Iqaluit celebrates the inaugural Nunavut Music Week

October 02, 2017

This past weekend was the very first Nunavut Music Week, held up north in Iqaluit by organizers Nancy Mike and Andrew Morrison, who also play in the folk-rock band the Jerry Cans. It was their record label, Aakuluk Music, that decided to put the whole thing together. Concerts featuring artists from all around the territory took place at the Iqaluit Royal Legion Branch 168, and the event also held workshops at the Francophone centre. And it brought out industry insiders and journalists on an international level, with reporters from publications such as Rolling Stone and The New York Times making the trek north to cover the event.

From the coverage that Toronto Star music critic Ben Rayner has been offering up, it sounds like the week was a major hit. There were performances from legendary psych-rockers Northern Haze, Pangnirtung singer and rising star Riit, and the inimitable Tanya Tagaq. For a real slice of northern hospitality and a sample of country food, guests were treated to smoked Arctic char and frozen narwhal. A freak blizzard swept in on the Saturday, forcing Tagaq’s performance on to be postponed until the next day and the evening showcase at the Legion to be cancelled. But the show went on: Jerry Cans drummer Steve Rigby invited guests and artists over to his place for, “a proper rager,” as Rayner puts it.

He also mentioned that there was quite an emotional conclusion to the conference part of the event, with the musicians from the north and delegates from down south eventually tying things up with a group hug. After a few days of friend-making via brainstorming ideas to bring more awareness to northern artists and checking out the good tunes, it sounds like there was a connection forged that should help achieve some important goals—one being an infrastructure that allows northern musicians to make a living with their art without having to leave home—and bind the Canadian music scene a bit tighter, despite the obstacle of distance.


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About the Author

Matt Williams

Matt Williams is a writer and photographer. Born and raised on the Prairies in Winnipeg, he’s slowly made his way farther and farther east, spending a few years covering music in Toronto before running clear out of country and ending up on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean. In between, he’s made numerous detours, interviewing and photographing countless artists across North America and beyond. He heads up Amplify’s Instrumental series, where he talks with musicians about the relationships they’ve formed with their most important tools.

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