The Tragically Hip

Side Effects: Dallas Smith and Shawn Austin Pre-Show Interviews, Oshawa

We caught up with Dallas Smith in Oshawa at the Tribute Communities Centre to talk about music, the tour, The Tragically Hip, doing what is right as an artist and more.

It was Friday afternoon, before Dallas hit the stage on the Side Effects Tour later in the evening, that we sat down in the seats of the hockey arena to chat. As Dallas and I sat there dressed in nearly (and coincidently) matching double denim, things felt very Canadian. And as the #1 hit maker, his openers, and crew make their way across the country, it also felt like a fitting place to be.

We opened by asking Dallas how things have been going on the tour so far. And he told us that it has been a fantastic experience from the jump. The first show in Halifax had all of the energy he hoped to see to get things going, and as they’ve tinkered and perfected everything from the lights to the sound, the show is only getting smoother as they go.

Related: Dallas Smith, The Cadillac Three and Friends Rock Oshawa

Dallas Smith’s voice had an attitude of both experience and excitement as we talked about the tour and the show. This isn’t his first rodeo, he knows what he’s getting into and what makes for a good show. But as much as he’s tuned into the technical aspects of the goings on, he’s still excited to get up on that stage every night and sing his heart out for the fans from the front row to the top of the arena. It’s awesome to see that from a dude that’s been doing this gig in one way or another for nearly 20 years now.

Dallas Smith - Side Effects Tour - Oshawa

When we talked to Dallas in the summer we asked about the next time he’d have some time off, thinking that it would be after the Side Effects Tour wraps… but that’s not quite it.

Dallas has been announced as a performer on the CP Holiday Train in the lead up to Christmas this year, playing stops along the rails between December 2 and 17. Check the tour schedule to see where you can find Dallas, Terri Clark, and Kelly Prescott on their travels.

With those dates added to his schedule, Dallas told us that he’ll have about 10 days off between the end of the tour and his train run – but in the new year he’ll be taking a time out to rest up and take a little (well deserved) break.

Dallas Smith in the seats with Joshua Murray - Side Effects Tour - Oshawa

Because of the timing of our chance to see Dallas, we talked about Gord Downie and his passing. Smith’s tour was the first to play Kingston after their hometown hero’s death, and he told us that it was heavy. He also told us that he didn’t want to fall into a trap of making a tribute to Gord and The Hip all about him.

Related: In Memoriam: Gord Downie Legacy, Influence, and Top 10

So, Dallas and the band paid tribute in their own way. Before his set, the boys played Grace, Too, said a few words to the crowd, left the stage as a couple more Hip songs played over the speakers, and then everyone came back out to play the regular set in full.

While we had Dallas with us we took the opportunity to play a round of 5 Quick Questions with the Canadian country star. Watch it now!

It’s clear that following his own path and doing what’s important to him personally and artistically is #1 for Dallas Smith. In our interview and later on stage he talked about doing what he needs to do, following his heart, and making the decisions and music that he needs and wants to make.

It’s an attitude that comes with experience, courage, and conviction – three things that Smith has in spades.

It’s also something that he’s trying to pass onto other artists, namely Shawn Austin and Andrew Hyatt, who Dallas is working with and has brought out on the Side Effects Tour with him.

And, while we were at the arena in Oshawa we got to hang out with Shawn Austin for a few minutes in the locker room to talk about this music, career, and how the tour has been for him so far.

Shawn Austin in the locker room with Joshua Murray - Side Effects Tour - Oshawa

The Vancouver native told us that the response to his current single, Paradise Found, has been amazing and more than they expected. To see the track break the top 30 has changed the immediate plans for Austin, but it’s not bumming him out too much.

However, there is new music coming from the emerging artist. A new single is ready to go, and will be hitting the airwaves early in the new year. And there will be an album to follow that up, giving country fans a chance to truly experience what he’s got to offer.

While we had Shawn with us we took the chance to ask him a few quick questions including…

Q: Who is your dream duet partner right now?

Shawn: Jess Moskaluke

Q: Who would you love to play a show with?

Shawn: Brett Eldredge, Brett Young… and Garth Brooks

When we asked about the tour, Shawn told us that the experience of getting up on stage with Dallas every night has been great. And to see how it can all come together at the highest levels has given him new goals and career achievements to strive for.

Note: We saw Shawn take the stage with Dallas Smith to sing A Girl Like You on Friday night, and dude knocked it out of the park.

Be ready to hear more from Shawn Austin in the new year, and check out Paradise Found if you don’t know it already.

