Worth the Wait: Wolfe Island Music Festival

By Laura S. Marshall, contributing writer

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On March 21, 2016, a keening sound rose into the air over Canada as music lovers learned that that summer’s Wolfe Island Music Festival had been cancelled. Fans and artists alike worried that the small but passionately beloved festival was gone for good: No more basking in music from favourite bands under the extra-blue skies of Marysville, Wolfe Island, Ontario? No more discovering new favourites to follow after the fest? No more communing with fellow festivalgoers? We all went into mourning.

Artistic director Virginia Clark promised it was a hiatus, not a permanent goodbye, but it was hard not to wonder: Would WIMF really ever return?

Well, we can all rejoice, because it’s back! And it’s soon. The festival will be held Friday and Saturday, Aug. 11 and 12, in Marysville, Wolfe Island, Ontario.

This is a special fest. It’s held on a baseball diamond in a small village on an island where the St. Lawrence River meets Lake Ontario. You take a 20-minute ferry ride from Kingston, Ontario, and walk or bike (or drive your camper) a couple blocks to the site. You get to camp on the grounds, if you want, so you can live a night of musical magic and then cuddle up under the summer stars; alternatively, you can take the ferry back to Kingston and crash on a friend’s couch (or in a hotel or rental nearby). Everyone is friendly and carefree. And Clark brings in top-notch acts, from well-known artists to artists who will be well-known very soon. As the sun goes down, everyone revels in the music, the beauty, the connection.

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Clark makes a point of bringing in Canadian musicians for the festival, and why not? Canada has always has a rich musical landscape. “It’s a large country, but a [small] music community,” she told the Queen’s Journal in a June 2017 article. “We support each other. It’s the only way it should be.”

Even better: Women and female-fronted bands comprise nearly half of this year’s lineup, which includes perennial Vinyl Hysteria favourites Land of Talk, Hannah Georgas, and Forty Seven Teeth. Here’s a peek at the artists:

FRIDAY, AUG. 11

The Waterkeeper Showcase: Swim Drink Fish Canada presents:

Flying V Productions presents:

Frontenac County presents:

Hand Drawn Dracula presents:

SATURDAY, AUG. 12

Oasis Juices presents:

Tickets and more information are available at www.wolfeislandmusicfestival.com.

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Canada Is for (Vinyl) Lovers

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Today is the second day of The Great Escape Festival in Brighton, UK.  A few days ago I ran a preview of the Canadian Blast showcase happening at the festival, featuring interviews with some of the bands. I had asked them about female representation in music festivals, and in the music community in general.

But I couldn’t help asking them about vinyl, too.  I’m always curious about people’s taste in music: their influences, their favorite albums, what kind of vinyl collections they have — if they even buy their music on vinyl.

I suspected that at least some of these Canadian musicians might be into vinyl, though.  In the research I’ve done, it seems that Canada has a greater number of record stores than the US.  Or maybe it’s just that Ontario all by itself has hundreds, even in its furthest reaches.  There’s a shop in Sault Ste Marie.  There’s one in Thunder Bay.  (By contrast, I live in a supposed cultural mecca, yet my closest record shop is 30 minutes away, and it’s not even worth the trip.  I have to drive at least an hour to find anything with a decent selection.)

Also, my favorite current Canadian bands were putting out vinyl before the hipster boom brought it back into popularity.  And there are a number of fantastic Canadian record labels, like Paper Bag, Dine Alone, Nettwerk, Arts & Crafts, and True North.  Vinyl might be as Canadian as the maple leaf.

It was excellent to ask these kick-ass women and their bandmates — most of whom, as I suspected, collect vinyl — about their music collections and most influential albums. Here’s what they had to say.

Q: Are you a music collector?  Do you collect vinyl records?  If so, what is your collection like?

Hannah Georgas: I collect vinyl!  I alphabetized my albums finally not too long ago.  I realized I have a lot more records that I thought.  I’ve accumulated a bunch of vinyl from when I was a kid.  My mom gave me a ton of classical records and then the rest is from what I’ve collected over the past 5 years or so.  I do have a habit of playing the same vinyl over and over.  And the same side, haha!  People get annoyed.  The Sylvan Esso album should be broken because of how many times I’ve played it.

Mo Kenney: I buy a lot of vinyl, but I don’t hunt for rarities or first-press issues … I just enjoy listening on vinyl. My collection isn’t enormous, but it’s getting there! I have a lot of older stuff that I’ve collected since I was a teenager, and I buy a lot of new vinyl now. It’s how I like to listen to music when I’m at home.

Beliefs: You know it! I don’t have a huge collection, but I go through buying phases. The last record I bought was Marie Davidson. After seeing her perform a couple of weeks ago here in Toronto, I’ve been so enamoured by her. I also just bought the new Slowdive at their show here. That’s a band who haven’t aged a day, but have matured a lifetime. Love the new songs. I’ve also been grabbing more ’70s Nigerian comps lately.

