This year we’re introducing a new column recapping some of the most notable headlines and moments in the Victoria Music Scene. Whether it be a former Victoria artist doing something great, an island festival booking a superstar to headline or some of the gains and losses the scene has went through. These are just some of the happenings in our music community that we’ve covered or found out about in 2015. If any big news of 2015 is missing, it’s because we didn’t get word of it.
We’re always looking for your local music news to share, whether it be a show in town, new music releases, video releases, photos, interviews posted online etc. Contribute in 2016 so next December’s year-end recap is more thorough. It’s your city. It’s your scene. Be Part of It.
January 11: Victoria DJ Wyatt Compagna (aka Lewd Behavior) Loses Battle With Cancer
On January 11, Victoria DJ/producer Wyatt Compagna (aka. Lewd Behavior) lost his battle with Osteosarcoma a rare bone cancer. Throughout his fight with the disease he continued to make music and even performed at Glastonbury Festival in June 2014. He was 22 years old. Compagna’s brother has been scouring Wyatt’s hard drive and touching-up his previously unreleased music that Wyatt had been working on prior to and during the course of his illness and releasing them over the the year for all to hear.
January 17: YYJ Rocktographers’ First Anniversary
YYJ Rocktographers, or just Rocktographers as the site is called now celebrated its first anniversary with a three-day photo showcase featuring Victoria music photographers’ best shots of 2014 was held January 17 – 19, 2015 at Vic42 Studios. Later in the year a second show with the spotlight on music festival photos was put on in June. Look out for another showcase in January 2016 at Fort Techtoria.
January 19: David Vest Named Piano/Keyboard Player of The Year
Victoria’s David Vest was named Piano/Keyboard Player of The Year at the 18th annual Maple Blues Awards January 19, 2015.
It was Vest’s second win in the category and his fourth consecutive nomination.
February 4: V.I.C. Fest Cancels 2015 Festival
Organizers of the Vancouver Island Cultural Festival posted a statement February 4, 2015 announcing the cancellation of V.I.C. Fest 2015 due to personal reasons. Many viewed V.I.C. Fest as the official start of music festival season so the announcement was a significant blow. Whether or not the festival makes a return in 2016 is unknown, but organizers continue to put on the Victoria Street Food Festival Friday Truck-Ups in July.
February: Victoria Musician Marshal Huska Needs Rare Brain Surgery
In February 2015 a crowdfunding campaign was launched to help save the life of Victoria musician Marshal Huska. Huska had multiple brain tumours in the centre of his brain he required a brain surgery called pineal resection. The surgery is considered one of the most difficult neurosurgeries and Canada does not have the technology to do it. The estimated cost of the surgery was $221,000US. On March 24, 2015 Huska had surgery and the tumours were removed successfully. The only update we have access to is a Facebook profile photo posted on October 29th.
February 6: Victoria Ska Fest Becomes Victoria Ska & Reggae Fest
On February 6, 2015 The Victoria BC Ska Society announced Victoria Ska Fest would be renamed Victoria Ska & Reggae Festival. Reggae has always been a key element to the music festival and 2015 was no different with the likes of Hepcat, Morgan Heritage and Third World on the bill. The 2016 Victoria Ska & Reggae Fest will take place June 22 – 26, 2016.
February 24: Arkells Run Into Contest Winner By Chance, Perform Song Together
When Arkells were touring early in 2015 the launched a contest encouraging people to post video of themselves covering their single ‘Leather Jacket’ online for a chance to win a ‘Golden Ticket’ to every show of their tour in 2015.
Victoria’s Paul Shenton, vocalist/guitar for Helloseptember and Pookati entered a video for the contest. What Shenton didn’t know was that Arkells wanted to award him the grand prize, but they had no contact information. By complete fluke, while in Victoria for their show at Sugar Nightclub, the band ran into Shenton at The Patch. They then proceeded to record the video below of them playing ‘Leather Jacket’ together on the tour bus.
June 1: Daniel Kingsbury, Founding Member of Mindil Beach, Dies
On June 1, 2015 Founding member of Victoria band Mindil Beach and Environmental initiative The Jellyfish Project died suddenly. He was 28 years old. Days before his death, Kingsbury had uploaded 90 songs to his Soundcloud account. Weeks after his death, Mindil Beach were named a finalist in the Peak Performance Project and also performed at Victoria Ska & Reggae Fest on Canada Day. Kingsbury’s legacy lives on through The Jellyfish Project and The Daniel Kingsbury Music for Youth Endowment
June 5: Lacey-Lou Tapas Lounge Forced to Close
Four days after re-opening after a two week hiatus. Lacey-Lou Tapas Lounge on Broad Street was forced to close for good. The business could not pay off the debt that it had incurred from cost overruns during the initial renovation of the site. Lacey-Lou’s had live musicians performing nearly every night, held poetry and comedy nights, and showcased local art on the walls. The site is now home to a specialty hot dog restaurant called Saint Franks.
