Toronto

Good Together: James Barker Band, Meghan Patrick, and Jojo Mason Game On Tour, Toronto

Toronto hovered around the freezing mark on Friday, but inside of The Phoenix Concert Theatre, things were hot, sweaty, and fired up as James Barker Band brought the Game On Tour to town with Meghan Patrick and Jojo Mason.

As one of the fastest risers on the Canadian country music scene in the last few years, James Barker Band (JBB) have gone from the small stages in local bars, to the stages of sold out country bars in the city, and now they’ve hit a new level as they sold out The Phoenix – just nine months after they released their first EP at Canadian Music Week 2017.

The Game On Tour is in full swing, and if what we saw in Toronto on Friday night is any indication, there are going to be a lot of satisfied country music fans across the country when it’s finished. All three acts on the bill brought their A game to the stage, playing hits, fan favourites, and peppering in a few fantastic covers that only added to the excitement in the crowd throughout the night.

Jojo Mason at Toronto's The Phoenix - Game On Tour

Jojo Mason kicked off the night with a tight 25 minutes of music that revved up the Toronto audience and started the temperature rise in the building.

The Saskatchewan native looked right at home at The Phoenix, hitting the stage with his band and bringing the energy that he’s become known for. And as the 2017 Canadian Country Music Association Rising Star nominee rolled through songs like Red Dress, Good Kinda Love, and his current single, Edge Of The Night we could hear the crowd singing along simultaneously warming themselves up and getting the party started.

By the time Jojo wrapped his short set with It’s All Good, it was clear that things were only going to get louder and hotter on the Toronto stop of the Game On Tour. Jojo Mason did his job, and we should all be looking forward to the next time we get to see him on stage.

Related: Jojo Mason, Game On Tour Interview & Feature

More photos below…

Jojo Mason Setlist, Game On Tour, Toronto

🎤 Edge Of The Night 🎤 Red Dress/Chicken Fried 🎤 Good Kinda Love 🎤 Something To Wrap My Heart Around 🎤 No Diggity [Blackstreet] 🎤 It’s All Good

After a brief intermission, Meghan Patrick, the 2017 CCMA Rising Star and Female Artist of the Year awards winner, hit the stage at The Phoenix.

The Bowmanville, ON star came armed with a 10 song set that included songs from her debut album, Grace & Grit, and her January 2018 release, Country Music Made Me Do It. And as she played tracks from each album, the crowd got louder, more involved, and showed her the love that the pseudo-hometown concert had to offer.

Note: Meghan also took the chance to wish a happy birthday to the one and only Dolly Parton before she broke into a rousing rendition of Jolene.

Accompanied by a full band of five dudes on stage, Patrick’s sound was full and tight. Her voice, which has always been a strength, ripped through the speakers and met the voices of the Toronto fans as they sang along with her.

And to see and hear those country music fans sing along to new songs like Country Music Made Me Do It and George Strait with the same love that they use to belt out Grace & Grit and Bow Chicka Wow Wow serves as a confirmation (not that it was needed) that Meghan Patrick truly has become a star, burning bright and hot in Canadian country music.

Related: Meghan Patrick Q&A and Game On Tour Preview 

More photos below…

Meghan Patrick Setlist, Game On Tour, Toronto

🎤 Hardest On My Heart 🎤 Long Way From Waylon 🎤 Country Music Made Me Do It 🎤 George Strait 🎤 The Bad Guy 🎤 Grace & Grit 🎤 Jolene [D. Parton] 🎤 Be Country With Me 🎤 The Buzz 🎤 Bow Chicka Wow Wow

James Barker Band at Toronto's The Phoenix - Game On Tour 2018

In August 2015 we saw the James Barker Band on the Boots & Hearts stage as finalists in the Emerging Artist Showcase… in the two and a half years since the boys haven’t slowed down a bit.

The Game On Tour serves as JBB’s first headlining trek across Canada, and with a fist full of Canadian country music chart hits and fan favourites, these boys came ready to play in Toronto.

From the jump, the warmed up (hot and sweaty) Friday night crowd was all in on the JBB set. And from the opening notes of It’s Working, they were loud and engaged. There were cheers and screams and laughs as James, Taylor, Bobby, and Connor played their set, cracking jokes, having fun, and clearly enjoying the chance to play for a sold out Toronto audience.

The band’s set was a well thought out mix of tracks from their 2017 EP, Game On, new songs that we expect to hear on their next record (including the brand new single, Good Together), and covers of Brad Paisley, Keith Urban, John Michael Montgomery, and Hank Williams. The pacing was smooth, the energy in the room never dipped, and it was clear that James Barker Band was in complete control of the crowd on the floor in front of them.

James Barker Band at Toronto's The Phoenix - Game On Tour 2018

These boys are serious about their music in that they work hard and have released some excellent songs, but they don’t take themselves so seriously that they can’t remember that this is supposed to be fun. So when they called up volunteers from the crowd to make their cover of Sold (The Grundy County Auction Incident) an interactive event, it fit perfectly.

Note: When we talked to James before the tour started we asked about Sold and whether we should expect it in the set. James told us that he wasn’t sure it would be a JBB show without it, and we’re glad that was his answer.

With radio hits like Just Sayin’, Lawn Chair Lazy, and Chills in their set, we were ready for a lot of singing along, and we got it. The country music fans in Toronto weren’t shy about participating in the action, raising their voices to meet James, and making sure that they contributed to the overall sound at The Phoenix.

It all came together to create an amazing atmosphere and a Friday night party in the city.

The Game On Tour wraps in Vancouver on February 10th, but that doesn’t mean that James Barker Band are planning to slow down. Be ready to see a lot more of them soon, and if you have a chance to catch them before the tour is over, do it!

James Barker Band, Game On Tour, Toronto

🎤 It’s Working
🎤 Going Places*
🎤 Just Sayin’
🎤 Good Together
🎤 Throwback
🎤 Hey Good Lookin’ [H. Williams]
🎤 Living The Dream
🎤 I’m Gonna Miss Her [B. Paisley]
🎤 Keep You Happy*
🎤 Sweet Thing [K. Urban]
🎤 Looking At You*
🎤 Sold (The Grundy County Auction Incident) [J.M. Montgomery]
🎤 Lawn Chair Lazy
ENCORE
🎤 Rock/Pop Medley
🎤 Chills

*new songs, unrecorded, names may be inaccurate.

James Barker Band Photos, Game On Tour (Toronto)

James Barker Band at Toronto's The Phoenix - Game On Tour 2018 James Barker Band's Bobby Martin at Toronto's The Phoenix - Game On Tour 2018 James Barker Band at Toronto's The Phoenix - Game On Tour 2018 James Barker Band's Bobby Martin at Toronto's The Phoenix - Game On Tour 2018 James Barker Band at Toronto's The Phoenix - Game On Tour 2018 James Barker Band at Toronto's The Phoenix - Game On Tour 2018

Meghan Patrick Photos, Game On Tour (Toronto)

 

Jojo Mason Photos, Game On Tour (Toronto)

Jojo Mason at Toronto's The Phoenix - Game On Tour Jojo Mason at Toronto's The Phoenix - Game On Tour Jojo Mason at Toronto's The Phoenix - Game On Tour Jojo Mason at Toronto's The Phoenix - Game On Tour Jojo Mason at Toronto's The Phoenix - Game On Tour

Edge Of The Night: Jojo Mason, Game On Tour Feature

Jojo Mason rolled into Toronto on Friday with the Game On Tour, ready for action and what comes next.

We caught up with Jojo before his opening slot on the James Barker Band show to talk about being on the road, his plans for new music, changing the game, and how excited he is to be doing what he does.

