Birds of Bellwoods

Happy 70th Birthday Horseshoe Tavern!

Photos by Trish Cassling

As Toronto’s historic and legendary Horseshoe Tavern celebrates its 70th birthday with a series of concerts this December, we’re looking back at some of our favourite shows over the last few years.

We’ve been fortunate to see big names and up-and-comers take the stage at Queen Street West’s most iconic music venue, and we’re proud to have captured and shared the memories of those days and nights.

Look back with us at some of our favourite photos from The Horseshoe Tavern, and stay tuned for more coverage in the future as artists and fans continue to visit those checkerboard floors.

Whitney Rose

Whitney Rose Horseshoe CD Release

The Lazys

The Lazys Toronto Horseshoe Tavern The Lazys Toronto Horseshoe Tavern

The Dead Love

The Dead Love CMW 2016 HorseshoeThe Dead Love CMW 2016 Horseshoe

Silver Love Club/ Mabel

Mabel at The Horseshoe Aussie BBQ CMW 2016

One Bad Son

One Bad Son - Julian Taylor Showcase - CMW2017 One Bad Son - Julian Taylor Showcase - CMW2017

Johnson Crook

Johnson Crook The Horseshoe 2016

Tommy Stinson

Tommy Stinson The Horseshoe CMW 2016

Kiefer Sutherland

Jessica Mitchell

Jessica MItchell at The Horseshoe Tavern

Birds of Bellwoods

Birds of Bellwoods - Julian Taylor Showcase - CMW2017Birds of Bellwoods - Julian Taylor Showcase - CMW2017

Midnight Shine

The Julian Taylor Band

Julian Taylor Band - Julian Taylor Showcase - CMW2017 Julian Taylor Band - Julian Taylor Showcase - CMW2017

The Dead South

The Dead South Toronto Horseshoe Tavern

The Anti-Queens

The Anti-Queens - NXNE 2017 - Horseshoe Tavern

Crown Lands

Crown Lands - Cody Bowles - NXNE 2017 - Horseshoe Tavern Crown Lands - Kevin Comeau - NXNE 2017 - Horseshoe Tavern

New Music Spotlight: Runaway Angel, Johnson Crook, ColinResponse, Birds of Bellwoods, and Danielle Bradbery

In our latest edition of the New Music Spotlight, we’ve got an almost exclusively Toronto list for your listening pleasure.

We have three bands plus one solo artist, who call Toronto home and one non-Toronto entry for your viewing pleasure.

Check out some new videos from Runaway Angel, Johnson Crook, Birds of Bellwoods, ColinResponse and Danielle Bradbery. Have a listen and feel free to check in with us, letting us know if you loved hem as much as we do.

The Music

Artist: Runaway Angel
Hometown: Toronto
Genre: Country
Related Artists: Meghan Patrick, Jess Moskaluke, Dallas Smith
Single: Witness
Notes: This song is off their upcoming album ZERO which drops on October 27th and you can attend their CD Release launch party at Boots and Bourbon on November 4th for free!
Check out their event details here!

Links: Web / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / Spotify / Apple

Artist: Johnson Crook
Hometown: Toronto
Genre: Alternative Country
Related Artists: Joey Landreth, JJ Shiplett, Andrew Hyatt
Single: Minnedosa
Notes: One of our favourite Johnson Crook tracks, the video takes the story of Minnedosa to a whole other level. Great visual storytelling, awesome live shots, and of course beautiful harmonies from Johnson Crook.

Links: Web / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / Spotify / Apple

Artist: Birds of Bellwoods
Hometown: Toronto
Genre: Alt-Folk
Related Artists: The Northern Empty, Duncan Fellows, My Brothers and I
Single: Let You Go
Notes: The newest video release from Birds of Bellwoods has radio single written all over it for me. It’s fresh and relatable, and it’s also the third single from their upcoming 2018 release Victoria, which is set to drop on January 19th.

Links: Web / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / Spotify / Apple

Artist: ColinResponse
Hometown: Toronto
Genre: Pop/Soul
Related Artists: Ivory Hours, Long Range Hustle, Nick Ferrio & His Feelings
Single: Something About Your Love
Notes: We came across this video on Bunz and had to share it. Colin reached out to the Bunz community asking to borrow their children. This is what he did with them. The music is sweet, upbeat and sultry and the video is adorable!

Links: Web / Facebook /  Instagram / Spotify / Apple

Artist: Danielle Bradbery
Hometown: Houston, Texas
Genre: Country
Related Artists: Cassadee Pope, Miranda Lambert, Kelsea Ballerini
Single: Sway
Notes: Sway is the lead single from Danielle’s upcoming release I Don’t Believe We’ve Met. The 21-year-old singer has matured since her The Voice win at the age of 16 and she’s telling us her stories, in her own voice. The singer has writing credits on seven out of ten tracks on the new album. The release date for I Don’t Believe We’ve Met is December 1st.

Links: Web / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / Spotify / Apple

CMW 2017: UTA / Julian Taylor Band with One Bad Son, Birds of Bellwoods and Friends

Saturday night of Canadian Music Week is huge. And while there are a couple of shows on Sunday, it’s really the last night of big, late shows. And… it’s Saturday night with a 4:00 AM last call!

We found ourselves at The Horseshoe Tavern for the United Talent Agency’s Showcase featuring The Julian Taylor Band. With an outstanding roster, UTA was able to put together a dynamic show. The supporting lineup included The Dead Projectionists, The Treble, One Bad Son, Midnight Shine, Julian Taylor Band, Birds of Bellwoods, Towers, and Radio Caroline.

One quick note, Midnight Shine was a late addition after Adam Baldwin was unable to play the showcase.

We arrived very early and were first in line, the only way to guarantee a good spot near the stage and our favourite bench seat. Now we don’t recommend trying to stand on that bench, not unless you want to get chucked out by security, but they do turn a blind eye to people sitting on the top of said bench. A nifty little trick for those of us who are of the shorter persuasion. Shout out to Lorna and Ian who we met in line and who were our table companions for most of the evening. They’re huge Julian Taylor fans and try to get to all of his live shows.

