The music scene in the NWT is getting some professional tips from a national critic.
The Northern Arts and Cultural Centre is preparing for their Northern Scene Series showcase this weekend and is inviting Music Canada Live executive director, Erin Benjamin to consult two local artists.
Hip-hop artist Dylan Jones (Crook The Kid) and country singer-songwriter Brian Weadick will be preforming on the stage of this weekend but it won’t be without a brief lesson in showmanship before the performance. The performance was slated to include three performers, however Yellowknife resident Casey Koyczan, also known as NAHGA which means “bush-man” had to cancel his show due to personal matters.
“I think it’s a common misconception in Canada that all you need to be is a great artist to get recognized,” said Benjamin. “Now to be an emerging artist performers really need an understanding of how the business side of the industry works.”
Benjamin, who was invited to the showcase by NACC executive director Marie Coderre said it’s not uncommon for live artists to be consulted, however, it is the first time a national critic is being invited to the north. Both Coderre and Benjamin agree the goal is to help northern artists get nation-wide recognition.
“It’s meant to help during a showcase. If you screw up at a showcase you’re done, but if you preform well than you could have tours booked for years,” said Coderre. “You have to learn how to use the stage and improve storytelling … you cannot be great by just preforming your song.”
The series is meant to promote local to the area talent which will help expand the diversity of the music community and expand the program which has been in effect since 2012 and has produced artists like Leela Gilday, Pat Braden and 2017 Juno award winning Quantum Tangle.
Brian Weadick came to Yellowknife in 2011 on a whim and is now one step closer to reaching a personal music goal.
Growing up in the Kitchener/Waterloo region of southern Ontario he was born into a family which was musically gifted. Brian is one of three brothers who call music a way of life.
“Guitars have always been around me,” said Weadick who admits to growing up on rock and roll music. “The influences in my music are George Jones and Roger Miller, all of the odd-ball country folk singers … my voice has that natural twang.”
Weadick’s two brothers, Shawn Reddick and Dan Weadick have toured in the United States and Europe. Dan has even opened for Canadian alternative band, The Acorns.
The potential for Baby Brian to follow in his brothers foot steps is becoming more realistic and it can be attributed to his involvement with the Northern Arts and Cultural Centre’s mentorship program said NACC executive director Marie Coderre.
“He’s a more kind of Johnny Cash kind of style … I was impressed by skills and talents,” said Coderre, who saw Weadick preform at Folk On The Rocks.
Weadick said even though he doesn’t plan on leaving his job with the GNWT to tour, he’s confident music will always consume him.
“Music has always been part of my life,” he said, “I will always be making records.”
Dylan Jones a.k.a. Crook The Kid
It has been a hard-knock life for Indigenous hip-hop artist Dylan Jones who now hopes the message of growing up in the isolated community of Fort Good Hope can be heard through his music.
Known as Crook The Kid, Jones has had a successful career thus far opening for mainstream artists such as Tech9, Madchild; from the Canadian rap group Swollen Members and Detroit, Mich based rap group Insane Clown Possee.
“Me and my friends back home would always listen to 90s rap music … Wu-Tang Clan and DMX to name a couple,” said Jones when describing his music interests. “Interesting enough it was fused with classic rock and golden-era type hits.”
Contributing to the unconventional rap artist interests Jones admitted to having a fascination with country-western culture and attributes his love of the North to being similar to the “final frontier” of that culture.
Which in Jones’ mind makes him the Jesse James of the NWT.
“The name Crook comes from the labels me and my friends were given growing up,” said Jones.
Marie Coderre believes Crook The Kid may have a bright future because of his maturity as a young artist
“Dylan is very motivated and is an Indigenous hip-hop artist dedicated to the north,” said Coderre. “He has the attitude to be in the industry.”