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Updated: Feb 11

Town of Ajax's Summer in the Square with Practically Hip

If you are like me, and I assume you are if you are reading this, you are wondering, “When will live music return to Durham Region?” I’m happy to say that things have started to open up here in Ontario, now that our government has started to remove Covid 19 Restrictions.

Prior to the Covid pandemic, Durham Region’s Town of Ajax was home to the FREE concert series “Summer in the Square” on Wednesday evenings in July and August. With presenting sponsor TD Bank,Pat Bayly Square saw great tribute bands such as:

· “The Liverpool 4”

· “Practically Hip”

· “Fleetwood Mac Mania”

· “Sheer Heart Attack”

· “Practically Petty”

On Wednesday, July 17, 2019, I was ecstatic (and nervous) to shoot my first real assignment for the Town of Ajax during the Summer in the Square event for “Practically Hip”, a Tragically Hip tribute band. With my membership in the Ajax Photography Club, I was able to volunteer my services to shoot this event, and it was the start of something that I quickly fell in love with.

The Tragically Hip was a Canadian rock band that we are all likely well familiar with. They are as important to this country’s music industry as bands like Rush, and The Band are. And their lead singer was as iconic as Canadian singers Neil Young, Leonard Cohen and Bryan Adams. Sadly, on October 17, 2017, The Tragically Hip frontman Gord Downie passed away after a 2 year battle with brain cancer. But on this summer night in July 2019, Practically Hip frontman Dean Hughes posthumously brought Gord Downie to the Greater Toronto Town of Ajax.

Practically Hip's Dean Hughes

For the hundreds of people at this specific event, it was literally as though Gord Downie had returned for one last hurrah. Dean Hughes’ presence on the stage at Pat Bayly Square recreated the on-stage theatrics of one of Canada’s premier lead singers. On top of his stage presence, Hughes has the look, and vocals of a sadly missed musician. But the similarities do not end at Practically Hip’s lead singer. The rest of the band’s abilities to bring the Kingston, Ontario band’s sound to the stage is a key factor into why Practically Hip is one of Canada’s premier Tragically Hip tribute bands. Their abilities to perform have seen them play festivals and shows throughout the country, alongside many of Canada’s greatest bands and musicians. For me, it was a great pleasure to have photographed this event very early in my Concert Photography days.

When will live music return to Durham Region? Well, they already have in your local bars and clubs, and as we move forward from the many shutdowns we’ve experienced over the past couple years (especially here in Ontario), I expect that these types of free local events will return. While I do not have any inside knowledge of the return of The Town of Ajax’s Summer in the Square, my hopes are that they will in fact come to life. And when they do, do yourselves a favour and get yourselves out to some of these events.


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