Month: April 2015


First Music Contact and Culture Ireland are pleased to present Music From Ireland at Canadian Music Week 2015, an initiative bringing Ireland’s finest exports to showcase globally. Music From Ireland will showcase at this year’s CMW in Toronto at The Rivoli on Thursday, May 7th, featuring performances from Ryan O’Shaughnessy, Maud In Cahoots, Hare Squead, and more. Full line up details below.

With past festival showcase lineups including Hozier, James Vincent McMorrow, Kid Karate and WOUNDS, Music from Ireland’s official CMW showcase is sure to impress. “After the success of showcases at festivals around the world, we’re excited to bring tomorrow’s Irish stars to Canada,” says First Music Contact CEO Angela Dorgan.

All festival wristbands will be accepted for entrance to the showcase, and individual tickets are available for purchase here.

Music From Ireland Official Showcase
Thursday, May 7th @ The Rivoli (334 Queen Street West)
8:00pm – Ryan O’Shaughnessy
9:00pm – Acrobat
10:00pm – Hare Squead
11:00pm – FANGCLUB
12:00am – Maud In Cahoots

Ryan O’Shaughnessy
Singer-songwriter Ryan O’Shaughnessy earned a name for himself at only 19 years old, when he placed in Britain’s Got Talent 2012 top 5 finalists. He has since topped the Irish music charts with his debut self-titled EP, and has left his thousands of fans in anticipation for his upcoming full length album.

Acrobat is a Dublin-based band formed in 2013 by singer and guitarist Mark Healy and bass player Naoise Morzadec. Since then, they have released two critically acclaimed EPs and have been named a band to watch by The Irish Times.

Hare Squead
Hare Squead is a group of young rappers, musicians, poets and artists who would rather be known as wordsmiths than goldsmiths. They’ve built a solid fan base through their SoundCloud profile, and as expected to release their highly anticipated EP in 2015.

FANGCLUB are a garage/punk/rock band who form in Dublin in 2013. They released their debut EP Alkali in 2014 and played several Irish summer festivals, which lead to a 2015 headline tour across the country.

Maud In Cahoots
Dublin sisters Maud and Zoe Reardon and Stephen Markham form the alternative pop act, Maud In Cahoots. Their wild live concept performances have built a buzz for the band, and have earned them spots at top festivals around the world including South By South West and Electric Picnic.

Canadian Music Week is Canada’s leading annual entertainment event dedicated to the expression and growth of the country’s music, media and entertainment industries. Combining three information-intensive conferences, a trade exposition, a film festival, a comedy festival, four awards shows and the nation’s largest new music festival, CMW spans a ten-day period from May 1 to May 10, 2015 at the Sheraton Centre Hotel and over 60 downtown Toronto venues, attracting participants from across the globe. For more information, visit

Music From Ireland is a First Music Contact project delivered in partnership with Culture Ireland which presents the Irish showcases at large international music conferences, including The Great Escape, SXSW, Eurosonic, CMJ and Canadian Music Week.

First Contact Music is a free information and advice resource for musicians and the independent music sector in Ireland. First Contact Music is behind several projects helping artist development, including Breaking Tunes, HWCH, Music From Ireland and The FMC Tour.



Canadian Music Week is thrilled to announce this year’s programming for the eighth annual CMW Film Fest, with screenings held at Toronto’s The Royal Cinema from May 8th to 9th. Presented by Tribute Entertainment, this year’s festival will boast a diverse mix of exclusive Canadian premieres and limited engagements.

This year, the eclectic roster of films feature unsung heroes and larger-than-life figures from across the globe – taking us from the Washington DC punk scene to a country star from Japan. Featured films include: I Am What I Play, documenting pioneer Disc Jockeys from the 60s to 80s; I Am Thor, a loving tribute to one of rock and rolls best frontmen of all time; Sex and Broadcasting: A Film About WFMU, a heartfelt documentary on the rebellious, strange, and great New Jersey radio station; Made in Japan, an inside look into Japan’s first female country star from executive producers Elijah Wood and Morgan Spurlock; Lowdown Tracks, a celebratory and socially conscious film bringing light to street musicians from across the country; and Salad Days: A Decade of Punk in Washington, DC (1980-90), examining the vital and legendary decade of DIY punk straight from the nation’s capital.

Tickets for Film Fest are $10 in advance and $12 at the door.

For more info on films being screened at this year’s festival, please see below.

Friday, May 8th

Canadian Premiere
105 minutes | CANADA
Producer/Director: Roger King

Using material shot on location in Seattle, Boston, New York and Toronto, with rarely seen archival footage, and set to the tunes that defined the era, I AM WHAT I PLAY profiles four pioneering radio DJs during the heyday of rock radio (60s-80s). The film focuses on their programming, their politics, and their deep connections with musicians and fans. These old familiar voices defined the soundtrack of America. It’s a pleasure to be reunited with them after all these years to find out: Where are they now and how did they reinvent themselves as the medium changed?


