2016 was an eventful year in Victoria and the island. Much like the music industry as a whole, it was filled with both sadness and excitement. Here are some of the local music headlines of the year. Some of these headlines did not get posted on the website due to us not finding enough information to report or not receiving details until well after news was made public. If there is any major news from the year missing from this, it’s because we weren’t told or we didn’t find out about it.
January 1: Vladimir “VLCRPTR” Vukmirovich Dies of Bacterial Infection
The year started on a sad note for Victoria’s electronic music community when DJ and photographer Vladimir Vukmirovich, also known as VLCRPTR, died from Infective Endocarditis. The condition is a bacterial infection of a heart valve that may have been genetic. According to a post on Facebook, hospital doctors missed the diagnosis three times. The symptoms are similar to a flu. Vukmirovich left behind a girlfriend and a newborn son. A GoFundMe page was set up and raised more than $5000.
January 12: Vaultry Guitarist Chasen Fraser’s Battle With Cancer Ends
Vaultry guitarist Chasen Fraser’s year and a half battle with Lymphoma came to an end Tuesday January 12, 2016. He was 25 years old His final show with the band happened at Logan's Pub on December 12th of 2015. Vaultry has since completed recording their debut LP called ‘Eulogy’ dedicated to Fraser set to be release on the one year anniversary of his passing.
January 13: Sunfest Move to New Laketown Ranch Venue Approved
The Sunfest Country Music Festival received approval to move from the Cowichan Exhibition grounds in Duncan to a brand new site called Laketown Ranch near Lake Cowichan. The 172-acre venue provided increased parking capacity, more camping space and improved reserve seating and flush toilets. Sunfest 2016 was headlined by former American Idol Carrie Underwood, Dierks Bentley and Dallas Smith. Laketown Ranch would also host a brand new festival, the Legends Valley Music Festival, at the end of August that doubled as a cannabis expo. That festival was headlined by Sublime with Rome, The Sheepdogs, Dirty Heads and Bif Naked.
January 14: Rock of The Woods Approved for Three Year Permit
A day after approving Sunfest’s move, the Cowichan Valley Regional District also approved a three year permit to allow Rock of The Woods to continue in the Cowichan Valley through 2018. The festival spent more than five months working to obtain the Temporary Use Permit to use the residential land where the festival had been held the previous two years. The 2016 festival was held July 21 – 24, 2016. Details about the 2017 edition have not yet been announced.
January 21: Car Crashes into Distrikt Nightclub
On the evening of January 21st shortly before 6pm, an out of control car jumped the curb, narrowly missed pedestrians and other motorists and slammed straight into the front doors of Distrikt. Surveillance video was released to the media showing the car crash through the doors and come to a stop at the top of the club’s stairs. The 63-year-old driver was taken to hospital for evaluation. Thankfully, no one else was injured.
January 22 to 24: YYJ Rocktographers Showcase moves to Fort Tectoria
The 5th YYJ Rocktographers Showcase took place at Fort Tectoria for the very first time. Previous showcases had be hosted at Vic42 Studios. One reason for the change was the need for a larger space. The showcase featured music performances by Stinging Belle, AZTEC, Gold & Shadow and San Felix. The 2017 YYJ Rocktographers Showcase will happen at Fort Tectoria January 20 – 22, 2017.
February 11: BC Government Announces $15-Million Grant Towards Creation of BC Music Fund
Premier Christy Clark announced a one-time $15-million grant toward the creation of a BC Music Fund to help support the music industry in the province. The BC Music Fund is being adminstered through Creative BC and supports sound recording, live music performances, distant location development, music tour strategy and industry development. A number of local artists have already taken advantage of the opportunities opened by the new fund.
April 5: Hot Hot Heat Release New Single, Announce Final Album
Victoria’s Hot Hot Heat released their new single ‘Kid Who Stays In The Picture’ and it was also revealed the self-title album that the single would be on would be the band’s fifth and final album. In a statement shared by Exclaim!, Hot Hot Heat frontman Steve Bays said:
“To be able to tour from 1999 to 2014 and play hundreds of shows a year was amazing. It changed all of our lives. It was the greatest experience I could ever imagine. I can relate to our fans and I respect our fans. They are the kind of people I’d hang out with. I’m proud of every single record, and of finding the ground between making it challenging and fresh, but also not being afraid to be entertaining and put on a crazy show. Every show we ever did was just a total high energy spectacle and that’s a great legacy to have.”
Hot Hot Heat’s final album was released June 24, 2016.
April 13: Sean Reinders, lead guitarist of SpaceBoots dies
Sean Reinders, lead guitarist of Spaceboots, died suddenly. He was 28 years old. Spaceboots had last performed just weeks earlier at Upstairs Cabaret March 27th. A fundraising show for his family was held at Lucky Bar July 28th.
June 1: Drummer Skye McLean Steps Down from This Day Burns
On June 1st it was announced that Skye MacLean had stepped down as drummer of This Day Burns to focus his time with other Victoria band Vaultry. Both This Day Burns and Vaultry have albums set to be released in 2017.
June 2: Steph Wisla Joins The New Groovement
In a statement made on social media, The New Groovement officially announced that Steph Wisla had joined the band as their new vocalist and that Theresa Pasaluko had stepped down from the band to concentrate on her own music project. Wisla had already performed on tour with The New Groovement in the weeks prior to the announcement.
June 3: Tragically Hip Tickets Sell Out in Minutes
Tickets to what could very well be the final Tragically Hip Concert in Victoria went on sale June 3rd and sold out in minutes. The sellouts across the country would spark an uproar over inflated scalper prices online. The band later held a lottery the week of the the concert to sell new tickets that opened up. Victoria was the very first stop of the tour and The Hip held rehearsals at Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre days before the show. The concert was held Friday July 22, 2016 to the largest concert audience in the venue’s history.
