Robert Reid, Record staff May 03, 2013
Skeptics became believers in 2010 when 140 bands transformed downtown Kitchener into a one-day, indie music festival.
The Kitchener Ontario Independent Music Festival, otherwise known as KOI Music Festival, marks its fourth anniversary when the celebration of all styles of independent music returns Sept. 13 and 14.
Thanks to KOI Con, however, local musicians and fans don’t have to wait until September to get their independent music fix.
The first of what promises to be an annual event takes place across downtown Kitchener on Saturday (May 11).
Like the KOI Music Festival, KOI Con is the brainchild of Cory and Curt Crossman, a pair of high school, garage-band, sibling musicians who operate Arc Clothing Company and Civilian Screen Printing.
KOI Con is a free, day long conference, awards ceremony and musical showcase designed to “educate, enlighten and empower local indie musicians,” says Cory Crossman, whose enthusiasm for grassroots independent music is infectious.
“We want to help local indie musicians learn not only how to make good music but how to earn a good living.”
Crossman is especially excited about inviting representatives of some local high-tech companies to the music table.
“Getting a band off the ground is similar to high-tech startups,” Crossman observes.
The conference, which starts at 1 p.m. and continues through 6 p.m. in Kitchener City Hall, features a series of round-table discussions about various aspects of music capped with a keynote address and awards ceremony.
The keynote speaker is Alan Cross, host of the nationally syndicated radio show The Secret History of Rock.
Cross embodies and reflects the vision that drives KOI, Crossman confirms.
“We needed Alan to be here. He represents what KOI is all about.”
The round-table sessions are made up of various industry professionals — many of whom are local — who will discuss a range of topics from performance, social media and promotion to distribution, funding, the business side of music and the technical evolution of the industry.
The speakers include Bob Egan of Blue Rodeo, Craig Norris of CBC 1, Marc Castel of Communitech, Charlie Millar of BlackBerry and Rodney Murphy of SOCAN.
“It’s important to find knowledgeable industry people with roots in the community,” says Crossman.
The awards ceremony will recognize notable promotion campaigns selected by a jury from the showcase bands.
“There’s more to a sustainable music career than writing, recording and performing.”
The conference concludes with a series of performance showcases in eight venues throughout downtown Kitchener including Little Bean, Cork Room, Opus, Imbibe, Themuseum, Bobby O’Briens and The Boathouse.
The showcase concerts, which start at 8 p.m., consist of 40 acts, spanning a range of genres, performing 50-minute sets.
The conference is free so as many local musicians as possible can “mix and mingle” with as many industry insiders as possible.
“It’s all about making contacts,” Crossman observes.
Described as “a pilot project,” KOI Con forms a bookend to the KOI Music Festival.
“Both events are complementary,” Crossman says. “KOI Con kicks off the festival season and the KOI Music Festival wraps up the festival season.”
Despite early skeptics, Crossman confirms, “people have gotten their heads around the concept of KOI.
The showcase acts include: Her Last Words, Arkham Awaits, The Short Films, Partycat, Unlimited, Grand Format, Every Other Day, The Ascot Royals, The Dickens, The Cobrahawks, Sound Glyphics, The Wormword Scrubs, Lambs Become Lions, Teen Violence, July, Wayfarer, Exalt, Curbside, Meghan Weber, Sarah Bernardo, Quite Articulate, Ivy James, Adams Evers, Drew Leith & The Foundation, Credit Valley, The Rasta Far Eyez, Adam’s Mind, The Bosswich, The Bauldelaires, Morta, Lumber Junk, Soul Stack, King Roller, Daddy Long Legs, Beech Street, The Ragged Suits, Lambs, The Archives, The Eden Wells, Three Quarter Stone.
Saturday (May) 11
Kitchener City Hall
8 p.m.-1 a.m.
Information and performance schedules are available online at www.koi.con.ca