It’s a fact that Toronto sees more music action than most of the rest of the Canada — both in terms of what’s available on the live circuit, and the number of labels, managers and other industry based int he city. It’s not Toronto trying to be the centre of the universe, it’s just what the numbers show.
That doesn’t mean other cities don’t have good things a-cookin’! Enter: MEGAPHONO. The brainchild of Kelp Records founder, Jon Bartlett, this first installment of what’s sure to be a staple on the Canadian conference circuit showcased more than just a blooming music community (frigid temperatures be damned!).
Kicking off with a “Launch Lunch” on February 3, 2015 at Ottawa’s City Hall Council Chambers, MEGAPHONO revealed itself to be more than just another festival. With a speech from Ottawa mayor Jim Watson and the announcement of the impending release of Connecting Ottawa Music, a report on the city’s music industry and infrastructural needs, it’s clear that the fest is poised to be a catalyst for change — maybe even revolution — in the capital’s musical and creative circles. Hardly another excuse to petition the AGCO for extended last call, MEGAPHONO shone a light on a community of creators, performers, government and stakeholders who acknowledge what’s missing and want to work together to fill in the gaps. Maybe it’s my day job talking, but that’s some pretty inspiring and exciting stuff.
As for the actual programming? What a treat! MEGAPHONO is lovingly curated from all angles. If you want 700 bands, 200 panels and three kinds of other arts festivals meshed into the same four days, you know where to look, and this ain’t it.
Featuring only a few showcasing venues per day, they made ’em count! From space garage pinball joint, House of TARG (which, I should mention, we skated to along the frozen Rideau Canal) and down home country Oyster tavern, The Elmdale, to hazy afternoon beer and latte hangs at joints like Raw Sugar and Pressed, to your run of the mill abandoned Cold War time capsule, the Diefenbunker, we weren’t only checking out Ottawa talent at scuzzy bars (we had a couple of those too), we were experiencing local gems beyond what you get in ByWard Market’s club zone. Check out the schedule to see the full scope of performers, venues, panels and awesomeness.
So, hats off to MEGAPHONO’s masterminds and volunteers, particularly Jon Bartlett, Lesley Marshall and Melissa Kaestner, who appeared to have clones running around, ensuring each event went off without a hitch. Y’all pulled off an inspired and promising as hell festival.
Take note, world – you’re going to want to mark this one down for next year!