June 7: Legends Valley Music Festival Announces Inaugural Lineup
Seemingly out of nowhere, a brand new festival launched on Vancouver Island. The inaugural Legends Valley Music Festival announced its lineup on June 7th with headliners Sublime (with Rome), The Sheepdogs, Dirty Heads and Bif Naked. The festival would be held at the new home of Sunfest, Laketown Ranch in near Lake Cowichan. Not only would the event be a music festival it also would be a cannabis expo and awards event. The festival was held August 26-28, 2016. The 2017 Legends Valley Music Festival will expand to five days.
June 17: Group let by Atomique Productions Duo Purchase Sugar Nightclub
On June 17th it was announced that a group led by Atomique Productions‘ Nick Blasko and Dimitri Demers had purchased Sugar Nightclub from Damien Cownden, who had owned the club since 1999. The ownership group also included The Zone’s Dylan Willows, Blue Heron Music’s Morgan Brooker and Stephen Franke (managers of Current Swell, Jesse Roper, Band of Rascals), Colin McTaggart, Glen Barlow, Adam Duron and Chris Hibbons.
July 29: Towers and Trees Announce Hiatus
In a statement on Facebook, Towers and Trees announced that after one last concert at Butchart Gardens August 19th, the band would be taking an indefinite hiatus. Drummer Jesse Boland had planned to move to Toronto and singer Adrian Chalifour was expecting his first child. Lead guitarist Dave Zellinsky has started his own solo project he is set to unveil sometime in 2017.
July 30/31: Sunfest Announces Toby Keith and Little Big Town as 2017 Headliners
At the 2016 Sunfest Country Music Festival at Laketown Ranch, the festival continued its tradition of announcing their top headliners an entire year in advance. Shortly before Carrie Underwood took the stage on the Saturday of the festival, Sunfest announced Little Big Town would perform. The following night before Dierks Bentley, the festival announced Toby Keith would be the top headliner in 2017.
They have since added Old Dominion, Brett Kissel, Chris Janson, Tim Hicks, Bobby Wills, Corb Lund, Madeline Merlo, Waterloo Revival, and The Washboard Union to its growing lineup.
September 14: Charles Bradley & His Extraordinaires Cancels Tour Including Rifflandia Date
One day before Rifflandia 2016 was set to begin, it was announced that Charles Bradley & His Extraordinaires had cancelled their tour including their appearance on the main stage at Royal Athletic Park due to a medical condition. It was later revealed in October that Bradley had been diagnosed with stomach cancer.
September 24: NoMeansNo Officially Announce Retirement
A little over a year after being inducted into the Western Canadian Music Hall of Fame, Victoria punk music legends No Means No officially announced their retirement in a facebook post September 24, 2016.
October 13/15: Music Video Directors FT. Langley and Band Tasman Jude Win Western Canadian Music Awards
Ft. Langley Article | Tasman Jude Article
Victoria-based production duo Ft. Langley (OPD Brooks and William Wilkinson) were awarded ‘Video Director of the Year’ at the 2016 Western Canadian Music Awards for their music video for Aidan Knight’s song ‘All Clear’ and Tasman Jude (which include’s Victoria’s Caleb Hart) were been awarded ‘World Artist of the Year’. The WCMAs and BreakOut West were held in Regina, Saskatchewan.
October 18: Isobel Trigger Change Band Name to Fortune Killers
On October 18th, Isobel Trigger announced that they have changed their band name to Fortune Killers. The band wanted to freshen up their name to match their new sound. Fortune Killers first single ‘Fool’s Gold’ under the new band name was released November 4th with more music to be released sometime in 2017.
October 19: Victoria Receives Federal Funding for New Year’s Eve Celebration
On October 19th, the City of Victoria announced they would receive $224,000 from the Department of Canadian Heritage’s Canada 150 Fund to host a ‘First Night’ Celebration at the Inner Harbour on New Year’s Eve. Victoria was one of nineteen municipalities across the country to receive funding and the event would be a kick-off to launch Canada’s 150th anniversary. In November it was announced Juno award winning Vancouver duo Dear Rouge would headline the event with Grammy nominee and former Victoria artist Alex Cuba, the Vic High R&B Band, The Midnights and the Lekwungen Dancers. The event would end with a fireworks display at 9pm timed to happen at the same time as displays in the other 19 communities.
November 14: Victoria House Concert B Shut Down Indefinitely Due to Neighbour Complaint
On November 14th, Victoria House Concert B host Andy Briggs announced on Facebook that the Victoria House Concert B “recently hit a glitch, in that an adjacent neighbour has complained to the City Bylaw office which has notified to tell me that house concerts and kids club are not permitted.” A similar situation led to the shut down of Merlin’s Sun Home Theatre in 2015. Briggs has since been on a mission to find a venue that would continue to host the concerts and on December 9th announced that Fort Tectoria would be the new home of the Victoria House Concert B.
December 1: Kathryn Calder Among Female Voices in Re-Recording of Tracy Bonham Record
Victoria’s Kathryn Calder is among seven female musicians to lend their voice to a re-recording and re-imagining of Tracy Bonham’s 1997 number one album ‘The Burdens of Being Upright’ celebrating the 20th anniversary of the album’s release. Calder provides vocals for ‘Brain Cracking’ and it was the first track to be released publicly.
December 1: The Province and Creative BC Announce $4.41 Milliion in Funding for BC’s Music Industry
At a media conference at Alix Goolden Hall, the BC Government along with Creative BC announced the allocation of $4.41 million in funding for the local music industry from the BC music Fund. The province is expanding the sound recording program offering grants to emerging musicians who record projects in BC.