Speaking at Kismet Thoughts – SAT APR 8 – FREE!

This Saturday, April 8 at 215 Spadina Street in Toronto I’ll be leading a FREE talk on Grant Writing & Planning for Kismet Thoughts from 12 p.m.- 2 p.m.

It’s not a panel so I’m solo on this thing but am going to be presenting a version of what I teach my students at Trebas in a condensed, casual style.

FB RSVP linked HERE 

With grant season just around the corner, don’t let this happen to you!

Top 10 Concerts of 2014 w/ live show photos of Nick Cave, Stars, Constantines…

Best Shows of 2014

*All band photography by me. Shot on Canon DSLR EOS 60D or Iphone. I go to minimum 1 concert a week. Warmer months mean festival season and this summer was packed with hundreds of great performances.

  1. Stars, Tribe Called Red, Kevin Drew- Google Plus Launch party Toronto, ON (Wait for the film as to why it was so excellent.)

    stars cmw

    Stars- Toronto

  2. Nick Cave, Osheaga, Montreal QC – I had never seen Nick Cave. I feel like my life up until now was not complete. All front men need to aspire to the power he has over an audience. Also if you’ve not seen 20,000 Days on Earth the semi-doc on him, stop what you’re doing and go download it off Itunes now.

    Nick Cave

    Nick Cave- Osheaga

  3. Tanya Tagac, Polaris Prize, Toronto, ON – I had no idea who this woman was, she came out and delivered a more metal, more emotionally intense performance than any male performer I’d seen all year. Plus it was just the wtf is this amazing sound, noise coming out of this tiny human!?)

    Tanya Tagac at Polaris Prize, Toronto

    Tanya Tagac at Polaris Prize, Toronto

  4. Band of Horses, Osheaga, Montreal, QC – watching the lead singer of Foster the People and the happiest singer ever of AWOL National shout out the lyrics in the pit in front of us instead of watching OutKast then high fiving us in between awesome song breakdowns to make sure we’re enjoying it was just awesome. Plus, only a handful of people were at this far stage for them initially so it was a really cool private experience.

  5. Dum Dum Girls, Club Soda, Montreal QC (I love Dee Dee and all things Dum Dum Girls)

    Dum Dum Girls MTL

    Dum Dum Girls MTL

  6. The Constantines, Arboretum Festival, Ottawa, ON – I had never experienced the raw energy and emotionally charged performance of the Constantines like this before. It was dark. I was up front centre photographing it all. I stomped my feet along and lifted my hands up high high high to classics from Shine a Light. Also was somehow transported back to second year university and romances that were set to.


    The Constantines – Ottawa, Arbfest

  7. Phantogram, Bluesfest Ottawa, ON- You know when an audience is really pissing you off and just taking away from the performance? I wasn’t supposed to see Phantogram as I’ve been a longtime Killers fan. I was transfixed by the lights that sparkled off lead singer’s disco-themed cape as she got on an illuminated box to serenade us to dance beats that would become the soundtrack for my summer. We kept repeating how glad we were to be watching this intimate show with only maybe another 200 people not mashed up together but all commenting to each other, “This is so much better than the Killers.” Friendly audiences make a world of a difference.

    Phantogram, Ottawa Bluesfest

    Phantogram, Ottawa Bluesfest

  8. Metz, Lee’s Palane, Toronto, ON – ears meltingly awesome. Was exhausted from NXNE shenanigans and was blown away. Walked away thinking how stupid I’d been to have missed all their hometown shows for the last few years. Now dedicated to seeing them perform as much as possible, whenever possible.

    Metz, Lee's Palace, Toronto

    Metz, Lee’s Palace, Toronto

  9. Fucked Up, Field Trip Fest, Toronto ON – I brought a folk-singer friend who has never been to a hardcore punk show and she was converted. The performance included guest vocals from Gord Downie of the Hip, George Petit of Alexisonfire and Damian’s toddler son who watched proudly as his sweaty bare-chested daddy ripped beach ball after beach ball and formed a new fashionable hat for himself AND the audience members. Ears hurt. It was worth it.

