An Interview with Canadian Folk Singer Cara Luft

Canadian Folk Singer Cara Luft is coming to the Pearl Company Sunday, April 13! $15, or $10 for students/seniors/artists. Details here.

Listen to Cara Luft’s Most Recent Album, Darlingford

Cara is an award winning Canadian singer from Winnipeg who blends folk and traditional music with a taste of rock. We interviewed Cara about her experiences in Hamilton, her most recent record, and her collaborations with other artists:


Have you ever been to Hamilton before?

I have, I played the Festival of Friends maybe 5 or 6 years ago. I think I’ve played 2 or 3 times in Hamilton the last 8 years, but I think Festival of Friends is the last time I officially played in the city, so it’s really exciting to get back.


Do you have a favourite spot in Hamilton?

Well I knew some people who lived there, so going to see the people I knew was my favourite thing to do! But one of them worked at the Royal Botanical Gardens, I remember meeting her there and riding my bike, or something involving my bike and wandering around and looking at how beautiful everything was. So, that would definitely be one of my highlights.


What inspired you to write the songs on your most recent record Darlingford?

I was going through some upheaval in my life and knew that I, like most musicians, write a lot about life experiences and that was kind of the inspiration behind those songs. The trick is, when you’re writing about your personal experiences, how do you write about it so that other people can relate to it? I would talk about there being this fine line between the personal and the universal, so I was aware of that as I was getting ready to write for the project. I brought a friend on board to help me co-write a lot of the material to kind of keep that balance in check and make sure that we were able to write songs that audience members could nod their heads to and say “oh yeah, I relate to that experience”. I found that I was writing around the theme of friendship, family, love lost – things that are really heart-centric and personal.


Can you tell me a bit about your upcoming 4th album?

I’m actually doing a duo project with JD Edwards […] We got partnered about a year and a half ago to sing at a 25th anniversary of one of the main venues in [Winnipeg], and we realized we had never actually sung together before. We didn’t really know each other’s material and we really hit it off, but nothing really developed after this one off concert because we both had really heavy tour schedules. So this January I had asked him to join me for a portion of that tour I was doing out west, and he came on the tour with me [...] We went and did a bunch of shows together and the feedback we got was like none I’ve had really experienced since perhaps my time with the Jenny’s. And so we kind of kept looking at each other and were like ‘huh!’ this is a case of the sum being greater than the parts.

We are actually going to be flying from Ontario after the Ontario tour to BC to do pre-production for the record, then we are heading into the studio to in end of May early June to record the project together [...] On the tour, we will be doing some of the material I had been doing with Darlingford and introduce some of the new stuff as well.

Make sure to see Cara’s show in Hamilton on Sunday April 13, or catch it in another city:

April 4 - Fargo, ND – The Listening Room
April 5 - St. Cloud, MN – Granite City Folk Society @ Bodidley’s
April 6 - Chicago, IL – Windy City House Concert
April 9 - Toronto, ON – Hugh’s Room
April 11 - London, ON – The Aeolian Hall
April 12 - Kitchener, ON – The Registry Theatre
April 13 - Hamilton, ON – The Pearl Company
April 15 - Ottawa, ON – House Concert
April 17 - Uxbridge, ON – House Concert
April 19 - Kingston, ON – House Concert

6 Valentine’s Day Events Happening in Hamilton

Find out what’s Happening in Hamilton this Valentine’s Day:

1. Valentine’s Day Waterfall Illumination

The City of Waterfalls is a wonderful Hamilton organization that not only has a website with information about ALL of the waterfalls in Hamilton (visit the website here), but also illuminates various waterfalls in the Hamilton area.

A Valentine’s Day waterfall illumination is scheduled for this Friday, February 14th. Safety is very important to the City of Waterfalls, so the illumination could be cancelled depending on the weather.

Waterfall illuminations begin at dusk. Check the Waterfall Illumination Facebook page for more updates on the time and location of the illumination.

Cost: Free or food donation


2. ArtCrawl

James Street North hosts an art crawl every second Friday of the month, where artists will début and display their artworks.

Here is an example of what kind of artworks you can look forward to seeing:

Blueprints @ Centre[3] for Print and Media Arts, 7:00-10:00 pm –This exhibition looks at the social, psychological, philosophical, and physical influences of the environment on an individual.

