The Concert of Colors – now in it’s 26th year – is a festival that happens in Midtown Detroit. It also happens to be FREE. Yep. Totally and completely free. While the Concert of Colors may have some major sponsors (Meijer, Ford, Comerica) they partner with important local, Detroit-based community organizations as well –  like the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, ACCESS, The Detroit Symphony Orchestra, and more.

The word community was spoken a lot during the Concert of Colors series community-building was apparent in how accessible they made the festival. Since the festival was of no cost to attend, it was made accessible for folks who might otherwise not have been able to enjoy and participate in the festivities. The assistants at the Detroit Symphony Orchestra made the building accessible to the public by providing door-people to open doors and navigate any questions. Even Grandma Techno could be seen scooting around the Concert of Colors festival inside at the Detroit Symphony Orchestra main stage as well as the outdoor Wolverine Stage where many local Detroit acts showcased their talents.

When I heard Buffy Sainte-Marie was going to be at this festival, I could barely believe it. Buffy has been an Indigenous figure in Canadian politics and history since she was in her early twenties in the 1960s. Today, at 77 years old, Buffy Sainte-Marie is still performing regularly and speaking out as an advocate for Indigenous rights, and on the importance of community.

Buffy Sainte-Marie graced the stage with a huge smile, leather jacket embroidered with roses, and an ienergy that instantly filled the room. Buffy has such a range of sounds: did you know she wrote the track “Up Where We Belong“? It was oddly satisfying to hear this all too familiar track with her unique vocals. Her banter between songs included stories about songwriting, performing on Native reserves, racism and sexism, what it was like to be performing as a woman in her early career, among other things, but always on an end note of uplifting empowerment. Buffy performed other significant anthems like her newer track “The War Racket” with a flat-toned range but a heavy punch. The beat from “You Got To Run” had people up and out of their seats dancing in front of the stage.

“Down, in a hole / You feel like two different people in your soul / Feel like a loser, until you see / That as you bend / You learn to be / Your own best friend”

These powerful songs, about standing up for your beliefs and letting yourself be afraid but acting anyway, obviously resonated with the crowd. The age range was significant; from people in their mid-twenties to over 70 – I spoke with a couple of self-declared hippies who seemed to be among the majority. There were even a few children with the noted earphones bobbing with parents along to the beats of Buffy Sainte-Marie and her trembling vocals. As Buffy mentioned during the performance, we are experiencing the same issues from 20, 30, and 50 years ago: racism, violence, war, capitalism, and greed. The blending of Indigenous folklore and sound with a modern day message is not something to be missed.

“Sometime you gotta take a stand / Just because you know you can / Ah you got to run you got to run”

buffy ste marie.jpg

Photo by Jann MacIsaac

See Buffy Sainte-Marie live…

August 4th @ Kalso Jazz Etc. Summer Music Festival, Kalso BC

August 6th @ Canmore Folk Music Festival, Canmore AB

August 9th @ Edmonton Folk Festival, Edmonton AB

August 11th @ Stillaguamish Festival of the River, Arlington WA, USA

September 9th @ SKOOKUM Festival, Vancouver BC

October 19th @ One Heart Native Arts & Film Festival, Spokane WA, USA

November 16th @ Koemer Hall, Toronto ON



Last weekend I took the train from Montreal to Ottawa for Ottawa Explosion. For full transparency, my band Blood Beach was playing the Clock Tower parking lot gig Saturday afternoon, but I’ve been meaning to check this festival out for a while. This was my first time in Ottawa, and I’m still trying to process all the warmth I was met with. Here are some personal festival highlights, in some kind of order:

BBQT @ the Clock Tower Parking lot

“This song is about being dumped on Valentine’s day,” lead guitarist Amery Sandford said before playing  OK CUPID from BBQT’s new EP ALL FOR SHOW. When she said that, I felt it, and that’s what BBQT is all about: feeling and sharing. These are more than pop songs, they are vulnerable anthems we can all relate to. The highlight of the show was when they played PEPSI from their first self-titled EP; everyone knew the words, or found it so catchy they pretended to.

Future Girls @ Clock Tower Parking lot

Halifax’s Future Girls started their set with the song Bowing Out from their newest LP Motivation Problems. My favorite lyric of the song “And why does everyone around me always bum me out?” made me feel like Matty Grace has a knack for writing lyrics that come from her heart and can empathize with others’ anxieties. Bassist B even covered their other band, Goldbloom’s song. Future Girls dish out a little bit of everything.