    Fucked Up, Field Tripfest Toronto

    Fucked Up, Field Tripfest Toronto

  10. Blondie/Lady Gaga, Bluesfest, Ottawa, ON – both divas, both genius, all worth singing at the top of my lungs.

    Blondie, Ottawa Bluesfest

    Blondie, Ottawa Bluesfest

Who should have made the list: Gaslight Anthem. I miss you. I forgive you for cancelling Folk Fest in Ottawa, but next year, we will be besties. Or at least I’ll be in the photo pit singing back every lyric Brian Fallon shouts out.

Who did not make the list:  Julian Cascablancas, Opera House.  Why?? Half the audience left about 20 minutes in and I was included in the exodus. Only played 1 Strokes song and it was so obscure and mangled it was pitiful.

Repeat offenders: Tribe Called Red- that huge round dance at Field Trip was epic.


Kevin Drew

Kevin Drew, you were everywhere I went…. Except that Uber car ride.

Why you Need More than 1 Band Biography to Get Attention

Here’s an industry secret on band biographies:  the ones who get the most publicity have more than 1.

There’s three kinds of band biographies. A short 1-paragraph bio, a medium 2-3 length bio, and a full page bio.

1 paragraph approach is great because it’s the most direct line – people will follow up if they need more info but these are the basics that need to be included.  Think of this as your elevator pitch.  If you’ve cornered your favourite magazine or head of Universal THIS is how you would sell your band.

  1. Your band name and hometown
  2. Who you sound like (You’ve heard the whole, if Zepplin had a love child with Chromeo we’d be its illegitimate offspring before, right? No? Well, if you’re stuck this metaphor technique helps.)
  3. Who you’ve played with/notable successes
  4. Why anyone should give a shit about your band, rather, what makes you special

Plus, if you’re cold- emailing someone, this is the most professional approach as you’re not just copying and pasting a whole whack of content a promoter, agent or radio station didn’t ask for. If you’re clear and concise, you’ll stand apart from the rest. A 1 paragraph can easily be copied and pasted for live show bylines at clubs/venues web promo and filter through others like radio, blog and photographers. It really pays to have this prepared.

Now if you’ve just done something noteworthy like win a songwriting competition, achieved a landmark in crowd-funding or shot a music video that’s gone viral, that’s where background information in form of word length can help you. Tell the reader why the director of the music video is important to you or what relationship you have with them that’s going to make it an international hit.  Explain the meaning of the song in relation to the music video content. If you’ve had other music videos become popular mention the song names and if possible hit counts or where the video led to the song being placed or an artist of note that was a fan of the video.

A full page band bio is basically your EPK with a photo all web links and press highlights on top of artist history, discography, and notable successes.  Make sure you have a PDF of this in addition to high res band portrait photographs as it’s principally used for publicity/journalism.

One thing to hammer home here is making sure that your bio is CURRENT and free of spelling mistakes. And whatever you do, don’t fabricate any facts or quotes.

Conferences, festivals and media outlets all have different needs. These bios mean that you can adjust to them and are the perfect fit for them.

And if you’re not sure how to write a band bio, check out this post I wrote last year.


Polaris Prize Recap

So for the first time in the 9 years of its existence (and yes, I can recite all of the winners still), I finally attended the Polaris Music Prize on Monday, September 22 at the Carlu in Toronto… and it far exceeded my expectations.

Mac De Marco being interview by Vish Khanna

Mac De Marco being interview by Vish Khanna

There were industry mixing with artists, bloggers with journalists, and beer-drinkers rocking out to house band Dwayne Gretsky… including a very inebriated Mac De Marco later on in the evening.

I was rooting for Shad, having seen him a handful of times in 2014 including at Field Trip Festival but was convinced that Mac De Marco would be the shoe-in.

I must preface this:  I had no idea who Tanya Tagaq was.  After her performance of throat-singing with a shrieking 30 member strong choir backing her and the most metal presence I’ve seen ever, I’ll never forget her 8 minute long performance. She had 1,200 names of missing and aboriginal womens names streaming behind her while my partner and I kept turning to each other and saying, “WHAT IS THIS!?” then alternating to “This is so good.”


