BTW Nature Boy, Little Miss Higgins, Rufus John, Paul Cherry, Ellevator, Lowell, Float Your Fanny Down The Ganny

Nature Boy Vincent Bertucci.jpg

Submitted by Lenny Stoute

All over the map or fiercely inclusive? That's Opia, the recently released, inaugural musical statement from Nature Boy a.k.a. Toronto-based singer/songwriter Vincent Bertucci.

Opia is the album Bertucci has been striving towards his entire life. And he’s got the extraordinary backstory to prove it. Featuring 10 dazzling original songs – all written or co-written by Bertucci on guitar and piano alongside a marquee group of long-time collaborators — Opia explores life, death, and love (and raising the odd glass) via jazz-informed pop and soft-rock.

Consider Opia’s head-spinning instrumental roster which includes glockenspiel, Hammond B-3 and Rhodes organ, various synths, drums, percussion, guitars and… wait for it… manmade “whale sounds” and Tibetan singing bowls, correctly listed in the liner notes as being “wicked.” Opia’s songs soar… even the candlelit ones. Check the iridescent, keyboard-guided slow burn of “10 Past 9.” The album’s fearlessly knock-kneed first single juxtaposes an urgent message of desire against a languid vocal delivery. The track gets extra oomph from a kooky (also bitingly sad/funny) accompanying video chronicling the exploits of a furry blue mascot trying to snag his costumed crush’s attention.

“That song and video is essentially about how, no matter who you are, there is someone out there for you,“Even if you are a basketball-playing furry and the object of your affection is a giant yellow mouse. Or whatever she is. It’s just a matter of finding the right person. I think the dark humour of the video really brings that home.”

Songs like the blistering, “Natural Selection” underscore Bertucci’s musical prowess and ease across the stylistic spectrum. And then there’s “Westward,” an alluring duet with fast-rising star Michelle Willis which casts the pair as doomed real-life lovers, a narrative weirdly but pleasingly at odds with the song’s gently rollicking vibe.

“This isn’t my first kick at the can, but it is my best. And having met these people through Symmetry Studios, I was able to foster meaningful kinships. And now here we are.”

Interestingly, Bertucci says that with the exception of the chiming and staccato “No Day in The Life” “a challenge to find the right sound and the exact right lyric”— most of the songs on Opia coalesced “quickly and based on intuition.“Tyler Emond really helped shape the record sonically, coming up with things I wouldn’t necessarily have come up with,” Bertucci says of Opia’s producer and arranger.

Emond also added bass, guitar, and the before mentioned glockenspiel and has jobbed extensively with Bertucci, cementing their rich collaborative rapport. “Tyler is a brilliant musician and was the George Martin of the project.”

Bertucci continues: “The dream of any musician is to perform their own music. Sales would be nice and of course, radio would be nice. The key thing is connecting with audiences. If that’s in the cards for Nature Boy and Opia, well, I’ll be over the moon.”

Nature Boy plays Hugh's Room Live Fri. Apr. 13 Music 8:30 PM

Little Miss Higgins Photo Credit Alicia SylvesterLittle Miss Higgins
Photo Credit Alicia Sylvester

Firebrand genre jumpin' Little Miss Higgins (aka Jolene Higgins) is taking the acclaimed new album on the road for a string of tour dates throughout Ontario and Quebec. Out now, The Calgary Herald called My Home, My Heart “...an infectious cocktail of country-blues, jazz and folk that sounds immediately timeless."

Her sixth studio album, My Home, My Heart is a collection of fresh songs from an artist who remains true to her roots while venturing into new territory. Her voice has never been richer or songwriting riper and the crew of Winnipeg musicians Higgins has brought together on this musical steamship shines with talent. Recorded at The Song Shop in Winnipeg My Home, My Heart was co-produced with Scott Nolan and engineered by Jamie Sitar of Outta Town Sound. The album is an effortless addition to this artist’s impressive body of work. To top it all off, her hand-drawn ink artwork is used for the album cover design.

As a songwriter and musician, Higgins has been influenced by a range of artists from Memphis Minnie and Billie Holiday to Joni Mitchell and Dolly Parton as well as the vast array of Canadian musicians and bands she has had the fortune to see live or even share a stage with like Big Dave McLean, Corb Lund, and the Deep Dark Woods. For over 15 years, she has performed, toured, collaborated, recorded, and released 5 independent albums. Her music has won three Western Canadian Music Awards and received JUNO and Maple Blues Awards nominations.

Little Miss Higgins Tour Dates
Apr 17 - Corbyville, ON - Signal Brewing Company
Apr 18 - Hamilton, ON - Mills Hardware
Apr 19 - Toronto, ON - Hugh's Room
Apr 20 - London, ON - London Music Club
Apr 21 - Greenbank, ON - Greenbank Folk Society
Apr 22 - Montreal, QC - Escogriffe
Apr 23 - Ottawa, ON - Irene's

RufusRufus

Canadian and UK Independent Soul Charting artist Rufus John and Urban X Entertainment have announced the “Soulful & Intimate” concert tour hitting Toronto’s The Painted Lady Mon. Apr.9, with a 9.15 PM showtime. The Canadian R&B/Soul artist invites fans to a more personal musical experience where he will share background stories and influences of fan favourite tracks, as well as new music off of his upcoming album.