Shawn Austin in the locker room - Side Effects Tour - Oshawa

Before we finished up our hang out with Dallas in the seats of the arena, we asked him about his experience on the set of Chad Brownlee’s Out Of The Blue music video. He told us that he was happy to be part of the production, and that when Chad and (director) Stephano Barberis asked him to be in it, he was in.

If you’ve seen the video, you know it’s a fun one, and it’s easy to see that Dallas truly does have a great relationship with Chad, as well as Stephano, the godfather of his little girl.

Friday night, after the chairs were set up on wood covering the ice, the fans filed in, the beer started flowing, Lauren Alaina and The Cadillac Three revved up the crowd, and then Dallas Smith finished the job.

Once again Dallas proved that he belongs at the top, and he wowed the crowd from start to finish… just like he did on the dates before he got to Oshawa, and like he’ll do on the rest of the Side Effects Tour.

Dallas Smith - Side Effects Tour - Oshawa Dallas Smith in the seats - Side Effects Tour - Oshawa Dallas Smith in the seats with Joshua Murray - Side Effects Tour - Oshawa Dallas Smith in the seats with Joshua Murray - Side Effects Tour - Oshawa Dallas Smith in the seats with Joshua Murray - Side Effects Tour - Oshawa Dallas Smith in the seats with Joshua Murray - Side Effects Tour - Oshawa

Downtown Kids: David James Album Review and Interview

David James had a busy summer playing stages and putting together his new EP, Downtown Kids, to share with the country music world.

We’ve listened to the album (a few times) and had the chance to catch up with David on the phone as he prepared for the album launch, a new single release, and the video to go along with it. To say he’s a busy guy would be an understatement.

I asked David about the summer, and making a record while working a busy road schedule, and he told us that it was both nuts and exciting.

David James BH5 Boots and Hearts 2016-

The recording was done with producer Dan Swinimer (Madeline Merlo, Jojo Mason) in his studio at his home. David told us about the experience and being made to feel like part of the family. It sounds like a pretty great way to make a record – comfortable, relaxed, and with experience.

The resulting album is a lot of fun packed into 18 minutes. The six songs work together for a listening experience that will work for listeners, and should work very well for David James too. The new single, and lead track on the EP, Sun Set On It is quick hitting, and the kind of song that makes you want to dance in your sock feet at home. There are shades of the things we love about Dan Davidson here, and that ain’t a bad thing. David’s voice works in the song – it’s a banger – and we’re into it.

Fans and country radio listeners may already be familiar with two of the songs on the EP, with What If I Don’t and Later already hitting the airwaves with releases earlier in 2017. Both songs are a great fit for James, and we’re certain that we’ll be seeing people sing along to them the next time we see him on a stage performing.

Six songs is about five fewer than we wish we were listening to on Downtown Kids… but here’s hoping that this means we’re not going to have a long wait before the next project from the Manitoba boy comes to us!

While we were on the phone we also touched on working with his new producer, having the chance to play at home, and we played a round of 5 Quick Questions with the Manitoba country singer.

David James BH5 Boots and Hearts 2016

5 Quick Questions with David James

Q1) What album can you play on repeat without skipping songs?

David: The Very Best of the Eagles

2) What is your favourite Tragically Hip song?

David: Blow At High Dough

David also said that he loves Ahead By A Century, but the band has been playing Blow At High Dough forever and he’s pretty sure he loves it most.

Q3) What is your favourite late night fast food joint?

David: Johnny G’s in Winnipeg – open til 4am.

Q3b) Go to menu item?

David: Chicken Fingers

David asserts that he is a chicken finger connoisseur and Johnny G’s has the best in the world.

CCMA Awards 2016 David James Green Carpet

Q4) Did you have a childhood nickname?

David: DJ

Nothing fancy or complicated, but it gets the job done.

Q5) What artist do you think people should be listening to more, or paying more attention to?

David: Canadian country as a whole.

David told us how much he believes in the talent in Canada, and that we should all be pushing for more exposure and celebration of the music coming from our home country.

Big thanks once again to David James for taking the time to catch up, we’re hoping to see him again soon, and we’ll be here to tell you all about it.

David James, Downtown Kids Tracklist

1. Sun Set On It
2. Staring At Stars
3. Turn Me On
4. Downtown Kids
5. What If I Don’t
6. Later

David James Downtown Kids Album Cover

In Memoriam: Gord Downie Legacy, Influence, and Top 10

Gord Downie was an artist, activist, and great Canadian. His legacy and legend will be remembered for the music he made, the political and social change he sought, and the way he touched music fans from coast-to-coast, across generations, and with a reach that can not be understated.

