The Drake Underground

Hard As I Can: Joey Landreth with Roman Clarke at The Drake Underground

On Monday night in Toronto, Massey Hall brought two talented Prairie boys to The Drake Underground for a night of music and more as Joey Landreth and Roman Clarke hit the stage on Queen Street West.

Earlier this year, Joey Landreth released his debut solo album, Whiskey, exactly two years after the award winning and critically acclaimed release of Let It Lie by The Bros. Landreth in 2015. Since the release, Landreth has been busy on the road, playing the songs from the new album, as well as working on new material for his solo follow-up, and a new album from The Bros. Landreth. It’s a heavy workload, including recording sessions in Toronto this week leading up to Christmas, but it hasn’t taken a single thing away from his performances on stage.

Roman Clarke opened the show, and the Manitoba native, and member of The Middle Coast, started the night with wit and talent.

Clarke also released new music in 2017, with his EP, Looking For Mine, dropping in September, following The Making Of: from The Middle Coast in April. And on Monday night he played the Toronto audience some of the 2017 releases as he sat at his keyboard.

Roman Clarke’s voice has a depth that will catch you off guard if you’re not ready for it. It’s smooth and strong, with the gentle vulnerability it needs to carry the soft and emotional moments that come when needed in his storytelling and songs. And when he’s not singing, Clarke is funny, engaging with the crowd through jokes that allow for a feeling of comfort and ease during his captivating solo performance.

During his time on stage, the early crowd at The Drake Underground heard Roman roll through songs from his EP including, Waiting, Let You Fall, and Looking For Mine. And while we don’t know Roman’s 2018 plans or schedule, we can tell you that we hope to see him again in Toronto, either solo or with The Middle Coast, or if we’re lucky, both.

As Joey Landreth prepared to start his set, the Queen Street West audience moved forward, getting closer to the stage and the man they came to see. And, when Landreth took the stage, accompanied by Meg Dolovich on bass and Michael Carbone on drums, they gave all of their attention to the stage.

I’ve said before that Joey Landreth can be mesmerizing on stage, and he proved it in Toronto on Monday night. From the opening notes of Hard As I Can, Landreth had the crowd all in, it was pindrop quiet (aside from the instruments on stage) and there was a feeling of peace and calm as folks gathered at The Drake Underground let the music wash over them.

To watch and listen to Joey Landreth on guitar is something that is hard for me to describe. You can see it on YouTube and Facebook as he plays onstage or alone in a room, his skill is incredible. And when you go ahead and add his songwriting and singing to the equation, you can feel the emotion drip from both his strings and his words. It’s a combination that not many can boast, and it’s special to witness.

In the middle of the set, Landreth gave Meg and Michael a break, taking the stage to himself, and allowing his voice and guitar to stand alone in the spotlight. It became super clear in that time that Joey Landreth could captivate a room in any city, on any stage, any time he wanted to give it a go.

During his set, Joey Landreth gave life to songs from his 2017 album, Whiskey, and The Bros. Landreth’s, Let It Lie, as well as covers and new songs that we’ll have to hope for in 2018. The crowd swayed and sang along to Made Up Mind, Time Served, Still Feel Gone, Gone Girl, Let It Lie, and Whiskey. And when Joey came back to the stage alone for his encore, playing Leonard Cohen’s Bird On A Wire, the crowd got quiet and attentive one more time as the show came to a gentle landing.

Monday night was the second chance I’d had to see Joey Landreth live in 2017, and both lived up to every hope and expectation. It was lovely to add drums and bass to the Toronto show, just as it was amazing to see him solo in Oshawa. And if I’m lucky enough to see him again in 2017, solo or with the band, I’ll be a happy dude.

More Photos of Joey Landreth at The Drake Underground, presented by Massey Hall

More Photos of Roman Clarke at The Drake Underground, presented by Massey Hall

1 month ago

5 Quick Questions with Joey Landreth: Holiday Edition and Nanaimo Bar Recipe

Joey Landreth has had a busy year… and it’s not done yet.

On New Year’s Eve, Joey and Bros. Landreth played on the CBC’s countdown/celebration show, and on January 27th, Joey Landreth released his debut solo album, Whiskey, to the delight of fans, and the applause of critics.