Mozart’s Sister: Yeah, I have a collection. I have worked at a record store for a number of years, so I have a small collection that I like a lot. It’s a real mix of stuff, lots of ambient and instrumental records. ’80s and ’70s disco, contemporary experimental and classical music, and ’90s indie rock/pop, mostly.

The Avulsions: Sure, any format. I buy records, but I don’t know if can say that I am a collector in the sense that I have no interest in buying a $300 original pressing from 1978 on Discogs or whatever. I have paid too much money for a few things over the years that were hard to find, but I’m mostly not too nostalgic about it. My overall taste in music is not necessarily well-represented by my collection, which leans more toward recent small-run independent releases because I end up buying records from touring bands quite often. I guess for me, buying records has the function of showing support to artists as much as it does to collecting, or seeking out music I already know. Wanting to support the format makes me more inclined to buy new records, rather than flip through garage sale bins (though this is absolutely worth doing too). I love reissues and curated compilations, and cringe a little bit when I think about how much money Light In The Attic has taken from me. As far as my record collection goes, other than those things, and a bunch of littler-known Western Canadian acts, you’ll find some pretty predictable old post-punk classics—I bought every Joy Division comp/bootleg I could find when I was 19, some early electronic/experimental, ’60s French pop, present-day 4AD-type releases, the remains of a large opera collection I inherited, and way too much emo-hardcore I liked as a teen and should get rid of.

Port Cities: I collect vinyl records, mostly inherited from my parent’s collection: the Beatles, Carole King, Paul Simon, as well as new artists that I fall in love with.

Bad Pop: Yeah, I’ve got a bit of a collection! It is full of records from bands I’ve toured with, records inherited from parents (lots of Talking Heads, The Who, Beatles, Pink Floyd, Zeppelin), some jazz records (Miles Davis, Chick Corea etc.), important records from the late ’90s/early 2000s (Elliot Smith, Radiohead, Grandaddy … ), and some newer stuff I’m digging (Savages, Wye Oak). Oh yeah, and way too many copies of the same vinyl from my own bands that never sold on tour.

Youngblood: I am and I do! My collection is quite diverse, some of my faves are Air’s “Love 2,” Anderson .Paak’s “Malibu,” and then a couple of weird old ’60s spaghetti western soundtracks.

Mauno: None of us would call ourselves legitimate vinyl collectors, especially being surrounded by hardcore collectors all the time. That being said, our guitar player Scott modestly owns probably over a hundred records. His collection represents all of our tastes in its broadness — he has everything from hiphop records to old country to movie soundtracks.

Like A Motorycle: Extensively. When my sister, Zooey Deschanel, left home to be a flight attendant, she whispered in my ear, “One day you will be cool.” Then she told me to look under my bed. “It will set you free,” she said. She told me to listen to Tommy with a candle burning and that I would see my entire future.

Q: What five albums have most influenced your own musical endeavors?

Mozart’s Sister: I’ll give you 5 songs:

  • Les Paul – “Brazil”
  • Dr. Buzzard’s Original Savanah Band – “Hard Times”
  • Arvo Part – “Fratres Suites”
  • White Town – “Your Woman”
  • Tom Waits – “Tango Till They’re Sore”

Youngblood:

  • Air – “Talkie Walkie”
  • Beach House – “Devotion”
  • Stars – “Set Yourself on Fire”
  • Cat Power – “The Greatest”
  • Arctic Monkeys – “Whatever People Say I am, That’s What I’m Not”

Beliefs:

  • Portishead – “Third”
  • Slowdive – “Souvlaki”
  • Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds – “Let Love In”
  • Massive Attack – “Mezzanine”
  • Jesus and Mary Chain – “Psychocandy”

Like A Motorcycle:

Michelle:

  • Fleetwood Mac – “Rumours”
  • Heart – “Dreamboat Annie”
  • The Yeah Yeah Yeahs – “Show Your Bones”
  • Rilo Kiley – “Portions for Foxes”
  • Supertramp – “Crime of the Century”

Kim:

  • Oasis – “Definitely Maybe”
  • The Pixies – “Doolittle”
  • The B-52’s – S/T
  • The Dandy Warhols – “13 Tales From Urban Bohemia”
  • Lou Reed – “Sally Can’t Dance”

Dave:

  • David Bowie – “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust”
  • The Rolling Stones – “Exile on Mainstreet”
  • The Clash – “London Calling”
  • Iggy Pop – “Lust for Life”
  • Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers – “Damn the Torpedos”

kt:

  • The Distillers – “Coral Fang”
  • Nirvana – “Nevermind”
  • Save the Day – “Through Being Cool”
  • Every Modest Mouse album
  • Fear Before the March of Flames – “Odd How People Shake”

BONUS: THE BATMAN FOREVER SOUNDTRACK!

