Canadian Music Week as experienced Music City North

Each person goes to a music festival such as Canadian Music Week (CMW) expecting something different.  For me, my focus was the networking and one conference, “Meet the Festivals”.  The key thing with such a monstrous event such as CMW, is to either just go with the flow and not make plans or know what you want to do for a good amount of the time, just don’t overbook yourself.

DAYTIME: the invites to industry events with open bars (I think there was food there as well), was incredible.  These events are essential for networking, plus so much fun!  As fun as they are, it’s good to break up the day with conferences and just hanging out in the lobby of the hotel and making connections there.

The “Meet the Festivals” conference was important to me because given what I do, the amount of talent I see, I want to be able to create opportunities for artists that are at that point that they can be playing larger events, they just need someone petitioning on their behalf.  This sit-down with buyers, one-one-one, was invaluable.   If you are ever given a chance to sit down with someone in your field to learn or network, make the most of it!  Do your research before you go in, to make the most of your time and this experience.  For me, this conference was the highlight of my CMW week.

NIGHTTIME: took in several bands but had to pace myself as I was out all day, every day!  These were my favorites…

Lyric Dubee, The Hideout, Tuesday 8pm: Lyric Dubee’s set started out with a touch of soul and blues influence.  A bit reminiscent of Stevie Ray Vaughan, which is great especially given his age.  About 10 minutes in, I was taken to a field listening to Lyric play to a crowd of free spirited beings, dancing around with no cares in the world.  For a young guy, he has a story to tell, the story of an old soul.

*photos by Willow Ridge Photography

By the end of his set, the youthful rock side was commanding the stage with authority.  It’s apparent that this is what Lyric wants and should be doing with his life, and that he isn’t going anywhere.

Mushy Callahan, The Hideout, Tuesday 9pm: First thing that stands out, these guys have been playing together for years.  Mushy Callahan has a tight sound, catchy songs that are danceable.  So catchy in fact, that I found myself nodding my head to the music, even when in conversation with people.  Seen this band before and will most certainly see them again!

*photos by Willow Ridge Photography

The Alpacas, The Hideout, Tuesday 10pm:  The Alpacas of my picks going into the festival, and right off the bat, I was proven right.  You know a set is going to be great when the drummer slams the kit to start a set and grabs everyone’s attention.  The room was a buzz with chatter, then BAM!  The drummer sucked us all in and the band started.  The charisma and facial expressions of front man, Greg Lee, were completely captivating.  The band is great, but Greg brings you into their world and takes you on a journey.  The journey…a mosh pit in 2006 at a Panic! at the Disco concert!

*photos by Willow Ridge Photography

James Blonde, Adelaide Hall, Friday 9:45: The set started out quite rough because of feedback.  So, I moved to the front, immersed myself in the music, which took a few seconds.  I only remember the feedback because I took notes, otherwise I would have only remembered that James Blonde does what it always does, entertains!  Rather than going on with your average recap of a show, I will equate it to one thing that I wish I had taken a picture of to share.  There was a gentleman who bumped into me, so I turned to look.  This gentleman was dancing like there was nobody else in the room.  The music had taken over him and he was having the absolute best time.  The man was blind, and truly was in his own element.  THIS, this is what music does and I honestly could not stop smiling watching this man.  We all need to live a life like nobody is watching.

photo by Jeannie Reid

Attica Riots, The Horseshoe Tavern, Saturday 11pm: Well, damn!  That was awesome!!  Going back a few years, my friend at an agency said that I had to book Attica Riots.  They didn’t have much of a following here, but they were a band that Ralph James (founder of the Agency Group) thoroughly loved and believed in.  Ralph is a man who loves music and puts everything he has into helping artists, but this was the first time that I had a band pushed onto me like this.  For those of you that don’t know who Ralph is, he is pretty much the man when it comes to representing artists in Canada (Nickelback, Walk Off the Earth, etc.).  So, I booked them.  It was an out-of-town show, so I didn’t see them play, until Saturday at CMW.  LOVED them!  All three members were the stars of the stage.  All three members were AMAZING!  The music had me moving and I said to Ralph, who was there, I see what you meant!  Buy their music, see them live, and be a part of the road they are taking, because it is going to be a long one!

photo by Jeannie Reid

STUCK ON PLANET EARTH, Adelaide Hall, Wednesday 10:30pm: This is a band that I have worked with a handful of times in the past. They weren’t a band that I was close with, but their music and stage presence made me a fan. For me, this band exudes talent and there is something waiting to be unleashed.  One of the people that I brought out to the show, summed up singer Al Capo’s scream; he called it the Grohl yell, referring to Dave Grohl of Foo Fighters.  I’d never made that connection before, but it completely makes sense!

When you are building something, there are many parts to create that thing.  Take a car for example – to make a vehicle run, everything needs to be assembled properly.  Adam Bianchi, Al Capo and Andrew Testa are the pieces that make STUCK run smoothly.  Each of them has mastered what they do, and just keep getting better.  Like pretty much every band out there, they have been playing most of these songs for years, repeatedly.  It may be to new audiences, but it’s the same material to them, but you wouldn’t know it by their stage presence and mannerisms.  Andrew is having the best time of his life, smiling and just beating the shit out of the kit.  Al is always in the zone and can tell that this is his space and time.  Adam was so into the music, that at one point, he knelt facing his amp, back to the audience and just had a moment with the sound.  These traits are what make this band stand out from others.   Listen to their music, see them live and then you will see what burns within these three.

The anticipation for them to release their new album and have fresh material to perform, holy shit… it will be spectacular, and I truly cannot wait!!  STUCK are going to be one of THE great Canadian bands who make their mark on the world.

*photos by Brendan Albert


Canadian Music Week is officially over and what a week it was!  The networking, connections made, memories, were all fantastic!  Most of all, the lessons learned were invaluable.  Will write about this to remind myself of what to do and not to do for the next festival.  The week was long and was quite tough at times.  So, I will be sharing tips for how to survive, tips I wish I had done myself this past week!

Thank you CMW.  It was a week I will never forget!!

Jeannie Reid
Jeannie Reid is the Director of Music City North, an independent booking company for shows, tours as well as Soundtrack of the City, a mini-festival that runs 4 times a year in downtown Toronto. Jeannie's love and passion for music is what motivates her to be a vocal advocate for Toronto's music scene. Jeannie also facilitates a music industry group that was started by Barb Sedun, called BS Fridays. When Jeannie is not at shows, she's traveling or spending time with animals.