Pinning down the sound of Cape-Breton-based quintet Pretty Archie has always been about as easy as catching a greased pig, but their unique mix of folk, Americana, bluegrass, Alt-Country, and East Coast music is sure to appeal to a wider audience than ever before. Celebrating their tenth anniversary in 2022 with the release of their self titled album, the band’s success has continued with nominations for Group Recording of the Year at the East Coast Music Awards and Single of the Year at the Canadian Folk Music Awards.
Drives the Common Man
Drives the Common Man is a Mi’kmaw singer, songwriter, and producer currently living in Southern Ontario. With over 200,000 followers on Tiktok and over 1,000,000 streams on Spotify for his single “Night Vision,” he is an artist on the rise with his passionate delivery of pop and rock sounds. DTCM has performed at sakihiwe festival in Winnipeg, Union Summer in Toronto, and his hometown Eskasoni Powwow. “I want to be a voice for my generation and my people. As an indigenous person we are often under-represented. I want to break societal standards and be a voice for the new youth.”
Originally formed as an opening act for The Barra MacNeils, this group of leading Cape Breton musicians etched out a legacy as globe-trotting cultural fun makers in the late 90s and early 00s. With brothers Boyd (Barra MacNeils) and Ryan MacNeil, fiddler Lisa Gallant-MacNeil, piper John MacPhee, and drummer Brian Talbot (Slowcoaster, Jimmy Rankin), the band bends genres and traditions to create a wholly unique progressive Celtic sound.
With members living both abroad and here at home in Cape Breton, Slainte Mhath performances have been rare over the last 20 years. Ryan’s return home in 2022 led to the hypothetical chats about a reunion to become a reality, as their Makin’ Waves appearance will be their first since 2016 and only their second reunion ever.
The Snake Charmer
Awarded by the President of India the title of “India’s First Professional Female Bagpiper,” The Snake Charmer has become a worldwide sensation with over 1.2 million followers across Facebook, YouTube, and Tiktok and 140 million views of her videos. Blending Celtic bagpipe styles with traditional Punjabi sounds, this self taught performer is renowned for her dynamic performances of original and traditional songs as well as interesting takes on pop, metal, and film music.
A multi-sensory spectacle of a show described as “part Daft Punk-inflected Dan Deacon, part DIY-driven Flaming Lips as filtered through Girl Talk” (Austin Chronicle), Rich Aucoin has built a reputation as one of the best live shows in Canada. With infectious energy, Rich’s list of accomplishments reads like a roll call of Canada’s most prestigious awards and the world’s best festivals.
From headlining Evolve festival to gracing the stage of Osheaga, Great Escape, SXSW, and Berlin Music Fest to award recognition by the Canadian Indies, Polaris Prize, Prism Prize, Nova Scotia Music Awards, and East Coast Music Awards, Rich Aucoin’s interactive show can be viewed like theatre; from the stage to immersed in the audience in a sea of confetti and a large kindergarten parachute.
Rankin MacInnis & the Broken Reeds
Whether it’s Rankin and his band crowded around the piano or he’s bursting through the curtains with bagpipes as electric guitars and horns rage on… what you’re getting is a show.
People stuff to the rafters of the Marquee Ballroom in Halifax, NS as his series, Rankin’s Winter Warmers, burns away the cold of the harbour city. With The Broken Reeds, Rankin whips the audience into a frenzy alongside fiddles, pianos, horns, guitars, and drums played by some of the top performers on the East Coast.
Celebrating Jay Smith w/ Rock Ranger, The Squatters, Gordie Sampson, Colleen Power, Carleton Stone, and more
As the electric frontman of Cape Breton iconic band Rock Ranger, a revered guitarist alongside the likes of Matt Mays and Gordie Sampson, and an integral part of Sydney’s House of Rock (Slowcoaster, Rock Ranger, The Squatters) family, Jay Smith is much loved in Cape Breton and beyond. For a particular generation of Cape Breton’s music scene, his bands were the modern parallel to Minglewood, The Battery, and others who were foundational artists of the 70s.
With performances from Rock Ranger, The Squatters, and an all star band performing his 2011 solo record, friends and family will celebrate Jay’s life and music. Special guests read like a roll call of the East Coast’s premier songwriters; Gordie Sampson, Colleen Power, Steven MacDougall, Carleton Stone, and others will all have their turn to celebrate their great friend.
Crown Lands are born storytellers, with eyes on this world and others. Painters of strange, absorbing universes. Advocates for the LGBTQ+ and indigenous communities. Counter-culturalists for the 21st century, informed by a cocktail of old-world thinking, science-fiction, and musical narrators from Rush to Paul Simon, Led Zeppelin to John Prine. It’s prog rock, but not as you know it – or as you thought it could be.
Though still in their twenties, Crown Lands have profound ties to history. The enigmatic brainchild of singer/drummer Cody Bowles (a reconnecting Mi’kmaq Two Spirit, who grew up learning from the elders of Canada’s Alderville First Nation reserve) and guitarist/keyboardist Kevin Comeau (a Jewish-born bassist from Whitby, Ontario, whose ancestors made it through the Holocaust), the band channels ancient spirits into fantastical stories. All of it tempered with current issues, and all of it as a duo.
Crown Lands are a rock n’ roll fan’s new favourite band. With heavy influences by classic rockers Rush and Led Zeppelin, a resume that includes touring with Jack White, Greta Van Fleet, July Talk, and Primus, and being lauded by Rolling Stone, BBC Music, Guitar World, CBC Music, and Kerrang!, the duo has exploded out of the gates and become torchbearers for the next wave of great Canadian rock bands.
Carmen Townsend & the Shakey Deals
For Cape Breton’s Carmen Townsend, music is as natural as breathing. You’ll always catch her with a guitar, but she considers herself less a singer-songwriter and more a rock ‘n’ roller. “I’ve played in rock bands since age 14,” Townsend says. “I’ve played all over the country and abroad. I wanted my live show to come across on (my) record, which is very rock ‘n’ roll.”
With a highly original vocal and guitar approach that you quickly find yourself familiar with, Carmen Townsend has a presence that fills the room. Inspired and electric both in sound and lyrical impact, her words conjure up the highs and lows we all experience in life while at the same time chronicling her own story through captivating songs. From Australia to Austin, Cape Breton to Connecticut, and everywhere in between, Carmen’s live show is renowned for it’s intensity. Or as Matt Andersen says, “If Rock and Roll was walking down the street …it would be wearing a Carmen Townsend T-Shirt.”