Mauno: Between the four of us, the five albums that have most influenced our musical endeavors are:

  • The Books – “Lost and Safe”
  • Erykah Badu – “Baduizm”
  • The Dirty Projectors – “The Glad Fact”
  • Broadcast – “The Noise Made by People”
  • Arthurt Russell – “Love is Overtaking Me”

The Avulsions:

  • Section 25 – “Always Now”
  • Blonde Redhead – “Misery Is a Butterfly”
  • Iggy Pop – “The Idiot”
  • The Wake – “Harmony”
  • Suicide – S/T

Bad Pop: This is always a hard question. I acknowledge the hypocrisy in presenting a list comprised entirely of men, but this is what I was exposed to in my younger and more formative years:

  • Radiohead – “Kid A”
  • The Beatles – “Abbey Road”
  • Green Day – “Dookie”
  • Sigur Ros – “Ágætis Byrjun”
  • Badly Drawn Boy – “The Hour of Bewilderbeast”

Mo Kenney: Uhhhh, that’s tough, but here’s a few records I was listening to whilst recording my latest:

  • Amen Dunes – “Love”
  • Deerhunter – “Fading Frontier”
  • Guided By Voices – “Bee Thousand”
  • Sufjan Stevens – “Carrie & Lowell”
  • David Bowie – “Diamond Dogs”

Port Cities: Some records that have influenced us are:

  • Fleetwood Mac – “Rumours”
  • Joni Mitchell – “Blue”
  • The Beatles – “Revolver”
  • Frank Sinatra – “Strangers in the Night”
  • Norah Jones – “Sunrise”
  • Bruce Springsteen – “Born to Run”

Hannah Georgas: That’s a tough question … Some albums that I have listened to front to back many times over off the top of my head are:

  • The Cranberries – “No Need to Argue”
  • Michael Jackson – “Bad”
  • The Very Best of The Everly Brothers
  • Annie Lennox – “Medusa”
  • The Smashing Pumpkins – “Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness”
  • Janet Jackson – “Velvet Rope”
  • Snoop Dog – “Doggy Style”
  • Enya – “The Memory of Trees”
  • Fiona Apple – “Tidal”

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If you’re in the UK, it’s not too late to catch some of these fine performers at the Canadian Blast showcase, happening now at the Great Escape Festival.

Canadian Blast is being held May 18-20 at The Green Door Store (Lower Goods Yard, Brighton Train Station, Brighton, UK), which will be called “Canada House” for this event. Participating artists are: Altamedia, Bad Pop, Beliefs, DSG Samurai Champs, Hannah Georgas, Harrison Brome, Hello Moth, John K Samson, Like A Motorcycle, Mauno, Mo Kenney, Mozart’s Sister, Pierre Kwenders, Poor Nameless Boy, Port Cities, Royal Tusk, The Avulsions, The Wooden Sky, and William Prince Youngblood.

Canadian Blast is presented by Music Export Canada, a brand of the Canadian Independent Music Association.

‘A Systemic Problem’: Canadian Bands Sound Off on Female Representation in Music

I love Canadian music. And if you’ve followed my blog or my YouTube channel, you already know that about me. There’s such incredible music being made in that country, and I do everything I can to introduce my pals in the US and elsewhere to the brilliance and talent that Canada has to offer. I find such joy in turning someone on to, say, Land of Talk, or July Talk, or Young Galaxy. I have a series on YouTube devoted to expanding the audiences for the fine talent of our northern neighbors, and I do a fist pump when someone in the US or Europe tells me that they bought an album based on my recommendation.

There are some truly excellent music festivals in Canada as well, and I often choose to drive hours and hours north to attend those over their US counterparts. My favorite festival is the Wolfe Island Music Festival, held every August on Wolfe Island outside Kingston, Ontario. Virginia Clark has created the perfect festival: national and local acts coming together in a quiet town with a mellow, happy crowd of music lovers. And she does a great job of balancing the acts. Of the six headliners for the 2017 festival, three are women or female-fronted bands.

But you don’t have to be in Canada to enjoy its many talented musicians. If you’re in the UK May 18-20, check out Canadian Blast at The Great Escape Festival — three days of official showcases from independent Canadian artists. There are some top-notch artists performing, and eight of the 20 Canadian Blast acts are either female solo artists or female-fronted bands.

That’s nearly half, which is much better than some North American festivals. Pitchfork recently studied the lineups for several festivals and found that only 14% of the overall performers were female. 12% were mixed-gender, but that doesn’t mean they were female-fronted. Canadian Blast is a welcome change.

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I recently interviewed some of the artists about their participation in this festival and female representation in the music industry. I even got to ask them about vinyl — and I’ll post an article about that on Friday.

Not surprising to me, one band didn’t appreciate the focus on the gender of the band members. It’s been a battle that many artists have fought for decades. When Sleater-Kinney was on the rise, they were constantly asked questions like, “How does it feel to be in an all-girl band?” No one asks a band of dudes what it’s like to be in an all-male band, as Carrie Brownstein has pointed out more than once. So I completely understand Like A Motorcycle’s frustration with my questions about female representation. Bands should just be bands. Not “female” bands. I get that.