Related: Joey Landreth Album Review, Whiskey

And after a spring, summer, and fall of concerts and working on new music with Bros. Landreth, and for his follow-up solo project, Joey is coming back to Toronto to play a pre-Christmas show at The Drake Underground.

The Massey Hall Presents show comes exactly one week before the holiday, on Monday, December 18th, and having seen Joey Landreth live before, we can tell you that it’s going to be a show you’ll want to see.

With standout guitar work, and a voice that will pull you in, Joey can be mesmerizing on stage, and we’re willing to bet that will be the case on Queen Street West this December.

To get everyone ready for the show, and the holidays, we caught up with Joey for a holiday round of 5 Quick Questions. Enjoy, and get a ticket for Massey Hall Presents Joey Landreth with Roman Clarke before they sell out!

Related: Joey Landreth with Trish Robb & Jacob Henley Live in Oshawa

5 Quick Holiday Questions with Joey Landreth

Q) Did you have a favourite Christmas song when you were a kid?

Joey) Anything off the Nat King Cole Christmas record

Q) Do you have a favourite Christmas song to play?

Joey) Any of the old hymn ones. I love those old tunes…

Q) If you could partner up with any artist for a collaboration on a Christmas song, who would you choose?

Joey) Living? Metallica because that would be crazy. Not living, Nat King Cole.

Q) What is your favourite beverage for a holiday party?

Joey) Coffecoffeecoffeecoffee.

Q) If you could only have 1 dessert after Christmas dinner, what would you choose?

Joey) Nanaimo Bars. I know that’s not a Christmas classic but they’re my favourite. Okay?

And since Joey loves nanaimo bars, but says, “I don’t know how to make them. Only eat them.”, we found a recipe to share so you can give them a shot at home this holiday season!

Nanaimo Bars made from Recipe from Food Network Great Canadian Cookbook's

The Ultimate Nanaimo Bar Recipe


Bottom Layer
½ cup (125 mL) Unsalted Butter (preferably European-style cultured butter)
5 Tbsp (75 mL) Cocoa Powder
¼ cup (50 mL) Granulated Sugar
1 Egg, beaten
1 ¾ cups (425 mL) Graham Wafer Crumbs
1 cup (250 mL) Shredded Coconut
½ cup (125 mL) Almonds, finely chopped

Middle Layer
½ cup (125 mL) Unsalted Butter, softened
2 tbsp + 2 tsp (40 mL) Whipping or Heavy Cream
2 Tbsp (30 mL) Vanilla Custard Powder
2 cups (500 mL) Icing Sugar

4 oz (115 g) Semi-Sweet Chocolate
2 Tbsp (30 mL) Unsalted Butter


Bottom Layer
1. Pour 2 cups (500 mL) water into bottom of double boiler. Place on stove over medium heat and bring water to simmer.
2. In top of double boiler; combine butter, cocoa and sugar; place over simmering water. Heat, stirring, until butter has melted and mixture is smooth.
3. Add beaten egg; stir until thick. Remove top of double boiler from heat. Stir in graham wafer crumbs, coconut and almonds.
4. Scrape into parchment paper-lined 8-inch (2 L) square baking dish. Press firmly to create even bottom layer.
5. Tip: If you don’t have a double boiler, half-fill a saucepan with water and heat over medium heat until water begins to simmer. Then, place a metal or glass bowl over the simmering water and proceed as directed.

Middle Layer
1. In bowl, cream together butter, cream and custard powder. Gradually add icing sugar; beat until light and fluffy. Scrape over bottom layer, smoothing top with spatula or palette knife.

1. In clean double boiler, melt chocolate and butter together. Remove from heat; let cool slightly. When cool, but still liquid, pour over custard layer.
2. Cover and refrigerate until cold.

Recipe via

Joey Landreth Whiskey Album Cover with Santa Hat

1 month ago

Laughs & Secret Handshakes in Toronto: Leaving Thomas Interview

While Leaving Thomas were on their recent trip to Toronto we had a chance to catch up for a little pre-show interview session… and we’d like to share that with you – because we love you like that.

