Peter Prepares for Indie Week

Mainstream music is omnipresent. From your laptop to your ringtone, your doctor’s office to your local athletic barn, it surrounds you. Even a casual glance at billboards or bus’s will show you that mainstream music looms large in modern society.

However, in its shadow, thousands of talented musicians quietly labour at honing their craft. Without the safety net of a recording contract, they must balance family, work, life and music. It doesn’t sound easy, and it isn’t. Thankfully however, technology is on their side. Over the last 40 years, microfiche and chips have eased access not only to information, but to the potential  audience.

“YouTube” is just one of many delivery platforms that bands can use to put their music out there. Of course, how many of the 75 views that their most recent video has received are genuine views, and not just Mum and her bridge club? Even if the 75 views are valid and not attachments to the family’s end of year newsletter, what feedback does the band get? Now contrast those 75 views with the real time feedback that 75 people would willingly provide at a show.

It is difficult to create in a vacuum. Musicians need a stage, the opportunity to build their self confidence and their body of work.  “Indie Week” not only gives them a stage, it gives them a spotlight. It gives them the chance to perform in front of diverse crowds, to make contact with musicians from all over the world as well as industry insiders. Organized by Darryl Hurs, the first one was held in 2003.  This year’s features over 200 bands at over 20 venues. While the part of “Indie Week” best known to the public is the adjudicated competition, with this year’s eventual winner getting the chance to cross the pond and headline Indie Week 2018 in Manchester, England, the week also features speeches, workshops and seminars of great value to any participant in the indie music scene.

Some of my memories from “Indie Weeks” past……..

– talking to the members of “X Prime” after their set at Czehowski’s. They were tired and sweaty, but happy. They knew they had played well. (They had won their round, in fact, but had a prior commitment the next night, so couldn’t advance.)

-talking to Lucas McCann of Mushy Callahan the next night at the “Underground Garage”. On learning that I had seen X Prime, he asked how they had done. His genuine delight on hearing that they had sounded great told me all that I needed to know about camaraderie in the indie music scene.

-hearing a band launch into a great cover of “Dancing Queen”. I am not questioning their musicianship, it was just a little unexpected after the earlier part of their set. Kind of like opening up Playboy and seeing Julie Andrews as the centrefold.

Mike Stanfield of Blackdog Ballroom breaking a string mid tune, changing it and singing a little song he called “my tuning song” before resuming the original song. If you hadn’t been watching closely, you might have thought it was part of the set.

-a band and an audience exchanging growing positive energy during a song. It was almost sacred. There were no barriers of any kind in the room at that moment, just a group of people united by their common love of music. Thinking of it still gives me chills. Absolutely beautiful.

So why is Indie Week so successful? There are two simple answers to that simple question. Firstly, Darryl began this venture with a solid foundation. He lined up excellent corporate sponsors, brought venues and the media on board. There is a cadre of smart hardworking folks who assist in marketing. An army of volunteers was recruited. This festival’s growing international reputation enables it to easily attract knowledgeable people to speak and participate in the various seminars and panel discussions.

The second answer is plain old fashioned hard work. When you see a swan glide across a pond, you marvel at its beauty. You don’t see the swan paddling madly under the surface. Thus it is with “Indie Week”. The event runs very smoothly, but we don’t see the tireless marketing that goes on behind the scenes. We don’t see the immense amount of effort required to ensure that there are sufficient volunteers at each venue, that the results are accurately checked, as they must be, before the next evening’s competition. We don’t see the last minute running around or the last minute phone calls.

However, it works, and it works beautifully. We should all be grateful for the hard work put into this enterprise by everyone involved, from the organizing staff through the photographers through the tirelessly cheerful volunteers and judges.

I attended the media launch party earlier this month, and the enthusiasm was palpable. I can’t wait for this year’s event. I hope I see you there. I’ll be the old guy by the bar, trying to cadge drink tickets!


Venues 25+
Bands 250+
This years lineup features Brazil’s Scalene (who just performed at Rock in Rio with Aerosmith, Def Leppard, and Fallout Boy  in front of  over 750,000 people. They perform Thursday Nov 9 at The Mod Club

See you soon


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