But I do feel it’s an important topic in a broader sense, especially with the current conversations about gender disparity in the festival circuit. A mostly female punk band isn’t anything new or groundbreaking; rather, Canadian Blast comes really close to closing the gender gap, and that is new and notable.

Q: How important to you is fair or equal representation for women in the music festival circuit? Does it inform your decision whether or not to participate in a festival?

Hannah Georgas: I think it’s important because there are so many females making incredible music. I listen to a lot of female-fronted music. A lot of times, I don’t know exactly everyone that’s going to be on the festival bill. The main thing that informs my decision of why I choose to play a festival is whether or not I’m a fan of the festival itself.

The Avulsions (Samantha Renner, Joanna Graves, Brianna Whitmore, Josh Rohs): I appreciate when festival organizers recognize and respond to the systemic discrimination that exists by making an attempt to represent diverse artists (both women and others generally underrepresented in music). Genuinely caring about that seems to result in some of the better lineups overall.

Mauno (Nick Everett, Eliza Niemi, Adam White, Scott Boudreau): We think about fair representation for women in music quite a bit, and strive to have female-identifying artists on our bills. It’s hard to have a say in larger festivals we are asked to play and when those festivals are already striving for equal representation it’s really great. Mauno is Eliza’s main project and outlet so being able to share what we create in larger festivals is important to us. That being said, we try to strive to have more female-identifying musicians on stage and in other bands we play with, but that can be difficult in today’s indie music climate.

Mozart’s Sister (Caila Thompson-Hannant): Well, generally I really hope that women are able to make their own stories in the music industry. The more women who are able to break through and gain fans and acclaim, the more young women will see those examples and know that it’s possible. The festival circuit seems to be the way more and more people are seeing live music, so yes, I think it’s very important to have lots of representation from women. It’s a pretty hard thing to enforce but it is interesting how public opinion has so much weight on programmers now. It will be interesting to see if that changes anything in the future.

Youngblood (Alexis Youngblood, Malcolm Holt, Bruce Ledingham, Louis Wu, Pascal LeVasseur): Equal representation across the industry is so incredibly important to myself and the band. We actively make an effort to work with more badass female producers/engineers, directors, agents, and photographers across the board to give more opportunity to the amazingly creative women out there. With regards to the festival circuit, there’s still a long way to go. It’s tough at this stage for us to turn down opportunities that could help us reach a wider audience, but if we ever played a large festival with limited to zero female headliners I would certainly question the festival’s ability to conduct themselves in a fair and responsible manner and possibly decline the offer. If a festival can fill a billing of 50 bands that are all white dudes with tight ripped jeans and a baggy t-shirt, then here’s a lot more space out there for diversity, instead of having the one or two token “girl bands.” (Can I also mention here that a girl band is just a band — there’s no need to call out the girl part anymore.)

Bad Pop (Catherine Hiltz, Chris Connelly, Aaron Klassen): It is important to me – I definitely notice if a festival or showcase has made an effort to support and feature bands with women, or work with women promoters, agents, PR firms, and sound techs. Playing festival after festival with nothing but dudes would feel lonely and frustrating, but I wouldn’t back out of a performance for that reason. In fact, I would find it more important to play if there are fewer women. It sure is refreshing when there are other women working, however. Aside from visibility and the obvious imbalances, women have different experiences in the music industry than men – period. There is a powerful solidarity in that. It is important to connect with folks who understand what it’s like to feel unwelcome in the industry in which you have made your career.

Mo Kenney: It’s very important to me to have equal representation for women in the music festival circuit. Because I am a woman, I think it’s only going to help if I play festivals where women are currently under-represented. Turning them down would only contribute to the problem.

Beliefs (Jesse Crowe, Josh Korody): This is something that is important to me, and something that as I’m scrolling through acts at a festival, I really pay attention to. Often you don’t know what the female representation is going to be until you’ve already been confirmed to play, but it’s something I’ll pay attention to at a festival and will talk about with peers who may be asked in future years. We recently played Iceland Airwaves, and it was a rarity to see an act that didn’t have a female performer in the band, right down to the headliner being PJ Harvey. My warmest moment was when I ran into the sound tech who had mixed our monitors the night before, I had thanked him for treating me equally as a woman on stage and his reply was perfect. He simply stated that he’d heard that sound techs in other places treat women differently, and in Iceland, “we don’t do that here.”

Port Cities (Breagh MacKinnon, Carleton Stone, Dylan Guthro): I feel so lucky to have a team made up of mostly women (management, publicist, etc.). As a band, we all think it’s very important to have equal representation at festivals, and we try to “practice what we preach” and think about equal gender representation in everything we do. That being said, declining an opportunity because there’s not an equal gender balance would only result in one less woman being on stage.

