Posts tagged ‘johnny reid’

March 13, 2012

2012 Canadian Music Week Preview: Who to see in Toronto


Blackie and The Rodeo Kings play Massey Hall during Canadian Music Week in Toronto. (Julia Pelish photo)

TORONTO — Canadian Music Week keeps reaching higher and for its 30th year it will ascend as high as it can get. The kick-off celebration to Canada’s largest music event will take place at the CN Tower — 1,815 feet up.

East coast rockers the Joel Plaskett Emergency are the headliner for the March 21 opening show, which will jump start a five-day celebration of music, art, film and, for the first time, comedy.

“Music promoters seem to be promoting comedy more and more. A goal of the festival is that we always want to stay current and we wanted to add Canada’s premier comedy festival to our list,” festival coordinator Zach Gordensky told me.

The event features industry seminars, a digital workshop, the Indie music awards, and musicians from 40 countries. Although there are usually some big names, including Slash this year, the festival isn’t known for attracting major acts. It’s a showcase of new music and that’s one of the reasons why it doesn’t get nearly as much media attention as it deserves. I’ve been attending the festival for the past three years, since returning to Toronto, and it’s one of the most underrated big events in the country. With a $75 wristband, you can get into see dozens of fantastic performances from emerging artists throughout the week. You’ll also get to experience some of Toronto’s best and most intimate music venues, including the Dakota Tavern and the Piston.

With close to 1,000 bands, 800 media members, 500 industry attendees, and between 125,000 and 150,000 fans, Canadian Music Week and its festival lineup have an immense economic impact on Toronto each year.

“There’s been a lot of hard work and people dedicated to building this thing up. It’s pretty impressive for me to work with something with such a long legacy,” says Gordensky, who’s been aboard for a couple of years.

He says he’s excited to see Bear Hands, a Brooklyn band, and Etobicoke’s Cold Specks (aka Al Spx), who was recently on Jools Holland’s show in the UK.

As for the show at the CN Tower, Gordensky says the plans fell into place easily. “The CN Tower is excited to be on board, we’re excited to be doing it,” he says. “It’s the first time we’re putting bands up there. It’s the highest point in Toronto, the highest point in Canada, so we expect it’ll be a really great show.”

In recognition of the 30th anniversary of Canadian Music Week, here’s the list of’s Top 30 Must-See CMW Performances, broken down between Canadian and International acts. For a full schedule, visit the festival’s website.

read more »

March 28, 2011

2011 Juno Awards: ‘It’s a long way from Sneaky Dee’s’

Just got back from the top row of the Air Canada Centre. Some observations after the 40th anniversary Juno Awards:

Highlight No. 1: The acceptance speeches. They ran the gamut: From the humorous (Win Butler of Arcade Fire saying his band — arguably the hottest in the world at the moment — had come “a long way from Sneaky Dee’s, where we played our first show in Toronto.”) to the professorial (Humanitarian Award winner Neil Young’s instruction to fellow musicians to take care of their music first and charitable initiatives second because “music makes you look inside yourself” and “that’s where it all starts.”) to Shania Twain’s genuinely sweet deflection of praise upon being inducted to the Canadian Music Hall of Fame.

Lowlight No. 1: The presenters’ speeches. The scriptwriting was so awful and groan-inducing even the low-key Dan Hill had to crack a smile when reading the set up for the Pop Album of the Year award. And Alex Lifeson of Rush couldn’t help but add some sarcastic body language while presenting the final award for Album of the Year (which went to “The Suburbs” and was the fourth Juno this year for Arcade Fire). Plus, those sponsor blurbs are tacky and cheapen the show and the presenters who are made to announce them.

Awkward moment No. 1: Shania declaring she loves Canada’s “bush.” There’s your morning talk show punchline.

Highlight No. 2: The musical gem of the night was “The Shape I’m In”, performed by a host of artists, including the Sadies, Jim Cuddy and Greg Keelor of Blue Rodeo, Serena Ryder and Justin Rutledge. The classic by The Band was part of a tribute to Toronto and its music scene of the ’60s and ’70s that began with Sarah Harmer’s terrific rendition of Joni Mitchell’s “Carey” and also featured “If You Could Read My Mind”, one of Gordon Lightfoot’s best songs performed by Cuddy and Sarah Slean, and Young’s “Old Man”, sung by City and Colour.

Lowlight No. 2: The lack of energy in the audience and the lack of imagination from the producers. Why not make the Toronto tribute the theme of your show? That way you spread out the songs throughout the night, giving the 40th anniversary cohesiveness and the opportunity to build up toward a big finish.

Awkward moment No. 2: Buck65 keeping his distance from co-presenter Deadmau5 (Joel Zimmerman) as they handed out the Group of the Year honour. You never want to be too close to a guy wearing a giant silver rat helmet.

Highlight No. 3: The absence of Justin Bieber. If he was there, all the many Bieberettes in the audience would’ve shrieked so loud they might’ve managed to crack Dallas Green’s glasses.

Lowlight No. 3: The absence of Justin Bieber. If he was there, the Junos would’ve actually been a hot ticket. As it was, there were sections of the ACC that were as empty as the Rotterdam theatre where Bieber recorded his acceptance speeches. The show may have been “sold out”, but a lot of people who got those tickets either didn’t use them or couldn’t get rid of them.

Awkward moment No. 3: Bieber losing Artist of the Year to Young, an outcome so incredulous the old man called it “incomprehensible.” It’s such an upset, you might think the fix was in because Young was there and Bieber wasn’t.

Highlight No. 4: All of the musical performers, proving the Canadian music scene is just getting better and better.

Lowlight No. 4: The production. This week, Eye Weekly asked in a headline if the Junos were “finally cool?” The answer is no. Canadian music is cool; the awards show that celebrates its best is still amateurish.

Awkward moment No. 4: The bromance between Drake and Bieber is so overboard that if they’re not careful they’re going to end up on a NAMBLA promotional poster.

read more »