2019’s INDIE WEEK rocks Toronto for the 17th year!
So honored to once again attend INDIE WEEK Toronto and represent The Wire
Audra is a performing artist and is the Manager of Strategy and Partnerships with the DOWNIE & WENJACK FOUNDATION, where she educated us sharing with pertinent info on Chanie Wenjack’s story and about Gord Downie’s call to build a better Canada! Gord Downie & Chanie Wenjack families created this fund sponsored by The Slaight Family Foundation, with aims to build cultural understanding and create a PATH toward reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples.
DWF’s goal is to improve the lives of Indigenous people by building awareness, education, and connections between all Canadians. DWF provides access to education on the true history of Indigenous people in Canada and the history and legacy of residential schools and encourages reconciliation by way of our programming and events. DID YOU KNOW that from 1931 to 1996 over 150,000 Indigenous children were removed from their homes and forced to attend residential schools across Canada. Over 6,000 of those children died and 12 yr old Chanie Wenjack was one of them as he was taken to a residential school 600 m from home and Chanie froze to death trying to get back home. His story inspired Gord Downie to write 10 poems which became the songs of the graphic album Secret Path. But sharing Chanie’s story wasn’t enough. Gord Downie at his last concert, in front of 15 million viewers he asked us to #DOSOMETHING and now 40,000 teachers are using The Secret Path as a tool to teach about the impacts of the residential school system. 1000’s of individual Canadians have contributed funds dedicated to resources and education, launched over 20 Downie Wenjack Fund legacy rooms as meeting places for conversation and reconciliation. Secret Path Week began that very night of the Media Kick-Off to Indie Week and is a national movement commemorating the legacies of Gord Downie and Chanie Wenjack, and takes place annually from October 17th-22nd. This is a special week as October 17th and 22nd respectively mark the dates that Gord Downie and Chanie Wenjack joined the spirit world.
We call on all Canadians to use Secret Path Week to answer Gord Downie’s call to action, to “Do Something” by creating a reconciliACTION and furthering the conversation about the history of residential schools.
Their website has so much to see and they even have info on their musical Legacy Artist Ambassador program and with that said, the lovely Audra Santa then introduced to the audience, the 1st act of the night, and DWF’s 1st Artist Ambassador all the way from Mushkegowuk Cree community of Attawapiskat, situated on the coast of the James Bay in Northern Ontario, with Mr. Adrian Sutherland. He’s a singer/songwriter and frontman for roots-rock band Midnight Shine, who makes contemporary music that gives a glimpse of his life in Canada’s North while reflecting universal themes like family, home, love and loss. Adrian is a knowledge and language keeper of his Mushkegowuk Cree people of the James Bay. He teaches traditional ways of the land, participates in harvests, leads ceremonies, and is a genuine example of someone who lives authentically. He is a father, grandfather, and hard-working husband, proud of who he is and where he comes from. Visit https://downiewenjack.ca/our-work/secret-path-week and make a difference in the lives of many.
Adrian Sutherland smoothly projected his 1st hit that was released via video that same week, entitled Politician Man as well, he chose a fitting cover on the anniversary of Gord Downie’s passing,
What a powerful way to start the evening. The Legacy Schools High School Artist Ambassador program brings Indigenous and non-Indigenous artists into high schools across Canada to inspire student leadership and forward the journey of reconciliation in school communities. Artists share their art, music, and stories through workshops and/or performances to engage students. High schools hosting Artist Ambassadors also encouraging students
Next, was the incredibly deep and diversely magical musical stylings of Thunder Bay’s Rachel Romu, who is not just an Indie artist, she is a driving force in the disability realm as she suffers from chronic pain herself. She strives forward through modeling and performing. Her versatile blues-infused alternative pop added a delicious additional flavor to the night’s festivities, as she projected her distinct hypnotic flare.
All the way from Nunavut, Juno Nominated Kelly Fraser, brought her A-game to Indie Week once again as an Inuk performer from Sanikiluaq — a town of about 900 miles on the northern coast of Flaherty Island in Hudson’s Bay. Juno-nominated and Inspyre Award-winning Kelly Fraser brought her new material based on her struggles and pain growing up which she made a positively inspirational impact on other youths. Writing, recording, performing, teaching and motivating, she sure is a joyful individual who promotes healing and cultural pride within her contemporary poppy punch into hip-hop, taking you on a journey in both English and Inuktitut as her insightful lyrics resonated. Captivating is just 1 word to describe the surface of Kelly Fraser’s music. She hopes to make a change and assist those in need with her significant and politically relevant lyrics. She engaged the audience with songs from her inaugural album Sedna as she encouraged her fans to Stay Strong while she went Looking For A Seal to Fight For The Right of her community as she projected her inner Rebound Girl. She introduced her perfected throat singing while playing her handheld Qilauti drum. Her material is real and raw, very enlightening. Once you experience her infectious and inspirational sound, you will see why she is a huge sensation here in Ontario and around the globe with social media climbing above 250,000+ views on YouTube, as well as an impressive 9,500+ followers on various media platforms.
