Expect lots of cover bands and some real originals at Aqpik Jam

Something borrowed, something blues


If you are a fan of the Eagles, throat-singing or magical sleight-of-hand, don't miss next week's end-of-summer festival in Kuujjuaq – the Aqpik Jam, named in honour of the cloudberry, or aqpik.

Heading the line-up for the Aqpik Jam's four nights of concerts, which start this Tuesday evening in Kuujjuaq's 500-seat Kaittitavik hall, are three rock tribute bands.

There's the Hotel California band from Toronto which will play the Eagles' greatest hits, including "Life In The Fast Lane," "Desperado" and "Get Over It," another Toronto band called Fleetwood Dreams whose website touts the group as a "stunning visual and musical recreation of Fleetwood Mac" and the Travelling Band from St-Hyacinthe, Que., a Credence Clearwater Revival tribute band that also plays Led Zeppelin, Jimmy Hendrix and Beatles tunes.

From Montreal comes an up-and-coming pop-rock band called the Duke Squad, whose members Philippe Marcoux-Gendron, 15, Jeremie Prevost, 13, Jacob Prevost, 15, and David Leprohon, 15, write and perform their own songs.

Most tracks in Duke Squad's first album, "In your face," talk about daily experiences teenagers can identify with, such as the pain caused by the title character in a song called "The Bully."

The album generated a series of gigs for the Duke Squad – and some criticism because the band sings exclusively in English. A Montreal Gazette music critic said "its pop-punk freshness evokes power-chord merchants like Weezer, Green Day and Simple Plan."

A MP3 sample of a Duke Squad performance on MySpace.com shows some good moves, with the lead singer strutting convincingly around in a black shirt, white tie and longish curly hair, and surprisingly tight playing.

From Nuuk, the Aqpik Jam is importing husky-voiced folk-rock singer Ulf Fleischer and a Greenlandic-sounding punk-rock group called the DDR or the Disco Democratic Republic.

A recent video from the DDR, who have two albums called "Siulleq" and "Kaar!," shows the band is picking up where Greenlandic rock icon Ole Kristiansen left off.

From Nunavut, there's Tim Evic and his band from Pangnirtung, Manasie Mark from Iqaluit, the Paul Mablik band from Repulse Bay and Billy Quksuk from Arviat.

Errol Fletcher from Iqaluit will also be on hand and should get a response even from a mainly Nunavik crowd if he sings his goofy ode to Iqaluit's Legion bar – "Let the blizzards blow/We're going to the Legion/ It's like a religion."

Nunavik acts include the Charlie Tumic Band from Umiujaq, the POV band and Rebecca Qumaaluk from Puvirnituq, George Angnatuk and Joseph Keleutak from Quaqtaq, Lucy Johannes, Guy Lauzon and the Kuujjuaq Kids and Jackie Gadbois from Kuujjuaq, Benji Snowball and Karl Karpik from Kangiqsualujjuaq and a unique Makivik Corp. trio featuring chief returning officer and youth coordinator Adamie Padlayat, treasurer Anthony Ittoshat and Makivik Magazine editor Bob Mesher.

Watch out for surprises when these Makivik musicians take to the stage: one confides he hadn't performed in front of an audience since his Grade Three Christmas concert.

Throatsingers Akinisie Sivuaraapik and Evie Mark and the Kuujjuaq Youth Group are also slated to appear during the Aqpik Jam as are the Kuujjuaq youth centre dance Group, Halifax music and stand-up comedian Jimmy Flynn, jazz and blues musician Jay Seewall from Montreal, and Lilo, a Montreal magician.

And if all this entertainment isn't enough, every night Aqpik Jam organizers also hand out prizes galore, such as airline trips, mountain bikes, outboard motors, television sets and gift certificates.

The festival also features some daytime activities, such as canoe races, a teepee with demonstrations of First Nations techniques on cooking Canada geese and salmon and an aqpik-picking competition.

A fireworks display caps off Friday night's final festival performance.

First Air is offering a discounted fare for passengers who cite the code GR0706260 when they book travel to the Aqpik Jam from Nunavut or the South, while Air Inuit also is taking 30 per cent off its fares for Nunavimmiut who want to make sure they're in Kuujjuaq the festival.

More than $100,000 from local businesses and Inuit organizations goes into paying for the annual bash.

This year, long-time festival organizers – a group of Kuujjuammiut, including Makivik Corp.'s Pita Aatami and Michael Gordon, businessman Johnny Adams and Kuujjuaq mayor Larry Watt, were frustrated in their attempts to book a big-name Canadian artist for the event.

Former Aqpik Jam headliners include Kashtin, Rita MacNeil, Trooper, and Charlie Major.

Sammy Koneak, the KRG's recreational advisor, said they wanted to book the award-winning singer, guitarist and songwriter Colin James, but it was too late because a date for him would have to be booked a year in advance.

So as soon as this year's festival is over, Koneak said organizers will start scouting around for next year's Aqpik Jam.

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