Like A Motorcycle (Michelle Skelding, Kim Carson, kt lamond, David Casey): Hey Vinyl Hysteria, Hot Dave here. Frankly, I’m uncomfortable with the ceaseless objectification I’ve been experiencing being in the band Like A Motorcycle. I’d like to take this opportunity to shine a light on the dark conditions I work under. They make me sit down to pee. Too often they tell me I’m a “pretty little thing” and they’re constantly accusing me of eating too many cheeseburgers. “You’re not good enough to be in a boy band,” they whisper before I fall asleep. “Know your role,” they viciously scream across the stage. Yes, I’m a boy. Yes, they’re very powerful and beautiful women. But someday, maybe they’ll see past my appearance. Perhaps they will judge me with their ears. Maybe even someday they will refer to me simply as “Dave.”

Q: What are your thoughts on the current representation of female musicians and producers in the Canadian music scene (festivals, award shows, releases)? Do you feel that the Canadian music industry has made greater strides in gender equality/representation than the United States or Europe?

Hannah Georgas: I have always felt like it’s a more male-fronted industry, and I do think there’s a lot of room to grow. I think we are making progress, and I’m noticing more and more great women making music. It’s comforting for me working with females on the business side, and I gravitate to it. I need more of it in my life.

Youngblood (Alexis Youngblood, Malcolm Holt, Bruce Ledingham, Louis Wu, Pascal LeVasseur): In Vancouver, I surround myself with men who respect and value women and their creative contributions without any hesitation, so sometimes I feel like I’m in a bit of a bubble. It’s only when I leave my community and see what’s happening (particularly in rural areas and at the higher level of big companies) that I feel there’s more acceptance and priority for men, and that female artists still have to work twice as hard to get respect and prove themselves.

With that being said, in Canada we had a recent uproar about the JUNOs being skewed to favour male artists over women. I have met the director of the JUNOs and I will say that he is an absolute supporter of women, as well as the majority of the organizers are women, so they were in no way purposely excluding women from the awards. I believe it’s a systemic problem that needs to start with teaching equality at a young age and giving young girls the confidence to charge headstrong with their decision to be whoever they want to be and not apologize for anything. To have opinions and take up space!

Beliefs (Jesse Crowe, Josh Korody): I’m not sure comparatively with the US; I’d say with Europe, no. I think that it’s certainly been a bigger conversation in the last couple years and that I’m positive things will change to become more equal, but for now it’s still a bit of a boys club.

Mozart’s Sister (Caila Thompson-Hannant): It’s all dependent on location and particular to scenes in those places. In Montreal I find there are more female producers and artists than in other Canadian cities … although the scene does go through ebbs and flows with regards to that. It’s pretty hard to say if it’s better in Canada than in the US or Europe. I just did an Asian tour (Shanghai, Tokyo, Nagoya, Osaka, Seoul, Bangkok, Singapore) and I met 6 women in all … It was actually way more than I thought it might be, and higher than the average in the US/Canada, for sure. I think where we really need women is in show organizing and booking. That aspect is still really dominated by men and can really influence what prospers and is heard and celebrated.

Bad Pop (Catherine Hiltz, Chris Connelly, Aaron Klassen): It’s funny you mention awards shows: Canada had an embarrassingly problematic host at this year’s annual national music awards ceremony who made terribly inappropriate, misogynistic, and objectifying jokes. Both the engineer and producer of the year categories did not have a single woman nominee. There are numerous musicians, engineers, producers, sound technicians, and industry folks in Canada who are women, non binary, and trans folks. There is plenty of discussion concerning inequality in the music scene, and women/nonbinary/trans folks are organizing powerful communities that support and empower each other. I can see pressure for festival bookers, promoters, and labels to make an effort to include and support women. I have absolutely noticed more visibility in the business and at shows – there is progress, definitely. That being said, there is still an obvious imbalance in the industry as a whole. I think there are plenty of folks who choose not to work with women or book women musicians, producers, or industry professionals based on assumptions that women are less talented or less capable. There may also be plenty of folks that genuinely don’t believe this, but don’t actively seek out or support women in their scenes. Unfortunately, that is an essential part of fostering talent and creating more equal representation.

It’s hard to compare this to scenes in the US and Europe, but I can’t imagine it’s very different… aside from there simply being more people in those countries and therefore more women in general working in the industry. I believe the ratio still exists, however. Things are moving in the right direction, but we still have a long way to go.

Mauno (Nick Everett, Eliza Niemi, Adam White, Scott Boudreau): Although it’s difficult, we’ve seen a huge increase in female-identifying and fronted groups over the past few years, especially in our hometown of Halifax, Nova Scotia. This goes for behind-the-scenes roles as well — bookers, organizers, sound people, and producers. It’s still an undeniably male-dominated scene and industry but recent changes have been really inspiring. We’ve noticed this in Europe and the U.K. as well. Lately we’ve been working closely with a rad woman, Ellie Ball at our U.K. label, Tin Angel, and are about to start a tour opening for Laetitia Sadier. We’re really stoked and proud to be supporting a female-fronted project. It is important to us.