Big thanks to Annika and Bryton for meeting up with Natali and Trish – we can’t wait to see these 2 again soon.

Check out our notes and more photos from the Drake Underground showcase HERE!

Here we go…

Natali: Hi, so we actually talked to you back in Christmas…

Annika: Oh this is the Reviews are IN! You guys have been great for us, you genuinely support us and we absolutely appreciate it thank you so much.

Trish: Thank you.

N: Yeah so when we talked to you last we were waiting kind of girl to be on the radio. Now that it’s out there, how are you feeling?

A: I think we’re still waiting for the high to come down. You know December 25th it was released to radio, we started hearing about ads in January, iTunes downloads, and now with all this promotional stuff that we’re doing it still feels like it was released yesterday. I think we’re still trying to enjoy every minute of it because it’s been such a milestone for us. I mean, I’ve been a pro musician now for 10 years and to finally hear something we’ve written on the radio is such a, such an exciting thing.

Bryton: Yeah it’s been really cool to see the response. Hear the response come back, the stories of people who share with us about the song and how it’s impacted their lives, it’s been really exciting to just ride the wave and hope it keeps going.

N: You mentioned you’ve been doing a lot of promotion, shows, radio. What’s it been like?

B: So much fun (laugh) every single day is like a new day. It’s exhausting but in the best way possible being able to wake up and do what you love every day. Regardless of if it’s radio, showcase, TV. Yeah we enjoy every minute of it, makes it really easy to wake up in the morning no matter how early it is because we’re really excited.

A: I think it’s really great to also meet people who have [downloaded] our songs to say thank you in person, you know to meet those faces behind the ads and all the DJs that have been so great. That’s also really exciting and they’re excited to meet you. To have that personal connection really makes an impact…

N: So among all this promotion, you’ve been together the entire time – are you getting on each other’s nerves?


A: How can you say that? We’re two peas in a pod here!… I feel like you have to be best friends to do this together, I feel like it would be very difficult to be in a relationship with someone or someone you don’t know very well. B and I have known each other since we’re kids. We’ve had long hours [together] where instead of getting annoyed with each other we just get giggly, and we just get silly. So we have a lot of fun together. And I think that it’s solidified, you know this is who I want to be in it for the long haul with. It’s such an integral part of it. It’s not just on stage, it’s not just writing, it’s… you have to hang out with each other so much.

B: Yeah, well I think with every friendship, you have just those snippets of being annoyed or you’re in an opposite mood, but it is very much, you know, we have a great relationship in the sense that we’re so understanding and transparent and we communicate, and it really makes everything so much easier when you have someone you get along with and understand.

A: It’s almost like siblings too.

B: Absolutely.

A: You know where you get annoyed and you get over it in 5 secs because you have to hang out with each other. You know we always say, (to B) you’re the younger brother I never had and I’m the older sister you never wanted (both laugh).

Really, you’re more responsible, you make me remember things

B: Well you force me to.

A: I forget everything. It’s his fault if I forget anything. But yeah, no we get along.

N: How do you get ready for a performance?

A: Funny that you ask. We don’t have a green room here so I was straightening my hair in a room I found using my iPhone as a mirror. It’s a lot of, for me, getting ready wherever is easiest and quickest. I feel like we’re both quite chill. I mean we get pumped up…

B: The thing is, it’s almost a moment of calm before the storm. We do like our handshake that we do before we go on (giggle…)

N: What does that look like?

A: We can show you!
(Check out this photo set!)

B: It’s really complex.

A: We were trying to kill some hours at one point…

N: Awesome.

A: Yes gets us in the right zone.

N: Speaking of fun, tell me about making the video (for Waiting Kind Of Girl). What was that like?

B: It was like early morning, Annika’s in makeup which she loves.

A: Have people make me look pretty instead of trying to do it myself!

B: It’s funny because that was our first music video that we’ve ever done, it was a lot of hurry up and wait, but it was the best because we’re just super anxious to do the next shot, and uh, I think the best part about the video, it was so funny, is that we shot it in double speed. So, if you watch the video, it’s very like, loose and flowy and in slow motion, but we had to sing to the track all day at twice the speed.

