Several Hamiltonians who have been missing out on live performances because of the COVID-19 pandemic had live music, food and beer delivered to their doorsteps on Saturday.
Derek Weening, the owner of The Capitol Bar on King Street East, rolled through Hamilton, stopping by customers who had made a previous booking. He delivered the food and beer and then played three songs in what’s being called The Gravy Train. Each delivery and performance was wrapped up in 30 minutes
“It was good. It was good,” Weening told CBC Hamilton.
“Halfway through the first song I couldn’t feel my fingertips anymore but it was great, the people were amazing. People were really, really excited about it. It was just a lot of fun.
“Everywhere that I went, whoever had booked me, did invite their neighbours or friends. The first one was 10 people,” Weening said.
Weening said he used to perform a lot but hadn’t performed for over a year because of the pandemic.
“So, it was pretty wild to just get that feeling back,” he said.
“It was like, ‘Wow, I really like this.’
“The first one was at 1 p.m. and we did five shows just at the top of the hour, so the last one was at 5 p.m.,” he said.
The Gravy Train started at Parkdale, then travelled over to Locke Street and then to Sipley. The next stop was Stoney Creek and then back to Sipley.
“It was a little bit all over the place but we managed to make it work,” Weening said.
“It was literally like: Unload the car, give them their food and their beers and I was set up and ready to go in five minutes.”
‘People are really itching for it’
Weening said the demand for live music is high and people are already making plans for future performances.
“Everywhere that I went, they were like, ‘Oh I can’t wait to do this again,'” he said.
“Even now I am already getting a flood of inquiries about next week so I kind of feel like people are really itching for it.”
Tips donated to charity
Weening said even though he had not been able to perform since the pandemic, he had the benefit of the food sales.
He said as soon as he decided to do The Gravy Train, he also decided he would donate the tip jar to a charity.
“I chose Interval House of Hamilton, the women’s shelter,” he told CBC News.
“People didn’t know that I was donating to charity but they were just excited to have live music so everybody was [tipping].”
Nancy Smith, executive director IHOH said they are thrilled Weening has chosen them as the recipient.
“We really appreciate the thoughtfulness and of course the money that he’s raised to go towards our work with women and children,” Smith said.
“We have to fund-raise $680,000 this fiscal year to offset our funding shortfall and so Derek’s work in this donation certainly goes towards meeting that target and keeping our doors open.
“We are an essential service and it is critical that we are there for women and their children,” Smith said.
Gravy Trains heading to cities across Canada
Tom Lucier, the owner of Phog Lounge and Meteor in Windsor, Ont., started The Gravy Train out of desperation to sustain businesses and musicians during the pandemic.
“This is something that people have been missing from their lives for almost a year,” Lucier told CBC Hamilton
“A lot of people had the opportunity to go see some version of live music during some of the stages of lockdown … but a lot of people were still fearful so they didn’t.
“So, when these events happen it’s actually the first time they’ve heard live music being played,” he said.
Lucier said Gravy Trains will be in several cities across Canada in the coming weeks, contributing to the financial well-being of the musicians who have given to Phog Lounge and Meteor over the years, as well as people who work in the independent food and beverage world in their respective provinces and cities.
Published at Wed, 10 Feb 2021 09:00:00 +0000