Martha @ Babylon Nightclub

I saw Martha play twice on Saturday; earlier at the Clock Tower Parking lot and later at the Babylon Nightclub. They were electric and energetic both times, playing almost an entirely different setlist for each show. I was eager to hear my favorite track “1967, I miss you, I’m lonely,” which they played at both sets, and each time the crowd sang along to every word. Martha are as sweet as they are political; their lyrics make you feel seen and encouraged.

All ages scene @ The Clock Tower Parking Lot

This is a side note but an important one; Ottawa Explosion put a lot of energy into making the Clock Tower Parking Lot an all ages venue. They even had a daycare downstairs where you could take your little bud for a break or a quick babysit! I can’t tell you how heartwarming it was to see kids rocking out with huge protective ear muffs along to Martha. The inclusion at Ottawa Explosion seems effortless.


Martha at the Babylon Nightclub



On June 15th, Snail Mail (Baltimore, MD) with supporting guests, Bonny Doon (Detroit, MI), played a free show at The BELT in Detroit, MI.

The BELT is a redefined, yet unassuming, alleyway in downtown Detroit. As part of the continous effort of its redevelopment, the Library Street Collective gives space to artists that create work to engage the public.

As you walk underneath the colourful plexiglass sculptures marking the entrance, you are pleasantly over-stimulated by the half-kilometre of murals and installations illuminated by string lights criss-crossing above. Walking through the alley, I could feel that the energy was high; there is something unique about a Detroit crowd where their appreciation for music is unwavering and remains unpretentious.

After releasing the album “Lush” on June 8th, Lindsey Jordan (Snail Mail) has been getting a lot of attention. The unapologetically vulnerable song-writing and moody, yet jangly, guitar from “Lush” carries over into her live performance. With relatable lyrics and melodies that move you, Jordan has the ability to connect with people through her music. As she seemlessly transitioned from one song to the next, the crowd swayed synchroniously.

This show was special for a lot people, myself included. Bonny Doon received unconditional home-town support, Lindsey celebrated her 19th birthday, and that was the last time I would cross the border into Detroit for a show before moving to Canada’s east coast.

snail mail 1

Lindsay Jordan playing with Bonny Doon (Detroit, MI) at The Belt



On April 25th, not your boys club presented Lo Siento (NFLD) with scrambled meggz (NFLD) at the Green Bean Café in Windsor, ON. On the afternoon of the 25th, Lo Siento—Pepa, Andrea, and Meg (of scrambled meggz and filling in for Allison on drums)—pulled up to my house in their (hilarious) royal blue Dodge Charger. We had some time before they needed to load into the venue, so I took them across the river to Detroit to see the installations at the Heidelberg Art Project and the Detroit Industrial Gallery.

After our visit to Detroit, Lo Siento loaded into the Green Bean Café for their early show. Green Bean Café is a safe, accessible, dry, and inclusive space with a large capacity, great food, and a welcoming atmosphere. It was the perfect venue for the first not your boys club show. Before, between, and after sets, I played my favourite records (women and trans musicians only!).

Once a handful of people were there, scrambled meggz started her set. Meg has a way of making a show feel intimate and personal as if she’s playing in her living room to her closest friends. My favourite track that Meg played for us was “2 little lazy eyes (a song for pepa)” which was realeased on the two-track album xoxo only a few days before Lo Siento went on tour. When Meg didn’t have a trumpet for the solo, she compromised and sang it for us.

Lo Siento did not disappoint. Pepa sings in spanish, but regardless of language, she gets her (feminist) message across. Two specific songs, “Historia en el Placard” and “No Es No”, really resonated with me.

Historia en el Placard” is a song that Pepa wrote about her experience of moving to Canada and learning of the injustices that Indigenous people face. She told us she wrote it specifically about the residential school systems and forced assimilation, and with the recent failures of justice for Colton Boushie and Tina Fontaine, this live performance hit me hard.

Second, “No Es No” (translates to “No Means No”) is a song about rape culture, victim-blaming, and informed consent. The song begins with a lyric that translates to “tired of feeling afraid”; a relatable lyric for any vulnerable person who is told that they are responsible for having resistance strategies when “no” is not enough.

Lo Siento delivered a set that was unapologetically sincere.  Their performance was a window into their unwavering friendship; while laughing at their mistakes and refusing to take themselves too seriously, they also communicated love for one another all throughout their set. It is unmistakable how much fun they have playing music together.