Note: Earlier in the day Jojo took over our Instagram account, posting photos and videos from a busy morning of TV appearances, a SiriusXM session, and the chance to meet Big Machine’s Scott Borchetta. Check out his timeline posts at @thereviewsarein.com.

The last time we hung out with Jojo Mason we were in Port Perry, ON in September 2017, and he told us that there were big things coming. He couldn’t share details then… but four months later, it’s all pretty clear. The Saskatchewan native is on tour with James Barker Band and Meghan Patrick for 21 dates, crossing the country from Halifax to Vancouver, playing a 25 minute set in each city, and getting the crowd ready for the rest of the night.

Jojo Mason at Toronto's The Phoenix - Game On Tour

We asked Jojo about the experience so far (a week in) and he gushed about the chance to get up on stage at sold out shows to share his music. He is loving the chance to play for Canadian country music fans, and they are responding in ways he never expected. Jojo is hearing those excited fans sing back to him at each stop, and it’s wowing him every time. The 2017 Canadian Country Music Association Rising Star nominee told us that the feeling of hearing his own songs being sung back to him is almost indescribable.

Mason also talked to us about learning and growing on this tour. He told us that he is taking every chance he gets to talk to his tour mates about his set, asking for advice, tips, and feedback about what they’re seeing. He knows that JBB and Meghan Patrick have been on big tours before, and he knows there’s a lot for him to soak in. That willingness to put his ego aside to learn and improve fits perfectly with everything we already knew about Jojo Mason… and it is only going to make him a better performer as his career progresses.

Here’s the thing about Jojo Mason – he’s legitimately the best dude. There isn’t anyone we’ve met that has said anything to contradict that opinion. We’ve experienced it ourselves, we’ve heard stories from fans and industry folks, and it’s all true. In fact, when we talked to James Barker the night before the Game On Tour kicked off in Halifax and asked him to describe Jojo in three words… and he said: The Nicest Guy. And here’s another thing – Jojo gives the best hugs. We’ve been saying it forever, and on Friday night it was echoed in his introduction from KX Country’s Mike Fuller and Jerry Archer. The secret’s out!

Jojo Mason at Toronto's The Phoenix - Game On Tour

In June 2017, Jojo Mason released his debut album, Both Sides Of The Bar, and gave country fans a collection of 10 songs, including singles, It’s All Good, Good Kinda Love, Red Dress, Made For You, Something To Wrap My Heart Around, and his most recent release, Edge Of The Night. The energetic singer has played those songs on every stage possible since then, but that doesn’t mean he hasn’t also been working on the music that comes next.

Back in September, Jojo told us that he had started doing some writing for his follow-up project, and on Friday he told us that after a November trip to Nashville for more writing, the demo-ing process has started.

There was an excitement on Mason’s face and in his voice when he talked about what he wants to do with his new music… and for good reason. Jojo Mason wants to pave his own path with his next album. He’s looking to change the game a little bit, and carve out some space for something new.

As a kid, Jojo grew up on country music. And soul. And funk. And now, as an artist and fan of music, he’s looking for a chance to put those influences and passions together. He calls it Country-Soul, and he’s looking to make it happen.

Jojo told us that he’s already started to push producer Dan Swinimer for new sounds on the new songs, including horns. And while we haven’t heard any of the demos, it’s easy to imagine them as fun, full, energetic, and packed with all of the things we get from Jojo now.

Jojo Mason with Joshua Murray at Toronto's The Phoenix in the lobby prior to the Game On Tour

Mason also told us that the next single he releases won’t be from Both Sides Of The Bar, and that it will be a new brand track. He didn’t tell us when it’s coming, but it is on the way.

Before we wrapped our chat and let Jojo Mason get ready for the show, we talked a little more about the tour and how it’s been going so far. Jojo told us (with a big smile) that it’s been a blast. He compared it to hanging out with his friends back home. Getting the chance to be with the James Barker Band boys and Meghan Patrick every day has been a lot of fun (and work). And whether they’re talking about hometowns, their dogs, relationships, life, or having Nerf gun fights (check out Jojo and Meghan’s Instagram stories) it’s all coming together to be a good time.

In fact, Jojo told us that he’s ready for Meghan Patrick (his bus-mate) to take him hunting and fishing.

We’ll all have to wait and see if the two country kids get out in the woods together, and we’ll do our best to be patient as we wait for new music from Jojo… but until then, we’ll be remembering the show he put on at The Phoenix Concert Theatre in Toronto on Friday night.

Jojo came out strong in his opening slot performance, playing a tight 25 minute set with the band, and rolling out the hits and surprises as he made the most of his time.

We could hear the crowd singing along, we could see them dancing, and when Jojo Mason and his boys played a cover of Blackstreet’s No Diggity, complete with a banjo, we were in 90’s hip hop/country music fan heaven.


Jojo Mason is a dude with a lot of career ahead of him. He’s ready to work, ready to learn, and ready to take chances. And, he’s ready to entertain the hell out of anyone that wants to come on out.

If you’re west of Toronto and you like to have a good time listening to live country music, we highly recommend that you get tickets for the Game On Tour stop near you.

Jojo recommends it too. And a nice guy like him wouldn’t steer you wrong.

Jojo Mason Setlist, Game On Tour, Toronto

Edge Of The Night
Red Dress/Chicken Fried
Good Kinda Love
Something To Wrap My Heart Around
No Diggity
It’s All Good

Jojo Mason at Toronto's The Phoenix - Game On Tour Jojo Mason at Toronto's The Phoenix - Game On Tour Jojo Mason at Toronto's The Phoenix in the lobby prior to the Game On Tour Jojo Mason at Toronto's The Phoenix - Game On Tour Jojo Mason at Toronto's The Phoenix in the lobby prior to the Game On Tour Jojo Mason with Joshua Murray at Toronto's The Phoenix in the lobby prior to the Game On Tour

New Touch: Caveboy, Parallels, and Aviva at The Rivoli

On a frigid Wednesday night in Toronto, we hit the back room at The Rivoli on Queen Street West to check out some talented musicians on stage, and celebrate Trish’s birthday.

Caveboy, Parallels, and Aviva all took their turn on the stage, warming up the crowd and keep spirits during the mid-week, holiday break live show.

Aviva…

The 19 year old singer and actress (Family Channel’s Backstage & CBC’s Workin’ Moms) showed her pop chops to start the show. Singing songs from her 2017 EP, Songs About Boys, Aviva charmed the crowd and showed her ability to put forth fun pop music to a live crowd.

Songs like Fire To Start, Princesses Don’t Cry, Hype (her first single), and WILD (her next single), all played well with the early crowd. And if there’s anything we’d hope to see the next time we catch Aviva on stage that we didn’t see this time, it would be a live band to back her. That would be a lot of fun.

Parallels…

Parallels released their third album, Metropolis, in 2017, and on Wednesday night they mixed in some of the tracks from the record to entertain the Toronto crowd during their mid-show set.

With an electro-pop sound and a dance party vibe, Parallels gave all of the bass we could have hoped for, and along with the smooth vocals of Holly Dodson we were given a string of songs that were a whole lot of fun.

Tell The World, Civilization, and the title track, Metropolis, all gave the Queen Street West audience something to groove to, and showed us that the third album from Parallels should be a stepping stone to their fourth, and more!

Caveboy…

Caveboy headlined the show and were ready to go as the main event at The Rivoli.

The Alt Dream Pop trio from Montreal looked and showed that they felt at home on the Toronto stage. They ripped through fan favourites, 2017 releases, and new music that’s coming soon in a year-ending show that we’re glad we got to see.

Note: Caveboy also played I Wanna Dance With Somebody – which is always, always a good choice!

During the set we got the hear 2017 release, Raconteur, as well as Love Song from their self-titled 2015 EP, and Landslide, which we hope we’ll find on an early 2018 album.

