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Hintonburg pub staging beast of a hip-hop tribute

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Local artist Daniel Martelock’s painting is among several works by local artists that will be featured at Grand Royal: A Beastie Boys Tribute at the Hintonburg Public House. Photo courtesy HPH

By David Sali –

Summer Baird has found the perfect excuse to put one of her favourite bands on steady rotation on the playlist at her Wellington Street West pub and restaurant.

The owner of the Hintonburg Public House has always been a big fan of the Beastie Boys, the groundbreaking hip-hop group from New York City that catapulted to fame with the 1986 album Licensed to Ill. This year happens to be the 30th anniversary of the Beasties’ classic followup Paul’s Boutique ​– today regarded as a hip-hop masterpiece ​– and Baird and some of her customers decided it was time to celebrate the band and its legacy.

“We’ve been talking about this for a couple of years now,” says Baird, noting one of her regulars, local graphic artist Adam Hughes, is also a big fan of the band. “We both really like the Beastie Boys, and we were talking about doing a group show and how it would be fun.”

The result is a two-month series of events at HPH called Grand Royal: A Beastie Boys Tribute. From Sept. 3 to Nov. 4, the pub will host activities that include a Beasties-themed bingo game, a trivia night to test superfans’ knowledge of the group as well as a listening party featuring the group’s music and videos and two evenings when the bar’s regular “colouring” nights – where customers get to colour sheets designed by local artists – will also be devoted to the band.

The two-month Beasties extravaganza will also feature works from half a dozen local artists, including Hughes. Baird has even set up her own version of “Paul’s Boutique” based on the fictional Manhattan clothing store depicted in the album’s cover photo, where she’s offering Beasties-themed merchandise – such as T-shirts emblazoned with the words “She’s Crafty” after a song from Licensed to Ill

In addition, local craft brewery Whiprsnapr has created a new beer for the occasion called A Grand Royal, License to Lager that plays on the name of the group’s breakthrough album.

Several of the events, including the bingo game and the trivia contest, will raise funds for the Parkdale Food Centre. 

The way Baird sees it, it’s a tribute to a legendary group that aids a great cause. And it’s got an added bonus – for the next two months, she can play the Beastie Boys as often as she likes and have no problem justifying it.

“I think that’s actually where it stems from originally: ‘How can we listen to Beastie Boys and get away with it all the time in the dining room?’” she says with a laugh. “I love all of their music – even their newer stuff.”

The popular Wellington Street establishment has hosted themed art shows in the past, but never anything this elaborate. Baird says customers get “pretty excited” when they hear about the idea.

“It’s a first for us, and we’re having a lot of fun with it,” she says.

For more information, go to hintonburgpublichouse.ca.

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