Nadia Elkharadly: Canadian Music Week – IT’S ALMOST HERE!

Have you been trying to make plans with me between Wednesday and Sunday of this week?  Have I been constantly turning you down?  Well, unless you’re a music PR company, a rock band or just a cute guy with a guitar, you just don’t have a chance this week.  Why?  Because it’s Canadian Music Fest (as part of Canadian Music Week) here in Toronto!

I think I have a soft spot for Canadian Music Fest because it was the first local music festival I covered when I started writing for the Examiner.  When I first got the email confirming my accreditation I was ecstatic.  Live show after live show, discovering a new band every night, rediscovering bands I already loved, and seeing them play for the first time?  All these and more were the reasons why I wanted to write about music in the first place.  And the concentration of amazing music in venues all around my city made me realize that I was pretty lucky to live here, and be writing about music right here in Toronto.  So with email confirmation in hand, I left my Mississauga office early one afternoon, motored my ass down to the Royal York, and picked up my pass and schedule.

So I didn’t have time for a manicure that week, so what?

That night I curled up on my couch with my pass, the CMF schedule and a notebook, and geekily made out my schedule for the week.  And believe me, it was a doozy.  There were nights where I was hitting five or six venues in a night.  I was planning on going from the Sound Academy to the Great Hall, seeing my first band at 8pm and my last at 3am.  I was going to do this for five straight nights.  And I was still going to go to work during the day.

I was clearly insane.

And I was THRILLED about it.

Nothing could get me down.  I’d walk or take the streetcar from one venue to another.  I’d buy a case of redbull to keep me going.  I’d have beer for dinner when there wasn’t time for real food.  It didn’t matter, I was covering CMF!  What could possibly go wrong?

There was one thing about Canadian Music Week that I didn’t take into consideration was that it was in March.  In Toronto.  Now to anyone living in the city right now, looking outside their window, taking moonlight walks with nothing but a light trench coat on, and wondering what I’m going on about, let me remind you:  THIS IS NOT NORMAL.  Ask any music journalist who’s ever trudged from the Bovine to the Horseshoe in below zero temperatures being pelted by freezing rain and they’ll tell you what I’m about to tell you.

March in Toronto usually SUCKS.  And yes, I was the one trudging along Queen Street being pelted by freezing rain.  Except I only managed to get from the Bovine to Velvet Underground before I caved and grabbed a cab to the Horseshoe.  I don’t think I’ve ever spent as much on cab fare in this city in one week as I did last march during my marathon coverage of CMF.  I should have gotten a clue when every “Tips for CMF” or “CMF survival guide” article I read stressed the importance of layers, a prodigious amount of subway tokens, and an umbrella as must haves to last the week.

Despite my mild disgust with the weather, Canadian Music Fest was one of the most fun musical experiences of my life.  I exceeded my own expectations every night.  On a Wednesday I bar hopped from the Dakota, to the Painted Lady, to the Great Hall, to Tattoo, and ended the night at the Hideout.  And I still made it to work by 9am the next day.  It was the first time I shot a band from the photographer’s pit, getting tips from two super talented rock photographers, Tom Pandi and Brian Patterson.  It was that same night I saw one of my favourite high school bands play, as Big Sugar reunited for the first time in years.  Seeing a band I loved so much, that up close and personal was an incredible experience.  And my photos turned out great thanks to the pro-photographer tips I got from Brian and Tom (thanks guys!)

I saw Finger 11 play for the first time as well, another band I’d loved for years, and they put on a killer show.  I pushed my way to the front of the Mod Club, punished my ear drums, and got some great pictures of them too.  And on top of that, drummer Rich Beddoes saw fit to throw his drumstick right at me at the end of their show.  I’m still not sure if that was a compliment or an insult, but I kept the stick as a memento of the experience.

Beyond these fairly mainstream bands, I saw tons of indie bands, some I’d never heard of before, and some I’d come to know and love the more I delved into our little Toronto music scene.  The sexy bluesy trio CATL played a sultry set in a dark corner of the Velvet Underground, with singer Sarah K mesmerizing men and women alike with her voice and ever moving red fringe dress.  East Coast rockers The Stanfields played a surprise set late one night at Tattoo Rock Parlour and blew my mind with their dark, heavy yet folky style.  And the Pack A.D. played a kick ass set at the Horseshoe Tavern, totally solidifying their future stardom in my mind.

So if you’re looking for me any time between Wednesday and Sunday, you can be sure to find me somewhere along Queen West, with appearances at Cherry Cola’s Rock and Rolla Caberet between three and four in the morning.  If all the music and running around doesn’t kill me, the 4am last call sure might.

I’ll be posting my must sees, recommendations and need to watches all on my Examiner page tomorrow night, so be sure to check in.  And check back early next week for reviews and photos.  And last but not least, tune in next Tuesday where, if I survive this coming weekend, I’ll tell you guys all about my CMF 2012 experience!

Until next time,



Nadia’s column appears every Tuesday

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Nadia Elkharadly is a Toronto based writer with a serious addiction to music. Corporate drone by day, renegade rocker by night, writing is her creative outlet.  Nadia writes for the Examiner (.com) on live music in Toronto and Indie Music in Canada.  She has never been in a band but plays an awesome air guitar and also the tambourine.  Check in every Tuesday for musings about music, love, life and whatever else that comes to mind.

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