NXNE Day IV—Celebrating Community at the CBC Radio3 Picnic

During this year’s NXNE, Toronto’s great music festival, Honourary Canadian is publishing guest posts by Regina Sienra, aka Reginula, a music journalist who hails from Mexico City. She’s a stalwart fan of Canadian indie music, and has been recognized by the CBC Radio 3 community as our Fan of the Year. You can follow Regina on Twitter and Instagram where her handle is @Reginula. From one honourary Canadian to another, I’m delighted to be publishing her work here—Philip Turner.

Every June for the past five years, the CBC Radio 3 community has gathered in Toronto’s Trinity-Bellwoods Park for a fan picnic on the Saturday of NXNE to celebrate an extraordinary community that always supports and watches the back of the Canadian indie music scene.

Attendees from all over Canada, the US, Mexico, Puerto Rico, the UK, and other countries, savor the opportunity to spend quality time with a handful of indie musicians who offer to play acoustic tunes at the picnic, gratis I should add. The performers this year were Kathryn Calder, David Vertesi, Rolfe Klausener from The Acorn and Murder Murder, a band that recently participated in CBC’s Searchlight contest, winning the Northern Ontario region. Among the hosts for the picnic is erstwhile Radio 3 host Grant Lawrence, who emcees the proceedings. The photo above shows all the picnickers and musicians in a group shot taken by Vancouver photographer Christine Macavoy.

Kathryn Calder performed a couple sons from her new, self-titled album, as well as her classic “Turn a Light On,” accompanied only by herself on acoustic guitar, which is pretty special considering Calder is more often seen playing keys with the The New Pornographers, who were slated to play Yonge-Dundas Square later that night.

David Vertesi, longtime member of the Vancouver band, Hey Ocean!, performed songs from his recent album “Cardiography,” and although he only had a few hours of sleep after finishing a NXNE set at 3am that morning, Vertesi delivered a mesmerizing performance under the trees. David Vertesi

Rolf Klausener, introduced by CBC Radio 3’s Lana Gay, performed “Dominion,” from his Polaris long-listed album, as well as songs from her earlier work, sharing some stories about his family and how his 2008 Polaris-Prize nominated album Glory Hope Mountain was inspired by his mom’s journey as an immigrant from Nicaragua to Canada.

The New Pornographers are true headliners, which earned them the prime time slot Saturday night at Yonge-Dundas Square. Performing after California sensation Best Coast and Canadian act Mise en Scene, the Pornos hit the stage without longtime members Destroyer and Neko Case (she was in the NYC area for the Clearwater Festival).

To make up for the absence of the auburn-haired crooner, the band crammed some other hits in to the setlist and, as in the past years, Kathryn Calder took charge of Neko’s songs.

Rather than focusing on 2014’s “Brill Bruisers,” the band went through their entire history and played songs like “Slow Descent into Alcoholism,” “Sing me Spanish Techno” and “All the Old Showstoppers,” closing the evening at a packed YDS with fan favorite “The Bleeding Heart Show.”

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Day II of NXNE 2015, Celebrating Paper Bag Records

Because I couldn’t be in Toronto for this year’s NXNE, the city’s great music festival, Honourary Canadian is publishing guest posts by Regina Sienra, aka Reginula, a music journalist who hails from Mexico City. She’s a stalwart fan of Canadian indie music, recognized by the CBC Radio 3 community as our Fan of the Year. You can follow Regina on Twitter and Instagram where her handle is @Reginula. From one honourary Canadian to another, I’m delighted to be publishing her work here! Philip Turner, Publisher, The Great Gray Bridge and Honourary Canadian.

Day 2 of NXNE 2015 kicked off with a brief but fulfilling set by Calgary-bred, Toronto-based band Fast Romantics, who were playing a Black Box Session for Indie88, a radio station that in less than two years has become an institution on the local scene. The set list consisted of “Julia,” their latest single, “Funeral Song,” and a cover of Pulp’s “Common People.” The second song had to be played twice, but the crowd didn’t mind and stuck around for everything offered to their ears.

