I Love This Band, and You Should Too : Miracle Fortress

(Musical Gushings By Lauren Schreiber, SummerWorks Music Series Programmer)

Part 6: Miracle Fortress – The Visionary.

This is how I remember first meeting Miracle Fortress’s Graham Van Pelt… a broody red head, sitting on the concrete floor of a loft space/concert venue he’d co-created, twiddling with knobs and creating soundscapes. What a sour puss.

My first small scale concerts growing up in Montreal, Graham was always around, whether it was as tech, performer or producer… he was everywhere, but I didn’t know what to think… at the time, I was used to my friends bands that involved fun outfits and shouting choruses and razzle dazzle.

Graham didn’t wear a cape, or a mask… his focus was elsewhere (on the music… who would’ve thought). He also didn’t smile much, he was always focused on the task at hand. Sometimes what he was up to was clear to me, other times I didn’t get it, but at the very least Graham always seemed to know exactly what he was doing.

I don’t think at the time I fully appreciated the depth of his vision.

Then ‘5 Roses’ came out.

It was a  perfect album. And he traveled the world with it. And he was nominated for a bunch of awards. And he was on all my mixtaps, and my friends mixtaps, and my friends friends mixtaps. And I finally “got” where Graham was going, where he seemed to know he was going all along.

Graham writes miraculous songs.

and now I can’t wait to see the new album (Was I The Wave) live… because I trust Graham. I trust his talent and his work ethic and his vision. I trust his musicianship and his voice and I think, I think, he’s even smiling these days. And I get it.

I hope to share it with you.

Miracle Fortress – Miscalculations from LaundroMatinee on Vimeo.

Miracle Fortress – Tracers from LaundroMatinee on Vimeo.

“Everything Works” by Miracle Fortress – BTR Live Studio [ep 37] from BreakThru Radio TV on Vimeo.

See Miracle Fortress play SummerWorks Friday August 12th at the Lower Ossington Theater. Also, tell your friends you’re going on the social networking site ‘FaceBook’.

I Love This Band, and You Should Too : Bruce Peninsula

(Musical Gushings By Lauren Schreiber, SummerWorks Music Series Programmer)

Part 5: Bruce Peninsula is Bigger Than The Sum of Its Parts

Actually, I wouldn’t quite call the following a gush. Whereas my previous posts concern bands who leave me giddy, Bruce Peninsula (BP here) leave me quiet, awed, reverential.

Stream Here:
(even though I don’t think any recording could really capture Bruce Peninsula live…)

It’s raining today in Toronto, and I have a cold. No big surprise… festivals take their toll on organizers, performers and audience alike. So today, I’m just going to sit back, take a moment to breath, snuggle up with the first non-iced latte of my summer, and spend some time with Bruce Peninsula.

Won’t you join me?

Bruce Peninsula is a collective of like-minded musicians that have been inspiring and warming the hearts of Toronto for the better part of 5 years. I’ve been a fan since the day they ‘opened’ for an old band of mine, after which I refused to go on. WHO LET THEM OPEN? How could ANYONE possibly follow them? I’ve never seen another band like BP, and I’ve never seen a BP set the same twice. This is partially their rotating staff of some of the cities finest singers shouters and strummers, and partially their constant push forward/reach back. Their music is respect for what has come before, embrace of their community, and something intangible that makes me believe in more.

With alumni that include Austra’s Katie Stelmanis and Ohbijou’s Casey Mecija, and current players like Tamara Lindeman (The Weather Station), Daniella Gehsundheit (Snowblink) and Steven McKay (who opened The SummerWorks concert series last friday) BP are both the starting point and the point itself. I feel so lucky to live in Toronto in the time of Bruce Peninsula, and it is my sincere hope to share this with you, the patrons of the SummerWorks Festival.

BP recently recorded a series of cover songs for Southern Souls, all of which you’ll find below. SummerWorks friends and followers, I’ve gathered your afternoon activity and laid it out for you here. Enjoy the discovery, or if you’re familiar, welcome home.

BRUCE PENINSULA – TAMARA LINDEMAN – ‘Am I Lovely’ by Eric Chenaux from Mitch Fillion (southernsouls.ca) on Vimeo.

