2018 Performer Matrix
- July 20
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- July 25
- July 26
- July 27
Alberta’s newest up and coming country sensation Dan Davidson exploded onto the Canadian country scene in 2016 with the release of his second single “Found” (Co-written by Clayton Bellamy of The Road Hammers). Dan became arguably the indie story of 2016 as his single “Found” rocketed up the charts and he became the #1 charting indie artist in Canada. By June 2016, “Found” reached #22 on the charts and was the 8th highest charting Canadian song in the country. The hit single also went to #57 (so far) on the Shazam charts across all formats and hit #18 on the iTunes sales charts.
The future is bright for Davidson. Already in only 2 years of being involved in the country music scene, his name is right up there on the charts with some of the top artists in north America – and he has found a way to do it 100% indie. Dan is new to the country scene, but is far from “green” in them music industry. He spent 10 years playing in the well-known Canadian indie rock band Tupelo Honey (who had several top 40 hits, top selling iTunes records and toured with bands like Bon Jovi). On the advice of a couple long time friends (who happen to be top selling Canadian country artists), Dan decided to start focusing on his new country project.
Dan’s sound came together as he started writing and working on music with Toronto producer Jeff Dalziel (Alee, Andrew Hyatt, Autumn Hill, Brett Kissel) and the two spent the better part of a year developing an EP that’s characteristic of Dan’s love of “good time” music.“ I love country music because it’s not about being cool, it’s about feeling something. It’s about having a good time and connecting with people. Country fans love live music, and are loyal to the artists they love. You can catch Dan sharing the stage in 2016 with artists like John Pardi, The Washboard Union, Kira Isabella, Beverly Mahood, George Canyon and many more!
Light dancing with shadow, fingers finding answers in the expanse of a keyboard, a voice that shimmers even in its most shattering moments—this is the power of acclaimed pop singer-songwriter Hannah Georgas. Over two full-length albums, 2010’s This is Good and 2012’s self-titled follow-up, she’s traversed a carefully constructed soundscape that never fails to surprise. Georgas has an endless capacity for crafting textured pop songs that confound expectation. She’s as likely to layer luminous, devastating, and witty as she is upbeat, broken, and defiant. This is what makes her music, even at its simplest, so transfixing, something that’s never more evident than on Georgas’ forthcoming release, For Evelyn.
For Evelyn is Hannah Georgas’ third record. Since her debut release, the Toronto-based musician has won numerous awards and racked up multiple nominations, including four Juno nods, for everything from Best New Artist to Songwriter of the Year. Georgas has toured the world, sharing stages with the likes of Kathleen Edwards, City and Colour and Sara Bareilles, playing everywhere from Madison Square Gardens to the LA Greek Theatre. Georgas’ music has also been featured on HBO’s hit show, Girls.
Lemon Bucket Orkestra is a guerilla-punk-balkan-folk-brass band like no other, they trace their genesis back to the streets of Toronto where a quartet of busking troubadours quickly amassed a battalion of like-minded musical souls and the dozen-strong Orkestra was born. Heralded as a groundbreaking, genre-bending phenomenon by fans and media alike, they’ve performed on streets and stages around the world, leaving a trail of happy audiences in their wake. Equal parts exhilarating precision and reckless abandon, their live shows are a truly immersive experience, spiked with their unique blend of punk, funk, psychedelia and swing. As at home in a speakeasy as a concert hall, LBO has stormed the international scene with their irresistible brass band mayhem.
30 years ago, they told us: “You can dance if you want to” — and we did.
A few years later, they said the world would “Go Pop” — and it did.
Men Without Hats have been creating iconic, irresistible music for more than three decades, and, logging literally thousands of touring miles over the years, have honed their live set to a sonically dynamic, thought-provoking dance party, winning over millions of fans in the process.
Led by charismatic front man/lead singer/songwriter Ivan Doroschuk, MWH has surged back into the public eye, beginning with a breakout show at 2011’s SXSW, and followed first by the release of their seventh album, Love in the Age of War, and then by extensive, well-received tours throughout North America and across the world in the years since.
Along with keyboard players Lou Dawson and Rachel Ashmore, plus guitarist Sho Murray, Ivan and the ’Hats have been delivering high-energy shows packed with all of the band’s absurdly catchy lyrics and melodies, as well as great tracks from their new release, which picks up precisely where the hit-makers left off.
“Sure, lots has changed in music over the last few decades,” says Doroschuk, “but the world still loves a hooky song with a bit of edge that can get you thinking.”
And that’s always been what the ’Hats deliver: tracks that get you bopping across the dance floor with subtle messages that haunt you long after the music has ended.