Paper Bag Records and the entire #Paper100 party ruled the day from fairly early on, kicking off activities with acoustic shows at the Tiny Record Shop (and the adjacent vintage clothing store), on Queen St in Toronto’s east end. Headliner Sam Roberts played new versions of classic songs for a few dozen people and even stuck around until every fan waiting for him had an autograph or a picture with him.

Hosted by CBC Radio 3’s Lana Gay, the main party kicked off at 8pm at Lee’s Palace, legendary music venue on Bloor Street. Over the next seven hours, some seventeen acts took to the stage, playing brief sets w/revolving mixes & matches of lineups. The extravaganza—celebrating the label’s 100th release over the past thirteen years—showcased venerable members of their catalog, such as Rural Alberta Advantage lead singer Nils Edenloff, who told the audience he was playing without his “blanket of confidence,” bandmates Amy Cole and Paul Banwatt, to acts newly signed by Paperbag like Alana Yorke from Halifax and Hey Mother Death from Cape Breton Island.

DIANA, Frog Eyes, YAMANTAKA // SONIC TITAN, aka YT/ST, The Acorn, Mozart’s Sister, PS I Love You: Paper Bag Records’ history and diversity played, comprising the soul of the party, that went from rootsy singer/songwriters, to electronic acts and heavy indie rock.

The night had promised a lot of surprises, and didn’t disappoint: One of the surprises was the appearance of Born Ruffians, who played a cover of Tokyo Police Club’s “Nature of the Experiment,” but the biggest jaw dropper was a hush-hush appearance by Broken Social Scene stalwarts Brendan Canning and Kevin Drew to celebrate Paper Bag Records involvement with the release and success of their groundbreaking album “You Forgot it in People.” Kevin Drew credits PBR’s Trevor Larocque with sending the album to Pitchfork, who posted the superb 9.2 review that launched the album and made the band’s reputation.

The heroes of the evening? Cuff the Duke, whose frotnman Wayne Petti played last night with Grey Lands. CtD members appeared as the house band throughout the long enjoyable day, jamming with every act that needed support, including this BSS roster presentation that included “Lovers Spit” (sang by a singer from The Luyas), “KC Accidental” and “Almost Crimes.”

Here’s to another 100, Paper Bag Records!

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New Rah Rah Single, “Good Winter,” from their Forthcoming Album, “Vessel”

Rah RahI was excited to just get an email from a publicist working with one of my favorite bands, Rah Rah, announcing the first single from their new album, “Vessel,” coming out in 2015. The new song is called “Good Winter” and is streaming here. The press release quotes frontman Marshall Burns:

“This song is a romanticized reimagining of being a young adult in a small Canadian city. The overly nostalgic tone is meant to underline the dichotomy between the ‘good winter’ described in the song and the reality of the harsh cold, boredom and loneliness that, in actuality, accompanies a typical winter (particularly in our hometown of Regina, Saskatchewan). The song aims to be a reminder, to ourselves as much as anyone, of the unique and positive aspects of those cold, long winter months.”

Listen to “Good Winter” here on the Soundcloud page of label Hidden Pony. I took the above photo when I heard Rah Rah live in NY at the Mercury Lounge on Nov 3. For a lengthier report on Rah Rah, here’s a post I wrote in 2012, after seeing them open for the Weakerthans. Finally, here’s the art Rah Rah created to go with the single, which can be bought on iTunesRah Rah, "Good Winter"

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‘I Blame the Loyalist Ghost,’ Video and Song from Shawn Clark’s New Album

Shawn Clarke, NXNE 2014Charming video for ‘I Blame the Loyalist Ghost,’ a song from Toronto musician Shawn William Clark‘s second album due out 9/23, produced by James Bunton, longtime drummer in Ohbijou. The song begins with the sound of a plucked 4-string tenor guitar, then Clarke plays every instrument in the piece. Enjoy this—it’s like a lazy summer day with balloons and ribbons floating in the sky. I heard Clark during the first night of NXNE this past June, and enjoyed his act a lot. I look forward to hearing his whole album.