Related: NXNE 2017 Port Lands – Caveboy Q&A

The songs, none directly connected to each other, all worked well in the set, and will continue to help Caveboy build bigger and longer sets that crowds will be able to dance and jam along to.

We’ll be ready!

More Photos of Caveboy at The Rivoli

More Photos of Parallels at The Rivoli

More Photos of Aviva at The Rivoli

Joshua’s Highlights and Top Memories of 2017!

2017 was a year packed with great experiences, moments, and memories. I had the chance to see a lot of live music, review great albums, and interview some very talented people.

I am a lucky dude to get to do what I love and share it here and through our social media channels (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) and I look forward to doing more of it in 2018 and beyond!

Here are five of my favourite musical memories of this year, I’d love to hear some of yours in the comment section!

Country Set of the Year

Eric Church at Air Canada Centre, Toronto (March 2, 2017)

Toronto can be cold in March, especially in hockey arenas, but when Eric Church came to the Air Canada Centre, and 16,000+ came to see him, things heated up in a hurry.

For more than three hours Eric Church played hits and fan favourites. There was no opening act. There was no bullshit. There was just Church, his band, and his fans living and loving on country music in Canada’s biggest city.

Having seen Church live once before at Boots & Hearts, I thought I knew what I was getting into. But from my seat in the ACC, I experienced something different. Something more intimate… because while 16,000 is a lot of fans, it’s smaller than nearly 40,000 fans. And whenever you put a roof and walls around music and let it stay in the room instead of floating off into the night, things are instantly more real and the ability to feel the music in your bones is increased.

I don’t know when, where, or if I’ll see Eric Church live again. But I can tell you now that even if I never do again, I’ve got my melody to remind me of a memory.

Holdin’ My Own: Eric Church Takes Toronto

Rock and Roll Set of the Year

Arkells at Budweiser Stage, Toronto (June 24, 2017)

My 2016 and 2017 playlists have included a lot of Arkells… and on a summer night in Toronto I added some live rock and roll to the year.

I stood on the grass, and I cheered and sang and danced and loved every minute of the show. And even now, looking back, I remember how great it was to watch Max direct the crowd while he and the band rolled through a set of radio hits and fan favourites.

Note: If you’re looking to get lost down a YouTube rabbit hole, I suggest a long list of Arkells live performance videos.

There were more than 17,000 people at Budweiser Stage that night to see July Talk and Arkells, and it was a moment and memory that I’m glad I was able to experience and add to my year. It was fun, like live rock and roll is when things go right. The energy was right. And just like they did at WayHome 2016, Arkells owned the stage and held the crowd in their hands as they put on their show.

Let’s do it again in 2018!

Celebrating Summer: Arkells, July Talk & Friends Rock Toronto!

Breakout Band in a Little Bar

Midland at The Dakota Tavern, Toronto (April 25, 2017)

In late April, before the excitement of summertime or a number one hit on the radio in Canada first, and the United States – Midland came to Toronto for the first time, and made a stop at The Dakota Tavern to play an acoustic showcase for media, industry, and some lucky fans.

Mark, Jess, and Cameron were funny, smooth, and showed off the talent that country music fans have come to know and fall in love with as 2017 has progressed. And while it’s awesome to listen to the album and sing along (On The Rocks is a quality listen), and to remember seeing Midland on stage at Boots & Hearts in August with Drinkin’ Problem at the top of the charts… it’s amazing to think back to that night in April, in a basement bar in Toronto, and remember those boys picking and strumming and singing.

That night they played songs we know all the words to know from the album, songs they had release on YouTube before that, and heard for ourselves just how legit their harmonies and songwriting chops are.

I’m not sure many people are going to get that kind of chance again. I’m glad we didn’t miss ours.

Drinkin’ Problem: Midland Comes North to Toronto

Favourite Interview of the Year

Jessica Mitchell, The Feature

In June of this year we published a Jessica Mitchell feature that looked at the moments in her life that have helped push her to where she is now. I wrote about the music, the memories, and the woman herself.

Over the last couple of years we’ve had a few chances to catch up with Jessica Mitchell in interviews, but in preparation for the feature, we had my most memorable interview of 2017.

Trish and I met Jessica on a rooftop patio in Toronto and sat for more than an hour. We talked about childhood memories, we took turns telling stories, and we learned more about Jessica Mitchell than we knew before.

But more than the information we took away from that day, and the story that I was able to write and share, we left knowing more than ever that Jessica Mitchell is one of the most genuine, thoughtful people we know.

It took months of planning before we made it happen, but I don’t begrudge that, because that interview was a highlight of my year.

Moments: Jessica Mitchell, the Feature

Live Song That Broke Me

Tim Hicks – Throw A Ball

When you are as fortunate as we are to see a lot of live music every year, there’s a higher statistical chance that there will be moments that transcend the enjoyment of the music and turn into emotional moments and memories. This fall, at one of my favourite venues in Toronto, I got to experience one of those moments.

Tim Hicks, Canadian country music star, was one of five featured performers on stage at The Dakota Tavern for Four Chords And The Truth, a singer/songwriter event that celebrates music. At that event we got to hear Tim Hicks play a new song, an unreleased track that nearly broke me.

The song, Throw A Ball, is dedicated to Hicks’ young son and tells the story of a boy growing up playing catch with his dad, and then becoming a father and playing catch with his son. It’s a story song, the kind that country music is best at, and it resonated with me as a kid who grew up loving baseball and playing with my dad.

It also hit me hard because just over a year ago I lost my dad, AND next summer I’m going to become a father for the first time. And as I listened to Tim Hicks sing his song, and tell his story, I thought about my story and the memories that I hold onto, and the memories that I hope to be lucky enough to make in the future.

I hope that some day Hicks records Throw A Ball so you can all hear it. But until then, I will hold onto the memory of that night in Toronto, listening with my eyes closed, wondering if I was going to cry.

Four Chords and the Truth: Marc Jordan, Tim Hicks, Damhnait Doyle, Andrea Ramolo, Bill Bell & Friends

I hope your 2017 was as memorable as mine was. And I hope that we all make twice as many good memories in 2018.

Horseshoe Holiday Bash: Jane’s Party, The Kents, and Caren

‘Tis the season for holiday parties, and at The Horseshoe Tavern on Tuesday night we enjoyed a Holiday Bash with Jane’s Party, The Kents, and Caren.

From the jump it was clear that Toronto was in the spirit of the season, with live music fans covering the checkerboard floor, and jamming along with the action on stage. The four act show (sadly we weren’t able to stick around for The Almighty Rhombus to close things out) was certainly a celebration, with festive decorations on stage, and good feelings throughout.

The show started with Caren taking to the stage with her band.

Playing the legendary Toronto stage to celebrate the season, and give people a chance to listen to her play songs from her self-titled 2017 EP, Caren held her own on Tuesday night. Both with her band, and during a solo acoustic break in the middle of the set, she was engaging and entertaining.

The sounds were smooth, and the songs hold a lyrical depth that is as refreshing as it is impactful. To hear Caren play songs like Teach Me and Berlin live was a nice way to follow-up the listens I’ve put in since the EP’s October release.

Watch for more from Caren in 2018 as she looks to build on the momentum she’s started to find this year.

We’ve got more photos of Caren at the bottom of this post, scroll on down to check them out.

The Kents continued the Holiday Bash when they took the stage next, and they put The Horseshoe Tavern fully in the spirit when they played a cover of the Saturday Night Live classic, I Wish It Was Christmas Today.