It’s no surprise that this band has topped charts all over the world, and even picked up a 1983 Grammy nomination for Best Group.
The Hats’ catalogue sounds as fresh and relevant as ever, and their hits have been featured on The Simpsons, Family Guy, and Glee. Their hit single, “Pop Goes the World,” also lights up TV screens in a commercial for Tide.
Men Without Hats have been providing a hit- and hook-filled soundtrack to our lives since the 80s, and now the band powers magnificently into the 21st Century with a fantastic new album and a summer tour through the U.S., Canada, and beyond.
They once said you could “dance if you want to,” but these days, audiences at Men Without Hats shows usually can’t stop themselves, anyway.
Frank Kadillac – Vocals
Matt Gats – Guitar
Adrian Morris – Drums
Over the last couple of years, Halifax-based trio Neon Dreams have rapidly emerged as one of the brightest new stars on the Canadian music horizon. The success story they are writing has long and deep roots, however, for Frank Kadillac, Adrian Morris, and Matt Gats have been playing together in different configurations for the last nine years. The result is a tight-knit band with a strong personal and musical foundation, one destined to help Neon Dreams go a long way in the business.
Neon Dreams are now readying the release of a new EP, Wolf, Princess & Me, set to come out on Dreaming Out Loud on Sept. 22.
This release comes hot on the heels of another radio hit single, "Find A Way." Featuring the guest vocals of Sarah Mark, it is an infectious track perfectly timed for the summer season. Neon Dreams first made an impact on Canadian radio in 2016 with their breakout single "Marching Bands," featuring Kardinal Offishall. Recently certified gold, the smash hit brought Neon Dreams victory in the Best New Group or Solo Artist (Dance/Urban/Rhythmic) category at the 2017 Canadian Radio Music Awards in Toronto, during Canadian Music Week.
The fact that the group beat out such prominent fellow nominees as Shaun Frank, Tory Lanez and Party Next Door in that category definitely placed Neon Dreams on the music industry radar.
Long before Vancouver’s Said The Whale became a JUNO Award-winning, radio chart-topping indie rock band, it was an exploratory songwriting experiment led by high school friends Tyler Bancroft and Ben Worcester. Now, a decade since their 2007 formation, they have taken the project back to its freeform roots while simultaneously venturing forward into uncharted art-pop territory.
As Long As Your Eyes Are Wide is the group’s fifth album, and it was recorded amidst a period of turnover. Following the success of 2013’s hawaiii, which spawned the Canadian rock/alternative number 1 hit “I Love You,” bassist Nathan Shaw and longtime drummer Spencer Schoening both left the lineup. Now operating as a trio — with frontmen Tyler and Ben and keyboardist Jaycelyn Brown — the group briefly considered making separate solo records before ultimately deciding to enter the studio with no preconceptions and no concrete plan.
“It’s a return to how Tyler and I used to make music, which is just experimenting with anything and everything,” Ben remembers. “We started out using Casio keyboards and drumbeats on our computers, and then we turned into a rock band. This is a return to being free to make anything.”
Recording took place in various Vancouver studios, with We Are The City’s Cayne McKenzie serving as producer and helping to guide the record’s organic synth textures and unpredictable structures. Arrangements were chopped up until they became unrecognizable from their original form, scratch vocals were soaked in effects and used in the final mixes, and assorted song fragments were gutted and stitched together. The sessions were briefly interrupted by the birth of Tyler’s son, and Jaycelyn got married and had to record some of her parts while on honeymoon in Southeast Asia.
And yet, regardless of the piecemeal recording process, the result is the most focused album of Said The Whale’s career to date. Thick bass grooves and shimmering electronic tones unify the album and permeate the space once reserved for guitar strums. “This is the most cohesive record we’ve ever made, between my songs and Ben’s songs,” Tyler says. “Musically, there was more collaboration than ever before.”
Previous Said The Whale records highlighted the contrast between Tyler’s eclectic rock influences and Ben’s salt-of-the-earth folksiness. Here, their styles become one: Ben-sung lead single “Step into the Darkness” rides a giddy drum loop towards its towering pop chorus, while Tyler’s “Confidence” sets soul-searching lyrics about the harsh realities of adulthood against a sublime backdrop of dance beats and deconstructed synth stabs. “Emily Rose” is an aching tribute to a friend who passed away in a car crash, and “Heaven” is a bittersweet eulogy propelled by swaggering blasts of electronic bass.
Despite the album’s many adventurous sonic forays, it remains true to the spirit of Said The Whale’s classic work. At its core, As Long As Your Eyes Are Wide is a singer-songwriter record, guided by introspective lyrics and alchemical group harmonies from Ben, Tyler and Jaycelyn. “This is our most personal, earnest record for sure,” Tyler says. “Even the upbeat songs are lamenting and sad.”