With previous hits such as, “ Hold On Me ”, By My Side and " Confessions which reached #11 on the UK Independent Soul Charts, Rufus has already made a name for himself worldwide. After sharing the stage with Canadian music icons such as Classified, Jully BBlack,  Glenn Lewis,  Divine Brown and others, Rufus is excited to share his new music off of his highly anticipated sophomore album, “Gone But Not Forgotten”, set to be released in June 2018.

Rufus John is a Canadian-Caribbean Artist who is bringing a refreshing sound to the Canadian R&B/Soul music scene. Along with being an artist, Rufus is an entrepreneur, a graduated Child and Youth Worker and an Award Winning Youth Mentor in his community. Between music and his youth work, Rufus strives to use his music as a medium to bridge the gap between youth and elders with his music being the catalyst for change and the voice of reason and positivity.

Paul Cherry Credit Alexa ViscousPaul Cherry Credit Alexa ViscousPaul Cherewick, aka Paul Cherry, came up during Chicago’s garage rock golden age of 2014. Despite being heavily involved in the DIY scene with up-and-coming bands such as Twin Peaks and The Lemons, Paul has abandoned the all-too-familiar lo-fi rock sound of his first EP On Top”. He has spent the past two years returning to his jazz roots, completely reinventing himself on his upcoming LP, Flavour. The first single, "Like Yesterday" sets the tone for the record as a brilliantly written, mid-tempo pop ballad. It would fit nicely as a modern addition to Paul McCartney's “Ram” or Todd Rundgren's "Something/Anything," or even Player’s “Baby Come Back.” Paul Cherry crafts melodies on Flavour that sit at the intersection of 1970s yacht rock and Ariel Pink’s lo-fi dream pop. Lyrically, Cherry touches on millennial culture with references to love in the modern age, phone culture, and giving a new, light-hearted twist to age-old themes of love lost, missed connections and polar political climates. Also said to be not too shabby as a performer.

Paul Cherry Tour
Sun 4/8 - San Antonio, TX - Limelight
Wed 4/11 - Memphis, TN
Tue 4/17 - NYC, NY - Alphaville
Wed 4/18 - Montreal, ON - Brasserie or La Vitrola (TBC)
Thu 4/19 - Toronto, ON - Baby G
Thu 5/24 - Cleveland Heights, OH - Grog Shop
Fri 5/25 - Toronto, ON - Smiling Buddah
Sat 5/26 - Montreal, OC - Casa Del Popolo
Tue 5/29 - Allston, MA - Great Scott
Wed 5/30 - Brooklyn, NY - Rough Trade
Thu 5/31 - Philadelphia, PA - Johnny Brenda’s
Sat 6/2 - Washington DC - Union Stage
Mon 6/4 - Richmond, VA - Strange Matter
Tue 6/5 - Carrboro, NC - Cat’s Cradle Back Room
Wed 6/6 - Asheville, NC - The Mothlight
Mon 6/11 - Dallas, TX - Club Dada
Tue 6/12 - Austin, TX - Barracuda

Ellevator Photo Credit Vanessa HeinsEllevator
Photo Credit Vanessa Heins

Post-rock quartet Ellevator just put the wraps on a successful tour supporting Our Lady Peace and Matt Good throughout Western Canada. Next week, the Hamilton band will keep the momentum going with another string of tour dates throughout the US and Canada with BANNERS before heading home to perform at The Rally presented by Arkells.

With only a few weeks left before the release of their self-titled EP on Arts & Crafts, the band is releasing another track from the record,“Voices”. On the song, front-woman Nabi Sue Bersche says, “I always had a pretty firm idea of what the Love Of My Life (TM) would be like. I had them mapped out completely, down to the rusty old pickup truck and the 5 o’clock shadow. but then they weren't any of those things. They were late nights on the phone and making out in my parent’s hatchback, they were unexpected and ill-advised and all sorts of tears. But I knew from the start that they were my future. So I guess ‘Voices’ is a love song.”

LISTEN AND SHARE “VOICES” HERE  

Good music seems instantaneous: a decisive rush of expression and dopamine. Ellevator capture that direct hit of immediacy on their new self-titled EP. Frontwoman Nabi Sue Bersche delivers raw lyricism with quiet power. Her nimble melodies anchor the electric hooks and cinematic timbres Ellevator have refined on countless stages. Due out April 20 via Arts & Crafts, the EP was recorded with Michael Keire ( Arkells, The Dirty Nil, Wildlife) Formerly known as The Medicine Hat, Ellevator is Mike Boyd, ElliottGwynne, Nabi Sue Bersche, and Tyler Bersche.