BRUCE PENINSULA – MATT CULLY – ‘No Twig’ by The Silt from Mitch Fillion (southernsouls.ca) on Vimeo.

BRUCE PENINSULA – ANDREW BARKER – ‘Terror of Compassion’ by Alex Lukashevsky from Mitch Fillion (southernsouls.ca) on Vimeo.

BRUCE PENINSULA – STEVEN McKAY – ‘When I Am Beth’ by THOMAS from Mitch Fillion (southernsouls.ca) on Vimeo.

BRUCE PENINSULA – MISHA BOWER – ‘You Sing Low And We Will Sing High’ by Frederick Squire from Mitch Fillion (southernsouls.ca) on Vimeo.

BRUCE PENINSULA – LEON TAHENY – ‘The Chronicles Of Sarnia’ by Final Fantasy from Mitch Fillion (southernsouls.ca) on Vimeo.

THE BRUCE PENINSULA – NEIL HAVERTY – ‘We Always Change’ by Jennifer Castle from Mitch Fillion (southernsouls.ca) on Vimeo.

BRUCE PENINSULA – DANEILA GESUNDHEIT ‘Hot Love Drama’ by MGMT from Mitch Fillion (southernsouls.ca) on Vimeo.

BRUCE PENINSULA – IVY MAIRI ‘Feel You Closer’ by The Skydiggers from Mitch Fillion (southernsouls.ca) on Vimeo.

BRUCE PENINSULA: KARI PEDDLE – ‘My Hands’ by Jon-Rae Fletcher from Mitch Fillion (southernsouls.ca) on Vimeo.

See Bruce Peninsula play SummerWorks Thursday August 11th at the Lower Ossington Theater. Also, tell your friends you’re going on the social networking site ‘FaceBook’.

I Love This Band, and You Should Too : Great Bloomers

(Musical Gushings By Lauren Schreiber, SummerWorks Music Series Programmer)

Part 4: This Band Is Forever

I’ve known Great Bloomers for a long time now, since the very first shows I ever put on. They came to me, recommended by a friend and highly credible musical source, and based on the one song I’d heard… I was sold. When the band, then barely out of high school, arrived at the venue for soundcheck, we circled each other with trepidation; the baby-faced band still playing their first handful of shows, the unknown promoter, still making a name for  herself. Neither of us knew what to expect from the other. And when the band later took the stage at the sold out show, and absolutely BLEW ME AWAY with their timeless songwriting, accomplished musicianship and performance well beyond even their collective years… I knew this was not a flash-in-the-pan kind of band.

I knew this one was for real.

Bloomers are Cohen, Lightfoot, Mitchell and Young… timelessly Canadian; they make the kind of music that will still be relevant and sound beautiful years and years from now. I’m proud to say I knew them when.

GREAT BLOOMERS – You’re Everywhere from Mitch Fillion (southernsouls.ca) on Vimeo.

and they have a penchant for Fleetwood Mac covers…

See Great Bloomers play SummerWorks Wednesday August 10th at the Lower Ossington Theater. Also, tell your friends you’re going on the social networking site ‘FaceBook’.


I Love This Band, and You Should Too : Bonjay

(Musical Gushings By Lauren Schreiber, SummerWorks Music Series Programmer)

Part 3: Bonjay = The Girl Crush

*As a note off the bat, I fully acknowledge that Bonjay is a partnership between Alanna Stuart and Ian “Pho” Swain, and but today I’m going to talk about my girl crush, and Pho, if you’re reading, I will get you next time, I promise.

You ladies know what I’m talking about right? She’s beautiful, smart, talented and sweet as pie. How can anyone so inhumanely lovely be so down to earth, so humble? When you run into her, and she shoots you a smile and calls you by your name (SHE REMEMBERED MY NAME!) your toes curl with pleasure. Her clothes are impeccable, her face is flawless, her hair is a dream and her smile is blinding. Boys want to be with her, the girls want to be her, and you should hate her for everything she is but all you want to do is be her friend and curl up beside her like a cat in the sun. We’ve all been there, and I’m not ashamed to admit…

Alanna, you have so many looks.

Bonjay is my girl crush.