A: And it’s fast!

B: And it’s a decently fast song already, and so I got to the shoot, and I thought, ok yeah, have to sing it, but I forgot I have to play it in double speed, so I’m sitting there going (mimics twitching), like vibrating the entire time, trying to make it look like I’m playing in time to the song, but…

A: It was so much fun! Like for me, I grew up, you know, singing to a mirror with my hair brush, like every girl does. And, um, the director they were kind of telling us, you know you might get a little camera shy because there’s a lot of people in there, and of course I’m thinking “Are you kidding, I’ve been waiting for this my whole life! The more the merrier, like let’s do this!” So it was a real treat.

N: So Waiting Kind Of Girl was written about a real experience.

A: Yes!

N: Does the guy that the song was written about, know that it was written about him?

A: NO!

B: I’ve been sworn to secrecy.

A: Bryton knows! And um no one will ever know, other than Bryton, that’s that bond we can never separate because he knows my secrets!

B: I’m going to get blackmail.

A: The Leaving Thomas Mystery!

N: Tell me something funny or embarrassing that has happened to you on stage?

A: I plant my face on the mic all the time. It will probably happen tonight. And it’s a stationary mic, and I… no matter what, because I like to do these things where I go away and come back and, every time. Every Single Time.

B: I actually have a video where she’s walking up and smoking her head.

A: And he boomeranged it!

B: If you scroll through Instagram it’s there.

A: And we just embrace that.

T: We may have to include that.

A: Go for it! We can laugh at ourselves.

N: Speaking of, you mentioned Instagram, you guys are great with connecting with your fans through social media. How do you like that?

Both: We love it.

B: It is so cool to connect with everybody, and like I said, to hear their stories and also to really give our gratitude to radio and music directors, program directors, it’s really cool.

A: And also when they want to hang out with you. Because we’re happy that you think we’re fun, because we think you’re fun and cool. So many people will follow, and we’ll be like, this girl seems awesome I want to go out for coffee with her! You know, it’s awesome and it makes you feel like they … basically, it’s beyond the music. It’s us as people. We have loves and hobbies and things that makes us laugh, and so it’s nice to connect on something beyond the songs themselves.

N: So you signed with MDM. What was that day like?

B: It was crazy, it happened like really fast, but in like the best way. About more than two weeks after we had signed the agreement we had flown out to Toronto and met Jess Moskaluke, Chad Brownlee, Bobby Wills, and we’re hanging out with everyone and it’s crazy that we’re a part of them. It’s cool that we’re on that side of the table and we’re all lined up playing songs, and then Chad plays his song, it is just… crazy.

A: And we have so much respect for all the other artists on the roster and it’s so great to be part of it.

N: What does success look like for Leaving Thomas?

A: Well, it’s funny because Bryton and I both love making music, we both also love spending time with our families, we love being able to travel, to do the things we want to do, I don’t think we have a certain number of followers we have in mind or number of record sales, we think it’s a success to be making the music we created as a full-time job. That would be the dream, so if we’re getting closer to that, that’s amazing.

B: And just share our music with as many people we can… and just be personally fulfilled. And you know, just have fun. At the end of the day that’s why we’re here, because we had fun doing it…

A: Which led us to more opportunities.

– With the early success of Waiting Kind Of Girl, the support of MDM Recordings, and all the talent that they bring to the table, we’re sure there will be even more opportunities coming soon!

If You Were Here: Leaving Thomas, Toronto Showcase

On a wintery Thursday night in Toronto we got a look at one of Canadian country’s newest additions to the charts, Leaving Thomas.

The industry showcase at the Drake Underground on Queen Street West was well attended, with bodies filling the lower floor area, and the space near the bar, as Annika and Bryton took the stage and gave a glimpse of what is going to take them up the country music charts.

We were happy to see that Leaving Thomas and MDM Recordings brought the full band treatment to the show. We often see stripped down acoustic sets for showcases, but having the chance to see A&B play with their supporting team truly allowed the room to get a sense of what they bring to the table.

ps. What they bring to the table is pretty awesome!