After a brave, public, and well-documented fight against cancer (glioblastoma), Downie died on October 17, 2017, leaving his family (including four children), his bandmates, friends, and countless fans to remember the man they knew and loved.

If you ever had the chance to see Gord Downie on stage, doing what he loved, you got a look at something special. Whether he was touring with The Tragically Hip, playing his own solo music, collaborating with The Sadies, or any number of other appearances he made during his long and fruitful career, he was the one to watch. To see him dance and move and feel the lyrics and music was almost hypnotic. There were always moments of magic hidden in plain sight when Downie was doing his thing.

photo: Mike Homer

Note: I will admit to sometimes being frustrated when trying to sing along to my favourite songs from The Tragically Hip when Gord was singing them live. The way he transformed them into something more than the record version was hard for me to understand and explain – but having seen more live music now, I get it. And he owned it.

To explain the influence that Gord Downie has had on musicians in Canada is probably a fool’s errand. There are too many. There’s too much. There is just no way to list everyone that took something from the lyric writing, performing, passion, and perseverance that the man, his bandmates, and his career. We see glimpses of Downie when we watch Max Kerman fronting the Arkells, and we can hear Hip-like cadence and feel in singer/songwriter tracks and new rock hits from all across Canada. We’re confident in saying that isn’t going to change any time soon.

And to the general public, the influence is real as well. The work that Downie did to help put Indigenous rights into the light will not be forgotten. And the songs. My God, the songs he sang will continue to be sung.

Walk into any karaoke bar and wait a little while, you’re likely to hear a song from The Hip. And if you want even higher odds, go find a campfire anywhere in Canada – if there’s an acoustic guitar we can almost guarantee that someone is going to strum Wheat Kings or Bobcaygeon.

Campfire Guitar

On August 20, 2016, when The Tragically Hip played the K-Rock Centre in Kingston, ON to wrap their tour, a nation stopped to watch. The CBC reported that nearly 12 million viewers took in the feed. In Toronto, the CNE bandshell stage schedule was adjusted so they could show the concert on a big screen. Across the country there were viewing parties filled with family, friends, and fans. And together we watched as a real life musical hero to so many stood tall, sang, dripped with sweat, cried, and pour every ounce of what he had into the show that we won’t be able to forget.

At home, I cried. I watched and I sang and I sat in silence and I cried as the band played through a monster set and Downie sang with everything he had in him. It was beautiful.

Canadian movie lovers will remember Downie as well from his appearances in films like One Week (2008) and even his quick cameo with the rest of The Hip in Men With Brooms (2002). This clip from One Week is sobering, and will be one of the non-concert performance moments that I remember most of his career…

With the Order of Canada, a star on the Walk of Fame, Canadian Music Hall of Fame status, awards for his music, and recognition for his work outside of it, Gord Downie and The Tragically Hip achieved more than most – and just as much as he deserved.

We all knew this day was coming. This shouldn’t have surprised us. But still, it feels like I’ve been blindsided by the news. Maybe I thought there was still time. Maybe Downie’s relentless fight and work in the face of what was coming tricked me. Either way, this hurts.

Canada lost a legend when Gord Downie died. But his stories, his legacy, his inspiration and influence will live on and be remembered.

Rest easy Mr. Downie. Thank you for everything.

Gord Downie Cheers

Joshua’s Top 10 Tracks, The Tragically Hip

★ Wheat Kings
★ Bobcaygeon
★ Ahead By A Century
★ Courage
★ Grace, Too
★ Cordelia
★ Little Bones
★ Fiddler’s Green
★ Blow At High Dough
★ Gift Shop

Coming Soon: JUNOFEST 2017 – Ottawa, ON

The JUNOS are coming! The JUNOS are coming! But, before we get to the JUNOS, we’ve got JUNO Week and JUNO Fest.

JUNO Week starts March 30th with the JUNO Cup Jam.2017 JUNO Cup Jam poster Featuring performances at The Bourbon Room with Adrian Sutherland (Midnight Shine), Amanda Rheaume, Barney Bentall (High Bar Gang), Cosmo Ferraro (Ferraro), Darryl James (The Strumbellas), Devin Cuddy Band, Doug Oliver (Cold Creek County), Gord Bamford, Jay Bodner (Eagle & Hawk), Jim Bowskill (Blue Rodeo/Sheepdogs), Jim Cuddy (Blue Rodeo), JJ Shiplett, Jon Gallant (Billy Talent), Jonathan Roy, Matt Sobb (MonkeyJunk), Matthew Barber, Menno Versteeg (Hollerado), Peter Kesper (NQ Arbuckle), Steve Marriner (MonkeyJunk), Beard Guy (Walk Off the Earth), Tim D’eon (Wintersleep) and Vince Fontaine (Eagle & Hawk/Indian City). I’m overwhelmed at the talent in that list and you’ll be overwhelmed by their performances. Tickets are just $25 and they’re on sale now.