But it wasn’t all skit show covers, The Kents also released an EP in October 2017, and were ready to play songs from Within Waves for the early week Toronto crowd. Upping the energy to four piece rock and roll levels and playing songs including Caroline (I Can’t Explain) and From The Street, we got a taste of what The Kents have to offer. And we’d gladly take more of it.

With EP releases in both 2016 and 2017, The Kents are consistent in their ability to provide new music. Here’s hoping there’s more in 2018 to continue their young career.

Want to see more photos of The Kents from the Holiday Bash at The Horseshoe Tavern? Scroll down, we’ve got some!

Local boys, Jane’s Party were next on the stage, and the name that brought many of The Horseshoe Tavern attendants out on Tuesday night.

The four part rock and roll outfit were amped up from the get go, and put on a great club gig to compliment the outdoor set we saw from them this summer at the CNE when they opened for Sam Roberts and ripped through songs like Cigarette Buzz.

The Tuesday night Jane’s Party set included What I’ve Been Missing and Old Friends… and a little extra taste of Christmas music that we’ll be remembering from the Holiday Bash. Early in the set we got a taste of Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer, Carol Of The Bells, and Good King Wenceslas on guitar – and it was the kind of special little touch that makes live music worth going to see – especially at this time of year.

Jane’s Party did what they do, bringing fans to the front of the stage, keeping them moving, and supplying the soundtrack to a night out in the city. We’ll be seeing them again… hope we see you there.

AND, Jane’s Party dropped a Christmas single this year. Give Last Train Home This Christmas a listen and get in the spirit!

Now, check out the rest of our photos of Jane’s Party

More Photos of Jane’s Party at The Horseshoe Tavern

More Photos of The Kents at The Horseshoe Tavern

More Photos of Caren at The Horseshoe Tavern

1 month ago

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

Sold Out: The Dead South with Johnson Crook at Lee’s Palace

On a cold winter night in Toronto, with snow on the ground and a feeling of pre-holiday energy in the air, a sold out crowd packed Lee’s Palace to see The Dead South bring their energy to the stage.

The Regina, Saskatchewan band were on their second of back-to-back sold out nights in Toronto, but showed no signs of fatigue in their set. And as the music played, the crowd reacted, loving every minute of it.

The show started with Toronto’s own Johnson Crook – warming up the stage and the crowd, and playing songs from their 2017 debut record, The Album.

Johnson Crook at Lee's Palace in Toronto on December 14 2017-

We’re no strangers to Johnson Crook and their music, we’ve seen the live show, but this was the first time we’d seen them on the Lee’s Palace stage, looking out over a sold out crowd, and playing their hearts out.

The set was their last of the year, and it was clear that they weren’t holding anything back as they rolled through tracks like Mr. Nobody, Call Me Home, Feel Some Love, and Mining For Freedom. They were tight, showed off some big smiles that confirmed to us that they were having a good time up on stage, and we’re pretty sure they earned some new fans in The Dead South’s crowd.

Johnson Crook at Lee's Palace in Toronto on December 14 2017

Twice in the set Johnson Crook gave a little mash-up/ throwback love, putting together Queen’s Fat Bottomed Girls with their own Down The River as well as Bob Seger’s Old Time Rock And Roll with their own Old School Rock & Roll. The crowd got into it, and it was a nice touch by the band, showing love to music that everyone reveres and connecting it with their own.

The set ended with Johnson Crook’s first single, Minnedosa – and a big cheer from the Lee’s Palace crowd. It was a hot open to a show on a cold night in the city… and the night kept going.

The Dead South at Lee's Palace in Toronto on December 14 2017

By the time The Dead South took the stage, Lee’s Palace was packed from front to back. Drinks were in the air, cheers were already ringing through the room, and the music was just getting ready to start.

The punk influenced bluegrassers were tight and dirty (just the way we like them) from the very start, pumping volume through the speakers, and supplying all of the energy that a Thursday night ast Lee’s could handle.

With tracks like Deadman’s Isle, Boots, and The Good Lord ripping through the air, the four piece band from the Prairies reminded us just how much fun they are live. It’s been just over two years since we saw and interviewed the band at The Horseshoe Tavern, and in that time they’ve only become more confident, polished, and ready to put on a show that people aren’t soon to forget.

Related: Good Company, The Dead South Lands in Toronto

The Dead South at Lee's Palace in Toronto on December 14 2017

The band played on into Thursday evening, with Miss Mary, Massacre Of El Kuroke, and Time For Crawlin, all from their 2016 album, Illusion & Doubt. And during Time For Crawlin they gave us our favourite moment of the night as Nate, Scott, Eliza Mary, and Danny took turns pulling on a bottle of Jameson in the middle of the song. It’s the kind of thing that works, it’s fun, and I’ll never begrudge anyone who wants to take a shot of good whiskey.

The grassroots fanbase of these bluegrass pickers is something to behold. Having sold out The Horseshoe on Wednesday, Lee’s Palace on Thursday, and regularly killin’ it in Europe, The Dead South are making a name for themselves in the world of live music. They are entertaining as hell, and when it comes to the technical side of things – they can pick it. You go find an old bluegrass fan and let them listen to the banjo, mandolin, and bass on these songs, and they’ll tell you it’s legit.

The show was fun from start to finish, also included two of our favourite songs from the band’s 2014 album, Good Company. And we aren’t the only ones that were excited when they started into both In Hell I’ll Be In Good Company, and Banjo Odyssey. The room loved it. They loved all of it.

And they’ll be back again to love The Dead South when they hit a Toronto stage again.

We’d bet on that!

More Photos of the Dead South at Lee’s Palace, Toronto

Nate Hilts - The Dead South at Lee's Palace in Toronto on December 14 2017 Scott Pringle - The Dead South at Lee's Palace in Toronto on December 14 2017 Eliza Mary Doyle - The Dead South at Lee's Palace in Toronto on December 14 2017 Danny Kenyon - The Dead South at Lee's Palace in Toronto on December 14 2017 Nate Hilts - The Dead South at Lee's Palace in Toronto on December 14 2017 The Dead South at Lee's Palace in Toronto on December 14 2017 Danny Kenyon - The Dead South at Lee's Palace in Toronto on December 14 2017 Nate Hilts - The Dead South at Lee's Palace in Toronto on December 14 2017 Eliza Mary Doyle - The Dead South at Lee's Palace in Toronto on December 14 2017 The Dead South at Lee's Palace in Toronto on December 14 2017 Nate Hilts - The Dead South at Lee's Palace in Toronto on December 14 2017 The Dead South at Lee's Palace in Toronto on December 14 2017

More Photos of Johnson Crook at Lee’s Palace, Toronto

Johnson Crook at Lee's Palace in Toronto on December 14 2017 Noel Johnson and Jared Craig - Johnson Crook at Lee's Palace in Toronto on December 14 2017 Nathan Crook - Johnson Crook at Lee's Palace in Toronto on December 14 2017 Trevor Crook - Johnson Crook at Lee's Palace in Toronto on December 14 2017 Jared Craig - Johnson Crook at Lee's Palace in Toronto on December 14 2017 Noel Johnson and Jared Craig - Johnson Crook at Lee's Palace in Toronto on December 14 2017 Nathan Crook - Johnson Crook at Lee's Palace in Toronto on December 14 2017 Nathan Crook - Johnson Crook at Lee's Palace in Toronto on December 14 2017 Trevor Crook - Johnson Crook at Lee's Palace in Toronto on December 14 2017

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

Ingredients:

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

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

Directions:

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.

Topping
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 foodnetwork.ca

Joey Landreth Whiskey Album Cover with Santa Hat

1 month ago

Goodnight, Sunrise at The Bovine Photo Review

On Friday night Goodnight, Sunrise played the opening slot at Toronto’s Bovine Sex Club. It was everything I imagined and so much more.

