Kitchener-Waterloo Scene Hits International Stage

Kitchener-Waterloo Scene Hits International Stage
For musicians hailing from Kitchener-Waterloo, ON, it's always been a little embarrassing to admit you're from a city whose best-known musical export has been Helix. But that's about to change. In the past month, three of its best-loved artists have inked major-label deals. The latest is singer/songwriter Shannon Lyon's deal with V2, home of the White Stripes, Mercury Rev and Moby. Next month, the label will issue Lyon's latest album, Wandered, around the world (except Holland, Scandinavia and Australia where he already has separate deals). For Lyon, it marks a return to Canada after two years of working in Europe. "That was certainly a life-changing experience," he says. "But now I couldn't be happier returning to Canada. The reason I left was because my records were never really available here, but V2 has provided an even greater opportunity to tour the rest of the world. It's good to be home."

Fellow singer/songwriter Danny Michel is also set to reap the fruits of his labour through a new deal with Maple Music Recordings. His new album, Tales From The Invisible Man, is released this month, and Maple has also acquired his back catalogue of independent albums. Michel, who was briefly a member of Ottawa band Starling when they released their major-label album three years ago, says he's more relieved than anything because of the deal. "After 13 years of being ‘indie guy,' it feels pretty good. I was beginning to feel at the end of my rope, but now it's nice not having to do everything by myself anymore. I feel in good company with the other artists on the label too."

Maple's roster also includes young power-pop juggernaut the Miniatures, who only six months ago began dropping the jaws of industry heavyweights, through Toronto showcases set up by manager Paul Shull. The band recently honed its live chops during a string of shows with Matthew Good and the Dears, in preparation for touring in support of its new album due out by the end of the summer. And with other stalwarts of the Kit-Wat scene, such as Paul MacLeod and Plasticine's Rob Szabo, as well as newer bands like the Candidates and the Sour Keys, currently raising their national profiles, there will be much more cause to celebrate when Oktoberfest comes this year.