There is not much one can say about The Northwest other than they have had a heck of a year.
“It’s been an absolute whirlwind and a banner year for the band in terms of growing our audience and getting our name out there,” says Wayne Watkins, vocalist and guitar player for Sault-based band, The Northwest.
“For us, 2022 was proof in itself why the Ontario Arts Council exists and why they are important. They help artists grow by giving them greater opportunities and this year was mission accomplished.”
The band received an Ontario Arts Council grant in 2019 which helped them release 2022’s All In EP and several music videos for which the band have received positive reviews and kudos.
The band received substantial radio airplay, made streaming playlists, had songs played during Hockey Night in Canada multiple times and opened for Mariana’s Trench and The Trews at the GFL Memorial Gardens.
To add to that list, the band was selected by Cultural Industries Ontario North (CION) to get an opportunity to access and mentoring from professionals in the Canadian music industry.
According to their website, CION is dedicated to “fostering and promoting the music and film industries in northern Ontario, as well as providing educational programming to cultivate the advancement of northern Ontario’s emerging talent.”
“This past year we have worked alongside CION’s Melanie St-Pierre,” says Watkins.
“Melanie has been great to work with. She informed me about this opportunity and encouraged us to apply. It was a great experience and provided great networking to be able to connect with the right people in the industry.”
Melanie St-Pierre, a native of Sudbury, Ontario, is CION’s new Music Sector Development Officer.
St-Pierre herself is no stranger to the live stage as a founding member of the critically-acclaimed rock group, Casper Skulls, and being an active musician living in the north of Ontario just like the artists she has been hired to help.
“One resource Melanie offered was connecting us with a grant writer-specialist,” says Watkins.
“So we are utilizing that connection right away.”
According to the singer, The Northwest has voice memo demos on their phones for what they hope will be their next album.
“We will continue to write and build on those demos and seek funding opportunities.”
Whereas All In was an EP with only six songs, the band has plans to work on a full-length album.
“It’s the next hill to climb for us,” he says.
“So our resolution for 2023 is to write as many songs as we can and keep the momentum up. We would also like to play more festivals and out-of-town shows since we made some great traction on our EP.”
The band will be having an end-of-the-year live show to celebrate their recent successes.
“We had amazing support this past year from the community,” says Watkins.
“I feel this is also a great year to be able to give back so we decided to make the show a fundraising opportunity for St. Vincent Place.”
Watkins says he recognizes that this past year has been “hard financially” for a lot of people.
“We have wanted to do something like this for some time now. We wanted to help in any way we could.”
The show will be held be on Wednesday, Dec. 28, 2022, at Loplops from 8 until 11 p.m.
Tickets for the show are $20.
“The band will be donating $5 from the ticket price to anyone who also brings in a non-perishable item at the door.”
Loplops will be matching the donation.
“Anything we raise, along with the non-perishable items, will be donated to St. Vincent Place,” he says.
“Hopefully, we can make this an annual event.”
Watkins says the band really wants to thank their supporters for this amazing year.
“We want to thank our wives, family and friends, everyone that has come out to support us live, people who have booked us like Steve at Loplops, as well as anyone that has taken time to listen to the new EP.”
Tickets for The Northwest’s upcoming show are available here.