Our CMW Festival Picks

The music festival component of Canadian Music Week has been beefed up in recent years, and the lineup this year is especially impressive. With the fun beginning tonight, here are the picks to click from some regular FYI contributors and a couple of industry insiders. Television (pictured) makes multiple lists.

Our CMW Festival Picks

By FYI Staff

Canadian Music Week (CMW) has been Canada's biggest and most important music industry conference for many decades now. The music festival component has been beefed up in recent years, and the lineup this year is especially impressive.

With the fun beginning tonight, here are the picks to click from some regular FYI contributors and a couple of industry insiders.

For the full fest schedule, go to

Nick Krewen

Adam Gontier (ON) - The Horseshoe, May 11 – Hear the original hard rock voice of Three Days Grace tackle hits of his old band and music from his current Saint Asonia.


Art D’ecco (BC) -  The Garrison, May 9 – Canada’s latest neo-glam entry with an electronic bent and a Peter Hook-influenced bass line.

Bashar Murad (Palestine) - Amsterdam Brewhouse, May 10 – Palestinian pop that percolates

Black Mountain (Vancouver) - Lee’s Palace, May 9 –  Heavy and progressive think-music and vibes from Vancouver’s finest.

Denver Haylee (Toronto)- Adelaide Radio Hall, May 6  – Toronto-based siren who seasons R&B soul with sensuality, spirituality and awareness.

Gabrielle Shonk (Quebec City) - Mod Club, May 9 –  Bilingual soulful songwriter with unforgettable pipes.

Isla Craig (Toronto) - The Garrison, May 11 –  Solemn, seductive and earnest music that sometimes escapes the drone zone.

James Barker Band (Woodville, ON) - The Phoenix, May 9 –  The next big export in Canadian country is slick and energetic - good Nashville-aimed Mojo.

Jim Bryson (Ottawa) - The RIvoli, May 9  – Alt-pop tastemaker is always solid and a crowd-pleaser, whether on his own or as a sideman.

Jonathan Butler (South Africa)  -Hideout, May 10 – It’s been years since South African Jonathan Butler has played these parts, but he still wields a skilled guitar.

Kalle Mattson (Ottawa) - The Rivoli May 9 –  Mattson’s latest album Youth is a gem, and he’s offering one of his finest vocal performances ever. Stimulating alt-pop.


Kandle -(Montreal) The Phoenix,  May 6 –  Opening for Television, the daughter of 54.40’s Neil Osborne proves the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

The Monowhales(Toronto) - The Horseshoe, May 8 –  These indie rockers boast a lot of power in their infectious tunes, making them one of the must-sees of the Fest.

Moon Vs. Sun (Toronto)  - Great Hall, May 7 –  Into Chantal’s life a little Raine must fall - husband-wife duo you all know and love combines forces for spritely songs.

Sydanie -(Toronto) Baby G, May 8 –  A Toronto hip-hop visionary making waves with her 999 album. No excuses -just reality.


Kerry Doole 

Television (NYC) The Phoenix, May 6 –  Saw this seminal band play Marquee Moon over 40 years ago. Can't wait to renew that thrill.

The Dirty Nil (Hamilton), The Phoenix, May 10 – Fiery and entertaining loud guitar rock that is deservedly making waves. Hoping for a Big Star cover.

Kate Boothman (Cobourg, ON) The Rivoli. May 10 –  A gifted singer/songwriter equally at home in folk and edgy rock. Expect the latter this time out.


Absolutely Free (Toronto) The Garrison (Double Denim showcase) May 9 – Freewheeling Krautrock-inflected sounds that go over a treat in performance.

La Force (Montreal) The Phoenix (The Indies). May 11 – The latest project of Ariel Engle (AroarA, Broken Social Scene) is creating serious buzz. Find out why.

Dandy Warhols (US) Danforth Music Hall, May 9 – Worth going just to hear "Bohemian Like You," but they have other strong songs too.

 Jason Schneider

David James Allen (Prince Edward County ON): Cameron House, May 8 – Not your typical singer/songwriter; think Bill Withers meets Nilsson.

Ms. Holmes (Montreal QC): Longboat Hall, May 9 – Rising soul-folk artist previewing new material.


 Matt Zaddy (Mississauga ON): Cameron House, May 9 – Pop-rock with a blues-y twist; new album coming soon. 

Excuses Excuses (Oshawa ON): Cherry Cola’s, May 10 – Young and brash melodic punk with brains.


Cam Carpenter

Television (New York) - The Phoenix May 6 – The sound of New York. Often copied never duplicated.

Like A Motorcycle (Halifax) - Cherry Cola's May 11 – Bad ass rock'n'roll from the East Coast.