Our first band, The Dead Projectionists are a five-piece band who call Toronto home. They’ve got an ethereal rock thing going on and they were the perfect choice to get things started. I’ll be keeping my eye on their local live schedule. They’ve got a self-recorded and self-released album, called Detractor and we think you should give it a listen.
The Dead Projectionists - Julian Taylor Showcase - CMW2017

Second on the bill of eight, were The Treble. An alt-rock band from Winnipeg who delivered amazing harmonies, beautiful melodies and great hooks.  They released their debut album in February and Modernaires should be on your playlist. Their live performance was mesmerizing. I have to admit, there was a moment where I wondered about lead singer, Mark Brusegard, “How cool do you have to be to wear a leather jacket when it’s so hot?”.

As the guys played the room continued to fill up and by the time they finished the room was full.
The Treble - Julian Taylor Showcase - CMW2017

At 10:00 One Bad Son arrived. And they arrived with a bang. Energetic and at full volume, Shane and the rest of the band dominated the room. It was loud and it was fun and everybody was all in. There was jumping, spinning, flying hair and fingers. There was epic rock wailing and screaming. The Saskatoon boys were on fire!

They played old songs and their new single Raging Bull and they talked about working hard, here in Toronto to finish the new album. We’re definitely looking forward to that release party.
One Bad Son - Julian Taylor Showcase - CMW2017One Bad Son - Julian Taylor Showcase - CMW2017

Now if we’re being honest here, I wouldn’t have wanted to be the band to play after One Bad Son. How do you follow that? Next up was our last minute replacement band Midnight Shine. And yet when the guys got on stage and started playing, it was very different, and it was perfect. Still rock but with a lighter approach, blending roots, classic rock and modern rock. The four-piece from James Bay were engaging and Zach Tomatuk shredded on his gorgeous Ibanez JEM guitar. With it’s the tree of life inlay and gold bindings and trim, it was hard to look away.

Adrian Sutherland on lead vocals is a warm and charming presence on stage and along with George Gillies on drums and Stan Louttit on bass, they come together as one. Their voices blend together beautifully and the lyrics take us to open fields and northern Ontario. They were nominated for Best Rock CD at the 2015 Indigenous Music Awards and they’ve got a brand new single out too! Check out Sister Love below.
Moonlight Shine - Julian Taylor Showcase - CMW2017

At the midnight hour The Julian Taylor Band took the stage. The stage was bursting with musicians, instruments, equipment and it was spectacular. Horns, two keyboards, drums, bass and guitars creating a full rich backdrop for Julian’s vocals.

We got to hear Fever, Set Me Free, Bobbi Champagne and so many more. Before singing the uplifting Just a Little Bit, Julian asked us if we’ve ever felt like giving up and admitted that yep, even he has. It didn’t feel like banter, it felt like a sincere conversation. This song’s a reminder that we should never give up and it was one of my favourite moments of the set.

For those of you who’ve never seen Julian live, you’re in for the most awesome surprise. Nothing can prepare you for the force that is The Julian Taylor Band. A non-stop, balls-out, sing from your heart connection. Rock, soul, R&B, jazz who needs labels? Let’s go with energetic, fun, infectious, make you wanna get up and dance music.

When the band left the stage, the crowd chanted hopefully for an encore until the tech put them out of their misery and turned up the bumper music.
Julian Taylor Band - Julian Taylor Showcase - CMW2017 Julian Taylor Band - Julian Taylor Showcase - CMW2017At this point, there was a shift in the crowd. People who had come specifically to see Julian started to make their way towards the exit but at the same time, new people seemed to surge forward. By the time Birds of Bellwoods picked up their instruments the room was teeming with fans.

The Horseshoe now held a fairly young group and they were all singing along. It’s been a while since I’ve been to a live performance and there have been changes. Everything seemed just a little bit more. A little bit more theatrical, a little louder, a little more intense.

I got to hear some of my favourites from The Fifth including a powerful sing along version of Roll Your Stone and  a much more intense version of Grey Ghosts. There were lots of new songs including their brand new single, A Year Ago. Lead singer Stevie let us know that the new album is on it’s way and I for one, am looking forward to it.

If you haven’t seen Birds of Bellwoods live, you should.
Birds of Bellwoods - Julian Taylor Showcase - CMW2017 Birds of Bellwoods - Julian Taylor Showcase - CMW2017The crowd had thinned out a bit by the time Towers started to play. The bar was now more comfortably full and the band kept the energy level high.

I hadn’t seen Towers since December 2015 and clearly the guys are just getting better and better.
Towers - Julian Taylor Showcase - CMW2017At about 2:15 I headed home. I’m still sorry that I missed the end of their set and that I didn’t get a chance to check out Radio Caroline but I needed some well deserved sleep. I’ve filed this band away as a band I need to see soon. It was an amazing week and honestly, I can’t wait to do it all over again next year.


The Dead Projectionists
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The Treble
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One Bad Son
One Bad Son - Julian Taylor Showcase - CMW2017 One Bad Son - Julian Taylor Showcase - CMW2017 One Bad Son - Julian Taylor Showcase - CMW2017 One Bad Son - Julian Taylor Showcase - CMW2017 One Bad Son - Julian Taylor Showcase - CMW2017 One Bad Son - Julian Taylor Showcase - CMW2017 One Bad Son - Julian Taylor Showcase - CMW2017 One Bad Son - Julian Taylor Showcase - CMW2017One Bad Son - Julian Taylor Showcase - CMW2017One Bad Son - Julian Taylor Showcase - CMW2017One Bad Son - Julian Taylor Showcase - CMW2017One Bad Son - Julian Taylor Showcase - CMW2017One Bad Son - Julian Taylor Showcase - CMW2017One Bad Son - Julian Taylor Showcase - CMW2017One Bad Son - Julian Taylor Showcase - CMW2017MIDNIGHT SHINE

