BeaverFest Line-Up Announced

Posted: March 24, 2011 by Windsor Zene in Live Performances, Previews

The anticipation for the big announcement of the line-up for the inaugural BeaverFest, a celebratory three day music festival featuring an all Canadian line-up at the brand new Riverfront Amphitheatre on June 3-5, was immense. Let’s get that out of the way first. Everyone had their dream list of who they’d hoped would be there (and I’m sure an equal list of who they didn’t). Everyone from Rush to Nickelback was mentioned but in the end, the line-up proved to be a diverse cross section of what’s happening in Canadian music right now, and a fairly solid line-up considering it’s the BeaverFest crew’s first concert – BayFest certainly wasn’t this strong out of the gates, and look where that festival has gone.

When analyzing the line-up, people are going to judge based on their preferences. That’s just human nature. You know what you like (and what you don’t) and you’re probably looking at the list going “like them” or “don’t like them” to each of the names. But keep in mind, this is a festival that is looking to be a mainstay in Windsor for years to come. This is something that the organizers – David Hunter, Ian France and Chris Mickle – have spent the better part of a year organizing and financing (with help from some sponsors of course, most notably Molson Coors) and it’s something they truly believe in – as music fans themselves and as people looking to bring something big and fresh to Windsor as a community. That alone is worth commending.

Now, on to the line-up. While none of the rumoured “big names” made it (although another main headliner is yet to be announced on account that the contract wasn’t confirmed last night), there really is a little bit of everything here. Indie pop to alternative rock, some local flavour mixed with some national superstars. This will be a festival. Drink, dance and rock away for three days. And the best part is, you didn’t have to drive to Toronto, Chicago or even Sarnia to take part. It’s happening right here in Windsor.

Crash Karma

This is one of the bands I’d predicted would be on the bill (the only prediction I got right actually) and it’s not a bad call. This Canadian alt. rock supergroup, featuring members of I Mother Earth, Our Lady Peace, Zygote and The Tea Party, have been tearing up Canadian radio and highways the past year. There’s a strong Windsor connection here as well, as drummer Jeff Burrows is a proud Windsorite.

Danko Jones

This announcement shocked me. Not that I didn’t think the guys involved would be fans of Mr. Jones, but that the more independent bands would even be considered. Danko Jones has a huge cult following, primarily based off his rambunctious live performances and frantic guitar attack – he could be the show stealer this summer.

Finger Eleven

A lot of people had these guys penciled on their prediction list and while I’ve never personally been a fan of them, it’s hard to argue the impact they’ve had on the Canadian rock scene over the past decade. One of the things that’s both a blessing and a curse (depending on how you look at it) of being so close to Detroit, is that we’ve really lost touch with what is relevant in Canada – things like the CFL, Canadian radio, saying “aboot” – are all myths to most of us. But you get out into Canada and all of these things are real.

Keisha Chante

A Juno-award winning R&B singer, Keisha brings some industry cred to the festival. Her latest album, Night & Day, is again nominated for a Juno.

Shawn Desman

I’ll admit, I had to look this guy up, but apparently he’s a big deal in the pop & R&B world. His first two singles from his latest album have both hit Top 10 on Canadian radio. The young girls in the audience will  probably pop big for this dude.


You knew this one was coming. While many feared Theory of a Deadman would take this spot (seriously, do they play anywhere else besides Windsor? I swear they play every festival Windsor-Essex has), Default was…well…the default prediction for the “Nickelback slot”. But again, love them or hate them, they’ve done huge numbers in Canada and have done something that not a lot of Canadian bands can brag about – made an impact in the U.S. market.

Fefe Dobson

Fefe Dobson, another Juno nominee, has quietly had a pretty remarkable career so far. Her debut album in 2003 debuted at #1 on Billboard’s Heatseeker Charts and she’s had songs of hers covered by Miley Cyrus and Selena Gomez to name a few. She’s also performed on MTV’s Music Video Awards show. Once again, another Canadian musician recognized internationally, but probably overlooked in border towns like Windsor.

Whale Tooth

This was another shocker. Not that they don’t belong on a festival stage, but the indie pop of Whale Tooth is about as far from mainstream rock as Finger Eleven is from Radiohead. These guys (and gal) cut their proverbial Windsor orca molars on Phog’s little stage a few years back (like much of Canada’s finest indie pop bands), so it’s nice to see some of the bands return to Windsor on a grander scale.

Dean Lickyer

This band seemed to be the one that got the most “Who the fuck is that?” looks last night at the announcement, and I think perhaps it’s just another case of being socially detached from mainstream Canadian rock music in this area. This Hamilton band have been rocking across the country for the past few years, even being courted by KISS’ Gene Simmons at Canadian Music Week a few years back. They have a classic 70’s rock sound similar to The Black Crowes and a similar stage presence. They’ve also been through Windsor before, with shows at The Chubby Pickle and The Coach & Horses. Bands like this thrive on large stages – these guys could challenge Danko Jones for sleeper hit of the festival.

Tim Chaisson & The Morning Fold

Drawing from East Coast Canadiana, PEI’s Tim Chaisson and The Morning Fold will be adding a little New Country flair to the festival.

MicLordz & Sauce Funky

One of three locals already announced (and surprisingly the closest thing to hip-hop on the bill – I was hoping Shad might have made this festival), MicLordz & Sauce Funky genuinely deserve to be on this line-up. They’ve just completed a second U.S. tour (the first with Twiztid), this time around with Cypress Hill MC Sen Dog. These guys are a live spectacle and playing a festival in their hometown is just fuel for the fire.