On Christmas day 2016 country fans started to hear Waiting Kind Of Girl on their favourite radio stations, and since then we’ve been waiting and wondering what more music from the duo might sound like. And on Thursday night, we got a good look.

The energy on stage is something that MDM’s Mike Denney has talked about as a key factor in his decision to sign the duo – and through their banter and laughter and storytelling, we got a sense of what they bring to the table.

We also got to hear a selection of songs that Leaving Thomas will (hopefully) soon be offering to the country music world on their debut album. And we heard from the band that they’ve been down to Nashville to write even more! We don’t know when that album or EP will be released, but we can tell you that we’re excited to hear more of songs like If You Were Here, The Wreckage, If This Is Love, Shame On Me, and the single that has caught the ears of country fans coast-to-coast, Waiting Kind Of Girl.

Stay tuned for more from the band, including our pre-show interview – and check out these pics we snapped at the showcase – including this special look at Annika and Bryton’s special pre-show handshake!

CMW 2016 Preview – Joshua’s Top 5 Must-Sees

CMW is coming… and I am excited!

For an entire week Toronto is set to come alive and overflow with music, musicians, and fans. There are 58 official CMW venues, with more than 800 bands, in 7 nights – and while it is impossible to see everyone, and sometimes even everyone you want to see – I want to help.

Trish shared her Top 5 list earlier in the week… and now it’s my turn.

I need to apologize a little, because I really did pick 5 acts that I truly think you should see, but it isn’t that easy, because the scheduling is HARD to manage.

So, have a look, watch the videos, and if you’re looking to slot someone in to a slow night in your schedule between May 2 and May 7, give these acts a shot!

Demi Louise at The Central on Wednesday, May 4th – 7:00 PM & Friday, May 6 at Supermarket – 10:45pm

I caught Demi Louise at CMW 2015 when she took the stage in the backroom at The Cameron House, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. She’s got a sweet singer-songwriter vibe that shines when she stands at a microphone with her acoustic guitar.

Demi is also completely adorable when she interacts with the crowd between songs, and having 2 chances to see her at CMW 2016 is a nice bonus with a crazy schedule to navigate!

Jonathan Roy at The Great Hall on Saturday, May 7 – 8:15pm

Another singer-songwriter, the Qubébécois native brings his accent, guitar, and new music to the stage at CMW 2016, and I’m looking forward to it. And if you’re worried about the accent, don’t be, you won’t notice it in-song unless you’re really looking for it.

Fast Fact: Jonathan Roy hung up his skates to pick up his guitar. And if his last name sounds familiar, it’s because his dad is Saint Patrick Roy, 4 time Stanley Cup champion.

Listen to Daniella Denmark to get yourself ready.

SATE at Lee’s Palace on Wednesady, May 4 – 8pm

We saw SATE take the Mod Club stage a few weeks ago, and it was awesome. She melted my damn face off with her energy and volume and stage presence… she truly is a show-stopper. And if you’re in the building when she gets up there and grabs her mic, you’ll know it.

CMW slots SATE in as Blues, Rock, Soul… and says, “SATE is raw to the core and was built on the shoulders of giants like Tina Turner, Jimi Hendrix and Bessie Smith.”

If you want a big energy show that makes you feel kinda like you got punched in the face in the best way possible, get to Lee’s on Wednesday.

Texas King at UG3 on Friday, May 6 – 10:40pm & Saturday, May 7 at Nightowl – 9pm

On the small stage at Adelaide Hall, Texas King could barely be contained. Their rock show was fantastic, they sounded tight, they were a lot of fun whether they were going crazy, or slowing it down – and I’m happy to see that they’re coming back from London, ON to play 2 CMW shows in 2016.

If you’re in need of a show with enough energy on stage to give you a second wind, these are your guys. Get that boost and you’ll either need a nap, or you’ll be ready to go all night!

REPARTEE at The Drake Underground on Friday, May 6 – 9pm & Saturday, May 7 at Supermarket – 11pm

These indie pop lovers are coming in to CMW fresh off the release of their new album, All Lit Up, including a release party back home in St. John’s that I really wish I could have checked out!