Ellevator Tour Dates
Apr 12 - Toronto, ON @ The Phoenix *
Apr 13 - London, ON @ Rum Runners *
Apr 14 - Ottawa, ON @ The 27 Club *
Apr 17 - Albany, NY @ The Hollow *
Apr 18 - New York, NY @ Pianos (showroom)
Apr 19 - Vienna, VA @ Jammin Java *
Apr 20 - Boston, MA @ Cafe 939 *
Apr 21 - Montreal, QC @ Theatre Fairmount *
Apr 22 - Quebec City, QC @ Palais Montcalm *
Apr 24 - Waterloo, ON @ Maxwell’s *
Apr 26 - Hamilton, ON @ Club Absinthe *
May 11 - Toronto, ON @ CMW - Lee’s Palace (Paradigm & Indie88 Presents)
Jun 3 - Toronto, ON @ Field Trip Festival
Jun 22 - Ottawa, ON @ Dragon Boat Festival
Jun 23 - Hamilton, ON @ Tim Hortons Field (The Rally presented by Arkells)

Lowell Photo Credit Maya FuhrLowell
Photo Credit Maya Fuhr

Multi-talented alt-pop singer-songwriter-producer Lowell announces her sophomore album Lone Wolf, set for release on April 6 via Arts & Crafts. A ten-track collection of deeply personal songs that reflect on the power and influence of youth, Lone Wolf is the crystallization of teenage perspective, harnessing the irrepressible energy of it. Featuring the vibrant production of Zale Epstein (Schoolboy Q, Kendrick Lamar), Davey Badiuk (Tegan and Sara, Dragonette), and Gus Van Go (The Stills, Wintersleep), Lone Wolf ranges from alt-pop ballads to ferocious dancefloor rally-cries. Lowell is sharing lead single “War Face”, previously featured in the 2017 season premiere of Grey’s Anatomy. Highlighted by a relentless battle rhythm, the infectious track draws listeners in with its anthemic chorus and upbeat, clever production.

In 2014, it was the juxtaposition of sweet pop melodies and pointed political content that brought attention to We Loved Her Dearly, Lowell's critically acclaimed debut. Lone Wolf by contrast stands alone, finding a place where both youth and maturity exist harmoniously. While still as dynamic and spirited as its predecessor, Lowell more powerfully explores themes of self-discovery – this time distilled through the lens of her teenage self.

Even though the album revels in its driving and danceable pop, it is these more subdued and tender moments that truly show the maturity of this collection of songs. “Ghosts” and “Cut the Cord” are where she really peels back the curtain lyrically and becomes more than ever, not the wolf, nor the indie pop star, or the bisexual ex-stripper feminist, but Lowell the person. Lowell reminds us of the big picture, that despite everything, from our life’s endeavors, to our politics; in the end, “you and I will eventually just fade away like ghosts.” Lowell recognizes this, she is aware that in the end, we all become irrelevant. Across the album, the lyrics remind listeners that young people are worth listening to; that they are strong, resilient, and free of the cynicism that tends to define adulthood.

Lone Wolf is also a celebration of who Lowell is now: a mature and accomplished songwriter who in the last few years has not only written for Icona Pop, Dragonette, Netsky, and Grandtheft but has also had a strong hand in developing Canada’s newest rising star, 18 year-old Bülow.

And now for some hardcore Canadiana, an annual hoisting of the middle digit to winter. with music to match.

Fanny Ganny CanoesFanny Ganny Canoes

Float Your Fanny Down the Ganny is an annual 10km race along the turbulent Ganaraska River to the centre of Port Hope, where all deboat for the mad foot race to the finish line. This is all to commemorate the 1980 flooding of the Ganny, which thrashed downtown Port Hopes and yeah there is such a thing.

On Fanny Ganny day, it's called Fannyville. Centred around the finish area at Barrett Street Bridge and Cavan Street, this where most of the entertainment happens, and is prime viewing turf for watching the participants float over the last rapids section of the course. Live commentary will be provided, as well as additional entertainment on the water, munchies and libations to be had from the numerous vendors along the riverbanks. Music lineup\s still being finalized but PH homie and stellar roots artist Kim Doolittle will be performing at some point.

Fanny GannyFanny GannyPHopers feel the race is considered best run in the most inclement of weather, with ice in the water considered prime racing conditions. Which is supposed to have zero impact on the costumes. Yes, there will be costumes and in the spirit of the vents, the more impractical, the more highly rated.

Showtime's Sat. Apr. 14 10.00 AM and it's not too late to get involved in this outrageous display of Canuckery, fellow citizens of the Free North, so here's more info.

Prizes for times in each category.

  • Single Kayak
  • Double Kayak
  • Single Canoe
  • Double Canoe

A prize will be awarded for the Best Costume from all the categories.

Fanny Ganny GirlsFanny Ganny GirlsCrazy Craft Category

A ‘crazy craft’ is a craft that has been built from multiple different items and components to form a floating vessel. Canoes, Kayaks and other inflatable boats, or single component crafts which have not received major modification will NOT be classified as a crazy craft, and as such will not be eligible for prizes in the crazy craft category.

Go on out for one last chance to freeze your ass this season, in the company of homegrown music at its homegrownest.