Artists: Christian Chapman, Carlos Granados-Ocón, Jennifer Linton, Colin Lyons and Dax Morrison, Curated by Chris Saba.  Cost: Free

Denise Lisson & Jim Mullin @ Hamilton Conservatory for the Arts – 7:00-9:30 pm – Artwork by two renowned Canadian artists, including digital works on canvas that take objects like graffiti or flowers and make them into ‘dynamic and expressionistic compositions’.

For more information about James Street North, visit their Facebook Page.

Cost: Free


3. Comedy

On February 14th, comedians Lawrence Morgenstern and Paul Haywood are lined up to perform at Yuk Yuks in downtown Hamilton. Comedy can be a great way to ease the tension of a first date or spend Valentine’s Day with friends.

Don’t know who Lawrence Morgenstern is? Watch his live performance at YukYuks on Youtube here.

Cost: $16.38 plus tax


4. Skating

With Friday forecasted as a mere -5, outdoor skating may be an excellent way to spend Valentine’s Day. The Hamilton Waterfront has a beautiful outdoor rink surrounded by the Festival of Lights and the warm Williams Café. If you don’t feel like venturing too far from your house, there are many outdoor rinks located throughout the city. Take a look at the list here.

Cost: Free!


5. Music

February 14th - Harrison Kennedy at This Ain’t Hollywood. Preview the band here.

February 15th - Good Food Box Fundraiser – Folk, Blues & Rock Music at This Ain’t Hollywood 

February 15th - Folk band The Acoustics at Artword Artbar. Preview the band here.

February 15th – Rock music at the Casbah with Cousins. Preview the band here.



6. ‘The Heart of War’

Visiting the Dundurn National Historic Site for their new exhibit is a unique way to spend Valentine’s Day. The Hamilton Military Museum exhibit, entitled ‘The Heart of War’ explores the impact that World War I had on soldiers and their families. Visitors can view artifacts such as letters, postcards, or photographs from WWI soldiers. This event occurs within the regular hours of the Dundurn National Historic Site (11-4pm).

Cost: Free



Hamilton Hive Presents: New Year. New Me. New We

February 12th, 8:30 – 10:00 AM @ 28 James St. North

Has your New Year’s resolution already fallen apart? This event will help you achieve your goals, with guests who are experts in the areas of finance, fitness, healthy eating, and volunteering.

Special guests:

James Lefebvre – Director of Business Services at FirstOntario Credit Union

Evan Ferber – Owner and operator of CrossFit Dundas

Janet Jacks – Founder of Goodness Me! Natural Food Market

Melanie Winterle – Executive Director of Volunteer Hamilton

Register for free by e-mailing

For more information about the hosts, Hamilton Hive, Tourism Hamilton, or FirstOntario Credit Union visit their websites:

Hamilton Hive 

Tourism Hamilton 

FirstOntario Credit Union 

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Doing Media Differently: Panel Discussion on Community Based Journalism

On February 12th, Hamilton Media Guild is hosting a free panel discussion on how community-based journalism is changing the media landscape. ‘Doing Media Differently’ will focus on how to tell a story in an engaging and effective way. The event is located at the Lincoln Alexander Conference Centre and begins at 6:00 pm.

‘Doing Media Differently’ is moderated by Jim Poling of the Hamilton Spectator and features five knowledgeable panelists:

- Mathew Ingram: Senior Writer for

- Ryan McGreal: Editor at Raise the Hammer

- Martinus Geleynse: Creative Director & CEO of MGi Media, Publisher of Urbanicity

- Mary-Marie Duwai-Sowa: Publisher and Editor for Illuminessence e-magazine

- James (Gunner) Smith: Music Industry Professional, Host of In the Neighbourhood


Click here to register for this free event  (Register soon, space is limited!)

Directions & Parking:

The Lincoln Alexander Centre is located at 160 King Street East, Hamilton. Visit their website here for details. On-Street Parking is free after 6 pm.


For more information about the Hamilton Media Guild, visit their website here.

Doing Media Differently



Cirque du Soleil “Varekai”: A Mystical Experience

After saving up for a (very!) long time, my significant other and I were finally able to go on a big trip last year. So, over the holidays we went to Las Vegas. Family and friends all told us that we needed to see a show—which show, they were not specific. It seemed to be the trend down there to indulge in Cirque du Soleil. The variety was definitely there—seven shows in total.  It was to the point that we thought if we did not see one of these amazing shows here, it would never happen. Fortunately, when we got home we discovered that the newest Cirque du Soleil show Varekai was coming to Copps Coliseum.

