Articles,  Big Ideas


    From a piece I wrote for Electric City Magazine: “The Canadian music industry is a diverse, varied place, but you wouldn’t know it from the endless parade of white guys with guitars wanking across the festival stages and conference panels of the nation. Over the past month, NXNE have been releasing the lineup for their Portlands festival, and the list, while appearing more racially diverse with the most recent release, is still very dude-heavy. With three women-fronted bands and one genderqueer artist out of 16 total acts released so far, I have to ask: where the fuck are the women, NorthBy?” Read the rest at Electric City Magazine.

  • Articles,  Big Ideas,  Events,  Ontario

    Music City – A strategy

    The points I’ve included below – headlined ‘A Strategy for Music Peterborough‘ – was created with my hometown in mind, but swap out a few names and organizations and this would be useful in any city to frame the way you approach different sectors with a view to creating a cohesive push to highlight music (or, I think, almost any local art or cultural highlight) and create a Music City mentality. I’ve made a few edits from the original document to make explicit the sort of things that I take as a given, but which aren’t obvious to everyone (like gender parity, inclusion of racialized people, good working conditions, etc.). A…

  • On not getting gigs or grants - ChocQuibTown at The Distillery District
    Articles,  Band Advice

    On not getting gigs or grants.

    The work I do means saying “No” a lot more than “Yes.” Whether I’m working as a booker or jurying a grant or award, the ability to say no clearly, politely, and unequivocally is one of the most valuable skills I’ve developed. As AD of the Peterborough Folk Festival, I’d generally get about 700-1000 submissions from musical acts, and I’d have 25 or so slots to fill.  At minimum, I’d be listening, evaluating, and saying “No” 675 times to hopeful artists who’d poured their time, energy, sweat, and cash into their work.  The jury for Artsweek Peterborough ((A festival which I saved from certain death, restructured, and ran for 2 years.)) got…

  • Alys Robi
    Big Ideas

    Women in Music Database

    One of the discussions that arose from the Women in Music at FMO meetup in October was that a lot of women in the industry are looking for other women to work with – as producers, as side players, etc.  It also seems to me that conferences and festivals who are asked or challenged on the issue of gender parity often say things like ‘We can’t find enough women to fill these spots.’ So with the aim of helping each other and promoting women in music, I’m gathering a database of women and the things they do in the music industry.  Paid or volunteer, it doesn’t matter; if you identify…

  • Secret Frequency
    Articles,  Band Advice,  Events

    What goes in an EPK?

    It’s Autumn, the time of year when an artist’s thoughts turn to next Summer’s gigs.  You’ve come off the road for the year, and you want to make sure that the promotional material that you’re putting out there is working for you.  And you’re thinking of creating – or re-assessing – an EPK. An Electronic Press Kit is a page on your website that provides resources for bookers, media, and technicians.  My theory is that a website, overall, is for personal interaction with fans, but the EPK page on your website is for your professional interactions. It’s for someone in a hurry who sees literally thousands of band sites and just wants…

  • My Rules - The Boxcar Boys
    Articles,  Big Ideas

    My Rules

    I’ve been a music booker for a while now, ((People have even paid me to do it at places like The Montreal House, The Peterborough Folk Festival, Harbourfront Centre, and The Distillery Historic District.))  and over the years I’ve developed some guiding practices that govern most of what I do – something I think of as my rules for booking. I tend to stick to these rules because they work, and because whenever I’m unsure, I’ve got them to point to true north. Other bookers are their own people, and I neither expect that they’d adhere to this exact set of ideas nor do I think any of these are…

  • Ozere
    Artists,  Ontario

    Artist Spotlight: Ozere

    For the duration of my life, guitars have driven almost all of the music around me.  Whether they be sensitive strummers or wailing rock gods, they’ve been sort-of inescapable.  And as I’ve moved through different jobs as a music booker, I’ve found my ears got kind-of worn-out on the guitar; even great players rarely catch my interest.  It often feels like the possibilities of the guitar have been explored, past the comfort of familiarity and straight on to dull repetition, especially in the Folk community. ((Sorry, dudes, it’s just… y’know. I still love a lot of guitar-playing acts; it just rarely gets me all excited to hear a new guitar-based…

  • Band Advice,  Events,  Ontario

    Folk Music Ontario Conference

    The Folk Music Ontario Conference ((Formerly the Ontario Council of Folk Festivals!)) is an annual event that draws just under a thousand artists, presenters, and other music industry people to hang out together, jamming, learning, and talking music for four days every October.  It’s always a highlight of the year, a chance for bookers, promoters, writers, and DJs to hear some of the best emerging touring acts in one place over one weekend in one hotel. This year, the conference takes place in Mississauga, Ontario. Secret Frequency founder and writer Candace Shaw will be in all of her usual haunts at the conference – wherever there’s good music or good…

  • Artists,  Ontario

    Artist Spotlight: Raging Asian Women

    This weekend I headed down to Yonge-Dundas Square to catch a little of the Small World Music Festival.  They had a terrific lineup, and one of my favourite live acts was playing – Raging Asian Women. Taiko drumming is a traditional Japanese form of performance where musicality and showmanship are both important, and RAW have it down.  The first time I saw them was years ago, at a conference, and I’d had no idea what to expect.  I’d seen and loved Taiko performances before, but nothing prepared me for the power of RAW. By the end of their performance, I had tears streaming down my face – not from sadness, but…

  • Artists,  Ontario

    Artist Spotlight: Euphonia

    Over the weekend, I got an email from Richard Flohill, inviting myself and a handful of music-lovers out to Lula Lounge for a Monday night PWYC show. I hadn’t heard of the band, Euphonia, but the words Mozart-Mendelssohn-Haydn caught my eye, and Richard’s taste is pretty finely-honed, so I was in. I always feel a little sheepish admitting that I like Classical music; it’s sort-of the last frontier.  People tend to react like you’re putting on airs, as if Classical music were a high-brow art form that only people from a certain generation and income bracket enjoy.  But anyone paying any attention to music history can tell you that Classical…