Like A Motorcycle (Michelle Skelding, Kim Carson, kt lamond, David Casey): Rest of the band, here (kt, michelle & kim). In all seriousness, it’s really frustrating that the majority of our interviews focus on our gender. Until recently, our band was four women and over the past six years the title ‘girl band’ went from being a source of pride to title we were quite eager to shed. Although, even with Dave joining the band, we haven’t. Yes, we are women. We are feminists. We are all lesbians. But, these are just a few pieces of our collective identity and it’s eternally frustrating to have our art constantly sensationalized because we’ve got six tits between us. We also all pick our noses but we don’t categorize ourselves as a ‘nose picking’ band. We would rather speak to our art and music. We acknowledge that things aren’t easy for women in the music industry but guess what – things aren’t easy for women in any industry. Sexism doesn’t stop at the door when you pick up a guitar. You need to plow on doing what you’re doing and demanding the respect that every human being deserves. Anyone who looks at you as a FEMALE musician or others you in any way because you’re female is a walking piece of garbage and they don’t deserve your time or energy unless you’re spending it knocking their teeth out. Women are killing it in the music scene, on an international stage, and it would be really nice if eventually we were all just labeled musicians. Not female musicians. Not gay musicians. Just fucking musicians.

Mo Kenney: I think the music industry is still a male-dominated industry, but this discussion has been happening a lot lately and is shedding some light on the issue. I think there’s always more that can be done, but it’s nice that the conversation is happening. I can’t speak to the situation in Europe or the States.

Port Cities (Breagh MacKinnon, Carleton Stone, Dylan Guthro): Parts of the music industry in Canada can still be a bit of a boys club, but many festivals and award shows are aware of this and trying to have more diverse lineups. Canadians are progressive, and I think most people in the industry recognize that having equal representation just makes sense in this day and age.

The Avulsions (Samantha Renner, Joanna Graves, Brianna Whitmore, Josh Rohs): We are nowhere near the very reasonable goal of parity, and that is more a symptom of a much larger problem within our hierarchical society. I think we are at a point where participation in music by women is trending positively, no doubt as a result of a conscious effort made by smaller organizations with this mandate. I see that locally anyway, that women are being actively encouraged to take up musical instruments with some real results. But I don’t think this flows as well all the way up to the top, where women are less commonly seen in active roles even when they are present. I don’t know if I can really comment on how this differs regionally because these music scenes are so varied and interrelated that geographic location isn’t necessarily even a relevant way to group artists of some scenes. As I mentioned, the work that some people/groups are doing is encouraging but I don’t want to suggest that the current state of gender representation is acceptable or that our work is anywhere near over with.

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Canadian Blast will be held May 18-20 at The Green Door Store (Lower Goods Yard, Brighton Train Station, Brighton, UK), which will be called “Canada House” for this event. Participating artists are: Altamedia, Bad Pop, Beliefs, DSG Samurai Champs, Hannah Georgas, Harrison Brome, Hello Moth, John K Samson, Like A Motorcycle, Mauno, Mo Kenney, Mozart’s Sister, Pierre Kwenders, Poor Nameless Boy, Port Cities, Royal Tusk, The Avulsions, The Wooden Sky, and William Prince Youngblood.

A special “Canadian Night at the Museum” event May 18 will feature a reception and additional performances by some of the artists, including Poor Nameless Boy, Altameda, Port Cities, The Wooden Sky, William Prince, Mo Kenney, and Hannah Georgas. This performance will take place at the Brighton Museum, Royal Pavilion Gardens, Brighton, UK.

TGE has made two relevant Spotify playlists to promote this event:

  1. Female Acts of Canadian Blast @ The Great Escape 2017
  2. Full Lineup of Canadian Blast @ The Great Escape 2017

Canadian Blast is presented by Music Export Canada, a brand of the Canadian Independent Music Association.

Three Canadian Bands You Should Know, part 4

I have an endless supply of Canadian bands/artists for this series, which is good because it seems to be fairly popular with my YouTube buds. I love getting to introduce people to the music I love, and it’s even better when it turns someone into a fan.

Today’s video covers a good span of genres, from the dreamy, synthy pop feel of Young Galaxy, to the lush piano of Veda Hille, to the sweet, folky sounds of Kathleen Edwards. Hopefully something in here piques your interest and turns you into a new fan as well. Enjoy!

Three Canadian Bands You Should Know, Part 3

There’s an endless supply, I tell you. So many wonderful Canadian artists that aren’t as well known in the US or abroad. Everyone should hear them and have the chance to revel in their beautiful music. And that’s why I’m here, serving up a dish of Canadian music every single week (except last week, when election hell broke loose). Enjoy!

Three Canadian Bands You Should Know

I love Canadian music. Yes, it might seem like everything I show in my videos comes from the Pacific Northwest, but I have a fairly large collection of Canadian music too. Most of the albums I collected prior to becoming a member of the YouTube VC were from Canadian artists, so you guys haven’t seen those records.

