The Super Friendz, from Halifax, Nova Scotia, made the trip to play Hillside Festival on Saturday afternoon. They were originally active between 1994 and 1997 and reformed in 2003 for a show, after which they continued on to record Love Energy. Their debut LP, however, titled Mock Up, Scale Down (1995) was on Sloan’s murderecords label and got the ball rolling for these guys.

Matt Murphy (guitar and vocals), Drew Yamada (guitar and vocals) and Charles Austin (bass) write the group’s pop-rock tunes democratically and perform them with vigour. I kept thinking during their set how much they remind me of Joel Plaskett Emergency, then I remembered they are contemporaries of Thrush Hermit and Sloan and were paving their way at the same time. The commonality goes beyond that though. The raw rock aesthetic, the live energy… perhaps it’s a Maritimes thing. In any case, it’s something I’ve only heard in 90s bands from the East Coast. And it’s awesome. Not only that, but they share drummer Dave Marsh with Joel Plaskett Emergency (Marsh wasn’t present at this show; instead they borrowed DIANA’s drummer Kieren Adams who did a bang up job filling in).

During this, their only scheduled show for 2014, Murphy, Yamada and Austin largely shared the vocal duties and played through a good chunk of Mock Up, Scale Down much to everyone’s delight. Many bands who have been around as long as The Super Friendz have gotten tired and it shows during their live shows. Not these guys. They rock as much as ever. It’s so satisfying to see a group of hardworking musicians, who have all had other projects on the side, stick to their roots in so many ways. They also prove that you don’t need a ton of fancy production to make powerful rock music. They just pick up guitars and play and sing their hearts out. What could be better?



The band have released many records, mostly in the 90s, but rumour has it they were conceiving a new one following Love Energy, the current status of which is unknown.


Photos by Stephanie Beatson.
N.B. Hillside Fest was shut down on Sunday evening due to a severe thunderstorm.  No coverage will be provided.

Indie-folk pop band Wild Child came in from Austin, Texas to play at Hillside Festival on Saturday and I don’t think they at all expected the reception they received. Prior to their set, people under the tent at the Island stage were sitting or lying down, chatting and relaxing. As soon as the band struck their first note, everyone, and I mean everyone, jumped up and began dancing, clapping and cheering. The band, obviously taken aback, basked in delight and played an energetic set that concluded with a sing-along tune that had the place in a musical frenzy.

Wild Child (2)

Lead singer Kelsey Wilson has a beautiful, pure tone and sings with strength; a perfect fit to front this group of six. In between vocal phrases and during musical interludes, she plays her fiddle and compliments the lovely cello parts played by Sadie Wolfe. Wilson and the group’s other vocalist, Alexander Beggins (ukulele), take on the bulk of the songwriting, but the band is completed with the other colours that include Evan Magers (keyboards), Drew Brunetti (drums) and Chris D’Annunzio (bass). They’re a little like Hey Rosetta! with their instrumentation, but the vibe of the music is more like the Dinner Belles.

Wild Child began as an acoustic duo with Wilson and Beggins, who met on the road while touring in support of another band and began writing songs together. They brought in other instrumentalists when recording their debut album Pillow Talk (2011), which then naturally evolved into a full band. Since their inception a few years back, Wild Child have been enjoying some nice successes with their recordings and their live shows. Both albums, Pillow Talk and The Runaround (2013), were well received. The band was named by the Austin Chronicle as the Best Indie Band and Best Folk Band in Austin at the 2013 SXSW festival.At this year’s SXSW the band was again named Best Indie Band. This summer they played at Bonnaroo and attracted an unprecedented crowd of over 5,000 to their show.

wild child

Check out their video for “Crazy Bird,” from The Runaround.

Photos by Stephanie Beatson.
N.B. Hillside was shut down Sunday evening due to a severe thunderstorm. No coverage will be provided.

amelia curran

Amelia Curran is without a doubt one of the best lyrical writers in Canada. She consistently floors me with evocative phrases over simple and charming musical accompaniment. Somehow, she manages to rhyme AND use alliteration while singing intricate phrases full of descriptive words, all while telling a story. Yes, she’s a dazzler.

At Hillside Festival last weekend, she played a lovely set of folk tunes with her band, which includes Joel Schwartz on guitar and mandolin, Kurt Nielsen on Bass and Can Giroux on drums and vocals. Another Canadian music icon and wife of Giroux, Oh Susanna, came up to sing harmonies on a few songs too; a wonderful treat for the ears! With the full band, Curran was able to add some of the colour that is present in her latest releases but she still played a couple of solo songs, keeping more in line with the vibe of her earlier music.


Maybe it’s her unabashed, honest lyrics, or the way she presents herself and her music, but she consistently wows audiences and Hillside was no exception. On a lazy Saturday evening, people were sprawled out on the lawn while they took in her set. The applause grew louder after each song, reaching the pinnacle as she gracefully delivered her final number, expressed her appreciation and left us all wondering how someone can have so much raw talent and still be so humble about it. I know that every time I listen to her music, I feel that if I could write one song that’s even half as good as even her most mediocre tune, I would consider myself a success.


I’m not alone in thinking that. Curran has won many awards since the release of her debut full length album in 2008, titled War Brides (originally released in 2006, re-released on Six Shooter Records). Born in St. John’s, Newfoundland and currently living in Halifax, she has won East Coast Music Awards. In 2010, she took home a Juno Award in the category of Roots and Traditional Album of the Year: Solo for her album Hunter Hunter. She also won first prize (Folk category) of the prestigious 15th Annual USA Songwriting Competition. Her most recent release, Spectators, was nominated for the 2013 Juno Award for Roots and Traditional Album of the Year: Solo. The album pushed beyond the folk boundaries that defined her previous releases while still focusing on the strength of her lyricism.  “Years” is the first single from Spectators and contemplates whether it’s all worth it at the end of the day.

Amelia Curran (1)

One of my personal favourites of hers that highlights her prolific lyrics is “The Mistress”; here she plays it on “Q” with Jian Ghomeshi.

Here’s a sample of the lyrics. She puts so much meaning into each clever line that it’s hard to process it before she hits you with the next one.

“try and stop me I’m on fire
it doesn’t look that way
you know, I used to be a liar
but living’s set me straight
I don’t come with no disclaimer, I’m like everybody else
we keep our demons on the burner and our morals on the shelf”

Photos by Stephanie Beatson.
N.B. Hillside was shut down Sunday evening due to a severe thunderstorm. No coverage will be posted.