Aaron Walker & Big Chief Alfred Doucette.  Photo by Scott McWhinney.

Story:Lenny Stoute

On a rain swept New Orleans night Big Chief Alfred Doucette is rolling through the back streets in search of the club where the Mohawk Hunters are singing. It takes some finding, which makes this opening sequence apt metaphor for Aaron Walker’s 'Bury The Hatchet' 

The Mardi Gras Indians of New Orleans have been a part of that city’s culture for hundreds of years, yet few visitors have ever seen one. That’s because the Chiefs don’t do Bourbon Street and its commercialized Mardi Gras. Their centuries old traditions are played out in the back streets and laneways where the community they serve live. For these are no maskers for a day and they throw no beads away and in ‘Bury the Hatchet’ Big Easy resident and award winning director Aaron Walker brings their story to vivid, pulsing, life.

The Mardi Gras Indians traditions are based on honouring the memories of the Choctaw Indians who sheltered runaway slaves in the bayous of Louisiana. For the descendants of those slaves it’s become a manifestation of grassroots New Orleans African-American culture.

Country Music of Ontario Host 1st Open Mic in Toronto

Cover April 29, 2011

By Sandy Graham

CMOA PHOTO Gallery here: cmao-open-mic-pics

In 1976, during an RPM Magazine function, The Academy of Country Music Entertainment was founded which would include the founding of Country Music Week. The very first awards for Canada were called the RPM Big Country Awards, and by 1982 the Association inaugurated its very own Canadian Country Music Awards. By 1986-1987, the Association’s name was officially changed to the Canadian Country Music Association (CCMA).

With a successful business model to follow, it was a natural progression that there would be an Association that would now develop and nurture the growing number of country music artists that are situated in Ontario.  The Country Music Association of Ontario (CMAO) is an undertaking by a number of energetic individuals in the country music industry in Ontario. The goal of the Country Music Association of Ontario is to foster and support the growth and development of Country Music in Ontario, as well as its artists - singers - songwriters - musicians - bands – to promote the same to Canada and the World. When we speak of country music, we speak of its subs as well, such as folk, alternative, bluegrass, roots and Canadiana. 

Kimberley Dunn Releases Ryan’s Song – A Tribute to Sgt. Ryan Russell

Kimberley Dunn

by Sandy Graham


On January 12, 2011, Toronto Police Officer, Sgt. Ryan Russell, tragically lost his life in the line of duty. This terrible tragedy inspired a song by family friend, Kimberley Dunn, who performed the song at Sgt. Russell’s funeral in fitting tribute to an officer who gave the ultimate sacrifice. As a city mourned the loss of one of its own; “Ryan’s Song” touched an entire nation.


Music Matters April 29, 2011

Music Matters

I was going to write about the effect of 19th century harpsichord music on the intellectual fashion choices being made by contemporary musical artists like Lady Ga Ga and Ted Nugent, when I suddenly realized that no one gives a horse’s patoot about such matters, me included. Right now, the only thing that everyone I know is concerning themselves with is next week’s election here in Canada. Who is going to govern our home and native land until we grow weary of their broken promises and shoddy decisions and force another election to replace our latest mistake. Will we get lucky with this latest spin of the wheel, or will the same people who vote for the winners on American Idol elect another Dull Thud?  Why do they even keep letting us vote people into power? Seriously, how often has the public ever been right? I have always thought we should draft our leaders. Find the most qualified human being for the job, call him or her on the phone, and say, “Hey, we just wanted to let you know you’re the Prime Minister now. Pack up you family and your stuff and move into 22 Sussex in Ottawa. The key is under the doormat.” Makes more sense to me than having us, the public (most of whom are too dozy to even get out of Jury duty) pick the ‘right choice’ to lead us down the garden path. Let’s face it, most of us don’t know squat about politics, the politicians, or how the government even works.

Music Matters April 21, 2011

Music Matters

I’m not much of a political animal. Never learned the game or played it well, which is why I’m not a household name or King of All Media. Further to the point, as much as all pursuits in life have a political bent to them, (from marriage to your job, to getting a decent deal on a used car), the Arts have had a very checkered past with actual politics, the ones that feature elected leaders and CEOs and the like, who are supposed to lead us, the Great Unwashed, around by our noses. It always seemed an odd footnote to me, seeing popular musical artists taking a photo op with the leader of a Nation, Religion, or Donald Trump, or vise versa. Odd as it may be, it happens all the time. When I saw this picture of Chad Kroeger and Stephen Harper (I like to think of them as The Burger King and Ken Doll) together, I wondered who was zoomin’ who. Is Chad working to convince Harper that his government should increase funding to the Arts, or that he is cool with the Harper Government’s existing laissez faire attitude towards artists because, hey, he doesn’t need any funding, or has Harper seized the moment because Chad is just so darn popular with the younger voters…and he isn’t.

Heather Ostertag Receives the Industry Builder Award at the East Coast Music Awards 2011.

Heather Ostertag

By Sandy Graham

photo by Natasha Slinko


East Coast Music Awards (ECMAs) Awards was founded by Rob Cohn; initially named the Maritime Music Awards. Headquartered in Charlottetown, P.E.I., the Maritime Music Awards were staged for the first time in the Flamingo Café and Lounge in Halifax, N.S.,  April 10, 1989, to focus on the diversity of music and musicians in mainland Nova Scotia, Cape Breton, Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick and to raise the standard of recording. The awards grew from a $1,000 to a $1-million CBC show televised nationally and internationally, winning two Gemini Awards and attracting international buyers. The awards were renamed when the East Coast Music Association was formed in 1991, the year Newfoundland was included. Membership in the association is open to musicians, artists, agents, managers, record companies, studios, the media and related industries. 