Alanna has all the warmth and doe-eyed sweetness of Bambi, but when she hits the stage, LORD! I don’t know if it’s because I am super duper white and the whole dirty dancehall thing is not something I grew up with, but when Bonjay goes off with her patois and dance moves that I can not copy NO MATTER HOW MANY TIMES I TRY IN FRONT OF MY BEDROOM MIRROR I lose it.

I dare you not to dance. I dare you.

Reasons to love Bonjay

1. Lady can SING. Like, legit sing.

2. Lady can DANCE. How does she do it?! Especially in those jeans!?

3, Lady kills it on stage EVERY DAMN TIME

What more do you need?

Bonjay – Stumble (Addy version) from Bonjay on Vimeo.

Bonjay – Creepin from Bonjay on Vimeo.

Bonjay – Jamelia (Caribou cover) from Bonjay on Vimeo.

See Bonjay play SummerWorks Saturday August 6th at the Lower Ossington Theater.

Also, tell your friends you’re going on the social networking site ‘FaceBook’.



I Love This Band, and You Should Too : Hooded Fang

(Musical Gushings By Lauren Schreiber, SummerWorks Music Series Programmer)

Part 2: Chocolate Cake and Sunshine with Hooded Fang

First thing’s first… stream the album so you have some CONTEXT here —> http://hoodedfang.bandcamp.com/album/tosta-mista


Let me just say, Hooded Fang are fast.

By the time you finish falling in love with them, they’ll have done a 180 and give you something completely different to fall just as hard for. They were faster than me… back in 2008 I blinked and almost missed them.

I consider myself to have an ear to the ground, so when suddenly everyone I trust with musical recommendations started buzzing about this rogue band of ruffians named after a Mordercai Richler kids book, my ears pricked up. How had I not heard of them before?  I took a listen to their self-titled EP and booked them, sight unseen… not something I do every day. And then, the first time I saw them live, I completely blown away… how had I not seen them first?! I put aside my jealousy at not being the one to make this fantastic discovery, and began my love affair with the fearless and fast-paced boys and girls of Hooded Fang.

HOODED FANG – Sleep Song from Mitch Fillion (southernsouls.ca) on Vimeo.

HF move fast. They write short, straight-forward pop gems and record them and release them quickly. The music is lo-fi, but surprisingly lush (they ARE a seven piece, after all), naive and playful, urgent and easy going all at once. They are always trying new things, and as such have developed like they are going through musical puberty. Zoom! They are also choc full of ‘baby’s ‘ooh’s and ‘la’s, and I LOVE Hooded Fang.

HOODED FANG – Mutant Bear from Mitch Fillion (southernsouls.ca) on Vimeo.

Hooded fang are your go-to musical chocolate cake… made with the most basic of musical ingredients, flour (basic guitar chords) eggs (chugging bass lines) butter (drums) and sugar (horns n’ harmonies), and it’s lead vocalist Daniel Lee’s pure and deep tenor that plays the part of deep, fudgey chocolate, and lyrics that leave you with a serious sugar high.

When I was given a copy of their now Polaris-prize nominated debut full-length as a wedding gift this time last year, I spent the early fall driving the highway in a red convertible with the top down to go apple picking on a sunny Sunday afternoons ( I kid you not) and wishing it had come out earlier in the summer so I would have had more sunshine time with this perfect summer album; it instantly became one of my top albums of the year… Now, somehow, HF have trumped themselves in terms of aural sunshine, their new 23-minute album, Tosta Mista (out this week!) comes a good monthnabit earlier than last year’s release, and calls for spiked lemonade, a new pair of shades, pounding pavements at festivals, hitting the beach and making the most of our short Canadian summer. So fittingly they’re opening our shindig.

I’m not saying explicitly we should all go pool hopping after their set, but I’m not saying we shouldn’t. I’ll bring the lemonade.

See Hooded Fang play SummerWorks Friday August 5th at the Lower Ossington Theater.

Also, tell your friends you’re going on the social networking site ‘FaceBook’.


I Love This Band, and You Should Too : Steven McKay

(Musical Gushings By Lauren Schreiber, SummerWorks Music Series Programmer)

Part 1: Steven McKay; It-Guy.

