Over the next few weeks I’ll be introducing you to some bands, reminding you about others, and elaborating on what you already know about still more of the acts that will be gracing the Rancho Relaxo stage over the course of this year’s Canadian Music Festival. I know some of you have been looking at the lineup this year and wondering what’s going on. Trust me when I say this: the lineup presented to you by Two Way Monologues at the Rancho is deeply rooted in my ethos as a promoter.
I always have and always will bring you acts that are rising, acts that are about to be the next big thing. All you need to do to see this in action is look back at our history with the festival, where we’ve booked acts in their musical infancy like Dinosaur Bones, Amos the Transparent, Alcoholic Faith Mission (at least in Canada), Whale Tooth, Pick a Piper, the Darcys, the Love Machine, and hell even Hollerado — just to name a few. That’s not to mention the literally dozens of other awesome acts we’ve featured that are either still rising or for whatever reason didn’t make it.
This year will be no different — we will be bringing you no less than 36 handpicked acts over the course of five nights where the music we’ve put together makes sense together. If you don’t have a pass and want to just settle in, pay the cover, and watch the night, you would be thrilled to do so at Rancho on any evening of the festival. With that said, and before I go into my next preview of the fest at Rancho, I only ask you to do one thing: take a good look and listen to the acts that are playing this year. Try your hardest to avoid the noise telling where you should be. This is a music festival; it should not be about being where it’s cool to be, it should be about hearing awesome music — and hopefully some awesome new music as well. If you do that, and give our lineups a listen, I have no doubt we’ll be having many drinks together over the course of the fest. Now then…
Band Profile: James & Blackburn
Playing: Friday March 23rd at 10:00 PM
Few bands have made such a big impression on TWM and the Rancho as quickly as James & Blackburn. It began with a cancellation, then an email from their excellent manager Emma who had noticed I was looking to fill a spot. I was pretty desperate at that point so the fact that James & Blackburn actually sounded quite good was a bonus.
They played the show which went pretty well, and they were absolutely awesome. Fast forward another month or so and they were back at the Ranch for an Indie Machine showcase, where they played even better than the last time — not to mention that they charmed the hell out of myself and David Marksell, who was promoting the night. So when a slot opened up on the CMW showcase co-presented by Two Way Monologues and the Indie Machine it made perfect sense to book this band, formerly from Ottawa and now living in Toronto, whose members actually aren’t named James or Blackburn.
The band recently released their full length Island Universe and have been playing shows all over the place in support of it. Like most new-to-Toronto bands they have to build in this city from the ground up. But make no mistake, there is a swell occurring and it won’t be long before this little TWM/Indie Machine secret is mentioned amongst the top bands we have in Toronto right now. Perhaps that’ll start as soon as people get a chance to see them over at our Canadian Music Week showcase!
James & Blackburn is an indie-rock band at its core, but one with a diverse setlist. They have some slow-building numbers that will suck you in and never let you go, and then they have songs that’ll have anyone with a pulse bouncing around and moving — and hell, even dancing! I witnessed it with my own eyes as Ryan from the Indie Machine bust into a simultaneously synced dance when his favourite part of his favourite song hit.
This is next-level stuff they are doing right here. That the band basically took a year to write and perfect these songs before recording them and releasing them is very evident, because unlike a lot of releases the shine does not wear off this one with increased listens. In fact, every time I’ve heard it so far I’ve been finding new things to love about it and appreciating it more and more.
So don’t wait till next year when James & Blackburn is the band that everyone and their dog is going to see at the festival because they’ve blown up. Come and see them this year at the Ranch and be the one saying “I told you so.” While you are at it, plan to be here for the night because the lineup that Dave and I put together for this show is absolutely STACKED.
You can see the full lineup for the night here. Just scroll down to Rancho Relaxo. Hot tip: if you don’t want to pay a service charge just show up nice and early (doors are at 7:30) and you’ll get in for just the flat $10.