Midnight Shine - Julian Taylor Showcase - CMW2017 Midnight Shine - Julian Taylor Showcase - CMW2017 Midnight Shine - Julian Taylor Showcase - CMW2017 Midnight Shine - Julian Taylor Showcase - CMW2017Midnight Shine - Julian Taylor Showcase - CMW2017Midnight Shine - Julian Taylor Showcase - CMW2017Midnight Shine - Julian Taylor Showcase - CMW2017Midnight Shine - Julian Taylor Showcase - CMW2017Midnight Shine - Julian Taylor Showcase - CMW2017JULIAN TAYLOR BAND
Julian Taylor Band - Julian Taylor Showcase - CMW2017 Julian Taylor Band - Julian Taylor Showcase - CMW2017 Julian Taylor Band - Julian Taylor Showcase - CMW2017 Julian Taylor Band - Julian Taylor Showcase - CMW2017 Julian Taylor Band - Julian Taylor Showcase - CMW2017Julian Taylor Band - Julian Taylor Showcase - CMW2017Julian Taylor Band - Julian Taylor Showcase - CMW2017Julian Taylor Band - Julian Taylor Showcase - CMW2017Julian Taylor Band - Julian Taylor Showcase - CMW2017BIRDS OF BELLWOODS
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CMW 2017: Trish’s 3 Don’t Miss Shows ft. The Honest Heart Collective, Aussie Night Out, UTA Showcase ft Julian Taylor Band

It’s almost here! Canadian Music Week is so close I can taste it.

There are so many choices and to help you with your planning, I’ve picked three shows that I think you shouldn’t miss during CMW 2017.

The Honest Heart Collective – Adelaide Hall

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

The Honest Heart Collective / Texas King / Le Trouble / The Danger Bees / Silver Love Club / Bad River

This show is also on Joshua’s list and that’s because we both know a great thing when we see one. It’s an amazing opening night lineup. Some of these bands are brand new to me but some of them are favourites and I’m happy we’ve got this show to get the week started.

Aussie Night Out – The Hideout

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Aeora / Alice Ivy / Quivers / Eliza & The Delusionals / Bad Pony / Silver Love Club / Letters to Lions / Heart Beach / The Dead Love / Pretty City

I’ve written in detail about this showcase and you can read everything you need to know about all of the bands here but let me remind you that while all of the acts are Aussie based there’s a little bit of everything genre-wise for everyone. Stop by, say hello and check out some amazing talent from Australia.

UTA Showcase – The Horseshoe Tavern 

Saturday, April 22, 2017

The Dead Projectionists / The Treble / One Bad Son / Adam Baldwin / Julian Taylor Band / Birds of Bellwoods / Towers / Radio Caroline

Saturday is going to be a late one but with this lineup, we’re pretty sure you’ll be sticking around until the end. Indie rock, alternative rock, hard rock, Rock ‘n’ Roll, with some funk and soul thrown in for good measure. It’s going to be a high energy show and I’m thrilled to see some of my favourite Toronto bands and I’m always excited to see acts that are new to me. new music… is there anything better?

And now I’m going to cheat and add a couple more bands to my list. I’ve said it before if you haven’t seen Crown Lands live yet, put them on your “must see” list. They’ll be playing both Friday the 21st at Hard Luck Bar and Saturday 22nd at The Bovine.  Second on the cheat list is Andrew Hyatt. He’s been around a little while but Andrew just keeps getting better and better. If you haven’t seen him yet, now is the time to get on board. His latest release She Ain’t You reaches into your heart and says what we’re all thinking. Andrew’s playing the KX Country’s Hot Shots Showcase on Tuesday, April 18th.

Kevin Comeau – Crown Lands

Cody Bowles – Crown Lands

CMT Music Fest - Andrew HyattAndrew Hyatt at CMT Music Fest 2016

Trish’s 10 Most Listened to Albums of 2016

When Joshua posted his 10 most listened to albums of 2016 post, I wondered out loud if it was too soon to be writing such a post. Joshua and I chatted briefly about it and his conclusion was that there wasn’t an album that could be released now that could top his list of 10 based on how much he’d already listened to said albums.

I thought, hmm let me start putting together my list and see if this is true for me. Turns out, yep it is. While I’m always open to new music and I’m hoping amazing albums come out between now and the end of the year, my list is pretty much set too.

So here, in the order that they came into my head, is my list of the 10 Most Listened to albums of 2016

aussie-flag Mabel: Rachel (2015)

Most played track: My Way

We first caught up with the boys from Mabel during Canadian Music Week. They were so much fun to chat with and their set was energetic and fresh. I love their sound which reminds me of late 50’s rock with catchy lyrics and when Mikey roars, oh, be still my heart.


aussie-flag Paul Cowderoy: Wet Hessian Bag (2015)

Most played track: Gimme That

If fate had a different plan I would have met Paul Cowderoy this summer. There was  a plan for the Australian country singer to do a club tour here in Canada and Toronto was on his list. There were other things in the cards for Paul. A car accident put this guy on pause for a time. But he’s back putting out new music and I’m hoping he’ll be coming to Canada soon. This album was in my car for the first six months of the year and I made everyone who got into the car listen to it.

american-flag-emoji Chris Lane : Girl Problems (2016)

Most played track: Maybe

I had the pleasure of meeting and interviewing Chris Lane this summer and one of the things we do going into interviews is our research. I was happy to listen to Chris Lane’s Girl Problems over and over. There are hints of R&B, dance beats, with hints of pop, amazing rock guitar, energetic banjo, and Chris’ mean falsetto, it all comes together perfectly, if you haven’t listened yet, you should.

canadian-flag-emojiArkells: Morning Report (2016)

Most played track: A Little Rain (A Song For Pete)

This is the only album that appears on both of our lists. I love this album. It makes me want to sing and dance, it makes me feel happy. That’s a winner in my book, every day. I had the pleasure of seeing Arkells perform at both WayHome and at an awesome The Edge Sugar Beach Session.  These guys really know how to entertain a crowd.arkells-morning-report-album-cover
canadian-flag-emoji Shawn Mendes – Illuminate (2016)
Most played track: Mercy