Since I’ve slowed significantly with my vinyl purchases, I decided that I had to do another kind of video to stay involved with the vinyl community on YouTube. I thought it would be fun to show older pieces of my collection, and talk about the music I love. And because I love Canadian music so much and feel that not nearly enough people in the States (or abroad) know about it, this was the perfect opportunity to show off some of my favorite vinyl acquisitions while also introducing some of my non-Canadian followers to some really awesome tunes.

I’ll likely have a few videos devoted to Canadian artists, and this is the first one. I talk about three very different bands: DIANA, PS I Love You, and July Talk. Whether you’re into rock, indie, or synth, I think you’ll find something you like here. Check it out and please, if you like something you hear, consider diving deeper into the music and make a purchase. Feed these bands so they’ll keep making amazing music!

The Friday Five – September 16, 2016

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I’ll be honest — most of my week has been devoted to July Talk, whose excellent second album arrived at my house last weekend, and Mitski, because, well, it’s Mitski and “Puberty 2” is a phenomenal album.  But I’ve also given a listen to the new Wilco album, and I’ve been listening to one-off songs as they come up in playlists or my memory.  And those are mostly what I’m featuring today.  It’s a mostly quiet collection of songs, good for the fast-approaching fall and those cold, cold nights.

1.  Wilco – “Cry All Day”

I really like this new Wilco album.  It’s quiet, low-fi, cohesive.  I prefer it to last year’s “Star Wars” release.  This is probably my favorite track off “Schmilco” after one listen.

2.  Venus and the Moon – “Marry Me”

I love these guys.  I’ve been a fan of Frally Hynes since her first solo release, and this project with Rain Phoenix is just as exquisite.

3.  Laura Gibson – “Empire Builder”

I’m new to Laura, but I like her sound, and I love this quiet beauty of a song.

4.  Rose Cousins – “What I See”

Whenever I’m in the mood for some Rose, I always go to this live recording of “What I See” first.  I actually prefer it to the studio version, though both are lovely.  Damn fine Canadian music.

5.  Kathleen Edwards – “Soft Place to Land”

My favorite song off her 2012 release, “Voyageur.”  And I love this live version with the ever-lovely Hannah Georgas on backing vocals.  Kathleen’s busy these days running a coffee shop in Stittsville, Ontario, but I do hope she’ll eventually return to the music, especially when I listen to songs like this one.  Oh, Kitty, I miss you.

Concert Review: Sarah Harmer at Whistling Gardens

We almost didn’t go.

We hadn’t purchased tickets to see Sarah Harmer at Whistling Gardens prior to our vacation, and, well, after the break-in and the massive amount of rebuilding we needed to do, it just didn’t seem to be in the cards.  We’d canceled five planned concerts in New Jersey, Portland, Denver, and New York City because of all the time and money we needed to put our lives back together again.  You don’t really think about how much time it takes to get money from your homeowner’s insurance company, but while you wait weeks and weeks for the check, you still have to replace furniture and repair windows and buy new clothes — and install an excessive amount of security features so that it never happens again.

But then we found we had enough Marriott points for a free hotel stay, and we realized that we’d been so immersed in the darkness following the break-in that we needed a bit of distance from it to reset.  And what better way to nourish your soul than a Sarah Harmer concert under the stars?

It was a perfect evening.  Even though the forecast called for possible storms in Wilsonville, Ontario, the sky was dotted with only fluffy white clouds as we arrived at Whistling Gardens.  After ticket exchanges and hand stamps, we were ushered through the gardens to wine tents and the rows of chairs lined up to face a tiered section on which Sarah and her band would be playing.

Because it was a last-minute trip, we missed out on VIP tickets, which would have allowed us into the first four rows of seats, but we were content just to be there (despite very tall men with hats sitting in front of us).  The setting sun to our left posed the biggest problem of the night, for it hadn’t dropped low enough behind the trees by the time Sarah took the stage, and many of us had to shield our eyes with our hands for the first three songs before it set.

The first set was full of the classics, like “The Hideout” and “Don’t Get Your Back Up,” and a few tunes from Sarah’s last album, “Oh Little Fire.”  She also played a song called “St Peter’s Bay,” which might be new to folks who haven’t seen her in concert over the past several years, but it’s one we’ve heard at every show since 2012.  Each time I hear it, I feel like she’s been tinkering with it, making it better and better.  I keep hoping she’ll finally lay that track down (along with the two songs she sang at the 2013 Holiday Rock Show in Kingston that have haunted me with their beauty ever since).  Hint, hint, Sar.

If you’ve seen Sarah perform before, then you know that she’s always on point; I’ve never left a Harmer show even remotely disappointed.  Not only was Sarah’s performance excellent, but damn, the sound was absolutely perfect that evening.  I’ve attended a lot of outdoor shows, and sometimes you expect the sound to be a bit muddy, but I can’t even say I’ve ever attended an indoor show with such good acoustics.  After spending the past year at shows ranging from small basement concerts in rural Connecticut to sold-out performances at Terminal 5 in NYC, I’ve grown accustomed to sub-par sound.  Even the best venues can’t seem to get it right.  But the vocals were so crystal clear that it was almost like listening to a CD.

