone up and when they had the crowd where they wanted them they started into the Teenage Head repertoire. Classics like “teenage Beer Drinking Party”, “Some Kinda Fun” and of course, “Let’s Shake”. It was a short but sweet set, and everyone seemed to really enjoy it. Gordon was even nice enough to sign a vintage Teenage Head poster I had and take a picture.

The scene was set, and it was time for the legend Art Bergmann. The was his first time back on the road for many years, so I knew this was going to be a great performance. He played a set of classics ranging his entire career – from his early punk days with the Young Canadians with songs like “Automan” and a lounge version of “Hawaii” to his current release “Songs for the Underclass” and songs like “The Company Store“ and “Drones of Democracy“. He also played a variety of cuts from his numerous past solo efforts saying “I want to play them all for you tonight” several times throughout the evening. Classics like “My Empty House”, “Contract”, “My Baby Needs Oil” and my personal favorite “Dirge #1” sounded great thanks to his fantastic band which included producer/guitarist Chris Wardman and Blue Rodeo skin man Glenn Milchem. You could tell that there were many die hard fans there (including myself), who stuck with the show for the duration of a 2 hour set even though it was a “school night”.  The show was awesome in many ways. Musically, it was great. There was so much feeling and emotion in the performance. And it was just great to see Art back up on stage where he belongs, playing his rock and roll music. It was really inspiring.

If there’s one thing you can say about Art Bergmann, he is a survivor. He survived punk rock, addiciton, the music industry and just about everything else that could be thrown at him. He took a well deserved break, but I think it’s safe to say that he is back and this time, he’s going to do it right. I got to talk to Art in depth about his new record, his musical influences, and his views on a bunch of topics.