Mountain Head, what a mind melt! I was hooked upon the 1st guitar lick and glimmer of bling in their smile, and their fun sound blended with lyrical harmony made for a curious stage presence. They totally rocked us with their hypnotic and Gaslight while they stated, “We Stole Your Head ” with their luminous influence, also their tribute to Ol’ Dirty Bastard’s Shimmy Shimmy Ya was brilliantly done, I wished they could have kept going all night. https://www.mountainheadmusic.com
2018’s Indie Week finalists, Ghost Caravan, from the hammer, gave a gigantic sound fueled with pop-rock infused orchestral electronica. I stumbled upon their fiercely engaging tuneage last year at INDIE Week at the Mod Club. I was stoked to see them project their combined elements, I never get enough of Ghost Caravan as they truly are a powerfully emotional work of art. Their Damn You gave a back to the future feel as they showed us how to Shine On as Lead vocalist Shaina Silver-Baird emotionally sported a feather in her cap recognizing and honoring Gord Downie’s incredible impact on Canadian talent. https://www.ghostcaravan.com
What a way to warm up the Hideout’s stage for the next solo act, Canada’s new-age storytelling rapper, Blow_Fly who hails originally from Halifax/Dartmouth Nova Scotia. His positive spins were
It was just a little after 10:35 when Young Doctors in Love got into their groove with Come On and Love Me (Like you Used to Do) as this Toronto 6 piece engaged us with a fun light-hearted set filled with bubbly and bouncy indie-pop danceable hits full of great harmony like Julianna for instance. Check them out, you will be happy you did as these hidden Toronto gems, won’t be hidden for very long, as their musical climb is destined for greatness.
Ontario’s Excuses Excuses sprang into action with their impeccably high energy alternative punk rock, expressing their sheer infectious nature.
They shared their uniqueness as they propelled through their coming of age complex sound as Kyle, Trevor and Jason thrilled us with plenty of hair swings, never idle, I totally connected with their sound. Their Mind Over Matter didn’t leave us Empty instead they challenged us to Face The Fear and said give a listen to Catch Me If You Can (song and title of their sophomore EP), catch them in a city nearest you upon their 1st cross Canada Tour.
The last act of the night was a familiar name here in Toronto and I meant to catch their shows in the past, but, that night was my 1st review of
On November 14th, I dropped in to catch the Meet the Festivals and Booker’s seminar at INDIE 101 conference, which was influentially educational featuring Moderator Rian Malloch of Sound of Music Festival, Tim Potocic of Supercrawl, Jonathan Campbell of Good Kind Productions/Small World Music), Keith Tan of Singapore Slate Entertainment and Yvonne Matsell alongside David Silbaugh of Summerfest in Milwaukee. 230 pm I got to listen in on Meet the Funders and Associations which introduced where you should look to help find funding and take your career to the next level. From Provincial Music Associations to National funding they covered it all. Jeffrey Crossman of Global Affairs, Sam Rayner of CIMA, Olivia Street of Alberta Music, Emy Stantcheva of Music Ontario Cory Crossman City of London Music office, and Karina Moldovan of Factor-seen below.
My 1st stop on November 15th, 2019 saw me entering the quaint 120 Diner for a stupendous night of originals and covers by extremely gifted up and coming youth. The smells were tempting and I had the best quality size and tastiest burger even followed by a homemade banana dessert (sigh, I couldn’t resist), it was so good. I had been bestowed the honor of being a Judge once again, making this my 3rd judge duty in 2 years for INDIE WEEK.
1st out of the gate at 5:00 pm was Mikalyn, an ambitious and breathtaking alternative Pop/R&B vocalist with soft and assured piano stylings. She confidently owned the stage as she introduced her originals that made you think.
5:45 pm found the embodiment of determination mounting the stage. Toronto’s eloquent Jacqui Verellen shared her country/pop tunes with a 2020 debut EP release of “Honest,” and she has chosen to put it out one single at a time, starting with Home Is Home. Jacqui has a polished and deeply enriched tender expression. https://www.jacquiverellen.com
Everyone was on the money, perfection all around. The next act was a trio featuring the ever-engaging Emma Lamontagne. This multi-award-winning talent hails from Ottawa and man did she engulf my attention. Wowing me with her honesty regarding her disability and chronic pain and how music heals her. Her sincerity inside her penned pieces, mixed with her humor and her audience interactions were infectious, this outstanding 6 ft 1 19-year-old is going places. Her Love Games fleshed out melodies blended an ancient 80s texture with a futuristic feel and That Girl can sing!!!! The Art of Reality had every eye on her performance, which glowed with colorful qualities. https://emmalamontagnemusic.com
Emma projected an assured set, expressing her indulgent tones and a stylistic guitar.
