Canadian Music Week is an amazing experience, this is my fourth time covering CMW and it continuously delivers. This was its 32nd year and it took place over 5 days, May 6th-10th this year. This is not your typical festival, although it is typical of Toronto, 1000 bands are spread out over countless downtown venues, 60 actually. There are always amazing independent bands ranging every genre. This year I got to see some of my old favorites, some bands that I had been meaning to see for a long time and of course some amazing new discoveries. I covered bands from Vancouver to Halifax, stretching from hip hop to metal rock to heavy blues to indie pop and many more. It was wonderful to see and explore all that Canada’s music scene has to offer.
Bloody Diamonds (Blues/Rock) www.bloodydiamonds.com
The Bovine Sex Club on May 7th, 2014
Bloody diamonds are an intense blues rock band which tours as a two piece although two other members populate their hometown shows in Halifax. These guys have been around since 2011 and they have clearly been working very hard since then. Throughout their set at The Bovine Sex Club Sara Elizabeth rocked back and forth with rolling wollops and head thrashing that resembled a mix between Janis Joplin and an enraged mental patient. Her vocals where haunting and towering, soaked with the drama of an old bluesmith. She had great energy.
Jake Seaward, however, was essentially stationary throughout the set, not for a lack of energy, but because of a neat percussive innovation whereby he provided a steady and driving back beat on a bass drum which built a powerful foundation for his minimalist, heavy rock style, which resembles something like a mix of Black Sabbath and a hendrixian blues style. Bloody Diamonds are currently on a North American Tour so check up on when they are coming by your area. They are an amazing live act.
Bella Clava (Rock) www.bellaclava.ca
Bovine Sex Club, May 7th, 2014
Bella Clava is more than a hard rocking, hard working four headed beast, they are also versatile composers and talented entertainers. They maintain a general allegiance to blues-rock and 90’s alt pop while also infusing their music with their specific brand of energetic riff rock.
They have just recorded their latest album at the Legendary Rancho de la Luna in Joshua Tree California, in contrast to their last album ‘Holy Crow’, which was recorded with Ian Blurton over several months, this album ‘Medicine for Melancholy’ was recorded live off the floor in only a week it was released 17 April 2014. The band consists of Steve Suttie on guitar and vocals while Scott Hannigan rocks the bass, vocals. Jody Brumell pounds on the drums and Caitlin Dacey plays keys, guitar and provides lead vocals.
On Stage at the Bovine Sex Club on May 7th Caitlin bounces between guitar and keys and Steve plays a shredding solo. My favorite live song was definitely ‘Food For Cannibals’, it is a high-powered rock anthem and one of my favorite cuts off of Bella Clava’s last album. These guys play Toronto fairly regularly and are one of the cities most reliable acts when it comes to rocking your face off.
Tanika Charles (Singer/Song-Writer) www.tanikacharles.com
The Horseshoe Tavern, May 8th, 2014
Tanika Charles was completely unknown to me before CMW 2014. This is one of my favorite things about any kind of festival coverage. I always end up discovering scores of amazingly talented artists, essentially by accident. Playing a mix of bluesy soul and r&b, Tanika Charles has a huge stage presence. Charles was dancing, thrashing, grinding her fellow bandmates and playing a tambourine throughout her charismatic and commanding set. She started her career as a back up singer, most notably touring with Bedouin Soundclash, however Tanika Charles was clearly meant to be a bandleader. Tanika played at 1:00AM on may 9th at the horseshoe tavern, when I asked her about the show she said ‘I was worried about it being a school night but I had a wonderful and attentive crowd”. Charles has sincere lyrics and a classic feel to her style. Her music is great late night fuel. If you love soul or Motown style music then I would definitely add Tanika Charles to your watch list.