After so much change and uncertainty in recent years, Said The Whale has emerged as a unified force. While some listeners are bound to see the overhauled sound as a reinvention, it’s really just the latest step forward. They’ve evolved, but the DNA is the same, and the group’s musical partnership is more fruitful than ever.
12 THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT SLOAN’S 12
- That title isn’t just some random number. Sloan 12 is indeed the 12th album from Canadian power- pop perennials Sloan, which means it’s as good as Led Zeppelin IV, Black Sabbath’s Vol. 4, and Chicago 4 all put together. But seriously: not only are Sloan the rare band to make it to their 12th record, and not only are Sloan the rare band to make it to their 12th record with all four original members, and not only are Sloan the rare band to make it to their 12th album with four original members who are equally prolific songwriters, they’re arguably the only band to make it to their 12th album with four original members who are both equally prolific songwriters and all still working at the top of their respective games, sounding utterly ageless in the process. On 12, each of the four principals contribute three stellar songs that play to their core strengths: Patrick Pentland with the soaring rock anthems, Chris Murphy with the playful, participatory sing-alongs, Jay Ferguson with the jaunty prog-pop gems, and Andrew Scott with the whimsical innerspace explorations. Says Murphy, “I guess with the album title, we are showing off the fact that we have 12 records.”
- Actually, that’s not entirely true. “When we were making the record, I kept Tweeting about it and hash-tagging the posts #Sloan12,” Pentland says. “So I was like, let’s just call it Sloan12. Naming records is always the worst and we can never agree on a title!”
- It’s pretty together. On their previous release, 2016’s Commonwealth, each member of Sloan was granted their own side to use as a blank canvas, resulting in a collection of de facto solo EPs packaged as a double album. This time, the band were eager to initiate more creative cross-pollination—well, at least to start. “We’d hoped that this LP would be more of a reaction to Commonwealth,” Ferguson says. “Whereas that album was more of everyone retreating to corners to produce and sequence a side of their own material, this one would potentially have more collaboration than usual.” Alas, as Murphy notes, with three parents in the band, “It’s hard to get everyone in the room with kids, and people getting sick from their kids, and hockey practice with their kids.” Still, that collaborative spirit shines through on Murphy’s “Wish Upon a Satellite,” a glorious union of AC/DC chords and Big Star choruses that features a second-verse lead vocal from Pentland, while the normally self-sufficient Scott invited Murphy and keyboarist Gregory Macdonald to (in Murphy’s words) “come barf harmonies and melodies all over” the Pink Floydian reverie “44 Teenagers.” And while the 12 songs on 12 greatly emphasize each member’s distinct personality, they’re all ultimately united by their lean economy and punchy precision. “I really wanted to make a concise record after the sprawl of Commonwealth,” says Murphy, noting this is the first Sloan record to feature equal song contributions from all four members since 1999’s Between the Bridges. “I think this record will be that much easier to digest. It’s certainly easier to learn!”
- It’s smeared in Smeared. Sloan’s 1992 debut is something of an outlier in the band’s discography, foregrounding a formative love of shoegazey guitar effects that the band hasn’t indulged since. “Some Sloan fans don’t even count Smeared,” Murphy says. “They start at [the 1994 follow-up] Twice Removed, because that’s when we really started to become the band we are now.” But Sloan12 is rife with Flanger-induced flashbacks: the introductory surge of Murphy’s “Spin Our Wheels” conjures the gliding momentum of the band’s Converse-clad classic “500 Up,” while Pentland’s “All Of the Voices” comes slathered in the signature harmonies that powered their breakthrough single “Underwhelmed.” Another of Pentland’s compositions, “The Day Will Be Mine,” is even less subtle in announcing its inspiration. “It’s basically ‘Marcus Said,’” Pentland laughs, referring to the droning Smeared highlight. “I realized that a part of the sound of our first record was me making noise, and that’s really my strength: guitar noise that envelops pop songs. I would say there’s definitely an element of early Sloan to this record that we haven’t looked at it in a while.” Adds Murphy: “I think Smeared was actually the last time we were all equally excited by the same movement: all that grunge and shoegaze stuff. And since then, we’ve all split off to explore our own musical interests in our songs.”