Last up, Gavin McLeod, a nineteen-year-old singer, songwriter, blues guitar player and Youtube personality from Milton, Ontario, who has been actively performing in bands for over a decade appearing as a musician on two seasons of Family Channel’s TV show Backstage. In 2019, Gavin released his debut project “The Hollow EP” and his delicious textured full band flavor blues made for throbbing and intoxicating beats that had folks dancing. Gavin’s full band explosion, is a popular sound that is a delightful taste that’s a well-loved genre in full swing on the music scene in T.O. WELL DONE EVERYONE. https://www.gavinmcleodmusic.com I had lots of positive comments and wish them all successful careers.
Onward to the next event, another fabulous space I had yet ventured. I found it not wheelchair friendly as it was in the basement of
The Muddy York Blues Machine was up next. Another familiar act upon the Toronto GTA scene and ya gotta love a blues act my age giving it all they got. This 5 piece was sheer get up and go, my camera loved the animated guitarist Kirk Reed, and the voice of the Sweet Little Angel Veronica McNamee as she ranged from those deep rich tones right through the roof with her mind-melting stratospheric belts of pure joy, goosebumps were plentiful. Their stage presence displayed a distinct Power of Love. After their stellar showcase, my mood lifted and I tell you my noggin felt better too where I Don’t Need No Doctor https://themuddyyorkbluesmachine.com/music
I was awe-inspired from the first chords Toronto’s Jim Dan Dee struck with a juiced-up voltaic stage presence as he expressed his dynamic blues vibe. His natural aptitude shone brightly as he ripped into pieces laced with slick grooves such as When You Move Like That There. Honest Blues I called it, the stuff that freezes you dead in your tracks, makes you forget where you are and what you were just doing, his art swallows you whole and when complete you are rejuvenated. Keep an eye on Jim Dan Dee, they’re coming your way and guaranteed to influence your cerebral. http://www.jimdandee.com
This next performance by The Reed Effect captivated me with their delectable style and flavorful emotions. Great sound in such a tiny stage Down in Here at The Joint. Never idle, founder and frontman/guitarist Kirk Reed along with his brother Chris on bass and Joel Carrier on drums never missed a beat which is surprising as Kirk never stood still. My camera loved his energy and once again, totally consumed my attention from the bursts of guitar, through the soaring harmonies, one of the most intriguing onslaughts of progressively addictive blues-rock infusion I’ve encountered. Thanks, TRE for relieving my mind and getting me to Leave It All Behind as their music is great therapy, grab a copy of Strange Curiosity out now. I am looking forward to catching them again in the near future, what a total mind-melding experience. https://www.thereedeffect.com
Sophia Radisch never ceases to amaze me. Such depth and passion erupting from her eclectic styles. She’s Running Down A Dream, purely an Angle of Mercy and most definitely not Invisible. She’s Never Against the Wall when she’s in her groove as she is all over the stage. Her art is like an Enigma-a riddle or complicated metaphor that tests the listener’s alertness leaving her fans engulfed in her one of a kind sound. Her uniqueness is uncomparable, watch her Ignite in a city nearest you. Stay in tune at http://www.sophiaradisch.com
Indie Week Canada (Toronto) celebrated its 17th year of showcasing the best of independent talent in 25+ venues, over 5 nights. 250+ acts from all over the globe where artists played in front of music industry professionals & this unique festival put industry & artists together, a stepping stone for artists wanting to enter into the North American & Canadian markets & make the connections that can help take your
BO WELLAND ANNOUNCED AS INDIE WEEK 2019 – “Best of the Fest”!
After 5 amazing nights of music at venues all over downtown Toronto with 100’s of artists playing their hearts out, Indie Week came to a breathtaking conclusion as 6 artists took to the stage on SUN NOV 17 at the Mod Club Theatre Indie Week Awards Show including Piqued Jacks (Italy), Free But Sharp Pain (aka FBSP-(Japan), Luxe (Can) and Bo Welland (Can), Indie Week 2018 “Best of the Fest” Triss (South Korea) and headlining the night was Canada’s own Nikki’s Wives! With over 13,000 votes cast Luxe (Can) were named winners of the “People’s Choice” Award.
Indie Week 2019 Award Winners!
Indie Week Canada 2019 – “Best of the Fest”
Bo Welland (Can)
People’s Choice Award
Best Emerging Artist – International
Camila Andrew (Colombia)
Best Emerging Artist – National
The Wilderness (Can)
Best Music Video
Piqued Jacks (Italy) – “Eternal Ride of a Heartful Mind”
Best Urban Artist
Max Parker (Can)