June 10: Hermann Nieweler, Owner of Victoria’s Iconic Hermann’s Jazz Club, Dies
Hermann Nieweler, owner of Victoria’s iconic Hermann’s Jazz Club, died the evening of Wednesday June 10, 2015 at the age of 79. A remembrance of his life was held at the club June 14th and another celebration of his life that included a parade down View Street was held in September.
Video courtesy: Eunhee Lee on YouTube
June 21: Victoria Artists Perform at First Car Free Day on Douglas Street
On Fathers Day, Douglas Street was completely shut down between Herald Street and View Street for Victoria’s very first Car Free Day. Thousands of people ventured downtown to check it out.
The event featured three stages of live entertainment from 222 | Bucan Bucan | Cookeilidh | Dave Lang & The Insolent Rabble | Electric Timber Co. | Jason Verners (magician) | John de Pfyffer (dancer) | Le-La-La Dancers | Man Made Lake | Righteous Rainbows of Togetherness | Scars & Scarves | Steph Macpherson | The New Groovement | The O’Briens | The Pandora Choir | Towers and Trees | Vince Vaccaro | Winston Wolfe
June 22: Merlin’s Sun Home Theatre Forced to Close
In June 2015 The City of Victoria forced the closure of Merlin’s Sun Home Theatre due to activities (concerts) being hosted there not meeting zoning regulations after the city received a complaint from a neighbour. Merlin’s Sun Home Theatre is the Fairfield home of Tim Gosley. The house contains a 50-seat theatre and Gosley hosted numerous house concerts dating back to 2005.
June 26: Northern Quarter Opens For Business
After years of searching and planning, the Fort Street Cafe finally found and opened their new home on Douglas Street called Northern Quarter on Friday June 26, 2015. The restaurant features live music most nights and continues to host its signature Quiz Night and was a venue for Rifflandia 2015.
Northern Quarter has better acoustics and sight-lines than the Fort Street Cafe ever did and it has filled the void that Lacey-Lou Tapas Lounge’s closure left behind.
July 19/20: The Black Keys and Jane’s Addiction Headline Rock The Shores 2015
Rock The Shores booked two big headliners for the 2015 festival in The Black Keys and Jane’s Addiction. One reason they were able to get get them to perform on the island was due to a partnership with the Pemberton Music Festival. The two festivals would happen on the same weekend and shared a number of performers. Attendance for The Black Keys was the highest the festival grounds has had.
August 1: SunFest Announces Carrie Underwood as 2016 Festival Headliner
The Cowichan Valley’s SunFest Country Music Festival has had a history of getting some of the biggest headliners in Country music to perform on Vancouver Island. The likes of Keith Urban and Tim McGraw have taken the stage in the last couple years. During this year’s SunFest, organizers announced that Country superstar Carrie Underwood will headline the 2016 festival.
Now the only question is will the festival be held at the Cowichan Exhibition grounds or will it move to the Laketown Ranch property five kilometers from Lake Cowichan. More on that sometime in the new year.
August 4: On Call Heroes Hang It Up
Victoria pop-punk band On Call Heroes announced on their Facebook page Tuesday August 4, 2015 that the band will be calling it quits after eight years together. In their announcement they stated they “haven’t had the same drive that we used to over the last few years.”
On Call Heroes were a The Zone@91.3 Band of The Month in January 2011 and had released a five-song album called ‘HOME’ in April 2015. They performed a farewell concert at Upstairs Cabaret Saturday November 28, 2015.
September 8: The Archers Announce Their Final Show
Victoria Folk/Rock band The Archers announced on Tuesday September 8, 2015 that their performance at Rifflandia 2015 would be the band’s final performance.
On Friday September 18, 2015 at Rifflandia, The Archers performed to a jam packed Studio CMCT (Vic42 Studios). Their final song was one of their best known songs, ‘The Sun Will Rise’, which received significant airplay during and after their stint as The Zone@91.3 Band of The Month in June 2012.
September 17 – 20: BreakOut West and Rifflandia Takeover Victoria
For the very first time, the BreakOut West Music Conference and Music Festival partnered with another music festival in Rifflandia to combine as one large event. The conference was held at the Delta Ocean Pointe, more venues were added for Rifflandia to accommodate BreakOut West showcases, and the 2015 Western Canadian Music Awards were handed out at the McPherson Playhouse. The city was abuzz with activity and music for four days.
September 18: Chromeo Cancels Rifflandia Performance Due to Illness, Arkells Cover Chromeo
On Friday September 18, 2015 Rifflandia announced that due to illness, Chromeo had to cancel their performance at the music festival. Chromeo were one of the headliners billed for the festival. Arkells, who were originally scheduled in the timeslot before Chromeo on the main stage were bumped up to the headliner position.