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#elexn42 #ToPoli 60 MInutes 1993 2015 elections 2015 Federal Election 2016 presidential election @CBCRadio3 Abraham Lincoln Acadia Adolf Hitler Agent Orange Alice Munro Amanda Lang Amelia Curran Amity Beach Amtrak Anderson Varajao Antonine Maillet architecture Arctic Ocean Arkells AUX TV Ben Caplan Beverley Slopen book-to-film adaptations Born Ruffians Boyhood Brain Cloud branding exercises Brandon Downing bullying Cabot Trail Calvin Reid Canada Canadiana Canadian authors Canadian bands in NYC Canadian Blast Canadian elections Canadian indie music canadian indie rock Canadian indie rock n' roll canadian politics Canadian rock n' roll Canadians abroad Canadian vacations cancer CANlit CANRock Cape Breton CBC CBC Books CBC Music CBC Radio CBC Radio 3 CBC Sunday Edition CBS Chicago Cleveland CMJ CMJ Music Marathon CN Tower coffee Cold War Colm Toibin comedy Communion Music Corb Lund corruption covert agents cowboy culture Crime Writers of Canada cross-cultural writing Daniel Canty Dave Bidini Dave Van Ronk David Margolick Del Barber depression dialect Doug Ford drunk driving editorial services Edward Keenan Edward Robb Ellis Elizabeth May Elliott Brood Ethan Hawke Ewan Turner fair housing Farley Mowat Fence Books flickr folk music Franconia College Frazey Ford French FridayReads Gaspé Peninsula George Elliott Clarke George Washington Bridge Gill Deacon global climate change Grant Lawrence Greenwich Village Harlan Pepper Henry Tandey Hidden Pony HIGHS hockey Hollerado Honourary Canadian Howard Engel humor Ian Tyson indie music In Flight Safety Ireland Irish music Israel Jan Wong Jian Ghomeshi Jill Barber Joe's Pub journalism Justin Trudeau Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer Kevin Donovan Keystone XL Lee's Palace Lee Harvey Osmond Lee Lorch Leonard Cohen life after corporate publishing Linda Ronstadt Lisa LeBlanc Little Red Lighthouse Little Rock Nine live music Lo-Fantasy lower east side Lt. General Roméo Dallaire Marc Maron marijuana laws Matt Andersen Matt Mays Mayor Bill de Blasio Mayor Rob Ford McGarrigle Sisters Megan Bonnell Mellow Pages Memoirs mental health treatment Mercury Lounge methane M for Montreal Michael Barclay Michael Enright Michael Ruby Miles O'Brien Mo Kenney Monomyth music festivals music marketing National Film Board of Canada Neil Young Neil Young. Third Man Records Nevado Records Newfoundland New York City New York music venues Noah Nobel Prize NXNE Olympics Ontario Ottawa Jazz Festival Paperbag Records Parks Canada Percé Rock Peter Warner photojournalism podcasting poetry political mindsets President Obama prosthetics PS I Love You PTSD PublishersMarketplace.com Publishers Weekly Pumpkin Pie Q Quebec racial bias Rah Rah Random House Canada road trips Robert Henry Adams Robertson Davies Rob Ford Rockwood Music Hall Rolling Stone Rural Alberta Advantage Ruth Gruber Sadies Said the Whale Sam Roberts Band SaskMusic SaskMusic.org satire Scott Young sex education Shawn William Clark Shore Fire Media short stories Siberia sister cities spy novels Stephen Harper Stephen Marche St Louis Stompin' Tom Connors Strombo Show Strumbellas suicide prevention summer vacation 2014 Swiss Water Syrian refugees Talonbooks Thanksgiving The Ballad of Crowfoot The Deep Dark Woods The Great Gray Bridge. TheGreatGrayBridge.com The Orchard The Revenant The Strumbellas This is That Toronto Toronto Book Awards Toronto mayoral election Toronto Star Torquil Campbell traditional music Turnip King Ugly Duckling Presse Undercover Books upper Manhattan Vancouver Vietnam W.B. Belcher war memorials Wigrum Wilderness of Manitoba WWI