Nadia Elkharadly: 2012 – A year of musical discovery

Nadia LogoI’m going to open this column with a very cliché statement:  I can’t believe the year is nearly over!  While it may be cliché, it’s true – 2012 has flown by!  And with the passing of another year comes a time to reminisce about musical discoveries past, and this year there were many.  This isn’t a standard “Best of the year” list.  I’m not sticking to just bands or live shows; there is so much more to music, and specifically to LOVING music than that.  So in no particular order here are some of my most memorable musical discoveries of 2012.

CBC radio 2 -94.1 in Toronto

Recomended_Radio2This discovery has led to so many other discoveries and several cool facts and tidbits that I may never have learned.  One morning I’d had just about enough of the cringe worthy humour of John Derringer and Maureen Holloway (I’m still confused as to why she gets paid to spew entertainment facts that any 12 year old with access to could tell you).  In search of a morning show alternative, I came upon CBC Radio 2.  I’d already made Radio 3 and their interactive playlist option an integral part of my “survive the workday” routine, so it was natural to want to bring that into my clock and car radio as well.  I’ve never looked back.  The soothing and adorable east coast accented voice of Tom Power in the morning is a wonderful way to be drawn out of sleep.  Rich Terfry (aka rapper Buck 65) and his deeply soulful voice keep me sane on my drive home, and the music both DJs play is almost always interesting, different and most of all, GOOD.  There are no genre restrictions or pushing here:  indie, major label, rock, rap, R&B, classic rock, you name it they play it.  The only thing I haven’t heard is metal. That’s just fine by me. That’s a lot to take on an early morning or when you’re trying not to lose your mind in bumper to bumper afternoon traffic.  For those of you sick of the subpar radio in this city, do me and yourselves a favour and check out CBC Radio 2.  I think you’ll be happy you did.

Hanni El Khatib

Dine Alone Records continues to have one of the best band and artist rosters around, and with the addition of Hanni El Khatib that reputation was kept very much alive.  I’d heard a couple of his songs on some of the Dine Alone Mix Tapes they put out, and I was immediately drawn in by his rough and bluesy voice and fuzzed out guitar riffs.  El Khatib combines elements of rock from multiple eras to create timeless, kick-ass music that I personally can listen to on a permanent loop.  Seeing him live earlier this year was another great musical discovery; as a music lover, it’s great to find out a band or artist you love recorded sounds just as, if not more amazing, live.  And let me tell you, Hanni El Khatib brings it live.  I was right up there with all the fan girls, swooning away as El Khatib played killer tune after killer tune.  I developed a mighty big crush that night that returns every time I hear “Dead Wrong”, or really any song on his amazing Will the Guns Come Out record.  What blew me away mmost at his show was his mashup cover of “Millionaire” by Kelis and “Mother” by Danzig.  Check out the video below and find out why I love Hanni El Khatib so very much.

Finding my Civilian hat again

I’ve come to the point in this whole music reviewer gig where every show I go to has to be work.  It doesn’t mean I enjoy the music or the experience any catlless, but I do have a responsibility to take enough pictures and make enough notes and stay coherent enough so that I can produce a good review at the end of all of it.  But sometimes, it’s great to leave the camera at home, keep the blackberry in my purse and note free, and just hit a bar and bust a move to some great live music.  So that’s when I take off my music reviewer hat and put on my civilian music lover hat, and sometimes that leads to some of the most fun and most random nights out.  Oddly enough, that was a discovery for me; something so simple and commonplace, but for someone like me it was a re-revelation.  Whether it was dancing my face off with my buddy Bobby Singh to Catl at Parts and Labour, or finally checking out Little Foot Long Foot at the Dakota Tavern, or just listening and rockin’ out to Bend Sinister at Cherry Cola, it was great to return to my roots of just music loving instead of music working, and it’s something I have promised myself I’ll do more and more in the new year.

Continuing Musical Education

I’ve always been a lover of random facts, and if those facts relate to music then all the better.  This year my two favourite musical learnings both came from the radio; one from Kim Mitchell on Q107, the other from the aforementioned Mr. Terfry on CBC radio 2.

Memphis Minnie – When the Levee Breaks

I’ve considered myself a Led Zeppelin fan for the past few years now, and while “When the Levee Breaks” may not be my favourite Zeppelin song (it’s so hard to pick one), it’s definitely close to the top of the list.  I never had any clue that it wasn’t an original until I was driving home one afternoon and I tuned into Q107.  Kim Mitchell in his infinite musical wisdom then informed me that “When the Levee Breaks” wasn’t written by Led Zeppelin at all, but was originally written and performed by Memphis Minnie.  A guitar legend in her own right, Minnie (nee Lizzie Douglas) was born in Lousiania and moved to a town near Memphis, Tennesee with her family when she was a young child.   She wrote and performed “When the Levee Breaks” with Kansas Joe McCoy in 1929.  Her version, while uptempo, is full of angst, foreboding and the sadness of one who has witnessed tragedy; the song describes the devastation and destruction caused by the Great Mississippi Flood in 1927.  Listen for yourself and see how the original measures up to the Led Zeppelin hit.

