Nadia Elkharadly: CMW CMF OMG WTF BBQ

The end of Canadian Music Week is nigh.  You can smell it in the air and see it in the broken down tour van traffic clogging our highways as one by one bands start to file out of our fair city.  You can see it in the streets, as journalists, photographers, music lovers and music makers squint in the unseasonably bright sunlight.  All of us are nursing hangovers, sore feet from walking, sore legs from dancing, sore shoulders from carrying cameras and bags, and sore throats from speaking, singing and screaming until the wee hours of the early mornings.  The sad sad state of affairs the Sunday of Canadian Music week has become is only compounded by the fact that this year’s CMW was pretty god damn amazing.

I’m writing this column on a patio on queen west, sipping an ice coffee and munching on a croissant sandwich that cost more than I’ll likely make writing for the Examiner this weekend, and somehow that makes it all the more delicious.  It’s Sunday afternoon and the day is gorgeous, and the week has been outstanding.  This being only my second Canadian Music Week/Fest, I consider myself still learning the ropes.  I took it easier on myself than I did last year, choosing to own Queen West, both for the concentration of music venues, and the fact that it’s close to home.  I spent the majority of my extended hours nights at the Horseshoe, the Bovine and Cherry Cola, only venturing away from Queen to hoof it up to College, to Sneaky Dee’s for the Audioblood Media showcase on Thursday night, and to the El Mocambo for the Dine Alone Records showcase on Friday night.  Between those two companies (one PR agency and one legendary Canadian indie label) their rosters boast some of the most talented artists and bands on the scene, so the geographical challenge was well worth it.  I stuck to 3 or so bands a night, instead of the 5-6 a night missions I set for myself last year, and It worked out.  Lesson number one:  less is more.

The weather took it easy on all of us as well, and the effect was evident.  Venues were busier, the crowds happier, and the drinks and smiles easily flowing.  It may have been my imagination, but the lines were longer and more frequent as well, and due to bad timing (and inexperienced overconfidence on my part) I found myself standing in more than one.  A time or two I may have let my snarky nature get the best of me, only to find myself exchanging some not to nice words with the bouncers (sorry Jimmy D!),  And therein lies lesson number two: timing is everything.  And also lesson three: patience is key!  Patience has never been my strong suit, and waiting in lines hurts my soul, but when you’re with good friends and the evenings are tolerably not freezing, a little waiting doesn’t hurt so bad.  And it makes whatever you are hearing, drinking, and seeing once you FINALLY get in all the sweeter.

My favourite part of CMF is the chance for discovery.  When you’re going out to show after show, and everyone around you is there for the same purpose, it’s so easy to meet new people.  Networking is a huge part of this week, but it goes beyond simply trying to get ahead in this ridiculously competitive industry.  When you’re surrounded by people who love music as much as you do, so much that they’re willing to stand in huge lines, wait for hours, run around to all edges of the city, the camaraderie you’ll feel is inevitable.  And what’s even cooler is that so many of the people you are rubbing shoulders with are musicians and performers as well.  Lesson number four:  don’t be afraid to chat it up with everyone around you, because you never know who you’ll meet!  I can’t even count the number of times I geeked out to the person next to me about how awesome whatever band on stage was, only to see that same person on stage at some other point in the night or the week.

Musicians were all music lovers before they crossed over to the other side of the spectrum.  That fact is never truer or more evidenced than at a music festival like CMF.  The sense of that Canadian music community is also incredibly visible during CMF.  There’s nothing I love more than hearing one band promote their buddy’s band while on stage, or seeing musicians in the crowd supporting their friends as they put themselves out there.  Because who else knows how hard it is, as a musician to get on stage and put your art out there for all to see and judge but another musician?  It’s that sense of support that’s so heartwarming, and what I think really sets the Canadian (especially the Toronto) music scene apart from other places in the world.  It’s competitive, but it’s not a competition.  There’s a huge sense of respect, and just plain cool.   I made new friends, bonded with old ones and experienced some killer live music.  I discovered new bands that I’ll be putting on my must see list from now on, and rekindled my love for some bands I’ve seen time and time again.

All in all I’d consider my second CMF a rousing success.  You may be wondering why I didn’t actually mention any bands or shows in this peace.  Well, that’s’ because for the next few days I’ll be up to my elbows in photo editing, researching the bands I saw and writing up reviews.  I’m looking forward to all of it, and most of all I’m excited to live it all over again, as I look through the shots I got of all the fantastic bands, read over the garbled notes I made, and remember all the fun, silly and crazy moments I experienced over the past five days.  Which brings me to lesson number five:  keep your audience in suspense 😉  So if you want to read all about the rockinest bands that caught my attention over the past few days, be sure to check in with my Examiner page to read all about it.

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.

4 Responses to “Nadia Elkharadly: CMW CMF OMG WTF BBQ”

  1. What? No link to your Examiner page? Tsk, tsk. You’re going to make me search for it, is that it? Man, you’re killing me here, Nadia.

  2. and pictures courtesy of bobbysingh (@bsingh_tronno on twitter)

  3. Good stuff ☺ Thanks for the shout out Nadia. Bob owes me a beer

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