In a Facebook post made the next day, Arkells shared a timeline of how they found out about the change at 1pm, had their soundcheck cancelled at 2pm, proceeded to learn Chromeo song ‘Jealous (I Ain’t With It)’ in their hotel room for four hours from 3-7pm, then performed the song live for the very first time just before 9pm as the first song of their encore. An audio recording of Arkells full Rifflandia performance was released for free download on Christmas Day (link may no longer work. It was only temporarily avaialble)
September 19: Acres of Lions Perform on Discovery Street
Victoria rock band Acres of Lions were supposed to perform inside Studio CMCT (Vic42 Studios) for Rifflandia 2015 Saturday September 19 (Technically Sunday the 20th) at 12:30am. The problem was the band that played before them tripped a breaker causing power to the venue to go out. A few hundred people had shown up for a venue that has a capacity of less than 100. So what was the solution? A generator was borrowed, Two cars parked on either end of the street to block the lanes and Acres of Lions performed outside on the sidewalk… at 1am. Police were witnessed driving by a few times but the impromptu outdoor show was never shut down.
September 20: Nomeansno Inducted to Western Canadian Music Hall of Fame and Perform Unplugged
Victoria punk legends Nomeansno were officially inducted into the Western Canadian Music Hall of Fame at the Western Canadian Music Awards ceremony at the McPherson Playhouse Sunday September 20, 2015. At the awards show the band performed a medley of of their songs ‘Now’, ‘Going Nowhere’, ‘Dad’, and ‘Two Lips, Two Lungs, and One Tongue’ unplugged for the very first time.
September 23: Victoria to Make Bid to Host 2018 Juno Awards
On Wednesday September 23, 2015, just days after Rifflandia/BreakOut West, The Capital Region Music Awards Society confirmed that Victoria will make a bid to host the 2018 Juno Awards. In an interview with CTV Vancouver Island, Capital Region Music Awards Society Director Derrold Norgaard says, “our chances are very strong.”
October 8: Ringo Starr Performs in Victoria
On Thursday October 8, 2015 a Beatle performed in Victoria. Ringo Starr and The All Starr Band performed at Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre. Before the show the Angels Chopper Bicycle Club presented a custom made bike to Starr. Starr then tweeted the following photo:
Thank you AC BC for my new bike peace and love everybody ????????? pic.twitter.com/TyvtnNgn8a
— #RingoStarr (@ringostarrmusic) October 9, 2015
One month later on November 7, 2015 Ringo Starr tweeted another photo of himself after riding the bike in Brooklyn, New York.
Just got back from Brooklyn on my yellow submarine bike peace and love ??????????????????? pic.twitter.com/wfridue93h
— #RingoStarr (@ringostarrmusic) November 8, 2015
October 24 & 25: Shania Twain Performs in Victoria
Canadian country superstar Shania Twain performed two shows at Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre Saturday October 24 and Sunday October 25, 2015. Times Colonist music columnist Mike Devlin tweeted it was the “Concert of 2016 in Victoria”. That could have been a typo, but from all accounts the impact of Shania’s first performance in Victoria could resonate into 2016.
I'm calling it right now. Concert of 2016 in Victoria: Shania Twain. This shit is ridiculous.
— Mike Devlin (@MrMikeDevlin) October 25, 2015
Due to some very strict photographer contracts we won’t share any photographer’s photos from the show, but we did find some decent fan shot video of Shania’s finale at the October 25 show.
(Video courtesy: Miles Wilkinson on YouTube)
November 2: Kale Penny Wins LG104.3’s November 2015 VanCOVER Contest
Former Victoria artist Kale Penny (lead singer of Sunday Buckets and former lead singer of The Bright Side) won $5000 from LG104.3 FM‘s November 2015 VanCOVER contest. Entrants had to submit a cover song from the 60s, 70s or 80s. Kale Penny’s winning entry was a cover of Peter Gabriel’s ‘Sledgehammer’.
November 19: JP Maurice Places 2nd in The Final BC Peak Performance Project
Former Victoria artist JP Maurice placed 2nd and won $75,000 at the final BC Peak Performance Project in Vancouver Thursday November 19, 2015. The winners were announced at The Commodore Ballroom where Maurice and two other finalists performed a finale showcase. Maurice had a number of guest performers with him during his set including top 12 finalists Mindil Beach.
Video of JP Maurice performing ‘Big Change’ at The Commodore Ballroom
November 21: Leeroy Stagger wins 2015 Alberta Peak Performance Project
Former Victoria based artist Leeroy Stagger won $100,953 in the 2015 Albert Peak Performance Project. He was competing with 11 other artists including former Victoria based rapper Transit who placed third. The finale was held at Flames Central in Calgary Alberta were Stagger, Transit and one other finalist performed.
Here is 95.3 The Peak’s recap video of the finale