The Empire Bar, London, 29th January and interview with Canadian Blast organiser, Trisha Carter.
Showcasing a selection of Canada’s Finest Americana Talent, The ‘Canadian Blast’ is a not-for-profit initiative presented by the Canadian Independent Music Association (CIMA). It is a year-round travelling platform which visits the world’s new music festivals showcasing up and coming independent Canadian bands, one highly-rated handful at a time.
The Canadian Blast often acts as a springboard for new opportunities to help break into new music markets – leading to more gigs, licensing deals and of course, new fans.
With a reputation for exhibiting exciting new talent, these shows are keenly attended by those in the know. Their annual three-day residency at The Great Escape Festival in Brighton, is always brimming with buzzing bands. The Zine UK make a point of catching at least a few of these shows over the festival weekend!
At the end of January, the Canadian Blast descended upon East London, with a dusty rabble of siex handpicked acts, to perform at ‘AmericanaFest UK’ a relatively new annual multi-venue music festival held in Hackney, now in its fourth year. ‘Americana’, we’re reliably informed, is a rapidly growing genre in the UK (hence the new festival) and according to www.americanamusic.org can be defined as; “contemporary music that incorporates elements of various American roots music styles, including country, roots-rock, folk, bluegrass, R&B and blues, resulting in a distinctive roots-oriented sound that lives in a world apart from the pure forms of the genres upon which it may draw.”
We settled in at Hackney’s Empire Bar, home of the Canadian Blast, excited to catch all six performances.
Harrow Fair – This duo kicked off proceedings with heavy kick drums, rootsy guitar and scorching fiddle, echoing early country and blues, neatly combined with haunted gritty ballads. Oddly familiar and deeply gratifying, their show set a welcome tone for the evening.
Leeroy Stagger is an alternative singer/songwriter with a cult following for his richly textured Americana. Known for perpetual touring, Stagger’s polished upbeat songs tell tales of melancholy, regret, hope, love and honesty. Classic country-meets-bluegrass-meets-singer-songwriter, Leeroy certainly looks the part with standard issue beard and denim, luckily for him, he sounds it too.
Kaia Kater – The Montreal-born, Grenadian-Canadian was an absolute and unexpected highlight of the night. Mixing it up with various elements of Americana and the wider ‘songwriter’ genres, it’s easy to see how Kaia’s old-time banjo skills, jazz-fueled voice and deft songcraft have garnered fervent acclaim from press and fans alike.
With an introspective intensity and certain meaningfulness to her songs and performance, Kaia commanded the largest crowd of the night with her full band and hotchpotch of influences. Regaling stories of war in her native Grenada to a three-part harmony sung in French, you couldn’t help thinking you might just be watching something a bit special… expect big things from this one
Madison Violet JUNO award nominated singer-songwriters, multi-instrumentalists, flawless harmonizers and affable female duo. Their folk, pop, roots, indie and Americana is a textbook example of how refined songs can be performed with professional yet painful relatability, simultaneously coaxing smiles with pangs of sadness.
Oh Susanna – the critically acclaimed, multi-award winning songwriter from Toronto, Oh Susanna, kept us entertained in between songs with tales of sneaking into gigs and worshipping the Sex Pistols whilst her friendly angelic voice belted out tales of troubled souls and that common theme of small town tribulations.
Pretty Archie The night finished with some good old racketeering courtesy of these highly polished, bearded smilers. Resplendent in denim and mischievous smiles, this five piece stomped out fun loving (and at times heartbreaking) songs which blurred the genres of Country, Folk, Bluegrass and Blues, leaving us all with big grins and sore heels.
All In all it was a very impressive evening and certainly a welcome window into what’s happening with America’s polite neighbours to the North.
After the show The Zine managed to grab a few words with Canadian Blast organizer, Trisha Carter;
Zine: What a show! For those in the know, Canada has been a hotbed of emerging independent musical talent over the past few years, please tell our readers a little more about the independent music scene.
TC: CIMA represents the Canadian independent music sector in Canada on the business side which represents all the great indie artists. We facilitate targeted business and showcasing opportunities, under the Music Export Canada and Canadian Blast export brands. Checkout www.Cimamusic.ca to get to know the member labels, managers, publishers and their artists.
Zine: The UK government has drastically reduced its funding for music and the cultural industries in recent years, tell us how the Canadian Blast and Canadian government funding helps to promote your domestic products abroad and the importance of your own Cultural Export programs…
TC: We are very fortunate in Canada for the support we receive to the creative industries. We have federal and provincial programs set up to support music business initiatives to help grow companies and the music sector. We also have programs that support artists on touring and releases. Checkout www.factor.ca“
Zine: When can the UK expect its next Canadian Blast instalment?
We’ll be coming back to the UK in May for The Great Escape Festival. For this one we expand the Canadian Blast showcase into a three day event where we’re partnered with MusicOntario, Music Nova Scotia and Breakout West to each host a day in a venue which we rebrand as ‘Canada House’.
Puts the Minx in ‘Minx Media TV’. Heather is The Zine UK’s very own NYC Rock n Roll Chic.