The Dirty Nil (Hamilton) - Phoenix May 10 – Maybe Canada's best  band at the moment.

Tommy Stinson (Minneapolis ) - Lee`s Palace May 8 – A rock`n`roll legend.

 Nice Horse (Alberta ) Rock'n'Horse Saloon - May 10 – A rockin' country band who just all happen to be female.

 DJ Vania (Toronto) - Bovine - May 9-10, – A DJ who plays the records I love.


Kim Hughes

Azealia Banks (USA w/ Tasha the Amazon, Canada): The Phoenix, May 8 – A can’t-miss chance to rubberneck the groovy, defiant rapper offline and in the flesh. Fingers crossed on a dope delivery of “212.”

Kellie Loder (Newfoundland): The Rivoli, May 7 – The only thing more affecting than Loder’s insanely intimate, slice-of-life folk/pop tales are her hilariously rousing, anecdote-propelled performances.

Nice Horse (Alberta): Rock 'n' Horse Saloon, May 10 (as part of the KX Country showcase) – The woke Calgary honky-tonkers(see 2018’s kinetic “Mansplainin’”) deliver foot-stomping, yee-hawing corkers every time.

Television (USA): Phoenix Concert Theatre, May 6 – Influential, messy, and mesmeric, plus a bucket-list band for fledgling — and especially, aging — punk rock eggheads. Marquee Moon, y’all!

Sex Laser (Ontario):  The Paddock Tavern, May 11 – Fab moniker aside, the emerging Hogtowners raise luminous ambient ribbons from live instrumentation mixed with electronica. Google at your own risk.



Darryl Hurs (Indie Week / CD Baby)

Excuses Excuses (Oshawa) Cherry Cola’s May 10 – When watching this band you get the feeling that you are watching something that is going to be big. That thing you can’t describe called the “IT FACTOR”. Be there.

We are Wolves (Montreal) Simone Records Showcase – Baby G.  May 10 – Saw them at Pulsar festival in Chile and have been a fan since - rock pop and something unique.

Sam Weber (BC) The Rivoli. May 7 – Sam is the real deal and lots of exciting things are in store - an artist to keep your eye and ear on.

Moon Tan (Winnipeg) The Garrison. May 8 – Fans of Rush will love Moon Tan - the band mixes progressive, psychedelic rock with ease.

Lambsbreath (Vancouver) The Cameron House. May 8 – To quote - Gary Taylor “original and fearless”. Lambsbreath is fast growing their audience internationally and always is a crowd pleaser.

Grown Up Avenger Stuff (Charlotte, NC)  Cherry Cola’s. May 1 – .Swampy, bluesy, dirty rock n roll delivered like a mack truck with confidence. Think Sheepdogs meets Motorhead meets Jimi. Last year they blew the roof off a sold out Painted Lady.


For Keeps (Toronto)  The Paddock. May 11 – Indie Pop darlings - the band are so nice and cute you just want to hug them and kiss them. Their music is just a good - a lot of pure fun and happiness.

Dearly Beloved (Toronto) Bovine. May 10 – Punk, rock, in your face, unapologetic, loud and amazing. 

David Boyd Janes (Toronto)  Cherry Cola's. May 6 – Representing the next wave of country. 

Basement Revolver (Hamilton) Rivoli. May 8 – Making a buzz around Toronto and internationally - saw them in New York recently. Could be a next big thing.

DIVINE (L) and Karan Aujla
@anmollium / Anmol Raina

DIVINE (L) and Karan Aujla

Chart Beat

Karan Aujla & DIVINE Debut in Top 25 on Billboard Canadian Albums Chart

B.C.-based Punjabi artist Karan Aujla and Indian rapper DIVINE land the No. 22 spot on this week's Canadian Albums chart with their new collaborative release, 'Street Dreams.' On the Canadian Hot 100, Beyoncé's "Texas Hold 'Em" ascends to No. 1, while Canadian pop artist Preston Pablo makes a debut.

B.C.-based Punjabi artist Karan Aujla and Indian rapper DIVINE are making moves together on Billboard's Canadian Albums chart this week, with their collaborative project, Street Dreams, debuting in the No. 22 spot.

The seven-track album, released Feb. 16, blends harder hip-hop and smooth R&B pop, the latter shining through especially on the Jonita Gandhi-assisted "Yaad." It's not Aujla's highest spot on the Albums chart — he reached No. 5 in 2023 with Making Memories, his collaboration with Canadian Punjabi artist Ikky — but it gives him some momentum going into his upcoming performance at the Juno Awards on Mar. 24, where he's nominated for TikTok Juno fan choice and breakthrough artist.

keep readingShow less