I AM THOR – 9:15PM
Toronto Premiere
84 minutes | USA
Director: Ryan Wise; Producers: Ryan Wise, Alan Higbee
Official Selection: Slamdance Film Festival, Calgary Underground Film Festival

Jon Mikl Thor always wanted to be a superhero. At school he would wear a Superman outfit underneath his clothes and at recess have kids throw bricks at his head. Shortly after the wounds healed he got into bodybuilding and went on to win numerous titles including Mr. Canada and Mr. USA all before his 21st birthday.

John combined his love of music, strength, and superheroes and created one of the first theatrical rock bands, Thor (based off the Norse legend). Voted one of the best front men of all time, John bends steel bars in his teeth, blows up hot water bottles with his lungs until they explode, and has bricks smashed on his chest.

The band enjoyed modest success in the 80’s, mostly in Europe, but never quite made it big. After suffering a severe nervous breakdown in 1987 John retired from show business and moved to North Carolina with his wife to become a normal mortal human being. Ten years after retirement he attempts a comeback to finally achieve the success that had eluded him throughout his career. The film follows Thor on his comeback for over a decade as he searches for success in the rock and roll business. With John’s reluctance to hire a manager, he tries to manage himself, which leads to another nervous breakdown that nearly kills him.


Saturday, May 9th

Canadian Premiere
78 minutes | USA
Director: Tim K Smith; Producer: Caitlin Mae Burke
Official Selection: DOC NYC, SF Indie Fest
SEX AND BROADCASTING is a hilarious and heartfelt documentary about New Jersey’s WFMU, the strangest and (some say) greatest radio station in the world—and one man’s determination to keep it free and independent. As station manager Ken Freedman sprints to keep up with an ever-changing media landscape, he stares down the barrel of the Great Recession and all while having to keep his rebellious DJ army united. After three decades at the station, Ken is strapped to this dream. But, will his efforts be enough to keep it alive?


Canadian Premiere
Director: Josh Bishop; Producers: Josh Diamond, Jason Diamond, Julie Lombardi, Juan Reinoso, Jim Muscarella
89 minutes | USA/Japan
Official Selection: SXSW

From executive producers, Elijah Wood and Morgan Spurlock, MADE IN JAPAN is the remarkable story of Tomi Fujiyama, the first female Japanese country music star. From playing the USO circuit throughout Asia to headlining in Las Vegas and recording 7 albums for Columbia records, Tomi’s career culminates in a 1964 performance at The Grand Ole Opry where she followed Johnny Cash and received the only standing ovation of the night. Forty years later, Tomi and her husband set out on a journey through Japan and across the United States to fulfill a dream of performing at The Opry one more time. Made in Japan is a funny yet poignant multi-cultural journey through music, marriage, and the impact of the corporate world on the dreams of one woman.


Writer/Director: Shelley Saywell; Producers: Shelley Saywell, Deborah Parks
86 minutes | Canada
Official Selection: Hot Docs

LOWDOWN TRACKS tells the story of a disparate group of street musicians. Homeless, home free, or living on the margins, they are the balladeers of the “lowdown” – telling it like it is. They have talent and passion and a different view of society, as seen from the curb. How did they get there, and how do they survive? Toronto musician and activist Lorraine Segato (Parachute Club) has made homeless relief her cause for years. Inspired by field recordings from the Great Depression, she launches a modern day project to record their songs. Shot and recorded from abandoned tracks, beneath bridges, inside shelters, rooming houses, rooftops and alleyways, Lowdown Tracks is both social commentary and a celebration of the power of music and survival.


Canadian Premiere
Writer/Director: Scott Crawford; Producers: Scott Crawford, Jim Saah
90 minutes | USA
Official Selection: DOC NYC

SALAD DAYS: A DECADE OF PUNK IN WASHINGTON, DC (1980-90) examines the early DIY punk scene in the Nation’s Capital. It was a decade when seminal bands like Bad Brains, Minor Threat, Government Issue, Scream, Void, Faith, Rites of Spring, Marginal Man, Fugazi, and others released their own records and booked their own shows—without major record label constraints or mainstream media scrutiny. Contextually, it was a cultural watershed that predated the alternative music explosion of the 1990s (and the industry’s subsequent implosion). Thirty years later, DC’s original DIY punk spirit serves as a reminder of the hopefulness of youth, the power of community and the strength of conviction.