This might surprise you but I love Shawn Mendes. True story. I first saw Shawn Mendes when he opened for Taylor Swift on the 1989 Tour. This young Canadian singer/songwriter has blown up and I’m not surprised. I’m pretty sure I’ve played this album every day since it came out. 
canadian-flag-emojiJuly Talk – Touch (2016)

Most played track: Picturing Love

I come to the July Talk party a little late. I didn’t know! I caught the band at one of The Edge’s Sugar Beach Sessions and was blown away. This is an album that I put on and play front to back, no skips. It’s moody, it’s fun, it’s playful and it feels kinda dangerous. I love this album.
american-flag-emoji Kendrick Lamar – Untitled Unmastered (2016)

Most played song: untitled 08 | 09.06.2014

I wasn’t expecting this and was thrilled when it came out. After seeing Kendrick Lamar at WayHome in 2015 I started listening to everything Kendrick. The music, the lyrics, it sucks me in and it’s perfect.kendrick-lamar-untitled-unmastered-cover-art

canadian-flag-emoji Jessica Mitchell: Hold Onto The Light

Most played song: Grown Up Things

I’ve been to quite a few of Jessica Mitchell‘s shows and she never disappoints. This is another album that I listen to every day. The timbre of Jessica’s voice is exquisite, I feel everything she sings, I believe her and I feel like we’re kindred spirits. 

aussie-flag The Lazys: The Lazys (2015)

Most played song: Shake It Like You Mean It

The Lazys, in three words energetic, enthusiastic, and enchanting. This amazing band from Australia has put together the perfect storm of rock and roll and luckily for us they love Canada. The boys tour and record here regularly and I’d be lying if we said we weren’t hoping for a move to Canada.

aussie-flag The Dead Love: So Whatever (2016)

Most played song: Wastelands

I first met The Dead Love during Canadian Music Week‘s  Aussie BBQ. They have a great energy, it’s rock and roll, it’s alternative and punky, it’s grungy, and they can slow things down and keep your attention. They bring together technically great musicianship and compelling vocals. They sing about love but not the sweet kind, summer and living in a wasteland. Check it out!

With the amount of music I listen to, ten is a tough number. I’m going to cheat a little, I’ve added an additional five here as honourable mentions. Four out of five are Canadian.

canadian-flag-emojiThe Dead South: Good Company
The Dead South Good Company







Birds of Bellwoods: The Fifth
Birds of Bellwoods The Fifth






canadian-flag-emojiCrown Lands: Mantra
Crown Lands Mantra






england-flagPink Floyd: Wish You Were Here
Pink Floyd Wish You Were Here






canadian-flag-emojiThe Tragically Hip: Fully Completely

The Tragically Hip Fully Completely

1 year ago

Favourites Of 2015: A Year In Review!

2015 has been an awesome year for us at We’ve had the chance to see more shows, cover more festivals, talk to more artists, have more fun, and share more content with all of you.

And now, as we get closer to the end of the year, Trish and I are looking back at 2015 and trying our best (it’s not easy) to pick our favourite things.

We cover a lot of country… but that’s not all, so we’ve got country and non-country categories to share, and a few runners-up, because sometimes picking 1 clear favourite in a category wasn’t even a little bit easy.

Here’s hoping that 2016 is just as awesome – and that you’ve enjoyed all the music you’ve found and seen and listened to in 2015.

Keep being awesome!

Favourite Live Performance of the Year: Country

Eric Church Boots and Hearts 2015Josh… Eric Church: On Saturday night at Boots & Hearts I got to see Eric Church up on stage for the first time. It wasn’t a set full of small talk. It was a set full of hits. From start to finish it was guitars and singing and everything that I wanted to see. The highlight of the night was These Boots, when dozens of cowboy boots flew up on the catwalk and Church picked each one of them up, signed them with a Sharpie and tossed them back into the crowd so the owner could get it back. It was a highlight for a lot of people that weekend. Would definitely see this dude again.

Dean Brody Boots and Bourbon Toronto 2015Trish… Dean Brody at Boots and Bourbon (club show): I’m the worst at picking just one. Dean Brody at Boots and Bourbon was an invite only, up close and personal show and I was so close I could have reached out and touched Dean. His energy was palpable and the packed club barely knew the words to his brand new CD. Did I mention how sweet, adorable and handsome this man is?

Thomas Rhett Boots and Hearts 2015Thomas Rhett (big stage): Up on the big stage Thomas Rhett was the big winner for me. Bright flowery shirt, drink in his hand, smile on his face with the sun shining down, winner. Engaging, entertaining, super fun to watch. Thomas moves likes he can’t stop and those dance moves, the audience loves them! This was my favourite performance at Boots & Hearts and that’s a tough spot to win.

Favourite Live Performance of the Year: Non-Country

Neil Young WayHome 2015Josh… Neil Young: WayHome 2015 It was the first, and likely the last, time that I saw Neil Young on stage. It was 3 hours that I’ll never get back, and wouldn’t want to. Because for all of the anti-GMO speeches and weird on stage activities, he’s still Neil Young. He’s still Rockin’ In The Free World. He’s still Heart Of Gold. He’s still a legend. And with an average song length of somewhere around 7 and a half minutes, there were plenty of extended guitar solos and jam sessions that brought smiles to old Uncle Neil’s face.

Runner-Up… Kendrick Lamar headlining on Saturday night at WayHome. He killed it for his entire set. And, I have to give a nod to Walk The Moon for their performance of Shut Up And Dance, they nearly blew the tent off the stage.

The Lazys Toronto Horseshoe TavernTrish… The Lazys (club show): It might be because it’s so fresh in my memory but the energy The Lazys put out at The Horseshoe was ridiculous! I could have watched this show over and over, night after night. Non-stop, insanely talented, catchy, make you wanna get up and dance, scream and jump up and down, loud experience. I can’t stop listening to them and you can’t make me. I hope when they return to Canada we get the chance to sit down again for ribs and a brownie.

