Sure, it’s Canada Day, Pride Toronto and Digital Dreams this weekend, but next weekend the Urban Roots Festival takes over from July 4th to the 7th. Here are 11 reasons to save some energy for one of Toronto’s most anticipated summer music events… starting with Zooey Deschanel.
She & Him
We knew Zooey Deschanel could belt out some serious tunes the first time we saw Elf, and she confirmed it the 47th time we saw Elf. Sure, there will be a part of us that checks out She & Him, Deschanel’s band with the multi-talented M. Ward, just to see if her eyes are actually as big as they appear on New Girl, but the duo also make beautiful songs together, perfect for setting the mood at your most hipster of Trinity-Bellwoods picnics.
The Barr Brothers
You’ll want to savour every second of the music this Montreal band makes. Combining breathtakingly poetic lyrics with layered instrumentals (harp, bass, electric guitar and more), the unique talents of each member (brothers Brad and Andrew Bell, classically trained harpist Sarah Page and multi-instrumentalist Andres Vial) meld together to form a unique and seriously soothing Americana folk sound.
These guys didn’t win the 2012 Juno Award for Group of the Year without good reason. People just can’t get enough of the Hamilton, Ontario indie pop/rock band’s feel-good tunes that’ll have you tapping your feet and bobbing your head to the beat long after you’ve listened to ‘em.
JD McPherson marches to the beat of his own… saxophone. Veering away from “the sound of today,” he has been linked to crooners like Little Richard and Chuck Berry, who had poodle skirts swinging and knocked the bobby socks off audiences. But don’t mistake him for a copycat – he definitely brings his own distinctive style to the studio and stage, further impressing us all (just when we thought he was at the height of his brilliance).
East Coast love! The popular singer-songwriter, who grew up in Nova Scotia, creates musical masterpieces inspired by the sights and sounds (and overall vibe) he encounters during his extensive travels. Perpetually on a quest to find and create the music he hears in his head, it’s an honour to get a glimpse into the inner workings of this gifted musician’s mind.
The Felice Brothers
With a sound eerily similar to that of Bob Dylan, we think these rolling stones (who got their start as a band playing in the New York City subway) are super rad. Speaking mostly to the downtrodden amongst us, singer and guitarist Ian Felice tells a story of strength and encourages us, through the music, never to let the world beat you down. Harmonicas, happy clapping and robust rasps; we can’t wait to see them live.
There’s a heck of a lot to love about Hannah Georgas. Often described as the next Feist, each song is like a page in her journal or a reel of memories in her mind – intimate, inquisitive and totally relatable. Expect great things from this indie queen, whose stylized ‘80s sound will without a doubt give you goosies.
After hearing Xavier Rudd perform, you can’t help but be inspired. The messages he conveys – which revolve around spirituality, the pricelessness of the natural world and the belief that beauty exists even in the ugliest amongst us – really resonate. It’s more than that, though. He’s also instrumentally intelligent; a musician-of-all-trades, able to skillfully play slide guitar, percussion, and even the indigenous Australian instrument the yidaki! If we’re not preaching to the converted, go see him live and tell us what you think then.
Whitehorse duo Luke Doucet and Melissa McClelland were meant to be, both on and off the stage. The married couple produce tracks that build up and at their peak grab a hold of you. Suddenly, without knowing it, it’s like you’re right there in the song alongside them. If you crave raw talent and creativity – in an intimate performance free of sparkles or special effects – Whitehorse are the ones for you.
Kurt Vile & The Violators
With his long, unruly hair, shy, awkward air and introspective lyrics, Kurt Vile reminds us a lot of Kurt Cobain. The talented singer and his garage-rock-esque band speak specifically to Everyman (and woman) types, who appreciate the figurative middle finger inherent in most of their songs. Like The Velvet Underground with an added pinch of punk, they’re sure to win over the crowd at their upcoming performance.
Two words: guitar heroes! If loud, fast rock and roll is your bag, you’ll savour every second of The Sadies’ onstage performance. Their bleak lyrics, juxtaposed with wild guitar riffs, either draw people right in… or away. Respected in the industry for their impressive abilities (speed and technical proficiency), they’ve built up a large, loyal following who will no doubt be rocking out when they play here this summer.