It was warm inside and crowded for 9:15. The full room was pushing up against the front of the stage and the energy was palpable. There were plenty of friends and fans up front making it feel super familiar and comfortable.

I was expecting the band to be good, but what I got was great. There was way more intensity in the set than I’d anticipated and I guess the lesson here is to forget expectations and to go into shows with an open mind.

My favourite moment had to be when Goodnight, Sunrise started playing Remember Now. I love the official video but this was a performance at a completely other level.

Thanks so much to the band for the invite, it was truly a pleasure.

Related: Remember Now: Goodnight, Sunrise Video Release

Goodnight, Sunrise at The Bovine Sex Club in Toronto Goodnight, Sunrise at The Bovine Sex Club in Toronto Goodnight, Sunrise at The Bovine Sex Club in Toronto Goodnight, Sunrise at The Bovine Sex Club in Toronto - David Kochberg Goodnight, Sunrise at The Bovine Sex Club in Toronto Goodnight, Sunrise at The Bovine Sex Club in Toronto - Joel Goodnight, Sunrise at The Bovine Sex Club in Toronto - Paul Weaver Goodnight, Sunrise at The Bovine Sex Club in Toronto - Vanessa Vakharia Goodnight, Sunrise at The Bovine Sex Club in Toronto - David Kochberg Goodnight, Sunrise at The Bovine Sex Club in Toronto- Vanessa Vakharia Goodnight, Sunrise at The Bovine Sex Club in Toronto - David Kochberg Goodnight, Sunrise at The Bovine Sex Club in Toronto - David Kochberg Goodnight, Sunrise at The Bovine Sex Club in Toronto

1 month ago

Imagine: Heather Rankin Album Review, Holiday Q&A and Egg Nog Recipe

The last year and a half has been busy for Heather Rankin, and now the Cape Breton singer is preparing to celebrate both Christmas and her brand new holiday album, Imagine.

With a mix of original songs and classics, including her cover of John Lennon’s Imagine (the title track on the album), Rankin has delivered 10 songs that can be enjoyed at a gathering of friends and family, or as you sit at home alone with a fire burning and a festive beverage in your hand.

Other Christmas classics, traditional and welcoming, include Once In Royal David’s City, Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas, and Silent Night. All three offer Rankin’s own touch, without taking away from what listeners will know and love from the songs they’ve been hearing for years.

Heather Rankin and Joshua Murray talking while sitting in the lobby of Toronto's Cambridge Suites

The first single from the album, Wrap It Up, is everything we could have hoped for from the former Rankin Family performer. It’s a toe tapper, it’s a good timer, it’s a fun tune that you might just catch yourself humming along to. With references to kitchen parties and stealing kisses under the mistletoe, Wrap It Up is a great introduction to the original music on Heather Rankin’s album.

We had the chance to catch up with Heather in Toronto as she prepared for the release of Imagine. And while we chatted, we took the time for a special holiday round of 5 Quick Questions. Hit play!

5 Quick Questions with Heather Rankin

While we were with Heather we also talked about the process of her solo career and her new holiday album. She told us that she’s wearing many hats these days, and she’s okay with that. From start to finish, she’s involved in all the processes of her career, and her debut solo album, A Fine Line, was the start of a busy time.

Heather told us that she’s experienced many milestones in a short period of time, which has been exciting. She also told us that she took baby steps as she moved into the solo artist world. Beginning with short 20 minute sets, and building up to feature performer status, Heather took her time and made sure she was ready.

We asked Heather about Imagine and when she started planning for the holiday record. She told us that it’s something that she’d been quietly thinking about for a while, but early in 2017 it became a reality with music, planning, and recording set up and put together.

Close up of Heather Rankin sitting in Toronto's Cambridge Suites Lobby

She also told us about growing up with music, the traditional Scottish and Gaelic songs that the settlers of the area brought with them. And she told us of the evolution to the Cape Breton sound, the music that Canadians know from The Rankin Family.

What we loved most about our entire time with Heather Rankin, whether we were talking about home, touring, Imagine, or Christmas, was her kindness and generosity. It became clear that she is the person that cares about everyone she knows. And that she’s always doing what she can to make life better for others, either through her music, or with acts of individual kindness.

Heather Rankin is warm and genuine. And her 2017 holiday album, Imagine, displays that as well as anything could.

Heather Rankin, Imagine Tracklist

1. Once In Royal David’s City
2. Dark Eyes Lullaby
3. Olde-Fashioned Christmas
4. Tale Of The Lost Black Skimmer
5. Picture Perfect
6. A Test To God
7. Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas
8. Silent Night
9. Wrap It Up
10. Imagine

The holidays aren’t complete without great food and drink, so we’re happy to share Heather Rankin’s favourite holiday recipe with you. If you love eggnog, and a little spirit added to your festive festivities, this one is definitely right for you!

Glass of Eggnog with Cinnamon Stick Garnish

Eggnog in Quantity

(Serves 12-14)

Ingredients:

12 Egg Yolks
2 cups Confectioners Sugar
4 to 6 cups Dark Liquor (Dark Rum, Bourbon, OR Rye. note the OR)
1 ¾ litres Whipping Cream
12 Egg Whites
Fresh Cinnamon and Nutmeg to Garnish

Directions:

1. Beat egg yolks until light in colour.
2. Gradually beat in the confectioner’s sugar.
3. Add 2 cups rum/bourbon/rye very slowly, beating constantly.
4. Let mixture stand covered for 1 hour to dispel the “eggy” taste.
5. Add remaining rum/bourbon/rye (2 to 4 cups depending on your preference) and whipping cream, beating constantly.
6. Beat egg whites until stiff but not dry. Fold egg whites lightly into the other ingredients. (if desired)
7. Serve sprinkled with fresh nutmeg and cinnamon to taste.

Recipe via The Joy Of Cooking

Heather Rankin talking while sitting in the lobby of Toronto's Cambridge Suites Close up of Heather Rankin sitting in Toronto's Cambridge Suites Close up of Heather Rankin sitting in Toronto's Cambridge Suites Close up of Heather Rankin sitting in Toronto's Cambridge Suites Lobby Close up of Heather Rankin sitting in Toronto's Cambridge SuitesHeather Rankin Imagine Album Cover

Four Chords and the Truth: Marc Jordan, Tim Hicks, Damhnait Doyle, Andrea Ramolo, Bill Bell & Friends

Thursday night in Toronto we visited one of our favourite venues to listen to the stories and songs of five songwriters at Four Chords and the Truth. And while we were there, we were reminded of something…

As much as we love and believe in the power of concerts and big crowds, the quiet and ability to hear a pin drop while honest, raw, and vulnerable stories are sung is magical, and powerful on a whole other level.

Four Chords and the Truth is a quarterly event, bringing songwriters to the beautiful stage of The Dakota Tavern to share their stories, sing their songs, and offer an up close and personal connection to the music lovers in the audience. On Thursday night we had the pleasure and honour of watching and listening as Marc Jordan, Tim Hicks, Andrea Ramolo, Bill Bell, Damhnait Doyle, and special guests, shared the warmly lit stage and put their musical hearts on their sleeves for more than two hours of stripped down, vulnerable, and honest storytelling and singing.

Sadly, the event creator, and regular host of Four Chords and the Truth, Andrea England was sick and unable to stay on stage Thursday night, but in her place Damhnait Doyle shepherded us all through three rounds of songs and stories and laughs.

1 – Marc Jordan: This

Marc Jordan, he of more than 40 years in the music industry as a singer and songwriter, proved himself to be a charming, funny, and captivating storyteller on Thursday night.

And as he played This, released by Rod Stewart in 1995, Jordan proved himself to be a strong, steady, and present performer, connecting with the quiet audience from start to finish.