Tafelmusik behind the scenes-er. Bruce Peninsula drummer. Taaaall drink of water.

Steven McKay wears a lot of hats, but in my humble opinion, he is first and foremost Toronto’s most secretest gem of a front man. But there are a lot of singer-songwriters out there, so what separates Steven from the pack?

His band’s name isn’t catchy… it’s not even Steven and The McKays… just his name, straight up – What you see is what you get. Steven doesn’t need to be trendy – he’s a great songwriter, a great singer, a great player, and a great performer. Clever lyrics, lush arrangements, timeless songs, dexterous playing and a rich and gentle voice, full of 70s AM radio warmth and depth and humor.

When Steven steps out from behind his drum kit, it isn’t that he shines… rather, that he glows. But then, I’ve always been one to choose the warmth of the sun on my face over a strobe light in my eye.

Steven is like a bowl of tomato soup and a straight up grilled cheese, a walk in the fall and a flannel shirt… he’s musical comfort food.  He’s a Sunday morning and he’s every day. He’s Cat Stevens, He’s Abbey Road, he sings about his wife all the time, and his cheeks are not unlike apples. He’s a nice guy.

I LOVE Steven McKay and your Mom would too.

Steve makes me wish album inserts still came with lyrics, because his are just great. Don’t believe me? Well, here are some of my favorite Steven Lyrics.

“It would be nice to have my Emma home. I shouldn’t have to eat my breakfast all alone”. (He’s singing about his wife here… so cute.)

“ My greatest of wishes is doing the dishes with you at home, where I belong”. (wife again… oh Steve)

“You remember ‘98, the coffees purchased were always late but I could set my watch to your approval. You’d go and start the car, and think you’re snowed in where you are, but I can dig you out with this shovel ” (Steven pulls off rhyming ‘Approval’ with ‘This Shovel’ – nice)

“ELP and PS2 till 3 in the morning with Andy.” (in case you don’t know, ELP refers to Emerson Lake and Palmer which was a band in the 1970s and a PS2 is a Playstation 2, a video game console from the 2000s.. Steve both appreciates nostalgia and today’s current youth trends)

And basically all the lyrics for “It’s Gonna Be A Long Time” are the best. I couldn’t find them online, so I’m going to transcribe them myself. Here are all of them now… you’re welcome.

‘It’s Gonna to be a Long Time’ By Steven McKay

You’ve got your spandex, your neon, your owl magazine.
Can’t wait to show your Theo Fleury rookie card to the hockey team.
You scratch and sniff
You say ‘‘same diff, so sue me’’
I can’t wait till lunch
When we pulverize those French emersion jerks at kickball.
And the girls don’t know how cool it is to be tall

It’s gonna be a long time,
gonna be a long time,
until they notice me at all

You’ve got your track pants
Your headband
Your Brian Adams tape
You lack the balls to take the fall and ask out Sarah on a date
Can’t wait for cubs
Chew hubba bubba through Shel Silverstein’s gate
to a place when the sideway ends and monsters are for real
Last night I drank a sixpack
Of root beer

It’s gonna be a long time
gonna be a long time
until monsters are the least of my fears

Tonight it’s ping pong
and I’ll chase that with a game of ‘Blades of Steel’
I go to bed by 8pm
That Guy Smiley haunts me still
And in the morning it’s church for a spiritual search
When I crouch down and kneel
I pray
God give me the strength
to beat those French immersion jerks at kickball
And the girls don’t know how cool it is to be tall

It’s gonna be a long time
Gonna be a long time
Until they notice me at all.

For those who need some visual proof of Stevens’s awesomeness, here’s a video Steven made of himself flying

Here’s the same song recorded live. See how consistent he is? Just as good as the ‘official’’ video. Steven doesn’t need studio magic; it’s all Steven, baby.

Here’s  Steven  by a pool. Let’s pretend its fall now, and not 48 degrees (with the humidex).

Here’s Steven against a wall.

See Steven McKay play SummerWorks Friday August 5th at the Lower Ossington Theater.

Also, tell your friends you’re going on the social networking site ‘FaceBook’. http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=156966177707880