As live music returns, Music NWT looks to expand its role

Last modified: March 24, 2022 at 8:20am

With Covid-19 restrictions lifting, live music is returning the the Northwest Territories. Music NWT is making the most of the opportunity to support northern artists.

This year’s Great Northern Musical Conference, taking place from Thursday to Sunday, will feature live performances, the creation of new music, and discussions on expanding the territory’s music industry.

“We’ve had musicians that have largely been unable to perform for the last two years,” Music NWT president Trevor Sinclair told Cabin Radio.


“We just want to celebrate that our musicians can get back on stages, create opportunities for them and create opportunities for audiences to actually hear them once again.” 

Live performances begin at 8pm on Friday at the Monkey Tree Pub with Abe Drennan, Benji Straker and Jim Taylor. On Saturday, artists will perform between noon and 5pm at Sundog Trading Post then between 8pm and 10pm at both the Monkey Tree and Woodyard. Performances come from Ryan Dempster, Darin Woodbury, Flood of Jewels, Andrew Shedden, Cody McNeely, Darin Woodbury, and Munya Mataruse. The full schedule is available on Music NWT’s Facebook page.

Saturday performances at the Monkey Tree by Fur Fox Aches, and Patrick Jacobson and the Bush Pilots will be live streamed on Facebook by Breakout West, which Sinclair described as an event “like the Junos of western Canada.” 

Behind the scenes, eight artists from across the North will together write and record a total of six songs over three days as part of a project sponsored by the Songwriters Association of Canada. Sinclair said the group will include artists from Yellowknife Colville Lake, Fort Smith and Inuvik. 

Dylan Jones, a hip-hop artist from Fort Good Hope who performs as Crook the Kid, will collaborate with other hip-hop and rap artists as part of the conference. 


“Often artists sort-of work on their own, create their own thing,” Sinclair said. “Being able to work with other artists, it’s a whole separate skill in itself.

“We just want to create that space for them and make the public aware that our artists are alive and well and they’re still creating music and looking to perform.” 

From 1pm on Sunday, Breakout West will host an online forum to help artists apply to perform at festivals and set prices for gigs. Breakout West itself will take place from September 28 to October 2 in Calgary.

Separately, Crook the Kid, Nara Dapilos and Cynergii will perform at Yellowknife’s Northern Arts and Cultural Centre on the evening of Saturday, March 26, as part of the centre’s Northern Scene Series. Tickets are available online.


Beyond this week’s events, Sinclair said Music NWT hopes to expand its programming.

That includes plans to update Music NWT’s website to offer online ticketing and a music directory where people can find recording spaces and musicians for hire.  

Sinclair said members want to expand youth music programming in communities across the territory, while Music NWT hopes to hold a music industry networking event this year, followed by a gala with music awards, tentatively planned for September 10.

“We’ve never honoured our own musicians,” Sinclair said. 

“We’re truly seeing a growth in our music industry,” he added. “I feel that we have not valued that music industry … I feel things are just constantly getting better in that regard.”