Kendrick Lamar WayHome Art and Music Festival-9262-2Kendrick Lamar/Taylor Swift (big stage): Sorry I can’t choose between Kendrick Lamar and Taylor Swift, so I won’t. Kendrick’s performance at WayHome this past summer left me feeling changed. He touched me and the rest of the 35,000 who showed up. Powerful stuff. But I have to include Taylor. So amazingly put together, this sold out show made me so happy I cried, and I wasn’t alone. Keith Urban showing up as the special guest was the icing on the cake.

Favourite Award Show/TV Performance of the Year

Josh… Stapleton/Timberlake: Tennessee Whiskey/Drink You Away There are a lot of people that would pick this performance as the best of the year. For 8 minutes, through 2 songs, these 2 super talented dudes tore it up. The country industry has long loved Stapleton, and the entire world loves Timberlake, and when they got together on that stage it was damn near magic.

Favourite Album of the Year: Country

Dean Brody Gypsy Road Album CoverTrish… Dean Brody: Gypsy Road Put it this way, I put this CD in my car on April 21st and it’s still in the CD player. I played nothing but this album for weeks, never turning on the radio. It’s on both of my phones and in my iTunes library. The first track, first single Upside Down with its catchy opening whistle was the perfect thing to get things started. But the real question for me was, how many times did I hit the restart button for track 4 – Burning Down the House to hear Dean say ‘Banjo’. Too many times to count! A solid album from beginning to end with three radio singles including the newest one, Love Would Be Enough and who’s to say there won’t be more.

Brett Kissel PICK ME UP album coverJosh… Brett Kissel: Pick Me Up Celebrated by iTunes, CBC Music, and fans all across Canada, Kissel’s Pick Me Up is a great album that I played on repeat as soon as I got my grubby little hands on it. And it’s a bonus that it sounds great live. From the 1st single, Airwaves, to my personal favourite, Pick Me Up, and even the 2 tracks that get me a little chocked up – Feet Back On The Ground & I Didn’t Fall In Love With Your Hair, this is a great album that I’m happy to have in my rotation.

Runner-Up… 2014 releases Montevallo (Sam Hunt) & Lifted (Dallas Smith) spent a lot of time on my playlists this year, and Cam’s debut album, Untamed is well on its way to doing the same. A lot of great country music out there!

Favourite Album of the Year: Non-Country

Taylor Swift 1989 Album CoverTrish… Taylor Swift: 1989 / Hozier: Hozier Who wasn’t listening to Taylor Swift’s 1989 this year? In an elevator on my way up to work I ran into 4 colleagues. To be polite we remove our headphones and I ask, “so what are you listening to?” Taylor, Taylor, Taylor, Taylor… yeah me too! Not a single song to skip on this album. Technically released in 2014 I’m including it because she did just wrap this tour!

A close second though is Hozier so many plays, so many great songs. Another late 2014 release this album garnered platinum and gold status all over the world. With five singles to date this album was a big part of my music history this past year.

Ryan Adams 1989 Cover ArtJosh… Ryan Adams: 1989 Is this cheating a little bit? Maybe.

But Adams’ covers of Taylor Swift’s songs were perfect for me. I loved the way he changed them just enough to make them something different – and turned Welcome To New York & All You Had To Do Was Stay into favourite cuts for me. I wrote about the album when it came out and said, As a 33 year old dude, I feel like Ryan Adams’ version of Taylor Swift’s 1989 was recorded specifically for me.”. It still feels that way 3 months later.

Favourite EP of the Year: Country

Jess_Moskaluke Kiss Me Quiet EPJosh… Jess Moskaluke: Kiss Me Quiet Yes, I would rather have had a a full length album, but I’m not here to look a gift horse in the mouth. I don’t have a “skip” song the 6 track EP and the added acoustic versions of Kiss Me Quiet and Lightning Bolt are great too. And yes, I hope that next time we get a new album from Jess there are 12 songs on it. But for now, I’ll keep playing the Kiss Me Quiet collection as often as I please.

Runner-Up… Cam: Welcome To Cam Country This was our true introduction to one of Country’s newest stars. With a 4 song EP (My Mistake, Runaway Train, Half Broke Heart, Burning House) she got folks ready for the full length Untamed.

Favourite EP of the Year: Non-Country

Poor Young Things Force of NatureTrish… Poor Young Things: Force of Nature Six songs, all great with a slightly different feel. I’m hooked. From the beginning Like An Animal to the last note of Hurricane, catchy, interesting, great lyrics and hooks. I find myself wondering if in person meetings and live performances are impacting my choices. I think yes!

Birds of Bellwoods: The Fifth A big fan of this band since coming across them in the Boots and Hearts Emerging Artists list their EP The Fifth is quiet, dark and haunting. Great lyrics, amazing voices and super talented musicians, this one stayed with me.

Favourite Photoshoot of the Year

St. Vincent WayHome Art and Music Festival-Trish… St. Vincent: I’d never heard of her. I know! I’m sorry. I just happened to be in the right place at the right time. From the second she hit the stage I was mesmerized. Gorgeous, interesting, striking angles, that smile and those eyes! I took so many shots of her and there were so many good ones, it was very hard to narrow it down for the actual post.

Favourite Surprise of the Year

Rick Springfield-8898Trish… I started listening the week before the CNE show. I was surprised how much back catalog there was. I had an amazing time at the show and when I checked Spotify, my most played artist… Rick Springfield. And not what you’d think, it wasn’t Jessie’s Girl but Our Ship’s Sinking off the latest album – Songs for the End of the World, that got the most song plays. Who knew?

Favourite Interview of the Year

Small Town Pistols Boots and Hearts 2015Josh… Small Town Pistols We sat down with Amanda and Tyler at Boots & Hearts and had an awesome time. They had just come from the main stage, drinks in hand, and we all got comfortable while we talked about the music, their dad, the new record, and even the fact that my brother used to share a school bus seat with Tyler way back in the day. I’ve been listening to The Wilkinsons since the mid-90s, and to be able to interview these 2 was a good memory for the year.

