Southern Ontario friends, I have some big news for you! The Jerry Cans, Nunavut's favourite folk rock band, are taking over the weekend of June 20th, first in Ottawa, then in Toronto as part of NXNE. The Jerry Cans are an Iqaluit-based band; the band members are Andrew Morrison (lead vocals and guitar), Nancy Mike, (throat singing and accordion), Brendan Doherty (bass and vocals), Steve Rigby (drums and vocals), and Gina Burgess (violin and vocals). You can check them out on Facebook, Twitter, and SoundCloud to get yourself in the mood.
Yes, that's right - a Nunavut band is playing in Canada's largest and capital cities, and you should absolutely make it a point to go to one (or both!) of their shows. Why? Well, first of all, I really like them. Yes, that is biased, but if you're on this blog then you probably like me/reading about my biases. If that's not enough, then here are five more reasons to see The Jerry Cans in Ottawa or Toronto.
1. The Jerry Cans Usually Play in the North
The Jerry Cans have wowed crowds all over the circumpolar world. They've headlined at the Dawson City Music Festival in the Yukon (header photo), performed at Yellowknife's Folk on the Rocks and Snowking Festival (inside of a snow castle for the latter), and shared a little bit of Nunavut with an audience in Nuuk, Greenland. Most often, they're jamming and sweating and singing along with their biggest fans right here in Iqaluit.
For Toronto or Ottawa residents who want to witness The Cans live and in action, this means spending at least $1500 or 15,000 Aeroplan points for a plane ticket to their nearest northern hub (plus the cost of food). That $10 ticket for the Ottawa concert seem like a pretty good deal now, eh? And for those of you in Toronto with NXNE wristbands, you're pretty much going to see The Jerry Cans for free, so...
2. You'll Probably Love Their Music
Do you like reggae? What about ska? Are you into indie-folk-violin-accordian jigs? Can you line dance to country-rock-swing? If you answered yes to any of the above, then you will like The Jerry Cans. Add in throat singing and Inuktitut lyrics, and their music is like nothing you've heard before, yet familiar at the same time.
3. A Jerry Cans Concert is Like a Crash Course in Nunavut Culture
Not only does their lead singer, Andrew, sing mostly in Inuktitut, but the songs are about facets of Northern living, both good and bad. Take for instance the song North Mart, a piece about the unfairly high price of food in Nunavut, with bold, blatant lyrics like, "North Mart is ripping us off." One of their most popular songs is "Mamaqtuq," a song about the deliciousness of seal meat. Mamaqtuq is the Inuktitut word for delicious, and you should probably learn how to pronounce it before the concert, as this is one of those "audience participation required" songs. So, repeat after me: Ma-makh-too! Ma-makh-too! Or just listen to the song and practice in the shower.
Also, did I mention that Nancy throat sings?! If you haven't heard of Inuit throat singing, it's a traditional form of percussive singing, a feat of the vocal chords and one's sense of rhythm. It's beautiful and emotive, and seamlessly blended into The Cans' north-meets-south style.
4. They're an Award-Winning, Trail-Blazing Canadian Band
Nancy was the recipient of the 2013 Canadian Folk Music Award for Aboriginal Songwriter of the Year, for The Jerry Cans' album, Nunavuttitut. The Jerry Cans are also the very first Nunavut band to play at NXNE, ever. Don't miss your chance to be part of this historical event, friends.
5. The Only People Having More Fun at a Jerry Cans Concert Than You are The Jerry Cans
Musicians who love their own music and aren't afraid to show it - and good thing, too, because The Cans' enthusiasm is infectious. They'll be drinking and singing and clapping and laughing and crying and shouting right along with you, and the rest of the crowd, and the people at the bar next door, and anyone who passes by and stops for a second to listen. And even if you don't do so much as tap your toes, The Jerry Cans will still be drinking, singing, clapping, laughing, crying, and shouting as though they were playing for a stadium of screaming One Direction fans. The band seems to approach their celebrity with humility and a laid-back agreeability, meaning, The Cans are just as happy to perform as you are to watch and listen.
In addition to all of this, The Jerry Cans are just so darn nice. If you get the chance, have a chat with any of the members and ask them about music, life in the North, snowmobiles, beards - anything you want! And should you happen to take a photo with the band, make sure you upload it to Instagram and use the hashtag #nunagram!