One of my favourite highlights of the week happens next. On March 31st, the JUNO Cup pits NHL Legends against Canadian musical greats. This game is always a hoot and the lineup this year is stacked! Watch as Brad Dalgarno (New York Islanders), Brendan Bell (Ottawa Senators), Chris Phillips (Ottawa Senators), Daniel Alfredsson (Ottawa Senators), Gary Roberts (Toronto Maple Leafs), Jim Kyte (Winnipeg Jets, Ottawa Senators), Luke Richardson (Ottawa Senators), Mark Napier (Montréal Canadiens,Juno Cup Edmonton Oilers), Paul Coffey (Edmonton Oilers, Pittsburgh Penguins) and Troy Crowder (New Jersey Devils) coached by Grey Cup Champion Henry Burris from the Ottawa Redblacks vs. Aaron Pritchett, Adrian Sutherland (Midnight Shine), Amanda Rheaume, Barney Bentall, Beard Guy (Walk Off The Earth), Chad Brownlee, Cosmo Ferraro (Ferraro), Dallas Smith, Darryl James (The Strumbellas), Devin Cuddy , Doug Oliver (Cold Creek County), Gord Bamford, Jay Bodner (Eagle & Hawk), Jim Bowskill (Blue Rodeo/The Sheepdogs), Jim Cuddy (Blue Rodeo), Jon Gallant (Billy Talent), Jonathan Roy, Kathleen Edwards, Matthew Barber, Matt Sobb (MonkeyJunk), Sam Roberts, Steve Marriner (MonkeyJunk) and Vince Fontaine (Eagle & Hawk) with Legendary Ottawa 67’s bench boss, Brian “Killer” Kilrea coaching The Rockers.

Watch for more names to be added to these lists! And yes, tickets are $20 and on sale now, you can get one here!

Friday, March 31
and Saturday, April 1 we get JUNOfest, over two nights, the music2017 JUNOfestfestival features more than 100 artists playing on stages in more than 15 venues across Ottawa and it’s an integral part of the 2017 JUNO Week. You can see Kelly Prescott, Caveboy, Repartee, The Dirty Nil, Dilly Dally, Bleecker, The Julian Taylor Band, Sykamore, The Abrams, Cold Creek County, Common Deer, The Strumbellas, Stuck on Planet Earth, The Honest Heart Collective, Colin Linden, The Balconies and so many more acts!

Wristbands are only $30, they’ll get you into all of the venues and you can get them here. You can check out the schedule and plan your weekend by following this link. 

On April 2nd we get to the big show, the JUNOS. This year’s lineup features more than 35 JUNO nominees, including Shawn Mendes, Arkells, The Strumbellas, The Weeknd, Monster Truck, Alessia Cara, The Tragically Hip, Chad Brownlee, Coleman Hell, Marians Trench, The Dirty Nil, Whitehorse, Tasha The Amazon, Holy Fuck, Cold Creek County, and more! For the full list of nominees check out the official JUNOS page.

There are so many of our favourites are in the lists above and we can hardly wait!

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

Always For You: JJ Shiplett and Johnson Crook Hit Toronto and Oshawa!

On back-to-back nights in Toronto and Oshawa, ON – JJ Shiplett and Johnson Crook took the stage and put on the kinds of shows that make music fans want to hear more, see more, and do it all over again.

Friday night’s show saw the 2 acts play early sets at Toronto’s Dakota Tavern and Saturday saw them travel down the 401 to Oshawa’s Moustache Club to wrap up their weekend. We were there on both nights to grab photos, videos, and on Saturday we had a chance to sit down with JJ to talk about his new album, the holidays, what’s coming up in 2017 and more.

Johnson Crook opened both shows, bringing their personal brand of country harmonies to the stage playing songs that we’ve heard them hit at previous shows, and showing us that they are more and more ready for bigger things each time. During the set lead singer Noel Johnson told the crowd that the band’s debut EP will be available in February 2017, which is exciting for us to hear. And exciting for the boys too.

AND, without spoiling any surprises, we are telling you now that you should be on the lookout for a very special appearance on one of the tracks from a Canadian legend!

You can download or stream Johnson Crook’s lead single Minnedosa now, and with their EP release be ready for tracks like Canada To Heartbreak, Hardwired, and Mr. Nobody.