2 – Tim Hicks: Forever Rebels

Hicks’ current single, Forever Rebels symbolizes his own journey to making his dreams come true, and passes that message and wish onto listeners as well.

The Dakota Tavern may only be a couple of miles from the stage Tim Hicks played covers on for years, but Thursday night he was a long way from there as the Canadian country music star with 10 Top 10 singles and fans from coast to coast.

3 – Andrea Ramolo: Hey, Hey, Hey

Andrea was raw and honest in her music and storytelling at Four Chords and the Truth. She talked about the depression that followed a breakup, and the friends and songwriting that helped her get through it.

And she shared songs that took her back to that place, which is as strong a thing as anyone can do – revisiting a dark time, in a room full of strangers, and opening yourself up to feel those things all over again.

4 – Bill Bell w/ Justin Nozuka: Soulless Man

Bill Bell has a heck of a resume, playing, writing, and performing with big names all over Canada and the world. And on Thursday night he was humble and gracious, sharing the stage on each of his songs.

Bell and Justin Nozuka played a vulnerable and almost heartbreaking version of Soulless Man that filled the room with feelings and sound as if the two were connected.

Damhnait Doyle at The Dakota - Four Chords and the Truth

5 – Damhnait Doyle: Better Life

As undeniably powerful as any other song of the night, Better Life offers a powerful account of the sacrifice, life long impact, and love that goes into the decision to offer a baby up for adoption to give it a better chance in life.

It felt real and true and didn’t sugarcoat the reasons, feelings, or reality of the situation, and that’s what made it matter.

6 – Marc Jordan: Marina Del Rey

Released in 1978, Marina Del Rey sits near the beginning of Marc’s career, and his life in California. He told The Dakota Tavern crowd about driving down the highway when he arrived on the US west coast, and remembering the sign and the rest is musical history.

7 – Tim Hicks: Worry About Me

Tim Hicks told the crowd that he and Deric Ruttan wrote this song for that one dude who always says he doesn’t like country music. There’s one at every show and every party, and so they decided to put something together for that guy.

The song is fun, we dug it, and it would fit well in Hicks catalog.

8 – Andrea Ramolo: You’re Everywhere

Andrea told the room that You’re Everywhere was a 10 minute write, which isn’t her usual process. But, in that post-breakup time she told us all about earlier, there came a moment when everything needed to flood out – and it did, and it became this song.

9 – Bill Bell w/ Tom Cochrane: Crawl

Canadian legend Tom Cochrane joined Bill Bell on his second song of the night, and the duo played and sang Crawl, the story of a 17 year old girl who was abused and down… until she got away.

To see the room find another level of attention to give when Cochrane sat down was amazing, and to be just a few feet away as Bill and Tom sang the 1996 single from Ragged Ass Road was something special.

10 – Damhnait Doyle: I Can See You

Written in direct response to the current state of affairs in the public when it comes to politics, particularly in the United States, Doyle’s new song is unafraid to take shots at those who hide behind their religion as a way to avoid taking a stand and doing what’s right.

It’s poignant and relevant and well done.

11 – Marc Jordan: Little Lambs

If you want your heart to break, if you want to think about the most horrible thing, if (in the words of Damhnait Doyle) you want to hear the best song you wish would end half way through, Little Lambs is for you.

This dagger to the heart tells the story of orphans, taken to and taken in by the church, and hurt and abused and forgotten… it will hurt you if you’re open to it.

12 – Tim Hicks: Throw A Ball

Hicks told a story about his son being upset that daddy wrote songs for mommy and his sister, but not him, so the country star sat down with him in mind. The result is a sweet song about playing catch with his dad, and his son, connecting his life between generations and experiences.

Truthfully, it broke me. As a baseball kid who lost my dad last year, and as a guy who is getting ready to be a first time dad next year, Throw A Ball hit me hard, in the saddest and sweetest and most emotional way of the night.

13 – Andrea Ramolo: Hold Me

In an attempt to lighten the mood from her previous songs, Andrea played Hold Me, a song inspired by the music of the 50s and 60s, and written as she was pushing herself to explore major keys in her creative process. It’s still sharing the same sadness… but it’s a different vibe, and it works.

14 – Bill Bell w/ Justine Giles: I Won’t Give Up

On his final song of the night, Bill Bell welcomed Justine Giles to the stage, and the duo sang a duetted rendition of Jason Mraz’s 2012 hit, I Won’t Give Up.

The pair sang the song well, with heart and feeling, and let it all hang out as they took their turns, and came together. A hit is a hit is a hit. Remember that.

15 – Marc Jordan w/ everyone: Rhythm Of My Heart
The most well-known song of the night came last, as Damhnait Doyle gave up her last turn to let Marc Jordan play the piano and sing, as everyone else joined in.

Written by Marc and John Capek, originally recorded in 1986 by René Shuman, and made popular by Rod Stewart in 1991, this song is a classic, and the entire room knew the chorus. The singing wasn’t loud and obnoxious, but you could see the lips moving, and you could feel the love in the room.

It was a great end to a great evening. And we will be back for the next round of Four Chords and the Truth.

More Photos from Four Chords and the Truth – November 23, 2017

Andrea England, Bill Bell, Damhnait Doyle and Tim Hicks at The Dakota - Four Chords and the Truth

Andrea England, Four Chords and the Truth

Justin Nozuka, Bill Bell and Andrea Ramolo at The Dakota - Four Chords and the Truth

Justin Nozuka with Bill Bell

Tom Cochrane at The Dakota - Four Chords and the Truth Tim Hicks at The Dakota - Four Chords and the Truth Bill Bell, Andrea Ramolo and Tim Hicks at The Dakota - Four Chords and the Truth Marc Jordan at The Dakota - Four Chords and the Truth Damhnait Doyle at The Dakota - Four Chords and the Truth Andrea Ramolo, Tim Hicks and Marc Jordan at The Dakota - Four Chords and the Truth Bill Bell at The Dakota - Four Chords and the Truth Andrea Ramolo and Tim Hicks at The Dakota - Four Chords and the Truth Andrea Ramolo and Tim Hicks at The Dakota Four Chords and the Truth Andrea England, Damhnait Doyle and Tim Hicks at The Dakota Four Chords and the Truth Marc Jordan, Tim Hicks, Andrea Ramolo, Bill Bell and Damhnait Doyle at The Dakota - Four Chords and the Truth

Darling, Let’s Go Out Tonight: JJ Shiplett with Sam Cash, Toronto

Wednesday night may not be the most traditional of times to hit a club for live music, but Toronto turned out with gusto for JJ Shiplett and Sam Cash at The Rivoli.

Almost exactly a year after we caught JJ on back-to-back nights in Toronto and Oshawa, he was on the small stage of a big city club again to share his songs and soul with the crowd. And with local boy, Sam Cash opening the show and setting the tempo, things were in good shape from the get go.

Sam Cash at Toronto's Rivoli-

Cash, the Toronto singer/songwriter, took the stage solo, with just his microphone and guitars to sing to the Wednesday night audience. And as he played through his set of new and unreleased songs, he showed that he’s, without doubt, got the kind of songwriting chops that we’re always happy to discover.

Playing songs like Driveway Moment, Stay In Touch, Love You Through Worse, and Wear It Well, I was struck by the realization that this is music that I could sit and drink good whiskey and think to.

Near the end of his set, Cash paid tribute to one of his heroes, Gord Downie. He told the crowd about his lifelong connection to the Canadian legend, from his childhood spending New Year’s Eve at Downie’s house parties, to his adulthood as a musician himself. And he told us about an email he sent to Gord after his cancer diagnosis, telling him that he was an inspiration and applauding his work. Sam also told us about Gord Downie’s reply, thanking Sam for his kind words and ending with a simple phrase that he will keep with him always, “Stay you, Sam. It makes people happy.”. It was a sweet story, an emotional moment, and Sam Cash followed it up with a cover of Gord Downie’s Chancellor – and it was good.