But, since I wasn’t in Newfoundland, I’m going to check out REPARTEE here in Toronto instead. Having already seen them as part of the Toronto Women in Music show at Adelaide Hall a little while ago, I know what I’m getting into… and I can tell you that you owe it to yourself to come and see the show.

Here’s a thing I wrote… “they’re the kind of band, playing the kind of music, that you’d be 100% hearing sometime between 12am and whenever you were too tired to stop dancing.” – and they might be on a little earlier than that at CMW, but you’ll still want to dance!

BONUS: JJ Shiplett at The Dakota Tavern on Tuesday, May 3 – Midnight

You didn’t think I’d get through this entire post without recommending an artist with a country touch, did you?

JJ Shiplett is a country/roots/rocker ready to make a big splash. He toured with Johny Reid, he’s gaining fans everywhere he goes, and he’s earned them.

JJ is also playing at one of my favourite CMW venues, so that’s a bonus too… honestly, if you’ve never caught a show at The Dakota, this is a great way to enjoy an early week set on a cool stage in a great place. It’ll be the perfect match of music and setting.

Trust me.

2 years ago

Beth Moore CD Release Party at The Drake Underground

We started off our April interviewing the talented Beth Moore. We talked about the new album, Five out of Ten, among other things, and last night we were in the audience for her CD Release party at The Drake Underground. Let me start by saying Beth ticked off all the right boxes for a CD Release party. Two of the most important things, in my opinion, are a great venue and wonderful opening acts. Beth hit both of those nails right on the head.

First up on stage was Oscar Anderson a.k.a. DRFTR. He looked vaguely familiar to me and I’ve just now figured out that I’d seen him on a YouTube video with Beth Moore when I was doing some research this week. A Bob Dylan cover of “It Ain’t Me Babe”. Their voices are so nice together.

DRFTR Oscar Anderson at The Drake Underground

Hailing from Niagara On The Lake, we found out it was his birthday last night. Thanks for sharing your birthday with us Oscar. I wasn’t prepared for this performance. I loved everything. His comfortable, casual way. His story telling. His amazing guitar playing. The tone of his voice. The audience was quiet, respectful and captivated. I hope to see more of Oscar Anderson.

@DRFTR_Oscar @thedrakehotel #livemusic #Toronto

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DRFTR’s links
Faceook: DRFTROfficial
Twitter: @DRFTR_Oscar
SoundCloud: driftr-2

Next up was Mackenzie McRuer. Born in Calgary but raised in Markham, Mackenzie released his album “Running” in December of 2014. Produced by Splintered Wood Records, the album is available now.

Mackenzie McRuer at The Drake Underground

I thoroughly enjoyed this poignant performance which showcased songs from the album and finished up with a cover of Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit”. Fabulous interpretation! Mackenzie was captivating and I’ll be adding this album to my collection.

#livemusic #Toronto @MackenzieMcRuer @thedrakehotel

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Mackenzie’s Links
Facebook: mackenziemcruer
Twitter: @MackenzieMcRuer
Instagram: @mackenziemcruer
SoundCloud: mackenziemcruer
YouTube: mackenziemcruer
iTunes: Mackenzie McRuer
CD Baby: MackenzieMcRuer
BandCamp: mackenziemcruer 

On to our headliner Beth Moore. Love, love loved this performance. Beth was clearly having a good time and the crowd was too. This was her night and she was in fine form. Enthusiastic and funny Beth Moore was a joy to watch.

Beth Moore at The Drake Underground

She recounted the story of hearing “Ok, Ok”, while grabbing lunch after a run. Beth, the single restaurant staff and the radio announcer. Let me just say, while she thought she would be cooler about it, she totally wasn’t!

Ok Ok @bethmooremusic @thedrakehotel #livemusic #Toronto

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I can’t decide if I love the upbeat songs more or the quiet, haunting songs. I can say, I haven’t picked a favourite yet. Although “Love Now”, featured on Degrassi, is definitely in the running.

If you haven’t listened yet, you should. And if you get the chance to see Beth live, definitely take it!

Beth’s Links
Facebook: Beth Moore Music
Twitter: @bethmooremusic
Instagram: @bethmooremusic
YouTube: Beth Moore
iTunes: Beth Moore

3 years ago
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