Johnson Crook at The Dakota Tavern

After the brief break between bands, JJ Shiplett and his accompanying musicians hit the stage to put on their show… and ain’t nobody disappointed that they were there to see it on either night.

JJ has been putting in work, from coast-to-coast, sharing his music, exposing people to the tracks they know, and ones that they’ll hear on his upcoming record – release date: Late January 2017.

I asked JJ about the album on Saturday when we sat down and in his responses it was clear to see that he’s ready for everyone to hear it and dig in. In fact, the album has been ready for a bit now, the design elements have been finished up, and now all that’s left to do is the waiting… and Mr. Shiplett is ready for that part to be over.

It’s kinda hard, he said, to see people digging the songs that he’s playing on stage, but knowing that they can’t yet go home and listen to them again. Soon, that will change.

On stage in Toronto and Oshawa we heard the songs we have been able to listen to at home in Higher Ground, Always For You, and Something To Believe In (all featured on JJ’s 2016 EP, The EP) and they truly are songs to listen to over and over again.

JJ Shiplett at The Dakota

As JJ sipped our pre-show beers I also asked him about his recent stop at the House of Strombo to play for cameras, Facebook Live, and the man himself who has been Canada’s Boyfriend, and a beacon for music for Canadians since his early days at Much Music and The Edge 102.1.

JJ told me that going to Stroumboulopoulos’ house was the first time they’d met – and that he sat down to hang out and play two songs, one cover and one original… and while I didn’t ask which original he played at the house (I’m sure it will show up on The Strombo Show YouTube channel), I did watch the video of his Tom Waits’ Hold On cover, and I dug it. As a music fan it’s cool to watch those videos, as a performer it sounds like it’s a cool experience as well. And I like that.

And before we finished our beers and JJ headed upstairs to get ready for his Saturday set at The Moustache Club, I asked him to look into the future a little bit and tell me what’s coming next.

Starting with the holidays, JJ told me that things will get a little quieter. He’ll head home to Calgary and spend time with this family (who are apparently really great debaters), and with his new (used) piano that he just got tuned and can’t wait to play. So if you’re JJ’s neighbour and you start hearing keys and Christmas carols in the next few weeks, that’s exactly what’s going on!

I also poked a little bit, asking about 2017 and touring and what’s going to happen. And while there weren’t a lot of details, it’s clear that JJ wants to be out on the road, playing the new album and introducing people to the songs they’ll be able to go home and listen to. He knows that he’s got to put in the work, and he’s all for it.

And having seen the man do his thing on a few occasions in 2016, we can tell you that he’s more than up to the challenge of getting out there, hitting the road and showing each and every one of you what he’s got to give.

Before JJ Shiplett wrapped his sets this weekend with Something To Believe In, he gave us something that we’ve seen and loved from Canadian musicians in 2016… a tribute to The Tragically Hip. JJ and his boys played Grace, Too – and while it wasn’t quite as emotional as Gord was in Kingston (or Calgary, where JJ saw two shows), it was special and appreciated. And you can watch it right here.

JJ Shiplett at The Dakota

Keep your eyes and ears open for more from both Johnson Crook and JJ Shiplett – these are names that are ready to be on the tip of your tongue when you’re talking about music with your friends and fellow fans.

And keep your eyes on this space for more, because we aren’t done with these guys yet!

More photos of JJ Shiplett at The Dakota Tavern, Toronto.

JJ Shiplett at The DakotaJJ Shiplett at The DakotaJJ Shiplett at The DakotaJJ Shiplett at The DakotaJJ Shiplett at The DakotaJJ Shiplett at The Dakota

More photos of Johnson Crook at The Dakota Tavern, Toronto.

Johnson Crook at The Dakota Tavern Johnson Crook at The Dakota Tavern Johnson Crook at The Dakota Tavern

1 year ago

102.1 the Edge Presents The 2016 CASBY Awards

With Performances from Modern Space, Darcys, Banners, Finger Eleven and Sam Roberts Band

Where to even start… what an amazing night at The Phoenix! From the first note of the first band, I was all in. Yeah, there were awards, and they were cool, very cool but the performances, they were incredible!