On Saturday, April 16th, 2011, East Coast Music Week recognized their own at the Industry Awards Brunch, at the Delta Prince Edward in Charlottetown, PEI. This long standing component of the event has become a favourite amongst members and delegates alike. Highlighting 14 categories and 1 achievement award - the legendary Stompin' Tom Award – this brunch honors the tremendous contribution of the folks who work diligently behind the scenes to help to make the stars shine. 



Cover, April 22, 2011

The Trews, Chris Colepaugh & The Crew, David Myles and Rose Cousins joined Matt Andersen, Dave Gunning and Chelsea Nisbett as multiple award winners at East Coast Music Week 2011 in Charlottetown,PEI.

At the Bell Aliant 2011 East Coast Music Awards Gala presented by RBC on Sunday, The Trews took home their second music award receiving the Bell Aliant Fan’s Choice Video of the Year award for ‘Highway of Heroes’ (Director: Tim Martin). The band was presented with the DVD of the Year award for ‘The Trews Acoustic – Friends & Total Strangers’ on Saturday at the FACTOR Industry Brunch.  Chris Colepaugh & The Crew were awarded the Bell Aliant Fan’s Choice Entertainer of the Year award at the awards gala after receiving the Rock Recording of the Year award for ‘Missed a Page’ on Saturday.  David Myles picked up the Vibe Creative Group Single of the Year for ‘Need A Break’ (Producer: Joel Plaskett) at the awards gala after receiving the Folk Recording of the Year on Thursday.  Rose Cousins collected her second award, SOCAN Songwriter of the Year for ‘I Were the Bird.’  Cousins was also awarded Female Solo Recording of the Year presented by Budget Rent-a-Car for ‘The Send Off’ on Friday.

Andrea Ramolo-Not your Janis Joplin clone

Cover, April 15, 2011

Story:Lenny Stoute

Barrelling along the 401, having blown away Montreal the night before and on the way to do it again in Ottawa, is the perfect way to meet Andrea Ramolo. The fast-rising singer plays better than 200 shows a year all across our fair land, earning her the tag  “tireless road warrior”

The current 26-city jaunt is in support of second album 'The Shadows and the Cracks', which marks something of a departure for Ramolo. The Toronto native broke on the scene with 2008’s ‘Thank You For The Ride’ a sunny-sided collection of folk confections laden with lyrical narrative and introducing us to Ramolo’s rich and supple pipes.

It scored her widespread attention, opened the door to a better level of opening slots, won Best Folk album awards and guest speaker spot at the 2009 Ontario Council of Folk Festivals Conference in Ottawa on how to book your own tour as an indie artist.

“ The first album was totally my baby. It was an outpouring of songs, very organic. A lot of it was live off the floor, recorded in spontaneous bursts and produced by my then-boyfriend. It all worked out and it got me started off.”

Backed by one-man band Jason Skiendziel (upright/electric basses, mandolin, percussion), Ramolo took her show on roads as far away as the Southern U.S, playing the gigs, penning the tunes.

Go Ahead, Try Love and The Laws

The Laws Image

Story: Lenny Stoute

Photos: Paul Hatton


The Laws are a law onto themselves. They’re arguably the most successful folk duo since Ian & Sylvia, certainly the hottest and the tallest, have been at it together for ten years and have a DIY work ethic that should be taught in business college.
No agents, no managers, hired PR on a per event basis adds up to more money for The Laws, which in turn allows them to do their own thing in their own time.


The pair has just blown in from Nashville at the bottom end of a US tour in support of current cookie Try Love but Michelle’s gracious enough to go with the flow.


“ It was a great tour. We got good response at the shows and the album got some really nice reviews. The title says it; with all the bitterness and suffering in the world, it’s important to speak up for love, for optimism. We thought we’d put some love out there”
As is usual on a Laws album, the material deals with relationships and their ups and downs, managing for the most part to come down on the side of hope, of optimism, of the stance that love and time conquers all.
Having lived, loved and worked side by side for this long, Michelle knows a thing or two about intricate relationships.



Cover April 8, 2011

By Don Graham

The 7th Annual Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame Gala is an ambitious event and a great celebration of the creators of some of our finest moments in Canadian music history. As they say, it all starts with a song, and without the song even the finest voice on the planet would never be heard. The main inductees this year were Robbie Robertson (of the Band)  who wrote classics like The Weight, The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down and Up On Cripple Creek and Luc Plamondon, the French Canadian lyricist, famous for writing hits for Celine Dion, the most famous of which was L’Amour Existe Encore. Jack Scott, from Windsor ,Ontario who wrote My True Love , The Way I Walk and What In The World’s Come Over You?

Robbie RobertsonRobbie RobertsonSongs inducted were Gilles Valiquette’s Je Suis Cool, When I Die, Steve Kennedy and William Smith,(charted by Motherlode) Wildflower, Dave Richardson and Doug Edwards and(charted by Skylark) Kelly Jay Fordham and Roly Greenway of Crowbar for Oh What a Feeling.

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