Obviously, Drake wasn’t in attendance, but I’m not going to lie- I freakin’ love his new album. Jay Buruchel did a great job hosting however was the token celeb not seen at the after party whereas Win Butler was casually texting and chatting with whomever would go say hello (And yes, I said hello.)

On top of the excellent live performances and overwhelmingly friendly people, there were tons of coloured 7″ vinyl singles to be snatched up.

I also met a man that has had a huge influence on my music journalism career-path, and he was completely charming.

Strombo and I.

Strombo and I.

See you all on the red-carpet next year!!


TIFF 2014 Reviews: Midnight Madness, James Franco and… a Walrus?

This was my second time attending TIFF but this time actually hit the red carpet for the world premier of Tusk (the new Kevin Smith movie and a personal inspiration for his “why-not” attitude), the new Kristen Wiig Welcome to Me (expect award noms for her), Eden (French 90s DJ movie), The Sound and Fury (new James Franco) and Tokyo Tribe.

Short and Sweet Tweeted Reviews by YouRockRed 

  1. Tusk = If Kevin Smith can turn Justin Long into a walrus, you can make your own movie too.
  2. The Sound and the Fury = James Franco shouldn’t be allowed to tackle any more classic American novels.
  3. Welcome to Me = 86 Million dollars of dark comedic fun, Oprah ain’t go nothing on this Borderline personality TV host.
  4. Eden = Music scene public-masturbation up on the big screen from famous French DJs you’ve never heard of.
  5. Tokyo Tribe = World’s first rap-battle musical.

Had a great time at TIFF 2014.

Partied at the Drake thanks to Planzio at THIS party with 20 friends. If you’ve not gotten the app yet, get it FREE here!


James Franco speaking to the audience

James Franco speaking to the audience


Every audience member was given a walrus mask so that they TOO could become the walrus.

Canon shot from our spot in the balcony of midnight premier.

Canon shot from our spot in the balcony of midnight premier.  Bonus: Kevin Smith talked for about an hour afterwards and inspired EVERYONE.

And surprisingly THIS was the catchiest song heard:

Also I spotted THIS man.

Will Ferrell


Speaking at Indie Week- October 15-18

I’m honoured to have been invited to speak at Indie Week’s Indie 101 Conference happening on October 15-18.  I’ll be speaking on October 16 on the subject of grant funding.

Check out more info here: //

indie week 1

10 Reasons Why You Should Have Gone To Field Trip Fest

When it was announced that Field Trip Festival would be returning for a second year at a full 2 days instead of one, I knew I needed to be there. As far as I was concerned as long as the lineup included Broken Social Scene I was happy.  I proclaimed on social media since that festival in 2013 that was so full of smiling kids, dancing and just the best happy-go-lucky-indie-rock vibe was the best I’d attended (and this time they didn’t run out of beer!)

Field Trip 2014 beat all expectations… and here’s a breakdown why. 

Not Just Indie

It was so cool that it wasn’t the traditional indie rock bands that were soley booked.  Shad, the Polaris-nominated rapper spat out his rhymes- one of my personal favourites being, “The only thing I love more than rapping is napping.”  Napping is on the menu once this blog post is done.


Rapper Shad



Canadian Celebrities Everywhere

Canadian indie-celebs hanging out everywhere – oh hello Ron Sexsmith, hello Jian Ghomeshi (whom I saw 3 times!), Rich Aucoin, Youtube bloggers and members of Broken Social Scene just wandering around everywhere… (including Brandon Canning who was hilariously in line for BSS autographs)


Feist’s new band Hydra- the 4 members photographed here are all in BSS. To quote a friend, they make the music you would run through a forest to. Unexpectedly beautiful.



Reunions = Happy Place

Watching the Constantines with Torquil Campbell of Stars and raising our arms up together in unison to “Crime of Passion.”  When they opened with Draw Us Lines I couldn’t help but to think of an old lover who would always get me to yell out to this primal scream driving around listening to the song Working Full Time (Seriously listen to this song HERE at .18 seconds in).  My friends who weren’t all that familiar with the Constantines were still won over but I had goosebumps for much of their set.  My dearest friends, my favourite Canadian band rocking out beside me, a summer festival and beer in hand- it pretty much didn’t get better than that.

