Juno-nominated Eagle & Hawk showed off their alternative rock
sound Thursday night at a First Nations showcase of music in Toronto.
The band fronted by Jay Bodner says its
foundation is "good old Canadian rock music," but its
competition for a Juno Award on Sunday ranges from hip hop to roots
Bodner says the showcase was a chance
to show the wide range of indigenous music being created in Canada.
"My CD collection is almost nothing
that's on mainstream radio," he told CBC News. "We get
fooled not to say mainstream acts aren't great but
there's a whole big world out there and people often forget there's
more than just mainstream."
Canadian Press Eagle & Hawk
are previous Juno winners (2002) and multiple winners of Canadian
Aboriginal Music Awards.
They shared the stage Thursday with last
year's Juno winners Digging Roots, Dene singer-songwriter Leela
Gilday, folk singer-songwriter Christa Couture and classically trained
cello player Cris Derksen, who is half-Cree.
"I'm trying to take the cello out
of the concert hall, demystify the cello, make it more of a dance
kind of instrument," Derksen said.
"We had a workshop today and talked
a lot about how it's easy to get pigeon-holed into one genre. Having
this tonight where there's five artists in completely different
genres is pretty enlightening for everyone who comes to see it."
Vancouver-based Derksen melds hip hop,
rock, folk and country into her instrumental pieces. Her first album
is called Cusp because it pulls so many traditions together.
"I definitely have my arts scene
of older people who understand how the cello works," Derksen
said. "They're drawn to the instrument. Then the indie rock
kids who get the beats and the drummer. Then I have my aboriginal
fanbase who understands my heritage."
Couture has taken the last two years off
from performing after having a family, and the showcase is her official
She says she writes songs with her heart
on her sleeve, "somewhere between the tough vulnerability of
Amy Rigby and sophisticated folk like Joni Mitchell."
Raised in northern Alberta of Métis
Cree heritage, she now lives in Vancouver.
"I write from experience, culture,
upbringing, stories I was told," she said. "They all find
their way in my music.
It's all about me."
Digging Roots reflected on the experience
of winning a Juno in 2010 for best Aboriginal album.
"If you do win a Juno it's up to
you to make it what it is," said Raven Kanatakta of the roots-rock
"Someone can give you a gift, but
what will you do [with it]? Same with the Juno.
many opportunities that come with it. Where there's opportunities,
it's best to take them!"
One of those chances is the ability to
engage new audiences, said bandmate ShoShonna Kish.
"For a lot of people, their idea
of First Nations music isn't what's going on in our community,"
Kish said. "There's a lot of really exciting music happening."
Eagle & Hawk are competing for the
Juno for best Aboriginal album this year with CerAmony, Little Hawk,
Derek Miller and Joey Stylez. The awards are scheduled for Sunday
evening in Toronto.