Best Shows of 2015

Let’s make it a baker’s dozen here because this year I saw so many good shows from international acts and major festivals to invite-only showcases. Numbers indicate how many times seen in 2015.

Japanese psych-rock band Bo Ningen set a new standard for all rock acts I ever see in the future. Do yourself a favour, seriously, and just click here to witness the show I caught. I was lucky enough to be standing in front of the red guitar player the whole time. My partner and I are already planning our return to Reykjavik for Iceland Airwaves again.

  1. Bo Ninjen- KEXP KEX Hostel – Iceland Airwaves, Iceland (x2)
  2. Fleetwood Mac- Air Canada Centre- Toronto
  3. Of Monsters and Men- private show, CityFolk, Ottawa (x2)
  4. Wand, Heaters- Silver Dollar, Toronto (x2)
  5. Father John Misty- Field Trip Festival, Toronto (x3)
  6. Sharon and Bram – Field Trip Festival, Toronto
  7. Metz, Lee’s Palace, Toronto
  8. Refused, Ricoh Coliseum, Toronto
  9. Arkells, Ottawa Bluesfest, Ottawa (x3)
  10. Stars, Panamania, Toronto (x4)
  11. Jacco Gardiner, Horseshoe Tavern, Toronto
  12. The Pixies, Horseshoe Tavern, Toronto

Best Albums of 2014

Instead of trying to sound cool and listing Mac De Marco as #1 these are the albums that were on such high rotation that you should feel bad for my neighbours.

  1. Stars – No One is Lost
  2. Dum Dum Girls- Too True
  3. Kevin Drew- Darlings
  4. Arkells- High Noon
  5. Spoon- They Want My Soul
  6. Lowell- We Loved her Dearly (I can’t stand her live, but damn, this album is addictive.)
  7. Phantogram- Voices
  8. Vance Joy- Dream Your Life Away
  9. The Menzingers- Rented World
  10. St. Vincent – S/T

Happy New Year to you and all the best in 2015!

9 Ways YouRockRed HQ has Rocked December Madness

December has been a madhouse in the best ways possible.

Some major wins and highlights:

  • BSOMA to continue music industry info sessions until April 2015 (maybe longer!)
  • BSOMA sponsored band consults a major success
  • Clients Adaline and Stuck on Planet Earth both approved for Factor grants
  • Success of Sunparlour Players’ first Euro tour
  • Assisting in other clients Euro plans and music video development
  • Re-location of YouRockRed headquarters!
  • This super cool handmade patch from The Haig band
  • New client confirmations… (these I’m super stoked on)
  • Amos the Transparent Toronto album release party this Saturday at Rivoli, Toronto (where you’ll find me dancing)

Next week I feel like I’ll be doing my summary of favourite albums and shows of 2014.

Indie Week Recap

Had a great time at Indie Week! Big thanks to them for inviting me to speak on a panel on grant writing and judging the Silver Dollar showcase last Friday night. Met some incredible people and saw some very cool up and coming artists. It was 3 crammed days of conferences with experts on everything from promotion, management, and radio.  The management and band branding conferences were particularly inspiring.

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Me speaking (centre) with Factor and Eek Productions on a panel on grant writing

This was my favourite band I discovered.

New client alert! Introducing Stuck on Planet Earth

All this week we’ll be revealing new and amazing clients that have joined YouRockRed.

I’m thrilled to be working with this Vaughn-based rock band.  Check them out for yourself and go vote for them in the R3-30 if you dig their sound.  Stuck on Planet Earth are dominating internet airwaves with their new single, “Pain.”

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Had a great time in Montreal all last weekend, so much so we decided to extend YouRockRed’s first holiday in forever to include Civic Holiday Monday.  Here’s a photo highlight of AFI being amazing and bringing out the 17 year old emo-rocker in everyone around us.


Canadian Music Week 2014 Photos- Stars, July Talk, ATCR, Operators…

There are so many thank-you notes and emails that must be sent after the whirlwind that was the last week in Toronto at Canadian Music Week.

However, because Ottawa Rock Lottery is upon me essentially meaning this is my busiest week of the year photos will have to suffice for now.

Big shout-out to Audio Blood and the amazing support team that put on Canadian Music Week. I learned so so much and met some incredible industry and artists that I’m truly looking forward to working with in the future.  Also Amanda Palmer is my new personal hero.


A Tribe Called Red at Google Play launch

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The inimitable blogger/socialite Casie Stewart

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Kevin Drew and I had a moment

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Kevin Drew and Stars talking about “Good Sex.”



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Ran into old friends and new (Rob Moir and Underground Operations)

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Diana at the Drake Underground (not pictured, members of Stars, Halfmoon Run and Metric who were also in attendance.)
the socials

Barrie’s The Socials at Johnny Jacksons. Really Gaslight Anthem feel.