We’re hoping that the songs we heard Wednesday night make it to an album soon, because as much as we liked them, we believe others people will too.

JJ Shiplett at Toronto's Rivoli

When JJ Shiplett took the stage to open his set, the crowd responded as though it was a Friday night in the city, holding nothing back in showing their appreciation for the Calgary singer/songwriter.

And from the first song we were hit with a reminder that Shiplett has one of the most distinct and rich voices in Canadian music today.

Playing songs from his 2017 debut album, Something To Believe In, JJ and the band held the attention and affection of the crowd, listening to them sing along, thanking them for their cheers, and making jokes and engaging as the show went on.

And when he stripped it down in the middle of the set to play Loaded Like A Freight Train, a cover of Springsteen’s I’m On Fire, and his brand new Christmas single, Maybe This Christmas (written by the great Ron Sexsmith), all eyes and ears were focused on the man in the middle of the stage, giving everything he had.

While JJ Shiplett may not be a country radio staple, it’s clear that he has fans who are excited to hear him sing his songs at every opportunity. At one point in the evening there was a back and forth between the singer and his front row fans, playfully debating the length of time since he was last in Toronto to play. The fans remembered, they were sure of it, and when the show ended we know they were already getting themselves ready for the next time they’ll get to see JJ live on stage.

Note: Before the show we got a quick hello with JJ as he stopped at a table beside us to sign t-shirts that eager fans had bought at the merch table. A small crowd quickly formed around him, with excited faces and chatter as each of them waited for their turn to say hello and get a signature on their gear.

JJ Shiplett at Toronto's Rivoli

We’ve been writing about, listening to, and watching JJ Shiplett play for a couple of years now, and each time we do, we end up telling new people to check him out. And we aren’t the only ones. Recently, Andrew Hyatt mentioned JJ as one of the artists he thinks people should be paying more attention to during a round of 5 Quick Questions… and he’s 100% correct.

The Wednesday night set ended with a rousing rendition of Something To Believe In and JJ and the band leaving the stage… which lead to cheers and calls from the crowd for more. So JJ came back, solo to give the Toronto fans one more song, covering Arcade Fire’s Wake Up with the help of the voices in the room. He went out on top.

If you still haven’t discovered JJ Shiplett, we highly recommend that you listen to Something To Believe In and Maybe This Christmas… and get yourself a ticket to see the live show when it rolls into a venue near you.

JJ Shiplett Setlist, The Rivoli, Toronto

🎤 Darling, Let’s Go Out Tonight
🎤 Am I Dear?
🎤 Unknown Legend (Neil Young)
🎤 Oh No Girl
🎤 Seeking Shelter
🎤 Always For You
🎤 Waters
🎤 Loaded Like A Freight Train
🎤 I’m On Fire (Bruce Springsteen)
🎤 Maybe This Christmas
🎤 House On A River
🎤 Higher Ground
🎤 Something To Believe In
ENCORE:
🎤 Wake Up (Arcade Fire)

Check out more photos from Wednesday night at The Rivoli with JJ Shiplett and Sam Cash.

JJ Shiplett

JJ Shiplett at Toronto's Rivoli JJ Shiplett at Toronto's Rivoli JJ Shiplett at Toronto's Rivoli JJ Shiplett at Toronto's Rivoli JJ Shiplett at Toronto's Rivoli JJ Shiplett at Toronto's Rivoli JJ Shiplett at Toronto's Rivoli JJ Shiplett at Toronto's Rivoli JJ Shiplett at Toronto's Rivoli JJ Shiplett at Toronto's Rivoli JJ Shiplett at Toronto's Rivoli JJ Shiplett at Toronto's Rivoli JJ Shiplett at Toronto's Rivoli JJ Shiplett at Toronto's Rivoli JJ Shiplett at Toronto's Rivoli JJ Shiplett at Toronto's Rivoli JJ Shiplett at Toronto's Rivoli JJ Shiplett at Toronto's Rivoli JJ Shiplett at Toronto's Rivoli JJ Shiplett at Toronto's Rivoli JJ Shiplett at Toronto's Rivoli

Sam Cash

Sam Cash at Toronto's Rivoli- Sam Cash at Toronto's Rivoli- Sam Cash at Toronto's Rivoli- Sam Cash at Toronto's Rivoli- Sam Cash at Toronto's Rivoli-

Raging Bull: One Bad Son with Crown Lands and Fallen Heirs at The Phoenix, Toronto

Thursday nights are good for rock and roll, so when One Bad Son showed up at The Phoenix Concert Theatre in Toronto with Crown Lands and Fallen Heirs, we knew it was going to be a good night.

The Saskatchewan rock and rollers, with a brand new album, Made In The Name Of Rock N Roll, have been touring and playing for live crowds all over Canada for years – and it’s easy to see that the crowds have grown, the energy has jumped, and they’ve truly come into their own. On Thursday night they proved all of that in Toronto.

The evening started with Toronto’s own, Fallen Heirs. These five dudes hit the stage and were 100% rock and roll from the jump. There was no easing into the night, they plugged in, turned up volume and opened the show with a bang.

The early crowd was behind them, as the band played and stalked the stage. There was no lack of showmanship, lead singer Tim Shaw worked the crowd with the support of Jay, Matt, Ryan, and Philly Dee behind him. As their set wore on it became clear to see why Fallen Heirs has opened for bands like Buckcherry, Scott Weiland (RIP), Age Of Electric, and now One Bad Son.

If you like local rock and roll, look for Fallen Heirs on a bill in Toronto – and if you’re not in the city, look for them on tour – more dates are coming in 2018.

Next on the stage, as the precursor to the main event, Oshawa, ON’s Crown Lands took over and kept the rock and roll party going without missing a beat.

The young rockers have been putting in work, playing shows and earning fans, many of whom were at The Phoenix wearing band merch as they sang and rocked along to songs like Misery and Mountain from their 2017 EP, Rise Over Run. On drums, Cody delivered with force, wowing people in the crowd that knew what to expect, but still wanted to soak it in.

And not to be outdone, Kevin covered every inch of the stage with his guitar. Putting on a show for the crowd, making sure to get everyone involved, and pairing with Cody to pump out as much volume as two dudes can.

We’ve had a few chances to see Crown Lands in the last couple of years – and as one of the most promising young Canadian rock and roll acts we’ve seen recently, we can tell you confidently that we’re sure we are all going to have a lot more chances to see them soon.

When it was time for the stars of the show to take the stage, Toronto was ready. With drinks and hands in the air, the voices got loud to welcome One Bad Son to the stage, and they delivered.

These four dudes, more than a decade into their career, know what they’re doing when they plug in. And from the moment they opened their set with Made In The Name Of Rock N Roll, they were all in.

The more they played, the louder the Toronto crowd got. And the louder the crowd got, the more energy the band shared back with them. It was a wonderful transaction to watch and be a part of.

Note: One of our favourite moments of the One Bad Son set, and night as a whole, came when Shane, Hicks, KD, and Steve paid tribute to Gord Downie and The Tragically Hip by playing a small sample of Wheat Kings at the end of The Promise. Gord’s legacy lives on in his fans, even the rock stars.

One Bad Son proved throughout their set that they are a legit headlining Canadian rock and roll outfit. The sound, set, and execution was tight – giving us exactly what we were hoping to see. And the music, including tracks like Rise Up, Scream For Me, and the band’s first #1 hit, Raging Bull all sounded great and connected with the live audience.

Live rock and roll should be heard and felt. And on Thursday night in Toronto we felt like we had been rocked.

