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 Trooper invited singer/songwriter Adrian Sutherland to open their Timmins concert in 2011, there was one condition: he needed to perform with a band. So Sutherland, who resides in Attawapiskat, pulled together Zach Tomatuk from Moose Factory (guitar), Stan Louttit from Moose Factory (bass), and George Gillies from Fort Albany (drums), and Midnight Shine came to be.
“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 Midnight Shine sound is a seamless blend of roots, classic and modern rock, built around Sutherland’s captivating vocals, eloquent songs, and charismatic personality. Together, the four musicians put forth a winning combination of energy and experience, resulting in a group sonic identity that is highly impressive and extremely compelling.
Midnight Shine’s refreshing rock sound was first captured on Midnight Shine, their debut album recorded at Toronto’s Noble Street Studios and released in 2013. A strong sense of melody is at the heart of their music, attributable to Sutherland’s background as a solo singer/songwriter used to crafting songs on acoustic guitar.
The 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.
In the fall of 2014, Midnight Shine released sophomore album Northern Man. Once again recorded at Noble Street Studios in Toronto, this album confirms the foursome is the “real deal.” It features haunting lyrics and vocals, including the anthem Northern Man – a tribute to the band’s home in the James Bay region, and Cree culture.
Midnight Shine introduced Over You, the first single from their new album, to a live television audience across Canada with a performance on Canada AM in Toronto. The catchy, feel-good song resonates with upbeat tempo that takes hold at first beat, and lyrics that send a message that is positive, and sometimes tongue-in-cheek.
Helping set Midnight Shine apart from other Canadian rock bands is Adrian Sutherland’s lyrical explorations of his First Nations’ identity.
“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 rock 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.