Cirque du Soleil shows have been brought to Copps in the past and have not disappointed (check out Ryan McGreal’s review from Raise the Hammer of last year’s Dralion) 

For someone who has never seen a Cirque du Soleil performance, it is hard to describe exactly what you are feeling the whole time. The common identifiers include “incredibly strong performers”, “dazzling costumes”, and “astonishing acrobatics”. Given these identifiers, this first-time Cirque viewer was surprised by so much more than what she was expecting when Varekai began.


Once you see a performance, you realize that the company does not identify as a circus for nothing: Varekai was really a variety show. Performers prove multi-talented as acrobats, singers, slapstick magicians, and a juggler grace the stage. Interludes from the main storyline (such as a Vegas-like magician and his assistant) were quite jarring but it became apparent quickly which characters were outside of the world of the magical forest.

The pre-show pulls the audience in gently to what will be an overwhelming medley of music, movement, and stunning visuals. The stage is initially basked in a cool blue-green glow and we can tell the set designers were utilizing materials that could be found in a real forest. A ram-shamble wooden bridge wound its way above the stage while stable bamboo-like poles served as tree trunks, making the stage the forest-bottom. A fantastical array of dream-like creatures crawl and writher around the stage as hypnotic tones complement their movement.

We are first introduced to the class clown of the forest and his cart of gadgets and whats-its. His cart transforms everyday modern sounds (such as a ringing telephone and an airplane taking off) into the sound of birds chirping. A moral evident given this skit is that we need to slow down in our modern lives and pay attention to nature—if we do, it will truly astonish us. Indeed, the natural creatures of this forest astonish and awe from start to finish.

The acrobatics that Cirque du Soleil is so famous for did not disappoint. From a fallen angel who shows elegance and strength in a piece with a versatile net, to a beautiful butterfly showing focus and agility with controlled movements on thin pedestals. There were times when, as an audience member, I forgot to clap because I was so entranced by the quiet elegance of the movement pieces. Live harmonics complemented the movement pieces and showcased the diversity of artistic talent that Cirque du Soleil employs.

A standing ovation solidified how happy Hamilton is to have the opportunity to be entertained by a troupe of talented artists. Varekai was a refreshingly impressive performance and served to create a memorable night out.

Varekai runs every night this weekend until February 2nd at Copps Coliseum. For ticket information and show details, click here.

Meet Our New Contributors!

Happening Hamilton is excited to welcome to our team new Hamilton-lovers! Meet Krista and Michael, enthusiastic students wanting to learn more about our lovely city and write about it along the way. Look forward to more coverage of great events and their own perspectives on living in Hamilton.



I came to Hamilton in 2011 to attend McMaster University, but I first discovered the City of Hamilton itself when I accepted a volunteer position as a tutor at the N’Gen Youth Centre in downtown Hamilton. My experiences there made me curious to discover the rest of the City.  Now that I’ve been living in Hamilton for almost three years, I can say that I truly love what Hamilton has to offer, especially the beautiful trails and waterfalls that line the escarpment.

When you move to a new city it can be difficult to become part of the community, and it can be even harder if you are a McMaster student who is afraid to leave the campus. Happening Hamilton made it easier for me to get to know the city, and I hope to help others, both new and current residents, become involved in their community.



When people first heard I was moving to Hamilton for university, many inquired and wondered why I was doing such a thing. “McMaster is a great school and all,” they said, “But HAMILTON? Really? You want to be stuck for the next four odd years in the armpit of Ontario?” At the time I found it ironic to be hearing these comments from Winnipeggers, as they are known to loath the city of their residence with a passion when living there, but miss and crave it when they are gone. However, I always felt that people were always a little hard on my hometown, not giving it a chance to prove itself, of exploring it enough to find the true secrets and gems to be found. That’s the way I feel about Hamilton. Perhaps that’s why I felt almost instantly at home when I moved here 2011.  There is so much to see, so much to uncover. What better time than now to go out and find more reasons to fall in love with Hamilton, the city that has been, and will continue to be, my home.