Johnny Cash – A boy named Sue

I am a huge Johnny Cash fan, and I always have been.  His prison performances were mind-blowing; “Cocaine blues” is one of my favourite songs ever.  Another great song from those performances is “Boy Named Sue.”  The song is so angry, so tortured, I assumed it had to be written by Cash, but I was wrong!  Listening to CBC radio 2 on yet another drive home, Rich Terfry regaled his listeners with the tale of Johnny Cash and June Carter meeting author extraordinaire Shel Silverstein at a party, a “Guitar Pull”, and Carter took notice of the poem.  When Cash was recording his performance at San Quentin, Carter reminded him of the poem and handed him the lyrics on a piece of paper.  In watching the performance below, the spontaneity and resulting roughness of the performance is evident, but that’s what makes the song as amazing and iconic as it is.  It’s also yet another piece of evidence of the musical talent of Mr. Johnny Cash.  Learning about the origin of the song definitely ranked as one of my favourite musical discoveries of this year.

An interview can be awesome

I don’t do a lot of interviews.  As much as I love talking to people about music, I generally prefer to go to shows and write reviews and leave it at that.  Plus, transcribing interviews is fairly painful to me.  But from time to time allysonbakerI’ll make an exception, and one of my favourite exceptions of the year was the time I spent chatting with Allyson Baker from Dirty Ghosts.  I discovered Dirty Ghosts earlier this year and haven’t looked back since.  Their album Metal Moons is in near constant rotation in my musical soundtrack of life, so when I was asked if I wanted to interview Baker, I jumped at the chance.  Not only do I love the music she makes with her band, but she’s a Toronto native – that upped her cool factor in my books.  And cool is the perfect way to describe Baker.  When we met up at Parts and Labour, she suggested we head to the back alley to chat, which is pretty much my standard interview scenario, and I loved her no nonsense, non-diva attitude about it.  Our interview pretty much ended up being two women who love music talking about music for an hour.  The conversation flowed; I learned a ton about Dirty Ghosts and Baker herself.  That interview didn’t feel like work, it was just a great time talking to a successful woman in the music industry.  The chances she’d taken in her life, the music she’s made and the adventures she’s had were totally inspiring.  Its people like Allyson Baker that make the music business something I continue to aspire to be a part of.  Not only that, Baker helped me discover that interviews can be awesome, and when they are, transcribing isn’t that bad at all.

Discovering an amazing new band with no prior knowledge whatsoever

kink Ador - couchThis year marks my second stint as a judge at Indie Week, and with that title comes the opportunity to check out new and up and coming bands that I may never have seen/heard of otherwise.  This year my favourite” new music with zero prior knowledge” discovery was Nashville’s Kink Ador.  I was judging a showcase at the El Mocambo and had frankly gotten bored of the sub par music I had heard.  That all changed the moment that Sharon Koltick, Nick Hamilton and Pearce Harrison took the stage.  This trio blends rock, blues and new age music in a magic blender to produce their incredible and unique musical style.  Their set at the El Mocambo was the clear winner of the night, and their set the following night at Peacok was one of my favourites at the week.  Not only did Kink Ador totally rock my socks off, it turned out that Sharon, Nick and Pearce were some of the nicest people I’d met in a long time!  While they didn’t win the Indie Week crown, they definitely earned the top spot on my list that week.  I’m very much looking forward to the next time Kink Ador graces a Toronto stage – I’ll be right there, front and centre.

My intense love of music is alive and well

If any of you read my column on meeting Soundgarden, you’ll know that I had the best fan experience of my life this year.  I won’t go back into detail about it (that’s what the above link is for) but I would be remiss to leave this meeting off my best of 2012 list.  How does meeting my favourite band ever qualify as a discovery?  It does in so many ways!  First, I discovered that a good friend can help make your dream come true (thanks Bobby!).  Second, I discovered that if I put my mind to something, with the right timing and the right people around me, I can make anything happen.  And third and finally, I discovered that even after making music a “job” for the past 2 and a half years, the intense love and passion about music that I discovered in my teens is not only alive and well, but thriving.

Soundgarden Edge full group

Happy holidays and a very happy new year to all of you out there in DBAWIS world!

Until next year!




Nadia’s column appears every Tuesday

Contact us at:

DBAWIS_ButtonNadia 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.

2 Responses to “Nadia Elkharadly: 2012 – A year of musical discovery”

  1. Indeed, Kink Ador is topnotch. When you hear of them touring and they come close, let me know and we can blitz the Netwaves together. Hell, if we can get five new fans, that would be a good thing. What a band!

  2. aren’t they great? and will do for sure!

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