On Saturday May 9, 2015, Canadian Music Week is proud to present a special Keynote Interview with Spike Lee, as part of the event’s conference programming. As one of America’s most vital, vibrant, and challenging filmmakers, over his four-decade long career he has made an indelible mark on the independent film scene with his provocative, experimental, and socially active films. Known as “Spike Lee Joints,” he has directed, produced, written, and acted in over 50 films, along with creating his own production company 40 Acres and a Mule Filmworks.

Expounding upon Spike Lee’s expansive and storied career, the Keynote Interview will give attendees a rare inside look into the filmmaker’s accomplishments, creative process and more. The interview will take place from 3:00 p.m. to 3:45 p.m. at the Sheraton Centre Hotel. Ticket info is available here:

In conjunction with Spike Lee’s participation in this year’s conference, a special engagement of his masterpiece Do The Right Thing will screen at The Royal Cinema, followed by a Q&A with Lee on Sunday May 10th. To purchase tickets for this event, click here:

Keynote Interview with Spike Lee
May 9 @ Osgoode Ballroom East, The Sheraton Centre Hotel, 3:00 p.m.

Do The Right Thing + Spike Lee Q&A
May 10 @ The Royal Cinema, 2:00 p.m.

About Canadian Music Week:
Canadian Music Week is Canada’s leading annual entertainment event dedicated to the expression and growth of the country’s music, media and entertainment industries.  Combining three information-intensive conferences; a trade exposition; a film festival; a comedy festival; four awards shows and the nation’s largest new music festival, CMW spans a ten-day period from May 1 to May 10, 2015 at the Sheraton Centre Hotel and over 60 downtown Toronto venues, attracting participants from across the globe. For more information, visit


TORONTO, ON – (April 13, 2015) – Now in its second year Breaking Bands is an Ontario-wide band search dedicated to finding the hottest emerging talent in Ontario.

One winning band will be selected to perform on the main stage at Big Music Fest and receive hotel accommodations, passes for the festival, and automatic entry into Big Music Fest Breaking Bands. Breaking Bands Toronto is a live battle set to take place over seven weeks in downtown Toronto and will run from April 23 to June 6.

Other prizes for Breaking Bands Toronto include:

1. Recording time at Coalition Music

2. Mastering by Noah Mintz at Lacquer Channel

3. An interview and featured track on

4. Free rehearsal time at Rehearsal Factory

5. A case of Crazy Beard Wild Apple Ale

6. Hot sauce from Toronto’s best homemade local hot sauce, Shawn Rock’s Rock Sauce

7. Performance at Johnnyland’s 2015 Nuit Blanche

Participating Toronto venues include:

The Cage 292 – 292 College St. Toronto, ON

Cherry Cola’s Rock n Roll Cabaret and Lounge – 200 Bathurst St. Toronto, ON

The Cavern Bar – 76 Church St. Toronto, ON

The Tennessee – 1554 Queen St. W. Toronto, ON

Bands must sign up exclusively at:

Editor In Chief Darrell Shelley “We are excited to bring this opportunity to the Toronto community. I was at Big Music Fest last year and saw Aerosmith perform on the main stage, a stage that I helped build. It’s a world class festival with a world class stage. We’re gonna be sending one hell of a band there to compete.”

Mark Higgins, President and Owner of Big Music Fest, knew that the opportunity to perform with the biggest recording acts in the world could be a vehicle to break a band’s career. “Toronto we welcome you to Breaking Bands and encourage all aspiring musicians to sign up for the Scene battle for a chance to experience being on our WORLD CLASS STAGE and to win fantastic prizes!”

Mark, a known rock concert visionary and innovator, desired something different for the winning band. Along with mentorship, touring opportunities, a music video and other unique prizing, they will be the subject of a yearlong documentary leading up to their main stage performance at Big Music Fest 2016. The filming will cover rehearsals, studio time and live performances with a whole lot of “life in a band” thrown in.

A winner will be announced among the 20 finalists on July 10, the first day of the festival. Prizing awarded to include studio time at Metalworks Studios, consultation from top industry executives, a professional music video, $2000 in cash, plus the opportunity to perform on the main stage at Big Music Fest 2016.

Breaking Bands will take place on the opening night of Big Music Fest in front of a live audience at McLennan Park in Kitchener. Admission is free. The night will end with a free concert by Big Sugar!

Submissions are now open.

About Big Music Fest
Big Music Fest is one of Ontario’s largest and most exciting all-ages outdoor festivals. Since 2008, the event has attracted a loyal following of festival-goers and in its first year in Kitchener generated in excess of $7 million in economic impact for the city. More than 70,000 music fans will converge to take in performances by emerging talent alongside marquee headliners and to experience “A World of Music in 7 Days”.