Exclaim!

Canadian Music Venues

This Ain't Hollywood

345 James Street North, Hamilton ON


This Ain’t Hollywood acts as a cozy, old-school complement to the larger music venues of Hamilton. In 2009, musician owners Lou Molinaro and Glen Faulman tore out the interior of the old Copper John’s pub and built a no-frills den that embraces beer, live music and community.

The bar quickly became a beloved part of the city’s burgeoning music scene and This Ain’t Hollywood — named after a 1981 album by Hamilton punk band the Forgotten Rebels — won Live Club of the Year from the Hamilton Music Awards from 2009 through 2012. It continues to win raves from fans who praise the venue’s down-to-earth atmosphere and its shows’ first-class sound engineering.

The owners keep a jam-packed events calendar that boasts around 720 musical acts per year. Located on James Street in the North End, the one-storey bar (with a patio in the warmer seasons) has a homey vibe that attracts crowds of locals to their eclectic matinee performances and rowdy night-time shows. Tuesdays offer an enthusiastic Open Mic Night, and for a milder evening of entertainment, their Monday Night Bingo has replaced the Metal Mondays of years past. Located a few blocks from the Hamilton Go Station, out-of-towners can attend events without much hassle. The bar also occasionally hosts all-ages shows.

This Ain’t Hollywood attracts a wide range of acts — rock, punk, jazz, hip-hop, amongst others. Solid tribute bands like the Steel City Rockers and the Eggmen abound, and members of Sum 41, Circle Jerks and Bad Religion came by for punk rock karaoke, playing their instruments while audience members took the mic, joining notable past acts like Sparks, Jon Spencer Blues Explosion and Haymaker. No matter the performer, the small stage area allows audience members to get up close and personal with the sound.