Not many bands play their very first show opening for legendary Canadian rockers. But then again, not many bands are quite like Midnight Shine.
When singer/songwriter Adrian Sutherland was invited to open for Trooper in Timmins in 2011, there was one condition: he had to perform with a band. So he pulled together Zach Tomatuk (guitar/vocals), Stan Louttit (bass/vocals), and George Gillies (drums/vocals), and Midnight Shine was born.
“We gelled really fast,” recalls Adrian. “We played in front of 1,000 people the very first show, and they were blown away. After that, we knew we had to keep it going.”
The Northern Ontario foursome has been together ever since, with a winning combination of energy, experience, and passion, and distinct style that seamlessly blends roots, classic and modern rock. They’ve so far released two albums, Midnight Shine and Northern Man, commercial-quality radio-friendly recordings that are quietly making ever-widening ripples among fans, industry, and media, and creating an impressive and compelling sonic identity that is sure to turn heads.
Midnight Shine’s refreshing rock sound was first captured on Midnight Shine, their debut album released in 2013. Outstanding first single, Since You Been Gone, was picked up by rock stations across Canada. CBC Radio programmed it into their rock channel, and the National Aboriginal Music Countdown saw it climb to #2 on their Top 40 chart. Renowned music journalist Alan Cross selected it as one of his favourite new tracks, citing the band’s “rootsy rock-pop” style.
Since You Been Gone also caught the attention of Ralph James, one of Canada’s best and most renowned booking agents. He knew right away that Midnight Shine has something special. “I heard one track and thought, if these guys play live as well as they sound on the recording, I think we’re on to something here,” says James. “And they do.” Ralph has since signed the band onto his roster at United Talent Agency, and is working hard to put them in front of concert audiences.
In the fall of 2014, Midnight Shine released sophomore album Northern Man, confirming the foursome is the “real deal.” They introduced Over You, the catchy feel-good first single, to a live television audience on Canada AM. They were invited back to perform once again on Canada AM two years later, while in town for Canadian Music Week. This time they released title-track Northern Man – a tribute to the band’s James Bay home and Cree culture, backed by driving rock beat, heavy bass, and traces of pow wow.
The band’s presence at Canadian Music Week in May 2016 was a phenomenal success, creating a massive media buzz. A busy interview schedule reaped over 165 published and broadcast stories – including a sit-down interview with Wendy Mesley for CBC’s The National, front page of the entertainment section of the Toronto Star, National Post, Daily Vice, Canadian Press, Metro News Canada, Canada.com, Yahoo News, City News, Hamilton Spectator, Winnipeg Free Press, Calgary Herald, Halifax Chronicle Herald, and many many more. Media outlets from across Canada picked up their extraordinary story, quite possibly making Midnight Shine the first indie band to receive nationwide media coverage without ever setting foot on tour…
Midnight Shine’s material is anchored by Sutherland’s captivating vocals, eloquent lyrics, and enigmatic personality. At the heart is a strong sense of melody, attributed to Adrian’s background as a solo artist, used to crafting songs on acoustic guitar. Setting Midnight Shine apart from other rock bands is the depth of Adrian’s exploration of his Cree culture, tradition, and life in the North. Hailing from the remote community of Attawapiskat, his experiences are reflected in the songs – making Midnight Shine’s music all the more meaningful, while at the same time, universal in theme.
“Some of the music is about who I am and where I come from,” Sutherland explains. “I’ve always wanted to share some of my background and beliefs through music. Everybody has a story and I think it’s important for First Nations people to shed positive light on our culture and values.”
In addition to making contemporary music, Sutherland sings in a traditional drum group, takes part in ceremonies, and is a genuine example of someone who lives and pays homage to his culture. He cares about his people of the north, figuratively as well as literally, through his work as a paramedic, and his job as Chief Executive Officer for economic development in his community. He is proud of who he is, and where he comes from.
While Sutherland’s home has been the subject of a flood of negative media attention in previous years, he for one would like to change those perceptions: “There are good stories to be told from Attawapiskat. I hope we’re one of them.”
Indeed they are. In fact, the name Midnight Shine is highly appropriate, given that the band and their music shine a bright and positive light on a place too often depicted as dark and troubled.
They’re a “must-hear” band you’ll take a real shine to.