First on the stage was Modern Space, they were up for the New Artist award and I’m not sure anyone in the audience would have thought this band could lose. They were great! Amazing energy, fun musical hooks, technically tight and super fun to watch.
The Edge 102.1 Casbys 2016 Modern Space

And then it was time for the first award, New Artist! Vying for the win were Attica Riots, Banners, The Dirty Nil and Modern Space. And the winner was… Banners!
The Edge 102.1 Casbys 2016 Award Win Bannerscasbys-2016-banners-hotdogmel-4469

Gracious and humble, Banners’ Michael Nelson accepted the award with a big smile on his face and if that isn’t the best way to start off an evening, and get an artist hyped for their performance, I don’t know what is. And yes, that is a #HotDogMel making an appearance beside Michael. Turns out Mel had a baby last week and this was her first time missing the award show, so her coworkers wanted to make sure that Mel was representing. Nice job guys!

I loved the way the show moved, great organization, quick changes between, great banter from the on-air personalities and Molson Canadian girls throwing t-shirts at the crowd whenever they got a chance.

Next, we were treated to a performance by Darcys. It was a fun, solid set which left us pumped for the next band but also looking forward to their next Toronto show, WayHome For The Holidays, featuring Darcys & Guests on November 23rd.
102.1 The Edge 2016 Casbys Jason Couse - Darcys

And then it was on to the next award, Favourite New Song! And what a tough category, nominated for the award were Wintersleep – Amerika, Arkells – Private School, July Talk – Push + Pull, Banners – Shine A Light and The Strumbellas – Spirits. And the winner was… July Talk for Push + Pull, sadly for us they were not on hand to accept their award  but they’ll be in town October 28th and 29th at The Danforth Music Hall. July Talk - The Edge Sugar Beach Session

The third act of the night was Banners. Dressed all in white with a win under his belt he put on a great set and charmed us all.
102.1 The Edge 2016 Casby Awards - Banners

The next award was for Favourite Sugar Beach Session, now if you’ve never seen a Sugar Beach Session, you should! They’re amazing, small, intimate and like nothing else. Nominees in this category were Arkells, Darcys, July Talk, The Strumbellas, USS, and Wintersleep. And the award went to… Arkells!!! I was thrilled, this was definitely one of my favourites. The boys were not there but they did send a video to say funny stuff and thank you.
102.1 The Edge Casby Awards Arkells Win

Fourth on the bill, Finger Eleven and my only question was, how had I never seen this band live before? Scott Anderson looked like he was having the time of his life and the rest of the band were 100% invested. Watching James Black and Rick Jackett kill it on guitar was amazing.  We caught up with these guys during the CCMA Music Week when we talked with them about their side project, Blackie Jackett Jr. My favourite moment was the mashup of Paralyzer with Another Brick In The Wall, Part Two, complete with full audience sing along. It was spectacular.


The final award was for Favourite New Record and the nominees were… Billy Talent – Afraid of Heights, Wintersleep – The Great Detachment, City and Colour – If I Should Go Before You Go, The Tragically Hip – Man Machine Poem, and The Zolas – Swooner. Now with no disrespect to any of the other nominees, I really didn’t think anyone could beat The Tragically Hip but the winner of this award was Billy Talent – The Great Detachment, nicely done boys! Billy Talent are out on an International tour and were not there to receive their award.

Next, in a surprise move,  Josie Dye took a few moments to talk about The Tragically Hip and Gord Downie. She’s a fan and a friend and her words were eloquent and well-received. Earlier in the year, 102.1 the Edge had asked fans to come in and share their thoughts with Gord and the rest of the band.  They had put together an amazing print which they presented to Sam Roberts, who will be passing it on to the band. I’m sure they’ll be touched.

102.1 The Edge 2016 Casby Awards - Gord Downie - Sam Roberts, Josie Dye

And then it was on to our headliner, Sam Roberts Band! With a mixture of a little old and a little new, the Montreal band brought positive energy and ridiculous musical talent to the stage. It was a privilege to see them in such a small venue.

A quick thank you to the Edge for inviting us, it was an amazing evening and an apology to all of the drummers at the show, who never made it into a single shot (except for the one above). I’m sorry!
102.1 The Edge 2016 Casby Award Winners

MODERN SPACEcasbys-2016-sean-graham-modern-space-wm-4339casbys-2016-modern-space-sam-arion-wm-4359 casbys-2016-cody-steele-modern-space-wm-4366 casbys-2016-alex-laurie-modern-space-wm-4371 casbys-2016-sam-arion-and-cody-steele-modern-space-wm-4345casbys-2016-modern-space-wm-4431The Edge 102.1 Casbys 2016 Modern SpaceDARCYScasbys-2016-jason-couse-darcys-wm-4632 casbys-2016-jason-couse-darcys-wm-4527 casbys-2016-jason-couse-darcys-wm-4608 102.1 The Edge 2016 Casbys Jason Couse - DarcysBANNERScasbys-2016-banners-wm-4678 casbys-2016-banners-wm-4684 casbys-2016-banners-wm-4701 casbys-2016-banners-wm-4707 102.1 The Edge 2016 Casby Awards - BannersFINGER ELEVEN
casbys-2016-finger-eleven-wm-4790casbys-2016-finger-eleven-wm-4827casbys-2016-finger-eleven-wm-4851102.1 The Edge Casby Awards 2016 - Finger Eleven - James Black102.1 The Edge Casby Awards 2016 - Finger Eleven - Sean Andersoncasbys-2016-finger-eleven-wm-4892SAM ROBERTS

1 year ago

Morning Report: Arkells at WayHome 2016!