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Wisdom from Almost Famous @ Hardluck Bar


Jian Ghomeshi interviewing DeadMau5 (minus the helmet)

hat shop show

Secret show in a Haberdashery on Queen St. West

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Pkew Pkew Pkew at Silver Dollar


My job over the 3 day conference. Social media screens!

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Old James at Cadillac Lounge

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Operators (ex-Handsome furs Wolf Parade- and yes, they played Shine a Light with Japandroids!)

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I became a rock and roll machine.


Yellerkin at Dakota

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July Talk covering Nirvana at the Come as You Are fundraiser at The Great Hall

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My favourite band ever Stars in an intimate industry-only showcase for the launch of Google Play. They were joined by Kevin Drew of BSS.

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Family Day- Rock and Roll Styled

Happy Family Day to everyone! 

This Life Magazine photo essay is from 1970 and brings a smile to my face every day I peruse the photos.  Check out the whole article HERE.



P.s. true story when I moved back to Canada from England I didn’t believe anyone that this was a real holiday in Ontario.  I thought it was an elaborate prank.

Top 10 Albums and Concerts of 2013 – Year End Roundup!


Our top 10 Albums of 2013 a.k.a. albums that were played non-stop over ones that just sound cool to list (we’re lookin’ at you Pitchfork!):

  1. The National – Trouble will Find Me
  2. Savages- Silence Yourself
  3. Tegan and Sara – Hearthrob
  4. Daughter – If You Leave
  5. Arcade Fire – Reflektor
  6. Drake- Nothing was the Same
  7. M.I.A. – Matangi
  8. Shad – Flying Colours
  9. A Tribe Called Red- Nation to Nation
  10. Colin Stetson- New History Warfare Vol. 3

Best Concerts of 2013 – Lucky 13 

    1. Broken Social Scene Reunion – Field Trip Fest, Toronto
    2. Gaslight Anthem followed by 3 hours of the genius that is Robert Smith and The Cure, Osheaga Montreal
    3. David Byrne & St. Vincent – Ottawa Jazz Festival
    4. Charles Bradley and the Extraordinaires – he hugged me- Ritual, Ottawa
    5. Colin Stetson – The Rialto, Montreal
    6. Patrick Watson and Braids- Q, Montreal
    7. Alt J w/ Lord Huron– Echo Beach, Toronto
    8. Ottawa Rock Lottery, Mavericks, Ottawa
    9. New Order, Osheaga, Montreal
    10. Stars, Ottawa Bluesfest
    11. Tegan and Sara, Ottawa Bluesfest
    12. Shad – Ritual, Ottawa
    13. Trust w/ Diana – Lee’s Palace, Toronto

Lyrics vs. Actual Music Debate

Do you ever listen to an album non-stop, back-to-back, quite frankly, a little obsessively?  Why is it that sometimes that album will resonate more with you than any person, website or film?  Is it because it becomes like a friend ready to be there to encourage you or help you weep?  I’m not sure, but I had a debate recently with a friend about what makes an album most poignant with you:  lyrics or music itself.

I’m a lyric nerd.  I cannot help it.  I have close to 8 years of post-secondary in Liberal Arts and English and amazed there aren’t song lyrics covering my entire body at this point, though the first would most definitely be a Gaslight Anthem line.

Does that mean I can’t appreciate intricate keys or the talent required to make your fingers fly over the fretboard (or strings in your teeth while you play backwards)?  Hell no.  I get it.  Lyrics have this really cool universal quality if you speak that language.  Sometimes I’ll miss out on some rap songs, or I’ll embarrassingly be caught singing along to a clients’ song with the wrong words.  (Yes, that happened last week.)

The lyric versus music debate continues on and will forever be a point of contention between music fans.  As a student of poetry and art, I can’t help but be drawn to a story by Torquil Campbell and Amy Milan of Stars.  But I don’t speak Icelandic and absolutely love what Sigor Ros does in terms of vocals.  I doubt I’ll ever learn Icelandic, though would be quick to look out for real fairies if I ever visited, but those vocals are second only to what Sigor Ros does with those layers and layers of instrumentation.

You don’t have to play a particular instrument to be able to appreciate the years of training and just skill involved in learning a new melody or technique.  I will never be able to comprehend the intricacies of Colin Stetson’s live show, but being able to sit back and listen is just as pleasurable.  Watching the faces of musicians scrunch up and drops of sweat splash their instruments as they’re playing so hard or so emotionally-invested in the delivery can say more than a simple, “ooo” or “baby” lyric. 

It’s been years since I’ve picked up a guitar and even more so since my mother has lamented the fact that I’ve not used my Royal Music Conservatory training.  That doesn’t discount my love for music, but excuse me, I must get back to alternating listening the lyrics, then music of the Daughter album for the millionth time this weekend. 

I hope if you’re reading this you too want to create an album that transcends the debate of lyrics over music.  Send me an email and let me know an album you’ve been listening to obsessively.  samantha@yourockred.com

Reminder- you can always creep what I’ve been listening to in the YouRockRed office by checking out our Rdio page