Five Canadian artists (and one band) you need to discover

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In my previous two columns I wrote about Richard Flohil, music magazine editor, promoter and sometimes manager, and a few of the music legends he has met over his six-decade career in the industry.

In my final column derived from my conversation with this fascinating man I will share musicians that Richard feels are either up-and-coming or often overlooked in the Canadian music scene.

All of the following artists can be found on YouTube and are well worth a listen. If you are tired of the mind-candy of most contemporary music give these a listen. You may just stumble across a new favourite.

SHAKURA S’AIDA

Born in Brooklyn, raised in Switzerland, and a Toronto resident for some 30 years, she’s a one-woman tornado, a blues-based entertainer that always lifts her audience to new heights. She’s also a major Canadian export — she’s toured all over the United States, performed in Russia and Rwanda, Australia and Abu Dhabi, as well as in in most European countries. Expect a new record — her fourth — in April.

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CORIN RAYMOND

He breaks the rules. He’s in his 40s, he lives in Hamilton. He’s the first to admit he’s not a pinup boy-band refugee, and (when we’re not all locked down) plays in a tiny Toronto bar, the Cameron House, every Thursday. He does tour from time to time, but he’s worth discovering for his open, honest songs, a wicked sense of humour, Best song — and one for every independent artist ever — is called “There Will Always Be a Small Time.”

CHRISTINA HUTT

Christina comes from a small town in the Muskokas and has yet to release her first album — though there’ll be one out in March. An arresting singer with an irresistible presence, she presents herself as a thoughtful songwriter, a little bit country and a little bit “folk.” Few artists tackle subjects like sobriety, depression, and mental health issues, she does so with empathy and tunefulness.

LORYN TAGGART

Prairie-born Loryn’s music lies at the intersection of jazz, pop and folk. She’s also a world traveller, having lived in Australia, New Zealand and China, as well as spells in Los Angeles, Calgary, Toronto, and currently Montreal. A graceful performer with a ready smile she captivates audiences. Locked down, quarantined and masked, she longs for the day where she can sing for live audiences again. Expect an album at the end of this year, but there are some neat videos to whet your appetite.

PAUL REDDICK

Bandleader, harmonica player, singer, songwriter, Reddick’s music is based in the long tradition of the blues, but he takes the idiom, shakes it up, expands its boundaries and creates music that’s startling and original. Off-stage he’s fascinated by contemporary and 19th century poetry, bird-watching, butterflies and clouds. He’s a former Juno Award winner, with a catalogue of albums to his credit — the most recent was recorded live in Italy.

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Finally, a band that Richard spoke about but didn’t add to his list. This band was invited to a prestigious folk/blues festival in Australia based solely upon Richard description of them.

THE JERRY CANS

A band from Iqaluit, Nunavut who combine traditional Inuit throat singing with folk music and country rock. Their music is largely written in Inuktitut, the indigenous language of the Inuit people, with lyrics which “reflect the challenges and beauty of life in the Far North”. If you watched Rick Mercer hosting this years New Years Eve celebration you caught them performing on CBC just before midnight.

The band consists of vocalist and guitarist Andrew Morrison, vocalist and accordionist Avery Keenainak, violinist Gina Burgess, bassist Brendan Doherty, and drummer Steve Rigby. The band’s name derives from Rigby once trying to build a drum set out of old jerrycans.

Now that’s a truly Canadian band.

If you enjoyed Richard’s stories, watch for a book that will “have a magazine feel to it” out sometime this year… he hopes.

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A footnote: Regular readers will recall that I wrote last summer about an Arts Project where visual artists would be invited to submit works and from the submissions a few works would be chosen for writers to create a story around. Well, that is about to get underway. Stay tuned for more information in my next column.

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