Oh baby, look how far we’ve come!

Four years ago we saw the Arkells on stage at Toronto’s CNE, and they did a hell of a job entertaining the crowd. Saturday night we saw the pride of Hamilton on the WayBright stage at WayHome 2016 and holy shit did they ever one up themselves.

Going into the set we knew things were going to be bigger than anything the boys had done in the past. We knew it because they told us themselves when we sat down with Max and Mike in the woods. Max told us that he wanted to dance more than he used to… and he did. And he told us that the band would be introducing a horn section and back-up singers… and they did that too. But when we asked them what the difference between the stage shows then and the stage shows now is, one of the biggest things they mentioned was the crowd knowing the songs and singing along.

Here’s the thing, we sat and talked to the guys, and then at 8:15 we were at the WayBright stage to catch the show. And while it’s usually pretty easy to weave a post together to share with you guys, this one feels different. The Arkells were so good, so explosive, so energetic, so ready for the moment that we have to talk about that and then get to the other stuff.

1) Max was on fire!

Truly, the only way he could have been hotter would have been to actually be alight. In some slick white pants he danced and strutted and moved around the stage like he owned it… and for an hour on Saturday night, he did.

AND he crowd surfed as he sang. The dude climbed down off the stage during A Little Rain and perched himself on the barrier, and then as he held the mic and sang he leaned back and let the crowd pull him in a few rows, balancing on hands and trying to hold notes. It was the kind of moment that you hope every band gets – and Max got it.

WayHome - Arkells

2) The whole band was in top shape!

Anthony killed his solo on the keys – and the crowd responded with the loudest cheer I’ve ever heard for a keyboard anything. Mike did his share of the guitar work and more as Max wandered and danced… and though they joked about it before the show, he didn’t look like it bothered him one single bit.

But don’t think that Nick and Tim weren’t also in a groove! The boys holding down the rhythm and bass ran a tight ship that kept the whole machine in motion. And that machine sounded as tight as anyone on stage this weekend.

3) Northern Soul Horns & The Arkettes!

That horn section Mike and Max told us about, they were freaking fantastic. They busted out some Jackie Wilson and The Jackson Five, just to give us all a taste of what they had to offer. And when it was time to just play along with the band and fill in the sound, they were all over that too. It worked. It really worked.

Then we get to The Arkettes… these two ladies busted out My Girl in such perfect form that the security guard closest to me broke out in her biggest smile of the damn day. Their voices complimented the Arkells’ tracks every chance they got – and they looked like they were having just as much fun as the rest of the band up on that stage.

WayHome - Arkells-0401

4) They covered The Hip!

In this year of The Tragically Hip’s unfortunate farewell tour we are learning more and more about how much Gord Downie and the band mean to everyone around us, and to ourselves. So when the boys played Music At Work and the crowd cheered and danced and Max strutted and waved his arms and damn near channeled Gord himself as the song went on. The note in my book from that moment says one simple thing: People are so happy.

Leading into the festival we told Matt and Kim that they’d be winners with the crowd if they played The Hip, nobody had to tell the Arkells. They know how much the music means to them, and how much it means to everyone that was in the crowd on WayHome day 2.

5) All of the singing along!

I know we’re only two days into a three day festival, and all kinds of great things are going to happen on Sunday… but so far we haven’t seen any set get more singing along than the Arkells got. People sang choruses and verses and call and answers and they were loud. Well mostly they were loud, Max did have to ask for a little more volume once, but it didn’t happen twice.

Back in the woods they said the biggest difference was that people knew the words now… those people proved it.

WayHome - Arkells - Interview-9706In less than two weeks the Arkells will drop a new album on the world. Morning Report comes to us on Friday, August 5 – and if the reaction to tracks like Private School and Drake’s Dad are any indication, it’s going to be a hit. Max told us that it was cool to be in studio working on Morning Report, trying to come up with something that wasn’t High Noon.