- Some of these tracks won’t just remind you of older Sloan songs, they are older Sloan songs. As Pentland notes, when you have four songwriters playing together for the better part of three decades, “there’s a lot of riffs leftover.” By his estimation, the music for “The Day Will Be Mine” has been kicking around for 20 years in search of the right lyrics; “All of The Voices” dates back to the sessions for 2003’s Action Pact, but, he says, “nobody cared about it when I wrote it and we demoed it. Then, when we got together for this record, I gave everybody else the demo for that song, and they were like, ‘Where did that come from?’ And I’m like, ‘I wrote that 15 years ago—you all played on it!’”
- Yes, Patrick is fully aware “All of the Voices” sounds a bit like Nirvana. Oh well, whatever, nevermind. DGC represent!
- But this is no nostalgia trip. “Because it’s 2018 and we’re still making records, the ’90s mean very little to me,” Pentland says. “I don’t look back at that era with any real fondness, whereas the 2000s have been more interesting to me—maybe because we’re more relaxed now.”
- You will learn fascinating facts about arcane British property laws. With its vivid images of chalets, mountains, and ancient Welsh castles, Ferguson’s “Right to Roam” lets you vicariously travel through the UK countryside on the back of a sprightly, locomotive, acoustic pop tune. “‘Right to roam’ was a term I’d only first heard of when at a wedding in England,” he says. “A relative of the groom was telling me about his hiking adventures in Scotland where they have a freedom-to-roam act giving people access to private land for wandering, walking, and hiking to prevent creating a country of overwhelming private property. I used the phrase as the basis for an England/Wales travelogue, and also a contemplation on pluses and minuses of personal freedom.”
- Yes, there’s another Sloan song called “If It Feels Good Do It.” Murphy’s boogie-woogied jam “Don’t Stop (If It Feels Good Do It)”—another older song salvaged for the new record—may share its parenthetical name with Sloan’s Pentland-penned 2001 hit single, but as he claims, “I had my ‘If It Feels Good Do It’ song before Patrick had his, and we just decided at the time that his was better!” (NOTE: Pentland disputes this account of events.)
- This time, it’s personal. In recent years, Pentland has become more open about the anxiety and panic attacks that have plagued him as a performer. On Sloan12, he channels those experiences into two of the album’s most rousing songs, “The Day Will Be Mine” and “Have Faith,” both of which use amped-up riffs and huge hooks to burrow a path from darkness to light. “Depression and anxiety were definitely on my mind when I was writing those songs,” he says. “Both are basically about desperation— something has to change or this is not going to have a happy ending.” And while Scott is known for trading in surrealist imagery and cryptic wordplay, the psych-folk sway of “Gone for Good” chronicles the breakdown of a friend’s marriage in the wake of an illicit affair. “It’s written in the spirit of [Twice Removed’s] ‘People of the Sky,’” he says. “As in: non-fiction.”
- Now, about that Gord Downie line. As 12 eases you into its comedown closer, Scott’s “44 Teenagers,” the song’s cosmic-rock spell is momentarily broken by one particularly eye-opening lyric about a certain late Canadian rock icon. “Just the other day I was reminded of the many ways Gord Downie died/ I see a kid in my head who will be seeing red, until his anger yields to pride,” Scott sings with laissez-faire élan. “That song was deliberately written as an ode to the teenager,” Scott explains. And part of that, he adds, involves examining how teenagers process trauma. “The line isn’t so much about Gord passing, but about feeling sad for his teenage son who just lost his dad. And not suddenly— but in a terrible, protracted kind of way. When I was 14—the same age my son is now—my dad dropped dead in front of me from a massive heart attack. He was just 48 so you can perhaps imagine what the years leading up to that number have been like for myself.” For Scott, this wasn’t purely an exercise in speculative songwriting from an emotional distance—not only did he and Downie know one another, Scott’s teenage daughter and Downie’s son are actually schoolmates. “There are many layers to the lyrics that hit home for me in a very real way,” Scott says. And besides, knowing Downie’s healthy appreciation of subversive humour and absurdity, “I think he would’ve loved the tribute.”
- Sloan are still here to serve you. On the surface, Ferguson’s centerpiece track “Essential Services” seems like another joyous display of the band’s consummate craftsmanship, using a bouncy “Mr. Blue Sky” piano line as a trampoline for some sky-bound CSNY-worthy harmonies. But couched within its ecstatic sound is a poignant statement of purpose. Says Ferguson, “Chris thought the song was a fun way of referring to our band, being an essential service—we can't go away! The song touches on that aspect of our career. The chorus—‘essential services are counting on you’—refers to ourselves, but also the ‘you,’ meaning our audience and how we count on them to support and continue with us. They're part of the equation as well. Does that sound too corny to say?” Hey, if it feels good, do it.
