Bob Revisits Indie Week for 2019

In today’s climate, even in this era of (seemingly) instant fame via a television show, or releasing an album recorded in your mother’s kitchen before you have ever played a gig, even when your self-penned ditty gets a million hits on You Tube without so much as buying a real instrument, let alone learning how to play it, there is hope for kids who still feel the urge to roll the rock, write tunes, and spend days on end in a van that smells of wet socks and KFC.. There are still dreamers. There are still Road Warriors, still people who want to rehearse and write, and play and play, and drive all night and eat KFC out of the bucket, solely because they believe in the life, believe in the music, and believe in themselves and the dream. These kids are out of their minds just like we were.

Which brings me to Indie Week.

Tickets and Schedule HERE

There are bigger and better known events like this one around the globe, but Indie Week has a vibe unlike any other. NXNE, SXSW, and CMW may have more bands and a bigger playing field, but Indie Week has a street level excitement that is infectious, and more palpable joy than a fleet of beer trucks brings to a chili cook-off.

Starting out small in 2002, this year’s Indie Week (starting today in Toronto) is now older, wiser, and has grown considerably over the years. Now in it’s 17th year, the 5 day event has sister events in other countries as well, and the winners of each get sent across the pond to play the next event. Pretty cool, considering this is the first real competition some of these kids are exposed to.

Indie Week (which, since 2011 has sported a winged pig wearing sunglasses as its mascot) really is a place where ‘pigs can fly’. Genre doesn’t matter, past successes (if any) don’t figure in to it, looks, experience, none of it impacts on who plays and who doesn’t. It is all about the music. Period. And these kids travel a long way to get here, and I’m not talking Ottawa or Sudbury, although both are usually represented. There are bands from Ireland, Australia, the U.S, and even Korea and Japan. There is folk, rock, Celtic, roots, hip-hop, and pop.

Musically, Indie Week is a free for all, and the energy projected by these young hopefuls fills the venues and the streets of downtown Toronto. Bands watching bands along with musos, fans, and knowing hipsters. You really can’t help but have a good time.

Darryl Hurs, the man behind Indie Week, and his mostly volunteer staff do an amazing job of organizing and wrangling this bunch, and the venues are equally committed to making sure the bands and the fans have the best possible time. It seems almost like family sometimes. And like Thanksgiving dinner with your family, you never know what’s going to happen, or which uncle or aunt is going to pass out in the yams or start a fight with your dad.

There is a ‘golly-gee-whiz’ factor I don’t feel at other, similar events I’ve participated in. For some of these musicians, it is the first time they have played to this many people or been this far away from home. Every one of them seem to be thrilled to be here, exchanging notes and ideas with other band members, checking out as many shows as they can, all of them trying their best and rooting for the other guy at the same time. It is refreshing compared to the backstage drama and intense seriousness and self awareness of artists a few rungs further up the ladder. This is where the dreamers are, some naïve, some a little seasoned, some ready to break out, and all of them still over the moon about being able to do what they love; out on the road, making music, making new friends and fans and hearing new bands. There are good bands and bad bands, bands that are ready and bands that are not, but they are all here to play, to learn, to get experience, and to get better. Some will, some won’t, but that is the nature of the beast. For me, just knowing that this dream still thrives, that all young people didn’t decide to go on TV to get famous or stay in college to become a lawyer or an accountant, that no matter what the media says, music is not only healthier than ever before, but kids still dream of making it in the wild and wacky world of music by playing instead of taking the shortcuts so many seem to have embraced.

Some of these kids will realize they don’t have the goods and go back to school or settle down in a steady job, and some of them will slog away for years, playing the clubs, just making enough to get by but soldier on because the love of music and realizing the life of a journeyman musician is fine enough, and still others will get the deals, get the shots, and some, will get the careers all of them dream of. They will ALL have memories that are worth their weight in gold.

As there are now, there will be real estate agents who have a little band together with a dentist and a lawyer friend who plays barbecues and maybe their local pub. There will be bands that reunite every few years to play a bit and have some laughs, and there will be those whose dream died hard and will always wonder why they tried in the first place. The latter, fortunately, are rare, and quite frankly, are the ones whose motivation was fame and fortune, not music and not the work and talent that goes into making it.

You have to be good to survive and great to succeed in music, but the experience of trying is like no other. It is so comforting to know that people still do try. There is no greater time in a person’s life than when they are starting out in pursuit of their dream, regardless of what it is. Indie Week is one of those starting points, the first big step into the great unknown.

God, how I envy those kids, and that feeling….


Segarini’s regular columns never gonna give you up
Never gonna let you down
Never gonna run around and desert you
Never gonna make you cry
Never gonna say goodbye
Never gonna tell a lie and hurt you

dbawis-button7giphyBob “The Iceman” Segarini was in the bands The Family Tree, Roxy, The Wackers, The Dudes, and The Segarini Band and nominated for a Juno for production in 1978. He also hosted “Late Great Movies” on CITY TV, was a producer of Much Music, and an on-air personality on CHUM FM, Q107, SIRIUS Sat/Rad’s Iceberg 95, (now 85), and now publishes, edits, and writes for DBAWIS, continues to write music, make music, and record.

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