Poor Young Things HMV TorontoTrish… Poor Young Things Shout out goes to Strut Entertainment for thinking this one up. Meet the band at HMV, chat about music, buy stuff with gift cards and then give away an album and a gift card to our readers! Favourite interview of the year.

Favourite Festival of the Year

High Valley Boots and Hearts 2015Josh & Trish… Boots & Hearts Between the 2 of us we saw a bunch of festivals this year, but Boots & Hearts is at the top of both of our lists.

The opportunity to see 4 days of awesome country music + the chance to sit down with The Stellas, Small Town Pistols, High Valley, The Road Hammers, Jess Moskaluke, The Reklaws… it was a great weekend, and continues to build on a “family” feeling every year for us.

Favourite Memory of the Year

Scott Weiland Meet and Greet Toronto, CMW 2015Josh… Scott Weiland Meet & Greet It was the end of the night, everyone had left the Mod Club, and I got a tap on my shoulder. Just minutes later I was standing side by side with Scott Weiland, arms over each other’s shoulders, ridiculous smile on my face, and caught on camera forever.

It was an awesome way to end a night when the now passed rock and roller brought his A game to the stage in Toronto.

Jason McCoy Red Carpet CMAO Awards 2015-3739Trish… Jason McCoy at the CMAOs An already amazing night had a cherry put on top. 

I’m sitting in the hallway of The Flato Markham Theatre, trying to get some juice in my battery for the next round of performances and awards, and someone comes and sits beside me and picks up their phone, which was already hanging out of the socket. Oh, it’s only Jason McCoy, the host. We chatted about technology and better batteries.

Thanks to everyone who helped make 2015 so great for us, and so hard to pick our favourites. And thank you to everyone who Liked and Shared and Retweeted their favourite posts from during the year.

We love you all.

Happy Holidays & An Awesome New Year!

2 years ago

Cairo: With You at Toronto’s The Mod Club

The Edge’s Jingle Bell Rock Series
Cairo, Birds of Bellwoods and Blue Sky Miners

Saturday night in Toronto was the first show of The Edge’s Jingle Bell Rock concerts. The first in the Discovery Series at The Mod Club, and it was amazing! The Edge is donating $1 from each ticket sale to The Daily Bread Food Bank and you can be a part of it by attending any of the upcoming shows.

An early start, we saw Blue Sky Miners take the stage at 7:30. The crowd built slowly as the Toronto based indie/folk/rock band filled The Mod Club with their unique sound. They played from the October self titled debut release to a warm welcome from the crowd. Blue Sky Miners Toronto The Mod Club EdgeJingleBell Blue Sky Miners Toronto The Mod Club EdgeJingleBellBlue Sky Miners Toronto The Mod Club EdgeJingleBell

The next band up was one we’re quite fond of and we’ve written about them before. Birds of Bellwoods took the stage just after 8:00pm. Playing from their recent EP “The Fifth” and introducing a couple of new songs including one they were playing for the first time live. We wanted to mention that while Stevie mentioned not feeling 100% and dealing with the effects of cold meds, we thought they sounded perfect.

Birds of Bellwoods Toronto The Mod Club EdgeJingleBell Birds of Bellwoods Toronto The Mod Club EdgeJingleBell

Prior to the start of the Birds of Bellwoods we had a chance for a quick chat with Cairo. What did we learn? I didn’t know that Nate’s old day job was in social media and after engaging with them on social media, that doesn’t surprise me. It was a pleasure to meet everyone and we hope to meet with them again soon.

Cairo took the stage at 9:00, except for Nate. Instead, nestled about 10 feet in front of the stage was a mic stand. Quiet, soft, up, intimate, up close and personal, one with the audience. They had our undivided attention.

Cairo Toronto The Mod Club EdgeJingleBell

Hopping up on stage the band played songs from “A History of Reasons” and more. Can you picture this? A cover of Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” accompanied by special guests Terra Lightfood and Jacquie Neville of The Balconies. It was amazing! And yes, we have video!Cairo Toronto The Mod Club Terra Lightfoot and Jacquie Neville EdgeJingleBell

An amazing night full of fun, sincerity and crazy energy.  During the encore told us they’d be taking a break. It’s been a long tour and they’ve earned it. We’re hoping for new material to come from the break and can’t wait to hear it.

Photos of Cairo – The Mod Club November 21, 2015Cairo Toronto The Mod Club EdgeJingleBell Cairo Toronto The Mod Club EdgeJingleBellCairo Toronto The Mod Club EdgeJingleBellCairo Toronto The Mod Club EdgeJingleBellCairo Toronto The Mod Club EdgeJingleBellCairo Toronto The Mod Club EdgeJingleBell



2 years ago

5 Tips for Finding More New Music

We wish you guys could hear it all…

Laptop and Headphones New MusicThere is so much music being made right now. We’re lucky enough to be sent links and streams from local artists in Toronto, the rest of Canada, across the United States, and Europe. There’s just not enough time in the day to write about it all or see all of the shows or tell you about the great new stuff we’ve discovered.

But trust this, there is no shortage of talent or passion or dedication when it comes to the music scene right now.

For every record or single released by an artist/band you already know and love, there are dozens of others that you may never hear. And while that’s sucky, it’s the reality.

So how can we all discover more music to love?

Keep your eyes out for links…

All of these hungry new acts are using social media to get the word out about their music. If you see a band name you don’t recognize in your Twitter stream or on Facebook, click through and see if you like it.

Go to more local live shows…

CMW 2015 Aussie BBQ The HorseshoeI know I just said at the top that there isn’t enough time to go to every show, and there isn’t. But if you can get to 1 show a week or 1 show a month or every 2 months, whatever, you will see new acts you just might fall in love with. Pay the $10 cover and see 3 or 4 new bands plus the 1 you already know in the lineup. Have a drink or three and enjoy the night.

Note: if you have a chance to hit a festival like Boots & Hearts or WayHome or TURF, etc. hit the side stages to see new music. Even the main stage is a great place to check out early in the day before the headliners start to put on their bigger sets.

