With pandemic restrictions easing across the territory, the Northern Arts and Cultural Centre (NACC) is gearing up for its first live show of the year — and the event will have special significance for its performers.

This Saturday, NACC will host three Northern-grown artists — Crook the Kid, Nara and Cynergii — as part of the arts centre’s Northern Scene Series, and for the first time this year, music fans will be able to watch the performances live. In February, NACC held an event launching the Trapper Radio Series, however, that event was a screening and not a live performance.

The performers featured as part of Northern Scene are beneficiaries of NACC’s mentorship program, which helps budding Northern artists find their bearings in the music industry.

Headlining Saturday’s show will be up-and-coming Fort Good Hope rapper Dylan Jones, better known by his stage name Crook the Kid.

“It’s been with me so long now that it’s almost been pivotal,” Jones says of the mentorship program. “The plane tickets to the most important shows I’ve gone to, the introductions to people who have changed my career the most, the promotional stuff I take when I go, the connections — almost everything I’ve done musically in the successful portion of my career has been in some way because of the NACC.

“They’ve helped build me up into an internationally accepted artist and gotten me grants and things I never even thought possible. It’s crazy.”

Far from being thrown off course by the pandemic, Jones says he’s been energized and given a new sense of urgency.

“Time has passed, we’re all a couple years older and things have gone by that’ll never come back. Now there’s a little more of a push to be more intense and to say your piece louder than before. It kind of feels like time is a little more important, I guess.”

Joining Jones will be Yellowknife born-and-raised singer-songwriter Nara C. Dapilos — known onstage simply as Nara — and Chad Hinchey, AKA Cynergii, a northern DJ and producer.

NACC spokesperson Marie Coderre says it’s been challenging keeping up with the changing pandemic and pandemic-related restrictions.

“We had to start from scratch three times,” she says. “So I believe this time around, it’s going to be a little bit more definitive, the decision to reopen everything.”

In addition to giving the artists a platform to promote their art, the concert will be a fundraiser, with 70 per cent of all tickets sales going to the artists.

“It’s a way for them to test new ideas, test new material, to get ready for for their professional tour down south, and it’s a way for the community members to really discover their new, latest work on stage,” says Coderre.

Jones says he’ll be premiering some never-before-heard songs at Saturday’s event. He also says a special guest appearance is planned, although he won’t give away the secret.

“It’ll probably be the same sockless, shoeless, shirtless craziness as always,” he says.

Interested music fans can buy tickets for Saturday’s event at naccnt.ca.

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