The Funk Hunters were born when Nick Middleton and Duncan Smith met while attending film school in western Canada, and has been both a studio project and live juggernaut ever since. In a sea of carbon-copy producers, The Funk Hunters have cultivated their signature sound by creating forward-thinking electronic music that is influenced by old school soul, funk and hip-hop. Their vision has resonated with both listeners and industry tastemakers alike, with their music amassing over 10 million track streams from their original productions, remixes and collaborations. The Funk Hunters have been honored with official remixes for artists across the spectrum of both popular and underground music, including Imagine Dragons, Selena Gomez, Big Gigantic, Chali 2na, and Gramatik. Their vibrant global touring career has included major festival plays at Coachella, Lightning in a Bottle, Electric Forest, Osheaga, Burning Man, and Shambhala, and they have honed their live craft with over 750 performances in 16 countries.
On stage The Funk Hunters have always been the driving energy of the party – and with TYPECAST they now also deliver a body of creative work that transcends the party. Their status as thoughtful curators and tastemakers is solidified with this sprawling new collection of original tracks. The album alternates between socio-political overtones (“Hands Up”) and pure dancefloor revelry (“Party Rockin”), while also introducing major melodic moments to juxtapose adrenalin-filled drops (“Turn Down the Silence,” “Say Something”).
As longtime friends, collaborators, and multi-dimensional artists, Middleton and Smith’s chemistry is perfectly aligned in The Funk Hunters. Middleton steers the band’s studio efforts, having produced, co-written, and mixed TYPECAST. Smith anchors the project’s live show with an indefatigable charisma that compliments Middleton’s thoughtful production. Together they combine their powers as DJs, resulting in a brilliant technical display of creative collaboration between 4 turntables.
With the release of TYPECAST, 2018 is aligning to be the most monumental year yet for The Funk Hunters.
Framed by psychedelic landscapes and world-ending jam-outs, The Harpoonist & The Axe Murderer ignite the gritty, blues-rock grooves they have been recognized for by adding drummer John Raham (The Be Good Tanyas) and keyboardist Geoff Hilhorst (The Deep Dark Woods) into the melting pot as well as the golden voices of Dawn Pemberton, Andrina Turenne, Alexa Dirks (Begonia), Ben Rogers, Khari Wendell McClelland, Erik Nielsen and Ricardo Khayatte. Add equal parts soulful, sweaty vocals, and biting guitar and you have an album perfect for any doomsday date-night.
The Harpoonist & The Axe Murderer are relentless touring artists known for their high-energy, sweaty, dance-Aoorboogying performances. They have recently toured the UK with St. Paul & The Broken Bones, the EU with Dr. Dog and XIXA and the US with Tinariwen. They have also shared the stage with Taj Mahal, Booker T Jones, Mother Mother, The Sheepdogs, and Serena Ryder and have played their fair share of festivals including: Winnipeg Folk Fest, Ottawa Blues Fest, Calgary Folk fest, Montreal Jazz Fest, Vancouver Jazz Fest, Festival D'Ete de Quebec, and Regina Folk Festival. 2017 will see the band bringing their bed of chaos to a festival, hinterland and city near you with Apocalipstick.
Singer, songwriter and platinum recording artist Virginia To Vegas, had a landmark year in 2016 with the release of his debut full-length album “Utopian” featuring his biggest pop radio smash to date, “Lights Out” as well as the platinum-selling hit “We Are Stars” featuring Alyssa Reid.
Additionally, ViiV has inked an international deal with Ultra Music – the world’s premiere electronic music label and a division of Sony Music Entertainment, to license Virginia To Vegas’ hit single “Lights Out” and forthcoming album for the world, excluding Canada. Virginia To Vegas will join some of today’s hottest international artists including; Calvin Harris, Omi and Kygo on the Ultra Music label around the world with anticipated releases in the US, UK and key European markets.
Virginia to Vegas has continued his success into 2018, having been nominated for Breakout Artist of the Year at the 2018 JUNO Awards for his platinum selling hit Selfish. Recognized as a fitting example of tomorrow’s global music star, Virginia To Vegas, aka Derik Baker, hails from Guelph, Ontario where he was raised on his parent’s eclectic record collection and cut his teeth in the music industry writing songs for a variety of pop artists. Discovered on YouTube in 2013 by Wax Records Jamie Appleby, he released his debut single “We Are Stars”, which quickly introduced the exciting new talent to thousands of fans, and saw him top radio charts and earn a platinum-selling single. The past couple of years have seen Virginia To Vegas travel the continent, film music videos in Las Vegas and New York, share arena stages with Alyssa Reid and Hedley and perform on the Much Music Video Awards (MMVAs).
Not one to rest on his laurels, Virginia To Vegas is preparing to take 2018 by storm, with new music being released in the coming months.