With midterm season in full swing, things have been feeling a little repugnant. What then, could offer a better remedy on a cold Tuesday, than an enjoyable night out, listening to some awesome new talent over a couple pints at The Brooklyn? That’s right, nothing.
The Nyantende Foundation’s Back To School Tour fundraising campaign made their hometown stop in Kingston last Tuesday, showcasing two up-and-coming artists, Jesse Gold, and Birds of Bellwoods.
Since 2010, the Foundation has been working to aid educational infrastructure in the Congolese community of Nyantende by providing funding to enrollment, and restoration projects. Their dedication has resulted in over $53,000 in the past 4 years, allowing them to subsidize the entire cost of enrollment and materials for the 236 youth in both primary, and secondary schools. The Foundation has also recently opened a second chapter at The University of Ottawa.
Singer, songwriter, and guitarist, Jesse Gold exemplifies Toronto’s young talent. In collaboration with his creative partner, drummer, and producer Jack Emblem, Jesse Gold has released two studio EPs, worked with other artists and performed countless live shows. Jesse Gold is veteran performer with the foundation; he also preformed at their ‘Rock Nyantende’ fundraiser in 2012.
Birds of Bellwoods is a fresh new folk band out of Toronto, consisting of Stevie Joffe Adrian Morningstar, Chris Blades, and Kintaro Akiyama. Primarily acoustic, their music fuses the harmonic vocals by lead Stevie, with their collective instrumental talent to create a euphonic experience. The band has recently released their first EP.
MUSE had a chance to sit down with Jesse Gold and Birds of Bellwoods during their sound check at The Brooklyn.
What genre of music would you say that you identify most with that influence your own music?
JG: It’s hard to identify with a certain genre; I listen to so much music, and so many different genres. I would say now that I’ve been listening to a lot of country, a lot of my songs that I’m writing now have a country vibe. A lot of my favorite singers are R&B singers, so I’m singing with R&B inflections, and writing country-pop tunes. I listen to everything, but if I had to narrow it down that would probably be it.
Kintaro: I think we all have individual inspirations, and it’s kind of the amalgamation of them that make us the musicians that we are. Punch Brothers is something that we all like. I went to school for jazz, so John Coltrane, definitely, and also Neil Young and Joni Mitchell.
Stevie: I listen to a lot of folk and all rock, so I attribute it to Punch Brothers, a little Mumford And Sons. I grew up listening to a lot of The Shins, Death Cab For Cutie, Broken Social Scene. Also, the people in our community in Toronto; the musicians that we surround ourselves with.
Chris: I listen to a lot of classical music; lately I’ve been into Alt-J, The Dirty Projectors, RadioHead. You get bored of one genre and move on to the next.
Aidan: My influences vary so far; I basically raised myself on punk rock. But my all-time favourite band is Two Door Cinema Club; I like the new Caribou and Shakey Graves albums. There’s so much. Give me Childish Gambino and I’ll get inspired.
How did your career in music get started?
JG: I started in a band, and we had a good time and made a bit of a name for ourselves, and then we went our separate ways. As of now, I’m a solo artist, but I’m going to have a band. For this tour I’m just doing acoustic, kickin’ it (laughs).
Kintaro: Stevie and I were in a play together back in the day. We all, except for Chris, ended up at the same high school.
Stevie: Adrian and I went to National Theatre School together to study acting, and that’s where we started playing music together. It didn’t become serious until we came back to Toronto, where we started our previous band. When we started out new band, the first person we contacted was Kintaro, and then I saw Chris in a play in Toronto, where he was playing banjo. It was love at first jam.
Jesse Gold and Birds of Bellwoods rocked The Brooklyn. The opening act, Cam Knight warmed up the crowd, winning everyone over with a cover of Outkast’s “Roses”. Birds of Bellwoods followed, laying down both up-beat songs and heartfelt folk ballads. Acoustics in hands, the Birds put on a set that was the perfect sound to accompany a craft beer. Jesse closed the show; his vibrant stage presence and catchy songs had people on their feet. Congratulations go out to all of the performers for putting on a jaw-dropping show, as well as the Nyantende Foundation, for coordinating a great night for an even greater cause.
Celina Marie, Online Contributor
Photography: Sophie Barkham