Mission accomplished.

Check out more photos from the One Bad Son show at The Phoenix Concert Theatre!

One Bad Son

Crown Lands

Fallen Heirs

Indie Week 2017 Independent Women: Supermarket, presented by M88 Entertainment Group

M88 Entertainment Group LogoPresented by M88 Entertainment Group

Indie Week continued on Thursday night as we hit the Supermarket to see more talented women show Toronto music fans what they’ve got.

The M88 Entertainment Group showcase had a stacked bill which had us stopping in to check out Amanda Jordan, Alessia Cohle, and Alexis Lynn. It was fantastic to see more women on stage, and experiencing their sets.

As a sponsor of Indie Week, and the showcase organizers, M88 continued to show their support for emerging talent. We’ve seen it at events like this before, and we know that artists like Alessia Cohle have greatly benefitted from the branding, development, strategy, and management services that they offer to up and coming artists. They’re tag line is pretty clear, “We focus on the business, so you can focus on the music.”.

Amanda Jordan started the show, working with her guitar player to fill the room with music and start grabbing the attention of the assembled Indie Week crowd.

The Smith Falls, ON native was strong and smooth on stage, with a sweet voice and seemed to be effortless as she displayed all the little nuances that makes a live vocal performance special.

Amanda worked through her set of originals and covers, playing her 2014 single, Lettin’ It Go Tonight, as well as more recently tracks including Driving In The Dark, Unknow You, You Fit Me Better, and Kinda Like A Guy Like You, which Amanda performed for the first time in front of a live crowd.

It was great to hear Amanda’s versions of Miranda Lambert’s heartbreaking Tin Man, as well as Rascal Flatts more upbeat, I Like The Sound Of That. The two covers were a good balance, and rounded out the set well.

We’re not sure what’s coming next for Amanda, but we won’t at all be surprised if we start seeing and hearing more from her in the near future.

Alessia Cohle hit the stage next, bringing a full band and her own mix of originals and covers to the Supermarket crowd for Indie Week.

The Mississauga, On native came prepared to show off her voice, and her ability to perform on stage. Her energy was palpable, and it was easy to see the growth and strength that has come over the last couple of years since we were first introduced to the country singer.

Alessia played a selection of songs from her 2016 album, Talk To Me, as well as her brand new EP, Wanderlust, which was released on November 3.

Songs like the two title tracks, along with How Bad, Two Steps Ahead, and More all helped to show off the sound and vibe that Cohle is cultivating in her young career, and they offer a look into where she may be headed in the future.

Her choices of covers on the evening were a lot of fun too. With Kelsea Ballerini’s Love Me Like You Mean It, Lady Antebellum’s You Look Good, Elle King’s Ex’s And Oh’s, Carrie Underwood’s Smoke Break, Dusty Springfield’s Son Of A Preacher Man, and Maren Morris’s My Church all hitting their mark and encouraging the Thursday night audience to sing along.

Look for Alessia to hit a lot of stages in the next few months to play her new material, and then be ready for what comes next after that.

Alexis Lynn, all the way from Vancouver, BC was our last Indie Week act of the evening. The teenaged singer/songwriter brought her pop/R&B vibe to the stage and showed off what she’s got in a strong way.

Already tabbed as a top 20 under 20 talent in the 2016 CBC Searchlight Contest, the 18 year old showed all of the confidence you’d ever hope to see from a teenager on stage. And while she admitted that she’s most comfortable on the keys, she stripped it down to play her own acoustic guitar and didn’t miss a beat.

Alexis Lynn told the Toronto crowd that she’s working towards an EP release sometime soon, and to be honest, it won’t be soon enough. The power and smoothness in her voice was attention grabbing, and when she announced that she was going to play a cover by one of her favourites, nobody should have been surprised when she started singing Alicia Keys’ Fallin’.

Original songs like Same Girl, That Kiss, Even Friends, and I Love You I Do, all worked to show off what she’s got ready to share with the musical world. And her closing number, Promises, did an excellent job of wrapping things up in style.

Alexis Lynn, along with her guitar/keys/beats player Caesar, brought a groove that people danced and bobbed and rocked to from start to finish.

She’s one to watch.

Check out some more photos from Thursday night at Indie Week, and stay tuned for more live music coverage!

Amanda Jordan

Alessia Cohle

Alexis Lynn

Country Sorta Way: Danielle Bourjeaurd at Indie Week 2017, presented by M88 Entertainment Group

M88 Entertainment Group LogoPresented by M88 Entertainment Group

Danielle Bourjeaurd came to Toronto for Indie Week 2017, hitting The Dakota Tavern for a set with her band on Wednesday night. But before she climbed up with her boys to play, we had the chance to hang out with Country Sorta Way singer/songwriter for a little acoustic performance and more.

She may be country girl, but Danielle was ready to sing on a chilly night in the city as we found a light in the alley beside the venue. And as you’ll see when you press play, her voice carried into the evening in a fantastic live rendition of What Difference Does She Make.

On stage Wednesday night, Danielle was revved up and ready to go. With the support of her band, her songs rang out and connected with the mid-week crowd at The Dakota Tavern.

With songs like Lakeside, What Difference Does She Make, and Happy Hour from her EP, Country Sorta Way, Danielle showed Toronto that she has the chops to hang with anyone in the genre we’re seeing right now.

But, as impressive as she was singing the songs that put a smile on her face from start to finish, we were further blown away when she slowed it down to sing an emotional tribute to her father with, This Guitar. She told the crowd that it was going to be a hard one, and as she sang we saw her look to the sky a couple of times. And whether it was for strength, or with thanks, it was the kind of thing that reminds us exactly how powerful music can be.

Danielle also shared some of her Nashville learned southern hospitality, leading the crowd in a toast during her set. It was a show of charm, but not the only one of the evening. Throughout the set she showed the crowd as much love as they showed her as we watched people singing along with her songs.

One of our other favourite performances of the night from Danielle was Bigger Glass. As suckers for a ‘getting over you’ song, this one is a winner. And both the live solo performance and the album version with Drew Smith are a great listen.

Note: We aren’t the only ones who thought Danielle had a great show. It was later announced by Indie Week that she was the winner of the Wednesday night showcase, and will be playing Saturday night at the Cameron House. Congratulations to Danielle!

This was our first chance to see Danielle Bourjeaurd live on stage. If we’re lucky, it won’t be our last. And if you’re looking for new music, and a new artist to add to your list of indie favourites, we suggest you look up this singer/songwriter soon.

While we had Danielle with us before the show, we sat with her for a round of 5 Quick Questions… check it out along with some more photos from the evening!

Q1) If you could put one album on in the car on a long drive, and let it play on repeat without skipping songs, which album would you choose?

DB) Jagged Little Pill by Alanis Morissette

That’s a good choice. Go put it on and don’t even try to pretend that you don’t want to sing along!

Q2) What is your favourite Shania jam?

DB) Any Man Of Mine… or Whose Bed Have Your Boots Been Under

We forgive her for choosing two songs… that’s a hard question.

Indie Week 2017 - Wednesday - Danielle Bourjeaurd at The Dakota Tavern

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

DB) McDonald’s.

We asked about her go to order, and she told us it’s cheeseburger happy meal, with a strawberry milkshake. Nice!

Q4) What is the one thing you always have to have in a writing session?

DB) My phone

Danielle told us that she uses her phone for notes, to brainstorm, and to help her write.

Q5) Is there an artist that you think people should be listening to more and paying more attention to?

DB) Ian Janes

She raved about his voice and talent, and because she thinks he’s that good, he sang on her album.

Indie Week 2017 - Wednesday - Danielle Bourjeaurd in the alley behind The Dakota Tavern

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