The last thing I brought up during our chat in the woods was the Jonah Keri podcast from May 2016. Max and Nick were caught by Jonah on their tour bus on a stop in Denver. It was a cool little baseball meets rock and roll listen that made me happy and kind of brought interests together. If you love either the Arkells (they tell some good stories and give cool insight) or Jonah and how he conducts interviews – give it a listen!

Note: I also asked how that club tour went, and it seems to have been great. The boys said that the new cities they hit were a lot of fun, and the shows they put on in cities like Boston and DC were the best they’d had in the States yet.

The Arkells were all over the stage on Saturday night – but one of my favourite moments came near the end when the music stopped just long enough for the band to come together and take a photo of the crowd with peace signs up in the air. It was fleeting and sweet, and it worked.

When they’re around next (click here and check) get a ticket and see the new show. It might not be WayHome big – but it’s going to be WayHome good!

Arkells WayHome 2016 Setlist

Come To Light
Michigan Left
Never Thought That This Would Happen
Drake’s Dad
Oh, The Boss Is Coming!
Pulling Punches
Private School
Music At Work
Leather Jacket

WayHome - ArkellsWayHome - Arkells-0280WayHome - Arkells - interview-9708WayHome - Arkells-0295WayHome - Arkells-0411WayHome - Arkells-0288WayHome - Arkells-0454WayHome - Arkells-0368WayHome - Arkells-0349WayHome - Arkells - interview-9725WayHome - Arkells - interview-9728WayHome - Arkells-0482

1 year ago

Canada Day at Downsview Park w/ Weezer and The Hip!


On Canada Day I was lucky enough to hit Downsview Park with good friends to see Weezer and The Tragically Hip. As a bonus we saw Broken Social Scene, Hey Rosetta! and even Buck 65 when he popped on stage to do a Beastie Boys cover with BSS.

The best part was being with 4 people who are awesome and totally worth spending a day with.

The second best part was how amazing Weezer was on stage. They played the songs the crowd wanted to hear. They were fun. They invited us to sing along and they gave me chills.

Side note: I had pretty much given up on seeing Weezer live since it is something I’ve been thinking about and wishing would come together since high school.

Big thank yous again go out to Windows Canada – who not only hooked us up with tickets to be at the show – but then the gang in the tent gave us sunglasses – what a score!

Thanks to Rannie (@photojunkie) we even have video evidence that it was amazing being in the crowd for the day – check out the sing-a-long clip from Say It Ain’t So!

The third coolest thing was running into Katie and Alana who I have known for a combined 50 years or so. Port Hope High School can be found everywhere!

This isn’t a review – I don’t have a ton of photos – but there is one that Rannie took of me before the Weezer set that I love to pieces.

This Is What A Moment Of Excitement Looks Like!

That’s all for now kids – it’s early – I have coffee to drink – and a day to make awesome – so do you – get to it!

7 years ago

Happy Canada Day from The Tragically Hip and Weezer!

Everyone Loves Canada Day Cupcakes!


Hey kids, I’ve got something awesome to share – Windows Canada hooked me up for Canada Day at Downsview Park.

That means that I get to see The Tragically Hip, Weezer, Broken Social Scene, Hey Rosetta! and Buck 65 all in one fantastic holiday!

I’ve never seen any of the acts on the bill so I’m pretty hyped for that. And I love me some Weezer, so that’s especially fantastic in my twinkling eyes.

If you’ve got tickets and are going to be there make sure to look for me. I have no idea what I’ll be wearing. Probably something red (which will make me easy to find I’m sure) if I can make up my mind. I will try my best not to be wearing any Canadian flag temp tattoos or things of that nature. But I can promise nothing.

There were other options for the day – and I’m a little sad that I won’t be at the Rogers Centre to see Roy Halladay and the Phillies. But to have the chance to spend the day with friends, outside, in the sun, with Buddy Holly ringing in my ears is way to good to pass up.

Side note: I really should try to get some flip-flops and sunglasses!

I live a pretty charmed life my friends. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again.

Good friends, good family and good interwebers. There’s not much more that I can ask for.

I’m sorry that I’m not giving away tickets for tomorrow – but it just wasn’t an option this time around. Perhaps something will come up for us in the future.

Side note: If you’re having cupcakes tomorrow for any reason, throw a candle on there and blow it out for Canada’s birthday!

I may not write about the concert tomorrow – but I’m sure other people will. Keep your eyes open for reviews, pictures and all sorts of stories. It should be an awesome time for everyone.

I gotta jet for now. Here’s me wishing you all a Happy Canada Day! – and to my 2 readers south of the border, Happy Independence Day!

Stay awesome!

7 years ago
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