Although it doesn’t have the cross country excitement of North By North West (NXNW) or perhaps the indie pop romanticism of Pop Montreal or Halifax Pop Explosion, Canadian Music Week (CMW), held annually every March in downtown Toronto, could very well be the nation’s most important music festival. And the best part of CMW – for music goers – is Canadian Music Fest (CMF), the live music portion of the festival.
Perhaps closer in importance to the U.S.’ South By South West (SXSW) than even NXNW is, CMW is a week long foray into the heart of the Canadian independent musician, as they primp, pose and rock for Canada’s national and underground media, and every record label from grass roots to international circles around venues like the legendary Horseshoe Tavern, El Mocombo, Sneaky Dee’s or Rancho Relaxo like vultures looking for the next Arcade Fire (or Shad or Caribou or…Justin Beiber). This is truly Canada’s industry conference festival and with social media becoming such an integral part of music marketing these days, its at events like CMW that bands will learn things that will automatically put them ahead in the game.
And while Windsor has had representations at prior festivals, this year’s CMW – held March 9th to March 13th – features one of Windsor’s strongest line-ups to date. Here’s your guide to following Windsor connected acts at this year’s Canadian Music Week:
WEDNESDAY MARCH 9: MICHOU at El Mocambo (464 Spadina Ave.) Slot: 10 PM – Windsor’s big winners of XM Radio’s Verge Artist of the Year recently kicks off Windsor’s participation as part of the FACTOR Breakthrough Showcase at the El Mocambo, on a bill that features Eric Hutchinson, To Tell, Behind Sapphire and Cardinal Chase. Doors are at 8pm, 19+ and all wrist bands accepted.
THURSDAY MARCH 10: CRASH KARMA at Mod Club Theatre (720 College St.) Slot: 10:30 PM – Canadian alt. rock supergroup Crash Karma (featuring members of I Mother Earth, Our Lady Peace, Zygote as well as Windsor’s own Jeff Burrows (The Tea Party) on drums) headlines Blackburn Radio’s showcase at the Mod Club, with special guests Age of Daze, Birthday Boys, Metro4 and Paul Davidson. Doors are at 7pm, 19+ and all wrist bands accepted.
THURSDAY MARCH 10: MICHOU at The Supermarket (268 Augusta Ave.) Slot: 11 PM – Michou’s second showcase of CMW is the following night in the Kensington Market area, a great artistic and musical hub smack in downtown Toronto. As part of The Agency Group’s Thursday showcase, the night is headlined by In-Flight Safety and also features openers Sun Wizard, Tomi Swick and Louise Burns. Doors are at 7:30pm, 19+ and all wrist bands accepted.
THURSDAY MARCH 10: ASSASSINATE THE FOLLOWING at The Bovine Sex Club (542 Queen St. West) Slot: 12 Midnight – Windsor’s lone metal representative is a solid one, with Assassinate The Following taking the stage as part of Jagermeister’s celebration for The Bovine’s 20th Anniversary Bash. Also on this night are bands FAME, The Isosceles Project, Endast, Dagoba and As You Like It. Doors are at 8pm, 19+ and all wrist bands accepted.
THURSDAY MARCH 10: NEVERENDING WHITE LIGHTS at Cherry Cola’s Rock N’ Rolla Cabaret (200 Bathurst St.) Slot: 2 AM – Daniel Victor’s doom pop project headlines a late night party at Cherry Cola’s, on a bill with The Wandas, Stone Parade, In A Coma, Venice Queen and Preacher’s Son. Doors at 9:30pm, 19+ and all wrist bands accepted.
FRIDAY MARCH 11: BIG SUGAR at Sound Academy (11 Polson St.) Slot: 11 PM – One of Canada’s dirty blues rock pioneers, Big Sugar – led by Windsor’s Gordie ‘Grady’ Johnson and Kelly ‘Mr. Chill’ Hoppe – headline a night of Canadian rock and roll at the Sound Academy, alongside Wide Mouth Mason, The Stanfields and Desperate Union. Doors at 8pm, an all-ages event and all wrist bands accepted.
FRIDAY MARCH 11: ORPHAN CHOIR at Parts & Labour (1566 Queen St. West) Slot: 12:30 AM – Orphan Choir, one of Windsor’s hardest working acts, takes their thinking man’s post-punk to yet another Canadian festival as part of a Canadian Music Fest showcase at Parts & Labour, on a bill alongside March Forth, Listener and Lost Chord. Doors at 11pm, 19+ and all wrist bands accepted.
FRIDAY MARCH 11: NEVERENDING WHITE LIGHTS at The Gladstone Hotel (North Ballroom) (1214 Queen St. West) Slot: 1:45 AM – NWL’s second showcase, this time as part of the S.L. Feldman & Associates Showcase, moves to the Queen Street district with a full line-up in the intimacy of the Gladstone Hotel, along with Andrew Cole, Stef Lang, Hello Beautiful, Current Swell, Kim Churchill, Sierra Noble and Justin Hines. Doors at 8pm, 19+ and all wrist bands accepted.
SATURDAY MARCH 12: PAT ROBITAILLE at The Supermarket (268 Augusta Ave.) Slot: 10 PM – Singer/songwriter Pat Robitaille is Windsor’s sole Saturday night performer, as part of The Agency Group’s Saturday showcase at the Supermarket. Pat is joined by Emmanual Jal, Morgan Cameron Ross and Nikki Lang. Doors are at 7:30pm, 19+ and all wrist bands are accepted.
SUNDAY MARCH 13: SEVEN YEAR RIOT at Cherry Cola’s Rock N’ Rolla Cabaret (200 Bathurst St.) Slot: 10 PM – Windsor’s Seven Year Riot has travelled a long road as one of Windsor’s longest standing original alternative rock acts, first as PlusMinus-X, then to Citizen Erased and now in their most successful incarnation as Seven Year Riot. They’re closing out Windsor’s CMF contingent on a Showcase with LastDayHere, Dearly Beloved and Parikrama. Doors at 9pm, 19+ and all wrist bands accepted.
The week isn’t just some of the country’s top independent musicians either. There’s a film festival running parallel with CMW as well as The Indies, Canada’s independent music awards, of which, two Windsor connections are up for. Neverending White Lights’s collaboration with Canadian hip-hop artist J Diggz, “This Time”, is up for Video of the Year, while Windsorite Jeff Burrows’ Canadian alt. rock supergroup Crash Karma are up for Rock Artist/Group of the Year. The Indies 2011 are held Saturday March 12 at The Royal York Hotel.