Well again, aside from seeing my CBC boyfriend Jian Ghomeshi walking around casually between the two stages that couldn’t be more polar different at times.  Hip hop vs. Chvrches.  Lord Huron was kind of disappointing and Lowell I was bored at but overall all the music was excellent.  There were bigger crowds than last year but the general comment was what a “chill” festival it was.

The Constatines- again did not bring my Canon D600- just Iphone.

The Constantines- again did not bring my Canon D600- just Iphone.



Seeing Ottawa band A Tribe Called Red get thousands of people doing a round dance and of course, dancing uncontrollably.  I was a very proud Ottawan and even though I was tired I couldn’t stop dancing. I usually see them in a small packed club and barely have any room to dance so looking around and seeing people of all ages and backgrounds just losing it to their pow-wow beats was really inspiring.

tribe called red field trip

A Tribe Called Red



Furry Mascots Rocking the Fuck Out

Having no expectations for Bad Bad Not Good so when their instrumental jazz fusion, or whatever you call it, go rocked out to by a furry lion mascot dancer that proceeded to crowd surf and throw down in the audience as if he was in Wu Tang Clan.

field trip friends

We look tame in this photo but fellow Redheaded friends that rocked out together.


Fucked Up Breaking Every Hardcore Punk Band Expectation

Watching Damian Abraham of Fucked Up win over anyone who said they aren’t into punk or hardcore and proceeding to proclaim a vendetta on all CBC Music beach volley balls which he tore into hats with his teeth while sharing the mic.  He also had his son, who may be 3 come sing, Dying on the Inside, on stage with him.  His son held the mic and watched his dad run around the entire field with a big smile on his face.  Damian’s wife held his other baby with huge headphones from the side stage.  And then Gord Downie showed up to sing THIS song with him looking like a cowboy in a Stetson hat.  I mean, the festival couldn’t have been MORE Canadian at that point…

fucked up

Fucked Up



Broken Social Scene Being Broken Social Scene

Until Broken Social Scene took the stage. Now anyone who knows me knows that I am a HUGE Broken Social Scene fan.  They are essentially the sound of university.  I was so lucky to be able to attend the Stars/Kevin Drew/Tribe Called Red Google Play Plus launch during Canadian Music Week and that was hands down the best show I saw the whole week because it really felt like an intimate personal show for me alone (ok, and the other 200 people there).  Now they didn’t play Lovers’ Spit or Anthems for a 17 Year Old Girl, but they played an awesome mix of old and new stuff. I found the set-list later on Instagram and my friends on the way back to Ottawa proceeded to listen to their entire discography.  In order to prep however, watching This Movie is Broken had to be watched.  I should do another post about how similar that film is to my life too in the future.  Basically, I love putting musicians together and seeing the creativity flourish.  This is a band that I wish played more regularly but if they just reunite for an annual show in Toronto, I’m also ok with that.


Fuzzy but was still up close for their entire set- Broken Social Scene



Kevin Drew believing in Arts and Crafts  

Kevin Drew was obviously so excited to be playing with the 20+ members of BSS that were able to join him on stage for closing out Sunday night.  He brought his dad on to thank for encouraging him to continue on.  He was easily spotted in the crowd rocking out but just the day before he released this music video with Feist and Zach Galifanakis that gave me so much hope for what the Canadian government is able to fund.  Feist of course came out to play To the World with him too.  He sang the sexiest songs true, but I also just have so much respect for what he’s been able to do with Arts and Crafts.


Full set list

Full set list


Kids Everywhere

Glowing hula-hoops, a kid stage with Kevin Drew on acoustic guitar, bouncing castle, crafts and face painting between the fort doors that divided the two stage areas.  Kudos has to go to the organizers. It really is such a well-run festival and having children be admitted for free just makes it so much of a happier safe space.  Plus, some of those kids had more style than me.

have fun

Not difficult to do!



Canada Rocks

This weekend was a shining beacon of why the Canadian music scene is so amazing.  There were only a handful of international bands but it was the Toronto and Ottawa ones that held their own and proved why we are so awesome.

halfmoonrun field trip

Half Moon Run – from 15 minutes away in Quebec!


Moral of the story:  go next year!