Spotify and Apple Music…

Yes there are more options for streaming music, but right now we’re using both Spotify and Apple Music to listen to music from artists we know and love, as well as new acts that we’re auditioning for future playlists. Take a chance and listen to a new releases playlist. It could be very worth it.

Share with friends…

If you start sharing new music that you find with your friends you may just find that they have all kinds of recommendations for you as well. It’s just as impossible for you as it is for us to know every new band… but if we pool our resources and experiences and new favourites, we can all be winners and have new music to love!


When The Lights Go Down Toronto Jess-8076We will continue to try and balance our coverage between established acts and new and emerging artists. We love watching artists like Jess Moskaluke and Dylan Scott blow up after we’ve already fallen in love with them. And we know that some of the other new acts we love are going to find love in the world of listeners as well.

Keep your ears open for Trinity Bradshaw, The Reklaws, Johnson Crook, Mieke, Birds of Bellwoods, Lindsay Broughton, Whitney Rose, Tim Chaisson, Runaway Angel, Livy Jeanne, Cory Marquardt, The Luke Austin Band, Meghan Patrick, and more and more and more – the talent is out there. And they aren’t going away, they’re only getting stronger.

We love music. That’s why we do this. And discovering new music is a huge part of the whole experience. Don’t miss out on that part.
You’ll regret it.

2 years ago

5 Reasons We’re Excited for TURF 2015

The start of TURF is just hours away. It’s our first time covering the festival and we’re pretty excited.

It’s going to be a packed 3 days at Historic Fort York, with 48 acts taking 3 stages (East, West, South) Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. AND there’s a kids stage with something to offer for the little ones in attendance as well!

With all of that action going on it’s hard to key in on just 5 things that we’re excited for this weekend. But we’re going to try!

Here are 5 reasons why we’re excited about TURF!

We’ve Got A New Photographer!

Glen ReichweinWe’ve got a new photographer shooting with us for TURF!

A big welcome to Glen Reichwein, a seasoned photographer who’s getting his feet wet on the festival circuit. Glen has been creating award winning ads for the past 25 years and he’s a master of lighting.

We’re hoping this becomes a regular thing and that means we get to cover more stages at festivals. Say hello if you’re around!


WilcoThis might just be the reason we’ve been able to convince Glen to hang out at a festival all weekend (at least a portion of the weekend). Wilco is at the top of Glen’s list for coverage for many reasons. They’ll be playing songs from the new album Star Wars, which can you get here, and hopefully some of your favourites.

Shakey Graves

Shakey GravesWe’ve heard all kinds of amazing things about Shakey Graves. Everyone we talked to this summer let us know we HAD TO see this band.

The new LP, And the War Came showcases a mix of styles and does not disappoint.

We’re listening and we’ll be there!


PixiesLegendary and influential, they paved the way for many of the late ’80’s bands like Nirvana, Pearl Jam and Radiohead. We’re so happy they’re back together and we can’t wait to check out this set.

Here’s hoping they play all 5 of their Top 10 hits from the Modern Rock chart… Monkey Gone to Heaven, Here Comes Your Man, Velouria, Letter to Memphis and Head On.

Birds of Bellwoods

Birds of Bellwoods Cameron House NXNE 2015It’s no secret we’ve got a special place in our hearts for this band. We’ve been following them for a while and we were there when they were able to announce they’d be playing TURF this year.

If you haven’t already seen them performing at one of our favourite spots in Toronto, or in the Emerging Artist Showcase at Boots & Hearts this year, we can tell you this… They’re a great group of super talented guys and we think you should add them to your schedule. Trust us, you won’t regret it.


2015 TURF Site Map2015 TURF Artist Lineup

2 years ago

The Fifth: Birds of Bellwoods EP Review

The boys of Birds of Bellwoods call Toronto home (right now) and have been making a name for themselves on the local scene with a combination of club shows and major showcases like their sold out CMW and NXNE 2015 appearances. They also made an appearance at Boots & Hearts in 2015 as part of the Emerging Artist Showcase.

The Birds of Bellwoods Cameron House NXNEAnd now Stephen Joffe (Lead Vocals / Mandolin), Adrian Morningstar (Guitar / Vocals), Chris Blades (Banjo / Vocals), Kintaro Akiyama (Upright Bass / Vocals) are sharing their brand new EP, The Fifth, with the world.

The Fifth is a 5 track offering that brings (as their website confirms) folk from a different angle. Released on August 11, 2015 – it’s a great introduction for alt-folk lovers who haven’t yet found the band, and a fun listen for those who have been following them for any length of time at all.

Birds of Bellwoods – The Fifth Track Listing

Birds of Bellwoods - The Fifth - Front Cover1. Sky
2. Come Home
3. Roll Your Stone
4. Grey Ghosts
5. The Fifth

If you’re looking for some place to start, don’t complicate things. Sky is the lead track and first single from the EP – and the first track we listened to when we got our hands on the new music.

Birds of Bellwoods fits the Alt-Folk brand well, with well written lyrical content, strong but often stripped down instrumentals, and a mix of mellow and more sped up singing from lead singer Joffe and the rest of the band behind him.

As a collection, The Fifth hits all of the right notes, offering only 1 minor critique – we would have liked to listen to a full album worth of tracks.

All signs point to continued success and popularity for Birds of Bellwoods with upcoming shows at Toronto’s TURF, Indie Week Canada, and The Legendary Horseshoe Tavern, as well as the Festival of Good Things in Sarnia, ON and the Jasper Folk Music Festival in Jasper AB. It’s a schedule that will introduce the quartet to new listeners, give them an opportunity to continue developing their stage show (which is already fun to watch), and play these 5 songs to everyone within ear shot.

The Birds of Bellwoods Cameron House NXNEAfter more than a couple listens, we willingly give The Fifth a thumbs up. These 4 boys have the chops to make the music, and as long as they keep doing what they’re doing – and finding their way, Birds of Bellwoods are going to be on the scene for a long time with fans to spare and music to love.

