Branding Hamilton as a music centre is part of McHattie’s campaign

Harlan Pepper-ft

See update on Hamilton groups nominated for Junos at thespec.com

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When councillor Brian McHattie held his official mayor’s race campaign launch, it wasn’t a big surprise that rising Hamilton rock & roots group Harlan Pepper was the band. (Above: Harlan Pepper was in the Top 10 for Hockey Night in Canada’s song quest. Handout photo)

There’s a longtime connection between music booster McHattie, Tom Wilson (aka Lee Harvey Osmond) of Juno-winning Blackie and the Rodeo Kings and bassist/vocalist Thompson Wilson (Tom’s son).  They’re all from McHattie’s Ward 1. (Below: Blackie and the Rodeo Kings. L to R: Stephen Fearing, Colin Linden, Tom Wilson / publicity photo)

blackie and the rodeo kings

“I just love their music, their excitement,” McHattie said of Harlan Pepper, whose new album “Take Out A Twenty and Live Life to the Fullest” is out this month. “I just really enjoy it personally.”

-Harlan Pepper, from the new album

For McHattie, supporting local musicians – through a music strategy McHattie has been working on with Tom Wilson for a year – is political as well as personal.  The mayoralty candidate has positioned himself at the front of a community-wide movement to grow Hamilton’s music identity and reputation.

Council last week approved $50,000 for an economic development program to officially get the branding of Hamilton as a music centre up and going.  McHattie has also positioned himself as a force behind the Junos coming to Hamilton in 2015. He crafted the council motion that led to last spring’s request to the organizers of Canada’s largest music awards to bring the show back to Hamilton. The Junos haven’t been here since 2001.

Music is an integral part of Hamilton’s history, McHattie said, and the city deserves the type of reputation that cities such as Austin, Texas or New Orleans have gained.

“It’s just a fabulous place for music, it just blows you away. ”

More Municipal Election Campaign stories on thespec.com

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jwalters@thespec.com / 905-526-3302

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