And the banter between songs?  Primo.  Sarah’s always one to chat a little with the crowd, sharing stories of how the songs came to be, but she had more funny quips than usual that evening.

By the time the intermission ended, it was dusky and we’d moved to a set of unclaimed VIP seats for a better view.  Unfortunately, intermission gave a rather large group of twentysomethings time to imbibe more, which led to them filling the rows behind us and talking loudly for the remainder of the show — well, until they decided to get up and dance in front of us.

I’ll never understand the desire to spend money to see someone perform live only to talk through their entire performance — but I can appreciate the need to get up and enjoy the music.  Most shows I see these days are general admission, and I’ve grown to love the feeling of being pressed to the rail, the excitement of hundreds or thousands of people surrounding you.  I walked away from a string of Sleater-Kinney shows in December bruised and battered (from being pressed into the rail, not from moshing — I’m old), but all the better for the experience of communing as a crowd, the culmination of such unfettered love and adoration for a band that spoke to so many of us.

The closest I’ve come to being bruised after a Sarah Harmer show was at the 2014 Rockin’ the Square concert in my home-away-from-home, Kingston, Ontario.  We were at the rail, and some overzealous teenagers and kids were slamming into us throughout the show.  But I have to say that was probably my favorite show of all: Sarah’s vocals had almost a tinge of those old Weeping Tile days, and the energy was palpable.  The midges were swirling through the air on that humid night, making a halo above Sarah’s head, and it was one of those moments of pure Kingston magic.

There were no midges at Whistling Gardens – not that I could see — but kildeer were swooping low over the crowd and through the stage lights, and they brought the magic with them.  And that magic crested during what has become one of my very favorite Harmer tunes, a song called “Just Get Here,” which was written for a documentary about Al Purdy.

I first heard “Just Get Here” at the 2015 Sandbanks New Waves Festival in Prince Edward County.  Rain had been threatening all day, but the skies opened halfway through AroarA’s set, and quickly the amphitheatre started filling with runoff and mud.  Everyone scurried to the one giant tent to huddle together and wait out the storm.  The skies cleared just in time for Sarah’s set, and even though we were soaked and covered in mud, everyone enjoyed the music under the stars.  “Just Get Here” moved me to tears with its beauty that night.  Who knows, maybe I was emotional from exhaustion (we had driven 6.5 hours from home that morning to be there) and being absolutely drenched and freezing, or maybe it was just the magic of that moment.

And the magic was recreated Saturday at Whistling Gardens — minus the torrential downpour.

When the encore came around, we all moved to the stone barrier and sang along to “Lodestar.”  It was the perfect ending to a concert under the stars, and then we all tripped our way through the darkness (Whistling Gardens: For real, get some path lights) to our cars, smiling and happy.

Soul nourished; mission accomplished.

[Apologies for the lack of photographs.  I usually bring my DSLR, and have captured some great shots of Sarah and her band at other events, but I left it at home this time and distance/darkness/stage lights are a nightmare combination for iPhone cameras. Instead, enjoy the videos, posted with permission from quietdictionary on YouTube.]

The Friday Five – July 29, 2016

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So many new albums and tracks have been released from excellent Canadian bands over the past couple of months. A good portion of my record collection is devoted to Canadian artists, and it makes me happy when I can introduce my fellow Americans to my favorite performers. Check out the tunes below and let me know what you think. Any Canadian artists you like? Tell me some of your faves.

1.  Billy Talent – “Afraid of Heights”

Billy Talent’s new album drops today, so I thought I’d share my favorite track off the record. Actually, it might be one of my favorite BT songs in general, coming in at a close second to “Surrender.” I love the energy, and can’t wait to grab a copy of the album (hopefully this weekend).

2.  July Talk – “Strange Habit”

July Talk released another track off their upcoming sophomore album the other day. It’s a bit softer than their usual fare, but I dig it. I’m so excited for this album to come out. Now if only I could get them to play somewhat near me on a Saturday night…

3.  DIANA – “Slipping Away”

I feel like I’ve been waiting years to hear some new DIANA. Oh, wait, I have. I’ve been into these guys since seeing them at the Wolfe Island Music Fest a few years back, and it’s great to see them releasing some new tunes. This one definitely doesn’t disappoint.

 

4.  Veda Hille – “Lover/Hater”

Veda’s new album, Love Waves, was long-listed for the Polaris Prize this year, and if you ask me, it should have been short-listed as well. The album is a bit more synth-heavy than her previous work, but it’s as lovely as ever. The chorus of this particular song is perfection.

 

5.  Hannah Georgas – “Loveseat”

I’ve had Hannah’s new album on repeat all week. Love it. Can’t get enough. My favorite track is “Don’t Go,” but I already featured that one on another Friday Five, so I picked out another good tune.