Find Birds of Bellwoods online at these fine locations…

Facebook: /birdsbellwoods
Twitter: @BirdsBellwoods
Instagram: @birdsofbellwoods
YouTube: Birds of Bellwoods
iTunes: Birds of Bellwoods – The Fifth

2 years ago

Boots & Hearts 2015 Emerging Artist Showcase Preview: Birds of Bellwoods

I caught up with Birds of Bellwoods last week prior to their NXNE show at The Cameron House. We talked about the Boots and Hearts Emerging Artist Showcase, what’s coming up for the band, influences and lots more.

Birds of Bellwoods: First cool thing to talk about is the opportunities and the things we have coming up. So, we’ve got NXNE tonight and then we’re playing The Great Heart Festival. Which is an awesome festival. It’s in Trinity Bellwoods, it’s an acoustic festival and it’s on June 21st.

After that we’re taking a little bit of time and we’re coming to Boots and Hearts, which we’re really excited about. It’s not normally an audience we get to communicate with. We’re very excited and a little terrified to see how we’ll be received. We’re not traditional country or even modern country.The Birds of Bellwoods Cameron House NXNETC: Have you heard any of the other emerging artists?

Birds of Bellwoods: We have, and we seem to be a little bit of a red herring, maybe that’ll work in our favour. We hope it will. We’re hoping if we play good, honest music that people will enjoy it.

TC: What’s the exciting news?

Birds of Bellwoods: The really exciting thing we have coming up is… we recently got offered a spot at TURF, which is the Toronto Urban Roots Festival. We’ll be playing with some of our favourite bands like Shakey Graves and Punch Brothers. We’re actually on the same day as Punch Brothers. And Pixies, which is 14 year old Adrian’s dream.

We’ll be doing our EP release as part of a TURF Showcase and that’s going to be happening on August 13th at Lee’s Palace. We’ll be bringing along a drummer and a violinist, which promises to fill out the sound. The night after that, we’re doing Gladstone Hotel with Groenland. And so that’s cool and then Jasper Folk Music Festival is coming up in September. So there’s a lot of cool stuff coming up and our EP The Fifth, which is our first studio EP, we’re dropping that in August.

TC:  I wanted to ask about the song you choose to enter the Boots and Hearts Showcase. Why that one?Birds of Bellwoods Boots and Hearts Intro Video

Birds of Bellwoods: I guess we felt that was the most country friendly song we had. Easily accessible, and a pretty good representation of our sound at the same time. We also love it as a song. It’s a very earnest song. It’s a truthful song. It’s based in a story that’s very dear to me and I think these guys all have there own understanding and interpretation of it. I felt like it was something that people can relate to. I think everyone’s been there at one time or another. And when it comes down to it, it was also the very first song we co-wrote as a band.

We shot a live session video for it that we’re pretty happy with. It was with a company called Felideye Pictures, by videographer, Julien Peter. He’s a good friend of ours and we got together one day in Kintaro’s backyard. We set up the mic, we set up a couple cameras and went for it. The best part is, that was actually a test shoot for a shoot that we were planning to do in the future, and then that shoot sort of crumbled in our hands. The card he was recording on was corrupted. That was just a practice run and it ended up being it.

The song itself, if it helps at all, is called “No Less Than All” and it’s about letting go of a previous relationship. It’s about the passage of time and taking responsibility. And I think, what we’re all left wondering, once we’ve made our peace with this situations is, that it’s remembered, and that it wasn’t just beautiful for us. That there was still something special, even if it did have to end.

TC: What made you enter the contest?

Birds of Bellwoods: I’ve known about Boots and Hearts for a while. I’ve listened to country music for a while, more the pick up truck kinda music. I think it’s a very honest kind of music. I’ve known about Boots and Hearts and I’ve thought it was a great festival. We saw the opportunity come up and we thought, why not? Worst case scenario nothing. It seems like the most engaged and excitable audience. It sold out in three days!

For us being picked was a huge surprise and a great honour and we’ll keep doing what we need to do regardless of what happens, and if it helps us, great.

The Birds of Bellwoods Cameron House NXNE

TC: What are you listening to?

Birds of Bellwoods: We just went to Bonnaroo so we listen to all the bands. We saw a lot of bluegrass music down there. Punch Brothers were great. Béla Fleck, Shakey Graves, and My Morning Jacket. A lot of our influences aren’t from a country vein, they’re from everywhere and it’s the instrumentation that gives us the folky country sound. A lot of my early influences are more in the realm of Old Crow Medicine Show and more of the Appalachian blue grass kinda sound. Dave Rawlings, Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, CSNY. I can’t stop listening to Yukon Blonde‘s new album. It came out on Tuesday. It’s amazing. Shakey Graves, Lady Lamb, she’s sort of grunge rock but she sometimes plays a banjo.

We’re all really intent on supporting the musicians we’re coming up with. Toronto is just filled with the most amazing musicians and we’re very lucky to part of such a rapidly growing community of talent. There’s a band called UKAE that we’ve played with a few times, Ivory Hours is another. A friend of ours, Scott Helman is doing very well. I think he’s nominated for an MMVA this year.

One of the best parts about living downtown is that you just walk down the street and find hundreds of great bands. You can find a jazz band and throw a rock and hit a metal band.The Birds of Bellwoods Cameron House NXNE outside-6027TC: Last question, tell me something we couldn’t find out about you on the internet.

Birds of Bellwoods: We have a mascot named Frank. Nope they could find that on the internet. We’re debuting a song tonight that no one’s heard before that is technically called Head Long but it’s really called Fish Hunt. We conjured Chris with a Ouija board. He’s from the other side.

He might be joking… or not.

Birds of Bellwoods is Stevie Joffe (Mandolin/Lead Vocals), Adrian Morningstar (Guitar/Vocals), Chris Blades (Banjo/Vocals), and Kintaro Akiyama (Upright Bass/Vocals) and you can find them all over the internet.

Twitter: @BirdsBellwoods
Facebook: Birds of Bellwoods
Bandcamp: BirdsofBellwoods
Soundcloud: BirdsofBellwoods

Birds of Bellwoods Cameron House NXNE 2015


2 years ago
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