Ashes of Soma

To be honest, I thought AoS had broken up. These guys were everywhere a few years back and seemed poised to explode nationally and then…they seemed to disappear. Regardless, they’ve done well in the U.S. and Canada on the radio and have always packed the house, so they’ll be a definite crowd pleaser for a festival like this. I’m assuming they’re sitting on a new album that may be launched around this time as well.

Seven Year Riot

The third local announced, these guys just got back from a showcase at Canadian Music Week. Formally known as Citizen Erased, with a new moniker comes a new start.

The organizers have also planned a full local showcase for the Saturday, prior to the main event stage starting. This showcase will be FREE to the public, in efforts to get the crowds coming in for the Beaverfest main stages to catch some of the local talent this city has to offer.

With that being said, and basing it around the format they’ve booked so far (apologies to the metal, punk and hip-hop scenes), here’s my two cents of 10 local acts that deserve to be a part of BeaverFest.

1. Michou

Windsor’s crown princes of pop were crowned XM Radio’s Verge Artist of the Year a month ago, beating out Arcade-freaking-Fire. They’ve toured the country, shared stages with the likes of Dashboard Confessional, Death Cab For Cutie and Sloan, as well as playing on this year’s Edgefest in  Toronto. Pure and simple, they are Windsor’s fast rising music stars in years.

2. The Locusts Have No King

With a sound that bridges real roots country with rock and roll, The Locusts Have No King have become one of Windsor’s most respected musical acts. They’ve played from Windsor to Montreal and have left a lasting impression on every stage they’ve played on. They’ve played festivals before (last year’s Phog Phest notably) and have shown they can command an audience.

3. Orphan Choir

Probably about as heavy as the festival would like with such an array of listening ears, but Orphan Choir has probably logged more road miles than most of the bands on the line-up already. They’ve toured Canada relentlessly, playing major festivals (NXNE, CMW) and building a massive following across North America.

4. Inoke Errati

The release of their long overdue EP, Make-Outs and Movie Stars, cemented them as Windsor’s power pop kings and this band feeds off an audience like no other. A festival setting would be ideal for these guys.

5. James OL & The Villains

Another band that effortlessly seams together alt. country with rock and roll, James OL & The Villains are one of those bands that simply captivate, from the subtle stage presence to the atmosphere the music itself creates, these guys would be the perfect fit for an early afternoon show.

6. Cloverjoy

A relatively new act in comparison to the others, Cloverjoy’s frontman Adam Gilchrist is a born entertainer, having fronted two prior local acts – Caught In The Moss and The Butterfield Gateway (both also featuring The Locusts Have No King’s Leigh Wallace – to local acclaim. This sound is a little smoother than past projects, but the sound is huge and anthemic. Perfect for a festival.

7. Surdaster

A perfect hybrid combination of Southern rock and prog rock, these guys sound like what King Crimson may have sounded like if they’d grown up in Alabama. As tight a unit as you’ll find anywhere, they never lose sight of the song’s melody even while trapped in a prog pattern. Their recent opening slot for Juno nominees Elliott Brood showed everyone just what Surdaster had to offer.

8. The Classix

With the demographic covering the young and old, The Classix Sum 41-meets-Crazytown style is a natural fit for a festival like this. They have a huge local following and the younger crowd will surely eat them up.

9. Shortcut to Last

These guys nearly stole the show at Inoke Errati’s EP release party with their spirited pop-punk sound. They’re young but experienced beyond their years. The way they work an audience is commendable – I’ve seen bands with more years on the belt that have still to learn how to steer an audience the way these guys do already.

10. The Nefidovs

They’ve been playing a lot lately, but it’s only helped tighten a ship that includes a horn section. These guys bring a dancing, party vibe like few others can, especially on people who are experiencing them for the first time. Their ska influence is noticeable, but original enough that they wouldn’t necessarily be considered a ska band.

There are plenty of heavy bands that I think deserve to be on a festival stage, don’t get me wrong. But in trying to offer the most logical choices for the line-up already announced, these are just my own personal suggestions. There are also some similar acts that would also be worthwhile (StereoGoesStellar or Dave Russell & The Precious Stones for example), but I was trying to have a bit more diversity of sound.

Now that the line-up has been announced, all the water cooler and bar room predictions for the past few months have probably been disproven or led to some kind of disappointment, but think about it this way. The three gentlemen who have put together BeaverFest have just spent eight months assembling this and probably contacted most of the names you’d hoped would be here but didn’t (Arcade Fire was in fact approached but their fees were just too high for a first year festival to take on). So before you criticize the names that aren’t here, let’s put this all in perspective. This is the festival’s inaugural year. It’s only going to grow. And the bigger it grows, the more they’ll be able to bring in bigger acts. And while I’m not a huge fan of many of the bands on the line-up due to my own personal music tastes, I am a huge fan of promoting Windsor as a viable musical community and this is a monumental step in the right direction. And it took a lot of balls and risks for these three men to pull this off, no matter what the line-up.

  1. Jack Anthony says:

    Where is The Original Buzzard Band,Can. #1 southern rock band ,,,and there from Windsor????

  2. gatman says:

    what about b.t.o.,guess who or even april wine.classic canadian rock night.Neil young (maybe next year)Why not bring bands that have they’re roots in twhat they call hometown #2( Alice cooper,ted nugent bob seger.

  3. mike says:

    Neverending White Lights?

    • Windsor Zene says:

      Again, that’s a question to ask the promoters. My guess is Daniel Victor is concentrating on finishing his record and once that is done, will begin planning tour dates.

  4. ryan says:

    how do i get 2 tickets for this?

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